Categories
Review

“Soonish”

Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith

I’m really the exact target market for this book — I love the sort of ‘pop science’ stuff like this, examining some of the stuff currently happening in the lab and looking at what it could be useful for in the future. A nice plus to this book over the versions of that that you’ll find online, though, is that they’re willing to say “actually, no, that’s a cool concept but it just won’t work.”1

Honestly, I don’t have a ton to say about this book. It’s an easy read, comedic and informative, and I totally recommend it to any of my fellow “I wanna know about the Cool Science Stuff” people. Check it out.2

  1. Specific example: space-based solar power, which they pan for being so economically infeasible that it’ll probably never pan out. Personally I still somewhat disagree, but part of that is that I think they’ve missed an opportunity for getting two birds with one stone by parking the space-based solar panels in an orbit where they block some light from reaching the Earth. A one-two punch against climate change!
  2. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.
Categories
Review

“Open Borders”

Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith

As a Certified Liberal, it was never going to be particularly hard to sell me on “we should loosen our immigration restrictions,” but I still think this book did a great job at selling me on it. It’s a very quick read—more of a highly-illustrated essay than what you’d think from the term “book”—and is well-organized around the topic idea.

Structurally, it reminds me of writing essays in school. A chapter of overview, a chapter of the primary argument for, and then a few chapters rebutting the arguments against your thesis, and then a final wrap-it-together with a call to action. And, hey, they teach essay structures like that because it’s effective!

I think my favorite line from the book comes from a discussion of keyhole policies.1

“How can immigration restrictions handle problem x?” is simply a bad question.

It makes far more sense to ask: “What’s the cheapest, most humane way to handle problem x?”

The final call to action is less a “let’s make open borders happen!” and more a “let’s start moving the Overton Window to make open borders happen!” So, by reading this post: thank you for your contribution. If you’re interested in furthering that goal, I recommend you check out the book, as I quite enjoyed it.2

  1. Keyhole policies are defined in the context of keyhole surgeries: instead of cutting the patient wide open, you make as small an incision as possible—a keyhole—in order to reduce collateral damage/side effects. Similarly, a keyhole policy is a narrowly-focused policy in place of a (possibly overly-) broad one.
  2. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.