Walnut Creek, CA, United States | Member Since 2002
This is a fine book for anyone not familiar with libertarianism philosophy. The book covers a bit of history, explains the fundamentals, and gives numerous examples of a libertarian approach to many issues. It takes on a few of the weaknesses of libertarianism, but does not address a few key issues. The US was much more libertarian in the past, but monopolies and depressions led the US to accept some quite non libertarian policies. The author does not address these (at least perceived) weaknesses – which makes this book less perfect than it might have been.
I read this series years ago, then listened to them on cassette tape, and have begged for them on Audible for many years. Finally, the first two have appeared. No history is perfect, and history written in the forties cannot help but be dated, yet the authors’ presentation, tone, and focus seem surprisingly up to date. I really like the authors’ quirky sense of humor and matter of fact tone. This series is eleven big volumes totaling something like 500 hours. This history is very easy to listen to and it is hard for me to imagine anyone who would not find a lot of it interesting. Some people dislike the somewhat thematic instead of chronological approach, but I found it engaged me more than most histories. Persians and Chinese may be rightfully chagrined at the short shrift given their influential cultures and I agree with those who argue that the authors focus on exceptional individuals and deemphasize the importance of randomness in history. Nevertheless this is a series that I would recommend to anyone over twelve that wants to learn about western history. For me this was hundreds and hundreds of hours of fun and I did a little dance when I saw these were now available on Audible. Frankly none of the narration is perfect, but Robin Field does a good job in this volume. This volume covers pre-history and the invention of language and art up to the ancient eastern influences on western civilization. Selfishly I want to encourage people to listen to these first two so Audible will get the rest of the series.
This was another particularly excellent Nero Wolfe novel. One of the best I have listened to. The narration, as usual, was great. The story keeps moving and keeps interesting and fun. The plot has some of the most interesting twists and enjoyable character development of any of the Nero Wolfe novels. This one is worth reading more than once.
What a trip!
The second book in the My Big TOE series.
See reviews of book 1.
The third an final book in the My Big TOE series.
See reviews of book 1.
This is a review of all three books. Sorry it is so long, but I care passionately about the search for truth and a book such as this should not be tossed aside lightly. It is quite long, promises much, and thus potential readers deserve a chance to understand the curiosities contained within before committing the many, many, hours it takes to properly digest this material.
Audible does not have the book figures as a pdf, but you can see them at the author’s website my-big-toe dot com. You may also want to read about the author’s first Psi trips in Far Journeys which is also available online. There you can judge for yourself the scientific procedures used.
I don’t think it is fair that this book be placed under Science/Physics section along with so many other conformist books that are so narrowly focused on science in our physical universe. This should be placed with other mind-expanding works over in the New Age section.
The author/narrator has a very personable, approachable and funny presentation. He presents himself as a no nonsense scientist who insists on hard evidence. Impressively, the author was taught his Psi skills as a child by non-physical beings over a period of years until some non-physical uppity-ups, perhaps the entity he calls the “Big Cheese”, decided Campbell might be getting too weird, so a work-order was issued to close down his astral-projection portal. He forgot about this early psi training until many years later (apparently about the time he discovered people would pay good money to take classes in Psi and out of body experiences). Since then he has engaged in much Psi research and has quite a lot of scientific proof for spatial, temporal and trans-dimensional astral-projection as well as documented shared out of body experiences. I expect this will be peer reviewed sometime soon and appear in a major journal like Nature. Surely he will also demonstrate these skills to the Amazing Randi or another professional skeptic under carefully controlled conditions and finally put such doubts to rest forever. Unfortunately he finds due to “the common fact that some static or noise is usually on the line…there is often more confusion than clarity when comparing accounts…and it is often vague and unreliable…it does not transfer well to those who do not understand…”. Nevertheless it is comforting to know that tumors are very easily detectable and curable using Psi powers, but, again unfortunately, only tumors diagnosed by Psi are easily treated. Tumors with any non-Psi objective physical evidence for existence (like medical test results or being felt or seen) are very difficult to treat. He is generally able to cure tumors with absolutely no physical evidence for existence. This is due to the Psi-Uncertainty Principle. This holds that confirmation of Psi techniques can only be made to small groups with high quality consciousness. Any experiment that could demonstrate Psi techniques to large numbers of low quality consciousnesses is prohibited as it would disturb the growth of those with lower level consciousnesses. Prohibited by whom? I presume the Big Cheese or AUM itself. Paraphrasing Campbell, I guess the proof of the Cool-Aid is only in the drinking.
The presentation of his Theory of Everything starts by claiming that since causality must either be eternal or otherwise metaphysical in origin he must assume a metaphysical absolute undifferentiated oneness (AUO) without time or space which is the source of all consciousness and all reality. Wow – what a huge and fascinating first assumption…I wonder where that might lead?
Along with the AUO Campbell presumes a fundamental process of evolution. Does a “process” or “evolution” implicitly depend upon the notion of time? Apparently wondering such things makes me a close minded, conformist, jackass, (if you see me with this book you are advised to take it away).
He then claims the goal of being is to decrease entropy and notes the second law of thermodynamics holds that entropy must always increase in a closed system. Now-a-days scientists believe the second “law” only holds when the starting condition is a low entropy state and one of the current issues in cosmology is to understand exactly why the universe seems to have started in such an incredibly low entropy state. Alas such thoughts, it seems, are one of my dogmas that are likely to severely limit my spiritual growth.
Time and then space develops as parts of the AUO cycle between differentiated and undifferentiated. My not understanding how “parts” of an “absolute undifferentiated oneness” can differentiate then cycle without differentiation nor time nor space seems to be another of my limitations. I guess “timeless space less absolute undifferentiated oneness” doesn't mean what I think it means. I did check the glossary of acronyms, to no avail.
Campbell goes on and on describing the nature of reality, AUM, PMR, NPMR, TBC, EBC, Belief Traps, Consciousness Quality, Fractal Reality, etc. Campbell indicates that all this is derived from his two simple and self-evident assumptions. I guess I will just have to take his word on that. I suspect this being clear would be a violation of the Psi-Uncertainty Principle.
It is a bit surprising to me that with all the countless myriads of higher level physical and non-physical beings I would happen to get stuck on the very lowest level…What are the odds?….(well, just about zero, actually). It does concern me that Campbell’s TOE seems somewhat non-relativistic. It seems to place humans at the very bottom of a practically infinite cascade of higher levels with AUO at the top. Placing humankind at the bottom seems exactly as odd as placing humankind at the center, or pinnacle, of existence.
About half way through the 35 hour trilogy it begins to become apparent that the promised Theory of Everything is not yet actually ready for prime time. It is only a meta-framework and connecting it to any other science will have to wait for other people, other books, or another day. Campbell instead tells you what to do to evolve your, surely pitiful, little low quality consciousness, into a really high quality consciousness like his, and how to gain really nifty Psi powers, and to reduce your ego. I am sure the notes above will give you a clear indication of how significantly Campbell’s ego has been reduced.
There are a few places that Campbell actually connects his TOE (slightly) with physical reality. Campbell indicates that time in our physical universe starts at t=0 and increments by delta-t (a huge multiple of the delta-t of AUM). This seems odd since in general relativity multiple observers can see the same set of events in different temporal orders. The Heisenberg Uncertainly Principle does not seem to infer a delta-t but instead a delta-something-else, where that something is related to time & energy or position & momentum. I think we should keep an open mind of this one, but perhaps Campbell can check in with the Big Cheese and see if there has been a booboo here.
In the end, Campbell’s TOE is never tied into physical reality; there is no unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity, no quantum gravity, no resolution of dark matter and dark energy, no insight upon cosmic inflation, no insight regarding Bell’s Inequality, no reduction in the open parameters of QM. This is a very-stubbed-TOE. Campbell happily proclaims he has explained all of science. He quotes Einstein many, many times. Perhaps this makes it science?
I have friends, using arguments with seeming equal validity to Campbell’s, who would consider it a clear fact that Campbell’s benevolent seeming non-physical teachers are certainly demons sent by Satan to ensnare him, and through him, me & you! Clearly anyone with an open and skeptical mind must be open to both of these, equally likely, interpretations.
I really can’t tell you how much I loved this book. Nope, I really can’t.
I have read a bunch of books about the 2007 financial crash. By focusing on the people that made a lot of money from the crash, this book explains quite clearly the underlying causes of the crash. Unfortunately this book requires a bit of understanding of how markets and financial products work. If you have these basic understandings, this is the best of the bunch of books examining the 2007 crisis. Not only were the characters quite fun to read about, but the story helped explain the underlying causes of the crisis in an interesting and compelling way. I generally recommend this as a great place to start if you want to understand the mechanics of what happened in the financial crisis of 2007.
This is largely just one more in a long line of books that spend almost the entire book presenting a layman’s history of science followed by a short presentation of some mildly novel idea. Here the history is just OK (with a recurring bit of suggesting each theory’s T-shirt). This was followed by a couple of chapters relating religion to a Theory Of Everything. That was about it. I expected a thoughtful analysis of what a TOE might mean for mankind, or the forms a TOE might take, or something else thoughtful and interesting regarding possible TOEs. Instead it mentioned that string theory might, maybe, someday, yield a TOE (then in the afterword notes that string theory has more recently lost much of its momentum).
This was also mostly written quite a few years ago with a few new notes and a new afterword.
Overall I did not find much to dislike, but also little to like.
This story follows a powerful criminal character introduced in And Be a Villain leading to a somewhat anticlimactic showdown with Nero Wolfe. I really like almost every Nero Wolfe novel, and even the ones I don’t particularly like, I don’t dislike them. This is the one I really did not like. I found the powerful criminal and conflict too derivative of Holmes and Moriarty. I don’t want to spoil any of the surprising bits for anyone, but I did not find them interesting or compelling. This is the only book of the series I actually wish I had not read, as the off characterizations here very subtly degraded my relationships with the series characters. I very highly recommend the series, but I would skip this and even And Be a Villain if I had it to do over again.
I like almost all of the Nero Wolfe novels, but this, and the follow on (In the Best of Families) are two of my least favorite. It even seemed to me that the narrator did not like these two, making a few uncharacteristic mistakes and lacking his usual upbeat flow.
I found the plot elements a bit less believable than usual. This book introduces an almost all powerful villain that becomes a major factor in the next book, In Best of Families. I found this Moriarty-like character more than a bit derivative and I found both of these books among the least compelling of all the Nero Wolfe novels. Still this was not bad in any way, it is just not as good as I have come to expect from Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe.
I am generally more than somewhat dubious of self-help books. They tend to be full of jargon and self-promotion with overly simplistic frameworks and have a few powerful truths that are somewhat obvious, but not so easy to actually execute. This audio book is no exception. Crucial Conversations uses a lot of words for self-promoting and testimonials with very little information content. It has its share of jargon and acronyms and oversimplifications. It also has its powerful truths (that are somewhat obvious and not so easy to actually execute). The single best transformative truth presented is that if someone is reacting with anger or retreating into silence it because of a story they are telling themselves. Really seeing and believing this for oneself and for others is (I think) the fundamental key in dealing with most emotional conflict.
Without the jargon and acronyms this mostly boils down to:
Look at how you and others are reacting
Make sure everyone feels safe
Notice what you really want
Notice if you are acting in alignment with what you really want
Think about your story before you start talking
Separate the facts from your story
Ask for, and understand, the stories of others
Ask for, and understand, challenges from others to your story
Align on a purpose
Come to a decision
Write down decisions with clear actions, dates and verification
OK, mostly pretty obvious. Some pretty easy to do, some pretty hard. If you do all these things, you will likely communicate well.
I did this as a training class as well as reading and listening to the book and viewing the videos (yikes!) and the audio examples. The training class was much, much better than the audio (or printed) book primarily because in the class there were many role-plays where the students had to actually attempt to use the techniques in semi-scripted scenarios. These role-plays made it clear how different these techniques were from most peoples’ normal communications habits and made it very clear it would take a lot of focus and practice to become proficient using these techniques.
There were a few things I particularly didn't like including; The time and words wasted in self-promotion and testimonials; Labeling natural fight or flight responses as “unhealthy”; and the narration was (as in many self-help books) so upbeat and positive as to be grating.
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