Note: It just dawned on me that I wrote this without mentioning I've yet to read The Golden Lily. Blame that for any screw-ups in what follows. Or jus...moreNote: It just dawned on me that I wrote this without mentioning I've yet to read The Golden Lily. Blame that for any screw-ups in what follows. Or just blame me. :)
Interesting perspective, and though I think I do agree w/Ms. Mead about how switching character POVs would have been a nightmare for her as an author, as a reader it is something of a pity to get a glimpse of what "might have been" had she pursued this path. I'm not certain the end product would have been superior to the actual book as published, but I'm not certain it would not have been, either.
I think switching POVs can and does work, but works best with "doorstop" type fantasy series like A Song of Ice and Fire, The Lord of the Rings and sort of worked with the late Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series§. Yes Bloodlines # 1 does run to over 400 pages, but it has a rather large type-face (compare it to any of the paperback editions of Lord of the Rings) and is planned only as a trilogy, so I don't think that concept applies here.
I also think using Sydney as the sole narrator makes a great deal of sense, especially presuming the boarding school plot-line would have been followed in a book written from multiple POVs. Mead would have essentially been switching between Adrian, Jill, Sydney and Eddie, possibly with a few brief moments inside the head of (a very confused) Clarence, or perhaps even Clarence's housekeeper...after all, if there is one element both series have so far neglected, it is the psychology behind what would cause a human to volunteer to become a feeder; and as far as we as readers know they all enter into the role under no compulsion, and with their eyes wide open regarding what to expect...but this we may never know, and it is certainly not central to any of the narratives thus far. In any event, Sydney by process of elimination:
Adrian - Whether his ennui is genuine or not, he simply knows too much. As in, there is very little in the way of machinations from inside the Moroi court that would take him by surprise, or probably not even be able to anticipate, meaning reading the story through his eyes would mean few surprises for readers. Besides, since he can only spend limited amounts of time at the school, to get him to where the action is would probably be to force a few things.
Jill - To resurrect a blatantly sexist term, Jill is more ingenue than player at present. I suspect this will change as the series advances, so that "ingenue," label is likely temporary. However, for the moment, where Adrian knows too much, Jill knows too little, doubtless spends a great deal of time being thoroughly confused, and would likely confuse readers as well.
Eddie - As things presently stand I just don't think he would work as a central character. Besides, reading the story directly through his eyes would make the "mystery" of how deep his feelings run for [not sayin', neener-neener] go *poof* before our eyes. The same sort of issue exists with Jill as narrator, through somehow it does not seems as central to her personality. At least from where I'm sitting.
..."and the rest".. Just like on Gilligan's Island (at least the first season's theme), I guess. Say a name and say "No!" Keith, Lee, no way, for not being central enough to the story and for reasons I'd best not go into. Clarence, only if there were multiple POV shifts, and everybody else was dragged along. I can't see any of the human students or faculty at the school helping much as narrators, up to and including Micah and Ms. Terwilliger, nah. And Abe? fugedaboutit. No fun in having an all knowing narrator, since he seemingly knows everything about everyone, and he's not around much anyway.
So: Sydney. This time by noting her positive characteristics:
* A very interesting blend of opposites - She knows a great deal, yet is also ignorant of a great deal. Rather like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson rolled up in one person, in a way that works. Her technical skills are borderline savant, her ability to "do the right thing" by those cares for blows up in her face as often as not.
* Conflicted loyalties - She's had Alchemist training drilled into her since just about birth, including all the prejudices the organization instills in its members. Yet here she is, spending her time around Moroi and Dhampirs, and finding it impossible not to ignore the evidence before her eyes, that at least some of what she was lead to believe might possibly not be true
* A deal with a 'devil' - Her "agreement" with Abe. How much more trouble is that going to cause her? We do know if the Alchemists found out about it, a one-way ticket to some sort of re-education camp is about the best she can hope for from them. And who knows what's up Abe's sleeve? So, how is she?/or can she? slide out from under this "Sword of Damocles" she's now living under? I'm certainly interested in finding out.... :)
§ - Apropos of nothing - Sadly, IMO, the Wheel of Time series went rapidly downhill following the third book, but solely based on increasingly silly plot lines, or what in essence amounted to no plot line, as with the fifth book. Which is where I abandoned the series. Possibly Mr. Jordan's increasingly poor health accounts for this; I'm not sure how else to explain what started off so well ending up as it did.(less)
McGee does an excellent job in covering the extent to which government regulation failed, investment banks failed, and especially in discussing the ps...moreMcGee does an excellent job in covering the extent to which government regulation failed, investment banks failed, and especially in discussing the psychology that moves the "masters of the universe" to willfully ignore the iceberg directly in front on them as they order their version of the Titanic to go full speed ahead. It is for these reasons that I give a four-star rating. And also her discussion regarding the rise of "Hedge Funds" and the impact these vehicles have had on more traditional banks, mutual funds and investment banks.
Unfortunately, I cannot say I was as impressed with her discussion of the housing "crisis" or of the sermon she offered at the end of the audio as to proposed solutions. And, perhaps rather curiously, the one area that seemed to get short shrift is how Goldman Sachs was simply smarter, has a corporate culture that is far less toxic to those who take "contrarian" views than that of most investment houses or whatever magic potion it was that made them do exactly what everyone else was NOT doing.
Still and all, both an informative and -- dare I say it -- entertaining listen. (less)
Way too shiny, happy a view of the future, even for the next decade. Though his call to cut foreign aid generally, close military foreign bases, and h...moreWay too shiny, happy a view of the future, even for the next decade. Though his call to cut foreign aid generally, close military foreign bases, and his recognition of the US as the "world's policeman" as the crap it is, gave it one more star than maybe it deserved. And he even made some noises about reshaping our relationship with Israel. This gave me a good chuckle, being so conditioned and full of hemming and hawing you'd think he wrote this section looking over his shoulder the entire time. Still, I guess it took a set of brass balls to even bring the topic up, especially since he wants their "aid" to zero.(less)
Lonely people are unsuccessful people. People who are alone are unsuccessful people. Gee, I've never heard that one before. Quite frankly, Brooks adds...moreLonely people are unsuccessful people. People who are alone are unsuccessful people. Gee, I've never heard that one before. Quite frankly, Brooks adds nothing of substance to the advancement of relations between people, at least that I could see, but he is a much better writer than most who've trod the same ground, so I must give credit where it is due.
Beyond that, there really isn't much to say about this one, other than that I could not for the life of me figure out whether or not there was an unstated -- and rather cruel -- assumption underlying this work. Namely, I kept getting whiffs that those who are alone are that way because they wish to be, not because they have difficulty in forming and keeping relationships. And that it is all their fault, and dadgumit, they really should just get with the program. He certainly nowhere touches upon any condition from major depression to ADHD to Autism Spectrum Disorders as possibly a very difficult barrier for some to overcome. Perhaps I'm oversensitive on these topics, being blessed with the full trifecta. And, as noted, the exact phrasing noted above does not appear in the book. Admittedly a head-scratcher. But I submit not an unreasonable thought to have.
Oh, yeah. The story. On the fence about it. I suppose it helped Brooks put a face on his points, but I'd say that it was overall a distraction.(less)
I suppose it was wise of Markopolos and his co-author to skimp on the heavy-duty mathematics and concentrate on the "thriller" part of "financial thri...moreI suppose it was wise of Markopolos and his co-author to skimp on the heavy-duty mathematics and concentrate on the "thriller" part of "financial thriller." If I am at all representative of the common listener, he doubtless would have lost me with the former but kept me with the latter. Yet, the book also takes on a rather breathy Tom Clancy-ish tone I could have done without. Especially the almost bizarre way we get treated to his sense of being threatened, the rather weird claim that he would have personally sought out Madoff and bumped him off if his sense of threat rose to a certain level. We get that part, we get some murky claims about criminal elements invested in Madoff, but we never get offered tangible proof that (a) such elements had money with him, or (b) that Madoff was the sort to resort to violence. And like the little girl with the curl in her hair, people are either very, very good, or very very bad.
But the rest of the book is pure gravy, especially the painful testimony of the SEC before Congress, what I can only describe as utter incompetence documented again and again and again by the SEC at every level by anyone, barring one or two exceptions, who touched Markopolos's documentation. Who knew a roller-coaster ride could also be educational?
I cannot speak to the last section of the audio, where Markopolos makes a series of recommendations to reform the regulation of financial markets, though I must admit I'm a bit leery of the implied loss of national sovereignty with the international body he seems to think is needed. I mean the SEC does have limited powers, but even so had the laws on the books been enforced, mightn't that have been enough? (e.g. Madoff being caught in lies by SEC lawyers, which he was, and them doing nothing...when it could have been as much as a five year prison sentence.) I do like the idea of some sort of clearinghouse of information on investigations, past and present, both intra- and inter- agency. I also think a steel-toe boot needs to be administered to the baloney behind companies going "jurisdiction shopping," even I can see smell the stench on that one.
Good listen, but somehow I just can't bring myself to click on that 4th star. Call it a phobia for all things Tom Clancy-ish.
Actual ISBN: 9781441870506, but net nannies who run this place wouldn't let me enter it. (less)
Jarivs makes a fairly strong case for the Internet as an exciting whiz-bang tool for change, with Google as his shining avatar for the changes coming....moreJarivs makes a fairly strong case for the Internet as an exciting whiz-bang tool for change, with Google as his shining avatar for the changes coming. Except when it isn't, as with their secrecy about their server farms. Or how the "anti-Google" (I believe that was his term) Apple can break all the rules and still find success. He might be right, he might not be, but his constant honking on advertising driven doo-dads on every site around to pay for all this free content is a concept that, at a minimum, the jury is still out on. And, of course, (shhhh) no mention anywhere of ad-blocking software.
Perhaps a bit of a "straw man" attack to accuse him of utopianism, but there's a whiff of it there, certainly. He also seems to blow through some topics that I'd personally find interesting, like how these companies get their start, their financing and finally how -- to date -- you can say they are profitable or not. Yes, they're briefly mentioned, but measured in sentences not paragraphs.(less)
A few interesting points but the non-stop drumbeat of America on the road to fascism as planned and executed by Bildebergers, CFR members and a cast o...moreA few interesting points but the non-stop drumbeat of America on the road to fascism as planned and executed by Bildebergers, CFR members and a cast of thousands for their benefit and our detriment got both tiresome and tedious after awhile. Okay, the way the federal reserve system goes about its business is akin to a crackhead doing ballet, or the Kennedy assassination was a put up job, or... Well, that's about how it went. However, the invisible strings of the puppet masters are pulling just doesn't follow. From either his evidence or his reasoning.
I'd probably listen to another work of his, since he obviously did his share of research, but, man o man do those conclusions veer straight off into cloud-cuckoo land.(less)
It is not not that I necessarily disagree with the theme of the book, that "right-brainers" will come into their own in the next century, it is more t...moreIt is not not that I necessarily disagree with the theme of the book, that "right-brainers" will come into their own in the next century, it is more that the author fails to provide any real proof for one of his main theses: that we are moving into an age of abundance. The lone tidbit of proof offered up is that there are more choices of consumer goods today than their were in the 1970s, and that what was once considered in the luxury category has become rather everyday and mundane.
Abundance, Asia, and automation. The second is covered in great detail, and it appears Pink actually did the legwork to show how what were once skilled or semi-skilled white collar jobs are moving overseas the same way manufacturing has. (Quite frankly it is also what saved this work from a one star review.) Automation? Certainly we've seen some of it, but just because certain tasks that used to be performed by humans can now be performed faster, cheaper and better via computer, Pink seems to extrapolate this out to a conclusion that may or may not be justified. What were some of the predictions of the 1950s? Personal helicopters, nuclear powered cars, electricity so cheap you wouldn't even bother with metering it any longer. And I submit that Pink is engaging in the same sort of thinking now that those folks did back then...Of course, he may be right, but trendlines have ways of flattening or even nose-diving, rather than zooming into the stratosphere.
Finally, back to "abundance," as it relates to the US and probably the entire West. How is it going to be paid for? Namely, what will the West have to offer China, India, Indonesia, Korea, whomever? Assuming Pink's thesis to be true, I have no idea, and saw no evidence that he does either. And why should any of those countries underwrite gigantic trade imbalances, rather than improving the lot of their own people? (I see no way this could be avoided, and Pink is silent.) His book left me with the depressng sense of a world run out of Asia and the USA under the effective control of a small cognitive elite, lording it over a vast horde of useless lumpenproletariat, that can neither compete in the global economy nor escape what would have to be something amounting to debt slavery.
Perhaps the above is nonsense, but again where Pink's logic might lead him to some place he does not like he seems to stick his fingers in his ears and shout "na, na, na, I can't hear you." Well, okay he simply drops the topic. Same thing for all practical purpose.(less)
I suppose if there was a 2 1/2 star rating I could've seen my way to giving it to this one, but the author's approach seemed to come straight out of a...moreI suppose if there was a 2 1/2 star rating I could've seen my way to giving it to this one, but the author's approach seemed to come straight out of a tabloid. Irritating as hell. Everything was a personality conflict, everyone scheming against one another, no one having any clue what was going on in their CDO/MBS Hedge Fund. And damned litttle about how Ber Sterns got to where it was when the knives came out.
What this book needed was a whole helluva lot more analysis, financial, macroeconomic, whatever, and a whole lot less discussion of the sometimes bizarre behavior of the people leading Bear Sterns....And what was all that material about Lehman shoved onto the end of the book? It was almost as though he needed to puff the work up by 50 pages, was out of things to say about Bear Sterns, so let's chuck in something that is beyond a summary but is nowhere near long enough to tell the whole story.
Forgettable, unless watching re-runs of Dallas and Falcon Crest are what floats your boat. (Though I"m not so sure such a thing exists.)(less)
This audiobook sprawled across so many topics, nations, cultures, periods of history that a try to keep 'em short reviewer like myself is simply overw...moreThis audiobook sprawled across so many topics, nations, cultures, periods of history that a try to keep 'em short reviewer like myself is simply overwhelmed, raising a white flag and surrendering. I will say that Starobin is at his best when he acts as a reporter poking his nose into Chile, Turkey, China, Russia, and so on. In this guise he seems to adopt a rigorous code of objectivity, letting ordinary people speak for themselves, noting political developments and especially cultural ones. Where things get a bit iffy is when he moves into the role of Economist/Political Scientist/Grand Seer trying to peer down the road to see what the future holds. I think some of his personal biases begin to show, and that at least some of what he thinks may happen is wishful thinking.
Still and all an above average, thought-provoking work. And even where I am criticizing him, he at least acknowledges other viewpoints, and treats them with respect, even as he does his best to show the listener where these viewpoints are in error.(less)
The hyperbole in this book was so over the top I ultimately found myself unable to take Milloy seriously. Still, the examples he cites of "Greens" on...moreThe hyperbole in this book was so over the top I ultimately found myself unable to take Milloy seriously. Still, the examples he cites of "Greens" on the loose was rather frightening. Essentially a gang of thugs who will use any means necessary to advance their agenda, unless Milloy is being a bit less that truthful. (And since Regenery Publishing is somehow involved in this work...can't rule that out.)
Oh, and this is just about 100% politics, 0% science. He obviously believes global warming is garbage every bit as fervently as Al Gore believes the opposite. As in self-evident, so there's no need to talk about that part of things. Which annoyed me.
I guess I'd give 2 1/2 stars if such a thing existed, but since I always round up, he gets 3.(less)
I don't think I can do justice to this book in a review, as I am too unfamiliar with the history, the ideas presented, and the cast of characters disc...moreI don't think I can do justice to this book in a review, as I am too unfamiliar with the history, the ideas presented, and the cast of characters discussed. I found it very technical and darn near incomprehensible in spots. So let's just do a rough outline should I ever be quizzed on its contents:
American and European universities have gone through three phases since about the mid-18th century: (1) As training grounds for ministers, for making gentlemen, and with no thought at all given to the practicality of the cirriculum. This lasted until approximately the end of the American Civil War. (2) After that time colleges and universities became increasingly secular, and at some point or other began espousing "secular humanism" (in the humanities) and the "research ideal" in the natural and "hard" social sciences. (3) Somewhere around the end of World War I "secular humanism" was gradually replaced with "constructivism" and that is the situation of the humanities today.
The research ideal ignores "purpose of life" type discussion in favor of increasingly narrow specialization, constructivism defines just about everything in terms of power relationships and/or racial, gender, ethnic blocs, also hardly conducive to thinking about the meaning of life.
Kronman bemoans this present state of things, and hopes something close to secular humanism is allowed someday back into the Humanities departments. Though he is able to offer only the slenderest of reeds that this might happen, he thinks it will because constructivism is "bankrupt," in his term.
Dunno about that, but he certainly impressed upon me that the current state of the Humanities is (a) a loony bin, (b) Stalinist in what is acceptable and unacceptable discourse, and (c) split into packs of wolves fighting over the same territory. And pack disloyality is the greatest of all crimes, certainly far ahead of silly things like telling the truth, should it conflict with one's group.
Maybe that last bit is wrong, but that's what I took away. Depressing listening. Also: the narrator was about as annoying as it is possible to be. Monotone, breathy, etc. Didn't help matters in terms of keeping my interest. a (less)
Thought provoking, certainly. I suppose I need to read this one on paper as I feel I missed a great deal as an audio book. I guess time will tell whet...moreThought provoking, certainly. I suppose I need to read this one on paper as I feel I missed a great deal as an audio book. I guess time will tell whether he makes any more sense than any of the other prognosticators.
Full disclosure: Both the math and philosophy were way over my head. (less)