There are a few interesting nuggets to ponder but don't expect the next "Tipping Point" although he often quotes Gladwell.
The narration would have been far better if read by Humphrey Bower.
The central point, with which I agree, is that looking at incidents in reverse doesn't always lead to cause. Fair enough. But then Watts takes us on a crazy trip of irrational thinking.
For example, people drive drunk every day without killing anyone, so, is drunk driving the cause of so many fatalities? Or is it .....fate? He gives a tragic example of a drunk killing an entire family. But had they lingered at their starting point a moment longer, the drunk would have sped through the red light ahead of them rather than in to them. Is this really worth discussing? Since people drive drunk without killing people every time, we are to suspend drunk driving as a cause for fatalities?
I think there's an attempt to muddy thinking. Sort of the old lawyer trick of making you doubt your own testimony.
Skip this one.
This book lays bare the mythology we have bought for years about our glorious nation under god. Turns out there's a reason we believe we're special---part of the trappings of power. I agree.
Every American should read this book and learn. Learn that neither party has the honesty market cornered. Nope, you can't even say that one party is a little better than the other party. The lies both parties have told us have cost thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars in treasure. From Johnson to Obama, we haven't had a truly honest man in the White House.
We're not talking about little lies either. Big stuff.
Please give this book a listen. Then buy a few copies of the print version and give them as gifts---or curses. It's pretty rough to face the myths we believe in.
This book made my annual Bloomsday read of Ulysses even more meaningful. I gained new insight into Joyce and the struggle to get the greatest novel written published.
This book gives a lot more detail about the struggle with health that Joyce went through. Most biographies somewhat gloss over the health problems and especially the root cause of his eye problems: syphilis. The book makes me wonder about his daughter's madness. Certainly Joyce's wife contracted the disease and likely passed it to the children since both were born prior to the development of antibiotics. Was Lucia's madness a result of syphilis?
This is well presented though the pronunciation at times seems dicey. I swear the reader mispronounces the name of the very book, Ulysses, for the first 2/3rds of the book. Then, almost as though someone catches it, he starts pronouncing it correctly.
What do you think? Am I hearing it wrong?
Anyway, I highly recommend this book if you're a Joyce fan.
While there are a few interesting things in this book and it is well read; it's pretty dull. I love science and particularly the science of household things, common stuff. But this is just too much kitchen chemistry. I believe this is a second volume? It feels like a lot of left over material or an attempt to find some more material after writing a successful book.
I just didn't like it. That doesn't mean you won't. It is, as stated above, well read. That goes a long way with audio books.
I have a policy on book reviews that I write. If I really dislike a book, I ponder why for a couple days before writing the review. Sometimes the dislike comes from an author's ability to evoke anger or disgust and that deserves high marks in spite of my 'feelings'. This book is disturbing but for the wrong reasons.
I liked PI. I wanted to like this book.
By the end I was disgusted by the shameless use of one history's great atrocities to sell a book. It doesn't work. The concept doesn't work. The story telling doesn't work. The manipulation of our feelings doesn't work in spite of killing off the family dog. The story's ending is contrived.
The only redeeming part of the book are the games at the end. They are, in the context of the holocaust, poignant.
The remaining 99.9% of the book falls under the emperor's new clothes category. If a reader thinks they see some great depth in this book, it's probably a result of wanting it to be there. I did. It wasn't. Skip it.
They say an author's first book comes from direct experience. An author might squeak through a second book with what she has left. The third book is the separator. That hopefully is not the case but it sure looks that way from here.
I am convinced from reading several history books about Russia lately that without the Soviet Union, Hitler may have been more successful. He would not have won, but had Hitler maintained the alliance rather than violate it, the world would be a different place today.
The siege of Leningrad was a horribly grim piece of history. The Soviet Union gave the city virtually no support. The city was on its own. Food ran out. Hundreds of thousands died. No wonder the Russian people are so tough. They had nearly a century of oppressive rule after their centuries of oppressive rule. They beat Napoleon and Hitler but not their own leaders and system.
The book is a little choppy to follow. But, unlike the Rape of Nanking, it is not so grossly graphic that you cannot bear to listen to it.
I highly recommend this book. Well done on all fronts.
This isn't worth the time. I found it unhelpful. Was hoping to find some solace for clients who wrestle with procrastination. Didn't find any.
I did find a few statements disturbing. Being late in submitting an article the author informs us that 'everyone is months late' on article submissions. I see this as a failure to honor commitments. Sure, maybe it's true that authors are always late. But shouldn't we keep our deadlines that we agree to? I just don't go with the philosophy that it's okay to do things your way when other people are involved. I tire of waiting for things that people promise me. Sure, there are times when we get behind. That's time to step up and own up, no time to adopt a 'me centric' attitude that you can just wait.
To me, there is a distinction between raking the leaves and doing a work project on time. One doesn't really matter, the other is a commitment to a person. So put off reading this but do get that report in on time.
I'm sure the author is a good guy. You can deduct that from the writing. But I also find working with people who justify bad habits to be annoying in the long run.
Save your credits. Better to focus on getting better than accepting a bad habit.
Okay, people who read my reviews on Amazon know what's coming. I hate "true stories" or historical pieces that are not TRUE.
I was enjoying this listen very much though at times it gets a little 'made up' sounding. Almost like the writer is sort of winging it. So, about 3/4ths through, I start doing some research only to discover the whole thing is a fabrication. It's a lie. Well, so what if it's a good story? That can be up to you. For me, it confirmed what I was sensing in the writing. This guy just wasn't there.
From then on, it was very hard to listen to the story knowing it was all a fake. Then I hit the chapter on their encounter with the abominable snow man. Okay, that was just over the top nonsense.
It is a fun listen if you don't care or don't know it's a complete fake.
I am being generous with the stars. I do not care much for John Lee. Everyone sounds like Dracula regardless of accent. He's better than many, however.
I have had a very hit-and-miss experience with Greenberg's courses. His opera appreciation course is excellent. His Wagner course abysmal. This course is very good and packed with exactly what I want from a course like this.
I have listened to and seen live performances of Shostakovich's music but never much cared for his modernist style. His music seemed confused and convoluted to me. Of course, discordance was all the rage after the turn of the century so I have for years just taken Shostakovich as "not for me".
This set of lectures does what great teaching ought to do. It opened my mind to a new experience and instilled an enthusiasm to go deeper. That's what I like about the really great courses. They encourage me to go well beyond what is presented.
Dr. Greenberg perfectly balances biography with explanation of the music through stories and music samples. What opened the door for me was knowing what was happening in the composer's life blended with a taste of the music he wrote during that time and completed with some analysis of the music itself. I could see, for the first time, how wonderful and terrible that discordance was that I previously hated. By terrible, I mean the horror that the "circus" sound was expressing.
I actually raced through this course in a week all the while spending like the proverbial drunken sailor. This is fantastic, I must have the MP3 now! And I'll need a CD version as well. Wow! I must hear the rest of this. I want more of that. I bought DVDs of the operas, MP3s and CDs of the symphonies and the quartets, CDs of the piano pieces and the cello concerto. Amazon is very pleased that I took this course.
The new understanding made the music so enjoyable I just had to have some complete piece IMMEDIATELY. That's good teaching.
I do have some criticism of the course. Before I criticize, I want to say again that I absolutely hated Greenberg's Wagner course. That course is packed with awful puns and bad jokes. It's a slap-schtick production. In this course, the corn is scaled back considerably. Greenberg would do well to eliminate his humor completely but at least in this course his poor puns do not detract too much from the course.
His pace is at times manic. He literally talks like someone coked up. It's beyond enthusiasm; it's just too fast.
The other thing I find grating is the pompous use of the words "please" and "we". "Please! We quote,....." Is Greenberg glad to have us listen or is that a composer in his pocket? We wonder. Amusingly, he starts the entire series with an anecdote about someone complaining about the anti-Stalinist content of one of his lectures. The critic says something about others in the audience having the same reaction. Greenberg goes on to say that he immediately dismisses anyone who makes assertions referring to those "others agree with me too" people.
He might benefit from listening to some of that criticism. The pompous use of "we" is annoying. Preceding points or quotes with "Please!" is an affectation that I accept as just a bit of artistic flamboyance. Interestingly, about half way, Greenberg simply starts quotes with, "I quote" and it comes off better than when he later reverts back to royal "we".
Fewer jokes and a scaling back of the pompous presentation and the course would be perfect. As is, it is still a 5 star, highly recommended course.
I wasn't impressed with this lecture series but wonder if the method of delivery might have something to do with it.
My Great Courses library contains over 25 DVD courses and they are mostly in the 90% percentile for excellence. To date I have purchased three courses on the audio format and have not been impressed with any of them. I'm not sure if it is because the audio format fails against the full video courses or if I have simply chosen courses that do not come across well in audio alone.
For example, Greenberg's Wagner course is awful. He is constantly detracting from the material with sophomoric jokes. Without the silliness, the course would be excellent. Can't blame audio for that. I also purchased the Divine Comedy course. It's like a radio program with two panelists supporting each others position. That's right Bob, Dante based his work on the Bible! Sure Dave, and he used the style of the time.
I find it a bit annoying but haven't passed judgement yet.
This course didn't appeal to me at all. I do like professor Wolfson and greatly enjoy the video series, "Physics in You Life". In this course, he speaks way too fast. I had hoped to gain some scientific insight into climate change but there really is not any new material here. Essentially it amounts to telling us the earth is getting warmer, the warming is caused by carbon and man is at the heart of the problem.
If you already understand that, save the credit.
I wanted to understand the arguments that go like this: The earth has been warmer in the past, well before man, why? How did it cool? Why was the temperature so much higher 200 million years ago? Yes, there was a mini ice age 400 years ago, why? I know these questions do not have definitive answers but I had hoped for some science on those questions.
Also, I believe Wolfson is too definite on his outlook for the future. Carbon content goes up, temperature will rise by this range. He mentions that the earth my have trigger points which could cause climate to change in an opposite direction and then dismisses that in a sentence. I'm not so sure.
The earth is a lot more complex than Venus which is always used for comparison. I don't think we can say with certainty that a temperature increase here will not cause a reaction leading to a decrease in temperature there. For example, if warming causes the heat conveyor of the Atlantic to stop delivering warmth to England, then Europe could plunge into a deep cold period. It is not clear if this is possible but the oceans distribute heat---altering currents can change climate.
Okay, this isn't about my theories. The course is rather basic and might be better in video format.
If you are completely new to the subject, give it a go. If you already have some background, you can probably skip this without missing anything.
Too fast. Too shallow.
I confess, I did not not like this book. I wanted to like it but never got there. This has a lot to do with the awful narration. Every male character sounds like an airline pilot on sleeping pills. The victim, rather, central character seems a wreck of a person who I just couldn't find any empathy for.
The story had potential but the past and present stories only fit together by a thread of irony. The "three years ago" stuff really wasn't a good vehicle to support or move the plot---it was ironic but not necessary. Think about it.
Stripping out the whole Issac thing would have cut this down to a decent read.
No, I barely could stay interested and was sorry at the end that our hero wasn't hauled off to prison for making me endure this story.
I wouldn't recommend it. But you might like it. It ain't literature folks. Taste in stories vary. You may like it. Many do.
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