My podcast with Darren Lipomi

He is a well-known chemist (and more) at UC San Diego. We started with classic Star Trek and then moved into textiles, chemistry, music vs. sound, nanobots against Covid, how to interview, traveling during a pandemic, art collecting and voodoo flags, the importance of materials science, and much more.  Mostly he interviewed me, though it […]

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Favorite books by female authors

Elena Ferrante named her top forty, and I am not sure I approve of the exercise at all.  Still, here are my top twenty, in no particular order, fiction only, not counting poetry: 1.Lady Murasaki, Tale of Genji. 2. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights. 3. Alice Munro, any and all. 4. Elena Ferrante, the Neapolitan quadrology. […]

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What should I ask Benjamin M. Friedman?

As noted, Ben has a new and very interesting book coming out Religion and the Rise of Capitalism.  He is also the author of the superb The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, and the earlier Day of Reckoning, about the economic policies of the Reagan administration.  Ben has been a leading macroeconomist since the 1970s, […]

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Erasmus Darwin, apostle of progress

Erasmus Darwin plunged into popular scientific poetry.  Cantering along in the style — if not with the elegance — of Alexander Pope, he never aspired to greatness.  His verses, however, were remarkable for their vivid pictures of evolution interlaced with stirring accounts of the advancement of science, technology, and human culture during the late eighteenth […]

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What I’ve been reading

1. Gregory M. Collins, Commerce and Manners in Edmund Burke’s Political Economy.  Burke is underrated as an economist, and also more generally.  This very thorough and thoughtful book goes a long way toward setting the record straight.  In the meantime, it is not sufficiently well known just how much Keynes was influenced by Burke. 2. […]

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My Conversation with Edwidge Danticat

Here is the audio, video, and transcript.  Here is the CWT summary: She joined Tyler to discuss the reasons Haitian identity and culture will likely persist in America, the vibrant Haitian art scenes, why Haiti has the best food in the Caribbean, how radio is remaining central to Haitian politics, why teaching in Creole would […]

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My favorite fiction of 2020

Emily St. John Mandel, The Glass Hotel. Anne Enright, Actress: A Novel. Susannah Clarke, Piranesi. Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet. Elena Ferrante, The Lying Life of Adults. Of those Hamnet was my clear favorite, then the Enright.  Here is my non-fiction list, which also explains why the lists have come earlier this year.

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Best non-fiction books of 2020

Usually I give this list much later in November, but shopping rhythms are off this year.  Furthermore The Strand bookstore in NYC is rather desperately asking for your business, as is Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, and many other independent bookshops.  Nor would it hurt Barnes & Noble if you spent your money there, and […]

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*Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art*

By Rebecca Wragg Sykes, an excellent book, a very responsible treatment of what we do and do not know about Neanderthals, with a bit on Denisovans as well.  It is a book full of sentences such as: “Micro-morphology has also provided proof that, far from being slovenly, Neanderthals were regularly disposing of their rubbish.”  It […]

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