Stuffocation by James Wallman


I don’t know about you, but my life is absolutely full of stuff and rubbish. I have just spent a Sunday afternoon filling my Berlingo with things surplus to my well being. I am off to dispose of it. And in a triumph of hope and habits over bitter and direct experience I’m also going to an electrical retail store to purchase some new goods. Continue reading

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences by Eugene Wigner

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences is one of those pieces of writing whose title really sums up the whole thing – basically it does what it says on the tin.  It started life as a lecture and was subsequently published in the mathematical literature in 1960.  It is about something that a lot of people have noticed.  It is really quite surprising how often a mathematical idea developed for a particular purpose, or for no other purpose than simple pleasure in the exercise of the mind, turns out to be a useful tool later for something completely different. Continue reading

Five All Time Greatest Bail Outs


I love banking bail outs, and so should you.  What would life be like without them?  Without bail outs bankers would have to behave like the rest of us, and where is the fun in that?  Of course, banking could be a pretty straight forward job.  You look after people’s savings by investing them in profitable enterprises.  The savers get a return on their money, the enterprises thrive and a little way down the road society as a whole is richer.  It is not very different to laying bricks or running a shop really.  A bit of common sense and some hard work; you make a nice living and do your bit to improve life for everyone else.

But be honest, wouldn’t that just be so dull!  It is a lot more fun to lend out more money than you actually have to lots of very risky projects which pay a good return.  Continue reading

The Cash Nexus – Money and Power in Modern World 1700-2000 by Niall Ferguson

I wrote this review of the Cash Nexus a long time ago before Niall Ferguson was all that famous.  I wasn’t very good at writing reviews  back then.  But to be fair, he wasn’t all that great at writing them either.

Have you got a friend who is interesting and intelligent, and is well worth listening to on a subject on which he is very knowledgeable? But who ruins it all by behaving as if he is even more interesting and intelligent than he really is, and being pompous and pouting about it as well. I imagine that Niall Ferguson is such a guy. The Cash Nexus is certainly such a book. Continue reading