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Howard

Grove City, PA, United States | Member Since 2011

21
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 13 reviews
  • 13 ratings
  • 177 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2015
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  • The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By David Stockman
    • Narrated By William Hughes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (136)
    Performance
    (112)
    Story
    (110)

    David Stockman was the architect of the Reagan Revolution that was meant to restore sound money principles to the U.S. government. It failed, derailed by politics, special interests, welfare, and warfare. Stockman describes how the working of free markets and democracy has long been under threat in America and provides a surprising, nonpartisan catalog of the corrupters and defenders. His analysis shows how both liberal and neoconservative interference in markets has proved damaging and often dangerous.

    Michael says: "Loads of Information but problematic writing"
    "How do you know if you've lost your place?"
    Overall
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    I chose this book hoping to learn something useful about our economy. Instead I got a book that seems to be analogous of it: disjointed, complex, totally mysterious and above all, resembling an enormous Rube Goldberg machine with levers and buttons that the servants of the moneyed class pull and push like children running rampant on an active submarine. When it sinks, they will all point the finger of blame at someone else. I have long suspected this; Stockman’s book proves it. Or, at least I think it does. I could almost hear other people with his background shouting refutations and angry rebuttals at his interpretation of things.
    The greatest genius in the world teaches no one if he will not speak on their level. If portions of this book were accidentally shuffled on an iPod, how would you know? Knowledgeable authors are able to present things in a simple-enough manner to get their points across, while the ignorant ramble on as if they have insight and savvy flowing over. This author handles his subject as if it is so sophisticated that it can only be talked about using a never-ending stream of esotericism; acronyms, abbreviations and similes practically tripping over one another. I know the world of high finance has a language of its own, but,..“If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who shall prepare for battle?” One gets the idea he is trying to impress the reader. Mostly he baffles him.

    5 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs)
    • By Matt Taibbi
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (566)
    Performance
    (506)
    Story
    (514)

    Poverty goes up. Crime goes down. The prison population doubles. Fraud by the rich wipes out 40 percent of the world’s wealth. The rich get massively richer. No one goes to jail. In search of a solution, journalist Matt Taibbi discovered the Divide, the seam in American life where our two most troubling trends - growing wealth inequality and mass incarceration - come together, driven by a dramatic shift in American citizenship: Our basic rights are now determined by our wealth or poverty.

    Michael says: "Capitalism and Democracy Collide"
    "Good theme but there’s a lot wrong with the book"
    Overall
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    Money and power seek each other out and serve each other’s ends? Who would have thought? While the corruption and abuse Taibbi describes is on a grand scale, it is the predictable product of human nature. The big shot bankers got away with it because they have the money and that means power. The only way this will change is if we begin to elect leaders from the middle class. Any time one begins to rise up the media destroys them. See my first sentence.
    Several times I caught myself muttering “bull****.” Some of what Taibbi says does not have the ring of truth. I have seen too much poverty and criminal behavior firsthand to believe things are as bad as he describes. He says the Blacks and Hispanics are picked on in New York City but that town has as diverse a force as one would expect in such a place. So Black cops are systematically targeting innocent Black citizens? Do you believe that?
    The many stories about welfare recipients being abused would lead one to think that it would be better to ignore welfare fraud. Before you agree with him answer this question honestly: How many welfare recipients do you know personally? How many welfare recipients are you close enough to that you have a sense of their virtue or lack thereof? How many are in your circle of friends? If you do not personally know some welfare recipients you would do well to get to know some before you decide to accept all this author says. Better yet, do you know any people who work to root out welfare fraud? Are they as cruel and haughty as this author claims?
    He blames Country Wide for dumping 26.6 billion in junk mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac without noting that these quasi-government entities were buying the mortgages at the bidding of liberal politicians who insisted that low-income people should be able to own homes. While this does not excuse Country Wide entirely it does mitigate their blame somewhat. If they had not written and sold the paper they could have been sued for discrimination! If the government pressured you to do something you thought was foolish would you hesitate to unload it on the government?
    Ray Porter, the much lauded narrator has a gift for adding meaning with his tone. And I cannot recall a positive word said about anything. This is a serious issue as we are slowly but surely shifting from ink-on-paper reading to auditory reading throughout the culture. Narrators like this can put more power into an idea than the author intended by stressing or emphasizing clauses or words. In some languages, this sort of thing is a normal part of speech—differing tones actually convey whole separate meanings, not just nuance. So readers must beware that in some instances, tone IS the content. Google the “Doctor Fox Effect,” and once you have read about it, remember how completely a relatively unlearned but gifted speaker led all of Germany astray in the 1930s.
    The author seems to find it hard to acknowledge an important boundary, the one between legal and illegal immigrants. To be sure, the misery of Mexican and South American poverty makes some desperate people and we need to muster all the charity and patience we can toward them. But to treat all of them as victims is the kind of wishful and chaotic thinking that politicians can and do exploit. Most of the problems “immigrants” have today are a sort of Karma. Is it reasonable to ignore law for generations and then demand justice?
    The divide he speaks of is a growing problem. The book has a legitimate theme. I wish I could be more supportive.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Near-Death Experience and Journey into the Afterlife

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Eben Alexander
    • Narrated By Eben Alexander
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1984)
    Performance
    (1724)
    Story
    (1734)

    On November 10, 2008, Dr. Eben Alexander was driven into coma by a disease so lethal that only 1 in 10,000,000 survive. Seven days later, he awakened with memories of a fantastic odyssey deep into another realm that were more real than this earthly one - memories that included meeting a deceased birth sister he had never known existed. Dr. Alexander deployed all his knowledge as a scientist to find out whether his mind could have played a trick on him. In its shutdown state, there was no way it could have.

    Kelly says: "Compelling"
    "Money/Faith intersection: always a tricky place."
    Overall
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    Because I am a believer who reads a lot, I am skeptical of this book. That is, while I believe in Jesus Christ and the afterlife, I have grown wary of anything FOR SALE that claims some authority or firsthand experience with God. Publishers know there is always a segment of the market that will buy a book like this, and with a brain-surgeon author, the book will sell. Make no mistake, that is always a primary consideration of a publisher; it has to be. Question: If Dr. Alexander's auto mechanic or gardener experienced what Dr Alexander did, would any publisher invest the capitol to publish and promote the story? Answer: Of course not! What I am saying is that one cannot trust anything where the spiritual/religious intersects with the desire to make money. The kicker for me is that this story and the story told by Todd Burpo in his book about his son's experience, HEAVEN IS FOR REAL have the same sort of verifying element: Both people bring back from their NDE the knowledge of someone they never saw in real life who actually existed, and they recognized that fact upon their return. Add to that the intensely popular and therefore requisite but questionable idea of "unconditional love," and you have a recipe for success with the mainstream religious mind. I read or listened to both books but I can tell you that neither of them impressed me as being true evidence for the afterlife. If one would seek evidence for such, one person's story is as good as another's and testimonies of spiritual experiences can be found from other people in other place. We put a lot more weight on books and that is what enables money to be made when credible people tell incredible stories. This book and the other one I've mentioned will go the way of all books of this stripe: Soon forgotten. But in ten or twenty years something similar will hit the market to gather the dollars of a new generation of people hungry for what the story offers. Even if Dr. Alexander's account proves to be entirely true, everything I have said here still applies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Lawrence M. Krauss
    • Narrated By Lawrence M. Krauss, Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (998)
    Performance
    (880)
    Story
    (872)

    Where did the universe come from? What was there before it? What will the future bring? And finally, why is there something rather than nothing? Krauss’ answers to these and other timeless questions, in a wildly popular lecture on YouTube, has attracted almost a million viewers. One of the few prominent scientists to have actively crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss reveals that modern science is indeed addressing the question of why there is something rather than nothing—with surprising and fascinating results.

    Dennis says: "If you are new to the subject, listen to it!"
    "Unmitigated nonsense"
    Overall
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    It matters not to me that those who consider themselves enlightened and intelligent will think me a scientific philistine or backward fundamentalist. When you insult my intelligence in the first few minutes of a listen and fail to qualify your nonsense at all, and make no reference to the fact that you were joking, then my ability to pay attention to your ramblings--which are at best way over the head of the average listener, at worst, unintelligible--then you must be discarded. This guy actually states that snowflakes and rainbow are the result of nothing! I had to listen to it three times because I could not believe he had actually said it. Was there no editor? To allow him the opportunity to build on that would be the most ridiculous waste of time. There is a lot of what passes for reason being foisted on the hapless public today and this is just another installment. Many readers follow along because they see this kind of thinking as trendy or cutting edge. In a world where each of us would insist that we think for ourselves, almost nobody does. The emperor has no clothes! the sooner you face this the better off you will be. I doubt the website editors will post this and maybe I have no right to expect them to since I have returned the book. If you can get anything out of this guys ramblings you have a totally different idea of what sound reasoning is than what I do.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Jonathan Haidt
    • Narrated By Jonathan Haidt
    Overall
    (802)
    Performance
    (681)
    Story
    (678)

    In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding. His starting point is moral intuition - the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right.

    Douglas says: "A Brilliant And Insightful Book!"
    "Excellent but abridgment would help"
    Overall
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    This ones a keeper. I found nearly everything he said while he was talking about how people actually think and interact to be spot on. But all the information about how evolution got us to this point was just blah, blah. It filled the pages/hours but added nothing substantive. Does Haidt realize the elephant his secular mind rides on? Okay, so I'm a Christian, rock-solid, convinced; not turning back. Nevertheless, I found Haidt to be as honest and objective as anyone like him I have ever read. What a good writer does is to corral all the loose and unstable ideas that roam the ranges of ideological division and make them stand still is nice rank-and-file so they can be examined. His imagery of an elephant and rider works except he seems not to understand that many of us are aware we are "riding." It is what I call "consciousness." If I were king-of-the-world, all my subjects would be required to read this book, albeit an abridged version. There were some complaints about diction in another review but those instances are too few to mention.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Michelle Alexander
    • Narrated By Karen Chilton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (644)
    Performance
    (564)
    Story
    (562)

    In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet, as legal star Michelle Alexander reveals, today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans.

    Jeremy says: "An essential read. A horrifying reality."
    "More victomology, really?"
    Overall
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    While the disproportionate level of black incarceration reported in this book is shocking enough to rally the objective minded into accepting the idea that racial bias is to blame, with deeper thought we can see how easily disparate causes may be conflated in this issue.
    Is it honest to lump the high number of incarcerated black males into the same group as if all of them are victims, even if the legacy of unfair discrimination prejudices us in that direction? How many of the jailed group got there legitimately? The idea that the “get tough on crime” philosophy decried in this work is a conscious effort to herd black men into jail is the sort of comment that depends heavily upon white guilt, a tactic worn threadbare from overuse. Are we expected to follow some kind of quota system so that only a proportionate number of black offenders are taken off the street?
    The author insists that the war on drugs is a vehicle of oppression. But having identified it as such, why does she not encourage resistance to this exposed enemy? Why not rally African-Americans to reject illegal drugs and the culture that sustains those drugs, now that the way forward is clear? Instead she uses the malady as an excuse, blaming the usual suspects, as if a group can truly grow strong by compelling another group to lift them out of a pit. Nay! I have seen and known far too many tough and admirable African-Americans to buy this argument.
    And as other reviewers have noted, to conveniently leave out the pivotal detail about Ricky Ray Rector’s execution—that he damaged his own brain with a suicide attempt—leaves a hole in her credibility one could drive a truck through.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Money and Banking: What Everyone Should Know

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Michael K. Salemi
    Overall
    (210)
    Performance
    (180)
    Story
    (180)

    Money and finance play a deeply fundamental role in your life. Now, let an expert professor lead you in a panoramic exploration of our monetary and financial systems, their inner workings, and their crucial role and presence in your world. As a guiding theme of these 36 content-rich lectures, you observe the ways in which economies require efficient and evolving financial institutions and markets to fulfill their potential.

    Sean says: "Desperately needs the study guide to understand"
    "Good info but listening not enough. Need visuals"
    Overall
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    I bought this course after having listened to or read a number of books on economics. I have been trying to find the person who has some idea of what we should expect in the future. A fool's errand? Not as much as one may think!
    The course is about as comprehensive on the subject as a reasonable person could expect. He begins with the basics: what money is, and then proceeds gradually to the point where one cannot keep up without being able to look at the visual aids he refers to. Beware, this is a deeper subject than you may have thought.
    My only real criticism is that when he mentions the sub-prime mortgage collapse he seems to be obtuse about what the prime mover of the fiasco was, namely government pressure to lend money to folks who could not afford it. He mentions this not at all. He gives no mention to what I saw on a firsthand basis: Persons who became mortgage brokers almost overnight during the early 2000s, who had money to loan to anyone. "If you know someone who wants to buy a house, send them to me. I have people who want to lend money!" they spouted cheerfully. I thought it peculiar at the time but after the collapse came I learned that most of the badly written mortgages were sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, quasi-government organizations who took any and all paper off the hands of these unscrupulous agents. These ubiquitous brokers generated mortgages solely for the fees they could charge, only to unload the risk on the taxpayers via Freddie and Fannie. To neglect this aspect of the collapse is hardly commendable. It leaves the student uninformed of something very important. Is there a political allegiance here? I wonder.
    Nonetheless, he redeems himself at the end where he states flatly that without a policy change a crisis IS coming. He does not elaborate but seems to assume that his listener now has enough information to reach that conclusion on their own. I guess that's so. This prof. is one of many economic gurus who see trouble on the horizon.
    What everyone should know? Indeed!

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Cutting for Stone: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Abraham Verghese
    • Narrated By Sunil Malhotra
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5216)
    Performance
    (2586)
    Story
    (2603)

    Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics - their passion for the same woman - that will tear them apart.

    Mary Lynn Richardson says: "Brilliant story, pitch perfect narration"
    "One of the best novels I've ever heard."
    Overall
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    If you can imagine a good thing I might say about this book, count it said! I have bought an ink on paper copy to share with friends and family.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Kurt Vonnegut
    • Narrated By Ethan Hawke
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2870)
    Performance
    (1532)
    Story
    (1554)

    Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes 'unstuck in time' after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

    W. Seligman says: "What more can be said?"
    "another classic I don't "get.""
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    This ranks right up there next to Catcher in the Rye as one of the classic, must-read, books I have read to round out my literary education that I simply do not see the value of. I understand Vonnegut may have been an important eyewitness to history, I just don't know why quasi science-fiction is the proper place for anything credible. Perhaps I should get cliff notes or spark notes to help me understand. But I question why something as important as a wartime holocaust should be ensconced in something so mysterious. Yes, it is true, war makes no sense. Call me a hick, a philistine or a drudge; I just don't see what is great about a book that requires someone to explain its meaning to readers. Maybe one man's literature is another man's nonsense; maybe the king has no clothes. I suspect some motive beyond literary content motivated this books publication. It wouldn't be the first.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power and Deception in American History

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andrew P Napolitano
    • Narrated By Andrew P Napolitano
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (278)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (225)

    America is the land of the free, after all. Does it really matter whether our politicians bend the truth here and there? When the truth is traded for lies, our freedoms are diminished and don’t return. In Lies the Government Told You, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano reveals how America’s freedom, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, has been forfeited by a government more protective of its own power than its obligations to preserve our individual liberties.

    Jonnie says: "Great book"
    "Worthwhile with some reservations."
    Overall
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    This book was very informative. But I couldn't help but think that some of what the judge calls lies are simply different versions of history. He disagrees with many Supreme Court decisions. Don't we all? The judge is free to say what he wants because most of the people he criticizes are not able to give their version of events. But, to be fair, most books are that way; feeding their target audience. He calls Lincoln a "tyrant." Many people called him that; he was not all that popular while he was in office. But if all tyrants were like Lincoln I could deal with it in a time of serious crisis. He believes FDR provoked the Japanese into war so American would fight in Europe. I can see how he feels that way. I have wondered the same thing myself. But what would the world be like if we had not stopped Hitler? His criticism of the Japanese internment during WW2 was like all of it is: anachronistic. I was afraid he was going to say that 9-11 was an inside job but he didn't. I would have sent the book back if he had said that. If everyone in the country felt as strongly as the judge does about our government Washington would have a lot to answer for. The government manipulates people. It is happening as I write this and most people are happy with it. Call me jaded and cynical. What else is new?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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