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Some probability problems are so difficult that they stump the smartest mathematicians. But even the hardest of these problems can often be solved with a computer and a Monte Carlo simulation, in which a random-number generator simulates a physical process, such as a million rolls of a pair of dice. This is what Digital Dice is all about: how to get numerical answers to difficult probability problems without having to solve complicated mathematical equations.Popular-math writer Paul Nahin challenges readers to solve twenty-one difficult but fun problems, from determining the odds of coin-flipping games to figuring out the behavior of elevators. Problems build from relatively easy (deciding whether a dishwasher who breaks most of the dishes at a restaurant during a given week is clumsy or just the victim of randomness) to the very difficult (tackling branching processes of the kind that had to be solved by Manhattan Project mathematician Stanislaw Ulam). In his characteristic style, Nahin brings the problems to life with interesting and odd historical anecdotes. Readers learn, for example, not just how to determine the optimal stopping point in any selection process but that astronomer Johannes Kepler selected his second wife by interviewing eleven women.The book shows readers how to write elementary computer codes using any common programming language, and provides solutions and line-by-line walk-throughs of a MATLAB code for each problem.Digital Dice will appeal to anyone who enjoys popular math or computer science.
Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide
What causes genocide? Why do some stand by, doing nothing, while others risk their lives to help the persecuted? Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide analyzes riveting interviews with bystanders, Nazi supporters, and rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust to lay bare critical psychological forces operating during genocide. Monroe's insightful examination of these moving—and disturbing—interviews underscores the significance of identity for moral choice.Monroe finds that self-image and identity—especially the sense of self in relation to others—determine and delineate our choice options, not just morally but cognitively. She introduces the concept of moral salience to explain how we establish a critical psychological relationship with others, classifying individuals in need as "people just like us" or reducing them to strangers perceived as different, threatening, or even beyond the boundaries of our concern. Monroe explicates the psychological dehumanization that is a prerequisite for genocide and uses her knowledge of human behavior during the Holocaust to develop a broader theory of moral choice, one applicable to other forms of ethnic, religious, racial, and sectarian prejudice, aggression, and violence. Her book fills a long-standing void in ethics and suggests that identity is more fundamental than reasoning in our treatment of others.
Tobacco Capitalism tells the story of the people who live and work on U.S. tobacco farms at a time when the global tobacco industry is undergoing profound changes. Against the backdrop of the antitobacco movement, the globalization and industrialization of agriculture, and intense debates over immigration, Peter Benson draws on years of field research to examine the moral and financial struggles of growers, the difficult conditions that affect Mexican migrant workers, and the complex politics of citizenship and economic decline in communities dependent on this most harmful commodity.Benson tracks the development of tobacco farming since the plantation slavery period and the formation of a powerful tobacco industry presence in North Carolina. In recent decades, tobacco companies that sent farms into crisis by aggressively switching to cheaper foreign leaf have coached growers to blame the state, public health, and aggrieved racial minorities for financial hardship and feelings of vilification. Economic globalization has exacerbated social and racial tensions in North Carolina, but the corporations that benefit from it have rarely been considered a key cause of harm and instability, and have now adopted social-responsibility platforms to elide liability for smoking disease. Parsing the nuances of history, power, and politics in rural America, Benson explores the cultural and ethical ambiguities of tobacco farming and offers concrete recommendations for the tobacco-control movement in the United States and worldwide.
Essays on Giordano Bruno
This book gathers wide-ranging essays on the Italian Renaissance philosopher and cosmologist Giordano Bruno by one of the world's leading authorities on his work and life. Many of these essays were originally written in Italian and appear here in English for the first time. Bruno (1548-1600) is principally famous as a proponent of heliocentrism, the infinity of the universe, and the plurality of worlds. But his work spanned the sciences and humanities, sometimes touching the borders of the occult, and Hilary Gatti's essays richly reflect this diversity.The book is divided into sections that address three broad subjects: the relationship between Bruno and the new science, the history of his reception in English culture, and the principal characteristics of his natural philosophy. A final essay examines why this advocate of a "tranquil universal philosophy" ended up being burned at the stake as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition. While the essays take many different approaches, they are united by a number of assumptions: that, although well versed in magic, Bruno cannot be defined primarily as a Renaissance Magus; that his aim was to articulate a new philosophy of nature; and that his thought, while based on ancient and medieval sources, represented a radical rupture with the philosophical schools of the past, helping forge a path toward a new modernity.
Threats to Democracy
This book represents the first systematic research by a social scientist on the radical right-wing movements in Italy since 1945. During the heyday of right-wing violence between 1969 and 1980, street aggressions, attacks, and murders were commonplace. These bloody episodes were assumed to be the work of fanatical bands of "political soldiers" and urban warriors loosely controlled by secret services and other covert groups, which used them as part of a "strategy of tension" pursued in domestic and international circles. Franco Ferraresi here acknowledges that these rightist groups were in fact permitted a certain amount of freedom, and even in some cases actually aided, in the hope that revulsion at terrorist tactics would have the effect of mobilizing public opinion in favor of existing political arrangements. However, he also studies the extent to which they operated as autonomous units, while he carefully considers the political heritage, the doctrines, and the ideology that motivated them.With the decline of violent activity on both extremes of the political spectrum in the early 1980s, the theory and practice so comprehensively discussed by Ferraresi seemed to have entered a dormant stage. Ferraresi, however, places in context the recent resurgence of neo-fascist forces in Italy, and of the so-called New Right throughout Europe, together with the rise of fundamentalism in many parts of the world.
Loving and Hating Mathematics
Mathematics is often thought of as the coldest expression of pure reason. But few subjects provoke hotter emotions—and inspire more love and hatred—than mathematics. And although math is frequently idealized as floating above the messiness of human life, its story is nothing if not human; often, it is all too human. Loving and Hating Mathematics is about the hidden human, emotional, and social forces that shape mathematics and affect the experiences of students and mathematicians. Written in a lively, accessible style, and filled with gripping stories and anecdotes, Loving and Hating Mathematics brings home the intense pleasures and pains of mathematical life.These stories challenge many myths, including the notions that mathematics is a solitary pursuit and a "young man's game," the belief that mathematicians are emotionally different from other people, and even the idea that to be a great mathematician it helps to be a little bit crazy. Reuben Hersh and Vera John-Steiner tell stories of lives in math from their very beginnings through old age, including accounts of teaching and mentoring, friendships and rivalries, love affairs and marriages, and the experiences of women and minorities in a field that has traditionally been unfriendly to both. Included here are also stories of people for whom mathematics has been an immense solace during times of crisis, war, and even imprisonment—as well as of those rare individuals driven to insanity and even murder by an obsession with math.This is a book for anyone who wants to understand why the most rational of human endeavors is at the same time one of the most emotional.
The Virtues of Our Vices
Are there times when it's right to be rude? Can we distinguish between good and bad gossip? Am I a snob if I think that NPR listeners are likely to be better informed than devotees of Fox News? Does sick humor do anyone any good? Can I think your beliefs are absurd but still respect you?In The Virtues of Our Vices, philosopher Emrys Westacott takes a fresh look at important everyday ethical questions—and comes up with surprising answers. He makes a compelling argument that some of our most common vices—rudeness, gossip, snobbery, tasteless humor, and disrespect for others' beliefs—often have hidden virtues or serve unappreciated but valuable purposes. For instance, there are times when rudeness may be necessary to help someone with a problem or to convey an important message. Gossip can foster intimacy between friends and curb abuses of power. And dubious humor can alleviate existential anxieties.Engaging, funny, and philosophically sophisticated, The Virtues of Our Vices challenges us to rethink conventional wisdom when it comes to everyday moral behavior.
A Book Forged in Hell
When it appeared in 1670, Baruch Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise was denounced as the most dangerous book ever published—"godless," "full of abominations," "a book forged in hell . . . by the devil himself." Religious and secular authorities saw it as a threat to faith, social and political harmony, and everyday morality, and its author was almost universally regarded as a religious subversive and political radical who sought to spread atheism throughout Europe. Yet Spinoza's book has contributed as much as the Declaration of Independence or Thomas Paine's Common Sense to modern liberal, secular, and democratic thinking. In A Book Forged in Hell, Steven Nadler tells the fascinating story of this extraordinary book: its radical claims and their background in the philosophical, religious, and political tensions of the Dutch Golden Age, as well as the vitriolic reaction these ideas inspired.It is not hard to see why Spinoza's Treatise was so important or so controversial, or why the uproar it caused is one of the most significant events in European intellectual history. In the book, Spinoza became the first to argue that the Bible is not literally the word of God but rather a work of human literature; that true religion has nothing to do with theology, liturgical ceremonies, or sectarian dogma; and that religious authorities should have no role in governing a modern state. He also denied the reality of miracles and divine providence, reinterpreted the nature of prophecy, and made an eloquent plea for toleration and democracy.A vivid story of incendiary ideas and vicious backlash, A Book Forged in Hell will interest anyone who is curious about the origin of some of our most cherished modern beliefs.
The Democratic Experiment
In a series of fascinating essays that explore topics in American politics from the nation's founding to the present day , The Democratic Experiment opens up exciting new avenues for historical research while offering bold claims about the tensions that have animated American public life. Revealing the fierce struggles that have taken place over the role of the federal government and the character of representative democracy, the authors trace the contested and dynamic evolution of the national polity.The contributors, who represent the leading new voices in the revitalized field of American political history, offer original interpretations of the nation's political past by blending methodological insights from the new institutionalism in the social sciences and studies of political culture. They tackle topics as wide-ranging as the role of personal character of political elites in the Early Republic, to the importance of courts in building a modern regulatory state, to the centrality of local political institutions in the late twentieth century. Placing these essays side by side encourages the asking of new questions about the forces that have shaped American politics over time. An unparalleled example of the new political history in action, this book will be vastly influential in the field.In addition to the editors, the contributors are Brian Balogh, Sven Beckert, Rebecca Edwards, Joanne B. Freeman, Richard R. John, Ira Katznelson, James T. Kloppenberg, Matthew D. Lassiter, Thomas J. Sugrue, Michael Vorenberg, and Michael Willrich.
The Poverty of Clio
The Poverty of Clio challenges the hold that cliometrics—an approach to economic history that employs the analytical tools of economists—has exerted on the study of our economic past. In this provocative book, Francesco Boldizzoni calls for the reconstruction of economic history, one in which history and the social sciences are brought to bear on economics, and not the other way around.Boldizzoni questions the appeal of economics over history—which he identifies as a distinctly American attitude—exposing its errors and hidden ideologies, and revealing how it fails to explain economic behavior itself. He shows how the misguided reliance on economic reasoning to interpret history has come at the expense of insights from the humanities and has led to a rejection of valuable past historical research. Developing a better alternative to new institutional economics and the rational choice approach, Boldizzoni builds on the extraordinary accomplishments of twentieth-century European historians and social thinkers to offer fresh ideas for the renewal of the field.Economic history needs to rediscover the true relationship between economy and culture, and promote an authentic alliance with the social sciences, starting with sociology and anthropology. It must resume its dialogue with the humanities, but without shrinking away from theory when constructing its models. The Poverty of Clio demonstrates why history must exert its own creative power on economics.
The Darwin Economy
Who was the greater economist—Adam Smith or Charles Darwin? The question seems absurd. Darwin, after all, was a naturalist, not an economist. But Robert Frank, New York Times economics columnist and best-selling author of The Economic Naturalist, predicts that within the next century Darwin will unseat Smith as the intellectual founder of economics. The reason, Frank argues, is that Darwin's understanding of competition describes economic reality far more accurately than Smith's. And the consequences of this fact are profound. Indeed, the failure to recognize that we live in Darwin's world rather than Smith's is putting us all at risk by preventing us from seeing that competition alone will not solve our problems.Smith's theory of the invisible hand, which says that competition channels self-interest for the common good, is probably the most widely cited argument today in favor of unbridled competition—and against regulation, taxation, and even government itself. But what if Smith's idea was almost an exception to the general rule of competition? That's what Frank argues, resting his case on Darwin's insight that individual and group interests often diverge sharply. Far from creating a perfect world, economic competition often leads to "arms races," encouraging behaviors that not only cause enormous harm to the group but also provide no lasting advantages for individuals, since any gains tend to be relative and mutually offsetting.The good news is that we have the ability to tame the Darwin economy. The best solution is not to prohibit harmful behaviors but to tax them. By doing so, we could make the economic pie larger, eliminate government debt, and provide better public services, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. That's a bold claim, Frank concedes, but it follows directly from logic and evidence that most people already accept.
The Darwin Economy - DOC
Who was the greater economist--Adam Smith or Charles Darwin? The question seems absurd. Darwin, after all, was a naturalist, not an economist. But Robert Frank, New York Times economics columnist and best-selling author of The Economic Naturalist, predicts that within the next century Darwin will unseat Smith as the intellectual founder of economics. The reason, Frank argues, is that Darwin's understanding of competition describes economic reality far more accurately than Smith's. And the consequences of this fact are profound. Indeed, the failure to recognize that we live in Darwin's world rather than Smith's is putting us all at risk by preventing us from seeing that competition alone will not solve our problems.Smith's theory of the invisible hand, which says that competition channels self-interest for the common good, is probably the most widely cited argument today in favor of unbridled competition--and against regulation, taxation, and even government itself. But what if Smith's idea was almost an exception to the general rule of competition? That's what Frank argues, resting his case on Darwin's insight that individual and group interests often diverge sharply. Far from creating a perfect world, economic competition often leads to "arms races," encouraging behaviors that not only cause enormous harm to the group but also provide no lasting advantages for individuals, since any gains tend to be relative and mutually offsetting.The good news is that we have the ability to tame the Darwin economy. The best solution is not to prohibit harmful behaviors but to tax them. By doing so, we could make the economic pie larger, eliminate government debt, and provide better public services, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. That's a bold claim, Frank concedes, but it follows directly from logic and evidence that most people already accept.
Information Choice in Macroeconomics and Finance - DOC
Most theories in economics and finance predict what people will do, given what they know about the world around them. But what do people know about their environments? The study of information choice seeks to answer this question, explaining why economic players know what they know—and how the information they have affects collective outcomes. Instead of assuming what people do or don't know, information choice asks what people would choose to know. Then it predicts what, given that information, they would choose to do. In this textbook, Laura Veldkamp introduces graduate students in economics and finance to this important new research.The book illustrates how information choice is used to answer questions in monetary economics, portfolio choice theory, business cycle theory, international finance, asset pricing, and other areas. It shows how to build and test applied theory models with information frictions. And it covers recent work on topics such as rational inattention, information markets, and strategic games with heterogeneous information.Illustrates how information choice is used to answer questions in monetary economics, portfolio choice theory, business cycle theory, international finance, asset pricing, and other areasTeaches how to build and test applied theory models with information frictionsCovers recent research on topics such as rational inattention, information markets, and strategic games with heterogeneous information
This is a sweeping tour of the Mediterranean world from the Atlantic to Persia during the last half-century of the Roman Empire. By focusing on a single year not overshadowed by an epochal event, 428 AD provides a truly fresh look at a civilization in the midst of enormous change—as Christianity takes hold in rural areas across the empire, as western Roman provinces fall away from those in the Byzantine east, and as power shifts from Rome to Constantinople. Taking readers on a journey through the region, Giusto Traina describes the empires' people, places, and events in all their simultaneous richness and variety. The result is an original snapshot of a fraying Roman world on the edge of the medieval era. The result is an original snapshot of a fraying Roman world on the edge of the medieval era.Readers meet many important figures, including the Roman general Flavius Dionysius as he encounters a delegation from Persia after the Sassanids annex Armenia; the Christian ascetic Simeon Stylites as he stands and preaches atop his column near Antioch; the eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II as he prepares to commission his legal code; and Genseric as he is elected king of the Vandals and begins to turn his people into a formidable power. We are also introduced to Pulcheria, the powerful sister of Theodosius, and Galla Placidia, the queen mother of the western empire, as well as Augustine, Pope Celestine I, and nine-year-old Roman emperor Valentinian III.Full of telling details, 428 AD illustrates the uneven march of history. As the west unravels, the east remains intact. As Christianity spreads, pagan ideas and schools persist. And, despite the presence of the forces that will eventually tear the classical world apart, Rome remains at the center, exerting a powerful unifying force over disparate peoples stretched across the Mediterranean.
Slavery and the Culture of Taste
It would be easy to assume that, in the eighteenth century, slavery and the culture of taste—the world of politeness, manners, and aesthetics—existed as separate and unequal domains, unrelated in the spheres of social life. But to the contrary, Slavery and the Culture of Taste demonstrates that these two areas of modernity were surprisingly entwined. Ranging across Britain, the antebellum South, and the West Indies, and examining vast archives, including portraits, period paintings, personal narratives, and diaries, Simon Gikandi illustrates how the violence and ugliness of enslavement actually shaped theories of taste, notions of beauty, and practices of high culture, and how slavery's impurity informed and haunted the rarified customs of the time.Gikandi focuses on the ways that the enslavement of Africans and the profits derived from this exploitation enabled the moment of taste in European—mainly British—life, leading to a transformation of bourgeois ideas regarding freedom and selfhood. He explores how these connections played out in the immense fortunes made in the West Indies sugar colonies, supporting the lavish lives of English barons and altering the ideals that defined middle-class subjects. Discussing how the ownership of slaves turned the American planter class into a new aristocracy, Gikandi engages with the slaves' own response to the strange interplay of modern notions of freedom and the realities of bondage, and he emphasizes the aesthetic and cultural processes developed by slaves to create spaces of freedom outside the regimen of enforced labor and truncated leisure.Through a close look at the eighteenth century's many remarkable documents and artworks, Slavery and the Culture of Taste sets forth the tensions and contradictions entangling a brutal practice and the distinctions of civility.
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