An interesting exploration on how the public views non-profits (generally in a negative light) and how public policy makes the work that many charitabAn interesting exploration on how the public views non-profits (generally in a negative light) and how public policy makes the work that many charitable organizations do harder. It does give some ideas on what can be done about it, and for that I gave it an extra star, but the book gets muddled on minor details it would do better to explain and move on from, but instead, gives example after example, without adding much to the argument....more
Alright, but let us face the reality, this is just an essay you can read online for free, and get to its core argument and save yourself several hoursAlright, but let us face the reality, this is just an essay you can read online for free, and get to its core argument and save yourself several hours and several dollars. Still, the padding is comfy and interesting, so I do not think you have to avoid it completely....more
An important read on multiple levels, the book summarizes the coming changes in AI and other automated processes, which will replace the need for humaAn important read on multiple levels, the book summarizes the coming changes in AI and other automated processes, which will replace the need for human intervention, thus eliminating millions of unskilled jobs from the employment pool. They start out discussing the state of such technology, incorporating the usual Moore's law arguments, which have held true for the better part of the past five decades, and examining the impact on labor, showing the decline for certain jobs (usually unskilled labor, but interestingly enough, skilled middle labor, such as administrators and clerks,) usually those types of jobs that require repetitive tasks, are labor intensive, or take a lot of focus. Everything from trucking to admin assistants will slowly be replaced by far more accurate and versatile machines. The writers then go on to explain their historical analogy, using horses as their example, where there was a time when horses used to be the most important part of any labor process, and were quickly replaced by machines, which were cheaper, more reliable, took less maintenance, and increase output. Soon, human employees will be replaced by computers, in all fields, and will find themselves equally obsolete. The writers try to wrap the discussion up by moving away from the common doom and gloom scenarios posited by many of their contemporaries, and instead try to envision another way to think through the issue, suggesting many solutions, including changes to education and government reforms, as well as social reforms that put people in charge of the digital revolution, instead of making them victims to it....more
Back when I was a roundish pre-teenager, one of my favorite subject matters was the paranormal. A fascination helped along by some anonymous individuaBack when I was a roundish pre-teenager, one of my favorite subject matters was the paranormal. A fascination helped along by some anonymous individual at the Middletown library who used their position to gather the largest public collection of paranormal related books available anywhere else that I could think of. I slurped up book after book on every wackadoo, and less then wackadoo subject you could or would imagine. UFOs, contactees, abductions, ancient civilizations, new world orders, MIBs, psi, ghosts, the list goes on and on. I could have written for the first couple of seasons of the X-Files by the time I was thirteen. After awhile, I turned away from most of that stuff, finding nothing new, little proven or exposed, and too much nonsense to keep me interested. The last book I remember before I put down most of my paranormal studies for good was [Mind Trek:] by Joseph McMoneagle. I was impressed by the subject material, but found it too outlandish to be claimed without any scientific backing for the methods used to explore them. Finished for, what I thought, was good, I put the book back on the shelf and picked up a copy of [Chaos Theory:] by James Gleick, and didn't look back.
Recently, on a mind hack adventure, I found myself reading in and around the subject of remote viewing (RV: the act of viewing details of a place and time where the viewer is not currently located). At the time, a lot of my studies were into consciousness and its nature, and the past 50 years of brain research. I decided to dive into the subject again, more as intellectual curiosity, then anything else.
The book is more of a military memoir then a psychic one. It follows the story of Joseph McMoneagle, his early family life, which consisted of a mixture of poverty, abuse, neglect and resistance so common to many men who join the armed forces. The next couple of pages follows his fairly common rise in the ranks, to where he eventually ends up in Vietnam, suffers his first out of body experience after nearly dying, and begins to discover his gifts for visualizing and intuiting the world around him. Later, when he returns stateside, he is approached by recruiters for the famed Stargate project, in which he learns how to harness his psi potential for covert purposes.
Much of the rest of the book is more explanatory of the history of remote viewing from McMoneagle's perspective. He spends a great deal of time explaining RV's potentials and limits, and defending the negative press and skeptical attacks against it. His arguments are solid, although, most of the time he is giving his point of view, and since he was there you can say a) he's lying or b) he's not. For the most part, no one's mind is going to be made up on the manner of RV or psi abilities by this book. If you think its true, he will explain some of its limits and possibilities, if you think its not, he's just lying or mistaken.
Still, there's some compelling evidence for the existence of the phenomenon, and the story itself is fraught with enough dysfunction (filial, as well as governmental) that an open-minded non-believer can take something away from it. Although, nothing here will change anyone's minds, and to be honest, there is absolutely nothing of value to the skeptic (unless you are of the skeptical mindset that all paranormal phenomenon is born of deluded and damaged minds, then Mr. McMoneagle's troubled background will feed that, er, illusion, for you). It was a breezy read, though, and got my mind working in new directions. If anything, I may pick up a copy of MindTreks and see where it takes me....more
It took me more then a month to slog through this book. Insightful, but not much new for anyone with a little understanding of history and common sensIt took me more then a month to slog through this book. Insightful, but not much new for anyone with a little understanding of history and common sense: societies that don't learn to live with some harmony with their environment and don't change their habits in time, will collapse and the same is happening to us right now. If you want to read this book, but are not writing an exhausting essay, you can easily get by reading the first and last chapter and introduction, to get what you need out of it....more
I saw Andrew Bacevich's interview with Bill Moyers on PBS last week and was impressed enough by his demeanor, verve, and intelligence to go out and buI saw Andrew Bacevich's interview with Bill Moyers on PBS last week and was impressed enough by his demeanor, verve, and intelligence to go out and buy the book off Amazon right away.
Andrew Bacevich is a conservative academic with a distinguished military career, who teaches International Affairs at Boston University. He is a real conservative, not one of those 'I worship triple the size of government, Ronald Reagan Conservatives.' From his writings I actually believe he thinks government should be decreased in size and budgets should be legitimately balanced. He's the type of conservative that I could easily sit down and have a discussion with and probably nod my head in agreement with as often as not.
Here, he writes a compact, yet detailed, explanation of American's real problems, not the stupid ones presented to you nightly on the news, like gay marriage or stem cell research, instead, he lays the facts on the table summable in the following statement: The United States is steeped in debt, both national and personal and is attempting to use its military to stave off the eventual collapse that will occur when a nation goes completely bankrupt.
To prove his argument, Bacevich simply points out the obvious. Currently, the United States sits on $10 trillion worth of debt, with annual deficit of $400 billion. We have a trade deficit, and individual Americans have negative saving rates. Bacevich blames every president since LBJ for the sorry state of affairs, but saves most of his ire for Ronald Reagan and his successors, Bill Clinton, and both Bushes, for the continuation of this time bomb lifestyle.
The next part of his argument states that to put off the coming catastrophe, and to keep Americans from realizing that they could not longer hold onto the consumerist culture they had become addicted to, the government has turn to the military to create an empire throughout the world to protect American's access to cheap oil and therefor, cheap goods. It is a heady argument, but his explanation is quite lucid, and takes up the next half of the book.
I recommend this book to anyone who is actually interested in how we got this far into the hole without even blinking and what the consequences are of our actions. Although, I don't recommend this book for anyone looking for directions on what to do, which is really my only criticism of the the entire text....more
While Central Asia will not rise high and many people's lists of "must go" travel destinations, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, many reseaWhile Central Asia will not rise high and many people's lists of "must go" travel destinations, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, many researchers wanted in on the Central Asian Republics largely because they had remained such a dense black box for so long. Even during the Glasnost period of the mid 80's, many visitors were restricted from entering these hidden parts of the Soviet Union. So, when the Empire fell, and the Republics declared themselves autonomous, people interested in the area, for whatever reason, made plans to enter the dark center of Asia.
Written in the mid-90's, the book is largely outdated, as events have overcome much of the author's musings on the future of this part of the world. Still, his descriptions of a region on the cusp of major changes, yet still stuck in past habits (a theme that runs throughout most writing about Central Asia) will give perspective to students of the region on the events that would soon follow Mr. Thubron's visit. Despite historical obsolescence, his descriptions are entertaining and inspiring for people who enjoy traveling, especially to uncommon locations. ...more
While it falls under the current events shelf, the book is fairly outdated, as it was written in the 1990s, under the Clinton's administration, and maWhile it falls under the current events shelf, the book is fairly outdated, as it was written in the 1990s, under the Clinton's administration, and many of the policies discussed have probably changed, for the worse most likely.
The story though stands rock solid and well explained. The book covers the history of the War on Drugs* through historical narrations, based on either interviews with principle players, or well-researched second hand accounts. As the title suggests, the author is quite critical of The War on Drugs as it is currently playing out. He follows the history of America's early drug problems (in this case, marijuana and opium) and early solutions (in both cases, taxing the hell out of it), including the failure of early demonization and prohibition efforts, largest and most costly, of which, was Prohibition. The end result of Prohibition, of course, was ruinous, generating huge amounts of corruption, social disruptions, and contributing the empowerment and rise of major crime organizations. Yet, as the author points out, it took the Great Depression to finally end Prohibition, which had obviously failed.
According to the author, The War on Drugs is no different. He points out how attempts to ameliorate the problem tended to fall prey to ideological thinking. Practical solutions, such as President Nixon's methadone clinic plans, which actually reduced the amount of drug users in the country, were ignored, then removed, for louder, and in many ways, more dangerous approaches. He goes onto to explain how The War on Drugs became the social movement of the '80s and '90s, and the consequences of its consistent expansion over those two decades.
In conclusion, this book is for anyone who knows the true consequences of drug use, and worse, the criminalization of drug abuse. It presents the clear-headed argument for regulation, taxation and decriminalization, as well a good story of America's penchant to choose ideology and Utopian thinking over practical and imperfect solutions.
*A particularly favorite political tactic of Americans is to declare 'war' on certain social ills. I think this is in lieu with our absolute unwillingness to slacken military endeavors in any way, ever. Also, we are allowed to turn the social ill into a black and white affair, complete with villains, heroes and action packed legends. Much more exciting then boring complicated solutions....more
My friend J gave me this book before I went to Kazakhstan working with the United States Peace Corps, so, at the time, I found it a more interesting rMy friend J gave me this book before I went to Kazakhstan working with the United States Peace Corps, so, at the time, I found it a more interesting read then I probably would have, had I been traveling to, let's say, the Western Congo or Oceania. To date, not many books about Central Asia exist, at least, not all that many good ones. There is Lost Heart of Asia by Colin Thubronand Tom Bissell's books (of which I will discuss in later reviews), yet few others. Since 9/11, the world's attention was drawn to Afghanistan, and therefore, its neighbors in Central Asia, and hence this book, examining the current politics of these former Soviet Republics. Most of the focus on the book is on Uzbekistan, although, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan are briefly mentioned as well.
The author, Ahmed Rashid, while not sympathetic to the ideologies of militant Islam, he does explore the conditions which lend weight to their cause and drive otherwise disinterested people to their ranks. His argument is a simple one, and one which has been put forth again and again, is that militant Islam gains power in unstable, poor countries with oppressive regimes and a large populations of young men who's only access to education is the local madrases. Ahmed Rashid then explores to what extent these particular conditions exist in Central Asia. He discusses Uzbekistan at length largely because Uzbekistan has most of these conditions, and has become a boiler point for resistance and conflict. In contrast, Rashid then describes the activities in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, just reviving itself after a nasty civil war, and describes why militant Islam has not gained a foothold there (largely because its government allowed the militants to run for office, and they all were handily defeated at the polls) and then explains what the world needs to do to insure that militant Islam does not spread.
The book is for academics, or anyone else, looking for an alternative explanation for the cause of militant Islamic extremism past 'they hate our freedoms' as well as anyone traveling or working in Central Asia who needs to allay their fears about the Muslim Brotherhood's activities there (mostly centered in the isolated Fergana Valley). Otherwise, the text could be too dry and the subject matter too myopic for casual reading.
Oh, and I left my copy in Almaty, so sorry J. Thanks for giving it to me anyway....more