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Timothy

College Station, TX, United States | Member Since 2011

65
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 36 reviews
  • 38 ratings
  • 101 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2014
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6

  • Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Michael S. Gazzaniga
    • Narrated By Pete Larkin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (180)
    Performance
    (150)
    Story
    (152)

    The father of cognitive neuroscience and author of Human offers a provocative argument against the common belief that our lives are wholly determined by physical processes and we are therefore not responsible for our actions.

    Dan says: "Use Your Credit On "Who's In Charge""
    "Good, not great. Read Eagleman's Incognito instead"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a good book. There were two or three really mind-blowing concepts that I hadn't heard before. But I give it fewer stars because (1) it doesn't really spend very much time on the titular question -- specifically "free will". It's really a book about how the brain works, which is really interesting to me, but this book's not as good as David Eagleman's "Incognito", in my opinion. (2) It spends quite a bit of time on how current neuroscience impacts law and courtroom proceedings. Those parts seemed repetitive and dull to me.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Year Zero: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Rob Reid
    • Narrated By John Hodgman
    Overall
    (929)
    Performance
    (847)
    Story
    (845)

    Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it's a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news. The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity's music ever since "Year Zero" (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang.

    Robert says: "Fantastic Performance by Hodgman"
    "Rob Reid is the true successor to Douglas Adams!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am a big fan of sci-fi, and of Douglas Adams, but I will readily admit that I would never have bought this book on it's summary description alone. A lawyer for the music industry represents aliens hooked on pop music? For some reason, any book involving a lawyer sounds boring to me.

    It took a friend's exuberant recommendation to get me to take the risk and spend a credit on this audiobook. I was glad I did! This book is far from boring. And not only that, once you get into it, the premise actually makes sense! The book is surprisingly grounded in believable scientific concepts, and the premise, which sounds ludicrous in the summary blurb, actually becomes believable when you read it in context.

    This book is hilarious, entertaining, bizarrely scientifically grounded, and ends with a fourish that actually had me laughing out loud! This is not the first book I've read that was heralded as "the next Hitchhiker's Guide", but it's the first that truly deserves that comparison.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Max Tegmark
    • Narrated By Rob Shapiro
    Overall
    (108)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (98)

    Max Tegmark leads us on an astonishing journey through past, present and future, and through the physics, astronomy, and mathematics that are the foundation of his work, most particularly his hypothesis that our physical reality is a mathematical structure and his theory of the ultimate multiverse. In a dazzling combination of both popular and groundbreaking science, he not only helps us grasp his often mind-boggling theories, but he also shares with us some of the often surprising triumphs and disappointments that have shaped his life as a scientist.

    Michael says: "Wow!"
    "Took a long time to get to the point"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this book disappointing, mainly because the author does not even begin to address his supposedly ground-breaking, controversial new theory until about 3/4 through the book. Everything before that is review. If you've studied physics and cosmology, or read a lot of Hawking, Greene, Mlodinow, etc., you will be bored through this part (which, I repeat, is most of the book). If this is the first book you've read on the subject, you might not mind this.

    I will also say that Mr. Tegmark dips into some pretty far-out ideas from time to time, and I felt like he was trying to defend as science, some ideas that were plainly not science. Of course, he says they are science, so maybe I'm just wrong about that.

    When he does finally get to talking about "Our Mathematical Universe" (there's a chapter in the book where he clearly announces something like "now I'm going to start talking about my new theory...". Again, that's about halfway through the second part of the audiobook), it's pretty interesting for a while. But it seemed like it quickly became hard to hold my attention to the reading. This may have been my own fault, but it seemed like he was just getting too far into fringe science for me, and kind of rambling. It's not that I reject his theory. Actually, he may be on to something (his "new theory" was covered briefly in one of Brian Greene's books, by the way, so it's not that new -- or maybe Greene got it from him?)

    Anyway, I did find Mr. Tegmark's many anecdotes about his life as a student, a scientist and a father interesting and it was cool how he integrated his own experiences with the science he was presenting. I did feel that I learned some things from this book, so I can't give it that bad of a review.

    In general, I would just warn the reader: if you're not new to physics and cosmology, be ready to wade through a LOT of review before getting to anything new.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Daniel C. Dennett
    • Narrated By Kevin Stillwell
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (42)

    In a book that is both groundbreaking and accessible, Daniel C. Dennett, whom Chet Raymo of The Boston Globe calls "one of the most provocative thinkers on the planet", focuses his unerringly logical mind on the theory of natural selection, showing how Darwin's great idea transforms and illuminates our traditional view of humanity's place in the universe. Dennett vividly describes the theory itself and then extends Darwin's vision with impeccable arguments to their often surprising conclusions, challenging the views of some of the most famous scientists of our day.

    Gary says: "Sky Hooks need not apply."
    "Interesting at the beginning, gets boring..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Right up front I will admit: I did not finish this book. I got about 2/3 through and stopped.

    Daniel Dennett may be one of the "four horsemen" of the new atheism, but if so, he's the most boring of the four. He obviously idolizes Richard Dawkins. Everything Dawkins ever said is profound in the extreme. There's no need to read "The Blind Watchmaker" or "The Selfish Gene" if you read this, because Dennett quotes virtually every sentence in those books, and wastes no opportunity to tell us how profound and original each one is.

    On the other hand, he absolutely despises Steven Jay Gould. He spends a majority of the latter half of the book outlining everything that's wrong with everything Gould ever said or did.

    The first half of the book did have some interesting stuff. There was a chapter about John Conway's Life simulation that was very interesting. Some interesting stuff about memes (that I'd already read in Dawkins, of course, but still interesting). But then he decided to dedicate the rest of the book (or a very large chunk of it) to lambasting S. J. Gould, and to a lesser extent Noam Chomsky. Also, everyone who ever said a word in support of Gould is an idiot. I fast-forwarded to close to the end and he was still at it. At that point I called it quits.

    I'm giving the book three stars mainly because I did enjoy the first half.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By M. L. Stedman
    • Narrated By Noah Taylor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (974)
    Performance
    (856)
    Story
    (841)

    In 1918, after four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes only four times a year and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel.

    Sandra says: "Wonderful story.....terrible narrator."
    "One of the best I've read in a while."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've just finished this excellent book this morning, and I'm still a bit lost in its spell. What a story! I cried more than once (and for more than one reason), laughed several times, actually felt sick a few times, and on more than one occasion felt myself completely taken up in it, which is the highest praise I can give a book.

    I strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good, compelling, and deeply moving story.

    The only complaint I have is that the narrator would often sort of trail off at the end of a sentence. In every other respect, he was a fine narrator. As I understand it, he's an Australian himself, so that helps lend the story some authenticity.

    A lot of reviewers here have really been hard on the narrator, some going so far as to say he ruined the book for them. I did not feel it was quite that bad. I simply turned the volume up a bit higher than normal, so that when he trailed off, he was still easily audible. It did make him a bit loud at times, but I was ok with that.

    The book and story are so utterly compelling, it's worth putting up with the narrator's imperfections.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Richard Panek
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (498)
    Performance
    (351)
    Story
    (346)

    Over the past few decades, a handful of scientists have been racing to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only four percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, our books, and every star and planet. The rest is completely unknown. Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of the quest to find this “dark” matter and an even more bizarre substance called “dark energy”. This is perhaps the greatest mystery in all of science, and solving it will bring fame, funding, and certainly a Nobel Prize.

    Adam says: "Excellent survey of Cosmology and Astrophysics"
    "Dull as sticks history book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm sorry, this is not a book about "Dark Matter" or "Dark Energy", or even "The 4% Universe". The only part of the title that gives a hint as to what this book is about is the "Race to Discover..." part, but even that is making it sound more interesting than it is.

    What this really is, is a dull account of how a lot of scientists haggled and fought over who'd get the credit for various discoveries. It's exceedingly dull. If you're interested in the discoveries themselves, and in learning interested and wonderful facts about our universe, read something by Brian Greene or Stephen Hawking or Leonard Mlodinow. If you haven't yet read everything Carl Sagan wrote, then read one of those. Only read this if you want to know how prideful, self-important scientists fought each other over who got the credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 11-22-63: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Craig Wasson
    Overall
    (16061)
    Performance
    (14218)
    Story
    (14166)

    On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King - who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer - takes listeners on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

    Kelly says: "I Owe Stephen King An Apology"
    "A major return to form for King"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I absolutely loved this book. Not since listening to the audiobook of King's "The Stand" have I been so completely happy with a Stephen King novel.

    I usually find King's endings to be his downfall, but this is one of the rare exceptions. This book is great from beginning to end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Michael Brooks
    • Narrated By James Adams
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1536)
    Performance
    (651)
    Story
    (656)

    Science starts to get interesting when things don't make sense. Science's best-kept secret is that there are experimental results and reliable data that the most brilliant scientists can neither explain nor dismiss. If history is any precedent, we should look to today's inexplicable results to forecast the future of science. Michael Brooks heads to the scientific frontier to meet 13 modern-day anomalies and discover tomorrow's breakthroughs.

    Stephen says: "10 interesting chapters-read epiloge first"
    "A rehash of stuff I'd already heard numerous times"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The title pretty much says it all for me. I kept reading to the end, hoping for something interesting to come up, but it never happened. None of the topics covered in this book is anything new. If you've been keeping up with the latest science at all, you will not hear anything here you haven't heard many times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roughing It

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (39)

    In 1861, young Mark Twain found himself adrift as a tenderfoot in the Wild West. Roughing It is a hilarious record of his travels over a six-year period that comes to life with his inimitable mixture of reporting, social satire, and rollicking tall tales. Twain reflects on his scuffling years mining silver in Nevada, working at a Virginia City newspaper, being downandout in San Francisco, reporting for a newspaper from Hawaii, and more.

    Tad Davis says: "The wild humorist of the West"
    "Excellent, tons of fun, but too long."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Listening to the first half of this excellent audiobook, I was reminded again and again why Mark Twain is one of the best American writers ever. He can do more with a single paragraph than JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, and all the other pop-fad-of-the-day writers can do with 7 or 8 novels combined.

    The only problem with this particular Twain book is it's just too danged long! The length is what prevented me from giving it 5 stars. It's just too long.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Empire of the Summer Moon

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By S. C. Gwynne
    • Narrated By David Drummond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (967)
    Performance
    (593)
    Story
    (607)

    Few people realize that the Comanche Indians were the greatest warring tribe in American history. Their 40-year battle with settlers held up the development of the new nation. Empire of the Summer Moon tells of the rise and fall of this fierce, powerful, and proud tribe, and begins in 1836 with the kidnapping of a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower blue eyes named Cynthia Ann Parker.

    John says: "Quannah Parker"
    "An interesting character, and and interesting time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this book a lot. For the most part it's very well written, and well narrated. There are a few parts in the middle where it seemed to drag a bit and feel like a dry history lesson, but it always picked up in time to keep me hanging on. I really felt like it picked up toward the end.

    At times this book made me feel like I understood the times it spoke of, and I really enjoyed learning about the character of Quanah Parker. Here's an important historical figure that was completely left out of my education.

    This is not a book that paints the United States as the evil empire and the Native Americans as poor, mistreated, peaceniks. Far, far, from it. This is a book that shows the good and bad side of both sides in the conflict. I recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs)
    • By Malcolm Gladwell
    • Narrated By Malcolm Gladwell
    Overall
    (2862)
    Performance
    (2547)
    Story
    (2548)

    In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks. Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago.

    Cynthia says: "The Art of (Unconventional) War"
    "Some good parts, but not Gladwell's best by far"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was so excited for this book when I saw it was coming out months ago. Downloaded it the day it was available. "Outliers" and "Blink" are great, paradigm-shifting books. "The Tipping Point" is good, and "What the Dog Saw" is in my opinion his worst book. This one falls somewhere between "What the Dog Saw" and "The Tipping Point", in my opinion. It's got a couple of mildly enlightening sections, but all in all is very repetitive and starts to get a bit dull.

    Essentially, in "David and Goliath", Malcolm Gladwell makes one point, over and over and over. The properties that make the giant seem powerful might actually be its weaknesses, and the things that made David seem like a fool and his actions suicidal to others might have been his greatest strengths. He makes this point well in the first chapter, then goes on and on, making the same point over and over. Some of the stories he tells are interesting, others are kind of boring and in some cases it really seems like he's stretching to make them apply to his topic at all.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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