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Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk
by Peter L. Bernstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Woeful! But a good insight into the mentality of pre-crash neoliberal economists, 21 Nov. 2013
You might think from the title that you are getting a sweeping story of risk from ancient games of dice through renaissance ideas of probability through to modern ideas of risk management in all areas of life, and the opening chapters also give that impression.

You get good little potted histories of several mathematicians at the start, and you tend to forgive his naive attempts to explain away historical attitudes to risk even though he seems to be embarking on a historical journey.

Then he starts getting onto the real mathematics. Bernstein is clearly one of those people who think "it's better that I'm not an expert in this as it will make me more able to explain it to a lay audience". Peter, Peter, Peter... you can't explain something if you don't understand it. Bernstein is all at sea from the moment he references the earliest and simplest writings on probability and risk, but when it comes to more subtle stuff he is terrible. For example, he is happy to go on and on about the normal distribution when he clearly does not understand what produces a normal distribution and when and where it is applicable, and then later he goes on at even greater length about regression to the mean, which he fundamentally does not understand either.

This book contains numerous boring digressions including his own tedious and naive numerical experiment, some of his irrelevant experiences in investing, and a foggily-understood political hobby horse.

Eventually you slog through to what this book is really about. He believed that risk had been banished from the stock markets. He has a good few examples that demonstrate palpably that this is not the case, and yet he fails to come to his own conclusion; no - risk is dead. Long live everlasting prosperity!

So then you understand what the earlier part is about. Little potted histories of great men of mathematics and science, poorly argued historical arguments, dimly understood mathematics, the silent dropping from the story of risk management in the areas of medicine, social policy, foreign policy, business and everything else that isn't finance; it's all an attempt to lend the weight of history to this (with hindsight clearly bizarre) conclusion.

And so now we know the truth! This book (apparently Bill Clinton was a fan) and the sort of thinking it contains is part of the cocksure mindset of neoliberal economists who drove the western world to and then off a financial cliff.

So read it if you want an insight into that mentality. Avoid if you actually want to know anything about risk.


Hama Track Pack 60 Camera/Camcorder Bag
Hama Track Pack 60 Camera/Camcorder Bag
Price: £9.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fits Canon SX500 snugly, great value for money, 9 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have a Canon SX500 IS, which is an odd shape -- almost cubic at 95mm x 69mm x 85mm (with the lens cap on). Canon don't do a case for it and it seems very few cases on the market would fit it well. The Hama Track Pack 60 fits it snugly, and would fit longer cameras (I'm guessing it would be fine up to about 120mm x 80mm x 85m). The padding is not amazing but better than you'd expect for a £10 case. The zippered pocket at the front will easily fit 4AA batteries plus spare cards (I just experimented and found that I could cram 13 AA batteries into it) -- although it's going empty for me as the SX500 uses a phone-style battery pack. One little niggle is that the velcro makes it awkward to do the clip up because you can't clip it as you're sliding the case closed; this would work better with a longer camera where the lid isn't so tightly shut.

The seams inside are nicely double-stitched and it feels well-made.

All in all a fine case, and a bargain at the price. Also, you'll struggle to find another this size!


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