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Donald

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Member Since 2008

ratings
332
REVIEWS
10
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
14
HELPFUL VOTES
127

  • 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
    (725)
    Performance
    (633)
    Story
    (629)

    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!"
    "Reach Exceeds Grasp (Not Surprisingly)"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first 2/3 of this already short book are given to an overview of more or less recent developments in physics and cosmology, in preparation for the final 1/3, where at last the subject of the book's title is addressed. When the main arguments of the book do arrive, they turn out to be based on somewhat preliminary and speculative physics- very interesting, but nowhere near satisfying or convincing as an explanation of 'how something could arise from nothing.' Also, the author promises to show how the universe(s) could come into existence without 'preexisting' physical laws- his nothing plus ultra- but fails to actually do so. Honestly I would have been quite surprised and impressed if he had; but it illustrates the most frustrating aspect of the book, which is that it purports to sketch out a framework to obviate all manner of prime mover / first cause arguments, but fails pretty resoundingly to do so.

    Still, thought provoking and worth reading. Author reads pretty well- sounds like Andersen Cooper!

    37 of 51 people found this review helpful
  • Top Brain, Bottom Brain: Surprising Insights Into How You Think

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Stephen Kosslyn, G. Wayne Miller
    • Narrated By Christopher Hurt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (47)

    For the past 50 years, popular culture has led us to believe in the left brain vs. right brain theory of personality types. It would be an illuminating theory if it did not have one major drawback: It is simply not supported by science. In contrast, the Top Brain, Bottom Brain theory is based on solid research that has stayed within the confines of labs all over the world—until now.

    Donald says: "Trite Brain, Banal Brain"
    "Trite Brain, Banal Brain"
    Overall
    Performance
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    Bet you didn't know that your cerebral cortex has two parts. Well sort of. A kind of upper, frontish part and lower rearward part. Well, not exactly. I mean, some parts that you'd think were part of the upper part are really in the lower part, and like it's not always clear what's part of what, but the point is, they're different. They do different things, or differentish anyway; it's all a bit hazy- you know how the brain is. Now your upper brain part does space, like 'where' and shape and things of that sort, so it handles planning- I mean because really maybe it's better to say it does 'how' more than just 'where', according to the author. But the mostly lower brain part does something different- it does 'what'. Like such as, identifying and perhaps classifying and other related things, so it brings in a lot of emotion too. The book's not super clear on that.

    Now I can already hear you thinking, how could the lower part identify what something is without analyzing it's spatial structure and relations, which is what the upper part does? And that would be an interesting and possibly profound question. So this book doesn't address that.

    But guess what? It turns out that the the two parts of the brain interact. They're connected! It's true. It's all scientifically summarized by a line drawing of the brain lobes. See those swooping arrows? Dynamic, real time connectivity! (And you just know that's got to include some feedback.) I've rarely seen so much neurobiology packed so economically into to such a compact, childlike illustration. Take that, people who say the brain is constituted from functionally homogeneous disconnected domains!

    So now you're thinking: distinct yet connected functional regions, upper and lower brain parts, I get that. But that has me thinking about the inevitability of cognitive modes. Well this book has got your cognitive modes right here. And not your grandpa's right and left hemisphere cognitive modes, either. No, this is much subtler and more vertical than that. Because it turns out that- and mind you this is not one thing more than pure rote speculation by the authors- some people emphasize the use of their upper brain part, and others rely more on their lower(ish) brain part, while still others- oh when will it stop?- emphasize both parts equally, and finally some people don't emphasize either part, which seems sad. If the force of the pristine combinatorial logic of this scheme doesn't convince you then... well I guess you won't be convinced, because the book provides exactly no other evidence for the existence of these cognitive modes.

    Now, these cognitive modes break down into a quadripartite psychological typology consisting of Mover mode, Perceiver mode, Stimulator mode and zzzzzzzzz...

    Really, it is all just so trite and totally made up. By the time I reached the last third of the book- the cognitive modes part- I felt as though I was being repeatedly hit with a new model of Taser, powered by banality rather than electricity. Remember when you and your friends would watch lousy movies just to crack up at how unbelievably bad they were? Well it got to that point for me.

    In fact, I actually returned this audiobook for a refund of my credit (you knew Audible has a return policy, didn't you?) But then I un-returned it so I could write a review. So you see it is something of a sacred mission with me to prevent you from wasting your credit and your time on this book. Because I love brains, and can't bear to see this book happen to them.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Lauren Drain
    • Narrated By Lauren Drain
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (110)
    Performance
    (103)
    Story
    (104)

    You've likely heard of the Westboro Baptist Church. Perhaps you've seen their pickets on the news, the members holding signs with messages that are too offensive to copy here, protesting at events such as the funerals of soldiers, the 9-year old victim of the recent Tucson shooting, and Elizabeth Edwards, all in front of their grieving families. Since no organized religion will claim affiliation with the WBC, it's perhaps more accurate to think of them as a cult. Lauren Drain was thrust into that cult at the age of 15, and then spat back out again seven years later.

    Donald says: "Get Thee Behind Me Phelps"
    "Get Thee Behind Me Phelps"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Firstly, ignore the review by "Jack"; he is a Topeka resident and shill for the Westboro Baptist church. All his review really shows is that, even after all these years, Jesus can still sometimes be seen carried on the back of an ass.

    This book is a sobering testament. It is one thing- tragic but comprehensible- for children or even a teenager to be indoctrinated into a ravingly inhumane religious ideology. But for an educated articulate adult, and an atheist no less? The sad fact shown in this book is that the members of this ridiculous church are for the most part highly intelligent people. They have gained the world of pure righteousness, but at the cost of any possibility of self understanding. This was a bargain that Lauren Drain seemed unsuited by nature to keep, so her conflict with the church was painful but inevitable. Go girl! Well read by the author.

    The good news is that while this book was in press, two more young women defected from Westboro Baptist. Hopefully with publication, more will follow.

    46 of 48 people found this review helpful
  • The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Timothy Ferris
    • Narrated By Fred Stella
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    In his most important book to date, award-winning author Timothy Ferris — “the best popular science writer in the English language today” (Christian Science Monitor) — makes a passionate case for science as the inspiration behind the rise of liberalism and democracy.

    Dan says: "Interesting history, but fails to make his case"
    "Science & Liberty: The Salvific Synergy"
    Overall
    Performance
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    This book posits a historical virtuous circle: ( Political Liberty begets Intellectual Liberty begets Scientific Thinking begets Material Understanding begets Technology begets Military, Economic and Cultural Ascendance begets the Spread of Political Liberty) repeat to the stars and beyond...

    Sounds good, and the author makes an interesting and reasonably compelling case, while not completely ignoring possibly countervailing forces, both external- such as reactionary Islamic fundamentalism- and internal- such as postmodernist epistemological relativism. The author argues that these 'counter cultural' movements are, each in its own way, inherently self limiting, whereas liberal democratic scientism is progressively self perpetuating.

    The author also considers one other factor which might derail the virtuous circle: the possibility of technological self sabotage via global climate change. Unfortunately this section devolves into a rather credulous catechism on climate science bearing little relevance to the thesis of the book. Another chapter is devoted to a defense of the status of economics as an objective scientific enterprise; whatever one thinks about that, this chapter adds little to the book's argument.

    Overall, though, I liked this book. It appealed to my scientific patriotism :) The Constitution contains only one mention of the word 'science' (in the section on patents,) but as this book shows it was a word often on the lips and in the thoughts of those who wrote it, and those who inspired it. But it was no oversight. All that was necessary was to enshrine liberty- freedom in thought and deed- and by man's very nature the flourishing of science- the mind's journey to a true encounter with the universe- was guaranteed.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Truth and Life Dramatized Audio Bible New Testament: Revelation

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 25 mins)
    • By Zondervan
    • Narrated By Neal McDonough, Julia Ormond, Blair Underwood, and others
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    The Truth and Life Dramatized Audio Bible New Testament elegantly blends voices, sound effects and an original music score to create an aural environment that will totally immerse you in the Scriptures. The literal English RSV-CE New Testament is 'performed' for you in radio drama style by more than 70 actors including international stars.

    Donald says: "Payback's a B*tch"
    "Payback's a B*tch"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You are probably not going to find a more pleasant way to finally get through Revelation than this. The ever portentous, never resolving soundtrack keeps things rolling along, while the cast of readers really put their hearts into it. Stacy Keach is particularly effective, and if I were ever to receive a revelation myself, his voice would do nicely. I found myself surprisingly immersed, and the apocalypse was over before I knew it. I was a bit sad to hear it end, really, and to return to the comparative inconsequentiality of reality. However, I did come away with an appreciation of just how influential this text has been down through the course of western history, for better and worse. I also picked up some handy allegorical heuristics. For example, in the eventuality that you find yourself confronted by a beast, you can make a quick assessment of the threat level by the number of diadems on it's horns.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Open: An Autobiography

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Andre Agassi
    • Narrated By Erik Davies
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (945)
    Performance
    (449)
    Story
    (446)

    From Andre Agassi, one of the most beloved athletes in history and one of the most gifted men ever to step onto a tennis court, a beautiful, haunting autobiography. Agassi brings a near-photographic memory to every pivotal match and every relationship. Never before has the inner game of tennis and the outer game of fame been so precisely limned.

    Patrick says: "Just an Incredible Story!"
    "All depends on your response to the narrator."
    Overall

    This book is good, amazingly good. The remarkably high average ratings, from large numbers of reviewers, on both Audible and Amazon will attest to this. But let's face it, one's response to this audiobook, an intimate, straight from the gut first person memoir, will hinge on one's reaction to the narrator. For me, the narrator has a kind of immediate emotional urgency that works quite well. Very moving, in fact. But most of the objections from the minority of reviewers who didn't take to the narrator are also quite valid. It's a very subjective call. You might want to listen to the audio sample before deciding between paper or audio on this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Out of Our Heads: You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Alva Noe
    • Narrated By Jay Snyder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    Alva Noë is one of a new breed - part philosopher, part cognitive scientist, part neuroscientist - who are radically altering the study of consciousness by asking difficult questions and pointing out obvious flaws in the current science. In Out of Our Heads, he restates and reexamines the problem of consciousness, and then proposes a startling solution: Do away with the 200-year-old paradigm that places consciousness within the confines of the brain.

    Keith Howarth says: "A bold, yet ultimately unsupported, hypothesis"
    "Analytically fatuous; Synthetically vacuous"
    Overall

    The author's approach throughout is to set up strawman arguments supposedly representing modern neuroscientific orthodoxy and then purporting to knock them down. The problem is that author Noe either does not understand or misrepresents most of the arguments he pretends to counter, and then fails to refute them convincingly (or often even coherently) anyway. As for positive ideas of his own on cognitive neuroscience, the author remains frustratingly vague, where not downright confused, only achieving clarity when he states the obvious.

    This seemed as though it could have been such an interesting book but, alas, the author basically has nothing. Narration is pretty good, although the reader's tone does seem to accentuate the somewhat arrogant rhetorical style of the author.

    18 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • Infidel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    • Narrated By Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1118)
    Performance
    (475)
    Story
    (479)

    This New York Times best-seller is the astonishing life story of award-winning humanitarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A deeply respected advocate for free speech and women's rights, Hirsi Ali also lives under armed protection because of her outspoken criticism of the Islamic faith in which she was raised.

    Teddy says: "A Story that Needed to be Told"
    "Amazing Woman, Amazing Story, Wonderful Voice"
    Overall

    This is one of those cases of an audiobook far exceeding an already great book. So much of Hirsi Ali's sincerity, intelligence and humanity come across through her wonderful voice, it makes her amazing life story more moving than it could ever be in print.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Jeff Warren
    • Narrated By Raymond Todd
    Overall
    (94)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    Few of us realize how many states of consciousness we pass through on a regular basis. In this entertaining guide, Jeff Warren explores 12 distinct, natural states we can experience in a 24-hour day, each offering its own kind of knowledge, insight, and adventure.

    Donald says: "Reader apparently had somewhere to be"
    "Reader apparently had somewhere to be"
    Overall

    The content of this book is very interesting but be aware that the reader reads at a nearly breathless pace. This often makes it very difficult to absorb what is being read, and I say that as someone with a technical background. For this title, you might want to get the actual book and, relaxing, read it yourself.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Breakdown and Back Compilation

    • NONE (1 hr and 22 mins)
    • By Marjorie Van Halteren
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    This half-hour radio compilation chronicles one woman's experience of a nervous breakdown. This Peabody Award-winning program blends reality and fantasy - her poetry and music, real and imagined scenes, and interviews with her family and friends.

    Donald says: "Not Complete"
    "Not Complete"
    Overall

    This title is not properly put together. What should be the first part (30 min) is actually a 30 minute condensed version of the entire 3 part program. Parts 2 and 3 are each correct. To get the whole program you may need to purchase parts 1,2 & 3 separately.
    That said, this is an interesting listen, though it does not provide much insight psychoses. Listeners might also be interested in the audible title 'The Center Cannot Hold' by Elyn Saks, which provides chilling insight into the nature and experience of psychosis in the words of one who has ample experience of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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