It's an ok biography of a pretty interesting guy. I especially appreciated the treatments of Feynman's working-class childhood, his coming of age, hisIt's an ok biography of a pretty interesting guy. I especially appreciated the treatments of Feynman's working-class childhood, his coming of age, his work on the atomic bomb, his relationship with his first wife and his grief at her death. The life of a scientist can be rather dull to write about since so much of the action is happening in their interior worlds, but Gleick does a good job getting at Feynman's motivations, his way of thinking and his mischievous nature. Gleick also manages to dig into the darker aspects of Feynman's life and his character flaws (his infidelities, drug use, abuse) but in the end the book is extremely deferential. We also get a lot of detail on the contemporary history of the developments of particle physics. This is also interesting, but takes up a bit too much spotlight for something that's supposed to be a biography of a single man.
I feel that this book fell short of making a strong case for why Feynman the man is worth remembering outside of the tribe of physicists. Despite the book's deference and many pages spent describing his scientific achievements, he comes off as just another philandering, selfish, priggish prima-donna academic, albeit a kooky, bongo-playing one. I'd rather read about Bill Nye, thanks. At least he makes a strong case for why science matters to ordinary people....more
Worth reading. Comprehensive, even-handed, intellectually honest arguments if not airtight ones.
Every time I've ever taken a Meyers Brigg test I testWorth reading. Comprehensive, even-handed, intellectually honest arguments if not airtight ones.
Every time I've ever taken a Meyers Brigg test I test as an extrovert and I agree with the central thesis: People be talking. Too damn much. And not listening enough. Cain covers a lot of ground: Personality psychology, culture, gender, parenting, tips for working professionals. I particularly appreciated the way she brings in counterarguments to her thesis (her discussion of Jack Welch's op-ed stands out as a particularly good – and well-balanced – back-and-forth)....more
Some interesting ideas but ultimately I found it to be mostly specious, with many extraordinary assertions made on a paucity of evidence. Rushkoff isSome interesting ideas but ultimately I found it to be mostly specious, with many extraordinary assertions made on a paucity of evidence. Rushkoff is doing something worthwhile in this book by examining things that aren't usually examined and trying to make a judgment about whether the systems we're currently sustaining are worth sustaining, but he talks past a lot of important things that make it hard to give much credence to his arguments. In the end, I don't feel like reading this book gave me value commensurate with the time it took to read it.
The discussion on the history and utility of money was particularly troubling. He seems to have some evidence that it would be better if monetary systems encourage deflation (as with barter currencies and community scrip of old or with the cryptocurrencies of today) because, he argues, money is (or should be) purely a means of exchange. But the thing is, philosophers and economists have been thinking about money for over 200 years and they would tend to assert that money is also a measure and store of value. And they've also arrived at a hard-won consensus that deflationary currencies don't work very well. Paul Krugman has written about this a fair bit and you'd be hard-pressed to call him a rabidly conservative economist.
I also question his notion that peer-to-peer marketplaces are inherently and universally better than the "faceless" corporations he derides. Transactions are costly, obtaining information is costly and I take a dimmer view than Rushkoff of my fellow man that he is absolutely going to give me a better deal or treat me better simply because he has to look me in the eye when he takes my money. People lie, if only to themselves; people fail to deliver for one reason or another, and as such, a byzantine system of contract law develops to keep people honest and to settle disputes. Among many other things, big businesses thrive relative to small businesses because they help mitigate transaction costs in ways that small businesses are less able to. Rushkoff should probably have spoken to some of the criticisms of peer-to-peer marketplaces before going on to argue that they are always better.
These are just two examples that stick out most in my mind, but hopefully it gives a sense of where I see the holes are in this book. If you like this sort of thing, then I'm sure you'll find it exactly the sort of thing that you like. If not, you may wish to look elsewhere....more
Really well-done book. Exhaustively researched and informative and Chernow's decision to treat the history of American and global finance through theReally well-done book. Exhaustively researched and informative and Chernow's decision to treat the history of American and global finance through the lens of a single firm is smart because it gives us protagonists and antagonists and helps generate a narrative. That said, it's 60/40 juicy to dry stuff, especially by the time you get to the 70s and 80s when Chernow just starts to quote a lot of numbers about deals that Morgan Stanley did.
I came into this book expecting it to be a relatively favorable portrait of JP Morgan: "Yeah, he'll showcase some warts but in the end it's going to be nice to the people who probably furnished the source material". That said, there's some scandalous, damning stuff in this book that nobody ever talks about relating to the history of America, American business and America's relationship with the world (e.g., Tom Lamont, head of JPM in the 30s, basically writing PR to cover for imperial Japan and facist Italy's war crimes; Morgans' institutionalized antisemitism; the London branch of Morgans, Morgan Grenfell was actually using it's institutionalized antisemitism to win business – from the Saudis – as late as the 1970s). As somebody who works in financial services, this book is kind of haunting.
Overall, the book gives me a lot to think about, it's well-written and well-researched and a bit dry and it fills a gap in American history that deserves to be told. I would recommend if you're interested in finance, American history and whether you love or hate banksters....more
This book is terrible. The title is misleading and the information is so basic that the reader couldn't possibly come away from the book with more thaThis book is terrible. The title is misleading and the information is so basic that the reader couldn't possibly come away from the book with more than a glib understanding of investing, let alone hedge fund replication. It's irresponsible: Despite the title, the information is geared toward novice investors; investors who have no business trying to replicate hedge fund strategies using ETFs
Part I is a lengthy and elementary exposition on the history of ETFs, mutual funds and hedge funds, definitions of various types of these and factors affecting the fund industry. The information is really far too simple. Think about it: Why would someone pick up a book called Create Your Own ETF Hedge Fund if they don't know what ETFs or hedge funds are? Anyone meeting that description should have their brokerage account trading privileges revoked and be forced into an index fund.
Part II gives a bunch of details on types of hedge fund strategies. I think the fact that the most quoted source in this section seems to be Investopedia pretty well sums up why this section is more or less useless.
Part III lets you know about Yahoo! Finance and that Fidelity is a brokerage firm you can open an account with. I think you get the idea by now.
In the end, this is a book about how to day-trade ETFs aimed at ill-informed investors who have no business trying to pick and short stocks and ETFs. It is to be avoided....more
I am not a scientist and much of this material discussed is new to me (or at least is fleshed out in substantially more color). With that context, I fI am not a scientist and much of this material discussed is new to me (or at least is fleshed out in substantially more color). With that context, I found this to be a breathtaking book, as definitive a discussion of the topic as could reasonably be asked for, and a thoughtful, thorough exploration of genes, what they are and what they mean. If you are a scientist, particularly a geneticist, I think you can skip this book. I doubt you'd find much new.
Mukherjee covers scientific history and the way scientific thought progresses (à la The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). A lot of the critical reviews I'd read seem to have especially disliked this part but, while substantial, there's a lot more to see. Mukherjee also covers science policy, its triumphs (e.g., the Human Genome Project) and its checkered past in the intersections with sociology and social control (e.g., American and Nazi eugenics programs). Of more contemporary interest, it also explains the processes and significance of such key innovations as molecular cloning, high throughput genomic sequencing and CRISPR. Genetics has captivated public attention in a very special way and it's important to understand what it is and what it means. This book does a great job, from what I can tell as a non-scientist.
Other criticisms of the book I've read center on Mukherjee's dismissal of IQ and intelligence tests (there's a lengthy section on the flaws of The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life). I can't speak to these other than to say that my general impression, as a total layperson, is that his criticisms of these tests and measures is within the realm of current orthodoxy in the social sciences. One criticism that I think hits the mark is that the discussion of epigenetics is a bit light and mostly premonitory, warning us not to read too much into its promise as a field. However, I think this is responsible in light of the alternative that Mukherjee go out of his depth and lead readers to think there's more there than there is. There's always future editions should anything amazing come out.
TL;DR If you're not a geneticist, I think this book is worth your time....more
Short, simple book with a clear message. The examples seemed cherry-picked and thus I didn't find some of the arguments terribly convincing, but the oShort, simple book with a clear message. The examples seemed cherry-picked and thus I didn't find some of the arguments terribly convincing, but the overarching messages about divisiveness and partisanship were apt and timely and the thoughts on how to fully honor veterans seemed wholly reasonable and appropriate....more
A very short and worthwhile book. Equal parts discussion of how to (or not) formulate effective government policies, family planning, philosophy of faA very short and worthwhile book. Equal parts discussion of how to (or not) formulate effective government policies, family planning, philosophy of family and Chinese culture. Fong is a journalist, so she often focuses on things that are most salient and shocking rather than what is most common, per se. That said, she's fairly even-handed in her treatments of these topics and cites scrupulously.
I came into the book not really having much of an opinion about the One Child Policy other than viewing it with a negative sentiment as an example of government overreach and poor policy. Having read the book, I see the Policy as a spectacular example of the ways facile and poorly thought out policies can have gross unintended consequences. It has perverted the institution of the family, it insults individual dignity and agency and it dismantled key social safety nets. At the same time, it inarguably incentivized infanticide, human trafficking (for both prostitution and baby selling) and rank sexism.
I come away with a feeling of profound sadness. The people of China have a rough road ahead....more
Tough to not give it four stars because I'm a fan and the book is well-written, interesting and addresses Martin's early, formative years. In the endTough to not give it four stars because I'm a fan and the book is well-written, interesting and addresses Martin's early, formative years. In the end it felt incomplete. Many events in his life were glossed over, understandably I suppose, as he's a private person and has no obligation to bare his soul in a book. But the holes are there....more
You don't need to read this book unless you're hard-core into the history of scientific progress. Even if you're into the history of science, unless yYou don't need to read this book unless you're hard-core into the history of scientific progress. Even if you're into the history of science, unless you're already well-acquainted with phlogiston theory, knowledgeable about the fluid theory of electricity (shout out to my boy Ben Franklin!) or you've got the hots for Lavoisier you're not really going to understand anyway (I sure didn't without a lot of Wikipedia).
With the benefit of 50+ years of hindsight, I can safely say you can just watch this YouTube video (or any of a number of other summarizations of this book) and be fully informed as to the content therein. The ideas have been sufficiently incorporated into the current paradigm that there's little use in slogging through it. The prose is turgid and long-winded and I'd wager it was old-fashioned even in its day.
Reading it kind of sucked. At least now I can feel smug whenever people use "paradigm shift" incorrectly....more