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“Civilization is precarious: as we climbed the ladder of progress, we kicked out the rungs below. There is no going back without catastrophe.”

from Ronald Wright’s “A Short History of Progress”

We’ll be happy when we’re old—if civilization survives

A new study says old people are happier. If only they could tell me what the world will be like when I’m old.

Running off the rails

Economists thought that markets were really resilient—but now they’re rethinking this basic tenet

Read: “Activism v. Restraint”

by Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker

Read: “The Age of Political Risk”

article by James Surowiecki in the New Yorker

Read: “To Live or to Perish Forever”

Nicholas Schimdle’s book on Pakistan

What made the market crash? Or a psycho murder?

We shouldn’t jump to find an immediate cause for the ups and downs and calamities that befall us, argues one trader

Potato power saved the Irish (for a while)

A lesson from the Irish potato famine is that growing a diversity of crops is crucial

“What we have had is a government-guaranteed and taxpayer-subsidized casino industry piggybacked onto the legitimate banking sector.”

—journalist John Cassidy on the financial sector’s toxic debts

Read: “The Revenge of Gaia”

book by scientist James Lovelock, originator of Gaia theory


books I've read on failure & grace

The World Without Us
The Last Oil Shock: A Survival Guide to the Imminent Extinction of Petroleum Man
A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster
Hell and High Water: Global Warming--the Solution and the Politics--and What We Should Do
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
The Tipping Point
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time
The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization
Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail
The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850
Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World

Mason's favorite books »