Like the big con itself, this book drew me in slowly but surely. It begins with the story of J. Frank Norfleet, a Texan rancher who was taken in by a...moreLike the big con itself, this book drew me in slowly but surely. It begins with the story of J. Frank Norfleet, a Texan rancher who was taken in by a stock market con in 1919. But instead of ruefully returning to his ranch, Norfleet become obsessed with revenge, becoming a rather good con man himself as he crisscrossed the country over the next decade, hunting down the men who'd fleeced him and seeing them sentenced for fraud and graft.
As fascinating a character as Norfleet is (and he's certainly a character; he clearly started to buy into his own press), even more interesting is the history of the United States as a land of optimistic opportunists, all to willing to buy into the promise of the Sweet Deal. Reading does a marvelous job of describing the rise of Wall Street from an investment hub for the select elite at the beginning of the 20th century into an obsession for the middle class by the end of WWI. It was fascinating to read about the transformation of the average American from thrifty saver (the 18th century ideal) into the modern consumer, the one willing to borrow and leverage and invest -- especially given the tumble the economy's seen these past five years.
By the second half of the book, Norfleet's obsessive crusading is eclipsed by the determination of Philip Van Cise, Denver's district attorney from 1921-25, to take down the intricately built network of bunco men who ran that city for many years. This is a true life version of The Untouchables, with con men taking the place of bootleggers, and to see Norfleet and Van Cise ultimately get their justice made for a most satisfying read.(less)
Hullo, Goodreads; it's been an awfully long time since I've reviewed a book.
This one's an excellent selection for getting back into the swing of it, t...moreHullo, Goodreads; it's been an awfully long time since I've reviewed a book.
This one's an excellent selection for getting back into the swing of it, though. This history of Bell Labs spans the 20th century, focussing on their heyday in the 40's and 50's in an excellent blend of history and science. As someone who was only passingly familiar with the Labs, just enough to know they had a significant impact on consumer electronics through the 80's, I found Gertner's descriptions of such wide-ranging innovations as the transistor and satellite technology fascinating.
I could've done with a slight bit more of the science, actually, but that's just a personal preference. Gertner frames the history by detailing the careers of a half dozen of the Labs most influential (and sometimes controversial) scientists. I was particularly taken with the biography of Claude Shannon, mathematician, father of Information Theory, and dilettante in whatever caught his fancy in the moment (unicycles for one).
The dissolution of Ma Bell is the focus of the final couple chapters, which is naturally something of a down note as we know the Labs will inevitably fade into an echo of what they once were, but Gertner manages to make even the political machinations of the Labs' relationship with Washington interesting. Though Bell Labs was a peculiar product of its time -- and funded by a monopoly of a kind that couldn't exist again -- I still found myself wishing we could see what a modern, far more diverse gathering of great minds would produce in a similar hotbed today.(less)
Were I a teenaged girl, I'd be all over this book. Even at thirty-something I'm tempted by several of the projects. Sure, the instructions are terribl...moreWere I a teenaged girl, I'd be all over this book. Even at thirty-something I'm tempted by several of the projects. Sure, the instructions are terribly oversimplified, and a few of the projects are clunkers (you want me to make an electrical tape bracelet? on purpose?), but several are quirky and elegant, like the hex-nut necklace featured on the cover, or the S-hook bracelet with copper accents.
Worth flipping through if only to spark ideas the next time you're in your local hardware store.(less)
While the styles are classic, they're also rather shapeless. These are "traditionally" constructed garments, consisting of a front panel, a back panel...moreWhile the styles are classic, they're also rather shapeless. These are "traditionally" constructed garments, consisting of a front panel, a back panel, and sleeves, with no hip, waist, or bust shaping. So many of these tops would be greatly improved by some hint of shaping and circular construction instead of these blocky, clunky panels.
There are two patterns I think I can use as a jumping off point to something more flattering: a tank and a tee that can be easily done in the round, borrowing some of the edging and sleeve details from this book. Other than those two exceptions, though, I'm sending this one back to the library without a second look.(less)
Hrm. A well-written discussion on the state of the food production industry, this takes a look at the underlying reasons behind the rapid increase in...moreHrm. A well-written discussion on the state of the food production industry, this takes a look at the underlying reasons behind the rapid increase in obesity in America. Kessler's certainly done his research, using his clout as former commissioner of the FDA to garner interviews with numerous players in the industry... and yet I was underwhelmed.
Perhaps it's simply that there's not a lot of new information here, at least not to someone fairly informed about nutrition and the state of food industry. I also found Kessler's ultra-short chapters (some as short as two pages, with most averaging about a half dozen) to be somewhat distracting, but that's a minor grievance.
The final portion of the book addresses Kessler's title directly, but it's nothing you don't already know: adjusting our eating habits is going to require a tremendous amount of attention to portion size, to cutting back on overprocessed foods, and it's going to be a slow, life-long process. I have no serious complaints with this book, but I don't think it was worth my time to read.(less)
A collection of articles on the history and psychology of advertising, this includes a number of reprinted essays from the now-defunct "Stay Free!" ma...moreA collection of articles on the history and psychology of advertising, this includes a number of reprinted essays from the now-defunct "Stay Free!" magazine as well as new material. This is a lighter look at advertising than some other recent books on the subject and approaches the topic with a healthy dose of humor -- which is exactly what the modern consumer needs to navigate the daily sea of ads.(less)
Also available as an e-book from my local library, I read this after finishing The Moment it Clicks. As the title suggests, this book is narrower in f...moreAlso available as an e-book from my local library, I read this after finishing The Moment it Clicks. As the title suggests, this book is narrower in focus, and less useful to me personally because I'm not (yet) a DSLR user.
Don't let that turn you away, though, because McNally's writing is so wonderfully chatty and helpful that you can't help but learn something. A recognized a good bit of this material from his blog (http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/), which is well worth checking out.
Looks like I'm going to have to buy that slave flash for my point-and-shoot Canon after all. Darn you, Joe!(less)
Popped over to my local library's website to reserve this title and discovered it was available as an e-book. Excellent: I read this on my laptop with...morePopped over to my local library's website to reserve this title and discovered it was available as an e-book. Excellent: I read this on my laptop with my camera beside me, fiddling with the settings and taking test shots as I read.
Though intended for the more advanced photographer, I still found this an entertaining and informative read. I have a point-and-shoot, albeit a very adjustable one, but am only an advanced beginner. McNally's specialty is lighting portraits in subtle and innovative ways and it shows in the abundant examples in this book. I found myself wishing for a DSLR and lighting accessories several times, but nevertheless picked up quite a few pointers on how to make the most of the equipment I already have.
Even for the most beginning photographer, there's a wealth of advice on composition, taking advantage of the moment, and being willing to experiment with your models and props. McNally's work is inspiring as hell, and his conversational way of teaching is very enjoyable.(less)
I happened to see this on the shelf at my local library when picking up something I had on hold. I've read Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and enjoyed...moreI happened to see this on the shelf at my local library when picking up something I had on hold. I've read Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and enjoyed it a great deal, but found this an even better read.
If you've seen an episode of No Reservation (which was being filmed while this book was being written), it will come as no surprise that Bourdain approaches food with unalloyed gusto. More importantly, however, that's also how he approaches life. Though outwardly about the food, this is more about the people who prepare, share, and enjoy those meals with Bourdain.(less)
During the Depression, the Federal Writers Project employed thousands of out-of-work writers. One of the FWP's unfinished projects was an overview of...moreDuring the Depression, the Federal Writers Project employed thousands of out-of-work writers. One of the FWP's unfinished projects was an overview of the regional cuisine of the United States. Even in the thirties, regional specialties were starting to blend into the homogenized menus we see across the country today.
Roughly categorized by region, there are some true gems in this rough. Kurlansky offers some small amount of commentary and context, but primarily lets the drafts of the FWP writers' work stand alone.
This certainly isn't a recipe book -- very few of us would have the time or skills to reproduce these meals -- but more an anthropological document. The section on southern cooking, for example, is full of patronizing caricatures of people of color. It was physically uncomfortable to read such unapologetic racist language, demeaning black Americans even as these writers were exulting (appropriating!) their cuisine. I would have appreciated more commentary from Kurlansky on this point given the significance and impact of the material.(less)
The psychology of marketing is one of my favorite subjects -- which doubtless you've figured out by the contents of my "read" shelf. This would've bee...moreThe psychology of marketing is one of my favorite subjects -- which doubtless you've figured out by the contents of my "read" shelf. This would've been an interesting book if the author had stopped singing his own praises long enough to actually write about marketing.(less)