Fascinating book that explores the psychology behind our need for sleep. Thoroughly explores different threats to sleep, such as shift work and daylig...moreFascinating book that explores the psychology behind our need for sleep. Thoroughly explores different threats to sleep, such as shift work and daylight savings time, as well as the resulting permutations of the effects of sleep deprivation upon our society.
Not hard to read at all. Palatable yet scientific, contains the results of studies as well as plenty of interesting anecdotes and ties to well-known historical events. The best $1 book I ever purchased.
Helped me try to figure out my own relationship to sleep by giving me a better understanding of the cues my body uses to set its own clock, and finally left me with the understanding that it's OK if I naturally gravitate towards sleeping 9-10 hours per night.(less)
Some interesting ideas, but some things were clearly overlooked. Not enough explanation of WHY it is good to do certain things, and I felt like too ma...moreSome interesting ideas, but some things were clearly overlooked. Not enough explanation of WHY it is good to do certain things, and I felt like too many concessions were made.
For example, the author recommended using a push (manual-powered) lawnmower, but said that if you prefer to use a gas mower, set your blade as high as possible. And just left it at that, like a simple matter of preference! (When there are actually reasons for letting your grass grow higher, and setting it to "mulch", that have to do with how good it is for your lawn, etc.) Well, what about the option of an electric mower? I know in my own use that switching to an electric (battery powered, rechargeable) mower kept me from wheezing when I cut the grass because it removed gas fumes from the equation, which is a pretty reasonable option for people who aren’t about to switch to the totally hardcore old-school option.
Other weird things. Some good tips but some strange things which were left totally unexplained. Like, when you travel, “to reset your clock, get as much sunlight as possible” was followed by “Sex helps, too!” with no explanation as to how or why.
I don’t know, it was a quick read, I demolished it in two days commute. I think there were some cute ideas, like buying a set of cheap used plates and cutlery to take with you on picnics instead of taking disposable, and some good things to think about, but a lot of it seemed just randomly thrown together, even though it was grouped into six sections.
I think “Ecoholic” (by A.Vasil) is probably better, but certainly less cute.(less)
Very funny except for the parts with the loud sports fan. The guests weren't that great; I ended up wishing Stephen had just done all the voices himse...moreVery funny except for the parts with the loud sports fan. The guests weren't that great; I ended up wishing Stephen had just done all the voices himself. I don't like Amy Sedaris's voice, even as a crazy cat lady (clearly, I was pining away for Samantha Bee).(less)
These are wonderful brief essays. My only "complaint" is that it's hard to read through the book for long stretches at a time, because it's so easy to...moreThese are wonderful brief essays. My only "complaint" is that it's hard to read through the book for long stretches at a time, because it's so easy to find a stopping point and set it aside. Which means it's very good for situations when you only have a few minutes to spare.(less)
Interested by the way he links together several different anecdotes/studies to come out with his own idea. Also how I could immediately apply some of...moreInterested by the way he links together several different anecdotes/studies to come out with his own idea. Also how I could immediately apply some of these concepts to the world around me.
The day after I finished I was talking with friends who are trying to quit smoking and suffer mental illness, discussing the parts about Zyban, nicotine, norephedrine and dopamine.
I could've sworn I'd read about the Micronesian suicide epidemic earlier, but maybe just in the press following this book's initial release.(less)
A lot of interesting things to consider regarding corporations and the bottom line, and the ways in which "news" has been commodified.
I gave up readin...moreA lot of interesting things to consider regarding corporations and the bottom line, and the ways in which "news" has been commodified.
I gave up reading this the first time but returned to it with energy and enthusiasm. Lots of reasons to back up that feeling in the pit of my stomach that there's really something wrong with the status quo and that our society has gotten off track somehow.
"The best estimate is that an adless paper costs the reader 70 percent more than a paper with the current level of ads. Though readers pay for the pages of advertising, the high volume of pages printed in a newspaper plant because of ad pages reduces the production cost per page. It is the enormous increase in ad pages that makes for a net increase in the cost of the whole paper. So eliminating these pages would mean smaller printing runs, which would be cheaper in total but higher per page by 70 percent. A paper with 1940-level ads, twelve and a half pages, would cost, at most 14 cents, instead of the 20 cents for the present  level of ads, forty three pages. Elimination of most of the larger ads in a newspaper would reduce the cost of many manufactured goods whose makers now add the cost of ads to the price. Today , advertisers spend $400 a year on each newspaper subscriber and about $300 on each television household. Even more could be saved by the reduced prices of consumer goods while giving the readers a less expensive paper that would still have twelve pages of ads." p.147
"In 1977 Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal of New York produced secret IRS documents doing back to 1950. They showed that the tax laws of Saudi Arabia were drafted with the help of of Aramco to call the added price of oil not a 'royalty' but an 'income tax.' The Saudis did this knowing that the income tax paid to a foreign country is deductible from the income taxes an oil company pays to the U.S. on all income received in the U.S. by the parent firm. "At the time, the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury called this 'royalty exacted in the guise of income tax' a 'sham.' But the power of the oil industry within government is almost unmatched, and the unorthodox provision was accepted by the Treasury. A 1977 calculation by the House Ways and Means Committee showed that about 75 percent of what the oil companies paid Saudi Arabia for oil was counted as 'income tax,' reducing their U.S. taxes so much that it costs other U.S. taxpayers more than $2 billion a year. It is such a highly profitable avoidance of domestic taxes that it has motivated the major oil companies to emphasize Middle East oil despite its high price and unstable future." p.63-64
"Modern corruption is more subtle. At one time or another, advertisers have /successfully/ demanded that the following ideas appear in programs around their ads: "All businessmen are good, or if not, are always condemned by other businessmen. All wars are humane. The status quo is wonderful. Also wonderful are grocery stores, bakeries, drug companies, restaurants, and laundries. Religionists, especially clergy, are perfect. All users of cigarettes are gentle, graceful, healthy, youthful people. In fact, anyone who uses a tobacco product is a hero. People who commit suicide never do it with pills. All financial institutions are always in good shape. The American way of life is beyond criticism. "The above messages, to cite only a few, are not vague inferences. Major advertisers insisted, successfully, that these specific ideas be expressed not in ads but in the ostensibly 'independent' news reporting, editorial content, or entertainment programs of newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. The readers, listeners, and viewers do not know that these messages are planted by advertisers. They are not supposed to know. They are supposed to think that these ideas are the independent work of professional journalists and playwrights detached from anything commercial. If the audiences were told that the ideas represented explicit demands of corporations who advertised, the messages would lose their impact." p.154-155
"The news media--diluted of real meaning by apolitical and sterile context, homogenized with the growth of monopoly, overwhelmingly more of a service to merchants than to the audience, and filled with frivolous material--are a threat to their own future but also to the body politic. "When sterility of news writing fails to relate political and social events to real forces in society, it produces something worse than 'nothingness.' By removing significant context from events, it leaves the average citizen looking at what James Britton has called a 'kaleidoscope.' If it is left as isolated fragments, Britton says, 'We can make nothing of the present moment.' And if people can make nothing of the present moment they tend to remain static and bewildered, left at the mercy of whoever acts with power. That, almost inevitably, means perpetuation of power without accountability. By following these policies of news, American media corporations benefit from the political sterility of the media. A population unable to select alternative patterns of power sustains the status quo." p.206
"There is no journalistic convention for dealing with the 'butchers thumb' of owner prejudice in deciding which news events will be pursued, which will be repeated with emphasis. "The pattern is clear in American journalism: in general, items are more likely to be pursued in depth if they portray flaws in the public, tax-supported sector of American life, and less likely to be pursued if they portray flaws in the corporate sector. Items about high costs or flaws in welfare and labor unions are likely to be emphasized and repeated. Items such as General Electric's conviction for cheating on its defense contract in 1985 are not as likely to be pursued by a series of articles in depth on flaws in defense contracting. Over long periods of time, this results in the public impression that public-sector activities are essentially flawed and should be limited while private enterprises are essentially sound and have no need for change." p.216
"Consolidated control over the mass media has congealed at a tenuous time in national history. Democracy's strength is in its ability to adapt nonviolently to changing needs, and in the last quarter of a century the United States has developed a special need for openness to new ideas and diversity of information. It must deal with the threat of nuclear annihilation, with growing global tensions between rich nations and poor ones, while within its own borders there is a parallel polarization between haves and have-nots, whites and nonwhites, old and young. "In periods of prolonged and basic change, societies that survive with any coherence need a social glue that holds them together. Today there is a weakening of national patterns that once constituted an automatic glue. In times past, within small communities, people of different classes may not have approved of each other but at least were forced to recognize each other. In public schools the children of the poor and the children of the rich came to know each other before the social status of their parents pulled them apart. "But in the last quarter of the twentieth century, Americans no longer know each other as they once did. In large cities the inhabitants have become strangers. They no longer attend the same schools or ride the same public transportation. The automobile has become a social as well as a mechanical isolation chamber in which the rich and poor pass each other in unseeing isolation." p.224(less)
Similar entrepreneurial info to what can be found in the "Four-Hour Workweek" but with the added benefit of being written by a woman who seems more gr...moreSimilar entrepreneurial info to what can be found in the "Four-Hour Workweek" but with the added benefit of being written by a woman who seems more grounded than that other guy.
But I'm not here for the entrepreneurial stuff, so the work-and-travel and work-and-values chapters seemed shorter than I would've preferred but still gave a good outline of factors to consider. Good things to think about in terms of doing your research while you still have a paycheck coming in (but I don't!).
Also a good amount of cheering on the front of "it's ok to take work for a while to make ends meet, especially temp work which is not as obligatory feeling" -- had already been considering this route.
Drops a lot of gendered [e.g. "businesswoman"] words so that you don't forget you're reading a book for *ladies*.(less)