A light read, but some incredibly funny bits. If you want to know about defecation in zero g, this is your book. Not a spoiler per se, but my favorite...moreA light read, but some incredibly funny bits. If you want to know about defecation in zero g, this is your book. Not a spoiler per se, but my favorite story was about a guy exploring the bowels (yeah, I did that) of a NASA medical research facility and finding a number of freezers marked with astronauts names. And he's thinking "this is like Raiders of the Lost Ark ... this is where they keep the astronauts!" But the freezers were full of labeled bags of cosmic excrement frozen for posterity. In trying to re-find the room later he comments "you can't just go there ... you have to, kinda, uh, stumble upon it. It's like Narnia." (less)
Starts off fabulous but wanes at the end. My two big complaints:
1. Though she tries not to, there's an occasional feeling that extroverts are being l...moreStarts off fabulous but wanes at the end. My two big complaints:
1. Though she tries not to, there's an occasional feeling that extroverts are being lampoon ... made to seem like simplistic / boasting buffoons. Or just subtly put down. An example comes in the conclusion where she encourages us to nurture the quiet (or cultivate the quietness in ourselves) because the Quiet are the inventors / artists / engineers / geniuses of tomorrow. Really? Implicitly just because you're quiet you're going to be an artist and because you're gregarious your going to be a frat guy? Granted, it's hard to maintain the idea that these are tendencies and not destinies and you don't want authors to stop every other sentence to reiterate an extensive list of caveats and disclaimers, but these moments annoy me. They feel like pep talks to the introverts ... or, worse, like self-help pseudo-science. Which leads to my second complaint.
2. The last few chapters DO read like self-help pseudo-science. What's great about the early chapters is the rooting in science - physiology, psychology, social sciences, etc - or investigations of real world organizations such as Tony Robbins or the mega-Churches. These final chapters offer little support for her claims. Take the segment about how to calm your child before a first day of school. Susan makes sweeping claims about how the child feels and one gets the feeling this is a confessional, more autobiography than analysis. The constant flip-flop between she & he when referred to children amplifies the touchy-feely squish of the chapters.
Read the book for the early chapters. It is eye-opening; I see things quite differently based on the premise alone. One small example - billboard on a bus during my commute the other day read "Life is a Team Sport." No ... life is a team sport for some, a solitary endeavor for some, and has no relation to sport for others. I buy that we'll all be better off when we make room for this variety of human experiences. (less)
Disappointing. Just a series of cases giving no real insight into the context of hallucination. Sure, it's amusing to hear about the older woman with...moreDisappointing. Just a series of cases giving no real insight into the context of hallucination. Sure, it's amusing to hear about the older woman with the hallucinatory gentleman caller, or that the exaggeration of teeth and eyes in hallucinated faces is rooted in cerebral anatomy (a part of the brain processes these features), but the most interesting questions are those unanswered about culture. For example, why is there a stigma around hearing voices, such that it alone is sufficient for one to be categorized as schizophrenic? Why do visions in religious context get something of a pass, but other hallucinations are denigrated? What drives us, as humans, to seek out these kinds of altered perceptions - as shown by the ubiquity of hallucinogenic drugs in every culture that could conceivably get access ... and the use of the environment or deprivation, such as hunger, to enhance or induce? (less)
The corrective to all the Total Immersion bullshit that seems to think you can swim fast with good body position alone. Let's dispense with this by co...moreThe corrective to all the Total Immersion bullshit that seems to think you can swim fast with good body position alone. Let's dispense with this by comparing the very aerodynamic Prius to the bulbous and not so aerodynamic Pontiac GTO muscle car; horsepower wins. Get your propulsion in order. (less)
What I love about travel literature; the opportunity to turn it into a hybrid containing autobiography, history, the sciences (everything from geology...moreWhat I love about travel literature; the opportunity to turn it into a hybrid containing autobiography, history, the sciences (everything from geology to paleontology), current events ... with a wide array of emotional currents, whimsy to heartache. One of the best examples of the form I've read in recent times. (less)
I find Churchill an incredibly compelling figure. It's not hard to argue that he's the greatest figure in 20th century history - flawed, multi-dimensi...moreI find Churchill an incredibly compelling figure. It's not hard to argue that he's the greatest figure in 20th century history - flawed, multi-dimensional, human in his foibles and his heroism. But this book is too slim to really capture the richness of his character. It's like a very well written long wikipedia article. Many of the questions that I find interesting - for example, how did Chuchill transform himself from a very poor student to the brilliant man we know - aren't explored.
I think I need to go in two directions: reading one of the lengthier biographical explorations and then reading some of the daunting volume of his writing, most likely the war memoirs. (less)