A snapshot of the time & place it was written about.. the Middle East and Gulf area, although it's only 3-4 years old it is the best architectural...moreA snapshot of the time & place it was written about.. the Middle East and Gulf area, although it's only 3-4 years old it is the best architectural and planning insight you can find about the recent developments and experiments in the area. This collection of three journals large enough to be books by themselves is a stimulating, as well as visually appealing guide to the region's development on an architectural and regional scale. Al Manakh seeks to be a guide/almanac to the forces and growth in the region, and it does this well through examining economic and geographic forces as well as redefining the vocabulary of urbanism and design. At times it digresses into discussion of strange combinations of fields and how they are viewed in the eye of design, and at times it gets detailed through interviews with architects and master planners of the region. Overall it tries to put logical and practical understanding together of the development, which is difficult, but overall it is the food for thought and research / insider's perspective on the region's development necessary to have some understanding of it all, and to try to apply to the global vocabulary. Al Manakh is a snapshot, and a message of what problems we need to address, and some view of how to address them. Looking forward to the planned sequel to this.(less)
Had to read this for a class on Policy Analysis, was pleasantly surprised.
Bardach has a writing style that is easy to follow and uses relatively clear...moreHad to read this for a class on Policy Analysis, was pleasantly surprised.
Bardach has a writing style that is easy to follow and uses relatively clear logic. The book gives the impression he is a seasoned policy analyst. This "Eightfold Path" guide to comparing and judging policy alternatives will give you an excellent base of (to be followed loosely) steps in which to approach problems in public, nonprofit sector policy as well as private organizations, although the focus is on the former two.
The author also gives you what you want to know, examples, ideas, and "semantic tricks" to thinking out any of the steps he outlines, for instance: semantic tips for deciding what criteria to judge alternatives (variations on a solution).
If, to give any negative critique of the book, the author dissassembles his method too much sometimes - which leaves you confused as to which step you are referring to. To give credit though, not all types of analysis (and if you read the book you will know) are straightforward "Identify Problem, Identify Alternatives to solve it, Identify criteria to rank alternatives, and then choose" and depend on the context, as well as those funding your "analysis" and work.
Further, to credit Bardach, there are many pointers as well in other problem areas which are helpful, such as general project management, or even ways of structuring final reports and recommendations.
All in all, this is a quick read which isn't padded with useless information, and isn't lacking in terms of advice and pointers, to the effect of having things such as appendices of "work governments do" useful to not just borrow ideas, but stimulate the thinking process.
Houellebecq takes readers through the experiences of a rather passive character who belittles western ironies and materializim, the cult of success, a...moreHouellebecq takes readers through the experiences of a rather passive character who belittles western ironies and materializim, the cult of success, and most importantly, the repressed sexuality and reversal of sex roles in the modern world. The character, by off chance on a Thai tourism package embraces his perversions and eventually meets a woman who completes him. Taking us through the art world that Jean Michel curates exhibitions, to swinger and sadomasochist clubs, this is an accurate critique of the perversion of intimacy in modern society. The ending is depressing and falls somewhat flat, which detracts little from the overall message, if not adding a bit of reality to our adventure, so don't let this stop you from enjoying a great book. (less)
Crash is an awesome work of perversion and deviance. It challenges the safety of technology, law, and order through the voyeuristic experiences of the...moreCrash is an awesome work of perversion and deviance. It challenges the safety of technology, law, and order through the voyeuristic experiences of the narrator Ballard and extremist Vaughan. Critical reviewers on here will tell you that this book is just pornography because they don't get what the author is doing, or his cool attitude towards sex, these people are prudes and you shouldn't accept their dismiss of Crash very seriously. Many of Ballard's works challenge us to re-examine our society's attitude towards vulgar truths in life imposed through the politically correct and moral constructs, this is definitely one of them. Although criticisms that plot development is slow are valid, it is definitely not a boring ride - you hang on every word as the writer fearlessly describes and breaks all boundaries of sanity and morality. In fact, it is probably the descriptiveness and overload of filthy or macabre scenes that make this book come off as solely porno, masochistic or some kind of fetish writing. The work is a metaphor for the vulnerability of social constructs, rules, and safety - and on closer thought is pepper with character metaphor - such as actor / stunt driver Seagrave who gets into staged crashes on film up until his own real death (don't worry, not spoiling anything here btw). The characters feel relatively realistic, and uninhibited - whether it is newly re-emasculared Ballard, masturbatory sex / violence addict Vaughan, or Ballard's loose wife and mistresses. This is a legitimate journey into the violent reality of our existence and the irony posed by the violent deaths in car crashes - the car being an iconic piece of technology for safety and mobility. Definitely worth reading, not for the faint of heart. (less)
If you are looking for an in depth look at the logical structure and psychology of humor, this is it. I've seen other attempts at a book like this and...moreIf you are looking for an in depth look at the logical structure and psychology of humor, this is it. I've seen other attempts at a book like this and this definitely takes the cake. The book finds solid explanations for various kinds of humor, cultural differences, uses logical / cognitive theories used in other fields and applies them to humor, all the while providing insight into what is funny, what isn't, comedians, culture, etc.
A bit pretentious sounding, through use of (name of person who created idea)+ -ian, -ism, and strange vocab like "bathetic".. that and it is basically...moreA bit pretentious sounding, through use of (name of person who created idea)+ -ian, -ism, and strange vocab like "bathetic".. that and it is basically a plagiarism of John Allen Paulos's "Mathematics and Humor"
Despite that it is still a well written, clever and challenging book on a subject that is hard to write about. very insightful and well worth the effort.(less)
This is basically a geography professor's philosophy of geography. Yi-FU Tuan analyzes how we perceive and experience ("the experiential perspective")...moreThis is basically a geography professor's philosophy of geography. Yi-FU Tuan analyzes how we perceive and experience ("the experiential perspective") space, distance, and time, and how we acsribe personal meanings to certain spaces.. therefore making them places. If what i'm saying seems vague or way out there, this is basically the same way the book flows, except its not that difficult to understand. A lot of the work isn't very empirical in it's sourcing, but logically sound. For instance, using linguistic origins for words defining spatial concepts as evidence of this-and-that argument about how spatial expanses are perceived, or a certain tribe's or indigenous peoples' ways of thinking about the spatial attributes of their world as they see it to argue how primitive man, uncorrupted by a cultural perspective might view the world spatially. The credibility of this "essay" is basically lax, and should not be taken as ultimate truth, rather, as food for thought. Tuan simply relies on his life's worth of reading a plethora of sources through a geographer's perspective; although his logic in his arguments is mostly sound, it is never free of the influence of bias (his geographical perspective of novels, plays, research and his other sources used in the work) it strives to avoid in the first place. In reality, this is an example of what could be called "the experiential perspective of a geographer on space & place". In all fairness, this is what the reader initially expects, and it is what they get. Overall, this is not poorly written, not too lengthy, not too abstract for the most part, and a great read for anyone interested in these topics. 4.5 stars if i could.(less)
This is a basic sketch of how we can bring Doxiadis' small scale humanistic geography into form in a global perspective. Although a bit dated (publish...moreThis is a basic sketch of how we can bring Doxiadis' small scale humanistic geography into form in a global perspective. Although a bit dated (published late 60s), Architecture In Transition gets its title from the population boom of the time. The main idea is that we should look to the local and developing building and urban styles as a guide to the ecumenic, or, Constantionos's word for Global. The logic is of anthropology - what works for basic developed society must be a clue to the guides of basic and untainted-by-modern-abstractions-man, that, what the most basic societies construct should be an example for the metropolitan and global scale. Although the book lacks in detail of what exactly these types of program should be, the consensus is that of any great innovator: see things at their basic roots, like a child would explain it to a developed adult with a professionally, developmentally inflicted case of group think. I wouldn't recommend this today except FANS ONLY, as there isn't a lot of material except for the ideas I just covered above (most of which take their full reality in ch's 7-8 fro the skimmers). This was an amusing and spring-board of a read, but no too much gained from it.(less)