**spoiler alert** Loved it. The epic saga continues. The poor Starks are torn apart, but yet are surprisingly resilient. In fact, pretty much every ma**spoiler alert** Loved it. The epic saga continues. The poor Starks are torn apart, but yet are surprisingly resilient. In fact, pretty much every major character is in danger of dying and some even do. It's a bit tough to read, as you really wanted The King In The North to succeed. And Dany is fast becoming an interesting part of the plot that has yet to intermix with the rest of the characters.
I'll be starting the next one soon. These books are like crack....more
This is a fun quick read, but particularly well written, which makes it a great insight into the struggle an author takes to get published. I don't thThis is a fun quick read, but particularly well written, which makes it a great insight into the struggle an author takes to get published. I don't think I learned anything per se, but it's great to see it all put together and told fluidly and so that you empathize with the characters. It almost - almost - makes me want to read the Art of Fielding, despite my lack of love for Baseball....more
This book is really the 5th and 4th books cut in half. But rather than George cutting it squarely in half he just put half the character storylines inThis book is really the 5th and 4th books cut in half. But rather than George cutting it squarely in half he just put half the character storylines in. So we miss out on hearing anything about various characters like Dany, Tyrion, Bran, and Stannis, and only hear a little about Jon Snow and Arya. This is not a bad thing, but it did feel like there was a gaping hole.
I think my favorite thing about this book was Littlefinger's scheming. (view spoiler)[I didn't see where he was going with marrying Lysa and then killing her. But then getting out of that in the way he did was pretty smart. In a way it exemplified the whole theme of this book, which is that one way The Game (of Thrones) is played is with favorable marriages, and no highborn maiden is safe.
Cersei's breakdown is interesting too. She has such desire to rule with absolute power, and it of course corrupted her. It was fascinating (and slightly annoying) to watch her lose trust in everyone around her, one by one.
I was less interested with the story line of the Iron Men. But I have a feeling they have a interesting part to play when we get back to Dany's storyline. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A hilarious and book from Tina Fey - definitely worth listening to over audio as she reads it herself. She makes fun of herself a lot, adds lots of liA hilarious and book from Tina Fey - definitely worth listening to over audio as she reads it herself. She makes fun of herself a lot, adds lots of light humor, and of course shares TMI.
The most interesting bit was hearing the behind the scenes of Saturday Night Live, and how she was a joke writer there for 3 years before they gave her a role on the show, which was only doing the news. Her breakout occurred after she had already left for 30 Rock, when she did the Sarah Palin impersonation. Tina is clearly an example of someone who has worked long and hard to get where she is. ...more
This is an amazing inside view into the life of one of the great businessmen of our era. A must read.
The thing that struck me most about Steve Jobs wThis is an amazing inside view into the life of one of the great businessmen of our era. A must read.
The thing that struck me most about Steve Jobs was that he was an incredible perfectionist. He was a craftsman, and wanted the computers he built to be beautiful and amazing and useful. He believed that computers were "at the intersection of technology and liberal arts" - a phrase he used a lot - because he realized computers weren't just for geeks. They are for everyone, and needed to be able to be used by everyone.
Steve put design at the top of product pyramid at Apple - above engineering. This means they spent a lot of time trying to fit the hardware into the beautifully designed cases the designers came up with, and the designers and engineers had to work together closely. This can backfire (eg Antennagate), but largely it worked really well. It produced amazing computers that were visually distinct from everything else in the market, and that "just work". If I learned anything from this book, it's that Apple believed that design is paramount, and spending extra time and engineering resources to make a beautiful design work is worth it.
Apple's design philosophy is to "make it simple. Really simple". You still see this today - go to Apple.com - you will see ONE product. Now try Amazon. According to the book, Jobs learned this from Markkula, who taught him that "A great company must be able to impute its values from the first impression it makes".
Steve's ethos was basically that if you are going to do something, do it right. The book is full of examples of Steve doing this. When the iMac first came out it looked like no other computer. It was interesting to hear how difficult it was for the engineers to accommodate a handle on the computer - but it ended up being a defining feature of the computer. I also loved the story of how Steve was obsessed with quality glass, and ordered the highest end stuff he could find for his Apple Stores.
Steve's management tactics got a lot of scrutiny in the book - and many other reviewers use words like "jerk" to describe him. It sounds like Steve could definitely be a jerk to work for. His management style was to push people as hard as he could, and to let people know when they didn't perform. When pushed like that, a person can have one of two reactions: they either resent it, and end up quitting or getting fired (B-players) - or they accept the challenge to do better, and come back the next week with something even better. Win-win for Steve - he filters out the b-players and gets his a-players to produce the best work they can.
But, as was pointed out in the book, if Steve was nothing but a jerk, he wouldn't have built a company full of loyal employees - Apple has one of the lowest turnover rates in the valley. Jobs only hired people who "had a passion for the product". I also liked how he motivated by looking at the bigger picture; such as the story of how he convinced his engineer that saving 10 seconds off the boot time was worth it because across 5 million users that would save 100 lifetimes per year.
The book was full of references to Steve's dynamic personality; his "reality distortion field" is a great descriptor. Steve believed he could do anything - and he was so persuasive that he could convince those around him that they could whatever it was too. I think this is one of the most defining qualities of an entrepreneur - believing something can be done against all odds. Not being afraid to tear down walls or think outside the box.
I loved the description of Steve that "whatever he was touting was the best thing he ever produced." You see him do this in his keynote speeches too. He is always using words like "best", "amazing", etc to describe whatever he's launching.
A big theme that the author made was that especially early on, Steve viewed Apple as "counter-culture" rebels. They were hippies who thought they could change the world. And they did - but not only that - I think they embedded their can-do attitude deep in Silicon Valley, which is probably highly correlated with why it is the center of the technology revolution today. This quote is classic:
One of Steve's great abilities was to focus. When Jobs came back to Apple from his hiatus the biggest innovation he made was to focus the company onto just the few products that were working or had potential.
Steve's belief that computers need to be beautiful and easy to use basically prevented him from ever licensing his software, as then he wouldn't be able to control the user experience. Microsoft didn't have that problem, and that's why Windows dominated. I think it's also the reason that Windows is in trouble today. They have spent a decade making their code work across hundreds of different hardware configurations. Their code is now full of backwards compatibility support that just makes it messy, and bloated. Worse, their focus is on maintaining all that instead of innovating and improving it.
The platform vs integrated approach is being tested again with the iphone vs android. It will be interesting to see if history replays itself, or if Apple's lead and ability to make a superior product because of their full stack control will prevail.
Wow. Amazing story, and well told - kept me up late at night! Louie Zamperini truly went through hell and came back - and it's inspiring to read a stoWow. Amazing story, and well told - kept me up late at night! Louie Zamperini truly went through hell and came back - and it's inspiring to read a story of such willpower and determination. It was also interesting to me to learn more about Japan and their role in the war.
One big takeaway was just how cheap human life is in war. I think there was some stat about how 5/6 of the US airmen that died did so from accidents - that is simply staggering.
I love WWII stories, but most of the ones I've seen and read have focused on Germany, so I really didn't know much about how Japan had treated their POW's. It was pretty eye opening to read the stats about how they pretty much massacred hundreds of thousands of POW's. And of couse, as the story details, they also did not follow Geneva Conventions and pretty much treated POW's as slaves.
One of my favorite points the author made is best illustrated by this quote about Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. This is a fundamental truth of humanity that the author really drew out well - if you take a persons dignity away you take everything away. I loved all the stories of POW's being defiant; stealing food, supplies, playing jokes, etc. The little bits of defiance were enough to let them take back their dignity, and I think thats what makes them so compelling; because while we haven't all been POW's, we can relate to that basic need.
This is a fascinating glimpse into American history, of which I was largely ignorant - well worth a read. I had no idea prohibition lasted 14 years! MThis is a fascinating glimpse into American history, of which I was largely ignorant - well worth a read. I had no idea prohibition lasted 14 years! My only criticism is the author spent way too much time on the politics of prohibition - that could have been cut by half.
The bottom line of prohibition is that is was a massive failure. It singlehandedly created organized crime, cost the government lots of money in lost taxes and enforcement, and failed to stop pretty much anyone from drinking.
It did have some upside though. Americans had a drinking problem and definitely drank less overall during prohibition, and even afterwards. But more importantly prohibition helped transform American culture. Prohibition coincided with massive immigration and population growth, which all happened in the cities. It was really a battle between urban culture and rural culture. It particularly didn't make sense in urban culture, and people rebelled, giving us "the roaring 20's". Prohibition helped us go from a stay at home culture to one where it was acceptable to go out and consume liquor.
Prohibition gave us income tax. The Anti-Saloon League (ASL), which was the organization that pushed prohibition through, pushed income tax through first because the government couldn't approve prohibition without finding an alternate source of revenue for the massive amount of tax money (30% of federal revenue) it made on liquor.
Many businesses got their starts in prohibition. Walgreens went from 20 to 525 stores during prohibition, because of the legal loophole that medicinal liquor was allowed, so drugstores were a major source of liquor sales. Coca Cola saw sales triple. The entire ecosystem of Nassau and the Bahamas was created. Sam Bronfman, the largest bootlegger in Canada, turned his operation into a legitimate business afterwards, owning many major liquor brands under the Seagrams brand.
The major failing of prohibition, and the reason it was eventually repealed, was the organized crime. Al Capone was the poster boy, but all the major mafia families got their start bootlegging, then got organized, then went on to bigger and better criminal activities. Yes it gave us Las Vegas, but it wasn't a good thing. If anything, this is the argument for the legalization of Marijuana (though there are other factors there).
In the end I think that prohibition was a bad idea because it was the government trying to tell Americans how to live. Individuals have to take responsibility for themselves. ...more