Can it be doubted that three-kilogramme brains were once a nearly fatal defect in the evolution of the human race?"

Econ Nerd Review: Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos and Your Big Brain

This post discusses depression, anxiety, addiction, suicide, and self-harm. I think it does so in a pretty constructive and helpful way? But I wrote it, so here are some large grains of kosher salt.

Boy howdy do I love this gif.

Reading! It’s just like they said it would be! “I can go anywhere. Friends to know. Ways to grow.”

Today I want to share with you my favorite book about mental health. It’s not a memoir or a self-help book. It’s not even nonfiction! No, it’s a little ditty from 1985 about evolution, ghosts, Armageddon, and nubbins. Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos is a brilliant satire on the evolutionary advantages and disadvantages of the human brain. And it completely changed the way I think about mental health, including my own depression.

The opening scene follows a woman as she attempts suicide, and it’s narrated by the dispassionate ghost of a Richard Attenborough nature documentarian type. Here’s a brief excerpt, with a few plot things trimmed out:

“Mary taught that the human brain was the most admirable survival device yet produced by evolution. But now her own big brain was urging her to take the polyethylene garment bag from around a red evening dress in her closet, and to wrap it around her head, thus depriving her cells of oxygen.

“Before that, her wonderful brain had entrusted a thief at the airport with a suitcase containing all her toilet articles and clothes which would have been suitable for the hotel.

“Her colossal thinking machine could be so petty, too. It would not let her go downstairs in her combat fatigues on the grounds that everybody, even though there was practically nobody in the hotel, would find her comical in such a costume. Her brain told her: ‘They’ll laugh at you behind your back, and think you’re crazy and pitiful, and your life is over anyway. You’ve lost your husband and your teaching job, and you don’t have any children or anything else to live for, so just put yourself out of your misery with the garment bag. What could be easier? What could be more painless? What could make more sense?’

“Just about every adult human being back then had a brain weighing about three kilogrammes! There was no end to the evil schemes that a thought machine that oversized couldn’t imagine and execute. 

“So I raise this question, although there is nobody around to answer it: Can it be doubted that three-kilogramme brains were once nearly fatal defects in the evolution of the human race?”

Yeah. This novel completely changed the way I thought about the human mind.

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Here's what I learned.

Econ Nerd Book Review: The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan

Listen, it’s no secret we’re hardcore BFFs with The Financial Diet. They epitomize all that is good and just about financial blogging for millennial women, and they were one of our early influences in creating BGR. Plus, we have a monthly syndication deal.

What I’m saying is, if you’re looking for an unbiased review of Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage’s new book, The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money, based on their amazing website… you can fuck right off because this is not that review.

The Financial Diet The Book is a gorgeously designed, delightfully written boost of financial inspiration and motivation. Each chapter is a mix of personal narrative by Chelsea, interviews with experts, and super useful resources like checklists, recipes, and how-to guides.

While the website serves as an exhaustive resource for all financial topics under the sun, the book functions as a primer. It’s a shiny golden key to a mysterious door in the garden wall of all things #adulting and #girlboss.

Here’s what I learned.

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Econ Nerd Book Review: The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

It’s no secret that I’m interested in economic injustice. That’s why I wax grumpy and bitter about things like gentrification, fast fashion, clean water, and environmentalism. But I have a lot to learn about the kind of systemic inequality that keeps some people down while others float above.

Which is why I read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.

Alexander’s premise is simple on its surface: since its inception, the War on Drugs has targeted black and brown people at disproportionately high rates. This has led to a new racial caste system in the United States.

But of course, like anything to do with race in America, it’s far from simple. And Alexander seems to realize how far-fetched some might consider her findings because she spends, like, 20% of every chapter going “I know this sounds crazy but seriously, stick with me. Just look at this data.”

While I wasn’t completely ignorant of the racism inherent in our justice system before reading The New Jim Crow I am now completely overwhelmed with new and damning knowledge. The rules of this new and insidious Jim Crow state affect people socially and economically in disastrous, life-ruining ways, through every stage of the justice process from arrest through trial, punishment, and release.

Here’s some of what I learned.

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I don't know why I've never thought about the Theory of Compounding Interest in this way before, but it's genius.

I Read a Book About Warren Buffett. Here’s What I Learned.

So I read The Snowball by Alice Schroeder. It’s an absurdly long, absurdly detailed book about one of the most famously wealthy people in the world: Warren Buffett. Notorious for his frugal ways and uncanny ability to predict the future of the stock market (no seriously), Buffett’s name has become synonymous with financial success. Which is why I read the book.

I wanted to see if the Wizard of Omaha (I know—not nearly as sexy as the Wolf of Wall Street) had anything to teach me about making lots of money.

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Go to the goddamn library, you fool.

The Library Is a Magical Place and You Should Fucking Go There

Back when I lived in a hippie commune with approximately nine humans and 37 dogs, I would bike to the library on a regular basis to keep myself in reading material without spending all of my meager paycheck on books. As I was leaving one day, I asked one of my roommates if she wanted me to pick up anything at the library for her. Her response: “Is it free?”

Is it free? Is it free?

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