In 2016, I read a lot of books. I would recommend one above all the others though, to a general audience. Economix, written by Michael Goodwin and illustrated by Dan E. Burr, is the most generally useful book for understanding our world I read all year. It focuses on factual economics, or how economic theories interact with actual reality, instead of the fantasy land of much basic economic writing.
Factual economics is my own coined term, not Goodwin’s, so I’ll give it a quick explanation. To explore the differences between factual economics and economics as it is usually presented, let’s start by talking about Spaceballs1No one has ever said this before, ever..
Let’s get preliminaries out of the way. Arrival is an instant classic in the science fiction genre. Accordingly, this musing on it is entirely composed of spoilers. If this bothers you, watch the film first. Quotes are as close as I can easily get them. While I have read Story of Your Life, the amazing Ted Chiang novella that this is adapted from, I will not discuss it here since Arrival stands alone very well and I tend to find page-to-screen discussion tiresome at best. The meat of the post begins below the fold.
These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest, Act IV, Scene i1Retrieved from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Prospero.