For whatever reason, in the second edition of The Selfish Gene, Dawkins was not inclined to compromise the fidelity of the original so instead appendeFor whatever reason, in the second edition of The Selfish Gene, Dawkins was not inclined to compromise the fidelity of the original so instead appended commentary of developments since the first edition at the end, likely referenced by footnote in the printed version. In the audio however, he made the unfortunate choice to interleave this commentary throughout the reading. As a result, the main content of the book is interrupted every few minutes by a defensive exposition directed at the critics of the original version, an expression of regret at a poor choice of words, or an update on the political drama in the scientific community around controversial points of minutia.
The "endnote" commentary is helpfully signified by a change in narration to Dawkins himself. So at first I tried fast-forwarding through these bits. But the interruptions (every 2-5 minutes, often lasting longer than the actual content) proved too frequent for that approach. Also, when I found myself grinding my teeth at the sound of Dawkin's voice, I figured it was a good signal that it was time to give it up.
It's a shame. In the precious little content I was able to listen to, it was really interesting. But I doubt I'll be motivated enough to pick this up in print, so unless there's first-edition audio around somewhere I probably won't return to this....more
I was looking to learn about Borderline Personality Disorder, and this seems to be the best regarded book on audio. I did get an pretty decent pictureI was looking to learn about Borderline Personality Disorder, and this seems to be the best regarded book on audio. I did get an pretty decent picture of BPD, but since it was targeted at people who are close to someone suffering from the disorder, it eventually ran out of relevance for me and I decided to put it down. It was also probably a bit more pop-psychology for what I would prefer, but that's to be expected....more
This memoir of Bill Bryson's childhood serves to expose the reader to life in the 50's as a young boy. He sets the story with his usual sense of dry hThis memoir of Bill Bryson's childhood serves to expose the reader to life in the 50's as a young boy. He sets the story with his usual sense of dry humor juxtaposed with absurdity.
While I would probably enjoy a grocery list written by Bill Bryson, this one didn't grab me the way his other works have. I got the most out of hearing about life in the 50's. But for the most part, I found the gross things that little boys get excited about tedious....more
Not the most well written book I've encountered, but it was worthwhile to hear the reverence in Sandra Day O'Connor's account of the history of the SuNot the most well written book I've encountered, but it was worthwhile to hear the reverence in Sandra Day O'Connor's account of the history of the Supreme Court.
It was fascinating to learn that the Supreme Court started out on very shaky ground, founded on just a few sparse lines in the constitution. The judicial branch as we know it today, the great defender of the Constitution, bootstrapped itself into the position of authority that it now holds, one case at a time. I also particularly enjoyed that she appended the Deceleration of Independence and The Constitution to the end of the book.
If you're hoping to hear an insider's account of the court though, you'll be disappointed. The personal anecdotes are sparse and tame--this is not to be confused with a tell-all. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. The story of the crime itself served as a thread that leads you through the investigative methods of the time, the cultureI really enjoyed this book. The story of the crime itself served as a thread that leads you through the investigative methods of the time, the culture, and the reporting. For example, fingerprint technology was just emerging and was not yet widely adopted. So when a corpse turned up without a head this presented a considerable problem in identification and later, conviction.
Later when the case was in trial, at one point women were banned from the court room due to necessity of discussing anatomical details of the victim deemed inappropriate for ladies.
Particularly interesting were the "tabloid wars" between Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal. The respective papers competed for readers attention by employing sensationalism, then a drastic departure from contemporary journalism. The papers played an active role in the development of the case from the beginning. The highly publicized nature of the murder forced the police department's hand in investigating it when they would have otherwise dropped it; the journalists investigation throughout turned up clues and witnesses that became key evidence in the prosecution; and the reporting was followed closely by the suspects, frequently influencing their actions.
A fun peek into life and death in the Gilded Age....more
A friend of mine invited me to audit a college course on Buffy that his friend was giving. This was on the reading list, so I picked it up.
The introduA friend of mine invited me to audit a college course on Buffy that his friend was giving. This was on the reading list, so I picked it up.
The introduction was informative. In it, the author defends television as an artistic medium worth of academic interest. She also lists gives us a peek into the academic community around Buffy in particular, including a scholarly conference.
I enjoyed the chapter on Symbol and Language--these being two elements that I find most defining about the show. I appreciate more the distinct difference in style of speech between the teenagers, adults, and vampires respectively. The symbolism discussed in this chapter pertains to the direct metaphors that the show is known for, wherein the supernatural is used to portray an exaggerated depiction of teenage experience.
Beyond that though, the meaning that the author infers from Buffy seemed a stretch to say the least. Buffy was the tea leaves being read, and the divination was constructed out of the academic repertoire. Everything was phallic symbols, sexuality, religious overtones, and gender identity. I decided to give up when I saw that the topic of the next chapter was on a comparison of Buffy and Harry Potter, and the one after that on globalization....more
The perfect introduction to photography for someone who is starting off with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i. Not only do you learn the basics of exposure and cThe perfect introduction to photography for someone who is starting off with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i. Not only do you learn the basics of exposure and composition, you also learn exactly what settings to use on your particular camera....more
I finally decided to give up on this book upon realizing that after all of the pages that I've struggled through, I'm still not 100% clear on how theI finally decided to give up on this book upon realizing that after all of the pages that I've struggled through, I'm still not 100% clear on how the production of green tea differs from the production of black tea.
The writing quality is poor, and the organization of content is worse. For example, while there is a huge chapter devoted to one stage of the tea production process, manufacture, in the descriptions for each varietal of tea it often wanders back and forth through the other stages, repeating content and muddying the subject.
I did gain a broad overview of the world of tea, which is what I had hoped for. There is plenty more I'd like to learn, but I'll seek other sources....more
This book espouses a philosophy that I acknowledge the wisdom of: focus your attention on the things that really matter, in part by cutting the thingsThis book espouses a philosophy that I acknowledge the wisdom of: focus your attention on the things that really matter, in part by cutting the things that matter less. There were some solid chapters with good material--one that summed up a lot of the most valuable aspects of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, and another chapter or on forming or changing habits.
That being said, I didn't feel as though I walked away with the feeling of being fired up about how to apply this philosophy. It may have been more impactful to someone not already exposed to what is considered common wisdom in the productivity/live-hacking scene: multitasking, both on the micro and macro scale, is generally counterproductive. Higher quality and more sustainable work is achievable through focus and a slower pace.
Finally, and ironically, I felt like it got unfocused towards the end. While I can see the relationship between the authors approach to slowing down in eating and driving to his philosophy in slowing down and focusing more in life in general, these topics seemed both ancillary to the core message, plus kinda scoldey. I skipped the last 45 minutes or so of the book for that reason....more
If you can get past the extreme bias of the author and somewhat amateur writing, there's a good story in there. I most enjoyed the bits in the middle,If you can get past the extreme bias of the author and somewhat amateur writing, there's a good story in there. I most enjoyed the bits in the middle, when the emerging chocolate companies were making innovative breakthroughs on their way to developing chocolate as we know it today.
The secondary (or arguably primary) story of the quaker values that the Cadbury business was based upon, and the unconventional path that it led the founders down was a mixed bag. Learning of the schools and towns that the Cadbury family founded was fascinating. On the other hand, it often came off as one long exultation of the virtuous ancestors of the author in their puritan industriousness and self-denial.
Finally, the story of the takeover of Cadbury by Craft foods was more interesting than I would have imagined. The picture she paints of the greedy and malicious Craft representative that orchestrated the merge is suspect. Even so, it was enlightening as to what a "hostile takeover" might look like, (something I've always wondered) and the influence of funds as shareholders in a firm.
If you end up picking this one up, I advise skipping the introduction and at least the first chapter. It was a rambly slog....more