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Ask HN: What are your recommended reads that are available for free?
224 points by Esox on May 27, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 129 comments
I recently stumbled across a link in another thread to "Economics in One Lesson" and thought it was incredibly interesting. https://mises.org/sites/default/files/Economics%20in%20One%20Lesson_2.pdf

What are some other interesting reads—whether PDF, website, doc, etc—that are freely available?

One of my favorites that I find thought-provoking is the "Procedural Content Generation in Games" book (http://pcgbook.com/).




I built http://hackershelf.com just for this. It's a crowdsourced listing of legally free books on just about any topic.


I love this. I'll be signing up.

Just one thing, browsing by topic doesn't seem to have any sort of rhyme or reason in its ordering aside from some vague first-letter ordering. For example, there are numerous "I" categories, with one "I" for "interactive" and another one for "Interactive". One grouping of "I"'s includes tags "ios", "iOS", and "ip", but the next "I" grouping below just contains "IP"

Edit: I see the ordering issue now. There's a list of topics. The list is printed out in alphabetical order. But for some reason when the first letter of a topic changes between capital letter and a lowercase letter, a new letter grouping is created. Probably it's creating a new category whenever the first character changes, but it did not take into account capital and lowercase characters being different.


Thank you. I'm not actively maintaining it anymore, TBH, but I've been getting bug reports/feature requests lately [meaning actual people still use it] so it might be time to reconsider that stance.


It sounds like if you open source the code, you could get some pull requests pretty easily.


Thanks for this. I was happy to see 'Patterns for Time-Triggered Embedded Systems' on your list, though the link appears broken - new link: [1]. I remember working through that book and porting everything from C to Assembly (my boss at the time was too cheap to buy me the nice Keil compiler). Once I had that library in hand, I was knocking out his projects in days instead of weeks.

[1] http://www.safetty.net/download/pont_pttes_2014.pdf


As with any proper crowdsourced website, you can edit broken links yourself ;-)


also, to prevent conflicts of interests, sometimes it is better if someone else does it for you


In the past month or so I've been using it astoundingly often. I really enjoy having such a site available and I appreciate the generosity of it all, but it could really (IMHO) use a cleanup. Perhaps a pass over the book URLs for 404s, cleaning/merging the duplicate categories, and perhaps a more rigorous way of preventing them from happening again (suggesting existing topics on the submit form?) I'm sure there are plenty of people here that would be happy to contribute content, code, design, or whatever.


thanks! this is really cool!


You're welcome. Glad you like it :-)


How much was the domain?


10 to 20 USD, most probably.


Just a bit of caution. The Ludwig von Mises Institute is a group devoted to specifically advocating one branch of economics, Austrian Economics. Part of this branch is staunch Libertarianism, but they don't believe in several aspects which are typical in mainstream economic branches, such as using statistical modeling and mathematics to draw conclusions about economic status or action.

I'm not here to debate the merits of the Austrian branch compared to other branches. I just think that it's important to have a general and unbiased understanding of the other branches of economics before reading a text which is effectively a criticism of those branches and an advocacy for one specific branch.


That said, the "One Lesson" of the book's title is applicable to all schools of economics: that to qualify as good economic thinking, the consequences of a proposed change must be propagated through the entire economy, and not cut off until they are plausibly insignificant. This is something that any modern economist should agree with, regardless of what their other biases are.


Wouldn't that make all microeconomics bad economic thinking?


but they don't believe in several aspects which are typical in mainstream economic branches, such as using statistical modeling and mathematics to draw conclusions about economic status or action

To be fair, that doesn't mean they are wrong. Certainly we've seen plenty of cases where people built incredibly complex, elegant and expressive models of economic systems, which turned out to be completely broken.

That said, I know of at least some Austrian economists who think the Austrian school should make some effort to better ground their ideas with mathematical formulations, but I haven't followed things closely enough to know if much, or any, work has actually been done in that regard.


Oh, I completely agree. It's important to be critical. This is why there are several branches of economics. It's just that if someone unfamiliar with the field wanted to know about economics in general, I wouldn't have them first read Das Kapital or start by showing them papers from the Heritage Foundation or CATO. This sort of reading comes later. Build a foundation first before building a house.


Isn't that what the Chicago School of Economics does?


In a chaotic system, arriving at abstractions of the forces at play often gives a more illuminating picture than trying to model those systems from weakly-linked data points.

It's not that Austrian economists can't find their own data models to defend their positions, with an area like economics finding data to support your opinions is the easy part.

Rather, we've found that obsessing over the data provides very little understanding of the underlying cause-and-effect of economics.

It's like neurology. Yes, it's a terribly interesting field, but you'll learn more about the human mind from reading Proust.


> It's like neurology. Yes, it's a terribly interesting field, but you'll learn more about the human mind from reading Proust.

I think this is a great metaphor but for very different reasons than you. Reading Proust will help somebody who sits on the sidelines take in the scene of somebody's neurological condition degrading. Studying neurology will help somebody find and (hopefully) cure the disease.

Neurologists save lives, people who sit in armchairs cherishing Proust may enrich themselves but they have no grounds to look down upon those who are getting their hands dirty.


> "have no grounds to look down upon those who are getting their hands dirty."

Reading Proust isn't getting your hands dirty? I don't think you've read Proust.


Getting hands dirty == interfacing with reality where mistakes are possible

You could hold Proust's greatest work upside down and read it backwards but nothing bad will happen. If a neurologist makes a mistake they could kill their patient, their hands are dirty because part of their job is making mistakes that hurt people.


Indeed. The mises.org site exists for advocacy, not education. This is very important.


[deleted]


MIT's opencourseware would be a good start. They often have links to free textbooks. Their course on Principals of Microeconomics (http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/economics/14-01sc-principles-of-m...) has a free textbook.


I love "Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces":

http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~remzi/OSTEP/

Really useful book and really accessible (both because it's available for free and also because it's written with a lot of skill and friendliness towards the reader).

I recommend it in particular to those who for whatever reason never took an operating systems class (e.g., you were self-taught or didn't major in CS). This book will really demystify a lot of stuff for you without overwhelming you at the same time.


I second this recommendation. Not being a CS major I didn't take an OS course so I worked through the first part of the OSTEP book and found it to be very well-written and much less intimidating.

I haven't finished reading it entirely yet and didn't do any of the labs but I liked the big picture approach it took to OS design.


Sicp is available for free

https://sicpebook.wordpress.com/ebook/


Wow I had no idea you could get this for free! Thank you!


Just to be clear, the official publisher page for SICP includes (and in fact) hosts the contents of it: https://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/ (includes links to programming assignments etc.)


Warning: Shameless self promotion.

LinuxVoice magazine is available for free nine months after publication. The issues can be found here: http://www.linuxvoice.com/creative-commons-issues/

Quite a bit of our content is about programming and tech in general, so you may find something you like even if you're not a Linux user.


Wow, CC BY-SA (Share-alike) and not CC BY-NC-SA (Non Commercial) like I expected. I commend you guys for believing in your publishing model and vision by taking that risk.


Linux Voice is very good although I haven't read these issues for over 9 months! Keep up the good work guys.



Adding to the suggestion of HPMOR, Worm (https://parahumans.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/1-1/) is excellent and well worth a read.


... and when you've done educating yourself for the day, relax with a superb novel, licensed under CC: http://www.rifters.com/real/Blindsight.htm


Javascript Allongé is one of my favorite programming books ever: https://leanpub.com/javascript-allonge/read. I think it's a great book even if you don't program Javascript, because the way Braithwaite talks about programming language techniques is so interesting. I had been programming Javascript for a long time before I read this back, and afterward, it changed my whole point of view on how it could be used.


Actually, the original version of this book is no longer for sale. The link for the updated free version is here: https://leanpub.com/javascriptallongesix/read

Or, if you want to buy it in other formats, here: https://leanpub.com/javascriptallongesix


Ah, thanks, wasn't aware of the update!


Would love to check this out, but I'm seeing this error:

> Book not published

> You may not read an unpublished book.


The commenter posted the wrong link. Correct link: https://leanpub.com/javascript-allonge


I agree with you - just started reading this and finding it super helpful in my understanding of JS.


Some classic poems, they're short, but you'll find yourself rereading the ones that really engage you occasionally throughout your life. Here's some I found to be immediately accessible, to get you going.

Poe's Raven - http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178713 Dulce et Decorum Est - http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/owen1.html The Charge of the Light Brigade - http://poetry.eserver.org/light-brigade.html


It's funny, I never cared much for poetry until I started listening to Iron Maiden and found out that "The Trooper" is based on "The Charge of the Light Brigade", as well as "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" being based on a Samuel Taylor Coleridge work.

Now I enjoy reading both Coleridge and Tennyson quite a lot (as well as a few other poets, although it will never be my primary interest).

And people used to say that heavy metal was bad for kids... feh.


In the other direction, I never understood rap until I studied Anglo-Saxon poetry. It has the same muscular rhythms and concern for status and manliness. I'd love to see a rapper do Beowulf!


Not rap but take a look at Marillion's Grendel on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1h4Wl8gupD8.


Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (754pp) - http://www.ibiblio.org/ml/libri/s/SmithA_WealthNations_p.pdf

The Condensed Wealth of Nations (86pp) - http://www.adamsmith.org/sites/default/files/resources/conde...


Some related readings:

Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) - http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smMSCover.html

Adam Smith's Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arms (1763) - http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2621 (warning: long page)

Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776) - http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1365 (warning: long page)

Francis Hutcheson's An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1726) - http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/hutcheson-an-inquiry-into-... (warning: long page)


http://gameprogrammingpatterns.com/

An example-driven guide to design patterns used in Games. Some overlap in to more general design patterns, but it provides especially tangible examples for those, too.


"Introduction to Statistical Learning" (http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~gareth/ISL/) gives an excellent foundation for all machine learning approaches.


The accompanying videos are also well worth it : http://www.r-bloggers.com/in-depth-introduction-to-machine-l...


Hey, thanks for that! Added to my watch list.


Eloquent JavaScript. A delightful introduction to JavaScript and programming in general. http://eloquentjavascript.net


Mises.org is a Libertarian propaganda site. That PDF hardly contains everything you need to know about Economics, unless you only want to learn a bunch of Libertarian talking points.


Marx's Capital is available here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/, and there's a great free/open course to help you get through it here: http://davidharvey.org/reading-capital/.

It's a fairly hard read, but I've gotten through the first few chapters so far and found it very insightful.


"The Macroscope" by Joël de Rosnay, a book on the systems approach

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/macrbook.html

This book is an excellent, easy to read introduction to cybernetics and systems thinking, with applications to living organisms, the economy and the world as a whole. The main theme is that the complex systems which govern our life should be looked at as a whole, rather than be taken apart into their constituents. The different systems, processes and mechanisms are beautifully illustrated with examples and pictures.

Although the text is over 20 years old, this visionary document is still highly relevant to our present situation and state of knowledge.

It is particularly recommended to people who wish to get an understanding of the basic concepts and applications of systems theory and cybernetics.


Thanks for this - wasn't expecting to see a systems book pop up in this thread!


The Nature of Code is one of my favorites free reads http://natureofcode.com/book/ It addresses topics from physics and math, and how to apply them to your code to make it more natural


Oldie but goodie. A contrarian view of business from a prototypical hacker, Don Lancaster. I re-read this every few years to regain perspective.

The Incredible Secret Money Machine http://www.tinaja.com/ebooks/ismm.pdf more of Don: http://tinaja.com/

   -G


If you're already at Mises.org you should read

Ethics of liberty http://anarcho-capitalist.org/wp-content/pdfs/Rothbard%20%28...

For a new liberty https://mises.org/sites/default/files/For%20a%20New%20Libert...

If those are to your liking they contain some great reading lists. A lot of the books in those lists are also available for free at mises.org


Magic Ink: Information Software and the Graphical Interface, by Bret Victor http://worrydream.com/MagicInk/

(or PDF: http://worrydream.com/MagicInk/MagicInk.pdf)


Along with everything else Bret Victor has done.


'Rationality: From AI to Zombies' is available on a pay-what-you-want basis. It talks about cognitive science, ethics, human (ir)rationality and how to improve it, among other things. It stems from the Lesswrong Sequences [2], which have a lot more content, but are a bit messy.

[1] https://intelligence.org/rationality-ai-zombies/

[2] http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Rationality_materials


Debt: The First 5000 Years [1] Anthropological analysis of finance.

With Each & Every Breath [2] Highly practical primer on meditation and how it works, from a Thai Forest tradition perspective.

[1] https://libcom.org/files/__Debt__The_First_5_000_Years.pdf

[2] http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/EachAndEveryBrea...


Feynman Lectures on Physics

http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/


All of Cory Doctorow's books are free online: http://craphound.com/

I enjoyed Little Brother and its sequel Homeland quite a lot.


These are fiction, but they're really enjoyable futurist sci-fi. The first one is about the singularity, and the second one is a really unique and interesting take on artificial intelligence.

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/fiction/accelera...

http://lifeartificial.com


My novel "Darwin's Theorem", which is about stories, evolution, religion and science, is available for free: http://tjradcliffe.com/darwins_theorem/darwins_theorem.epub

It's character-driven pure speculation on big ideas.


Higher Order Perl: http://hop.perl.plover.com/ On Lisp: http://www.paulgraham.com/onlisp.html Also http://it-ebooks.info/ has a wide selection of free ebooks with ads.


The first amazing thing I found on the internet:

https://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page

in early 1994 over gopher at 9600 baud for a penny per minute. Still amazing.


Me too! And today, I always keep a pocketful of classics on my phone.


How to Design Programs 2E

http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/matthias/HtDP2e/

This book is much more than the intro to programming that it appears to be. It is a foundational approach for producing robust programs, regardless of your implementation language or level of experience.


Unfortunately it looks like the authors never completed the next book on the series about real time programming. How to design worlds. http://world.cs.brown.edu/1/


Thanks for pointing this out. I was interested to see they credit Paul Hudak's "Haskell School of Expression" for inspiration. I will have to take a fresh look at that given my newfound appreciation of HTDP (due to stumbling across Norman Ramsey's assessment of it). Also need to look deeper into Hudak's FRP now that I think about it.


This repo maintains list of free programming books [0].

Many of the books at Green Tea Press[1] are available for free:

- Think Python: How To Think Like a Computer Scientist

- Think Bayes: Bayesian Statistics in Python

- Think Complexity: Exploring Complexity Science with Python

- Think Stats: Probability and Statistics for Programmers

- The Little Book of Semaphores

- Physical Modeling in MATLAB

- Learning Perl the Hard Way

few others. Do check the site.

Secondly, books by Al Sweigart[2] are also freely available. They include:

- Automate the Boring Stuff with Python[3]

- Hacking Secret Ciphers with Python

- Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python

- Making Games with Python & Pygame

[0] - https://github.com/vhf/free-programming-books

[1] - http://www.greenteapress.com/

[2] - https://inventwithpython.com/

[3] - https://automatetheboringstuff.com/


Harry Potter And The Methods Of Rationality http://hpmor.com/


Seconded. I also recommend the podcast version, at http://www.hpmorpodcast.com/ .


http://learncodethehardway.org/ Great books not just about the language, but the tools that help make utilizing the language that much easier.


The novels and short stories of Peter Watts (scifi) http://www.rifters.com/real/shorts.htm


The Art of Unix Programming: http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/taoup/


A very good book - a solid, down-to-earth approach to designing and implementing programs.


"A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander

https://archive.org/details/APatternLanguage


I had no idea that was online. Thank you for posting it.

For my contribution, I would suggest http://bartleby.com as a source for literature.


(1) Lions on Unix (PDF and source), http://www.lemis.com/grog/Documentation/Lions/index.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lions%27_Commentary_on_UNIX_6th...

"Lions' Commentary on UNIX 6th Edition, with Source Code by John Lions (1976) contains the complete source code of the 6th Edition Unix kernel plus a commentary. It is commonly referred to as the Lions book. Despite its age, it is still considered an excellent commentary on simple but high quality code."

(2) Harper's dictionary of classical literature and antiquities (1898), 1750 pages, https://archive.org/details/harpersdictiona00peckgoog

(3) Oxford English Dictionary (1888), 15000 searchable page scans in a Windows app, https://archive.org/details/oed11_201407


Butterick's Practical Typography http://practicaltypography.com is a must read for anyone in design or UX field.

Everyone should read and take to heart the condensed version http://practicaltypography.com/typography-in-ten-minutes.htm...


The Tao Te Ching is available for free [0].

It's the basis for the Eastern philosophy of Taoism. Religious or spiritual or not, I find this collection of verses to encourage different forms of lateral and vertical thinking that I may otherwise miss.

Anyways, might not be for everyone, but I enjoy it.

[0] - http://www.taoism.net/ttc/complete.htm


Self Service Linux: Mastering the Art of Problem Determination http://ptgmedia.pearsoncmg.com/images/013147751X/downloads/0...

Great book on debugging issues on Linux \w strace, gdb, core dumps, etc.


We send a daily newsletter with one really interesting thing to read. Here are the past 40 or so that we've sent: http://readthisthing.com/archive

I think you're more talking about books, but still thought this might be relevant to what you're after.


The short stories of P.G. Wodenhouse, just to see what real mastery of the English language looks like.


Good to see a fan of Wodehouse :) I like his longer works better. I read ukridge and mulliner nights a while back. They were good but not as good as jeeves and the others.


CQRS Journey

"This guidance is designed to help you get started with the CQRS pattern and event sourcing. It is not intended to be the definitive guide to the CQRS pattern and event sourcing. Instead, it's a journal that describes the experiences of a development team with no prior CQRS proficiency in building, deploying (to Microsoft Azure), and maintaining a sample real-world complex enterprise system as a reference implementation (RI) to showcase various CQRS and ES concepts & techniques."

available as PDF: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj554200.aspx


Steal This Book: https://leanpub.com/stealthisbook (Apparently no longer available from LeanPub... heres's a dropbox link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/qm6vkabvd8jc3le/stealthisbook.pdf?... )

Don't Just Roll the Dice: http://download.red-gate.com/ebooks/DJRTD_eBook.pdf


Papers We Love[0] is an interesting collection of computer science papers.

[0] https://github.com/papers-we-love/papers-we-love


"What are your recommended reads that are available for free?"

Ask Professor Steve. [0]

I ran into Steve on HN back in 2010 and went for a walk with a mob of economists. [1][2] The key thing I got talking to Steve? Economics is fundamentally flawed. Read with caution.

Reference:

[0] https://twitter.com/ProfSteveKeen

[1] http://seldomlogical.com/kw.html

[2] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1126054


This translation of Suvorov's "Inside the soviet army" was a real treat to a history buff

http://militera.lib.ru/research/suvorov12/index.html

Actually quite topical given russias recent escapades - this details pretty well the society and the power dynamics that gave birth to the current situation. Also reads like an alternate version of "Catch-22" except the content should be 100% autobiographical.


Learn C and build your own Lisp http://www.buildyourownlisp.com


Fixed To Flexible – The Ebook by Todd Sattersten. It is about cost, price, margin, and the options we have for how to sell. http://www.scribd.com/doc/26237737/Fixed-to-Flexible-The-Ebo...


Perhaps not sequential reading on your laptop but very useful none the less...

https://openstaxcollege.org/students

Selected excerpts from the Physics and Biology volumes have been used by colleagues of mine to support background reading for pre-university students in the UK.


http://swiftlang.eu/

Available in .MOBI, pdf, ePub or Online


I'm giving away "Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software" book for anyone who wants to pay shipping, http://www.shareprogrammingbooks.com/books/0201633612



Warren Buffett's letters to sharelhoders: http://berkshirehathaway.com/letters/letters.html

This is pure wisdom (a lot of economic subjects, but not only).



Tuning for Speed by Phil Irving - http://tuningforspeed.com/files/Tuning_for_Speed.pdf

Combustion engine tuning. Very accessible yet deep.


Self Plug. I maintain a list in my personal web page for reference

https://sites.google.com/site/jestinjoy/free-books



The writings of Mencius Moldbug: http://moldbuggery.blogspot.com/ Mind-bending writings on politics, history and economics.


If you are new to the neo-reactionaries here is a condensed faq for what they believe http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/03/reactionary-philosophy-... (it is condensed, but nonetheless humongous. You have been warned). And, from the same author, a very long list of why they are wrong http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/10/20/the-anti-reactionary-fa...

I do not at all get neoreactionaries but I find their movement fascinating.


I would recommend to others to sample the Moldbuggery list, and not to start with Scott Alexander's writings. The point of Moldbug's writings is not to be 100% accurate. The point is to expose you to new ideas and old forgotten books, so that you yourself can create a more accurate version of reality. You won't get this by reading Scott Alexander. To really get the value of the writings, you need to actually read the old books that Moldbug recommends reading. It is very, very interesting to read an account of the Revolutionary War from a Tory or Loyalist who was actually there.

"I do not at all get neoreactionaries"

The first thing to understand is that many neoreactionaries live in once great American cities where the schools look like this: ( http://www.philly.com/philly/news/special_packages/inquirer/... ), many of the neighborhoods look like this: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1_____enUS368US369&q=urb... and if you move to the wrong neighborhood this will happen: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Father-Memorial-Da...

When that is your daily lived experience, you start asking questions about when it all went wrong.


for an engineer, Moldbug is remarkably bad at using accurate language. for example, http://unreserved-qualifications.blogspot.jp/2015/05/mencius...


Yeah a lot of people who like his writings have criticized that term. I don't really like it myself, but it kind of stuck. The word does refer to a real phenomena that currently doesn't have a mainstream name. So Moldbug gets credit for identifying the phenomena and picking some name for it. I'm not sure what a better name would be - the Clerisy? the Mandarinate? the Congregation?

But, it is a lot more accurate to see ideology and religion has basically the same phenomena, with belief in a deity being pretty much spurious, than it is to see ideology and religion as two entirely different things. So I give Moldbug credit for pointing out that progressivism is basically the same thing as a religion.


Read it to see for yourself but this is long-winded, pseudo-intellectual garbage advocating fascism. Moldbug is a follower of Thomas Carlyle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Carlyle


There are definitions of fascism by which Moldbug is advocating fascism. There are definitions of fascism by which FDR or Woodrow Wilson were fascists. The definition of fascist by which Moldbug is a fascist is not the same definition that made fascist a synonym for evil incarnate. Moldbug certainly does not want a mob with pitchforks to take over the government and to murder the Jews and go on a global plan of conquest. To thus smear him by association with such an ideology is to be maliciously uncharitable.

The purpose of his blog is to create hyperbole in the opposite direction of the current prevailing ideologies. The blog is shock treatment to get you to think about our society as a time traveler from two hundred years in the past or in the future might see it. He tries to snap you out of presentism. So there is a lot of crazy stuff in it. But there is a lot of information and perspectives that can be found nowhere else, and if you read them and incorporate them into your world views, you will have a more accurate picture of current reality, and you will make better predictions about world events.

I do agree with the long-winded part. Some people like his whimsical, sci-fi jargon infused, verbose writing style, others cannot stand it. That is a matter of taste.


There is a lot to say about paragraphs one and two but I'll limit my comment to number three;

"I do agree with the long-winded part. Some people like his whimsical, sci-fi jargon infused, verbose writing style, others cannot stand it. That is a matter of taste."

I would agree that such a style, up to a point, is a matter of taste. But beyond that point I think that verbosity, long run-on paragraphs, detours and "long-cuts" into side issues and irrelevant historical background, etc. serves two rhetorical purposes. First, to obfuscate and ameliorate a point he can't state plainly; that he is advocating a dictatorship [I call it fascist, you can call it whatever you want]. Second, it gives him the appearance of saying something deeper and more important than what he is actually saying, i.e. pseudo-intellectualism.


"create hyperbole in the opposite direction of the current prevailing ideologies"

This is accurate and well-said.

I differ greatly in the value I'd assign to the end product. It takes way too much work to untangle the possibly true, mind-bending stuff (<5%) from the sophomoric, reactionary (in the most derogatory sense of that word) stuff (>50%). It's not worth it.

Also, and I say this as someone who enjoys reading long-winded essays for fun: the information density is too low.

And finally, given the above: way too much attitude.


I would say that about 20% of the time he nails it square on, and another 70% of the time he goes overboard but he is still closer to the truth the current mainstream view. I think he appeals more to people who 1) are significantly disaffected with mainstream politics, and 2) do not believe that that problem with politics is insufficient progressivism.

If you believe the political situation is more good than bad, or if you believe it is bad only due to not being progressive enough, bad due to America not being enough like Sweden, then you won't find Moldbug at all convincing.

But if you are disaffected with both the mainstream right and progressives, then you are in search of an alternative theory of why everything is going so rotten. And in that case, Moldbug's theories are a revelation.


"But if you are disaffected with both the mainstream right and progressives, then you are in search of an alternative theory of why everything is going so rotten. And in that case, Moldbug's theories are a revelation."

Far from being a radical repudiating "the currently prevailing ideologies" I would say that he is steeped in the currently ideologies and just advocating their logical end; dictatorship. The Left and Right are both intellectually bankrupt and now just seek power for power's sake, i.e., they stand for nothing. The society is ripe for a dictator and we will get one as soon as another economic or other crisis arises. The Left and the Right secretly are hoping for such a crisis and that their gang happens to be in power when it happens. Writers like Moldbug are a harbinger of the future of the US as we drift toward dictatorship and they existed in Germany before the rise of the Nazis, laying the intellectual ground work.

Fortunately there is real intellectual opposition to this fate in Ayn Rand's philosophy. You should read "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" and more importantly her intro on ethics "The Virtue of Selfishness". She identified what is wrong with the Left and the Right and proposes an alternative ethical and political theory to support Capitalism and her writings are crystal clear and to the point.


Capitalism is great and all. But capitalism's natural base, propertied high-caste men, make up only up only 30% of the electorate in the U.S. (and that percentage is falling). So how can democracy protect capitalism? Power is real, and power abhors a vacuum. Either you have it or someone else does. The hard problem is how to get a power structure that preserves liberty and free markets. I've never seen a good Randian or libertarian solution to this problem. I don't agree with Moldbug's solution, but at least he shocked me out of believing that democracy was the answer, and got me thinking about a lot of alternative possibilities.

I also think that American's get in a trap where we think that tyranny==dictatorship. The left is power hungry and totalitarian. But it has no desire for a dictatorship. The tyranny is the distributed tyranny, peer-to-peer tyranny, of a thousand different bureaucracies, SJW's, judges, civil service agencies, etc, all with their petty fiefdoms creating problems.


I cannot disagree more with the politics and intellectual content of this comment, and the one above. So out of touch with political reality.


If you are looking for a place to start try What if there's no such thing as chaotic good? (http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/05/what-if...). It is a short and fairly standalone post that well shows Moldbug's most major line of thought and writing style.


That reads like a right-wing mirror image of critical theory—a logically flawed mess that attempts to hide its defects with a long-winded obtuse writing style.


You and Your Research by Richard Hamming

http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/YouAndYourResearch.html


Underground by By Suelette Dreyfus http://www.encyclopaedia.com/pdfs/9/518.pdf


The Law - Frédéric Bastiat. http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html

Capitalism - A Treatise on Economics - George Reisman. http://www.capitalism.net/Capitalism/CAPITALISM_Internet.pdf

The Works of Lysander Spooner. http://lysanderspooner.org/node/2

The Machinery of Freedom David Friedman. - http://daviddfriedman.com/The_Machinery_of_Freedom_.pdf

Democratizing Innovation - Eric Von Hippel. http://web.mit.edu/evhippel/www/democ1.htm

The Sources of Innovation - Eric Von Hippel. http://web.mit.edu/evhippel/www/sources.htm

Introduction to Information Retrieval - http://nlp.stanford.edu/IR-book/html/htmledition/irbook.html

Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms - David MacKay. http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/itprnn/book.html

Introduction to Cybernetics - William Ross Ashby. http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/books/IntroCyb.pdf

"Man-Computer Symbiosis" and "The Computer As A Communication Device" - J.C.R. Licklider. http://memex.org/licklider.pdf

Design For A Brain - William Ross Ashby. https://archive.org/details/designforbrainor00ashb

The Writings of Douglas Engelbart. http://www.dougengelbart.org/library/library.html

and if you like maths, don't miss this great list of free maths texts by George Cain: https://people.math.gatech.edu/~cain/textbooks/onlinebooks.h...



One about physics http://motionmountain.net/


I should think there are plenty of classical texts such as Plutarch, Homer, Thucydides etc on Project Gutenburg.


I like working through Richard Gabriel's books from time to time, available at dreamsongs.org.


If your preferred book isn't available for free, it usually means you haven't tried at Library Genesis.


noble strategy - thanissaro bhikkhu

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/nobles...

Very readable introduction to the dhamma.




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