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 hWay 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....more
It is amazing to me how a truly good writer can take the most banal of topics and make it not only interesting, but downright gripping listening. AndIt is amazing to me how a truly good writer can take the most banal of topics and make it not only interesting, but downright gripping listening. And such is the case here. Following a tuna from catch to dinner table, following accountants as they go through their day, experiencing the beauty and joy of power lines, and on and on.
Curiously, the one area of the audio that struck me as weak and rather rushed was the very brief concluding section. You'd think a professional philosopher would have more to say in the way of conclusions, takeaways, etc., from his adventures about the human condition. But there seemed to be very little of that. ...more
Lonely people are unsuccessful people. People who are alone are unsuccessful people. Gee, I've never heard that one before. Quite frankly, Brooks addsLonely 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....more
Quite frankly I feel as if I were sold a pig in a poke with this audiobook. Farrell's politics intrude throughout, and this is not mentioned, though IQuite frankly I feel as if I were sold a pig in a poke with this audiobook. Farrell's politics intrude throughout, and this is not mentioned, though I guess it is hinted at, in the book description. I don't particularly agree with his beliefs, but don't particularly disagree either. What bothered me was the hectoring, lecturing, superior tone apparent whenever something political came up...and this was about an every five minute occurrence.
And what sort of advice is offered? I'm embarrassed to say I can't really remember, three days after finishing the audiobook. As best I recall it was the usual bromides about saving, raising your children to be intelligent about money, and so forth. I do believe he contradicted himself, after a fashion, on paying for college. He kept citing his parents in this area, then later mentions something about college costs rising much faster than inflation, but also later compares debt levels of graduates of today vs. those of the past. Dirty pool, in my book.
I suppose the book would have been a bit more tolerable if the rhetoric had been toned down, or if I followed the same line he does in all things, but this is really one you can skip and miss nothing or pickup free from the library. After all, sometimes reminders of general principles can be a good thing. ...more
Too scattershot throughout, and too preachy at the end. The harsh and depressing reality is that the 21st century is going to suck for the average AmeToo scattershot throughout, and too preachy at the end. The harsh and depressing reality is that the 21st century is going to suck for the average American, who will be lucky to enjoy the standard of living enjoyed by his great-grandparents. If you strip away Friedman's verbiage that's the straight-forward conclusion you're left with. (Even though I have no recall of him using terms like, oh, trade-imbalance, dissaving, or national debt. Though it might be interesting to ask why they were missing. They're really not part of globalization?)
Actually "verbiage" is putting it politely. Think hall of funhouse mirrors. Or not stopping with lipstick on the piggy, but adding a wig, high heels an evening gown and matching accessories. For whatever reason, Friedman is desperate to distract the listener from, well, what his eyes show him in his travels and to burble on about the potential wonders and joys of globalization. Thus you ask Miss Piggy if that gown is Dior, not why is it that Miss Piggy looks so porcine.
Whatever. Friedman makes a case about as well as you can for a thesis premised on nonsense. And the trends he's identified may in fact be irreversible, and are as likely to only pick up steam as do anything else. Whether we're fed continuous doses of Friedman's brand of Prozac or not. From him or others.
I just wish he'd been honest. What was that quote from that old but goodie Western, The Outlaw Josie Wales? Something about "Don't piss down my back and tell me its raining," perhaps? Except that in this world we live in the piss is seemingly flowing by the gallon. And Friedman wants us to consider it all Chanel No. 5. And perhaps most even do, well, for as long as they can.
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 thriI 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. ...more
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.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. 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....more
Big egos, big money, arrogance, the stupidity of dinosaurs in a tar pit, yep, its all here. In almost overwhelming detail. Not my normal cup of tea, bBig egos, big money, arrogance, the stupidity of dinosaurs in a tar pit, yep, its all here. In almost overwhelming detail. Not my normal cup of tea, but still interesting.
As a sidenote: copying the audiobook to my Ipod produced a nightmare of something like 900 "tracks," since each disc had a new track every 30 or so seconds. Thought that was a bit ironic, each time I hit the view by "song" button and this audiobook seemingling seemingly overwhelmed everything else. Plus, I think I may have missed part of at least one disc, since I put all nine discs in one playlist, and could never remember if I left off at track 438 or 483 or 384, you get the idea. The recording industry's revenge?
And to any high sheriffs who read this, I deleted the sucker the minute I finished with it, scout's honor. Illegal copying is actually not my bag, I've never done it and never will....more
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 oA 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....more
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 tIt 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....more
Pluses: Interesting and accessible, makes some rather difficult material (esp. in Kant and Heidegger) understandable to the average listener, presumabPluses: Interesting and accessible, makes some rather difficult material (esp. in Kant and Heidegger) understandable to the average listener, presumably without distorting their messages too much. The section on Freud was also something of an eye-opener, as I'd never imagined his system worked quite the way Erickson says it did.
Minuses: Erickson can be extremely patronizing at times, though I doubt he even realizes it. He also seems to overdo the Midwest cornpone a bit for my tastes; if he was raised like that doubtless he's moved far beyond it. He also has a collection of stock phrases that grew quite tiresome after a while "let us meditate on," "we have reached a point in our journey," and a few others that seemed to crop up about every five minutes.
As to substance, I don't think his presentation of Marx was very well done, as best I recall he never explains why his starting point was Kant, and I found the last few sections, on existentialism (Sartre, Foucault, Habermas, etc.) close to impossible to follow...which may say more about the material than the one trying to explain it in laymman's terms.
I did enjoy it, I liked most of the survey, but I just can't bring myself to click on that 4th star....more
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 aI 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.)...more
This audiobook sprawled across so many topics, nations, cultures, periods of history that a try to keep 'em short reviewer like myself is simply overwThis 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....more
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" onThe 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....more
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 discI 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 ...more