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Howard

TaxProf

Atlanta, GA, United States

15
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 97 ratings
  • 261 titles in library
  • 9 purchased in 2014
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  • The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Matt Ridley
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (234)
    Performance
    (174)
    Story
    (169)

    Referring to Lewis Carroll's Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass, a character who has to keep running to stay in the same place, Matt Ridley demonstrates why sex is humanity's best strategy for outwitting its constantly mutating internal predators.

    Scott says: "Great book!"
    "Data Driven Analysis of Sexual Selection"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Matt Ridley writes great books. What makes them great is the abundance of information he presents to justify his conclusions as well as his willingness to admit when a conclusion is mere speculation. For anyone interested in evolutionary biology, this is a great book. Two thumbs up (though he does not focus on why only apes have opposable thumbs).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    • Narrated By David Chandler
    Overall
    (1809)
    Performance
    (725)
    Story
    (719)

    Maverick thinker Nassim Nicholas Taleb had an illustrious career on Wall Street before turning his focus to his black swan theory. Not all swans are white, and not all events, no matter what the experts think, are predictable. Taleb shows that black swans, like 9/11, cannot be foreseen and have an immeasurable impact on the world.

    Kenneth says: "Brilliant, Obnoxious, Narcissistic, Brilliant"
    "A self-satisfied author with little to say"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first 100 (literally!) minutes of the audio book is nothing but an autobiography of the author showing in his own words how much smarter he is than everyone else. Tiresome is far too weak a word.

    The observation that great uncertainty generally cannot be quantified surely is true but does not require a book to say. Do most people forget this fact? Sure. Does the author offer any practcal advice? No.

    For a lesson in smug, read this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cyteen

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By C. J. Cherryh
    • Narrated By Gabra Zackman, Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (356)
    Performance
    (318)
    Story
    (323)

    The saga of two young friends trapped in an endless nightmare of suspicion and surveillance, of cyber-programmed servants and a ruling class with century-long lives – and the enigmatic woman who dominates them all.

    troy says: "This is a Heavy Book (lovely too)"
    "Better in Context"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read this story many years ago shortly after reading Downbelow Station and a few of the other, related novels in the Alliance Space universe. The world depicted in Cyteen made a nice contrast with the other societies created by Cherryh. But listening to it by itself, I found the story excrutiatingly slow with very little plot. If you are an Asimov fan, this book will put you to sleep. If you prefer Heinlein, you might like the introspective nature of the book. I recently purchased the sequel to this book (Regenesis), and I doubt I will give it a try. Of the related novels, I most enjoyed Merchanter's Luck.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Mirror Dance: A Miles Vorkosigan Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (1137)
    Performance
    (506)
    Story
    (507)

    The dwarfish, fetally damaged yet brilliant Miles Vorkosigan has more than his share of troubles. Having recently escaped an assassination plot whose tool was a brainwashed clone of himself, Miles has set the clone, Mark, free for a new chance at life. But when he decides to let his clone brother assume his secret identity and lead the Dendarii Free Mercenary on an unauthorized mission to liberate other clones from the outlaw planet of Jackson's Whole, things get really messy.

    Paul Mc Galey says: "Excellent book, but needs editing?"
    "For me, the best of the series"
    Overall

    I am listening to the entire Miles Vorkosigan series after having read them over many years. While I generally prefer those that have more Miles and less Mark, I found this installment to be the best so far even though the middle third was all about Mark. And I even grew found of Mark and his personal development! The entire series makes for a great listen, and I am sad that I have only a few more to go.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Pauline Maier
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (25)

    When the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia adjourned late in the summer of 1787, the delegates returned to their states to report on the new Constitution, which had to be ratified by specially elected conventions in at least nine states. Pauline Maier recounts the dramatic events of the ensuing debate in homes, taverns, and convention halls, drawing generously on the speeches and letters of founding fathers, both familiar and forgotten, on all sides.

    Adam says: "Very good"
    "History Always Repeats"
    Overall

    I did not know much about the state ratification process, and so it was interesting to learn how detailed the debates were (including, for example, the appropriate limits of diversity jurisdiction). The fights generally centered on a strong central government versus state variation and local control, pretty much what is going on today. The book was a bit too long but otherwise quite good.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jetha
    • Narrated By Allyson Johnson, Jonathan Davis, Christopher Ryan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1463)
    Performance
    (960)
    Story
    (955)

    Since Darwin's day, we've been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. Mainstream science - as well as religious and cultural institutions - has maintained that men and women evolved in families in which a man's possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman's fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing....

    Mark says: "too much focus on academic in-fighting"
    "God awful"
    Overall

    I gave up after 90 minutes. The authors paint theories with which they disagree in cartoonish strokes and then assert their conclusions without any supporting data or argument. Perhaps it gets better but would anyone with anything to say really spend the first hour and a half wasting the listener's time? And the occasional turn of phrase the authors think is clever is anything but. Just a really, really bad book. Try the Selfish Gene, the Blank Slate, the Red Queen (by Matt Ridley), or anything by E. O. Wilson.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The End of Eternity

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Isaac Asimov
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1000)
    Performance
    (692)
    Story
    (700)

    This stand-alone work is widely regarded as Asimov's best science fiction novel. Andrew Harlan is an Eternal, a member of the elite of the future. One of the few who live in Eternity, a location outside of place and time, Harlan's job is to create carefully controlled and enacted Reality Changes. These Changes are small, exactingly calculated shifts in the course of history, made for the benefit of humankind. Though each Change has been made for the greater good, there are also always costs....

    Mark says: "Narrator's voice will not "bore you to death!""
    "Does Not Hold Up As Well As I Expected"
    Overall

    I read this book three or more decades ago and enjoyed it very much. But when I listened to it this week, I was surprised at how sad it now seemed: Asimov's view of the future was so far off (punch tape thousands of years in the future???) and his treatment of gender issues made the listening tough at times. The reader did not trouble me much though the obvious logical inconsistencies were hard to ignore (probably inevitable in any time-travel story).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Talent for War: An Alex Benedict Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Jack McDevitt
    • Narrated By Gregory Abbey, Jack McDevitt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (275)
    Performance
    (141)
    Story
    (139)

    Everyone knew the legend of Christopher Sim. Fighter. Leader. An interstellar hero with a rare talent for war, Sim changed mankind's history forever when he forged a ragtag group of misfits into the weapon that broke the back of the alien Ashiyyur. But now, Alex Benedict has found a startling bit of information, long buried in an ancient computer file. If it is true, then Christopher Sim was a fraud.

    Brian says: "Very good - but the cover and title are deceptive"
    "Not up to McDevitt's standard"
    Overall

    I am a very big fan of Jack McDevitt's, but this book was disappointing. It had his usual clever mystery with a nice ending, but the story was just much too slow. And while I usually am indifferent to the reader, in this case (perhaps because I had so much time on my hands) I was particularly bothered by the many mispronunciations.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami
    • Narrated By Rupert Degas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1268)
    Performance
    (641)
    Story
    (638)

    Toru Okada is going through a difficult time. He is without a job, his cat has disappeared, and his wife is behaving strangely. Into this unbalanced world comes a variety of curious characters, a young girl sunbathing in a nearby garden; sisters who are very peculiar indeed; an old war veteran with a violent, disturbing story. Okada retreats to a deep well in a nearby house. And the story unfolds.

    Shelley says: "Bizarre"
    "I just don't get it"
    Overall

    I read fiction to learn something. But what can I learn from people who face without suprise things that simply cannot happen (such as strangers manipulating their dreams)? Far too much graphic violence for my taste as well. I am now almost 20 hours into this book without any idea why I should care what happens or how I will be improved by reading this book. I have learned a lot about multiple characters without learning why I am being told their stories. I just don't get it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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