This book returns the focus to some of my favorite characters. Unfortunately, those characters weren't doing the most amazing things. And I'm tired ofThis book returns the focus to some of my favorite characters. Unfortunately, those characters weren't doing the most amazing things. And I'm tired of cliffhanger endings to chapters. Still, I will keep reading until the bitter end. It's not A Storm of Swords, but it's certainly better than a Feast for Crows....more
I didn't finish the book because it was extremely repetitive. Also, their attempts to tie people's porn consumption behavior to our evolved/innate desI didn't finish the book because it was extremely repetitive. Also, their attempts to tie people's porn consumption behavior to our evolved/innate desire is pretty weak, and seems like a second-rate rehash of old evo-psych tropes. They started with the conclusions they wanted to find and then worked backwards to make the data fit them.
It's also insulting to women: if our sexuality is a "Miss Marple's Detective Agency" with the exclusive objective of assessing a partner's long-term mate potential before sleeping with them(yeah, i'm not kidding, they really do refer to our sexuality by likening it to an 80-year old virgin spinster), then why do women routinely hook up with deplorable men? Their answer would seem to be that we are really dumb, and despite all the effort women put into weeding out undesirable mates, they somehow get tricked. It just seems more plausible that women, like men, are sometimes horny enough to hold their nose and sleep with someone hot who is morally bankrupt in other respects.
The general findings about what types of porn are popular seem the most interesting, but the big take-away--that men mostly like 'em young and conventionally attractive--isn't exactly going to blow your mind....more
Good basic primer on positive reinforcement, but short on troubleshooting details: for instance, what if your cat begins getting nervous and fretful dGood basic primer on positive reinforcement, but short on troubleshooting details: for instance, what if your cat begins getting nervous and fretful during training? When and how do you transition from always clicking and treating for a behavior to broadening the behavior to every day life? Also, the suggestions for how to stop nipping and counter-surfing are good first-lines, but they don't tell you what to do if your cat doesn't mind double-sided tape, for instance....more
The premise of this book is that a marriage is essentially an economic endeavor--a small business, if you will--and as such all those niggling domestiThe premise of this book is that a marriage is essentially an economic endeavor--a small business, if you will--and as such all those niggling domestic disputes can be ironed out by applying economic principles and solutions to the question of who will scrub the toilet. The section on comparative advantage provides sensible ways to divvy up household duties while saving everyone time. But most of the chapters use prettied up, technical words to give what is essentially old-fashioned advice your grandmother would have offered: don't let yourself go when you get hitched (i.e. avoid "moral hazard"), don't beat an argument to death just because you hate losing (don't let sunk costs skew your judgement). The trouble is that incentives are notoriously hard to tweak. Knowing that you should stop being attached to your ratty old college beanbag is different from finding the right incentives to actually let it go. The writing itself is simple, funny, and breezy. Each section highlights three couples whose difficulties arise from some misallocation of resources/incentives. Unfortunately, many of the cases they cite don't perfectly illustrate the concepts they're trying to convey. In the end, the book was entertaining but hardly revelatory....more
I can relate to Amy Chua. No, not because I've called my children garbage when their homemade birthday cards failed to impress. I can relate because CI can relate to Amy Chua. No, not because I've called my children garbage when their homemade birthday cards failed to impress. I can relate because Chua is in the uncomfortable position of knowing her beliefs are a bit nuts, and yet being unwilling to completely let go of them. Chua adheres to a regime of extreme "Chinese" parenting that prizes academic and musical achievement, obedience to authority, and hard work above all else. Her book ostensibly chronicles her transition from true believer to disillusioned agnostic, as she realizes that Chinese parenting is failing her youngest daughter. Chua has the provocative tone of a born polemicist, and she deadpans and mocks herself delightfully. (When she spends time fretting over her dogs' lack of intellectual achievements, for instance). The book starts off as a manifesto, but becomes more of a personal growth essay about halfway through. And yet Chua can never completely reject the notion that her superhuman efforts to mold her progeny into wunderkinds paid off. So in the end, Chua seems to believe that her hardcore, Sarah Connors approach to parenting (combat the Western Culture-induced decline of the family at all costs) mostly paid off. Seeing how her kids have (so far) turned out, it's hard to disagree completely....more
The book has an interesting premise, but is backed up by somewhat dubious science. The authors' basic claim is that humans' closest relative--at leastThe book has an interesting premise, but is backed up by somewhat dubious science. The authors' basic claim is that humans' closest relative--at least when it comes to our sex lives--is the polyamorous, relatively egalitarian bonobo. I'm on board with that idea if science backs it up, but the authors don't provide very convincing evidence. Also, they cite a few human societies which allegedly hew closer to a free-love like state--but when I talked to an anthropologist friend who studied one of them for her PhD, she said the notion that they are matriarchal, sexually open, and promiscuous was actually overblown. That doesn't mean I buy the idea of humans as monogamous, patriarchal, and inherently jealous either. I'm just skeptical of evo-psych and attempts to ferret out our true "human nature"--usually they are really only reflective of the authors' personal morality or worldview usually try to justify what should be allowed based on what is "natural." ...more
Le Duff, a former NYT reporter, takes a vaguely gonzo approach to journalism, playing on a minor-league football team, learning a few stunts as a circLe Duff, a former NYT reporter, takes a vaguely gonzo approach to journalism, playing on a minor-league football team, learning a few stunts as a circus trapeze artist, reenacting Little Big Horn with a bunch of aging battle enthusiasts. While some of the stories are touching and show a real, perceptive glimpse at a fading piece of the American landscape, other stories feel gimmicky and his rendering of certain characters feels sly and almost spiteful. The saying in journalism is that you're always selling someone out, but in some stories(like ones on gay rodeo circuits and male modeling), it seems LeDuff takes a little too much pleasure in doing so. In addition, LeDuff worships the "vanishing American male" and the cult of masculinity a little to enthusiastically. The trouble is, that material has been exhaustively mined for the last 100 years and it seems like this type of American male has been vanishing ever since he first emerged, simply because he is ill-suited to living in the modern world. So we get yet another set of portraits of carnies and sad clowns, washed-up football players, insular Appalachian God-fearing folk, hardened homicide detectives in Detroit, and other well-worn characters. ...more
Heartbreaking story of hundreds of thousands of women in the 50's and 60's who were essentially forced to relinquish their children because they wereHeartbreaking story of hundreds of thousands of women in the 50's and 60's who were essentially forced to relinquish their children because they were unmarried. A lot of the stories sound straight out of some dystopian, Clockwork Orange/One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest type environment. Many women were outright lied to, coerced, and physically restrained until they agreed to give up their kids. ...more