This was the first book by Fromm I have read, and for me this book was full of some profound insights. I've seen some criticize this book as a watered...moreThis was the first book by Fromm I have read, and for me this book was full of some profound insights. I've seen some criticize this book as a watered down version of his earlier works, but there is value here and perhaps this is a better starting point for some. Fromm’s goal in this book is to lay down a roadmap for achieving a life of inner peace and contentment that is not derived from having the most of something.
Like any roadmap for inner peace or enlightenment, easier said than done. But Fromm’s roadmap comes with that disclaimer, and comes with some discussions and analysis that are both practical and useful. Within the first twenty pages some of his comments brought into perfect focus some of my mom’s behaviors that always puzzled me.
He covers a lot of ground in just over 100 pages from property and socioeconomics to mental health and self awareness, which to me makes this work far more useful than 99% of the books that strive to do what this book does. I've read other books about spirituality, enlightenment, and inner peace. None were as practical, helpful, or as liberating as this one.
"Liar's Poker" traces the rise and decline of Salomon Brothers, a Wall Street Investment Bank, and Michael Lewis's experiences during his career with...more"Liar's Poker" traces the rise and decline of Salomon Brothers, a Wall Street Investment Bank, and Michael Lewis's experiences during his career with the firm.
Michael does an excellent job of painting the cultural landscape of the firm in vivid detail, and sets even more vivid characters against it while balancing the narrative against the broad trends happening on Wall Street and financial markets. Ever wonder just what the big deal about Junk Bonds and Savings and Loans was? Do you remember reading about Michael Milken and not quite understanding why he or junk bonds mattered in the late 80's? Have you wondered just how the heck mortgage securities work, and how mortgage securities even came to exist?
While following Michael's journey from new recruit to Big Swinging Dick, all that and more will be made clear. Both an educational and entertaining read, I wish I'd read this book much sooner. (less)
Perhaps one of the best ways to inform someone of what it's like to have an Austic spectrum disorder is to provide this work of fiction, which feature...morePerhaps one of the best ways to inform someone of what it's like to have an Austic spectrum disorder is to provide this work of fiction, which features an autistic point-of-view character named Christopher. Christopher initiates an investigation into the murder of the neighbor's dog. He draws upon his readings of Sherlock Holmes to guide him and decides to document his story of the investigation by writing a book, which ultimately is the book in the hands of the reader.
The irony and subtle humor of the narrative perhaps defies what one could expect from the writings of an Austist, but the fundamental differences in the perception of the world are extremely informative. The story is well paced, and manifests heart break and triumph simultaneously as Christopher struggles to fully comprehend the meaning of what his investigation uncovers.(less)
Not my favorite Culture novel to date - I think I enjoyed Consider Phlebas and Player of Games more. The structure of the narrative requires a bit mor...moreNot my favorite Culture novel to date - I think I enjoyed Consider Phlebas and Player of Games more. The structure of the narrative requires a bit more effort on the part of the reader than the previous two Culture novels, and I think this story was much harder to pull off from a technical perspective as a writer. With that said, Banks pulled off a pretty good surprise ending that left me in a contemplative state of mind. (less)
Excession is set against the post-scarcity utopian society named The Culture. While all of the Culture novels to date are set against this society, th...moreExcession is set against the post-scarcity utopian society named The Culture. While all of the Culture novels to date are set against this society, they all vary wildly both in terms of time, place, and characters. As the backdrop of these novels, The Culture itself emerges as a very interesting character in its own right. The Culture is administered/governed by hyper-intelligent sentient machines collectively referred to as Minds. Minds run ships of all sorts, static structures such as orbitals, and even nomadic structures like wandering asteroids - and some very large structures even have three minds. While the citizens of the Culture go about their every day lives, the Minds attend to their needs and also look outwards across the galaxy and do their best to protect the Culture itself while guiding other races to enlightenment and, hopefully, membership in the Culture.
The most alluring aspect of Excession is that the Minds themselves come to the foreground as characters as they become aware of an anomalous artifact that exhibits mastery of technology previously only dreamed of. This artifact represents what Banks calls a potential Out-Of-Context problem, for the Culture is relatively secure in its place in the Galaxy and can only really be threatened something completely beyond it's calculations, capabilities, and galaxy-paradigm - much the way many aboriginal societies on Earth carried along happily until ships from Europe appeared on their shores. Such an artifact represents a potential "Excession" - hence the name of the book.
Upon discovery of the Excession, events are set into motion as the Minds consider how to best handle the situation. Turns out, they are not all in agreement about how to deal with the matter.
Perhaps the most interesting character in the novel is an up and coming race referred to as the Affront. They are so named because their very nature and world-view is almost as 90-degrees to the Culture as one can get, and in so being they are an Affront to the sensibilities of the Minds. Chafing at the constraints imposed upon them by the Culture, they view the Excession as an opportunity to put one over on the Culture so they can get on with subjugating the rest of the Galaxy.
I have to give Banks credit for creating a premise that once again creates opportunities for introspection on societies and cultures at the meta-level. The individual characters/actors in the Novel are also mostly pretty interesting - only one got on my nerves. But for all that multiple ships, fleets, and cultures are set on a collision course by the appearance of the Excession, the entire affair felt undermined by an intense interpersonal conflict between two of the main characters. The reason their conflict undermined the greater narrative is because I just flat-out didn't care about one of them, which is unfortunate. Had Banks executed one character better, the novel would have been twice as good in my mind.
Regardless, Excession made for a fun read and I very much welcomed the Minds coming to the foreground. In retrospect, I think Consider Phlebas stands the tallest of the first five Culture stories (4 novels, one short story).
My first foray into The Culture books from Banks, I found this to be a very enjoyable introduction. The idea of a brutal star empire shaped and held t...moreMy first foray into The Culture books from Banks, I found this to be a very enjoyable introduction. The idea of a brutal star empire shaped and held together by a game was pretty enjoyable. Along the way Banks sprinkled a number of ideas that demonstrated a quite vivid imagination - the world where the final set of games was played was especially interesting.
A clash of cultures. A clash of players. Wheels within wheels, intrigues within intrigues. Even the player of games was appropriately a piece on yet a different board - Banks pulled that off nicely. (less)
The conclusion of "The Bridge Trilogy" was bittersweet for me. I very much enjoyed watching Rydell, t...more**spoiler alert** This review contains spoilers.
The conclusion of "The Bridge Trilogy" was bittersweet for me. I very much enjoyed watching Rydell, the down-on-his-luck failed cop cum security guard, stumble his way through Gibson's world and continue to land on his feet while playing pivotal roles in events too large for him to really comprehend. That ability to land on his feet is what prevents Rydell from attaining his goal of being on the reality-show "Cops in Trouble". I also enjoyed Chevette, the street-wise bike courier originating from the Bridge whose street smarts let her see what Rydell consistently misses. Some of the most piercing insights of the book are delivered through her. I'm sad to be leaving this character and others. I enjoyed the ride, yet found the climax missed the mark.
In this final installment, Rydell finds himself the custodian of Rei Torei, the Japanese media icon who has never been anything but an media construct, self aware and emergent, and also iconic. Perhaps this character was meant to represent how our own perceptions of celebrity are unattainable even for celebrities. Both Rydell and Rei are guided from cyberspace by Laney, the lens through which Gibson focuses his critical eye on the media and our mass-produced culture. Laney is cursed by the ability to aggregate data on the Net and perceive inflection points both in people's personal lives and in the course of society. Laney calls them nodal points, and he perceives a nodal point only once equaled in history is in the process of forming, the epicenter of which is on perhaps the most intriguing character of the trilogy, The Bridge.
The Bridge is what we know as the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and in the novel it was condemned after earth-quake damage rendered it unsafe for vehicular traffic. Eventually it was settled by squatters, becoming a fairly autonomous subculture, and a refuge from the corporatized monoculture of the rest of the city. Gibson did a nice job painting this environment with rich textures. So much so that the discovery of a Lucky Dragon convenience store (think 7-11) at the entrance to the bridge in this third novel jarred me as much as it did the characters.
Guiding events, even shaping them and causing the nodal point to come to fruition, is the villain of the series, Cody Hargrove. Unfortunately, the climax loses some of its punch due to the fact that the outcome Hargrove seeks to manifest is ambiguous even by his own admission. Hargrove seeks not to eliminate an enemy, or reap a fortune. Rather, he is attempting to manifest pivotal change while maintaining his position on the other side of that change. In that way, Hargrove's intentions aren't personal, they are corporate, and perhaps he is simply meant to be a human face for the ambitions of corporate greed. The desire for corporations to suppress threats (change) yet survive and profit from the change that does happen fits perfectly.
The paradigm shifting change in this book is a disruptive technology - nanoreplicators that are installed into every Lucky Dragon to enable a new service - the nanofax. Buy an object, fax a copy to a Lucky Dragon near you. In the world of overnight delivery that struck me as a bit odd, though Hargrove's assertion "it's too stupid to fail" rings true too. During an interview between Hargrove and a reporter the issue of copyright is touched upon indirectly, and in my mind would have been the perfect motive for yet another corporate alliance to oppose Hargrove, not to mention a fine soap box for yet more social commentary. Yet Hargrove (and Gibson) dismiss this issue immediately as not important.
Those who who read Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy may recall how many of those characters were humans obsessed with "crossing over" into immortality, into cyberspace, into emergent systems? In light of that observation, what the nanofaxes at the lucky dragons portend for Rei Torei hint at one of the outcomes of the novel, and given Rei Torei was created by corporations as a media construct, it manifests the issue of copyright on a completely different level. Yet the significance of this moment is hard to grasp within the story that is told. Hargrove is defeated, but it doesn't seem to matter. Circumstances force Rydell and Chevette to cross paths and come together again, yet it's not clear why their future as a couple, or the world they live in, is brighter. Rei Torei is made manifest a thousand times over, yet Hargrove doesn't seem to have ever been trying to thwart that outcome - probably because Rei Torei never indicated she was trying to achieve that outcome.
Many more colorful characters decorate the pages as dazzling gems, and for those characters and how their observations about the world they live in relate to ours, the book is worth reading. Just don't be surprised if you're scratching your head a little. If you're not, call me and tell me what I missed. (less)
Stephenson leads the reader on what is initially a finely conceived and executed narrative linking characters in the present to events and ancestors i...moreStephenson leads the reader on what is initially a finely conceived and executed narrative linking characters in the present to events and ancestors in WWII. Taking on some of the cryptography and information theory topics in a work in fiction was a brave undertaking that Stephenson pulled off pretty well. What Stephenson didn't pull off very well was an ending.
At two-thirds of the way through the novel plot points began to develop in a jarring fashion and, and by the end of the story, the motivations of several of the characters don't seem very believable. None-the-less, Stephenson's wry observations about a number of contemporary topics, from business plans to the distribution of assets in an estate to heirs, made the journey worth while. Ultimately, compared to previous works from this author this was a bit of a disappointment for me. (less)
Ironically, this book provides for Autism what Autists themselves usually do not have - context. And by using historical explorations along with anecd...moreIronically, this book provides for Autism what Autists themselves usually do not have - context. And by using historical explorations along with anecdotes relating to the author's own experience, I finally felt as if, for the first time, I was getting my head around this topic in a way that made sense.
I read this book almost a year after my daughter's diagnosis. For me, Autism has been one of the most bewildering things to try to learn about; each Autist is unique and the cause of the condition is still shrouded in mystery. As the saying goes, "If you know one child with Autism, you know one child with Autism."
There are more precise and clinical treaties on this topic. But for those just beginning the journey of gaining a broader understanding I can't think of a better book to start with.
**spoiler alert** Cordelia's Honor is the beginning of the Vorkosigan Saga, though it should be noted these books were not the first books in that sag...more**spoiler alert** Cordelia's Honor is the beginning of the Vorkosigan Saga, though it should be noted these books were not the first books in that saga to be published, but this is the beginning of the story. This book focuses on the parents (Cordelia and Aral) of the principle character to come - their son Miles. "Cordelia's Honor" actually bundles two previously published works together so the complete story is presented in one volume. The second part, "Barrayar", won a Hugo in 1991 (Bujold is the only person to tie Heinlen with four Hugo awards). Surprisingly, I preferred the first half of the compilation more than the Hugo winning second half.
Despite characters set in a military-oriented aristocracy of space-faring world powers, there are no epic space battles of note told in the blow-by-blow style of Weber or David Drake in his "Hammer's Slammers" series. Conflict, both socio-political and interpersonal tends to happen at close quarters so the story really turns on its character and the book lands pretty squarely in the Space Opera genre.
The title character, Cordelia, is a refreshing change as a female point-of-view, and, unlike Weber with Honor Harrington, Bujold seems to stay true to her initial presentation of her. The dialog is snappy, the action quick, the emotions convincing, the world colorful. The stunning success of Cordelia's improvisational efforts require the suspension of some disbelief, but the ride is exciting none-the-less as Bujold moves so quickly I found myself breathlessly turning pages.
I'm looking forward to further installments in the series, and I hope the best is yet to come. (less)
This is marks the first time on my journey through the Vorkosigan saga that I found myself disappointed. The compendium begins with a brilliant short...moreThis is marks the first time on my journey through the Vorkosigan saga that I found myself disappointed. The compendium begins with a brilliant short story. The two full-length novels are themed around the story of Miles' clone.
In a Sci-Fi universe that includes uterine replicators and life-extension via brain transplants, clones seem darn right straight forward. And while Bujold's world supports the existence of this technology, even her writing was unable to avoid the tired tropes and pitfalls of clone stories. The introduction of the clone was actually accomplished somewhat deftly, with a double-feint that initially had me wondering if the whole concept of a clone story was itself just a ploy to throw the reader off balance. But no, the clone really does exist, and by the end Brothers in Arms they have gone their separate ways, though Miles thinks of his clone as a brother.
Mirror Dance represents the integration of the clone/brother into the family, and the stilted, unnatural dance that Bujold forces her characters to perform to arrive at that outcome make for difficult reading. I'm hoping Mirror Dance was an aberration, not a sign of things to come. (less)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I found to be one of the most imaginative space operas I've read. Vinge juxtaposed an epic story line, which eff...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I found to be one of the most imaginative space operas I've read. Vinge juxtaposed an epic story line, which effortlessly spanned the galaxy and many civilizations and alien races, against a thoroughly original and intriguing medieval race and society. The characters were memorable, and the action fast paced. (less)
Ultimately I did not finish this book, which is strange because I think it enhanced my appreciation and understanding of the fundamentally different w...moreUltimately I did not finish this book, which is strange because I think it enhanced my appreciation and understanding of the fundamentally different ways people can view and understand the world. I think the first few chapters (over) state the book's premise - finishing it would have just been an exercise in reviewing studies that reinforce the author's premise. I have pointed others at this book to aid in understanding differences in perception and cognition more than any other book I've read.
For a web design noob, this book is a nice place to start. It solidly hits several topics concerned with design elements that are at play when designi...moreFor a web design noob, this book is a nice place to start. It solidly hits several topics concerned with design elements that are at play when designing a web site to be pleasing to the eye. Especially of interest were links to websites for further reading. The chapters about color theory and fonts were the most memorable and enjoyable.
This book doesn't talk at all about web server configuration, URL re-writing schemes, web frameworks, or Cascading Style Sheets other than to reference CSS as the mechanism for controlling style. So, further reading and work is required for the web design novice who started with this book. I'm positive any beginner who includes this in their syllabus will create more eye-catching and eye-pleasing sites earlier in their career than someone who just focuses on the technology. (less)