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anonymous

MAPLEWOOD, MN, United States | Member Since 2006

19
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 12 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 53 purchased in 2014
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  • This is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Ryan Grim
    • Narrated By Milton Bagby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (24)

    Past antidrug campaigns actually encouraged drug use. A few years ago, America stopped dropping acid altogether. The meth epidemic peaked a long, long time ago. NAFTA opened the border and created a bonanza for cocaine and meth traffickers just as President Clinton knew it would. President Reagan may have inadvertently caused the crack epidemic. Kids today are doing fewer illegal drugs than kids from any time in the recent past, and for a surprising reason.

    steve says: "A good book but...."
    "On the Current State of Chemical Consciousness-Adj"
    Overall

    This a-book is on the current state of chemical consciousness-adjustment in America today. I doesn't give exteneded histories on individual drugs but I does go into the early 20th century political and social fights to ban narcotics. It also goes into current unregulated drugs such as salvia and ayahuasca. I have years ago experimented with some mild drugs so this a-book was an eye-opener for me. I particularily liked the chapter on the wild west of synthetic chemical concoctions people put together in thier labs and how the authorities are always many steps behind. This book helped me appreciate how prohibition seems to be a losing proposition but the alternative doesn't look any more appealing. Good stuff even when listened to sober!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • History of Greed: Financial Fraud from Tulip Mania to Bernie Madoff

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By David E. Y. Sarna
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (41)

    From the earliest financial scams of the 17th century, through the headline-grabbing Wall Street scandals of our times, History of Greed provides a history of financial fraud. In it, David E. Y. Sarna exposes the true and often riveting stories of how both naive and sophisticated investors alike were fooled by unscrupulous entrepreneurs, lawyers, hedge fund managers, CPAs, Texas billionaires, political fundraisers, music managers, financial advisers, and even former Mossad agents.

    PHIL says: "Occasionally uneven or plodding, but spellbinding"
    "Sententious tone mars an otherwise enjoyable histo"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There is a lot of useful, insightful, and informative info in this a-book. I particularly enjoyed the story of Marc Dreier, Lou Pearlman, and the PIPEs manipulations. If this were a book about the law it's equivalent would be the 20th century history of some of the most notorious mass murderers. And if one were writing about these villains it would be beside-the-point to take up a highhanded, moralistic stance pedantically going on and on about how awful the things they did were. I think most people get that and don't need the sermons. I think we just like the salacious details of their doing, delving into their sociopathic personalities, and the frisson of horror they inspire. This enlightening and thoroughgoing history could perhaps have been presented with a better overarching theme with: How to Avoid Being a Victim of Financial Frauds, or How to Deceive and Cheat People: Mastering the Dark Arts of Financial Fraud, or just an objective, non-moralizing The Greatest American Financial Schemes and Scandals of the 20th Century.

    I also think that there was maybe a bit too much comparatively on the Bernie Madoff affair.

    Ignore the ratings on performance and story. Also, I wasn't able to complete the title.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Carmen Reinhart, Kenneth Rogoff
    • Narrated By Sean Pratt
    Overall
    (231)
    Performance
    (111)
    Story
    (106)

    Throughout history, rich and poor countries alike have been lending, borrowing, crashing - and recovering -their way through an extraordinary range of financial crises. Each time, the experts have chimed, "this time is different" - claiming that the old rules of valuation no longer apply and that the new situation bears little similarity to past disasters. This book proves that premise wrong.

    D. Littman says: "necessary piece to understand the current crisis"
    "It's Just a Long Series of Descriptions of Charts"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think writing on financial crisis can be interesting like Charles P. Kindleberger's Manias, Panics, and Crashes or Charles Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. But this requires setting of the historical scene and character development and a humanistic look at bygone times. This isn't at all what Reinhart and Rogoff are trying to do in This Time Is Different. They offer a 5000 mile view of what hundreds of these sorts of financial disasters have in common using a universalist perspective and all set in a dry pedestrian prose. They have some interesting insights but it doesn't make for fun listening. Most of the audiobook consists of just elaborating on the graphs. I can see the graphs but don't you have some interesting historical insights to add? They pointlessly cite past economists for having written some paper on obvious things that don't require any citations. They annoyingly repeat the book's title way too many times along with the trite idea rehashed from all the other financial crisis books about which they don't have anything more interesting to say. They keep calling the current crisis we're in as the Second Great Contraction and use their strange, newly coined phrase excessively. Like most economists they have too high an opinion of their own limited findings and their field of study in general. I could go on...the whole thing is excruciatingly painful to listen to.

    The careless reading by Sean Pratt didn't help. All his many small misreadings are too numerous to list. The most glaring was that he read the probability of x, P(x), as "P meaning that x."

    This isn't something to enjoy on your morning commute but something to help you through a difficult book if it were required reading in an economics class.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Harperland: The Politics of Control

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Lawrence Martin
    • Narrated By Michael Puttonen
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    With another Canadian election slated for early May, 2011, Harperland: The Politics of Control, by Marin Lawrence, is a must read (or hear) before you go to the polls. "Harperland," the story Stephen Harper’s first four years in power, soared to the top of the best-seller lists in the first week it was out. Peter C. Newman called it “A book of revelations.... This is Stephen Harper unplugged.”

    anonymous says: "There's something amiss in Ottawa"
    "There's something amiss in Ottawa"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    American politics seems by default prone to obstruction and inaction due to its excessive checks and balances with its division of the legislative and executive powers. But Canadian federal politics seems vulnerable to the other extreme of a despotic leader or an overmighty party consolidating too much power and subverting the democratic workings of parliament. Lawrence Martin in his admirably fine book details how Stephen Harper's PMO has acquired this dangerous expanse of executive authority.

    Martin's extensively researched and well-supported arguments portray Harper as a secretive, paranoid, and vengeful autocrat who brooks no dissent, who's bypassed legitimate opposition by using dirty tricks in padlocking parliament through prorogation, ramming through omnibus bills, employing censorship controls on steroids, gumming up parliamentary commissions into Conservative misdeeds (even issuing a manual on how to do this to his underlings), muzzling members from speaking up for the interests of their constituents, engaging in underhanded backroom deals, porkbarreling favourable Tory riddings, etc. etc. etc.. There's ample evidence given to support Martin's contention that Harper is an ideologue who shows a contemptuous disregard for legitimate democratic dissent and even for empirical studies on the effect of minimum sentencing on recidivism, on the harm-reduction effect of InSite, on police commissioners' own support for the long gun registry, etc.

    This isn't about Liberal or Conservative ideology but about maintaining something much more basic to a well-functioning democratic system. Many people have dismissed a lot of these criticisms out of hand by saying that politics is a blood sport, that this is mere Liberal gripping and partisan spin, or that the Grits did the like when they were in power. But all this minimizes what's going on under the Harper regime. Martin is right to decry the means used by Stephen Harper in undermining the spirit of the Canadian legislative system. And all this was written even before the Conservatives received the mandate of a majority government!

    Every Canadian voter and Americans interested in Canadian politics should listen to this!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Time for Outrage: Indignez-vous!

    • UNABRIDGED (45 mins)
    • By Stéphane Hessel
    • Narrated By Bob Walter
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (11)

    This controversial, impassioned call-to-arms for a return to the ideals that fueled the French Resistance has sold millions of copies worldwide since its publication in France in October 2010. Rejecting the dictatorship of world financial markets and defending the social values of modern democracy, 93-old Stéphane Hessel - Resistance leader, concentration camp survivor, and former UN speechwriter - reminds us that life and liberty must still be fought for.

    Biggar Thomas says: "A Powerful Call to Action"
    "Vive la resistance!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Hessel sensibly enough starts with Isaiah Berlin's notion of Negative Rights; that all humans have the basic rights to be free of want and fear. But he then seems to extend this idea to oppose any curtailment of the generous French social security system, energy subsidies, and the eviction of Roma squatters. These measures are of course "crimes against humanity" and facism, and totalitarianism, blah blah blah...

    It's all kept vague enough to inspire with grand concepts and not alienate listeners with partisan specifics. But if there's any substance to this essay it's a veiled criticism of Nicolas Sarkozy's modest raising of the pension age from 60 to 62, attempts at energy privitization, reforms of free university education (which is now swammed by applicants and so the paid Grandes Ecoles are thriving), refusing to submit to mollycoddled strikers' demands, etc. If you doubt this listen again to the beginning of the essay. There is also an opposition to expansionist Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank and didn't find much to object to there.

    France enjoys a 35 hour work-week and about a month/year hollidays. Public spending is nearly half of GDP (compared to about a quarter in the US). The bloated French state still awaits its Thatcher! Such crazy notions as Hessel's must be resisted! For to resist is to create!

    Just ignore the Performance and Story ratings as I don't believe we should be required to fill those in.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America, 1932 - 1972

    • UNABRIDGED (57 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By William Manchester
    • Narrated By Jeff Riggenbach
    Overall
    (141)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (71)

    This great time capsule of a book captures the abundant popular history of the United States from 1932 to 1972. It encompasses politics, military history, economics, the lively arts, science, fashion, fads, social change, sexual mores, communications, graffiti...everything and anything indigenous that can be captured in print.

    Paula says: "Fabulous book, good narration, bad recording"
    "The next best thing to living through 1933-1973"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There isn't much I can add to what other reviewers have already said but I still had to share my enthusiasm for what may be the best history I've read/heard of the 20th century. There are all the major developments but also minor stories that might seem anecdotal but are often representative of the ethos of the time they describe. My remembered consciousness only begins in the 1980s but I imagine that these are all the things people of those times sat around the kitchen table or the workplace water cooler talking about. The sound quality isn't very good with many glitches throughout and long stretches of distortions in chapters 15 and 26. The material was so spectacularily good though that the sound problems didn't appreciably detract from my enjoyment. Highly, highly recommended! 57 1/2 hours might seem long but at the end I just found myself wanting another 50 hours. I just wish there were a similar a-book covering the following 40 year stretch to the present.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Who Owns Canada Now: Old Money, New Money and The Future of Canadian Business

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Diane Francis
    • Narrated By Vern Johanssen
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Who Owns Canada Now demonstrates that Canada is currently led by business moguls who offer innovative policies and a new vision for the country. Through incisive analysis and exclusive interviews, Francis reveals our country's most powerful players in the most important business topic of the year.

    anonymous says: "Chock full of useful info on a rare a-book topic"
    "Chock full of useful info on a rare a-book topic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this tilte for its rare subject matter. It doesn't disappoint...it's saturated full of useful info on Canadian companies, personalities, and historical developments, all divided by industry sectors. The only small quibbles I had with the whole production was the two or three repetitions. I thought my mp3 player may have skipped but nope, the same ideas (almost verbatim) were repeated a few times. And I felt that Francis -- although she was objective and fair for the most part -- was here-and-there a bit too much of a booster of some of the companies she covered and didn't get into the juicy scandals (Bre-X, Nortel, Livent, et cetera).

    PS: Please ignore the story and performance ratings...I'm against forcing people to fill those out.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wrong

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By David H. Freedman
    • Narrated By George K. Wilson
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Our investmeents are devastated, obesity is epidemic, blue-chip companies circle the drain, and popular medications turn out to be ineffective and even dangerous. What happened? Didn't we listen to the scientists, economists, and other experts who promised us that if we followed their advice all would be well?

    Ray says: "Primer for the Pseudo-Expert Genre"
    "A Little Ho-Hum"
    Overall

    Now, while I can't seriously disagree with any of Freedman's findings, I did feel at the end of this a-book that nothing was presented that radically (or even appreciably) changed my view on anything. He basically details how the audience is (with the aid of the internet) getting more skeptical and the so-called experts are now effectively being exposed for the frauds and hucksters they often are and how we often fall into error. I particularily appreciated how the author is willing to concede his own possible misapprehensions in this a-book. Maybe I expected too much but even while I was nodding throughout I had hoped for some unexpected insights.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dead Beat

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Marilyn Johnson
    • Narrated By Marilyn Johnson
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (3)

    Marilyn Johnson was enthralled by the remarkable lives that were marching out of this world - so she sought out the best obits in the English language and the people who spent their lives writing about the dead. She surveyed the darkest corners of Internet chat rooms, and made a pilgrimage to London to savor the most caustic and literate obits of all. Now she leads us on a compelling journey into the cult and culture behind the obituary page and the unusual lives we don't quite appreciate until they're gone.

    anonymous says: "A Thorough Pleasure"
    "A Thorough Pleasure"
    Overall

    I've subscribed to the Economist for years and stumbled onto their obituaries column and it quickly became a section I would regularily read, a little guiltily though. But for those of us who love reading it makes sense why the obits would be so rewarding: They attempt to communicate something of the expanse of the stary skies of a lived life onto the circumscribed canvass of a few paragraphs. Marilyn Johnson does an admirable job of sharing this interest and her audiobook is peppered with lively examples of traditional biographies filled with the highlights of inspiring triumphs and the abject turpitude of personal failings of notable personages and the everyday greatness of simple and well-lived lives of ordinary people; the various trends in obits over the years; and Johnson's own personal wit and humor in sifting through it all. I found her abook an unqualified delight to listen to!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Charles Wheelan
    • Narrated By Kerin McCue
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (51)

    In Naked Economics, journalist Charles Wheelan does “the impossible”—he makes economic principles relevant, interesting and fun. Brimming with scores of down-to-earth examples and sprinkled with humorous anecdotes, this comprehensive overview will keep listeners smiling and wide awake.

    anonymous says: "Some useful info but a lot more dogma do-do"
    "Some useful info but a lot more dogma do-do"
    Overall

    I've always found it sad that what passes under the term "economics" today is really neoclassical economics, a very unrealistic, ideological, and reductionist interpretation founded on some very problematic assumptions (rational agents who maximize their own personal utility ignoring contextual economic conditions, equilibrium conditions, methodological individualism, physics envy, Consumer Demand Theory, General Equilibrium Theory, instantaneous adjustments, etc.). Wheelan seems to uncritically accept a lot of this orthodox dogma.

    1.) Rational agents can't be coerced into accepting available economic choices. Suppose you like a certain product (i.e. beef steak) but don't like how it's produced (i.e. by torturing the animal). To the neoclassical economist you have two choices, or voting on your economic options: you buy or you don't buy. To people living in the real world you could try to change the product. Wheelan simply makes the conclusion that if employees choose to work at a sweatshop then it must be what maximizes their utility so let's respect their choice.

    2.) The myth of perfect taxes that doesn't cause "distortions." Actual preferences are usually labile and can adopt themselves to the available choices. Behavioral econ does a better job of explaining the sort of compartmentalized thinking people actually engage in.

    3.) The successful must somehow have deserved their success since the free market efficiently allocates societal resources: There's a strange example given of how Steve Jobs and Bill Gates could recreate their wealth but that dropouts would have problems adjusting, ignoring the fact that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are university dropouts.

    4.) There's fawning worship of economic experts with a lot of name-dropping and I was told that in the text version there was an unabashed lauding of Alan Greenspan as having done everything right with his "Greenspan put."

    But there is some useful info offered: good explanations of real vs. nominal int...

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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