Lynas poured over journal articles and research papers, and then decided to organize the information according to degrees of warming. So there's a chapter dedicated to causes and effects of the warming of one degree Celsius, and then a chapter about two degrees of warming, etc. Unlike so many books about the ills of society, he doesn't focus on any one cause or effect. He simply presents the information, in an easily digestible format. He does this without at all speaking down to the audience. His writing is clearly grounded in the research.
It certainly kept me up nights. Scared the piss out of me, in some ways.
Lynas also does not focus on a particular solution to the problem. He notes that any one step we might take will not be enough, and then goes on to discuss how a combination of steps might play out in terms of reduction of ppm of CO2 released.
I found the book to be informative in the best possible way. He does single out Nebraska for some serious dissing, though.
To see the worst that even such a small change in climate can do, consider that most undramatic of places: Nebraska. This isn't a state that is high up on most tourists' must-see lists. "Hell, I thought I was dead, too. Turns out I was just in Nebraska," deadpans Gene Hackman in the film Unforgiven. A dreary expanse of impossibly flat plains, Nebraska has as its main claim to fame the fact that it is the only American state to have a unicameral legislature.
We love it when the best that can be said about us is that we have a unicameral. Really. Just...love it. Umm hmm....more
Brilliant. Mostly photos of work Banksy has done. If you want some background about Banksy which will help with appreciating Wall and Piece, I highly rBrilliant. Mostly photos of work Banksy has done. If you want some background about Banksy which will help with appreciating Wall and Piece, I highly recommend reading Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall first....more
I enjoyed Sam Avery's book about the Keystone XL pipeline. He's a solar installer and environmentalisI received a free ARC of this book via NetGalley.
I enjoyed Sam Avery's book about the Keystone XL pipeline. He's a solar installer and environmentalist, but is also pragmatic about our dependence upon fossil fuels.
Avery travels the length of the proposed pipeline, interviewing folks along the way. He talks to people who are extremely concerned about the environment, people who are concerned about property rights, people who think the pipeline is a good idea - people all over the spectrum. He asks all of them what they think about the environmental impact of the pipeline.
That's the "pipeline" of the title. The other part of the book discusses the environmental versus economic way of looking at the world; the paradigm from which we view the pipeline.
I appreciated the balance Avery brings to the book. He comes with a definite opinion (he writes about taking part in nonviolent protests against the pipeline), but treats his interview subjects, and their opinions, with respect.
Wright's book seems as balanced as possible. And by that I mean that anything negative about the church will be aggressively denThis is really scary.
Wright's book seems as balanced as possible. And by that I mean that anything negative about the church will be aggressively denied, and people who speak against the church will be hounded and sued. So it can be difficult to write anything that isn't glowingly positive. As a result, what you read about the church is going to be either very positive or very negative. This book falls into the negative category, while not going into the "they're flipping madmen! Stay away!" hysteria.
L. Ron Hubbard was a paranoid, narcissistic crazy person. His successor, David Miscavige, is a scary psychopath. They've created an incredibly powerful and extremely wealthy organization. You should be very scared.
Part of me appreciated Wright's efforts to tell us about Scientology. The book doesn't come across as an exposé. It comes across as an attempt to tell the story about the history, development, and current state of the church.
The other part of me was horrified and hated the story (but not the book). I think the book is important and worth reading - the more we know about Scientology, the better. Seriously - they're having a major impact on legislation especially tax laws. But it's not for the faint hearted. As LRH and Tom Cruise would say, this will blow your mind....more
Terrific book. Cepeda's background in journalism shines; she's adept at storytelling, and uses it to great effect in this book, where she seamlessly shares her personal story and examines race in a more academic way.
Cepeda's personal story is both fascinating and horrific. Her journey toward a racial identity has a backdrop of living in both the Dominican Republic and New York, hip hop, abandonment by her mother, and abuse by her father. Her personal identity is a tapestry of many threads, and she creates another tapestry via this book - the story of the development of that identity. That alone would make for an important, relevant, and interesting book. But wait, there's more! The second half of the book focuses on Cepeda's search for her DNA roots. Her search leads her to Africa and to relatives she didn't know existed. Although this second section of the book has a different focus, Cepeda's ability as a storyteller and writer make it accessible and interesting.
What a great book. Solomon looks at families, which usually have vertical identities (shared family traits), where children have horizontal identities (characteristics they share with people outside of their families). Being a prodigy or schizophrenic or born with Down syndrome usually gives children an identity they do not share with their parents. It can be bewildering, heartbreaking, and sometimes richly rewarding for those parents.
Solomon did research and interviews for this book over the course of a decade. His depth of understanding of his subjects shows. His study is at once caring, understanding, and academically informed. He neither sugarcoats nor dismisses the struggles these families face, and one can often feel the respect he grows to feel for his subjects.
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity is bookended by Solomon's personal stories; growing up dyslexic and gay, and deciding to become a dad. He reflects meaningfully on his personal journey throughout the book, but does not make it a book about himself. I appreciated the extent to which he was able to share himself without turning the focus to his own story.
One of my favorite plugs on the back of the book is from Siddhartha Mukherjee: "This is one of the most extraordinary books I have read in recent times - brave, compassionate, and astonishingly humane. Solomon approaches one of the oldest questions - how much are we defined by nature versus nurture? - and crafts from it a gripping narrative. Through his stories, told with such masterful delicacy and lucidity, we learn how different we all are, and how achingly similar."
My low rating for this book is based on two things: the misalignment between the author's outlook and mine, and the way the author organized the inforMy low rating for this book is based on two things: the misalignment between the author's outlook and mine, and the way the author organized the information.
If Freeland had expressed either a negative or positive opinion of the rise of a plutocracy, I would have respected her more. Instead she not only presents it as inevitable, but also seems a bit fawning toward the ultra rich. She doesn't go into a political analysis, which disappointed me. She goes along with their analysis without contributing much of her own. This quote from Thomas Wilson, CEO of Allstate, is tossed in without comment:
"I can get [workers] anywhere in the world. It is a problem for America, but it is not necessarily a problem for American business...American businesses will adapt."
I find it hard to read something like that without wanting to comment upon or critique his analysis.
Here's another one that she doesn't comment upon:
"...cutting so-called entitlement spending is a policy which would have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who depend most on these programs - and it is also an idea that plutocrat Pete Peterson has devoted $1 billion of his fortune to advance."
I'm a big time liberal. I'm a tax-and-spend Democrat. So to me, it's a big deal that he's devoting a billion dollars to cutting programs which I believe to be important. Freeland lets it slip right by without comment.
Which brings me to my other point. Freeland tosses data and quotes and anecdotes around with very little organization. There's no through-story to tie it all together. I found it difficult to stay interested because I didn't see the book going anywhere; it just seemed to be more data and quotes and anecdotes.
She also tosses around words and phrases that were unfamiliar to me. I assume that "Middle Kingdom" refers to China, and that "C suite" means corporate suite, but they're never defined. Freeland presents plutocrats as sort of clubby - having much more in common with each other (even across citizenship lines) than with hoi polloi. Her use of words and phrases I was unfamiliar with made me feel as though she was excluding me from 'their' world. Freeland also uses a lot of financial terms I'm unfamiliar with. Obviously the book isn't intended to explain financial transactions, or hedge funds, or short sales. But I wondered who she was writing the book for, if not those of us who want to learn more. Oddly enough, she defines 'high net worth individuals' repeatedly. She also repeats other bits of the book, as though her editor was too bored by the book to follow closely enough to pick up on it.
Freeland tosses out a lot of figures. I'm all in favor of using data to back up one's assertions, but I found it hard to pay attention, hard to care, and hard to put any of the figures into perspective. I would have appreciated at least a few graphs.
I can't recommend the book, which is a shame. She's taken an interesting subject and created an almost unreadable book from it.
In each of the past four years more Americans declared personal bankruptcy than graduated from college. Our annual production of solid waste would filIn each of the past four years more Americans declared personal bankruptcy than graduated from college. Our annual production of solid waste would fill a convoy of garbage trucks stretching halfway to the moon. We have twice as many shopping centers as high schools.
Fascinating, important information, right? Unfortunately, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic doesn't go much beyond the informative. It's not wholly without analysis, but I wanted so much more. (And yes, that's meant to be ironic.)
This book is based on two PBS documentaries. One of the authors writes that "television, even at its most informative, is still a superficial medium; you simply can't put that much material into an hour. And that's the reason for this book: to explain "affluenza" in more depth, with more examples, more symptoms, more evidence, more-thorough exposition." I've not seen the documentaries so I can't comment on whether this goal was achieved, but note that a more in-depth analysis is not mentioned.
The authors have used the metaphor of illness to describe the aspirational acquisitiveness which afflicts our American society. The metaphor largely works. The first section, 'Symptoms,' has chapters like 'Swollen Expectations' and 'An Ache for Meaning'. The other sections are 'Causes' and 'Treatment'. Unfortunately the metaphor is so overplayed as to become irritating, cutesy, and trite.
I liked some of the facts and figures presented, and many of the quotes. Here are a few of my favorites:
"If I'm earning money watching my stocks grow and someone else is working hard as a teacher, why should I pay a lower tax rate? That may be good for me economically, but it doesn't build a healthy society." -Michele McGeoy, millionaire software developer
David Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, demonstrated that people who do things poorly usually appear more confident and self-assured than those who do things well. "Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices," wrote Dunning, "but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it." The book then asks, As a culture, aren't we blissfully ignorant? Aren't we erroneously confident we'll find peer approval, self-esteem, and meaning in material things, if we just keep looking?
A quibble: in chapter 10, a paragraph starts, "Felicia Edwards, an African-American mother of two, who lives in a small apartment in a Hartford, Connecticut housing project...." Ms. Edwards is the only person in the entire book whose race is mentioned. It's a glaring exception. WTH does it add to the discussion? It doesn't provide necessary context. It's completely gratuitous....more
I'm almost tempted to call this a quick read, but that would be misleading. It is indeed a short book, readable almost in one sitting. And the author'I'm almost tempted to call this a quick read, but that would be misleading. It is indeed a short book, readable almost in one sitting. And the author's voice often comes across as a bit breezy. But it's not a 'lite' book.
Margaret Powell went into service as a kitchen maid at the age of 14. She eventually moved up to the position of cook. Her description of what goes on downstairs isn't particularly revelatory, but her discussion of the attitudes of her fellow servants toward their work is really interesting. She was a keen social observer and feminist. She was also well-read and eventually took university-level courses when her children were grown. So her voice in her memoir is both working class and well-informed.
I really enjoyed reading this. Not because of the description of her work while she was in service, but because she wrote an intimate portrait of her life and struggles....more
Sort of a hard book to rate. There's good information here, and I respect Reding's attempt to cover the entire scope of the meth epidemic, from Big AgSort of a hard book to rate. There's good information here, and I respect Reding's attempt to cover the entire scope of the meth epidemic, from Big Ag in the heartland to Big Pharma in Congress, to politics and NAFTA, and including the psychopharmacology of meth in one's brain.
At the end of the epilogue Reding writes about how he spent a great deal of time traveling around from small town to small town, collecting interviews and stories, and trying to find a locale or thread that could serve to tie everything together. He chose Oelwein, Iowa. And he got some good stories there; the mayor trying to reinvigorate the economics of the town, the doctor dealing with the physical ramifications of the epidemic, the county prosecutor whose girlfriend is a social worker, and the meth addict who blew up his mother's house cooking meth.
But the book is about more than just the small town, it's about the bigger picture, as well. And that dichotomy is where the book falls down, just a bit. It's a good book, but in trying to cover so many angles it loses some threads. Worth reading, though. It's not a mess, nor difficult to follow; it simply could have been better.
As I read the epilogue about him trying to find the thread or locale to tie everything together, I thought, "Well, that's the problem, isn't it? You've got a whole lot of info and story. How do you make it work as a book?" He's made a valiant attempt.
Although one might quibble with a few of the points Haidt makes, this is a very good book. I thought it was well balanced, and it's extremely informatAlthough one might quibble with a few of the points Haidt makes, this is a very good book. I thought it was well balanced, and it's extremely informative. I recommend it highly....more
I'm listing this on my Sports shelf (among others), but it's really more about the foster care system, and how Oher beat the odds against him.
The staI'm listing this on my Sports shelf (among others), but it's really more about the foster care system, and how Oher beat the odds against him.
The statistics about kids in the system are dismal. Girls are six times more likely than their counterparts to give birth before age 21. Almost 50% of foster kids will become homeless after aging out. A significant percentage never finish high school.
I Beat the Odds describes not only how Oher beat the odds, but also why. He goes into great detail about his mindset; it's a fascinating window into the thoughts and emotions of a kid dealing with the system.
Oher comes across as extremely compassionate and self-aware. God bless him. ...more
I didn't have time to finish before it was recalled to the library, but I enjoyed what I've read so far. I look forward to finishing the book as soonI didn't have time to finish before it was recalled to the library, but I enjoyed what I've read so far. I look forward to finishing the book as soon as it's available again....more
I love Molly Ivins. I love that even 20 and 30 years after she wrote these pieces, they're still relevant. The situations may have changed slightly, buI love Molly Ivins. I love that even 20 and 30 years after she wrote these pieces, they're still relevant. The situations may have changed slightly, but her outlook remains worth considering. I miss her terribly....more