June 20th, 2010



The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation, as spelled out in volume I of Capital, culminates thus:
Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working-class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself, The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labor at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.
It takes 21 chapters to get there, and a lot of heavy reading, whether in German, Russian, or in the English translation.

Read through Howard Sherman's The Roller Coaster Economy: Financial Crisis, Great Recession, and the Public Option, and you get the same analysis, albeit in fewer pages and with a different policy conclusion. Thus Book Review No. 12 recommends the book as an accessible explanation of the Marxian business cycle. The serious scholar will still read and understand all three volumes of Capital: the casually interested reader will find the main points spelled out in chapter 1, Boom, Bust, and Misery; and in Chapter 2, History of the Roller Coaster. Keep reading, and note the labor theory of value, the accumulation of surplus value, and underconsumption.

The public policy chapter that concludes the book, however, does not call for goatees, granny glasses, and a sealed train arriving at the Finland Station. The public option part of the subtitle does refer to health care, in which insurance companies extract surplus value in ways Professor Sherman suggests a government agency would not. He also proposes democratic management of large corporations (presumably not by hippie cooperatives or soviets of workers deputies, althoug the details are missing) as a way of taming some of the instabilities of market-directed resource allocation. That gives me a chance to go radical on radical economists. Complex adaptive systems, such as market-based allocation of resources, do what they damn well please, and they can produce disruptive fluctuations. But democratically managed economies subject to majority rule, Wise Experts acting in The Public Interest or no, are also complex adaptive systems.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
bear jew

(no subject)

Title: Hamlet: The Manga Edition
Author: Adam Sexton and Tintin Pantoja (and William Shakespeare)
Year of Publication: 2008
Genre: YA, drama, manga
Pages: 185
First Line: "Has this thing appeared again tonight?"

Summary: The sudden death of the king, later revealed to be murder. The queen's all-too-sudden remarriage to the king's brother, the murderer. The grieving, suspicious Prince Hamlet. Supernatural visitations. Deception, manipulation, and soul-searching deliberation. Plots, leaks, and counterplots. Poisoned wine. A rigged sword fight. Revenge.

Source: Back of book

Review: This is the first graphic novel I've ever read. I lovelovelove Hamlet, so I decided to give this a try. (As this is my first graphic novel, I'm not sure how to review it, but I will do my best!) I'll start with the actual graphics. All of the characters seemed age-inappropriate. Gertrude, Claudius, Hamlet, and others seemed far too young. The only one whose age was right, I think, was Polonius. Il oved the depiction of Elsinore, though. It isn't what I prefer for the castle (I like the brighter, more palace-like building in Branagh's version), but by itself, it's pretty awesome. As for the actual dialogue, etc., some of how it was written was spectacularly interesting, if you've read/seen the original play. Certain words were emphasized and stuff like that so it made it a little more accessible to Shakespeare!noobs (not that I'm any expert). I will say that it's fairly difficult to understand if you haven't read/seen the play already and understood it. I have both read and seen it and done a lot of work with it for school, and even I was a bit lost/confused at some parts. That might have just been the graphics, though, which were sometimes so abstract that it was impossible to say, really, what the artist was getting at. A fun read if you've already been exposed (extremely, that is) to Hamlet.

Worst part: Those abstract images drove me insane.

Best part: The fact that it exists?

Grade: C-

Other Books by This Author: (All Adam Sexton) Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet.

Other Notes: 1. This is not a substitute for actually reading/seeing the play! If you are a student and are trying to find a way around actually reading/seeing it, this is not the way to go. Besides, it's so fantastic, it's worth just reading/seeing it anyway (and I highly recommend Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet).

2. I am only counting graphic novels as 1/2 (half, .5) of a book for my count.

43.5 / 50 books. 87% done!
bear jew

(no subject)

Title: The Good Neighbors: Book One, Kin
Author: Holly Black and Ted Naifeh
Year of Publication: 2008
Genre: YA, fantasy, manga
Pages: 117
First Line: "My name is Rue, like kangaroo or like 'you'll rue the day we met, mwa-ha-ha!'"

Summary: Rue Silver's lief isn't at all what it appears to be. Her mother has disappeared -- and her father is being blamed for a murder. Is he guilty? Or is there another truth beneath it all?

Rue digs deeper into her family's past and makes a startling discovery: Her mother is a faerie, and she has vanished back into the faerie realm because of a broken promise. In order to get her back, Rue must plunge into the depths of her own identity -- and must follow the sinister twists of her own fate.

Source: Back of book

Review: I love the idea for this, but I felt like it was missing something throughout. Usually I'm a big fan of Holly Black, but this book was definitely missing something -- it was as if she was relying too much on pictures to tell the story, which didn't work well at all. The graphics themselves were good in some ways -- the background and passerbys were pretty great. But the main characters weren't so much. They were DRAWN well, but the physical appearances of the characters didn't represent the characters personalities well. Because of my sick obsession with faerie, I will read the sequel, but I'm not expecting much from it. Maybe worth a look, if only for some of the faerie depictions?

Worst part: That missing part of the story. I still don't know what it is.

Best part: The ending was pretty surprising, I thought.

Grade: C

Other Books by This Author: (All Holly Black) Tithe, Valiant, the Poison Eaters, Ironside, Spiderwick Chronicles, the White Cat: Curse Workers series, and others.

Other Notes: Again, I am only counting graphic novels as 1/2 (half, .5) of a book for my count.

44 / 50 books. 88% done!

Books 24 & 25

Title: Julia's Chocolates
Author: Kathy Lamb
Topics/Themes: Domestic Violence, Love, Family

I didn't like this book at all. To me, it seemed like a Lifetime original movie, which I also loathe.

The characters were either perfect or odious, with nothing in between. There was no depth to anyone. I also figured out the ending about 10 pages in so everything in between was a dreary race to the finish, at which point I could close this book and not look at it.

There were moments of humor and creativity, but overall I thought that it was awful, although it might certainly appeal to the same audience that enjoys Lifetime or Nicholas Sparks.

Title: Dead Like Me
Author: Charlaine Harris
Themes/Topics: Vampires, Supernatural Forces, Small Town

I've heard amazing things about the TV series Tru Blood, as based on the books, and was excited to read these. I tried watching the show but as a native of Louisiana the accents drove me crazy.

I was a little nervous to beginning reading as I feared it would be reminiscent of Twilight but I was pleasantly surprised. There was even a nod at mocking it when someone commented (paraphrased), "It's not like vampires want to be out in the sun, playing baseball." HA! These vampires are REAL vampires: walking dead, violent, sexy, and unable to go outside in the sun.

What a fun read! This is definitely a light and quick book, entertaining and interesting but not too taxing on the brain: a great read for the summer time. I can't wait to read the others.