Not all of these were written this year; some are still going strong a year on (in particular, the post about skin cancer and sunshine, and the book review of The Worldly Philosophers). I would consider all of them as fairly representative of what you’ll get here at TCA. I’ve provided a link and summarized the gist of each article.

10) Book Review:  Red China Blues by Jan Wong (1997)

The enigma that is Chinese history is somewhat revealed through Wong’s memoir of her immersion in the Cultural Revolution of her native China as an “overseas Chinese” visiting student, and later as a journalist upon returning during Deng’s economic liberalization.  ***** (five stars in my ranking scheme means excellent).

9) Book Review:  The Worldly Philosophers (1953) by Robert L Heibroner (1919-2005)

I use the template of the book and its review to explore the intellectual contributions of Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes.  The review summarizes my “worldly” i.e., economic, philosophy by comparing and contrasting it with these giants.  My review is something like twenty printed pages, so it’s somewhat surprising to me that it has been so popular.  The book comes in for well-deserved kudos in both its analyses and readability.  *****

8) Oil Prices, Unemployment and Economic Expansion:  How the economy “breaks” when oil prices double

This is a simple exploration of the correlation, perhaps implying causation, between oil prices and economic performance.   The long and short of the matter is that when oil prices double, economic performance has historically faltered, sometimes quite dramatically.

7)Pushing on a string…Interest Rates, Money Velocity, Inflation, Employment Levels and Economic Performance

This is another exploration of correlation perhaps implying causation, this time between several economic indices. 

6) Book Review:  The True Measure of a Man by Richard E Simmons III (2009)

This is a bit of a snarky review of an utterly banal book, mostly making fun of the nonsense espoused by its author, but also offering an alternative to his contrived and silly philosophy of existence.  The book rates a single star.  It is dismal.

5) Does a lack of sun cause, instead of prevent, skin cancer?

The conclusion posited in the post’s title arose out of research I had done on the importance of vitamin D in preventing cancer.  Between my son’s bone marrow transplants I spent my spare time trying to better understand what had happened to him.  In the process, I came across a study that showed vitamin D could cause cancerous lymphocyte precursor cells to differentiate and become normal.  I then simply went to the CDC website and looked at leukemia incidences relative to latitude (the closer to the equator, the more sun, and thereby, vitamin D) and found that in both leukemia and in melanoma, the farther north was the population, the higher the incidence of these two cancers.  This was striking in melanoma, because doctors have always preached that sun exposure causes melanoma, where the data indicate just the opposite is true.  For example, the drizzly state of Washington has a much higher melanoma rate than does sunny Florida.

4) Harvard study reveals what every married man since the inception of the franchise has always known:  Women are happiest when they know their men aren’t

The title says it all, in this pithy little post that is, as I point out, less brave than it appears, as my wife doesn’t read the blog.

3) Anecdotal evidence from something Amerigroup Mortgage Corporation that the real estate market, in all its subprime glory, is making a comeback

I could have followed this up with about two dozen more examples of how the Fed has succeeded in reengineering the next financial crisis, but really, the whole thing is an utter bore to me anymore.  The only remaining question is how long after the return of the subprime mortgage market it will take until the whole thing implodes, again.

2) John Mayer wrote a song about me…”Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967”

John Mayer is a national treasure.  This is a brief homage to his musical and lyrical talent. 

1) Book Review:  Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (2011)

This is not a history book.  It is dogma, dressed up in pretty, historical clothes.  Good and evil are never proper inquiries for the objective historian, because good and evil are consummately subjective, requiring the historian to choose a side, but the reader can’t get past the jacket cover of this book without suffering through a sermon.  Choosing a side in the American Civil War seems easy nowadays, but was hardly so clear at the time the events transpired.  And even if the historian decides to inquire upon the morality of a matter, he must necessarily refrain from projecting today’s moral tenets into the past.   The book is itself passable, but only as historical fiction, heavily tainted by dogma.  ** (two stars)