At my new job, I saw "My Top 5 Strengths" signs hanging on the entrance to all of the cubicles in my office. After inquiring, I was given this book byAt my new job, I saw "My Top 5 Strengths" signs hanging on the entrance to all of the cubicles in my office. After inquiring, I was given this book by my team leader and I went about completing the online quiz which consisted of multiple questions asking me of which two feelings or actions do I align with more. While much more sophisticated and business oriented, I did feel from time to time that I was taking a teen magazine quiz to determine which Star Wars character I am.
Afterwards, I got a list of my five Strengths and started to read about them along with all of the other potential strengths in the book. The entries for each of the strengths felt akin to reading a horoscope description about what type a person I am. I found these descriptions much more reliable since they are contingent on a personality quiz instead of where the stars were aligned at the time of my birth. I do have to say that the five strengths assigned to me by the quiz did a nice job describing me, especially the Input strength which reflects my desire to constantly seek new information.
Other strengths listed seemed to also describe me. In a conversation with one of my coworkers, he made a good point that there may have been different results depending on how I was feeling at the time of the quiz.
After reading about all of the different potential strengths out there, I contemplated how I could utilize the strengths of others in my department on future projects. I was especially interest in finding people with strong social talents to help compliment my much more cerebral strategic thinking strengths. I found out that there was no follow up for this activity when my coworkers first completed this quiz and not too much has happened since they identified and share their strengths.
The overall concept of the book is interesting in that we should focus on making the most of our strengths and find people to fill in for your weak points. The author made an interesting - though far less dramatic - observation of the Norte Dame player Rudy Ruettiger. While the challenges that he had to overcome and the hard work he put in was commendable, the author questions all of costs Rudy incurred for the benefit of the only three plays he participated in. Without putting the fame and lore of the story into the formula, the ratio is very poor....more
Before I start, I am completely in favor of an America moving towards an environment where one doesn't need a car to get everywhere. Unfortunately forBefore I start, I am completely in favor of an America moving towards an environment where one doesn't need a car to get everywhere. Unfortunately for me, the Midwestern city that I live in has grown to be extremely spread out. I decided to see how long it would take me to take the bus to my new job, but I was greatly discouraged to find out it required three transfers and two hours just to get there. The route actually looped into the city and then back out to my place of employment. With that, a 30 minute commute by car is still far preferable at this time.
The information found in Jim Motavalli's book was hit and miss for me. There was a lot of fascinating information about the history and development of modern mass transportation in the US along with some of the pros and cons to certain methods of moving around the city. It was interesting to look at the differences between laying down rail versus the use of bus routes. Also, Motavalli discussed some of the advancements in the use of ferries along with the drawbacks preventing their growth in reducing traffic.
Other parts of the book seemed to miss the mark completely when discussing how to make a less congested and greener transit network. In the book he discussed the benefits of electric cars when it comes to reducing pollution. While there may be no exhaust coming out of the tailpipe of an electric car idling in front of me, Motavalli never discussed how the electricity for these cars are produced. If all of the electric cars receive their power from a local coal power plant, is that really a net positive for the environment? In addition to that, I think when discussing electric cars, the industrial process of manufacturing the batteries needs to be mentioned so one can accurately assess the entire equation when determining the overall benefit these cars have on the environment.
When it came to discussing air travel, I felt he took this topic far down a rabbit's hole. At first he talked about the struggles that major airports face when dealing with increase demand of flights, regulations, and trying to keep regional airports apart of the equation in the overall world of aviation. To me, these topics could've been discussed in much more details providing great insight into one of the biggest modes of transportation in the world. However, this section quickly moved onto the fantastical notions of private planes that people could both drive and fly. This topic was covered much, much more than it truly needed to be. I felt this tangent greatly detracted from the discussion of how to make world of aviation more efficient.
I was definitely able to learn more about the problems and potential solutions to transportation in America. I look forward to learning more about ways America can become a less congested nation, but I hope to fine books that don't have some of the shortcomings of this book....more
Reading this book has helped me better understand my cats and why they act the way they do. Why does our Persian named Ggoma chase her wand toys so enReading this book has helped me better understand my cats and why they act the way they do. Why does our Persian named Ggoma chase her wand toys so enthusiastically for the first thirty seconds and then lays down on her side expecting the toy to remain within her reach? Turns out, cats are sprinters, not marathon runners. Chasing down a small prey is done in short bursts and is not an endurance event.
In this book John Bradshaw provides scientific information about cats and their history, while Sarah Ellis focuses on training exercise for owners to use. I found the way that these two aspects of knowledge were paired together very well. Bradshaw was able to provide a scientific base of information about cats that was then leverage by Ellis with practical activities. The way each author presented their information helps reinforce what was said by the other author.
I want our cats to have happy lives and from what I learned in this book, I believe that I can apply these concepts to how I interact with our furballs. However, I found that the number of steps recommended by Ms. Ellis to get your cat comfortable with getting into a pet carrier and taken to the vet's office mildly preposterous. Unfortunately, with a busy modern schedule, I don't have the time to go through every tiny step presented multiple times until our cats are comfortable and ready to proceed to the next step. I believe the concepts that the author presents are solid and with time and dedication one can coach their cat to be calm during the medical check ups. However, for people with lots of other things going on in their lives, that level commitment for cat transportation education is not particularly practical.
If one day I were to win the lotto and set up my own cat sanctuary in the country side, I will definitely have a copy of this book on my shelf and will follow all the advice presented to make sure that my cats have the calmest and most satisfactory lives they possible could have. If I should expire in some freak accident in the near future, I hope to come back as one of Ms. Ellis' felines.
For cat lovers who may not be that knowledgeable about dexterous companions, this book will give you a lot of a great advice to help you improve your daily interactions with your cats. If you find that your life is already busy, it probably won't be feasible to follow the authors' instructions to the T. ...more
I was recommended this book by a woman giving a presentation about her struggles of finding a good job at a local networking event. This was one of thI was recommended this book by a woman giving a presentation about her struggles of finding a good job at a local networking event. This was one of the first books on her list that I was able to find available at the local library.
The book was a quick read that was written for the plethora of job seekers during the Great Recession. Overall, there were some interesting ideas that I had already reached on my own, but it was nice to hear them reinforced. For most of the book, I felt that the information presented wasn't really giving me anything new. There were some motivational examples and metaphors, but I was more interested in steps that I could take to help me reach my goal of finding a job after moving back to the United States.
I do have to say there was one section of the book that was a real big help to me. It was a few activities that help you organize your general and more specific transferable skills for a new job based on your previous employment and activities that you have done. This really helped me clarify what aspects of myself I need to bring forward when searching for a job.
If you just lost your job and feel completely lost, this would be a nice book to help you get started. If you are looking how to tweak your hunt to be better, you might find a couple of helpful hints, you might not....more
This was a quick read that my father recommended to me after he had finished it. Basically this was an investigative story (that was probably too longThis was a quick read that my father recommended to me after he had finished it. Basically this was an investigative story (that was probably too long for a magazine article) about the lives two men who are prominent figures in the world of rare books. One is a man who will try almost anything to obtain these books without paying for them. The other is trying to help this community recover the stolen goods and prevent others from being the swindler’s next victim.
Sprinkled throughout the book are wide variety facts and stories about the history of book collecting, publishing, and the theft of these books. The literary style is obviously from a veteran writer that pulled me into this world and kept me hooked enough to want to finish learning about the plight of these two men.
Overall, the book wasn’t anything groundbreaking or spectacular, but it was a pleasant and enjoyable story about a segment of society that I had very little knowledge about before I read this book....more
After reading Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts, I was interested in learning more details about the life of the French General that had a major impaAfter reading Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts, I was interested in learning more details about the life of the French General that had a major impact on the world and lives of every European. In Robert's book, the Battle of Waterloo was summarized quite quickly and the author carried on to other events in Napoleon's life.
I had this book on my Audible queue for awhile. When I finally got to this book and looked it up on Goodreads, I was perplexed and a bit worried since I had a bit of a hard time finding it. At first, I came across Bernard Cornwell's novel Waterloo and thought that I had purchased a book on the tail end of a series.
After a bit more searching around Goodreads, I finally found the correct entry. I realized that Bernard Cornwell is a historical fiction novelist and this background strengthened his ability to tell history in an exciting manner that isn't dried out by pure academic prose. Like Buddy Levy, Cornwell was able to write a non-fiction historical book that reads almost like a novel.
The prelude and the actual events of the Battle of Waterloo were addressed in great detail, while the residual effects of the battle were a bit glossed over. Andrew Roberts goes into much more detail about the aftermath in his book. Because of this book, I have a much better understanding about English, Prussian, and French armies that took part in the battle and how the decisions of the different leaders affected the outcome.
When reading Andrew Roberts' book on Napoleon, I found myself dreading his section on military activities since he just didn't have the knack to write about battles that didn't bore me silly. Bernard Cornwell is Roberts' polar opposite when it comes to writing about military strategy and tactics. It might just be my personality, but I just loved his sections talking about the tactical usage of different types of military units in the Napoleonic times. His explanations of how infantry, cavalry, and artillery are used in battle made his narrative easier to follow and much more rewarding.
After this book, I am definitely inclined to check out his novels and series....more
I first learned about Oliver Sacks on Radiolab's episode entitled Remembering Oliver Sacks. Being one of my favorite podcasts, I decided to pick up onI first learned about Oliver Sacks on Radiolab's episode entitled Remembering Oliver Sacks. Being one of my favorite podcasts, I decided to pick up one of his books after they mentioned his catalog at the end of the episode. Another reason why I was so inclined to check this author was because of the impressive picture of this doctor/author sitting on a motorcycle from his youth.
There are a lot of books by Oliver Sacks on Audible, so I just choose the title that jumped out to me the most, which of course was this book, Hallucinations.
Overall, the different subject matters within the studies of hallucinations that were covered in this book were quite interesting. I did learn a good amount about what different types of hallucinations are comprised of and their causes. There was a lot of information within each chapter, including the history of the research within the field of the different types of hallucinations.
In addition to that, the anecdotal stories that Oliver Sacks provides from his patients brings a lot of life to a subject that could have been easily bogged down in obtuse scientific writing that the average reader could not be able to relate to.
Many of the subjects seemed to blend together overtime while listening to the book. The only two topics that really caught my attention were Oliver Sacks' experiences with narcotics and ghost limbs. These chapters really made an impression on me and stood out.
After finishing this book, I don't have a strong desire to pick up another book by this author. If I see one during an Audible sale, I will probably pick up. Oliver Sacks' writing style is entertaining, but the human body and health is not a topic that I am all that interested in....more
I am a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson and got chose this book from a list on Audible during one of their buy one get one free sales.
One of the things thatI am a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson and got chose this book from a list on Audible during one of their buy one get one free sales.
One of the things that I like about Tyson is his ability to make astronomy and cosmology approachable to the average person. Unfortunately, the first part of this book wasn't very easy for someone to wrap their head around. I took an astronomy class in college (quite a few year ago), and I was desperately trying to follow along to his explanation of the first moments of the universe as explained by the Big Bang Theory.
Once the book came down to the galactic level and below, it was much more easy to follow and enjoyable. How the universe formed and what is the true shape of the universe was something that I had a hard time following right out of the gate.
There is a lot of great and valuable information in this book that people can learn. However, I think the biggest issue with this book is the order in which the story of the universe is told. Instead of starting with the entire universe and moving down to the planets and their potential life forms, I think a reverse order would have been better. Start with things (planets and life) that people are familiar with. As these ideas are explained and people become more familiar with astronomical and cosmological terms and ideas, then tackling the origins of the universe would be less overwhelming to an average reader....more
With the recent passing of Kim Young-sam (김영삼), the 7th president of South Korea, I decided to expedite this book to the top of my reading list. I fouWith the recent passing of Kim Young-sam (김영삼), the 7th president of South Korea, I decided to expedite this book to the top of my reading list. I found this book about a year ago in the mom and pop used book store near Noksapyeong Station (녹사평역) in Itaewon in Seoul. While most of the books seem to be placed randomly within their section, this one caught my eye as I was perusing the Korean section.
As it turned out, this book wasn't exactly the history book that I was looking for. Instead, it was a promotional piece for Kim Young-sam before the 1992 South Korean presidential election. After seven years in Korea and having a constant negative vibe about this country constantly being reinforced by the ex-pat community, it was nice to read a book that remained positive throughout the pages. Even when they talked about some of the leaders of South Korea that had dictatorial powers and used them against Kim Young-sam, there wasn't a lot of negativity.
Despite this book being outdated and being unable to predict the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis that Kim Young-sam had to deal with, I think the biggest take away is that this book was an interesting snap shop of Korean society in 1992. Though not as deep and detailed as other historical book, one can get a general feeling of the times in South Korea and it's relationship with North Korea and the United States from this book....more
This book reinforces my observations that intelligent people who are very learned about a certain subject know how to talk about their subject but oftThis book reinforces my observations that intelligent people who are very learned about a certain subject know how to talk about their subject but often are unable to teach it. While there was a lot of information about different Eastern Philosophy, I found that I could only really follow the section on Confucianism since I already had a foundation in it. Being familiar with the subject helped understand what Richard Osborne was talking about and I was able to learn more to help fill out my knowledge of the subject of Confucianism.
When it comes to Hinduism, a subject that I do want to learn about, I was quickly lost after the brief overview of this religion and the author moved onto two page overviews of different subsections of Hinduism that were just for the most lists of extremely esoteric facts.
The pictures at times could be humorous, but other times left me a bit confused since I didn't know the obscure background information that the illustrator was referencing. In addition to this, there were times that the author made references to Plato or other ancient Greek philosophers. Unfortunately, it has been an extremely long time since study the ancient thinkers, and my studies were cursory at best.
I found this book at the old mom and pop used foreign book store near Noksapyeong Station (녹사평역) in Itaewon in Seoul. I didn't see any other the books in the series, so I have no idea if this book was suppose to be a stand alone book or apart of a sequence of books that built upon each other. As a stand alone book, I would have to say that this book really won't help people with little to no background in philosophy understand the ways ancient people in the East thought and perceived their reality....more
This was an interesting book that helps explains basic concepts in economics in a manner that many people will be able to comprehend. There aren't anyThis was an interesting book that helps explains basic concepts in economics in a manner that many people will be able to comprehend. There aren't any complicated math formulas or graphs to follow, there's just simple (and at time overly simple) explanations about the way things are, such as the price of a cup of coffee.
I have to say that the biggest strength of this book is giving nice examples of basic economic principles. If I ever need to introduce economics to a high school student or someone just starting college, I would definitely use some of the situations in the book he describe.
My biggest beef with the book will have to be the over simplification of "how to improve or fix" a problems in the world. In his section about healthcare, he gave a good overview of some of the basic problems that private and public healthcare systems have. However, when he presents a solution on how to improve the healthcare, he brings out the Singaporean system as the answer. While there are some things that we can learn from this city-state, things are a lot more complicated than that. I have a hard time believing that the US government could convince or force American citizens to have a mandatory savings.
In addition to that, the section on the environment seems to have been done a bit too quickly. There were a few examples of why businesses prefer to spend money on reducing pollution in their factors and how the pollution in China is going down despite the country's rapid industrialization. This section seemed a bit over simplified and spurious. As data shows, the downward move in the graph showing Chinese pollution in the early 2000's did not maintain that direction. See Chinese pollution 2012-2015.
Overall, Tim Harford does a nice job of giving simple explanations using real world examples of how economics works. I think he should keep his books focused on that aspect instead of trying to tackle complex issues with over simplified notions....more
The history of the shipping container might be dull and boring to the average reader, but I found impact and transformation this box had on the worldThe history of the shipping container might be dull and boring to the average reader, but I found impact and transformation this box had on the world economy quite fascinating.
Marc Levinson starts off describing the inefficient state of international sea bound trade that required a boat to sit idle in a port for hours if not days while a crew of longshoremen unloaded and loaded the boat by pallet or by piece. Starting in the 1950's, a few companies were willing to take the risk and invest the time and resources to change the foundation of shipping by having everything prepacked in containers that could be loaded onto the boat with large cranes more efficiently without the need of so many people.
The author goes on to talk about all the barriers and complications the shipping container had to face in order to become the dominate method of shipping throughout the world, including crowded urban harbors like New York City that just couldn't deal with the flow of traffic from trucks and trains into the harbor, stevedore and longshoremen Luddite unions trying to protect their jobs and way of life, and laws and regulations on interstate commerce that preventing railroads and trucking companies from taking part in this innovation.
Overall, the big picture of this book gave a great view of how this new method of shipping impacted cities, harbors, jobs, and overall industrial cultural. The amount of investment and planning by ports to adapt to this technology greatly changed the way shipping is done across the world. Small, unknown ports became some of the biggest trade centers in a short amount of time while traditional urban ports died off due to the inability to adapt to the way of shipping.
I have to say that the biggest downside to the book was the excessive amount of details that slowed down the flow of the book. I do prefer a book that has too many details, but presenting all of the minute information can be done better with appropriate literary means instead of the more dry academic style used. In addition to this, I was a little bit disappointed that the section about the environmental impact that the new shipping boats have was not gone into depth at all. The author just briefly stated that there were negative consequences on the environment, and that was about it.
This book definitely made me think about logistics a lot during my reading, but I think the author could've had made the book more captivating. ...more
Krakatoa was a vague household word that I don't remember when I first heard. It was reinforced in the modern conscious as a natural wonder in CivilizKrakatoa was a vague household word that I don't remember when I first heard. It was reinforced in the modern conscious as a natural wonder in Civilization 5 (which always seems to be just out of reach of any possible city placement). However, Krakatoa was just a collection of three hazy facts for me: Krakatoa was a giant volcanic eruption, it happened a long time ago, and it was somewhere in the Pacific Ocean / Asian region.
This book has brought the history of Krakatoa into better clarity for me. I can now confidently point out the location of Krakatoa on a map (west of Jakarta and south of Sumatra), and discuss some interesting facts about the eruptions, such as a the plethora of pumice rocks that were floating in the ocean.
There was lots of background information in the book that is directly (and indirectly) related to the eruption of Krakatoa, including the study of evolution by different scientists, plate tectonics, the Dutch East India Company, landscape paintings of amazing sunsets, and the telegraph wire. All of these aspects of the book really helped flesh out the story of Krakatoa without just being a narrow glimpse of facts concerning the eruption.
While I appreciate all that I have learned, I find the writing style made the book feel like it was meandering along. It made the book feel a bit inefficient and straying to the point of telling the reader about the impact Krakatoa had on the world....more
Like the second book in this series (which I happened to read first), this book was fascinating and full information about how different political ordLike the second book in this series (which I happened to read first), this book was fascinating and full information about how different political orders developed all throughout history.
Francis Fukuyama spends much of his time focusing on the history of China and the develop of their governments, the impact of Hinduism and other religions on political orders in India, the unique slavery system that the Ottomans used to run their empire, and various methods of ruling and their successes or failures that different pre-French Revolution European countries used. I was surprised to hear the author present a case of how European rule of law was developed by the Catholic Church by being its own entity instead of being run by a secular government.
I greatly enjoyed this book and learned how modern countries and their governments developed to what they are today. I would have to say Political Order and Political Decay - the next book - was a more interesting to me since it talked about contemporary governments and the challenges they will face to maintain their ability to be effective in running/ruling their people....more
I was planning to offer an extracurricular class for some of the students that hope to enter the world of business at the Korean high school that I woI was planning to offer an extracurricular class for some of the students that hope to enter the world of business at the Korean high school that I work at. Game theory seemed to be the most popular among the students, so I decided to find a book that I could use to teach.
I went to the Kyobo Book Store (교보문고) up in Gangnam to find a book that I could use to introduce the concept of Game Theory to my students. After perusing through multiple books, I decided that all of the Game Theory books with ungodly large mathematical equations was A) too advance for introducing Game Theory to high school students and B) way beyond the scope of the Game Theory classes that I took as an undergraduate.
In response to this, I order this book from the local expatriate bookstore in Itaewon. This book, though wordy, is much more approachable to learn the basic tenets of Game Theory. The author goes through many different concepts and gives a few examples for each one. While this was a nice refresher for me, there was a definite lack of practice problems for people to do to help master the concept. For that, I looked to other online sources for exercises related to different ideas in the book and even started to create a few scenarios that the Korean high school students could relate to.
Some of the general logic thought processes and charts were pretty easy to follow in this book. I would have to say that the more math intense examples were a bit harder to follow and not particularity clear in explanation. After studying the explanations a few times over (my brain is not as nimble as it used to be in college), I was able to remember the basics concerning finding the probability of outcomes in a Game Theory chart. As stated above, practice problems would have been a nice edition to make sure that I correctly understood the mathematical process presented in the book.
Unfortunately, in order to open a class, there had to be a minimum of nine students to sign up and only six registered for the class. Since I won't be in Korean during the next school year, I gave this book to the most eager of students to learn Game Theory. I rarely keep books after I finish them. If that book is sitting on my bookshelf, no one is reading it....more
After finishing the book, I was confused on why Madame Bovary would be considered a classic. As a modern American reader, the story of a woman livingAfter finishing the book, I was confused on why Madame Bovary would be considered a classic. As a modern American reader, the story of a woman living a comfortable life in rural 19th century France (relative to mass number of peasants) who day dreams about true romance and pursues a life of materialistic possessions is a topic that just doesn't resonates with me. Juliet Stevenson , the woman who read the audio book that I listened to, did a nice job on creating a whining voice for Madame Bovary that got on my nerves and made me despise the main character even more. Through out the entire book, despite the background information about her childhood, the heroine came off as a very unsympathetic character.
I decided to do a little bit of Google research on why this book is considered a classic and found a couple of points that helps me appreciate this book a bit more. First of all, Gustave Flaubert was one of the first Literary realist. Instead of portraying the perfect life of Madame Bovary, he rejected idealism and showed the more likely outcome of following one's flights of fancy. In addition to the downfall of Madame Bovary, Flaubert also wrote about some of the more everyday occurrences of the average person in rural France. I also read that the text in the original text in French was carefully arranged by Flaubert and some of the feeling is lost in translation. A prime example of this difficulty in translation would be the A une Damoyselle Malade poem discussed on Radiolab.
A final thought to why this book would go down as a classic could be the fact this book portrayed the bourgeois in a negative light. I wonder how many stars Karl Marx would give them book and if he would put this book under his Goodread's shelf of "more-reasons-why-the-bourgeois-must go"....more
This was an absolutely fascinating book for me and I felt that I learned so much. Even though I didn't realize that there was a first book to this smaThis was an absolutely fascinating book for me and I felt that I learned so much. Even though I didn't realize that there was a first book to this small series, the author did a wonderful job of summarizing his main points before he continued on to modern political orders.
Francis Fukuyama did a wonderful job of going into details (a few times a bit too far into detail) about how different political orders were established through the historical and cultural background of various countries and peoples. Some of these sections could be overwhelming due to the prodigious amount of information that the author presents, but luckily I have been reading quite a few history books over the last few years and keeping up with some of the current events, so this task wasn't as arduous as I expected after reading some online reviews.
One thing that was a bit of an eye opener for me was the idea that the three branch system (legislative, executive, and judicial) of check and balances that the United States prides itself on could actually be a hindrance to getting things done and achieving progress. Also, learning about how 19th century American politics shared many of the same properties to modern day Greek and Southern Italian politics came as a bit of shock.
Fukuyama is obviously a learned man and has many wonderful ideas to share. However, there was one concept that he brought up that I think he didn't think through all the way. During one section of the book he talked about how small time organizations are being destroyed from advances in media technology. Why would one want to see a local production of Swan Lake from an amateur group when they could rent the DVD or find a YouTube video of a professional group doing the same performance. While it is true that certain groups are going to suffer from technological advancement, one thing he hadn't looked at was the creation of new forms of media and culture of people creating a career by producing online videos on YouTube and other sites. Before the appearance of YouTube, this type of job/hobby would have been impossible.
Overall, a great book that I wouldn't object to reading/listening to again down the road. There was so much information that I learned and I got some new perspectives on how to look at the world. I greatly look forward to reading the book he wrote before this one. ...more
This book sort of piggy backed off another audio book called Red Notice that I listened to early about the less than savory business practices in RussThis book sort of piggy backed off another audio book called Red Notice that I listened to early about the less than savory business practices in Russia. I was a bit worried that I had already read this book since:
A) The cover style is quite a bit similar to McMafia (which I had already read).
After reviewing the Planet Money Podcast, it turns out that Brian Krebs - the author of this book - was one of the key sources of the episode. A lot of the general ideas that were in the podcast episode were discussed in more detail in this book.
There were a couple of chapters that were really interesting to me, which included the chapter on why people purchase goods from online pharmacies and other questionable websites along with a chapter about how private corporations and academics fought against the spammers while lacking the support of or being down right impeded by pharmaceutical companies and the US Government.
Chapters that discussed the politicking and maneuvering of Russian cyber criminals and their seedy online underworld didn't interest me as much as other sections of the book. I am sure that lack of connection from this aspect of Russian society plays a major role in why I wasn't as interested in this section of the book.
The last thing that stood out to me was the autobiographical presence in this book. At first, I thought this was just a book reporting on cybercrime, but around the second chapter, the author goes into his personal experience at the Washington Post reporting on technology and his subsequent pursuit of freelance journalism. When I started the book The Great War for Civilisation, it was clear that Robert Fisk was writing about his own personal experiences. The shift in this book from being a report on cybercrime to a telling of a personal story threw me off a bit, but didn't hinder my enjoyment of this book once I got over this change....more
Finding books in English for high school students to read here in Korea is extremely tricky. There is a fine balance between interest, familiarity, anFinding books in English for high school students to read here in Korea is extremely tricky. There is a fine balance between interest, familiarity, and appropriateness. There are a lot of novels that I read in high school that wouldn't work here. Books like Lord of the Flies are deep, but the language and symbolism would probably be too complicated for an average ESL student. I enjoyed Slaughterhouse Five, but I think some of the sexual content would probably upset quiet a few parents. Of course, one could always play it safe and find a book for middle school students, but some of the themes and subjects are bit too juvenile for the high school students.
With that being said, Okay for Now lands perfectly in the middle of the requirements for a book for high school ESL students here in Korea. The overall language and writing isn't bogged down with excessive poetic description, though there is some vernacular that would present an appropriate challenge to the students. The subject matter is about a student in a dysfunctional family and the hardships that he must face. Quite a few of the events that happen are mildly disturbing, but nothing so severe as to offend an average Korean parent.
There are quite a few interesting things in the book. Late 1960's America is one of my favorite time periods for a book to take place in and the theme of symbolism throughout the book based on the aviary pictures of John James Audubon is a nice addition that wouldn't be too overly complicated for an ESL reader.
My only major gripe (without giving away spoilers) is that some of the developments of characters near the end of the book are unexpected and a bit of a sharp left turn. It did add a dramatic flare, but it just felt like these developments were added at the last minute....more
This was another book I got on sale from Audible's Daily Deal program. I've become a bit interested in Futurology these days and the description of thThis was another book I got on sale from Audible's Daily Deal program. I've become a bit interested in Futurology these days and the description of this book perked my interests. Throughout the book I was pleasantly surprised and at times a bit shocked about what I learned about automation.
Throughout the book, Nicholas Carr discusses the process of how human societies have started to adopt automation into their lives and some of the impacts on our lives that have occurred. Some of the major aspects of our society that Carr discusses includes Maps and Wayfaring, Architecture, Medical Services, Driver-less Cars, and a few others. Some topics such as Driver-less Cars and Wayfaring were far more relevant to my interests and my life than other items such as Architecture or Medical Services.
Overall, Carr makes some great points about how our unquestioning use of automation for a large range of activities in both our personal and professional life does have a negative on us, including our creativity, problem-solving skills, and just being able to do simple tasks that are necessary for our well being.
I've seen a few of these consequences happening in my own life, but never really deeply contemplated their impact. Nicholas Carr did a great job of clearly spelling out some of these situations that I've come across and explained how they can harm my well being.
I do have to say that I've changed a few minor things in my life after reading this book. The only real complaint that I would have is that this book deals with majorly with negative effects of automation, and doesn't really discuss the positive effects much after the first few chapters. There is a nice middle ground between a paper map and having your in car navigation tell you how to get to your destination....more
I remember awhile back hearing in the news about the Russian government forbidding American citizens from adopting Russian orphans to protect RussianI remember awhile back hearing in the news about the Russian government forbidding American citizens from adopting Russian orphans to protect Russian orphans from abusive American parents. I was skeptical about their reason, and read other commentary that this was a retaliation against the US government in response to the freezing of assets in the US of certain questionable Russian businessmen and government officials. While these news stories were fascinating at the time, I never really did any further research into these events and didn't think about it anymore.
If you are interested in learning about what the cause behind this, Red Notice is definitely a good book to start understanding this unusual and quite complex situation.
The overall narrative presented in this book was extremely fascinating and quite a bit of a roller coaster ride, starting with the author's first experiences in investing in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Bloc and subsequent problems that he and his employees faced with the Russian government.
It appears that Bill Browder's life had changed dramatically and has gone from an investment banker to a human rights activist. I understand that it is important for Bill Browder to get his message out to as many people to help the people who have suffered. However, I believe that his writing style weakens the strength of his message.
First of all, I feel like this book is a bit of a pseudo-non-fiction book. I don't doubt that Bill Browder has lived through events mentioned. However, unless he has a photographic memory, there is no way that he can accurately remember the dialogue between himself and other people that he presented in his book. Many of these conversations took place over a decade ago and Bill Browder makes no indication that these quoted texts are being cited from audio records or transcripts. I am sure that he has a decent memory of the events that took place, but this quoted dialogue is adding elements of fiction to his book for the purpose of making it more dramatic.
Other sections of the book seem to take away from the story and make the author seem a bit self centered. One chapter of the book included his conversation with his very young son about why the Russian men daddy was fighting were bad men. These entire passage to me felt sappy and unnecessary. The main purpose of this book is the corruption and human rights violations that the author was combating. A bit of information about how this complex and stressful situation lead to break up of his first marriage is relative the story, I feel that way too much time was spent on events that took place in his first failed marriage. Additionally, learning about Bill Browder's second wife who is Russian is important since she does a lot to help him in his battle with Russian authorities. However, the entire courtship process is another section that could have been greatly cut down.
Despite what I feel are large shortcomings in the author's writing style, I feel that there is lots of information about a tragic real life event. Reading this book has spurred me to try to learn more about this situation from other sources (since Bill Browder is only source and a heavily biased source)....more
I learned about this book recently as a source material in the book On Killing and decided to add it to my reading list. Karl Marlantes, who served asI learned about this book recently as a source material in the book On Killing and decided to add it to my reading list. Karl Marlantes, who served as an officer in the US Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, discusses the life of a warrior before, during, and after war based on his own personal experiences, reflections, and studies. Marlantes opens up and shares many details about his actions and emotional feelings from his time during and after the Vietnam war that are usually not shared by combat veterans and are often hard for civilians to comprehend and digest.
Throughout the book, the author discusses some mildly esoteric concepts concerning the recent emasculation of males in Western society, how the traditional roles of warriors in the 'realms of Mars' changed, along with more approachable concepts that veterans face such as heroism, self-deception, guilt, and denial.
Part of this book reminds me of the autobiographies from Vietnam veterans recounting this feats and achievements during the war that I used to read during my Vietnam War phase back in high school. Even though some of these accounts may feel like the author sharing his war stories, Marlantes dives deeply into his feelings, thoughts, and reflections of himself when he was a much younger and immature man dealing with one of the most difficult human experiences.
Overall, the book was an interesting read that reinforces thoughts and ideas from other veterans along with ideas that are new to me that I would like to learn more about....more
This book was a short quick read that was quite informative. Even though I've been in Korea for almost seven years, I was able to learn more about theThis book was a short quick read that was quite informative. Even though I've been in Korea for almost seven years, I was able to learn more about the traditional culture that surrounds family lineage. The entire piece was written well and came off as a historical and informative piece instead of persuasive argument about why Korean Tradition is so wonderful. There were a couple of subjective Korean viewpoints slipped in, such as the phrase "the loneliness of individualism", but I just looked at this as a small gateway into the mind of the writer and wasn't distracted by its presence.
I think the biggest thing I took away from this book was some knowledge about Korean traditions that I can mix in with my humor to build a nice connection with Koreans. When I told my family and students that because I started the Anyang Tam clan (안양 탐 씨), I am a jongga (종가), my wife is a (종부), and our oldest cat is the jongson 종손. Read the book and you'll get the joke....more
This book was definitely a giant eye opener for me about human nature in the midst of combat and the various factors that may incline or disincline aThis book was definitely a giant eye opener for me about human nature in the midst of combat and the various factors that may incline or disincline a person to actually attempt to harm another human being. I haven't read a book that made me want to discuss the content with other people in such a long time. With my crude ability to speak Korean, I was even able to talk about this book with my Korean mother-in-law (who is a bit of a history buff), and learn some things about Korean soldiers coming home from Vietnam.
After reading a few academic books, I found the writing style in this book extremely refreshing. The material was explained in a style that is approachable for an average reader with plenty of detail. At the same time, the information was concise and not bogged down with excessive flowery and obtuse speech. While a lot of the author's points were reinforced with personal accounts from veterans, there wasn't much data to support his ideas.
Almost every section in this book had a giant impact on the way I think about combat and veterans. The section that stuck with me the most was about how the way the US conscription system was set up in during the Vietnam War along with the actions of a certain segment of the US population compounded the psychological effects of combat to a extremely severe level for many of the veterans.
For the last segment of the book concerning the impact of violence in media on our children, I think Lt. Colonel Grossman makes some good points that are reinforced by what he has presented in the rest of his book. However, I feel that his arguments are a bit over simplified and that violence in our society is a much bigger issue with a plethora of other factors.
Overall, I feel that this book is a must read for anybody and everybody. While this may not be a perfect book, I believe that it will provide profound insights to anybody who reads this who has never been in a combat situation before....more
When my friend saw that I had gotten this book at the used bookstore in town, he told me that he had a very hard time understanding this book. While MWhen my friend saw that I had gotten this book at the used bookstore in town, he told me that he had a very hard time understanding this book. While Michael Lewis doesn't write in an overly academic or obtuse manner, the subject matter in this book does require a decent amount of background in finance to have a firm grasp of what happened in the financial meltdown of 2008.
I was finishing up my second to last semester in business school during the fall of 2008 and I remember quite a few classes where the teacher scrapped the lesson plan and started to talk about what was happening on Wall Street instead. 2008 was a long time ago for me, and I went on to a much different career path for most finance majors in college.
I'm quiet rusty when it comes to what I learned in all of my finance classes, but after reading a few websites, I was able to refresh my memory about CDOs and swaps. I definitely need to get a finance textbook out and study this again to completely understand everything in this book. With my background though, I was able to understand the story well enough.
Michael Lewis's writing style, while approachable, isn't the clearest to follow. I understand the way he organized the book. For the most part, it was based around chronological order and the relationship different investors had with each. However, the information could get repetitive at times and start to jump around.
Despite this, I enjoyed the book and it made me want to pick up a finance textbook and review what I learned it college all those years ago. I really enjoyed what I learned in college about business, but in the end I decided to follow the path of teaching. The information was fascinating and I will keep an eye for other books my Michael Lewis. I also plan to try to find more books to learn about the world of finance. ...more
Even after being in a Korea for over six years now, I was able to learn quite a few things about Korean culture through this book. A lot of times peopEven after being in a Korea for over six years now, I was able to learn quite a few things about Korean culture through this book. A lot of times people are quick to say "Because of Confucianism, Korea is like this." However, the same people tend not to go much farther than that when explaining the background for certain parts of Korean society. This book however delves deeper into Korean history and traditional Confucian values that still impact the psyche of modern Koreans.
This is a general book for people with little to no experience with South Korea and I take everything they say with a grain of salt since it has probably been simplified to an extent. There are a lot of topics mentioned in the book that I would love to read more about in greater detail. In addition to that, Korean culture is constantly changing, there are probably certain aspects that are not as prominent as before....more
Bill Bryson reviews life in America in the 1950's and 60's through the eyes of a child growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. While there is quite a bit of iBill Bryson reviews life in America in the 1950's and 60's through the eyes of a child growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. While there is quite a bit of information from research in this book, a lot of stories presented are anecdotal yet humorous accounts from the author's life. Many of Bryson's experiences are told through the lens of a child and greatly differ from reality. It's best just to take these stories with a grain of salt and enjoy the differences between how adults and children perceive the same thing.
I read this book quite a few years ago, and despite this I still found myself laughing out loud all throughout the book. I learned the hard way that this isn't a good book to pass the time while proctoring an essay test. You will spend much of your energy trying to stifle your laughter in order not to disturb the students.
Overall, I wouldn't use this book as a source in an essay. It's just a fun book to sit down and read to learn about life in America during an older time....more
Like all the other Malcolm Gladwell books that I've read, I was able to get through this book quite quickly. This book discusses lots of deeper and moLike all the other Malcolm Gladwell books that I've read, I was able to get through this book quite quickly. This book discusses lots of deeper and more complex thoughts despite the fact that Gladwell's writing style is more simplistic and easy to read.
I don't take anything that Gladwell says in his book as solid fact. Instead, he is taking the research and studies of others and combining them together to form a common theme. From there he shares his musings and interpretations of the material with his audience. I am sure, like anybody, there are bias in his writing, but I do stop and think about what he has to say. While my life might not be completely revolutionized, I find myself mentally referring back to his book when I come across different situations that he has discussed....more
The thing that I enjoy most about reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell is that the subjects are deep while the language is approachable. There really isThe thing that I enjoy most about reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell is that the subjects are deep while the language is approachable. There really isn't any overly complicated or obtuse academic jargon in this book. Most people with a decent background of education and a willingness to learn could pick up this book, understand the material, and enjoy what they are reading.
In this book, Gladwell talks about how epidemics (not just the deadly disease kind) can occur and what causes them to really take off. Most of the information in this book seems pretty anecdotal in his presentation. I don't believe that Gladwell has really "proved" anything. However, when he brings up some extremely interesting ideas that many people may not think about or realize, he give lots of explanation of why he thinks these things, and gives examples of where these ideas originate from. I'm sure that there are a lot of other studies out there talking about what can cause an epidemic can to explode with their own research and examples.
The one thing that I will really take away from this book though is the idea that we people and their personalities are not clear cut. Our personalities are based off the context of different situations. It seems too many times that we see a person only one way and not how they are in different scenarios....more
After hearing about this topic on the podcast Planet Money, I decided to pick up this book and learn more about these two people and their debate thatAfter hearing about this topic on the podcast Planet Money, I decided to pick up this book and learn more about these two people and their debate that I've heard mentioned quite a few times. Overall, the book gave me a good background to understand where these two men came from and how different generations interpreted their ideas.
For the first two-thirds of the book, the author quotes lots of source materials from the first half on the 19th century. Most of the text were from letters or book written by Keynes, Hayek, and their contemporaries about various economic topics. Even with my background in economics in college, this part could be quite hard to understand. Up until the death of Keynes, the book was filled with lots of academic writing and was a struggle to get through.
Once Keynes had passed away, the book started to focus on how different American and British administrations conducted their economic policies based on the economic philosophies of Keynes, Hayek, and/or ...more