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PHIL

San Diego, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

304
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 132 reviews
  • 137 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 56 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
106

  • Amazing Mathematicians - Volume 1: Inspirational Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (51 mins)
    • By Charles Margerison
    • Narrated By Amazing People Club
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Mathematics is the science of numbers. However, have you ever stopped to ask - who are the people behind the amazing formulas that have helped mankind find solutions to everyday probabilities? The Amazing People Club invites you to explore the exciting world of five amazing mathematicians. Their inspirational stories were not always about number crunching as we know it, as they strived in the search for 'truth' via theory.

    PHIL says: "Big thinkers, good, but length of audio too short"
    "Big thinkers, good, but length of audio too short"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this. I like my tech/math learning mixed with bios and personal color, a bit like "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." Dealing with numbers for a long time, I like to switch to related, but story-type stuff, so I can still stay within the subject while relaxing and letting my mind rest and refresh a bit. Here, the pseudo-autobiography style, as if in the voices of the mathematicians speaking of their own lives, worked alright. I wish these were longer though, because by necessity, the author must compress big, deep-thinking and event-filled lives into short times, and a lot is left out. The big math ideas are not deeply addressed at all. So, it serves to learn more elsewhere about the math AND the lives. It might help a young person, especially a bright and inquisitive one, to feel motivated to dig into the subjects more.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

    • UNABRIDGED (34 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Ron Chernow
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (33)

    A gripping history of banking and the booms and busts that shaped the world on both sides of the Atlantic, The House of Morgan traces the trajectory of the J. P.Morgan empire from its obscure beginnings in Victorian London to the crash of 1987. Ron Chernow paints a fascinating portrait of the private saga of the Morgans and the rarefied world of the American and British elite in which they moved. Based on extensive interviews and access to the family and business archives, The House of Morgan is an investigative masterpiece.

    Cletus van Damme says: "Superb narration"
    "Monumental. Loved it."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the first Ron Chernow book I have read. Wow, what a storyteller. I presume the reader already has an interest in the overall topic. Mr Chernow has a way of plucking out a telling little detail that sets a scene or gives a sense of a personality marvelously. And he tirelessly delivers this sort of thing across a vast canvas. He did the same with Alexander Hamilton, as I have since heard it. I hope an audio of his book "The Warburgs" is forthcoming.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Charles Kenny
    • Narrated By Tim Andres Pabon
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    America is in decline, and the rise of the East suggests a bleak future for the world’s only superpower - so goes the conventional wisdom. But what if the traditional measures of national status are no longer as important as they once were? What if America’s well-being was assessed according to entirely different factors? In The Upside of Down, Charles Kenny argues that America’s so-called decline is only relative to the newfound success of other countries.

    PHIL says: "Short counter-narrative a breeze of fresh thought"
    "Short counter-narrative a breeze of fresh thought"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I can't say any of the rosy possibilities imagined here will come true. Who can? However, This book has a fine place, if for no other reason than to make our minds more limber, and help us shake off a bit of the fatigue of fearing the worst. (Look, Britain no longer rules the waves, and its standard of living has been pretty good, in a world where it was forced to assume a less unipolar "top dog" spot in the global community.) In the biggest of all narratives of current history, as I see suggested here, we live in a world where many economies have adopted roughly some version of our way of creating wealth, and I mean by productivity and trade. A China so entwined with the USA and the rest of the globe financially and in trade, is a far better vision than the possible alternatives -- such as a Nazi-type military kleptocracy. It isn't as bad as it could be, this book cogently argues. And I need to imagine in these sorts of directions, to commit some resources to the possibility of good global upsides (not least for the USA) in this type of possible future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Charles W. Calomiris, Stephen H. Haber
    • Narrated By Basil Sands
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Analyzing the political and banking history of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil through several centuries, Fragile by Design demonstrates that chronic banking crises and scarce credit are not accidents due to unforeseen circumstances. Rather, these fluctuations result from the complex bargains made between politicians, bankers, bank shareholders, depositors, debtors, and taxpayers.

    PHIL says: "An all-time favorite in banking, history, politics"
    "An all-time favorite in banking, history, politics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    All my main interests converge in this book. The authors' labors came to great fruit in a thorough, eye-opening tour of banking in several countries and centuries. I learned more about the histories of Brazil and Mexico (despite having read other books, and traveled extensively in Mexico) than I ever knew, in a few hours.
    The narratives frame banking systems and their impacts on nations as the products of a "game of bank bargains" in each nation, and in each time-frame, between various interest groups. This makes enormous sense, and is a refreshing departure from partisan screeds that lazily serve up the same pre-set heroes and villains. I like the authors' approach of blending disciplined narratives showing particular nations' contexts and nuances, in easy-to-follow stories, with some telling numbers. Various institutional weaknesses are highlighted, or flawed bargains, as sources of trouble: opposing groups can be, at best, powerful checks and balances on each other, and often these balances have become too lopsided, and banking crises are sure to follow. In this light, the collapse of banking systems, currencies, and governments makes clear sense. The result of this approach: deeper knowledge of history and sharper thinking and analysis. And all this is delivered in an accessible, listenable form.
    Some with a brittle partisan pre-loaded set of desired answers (on either side) may be perturbed at turns. Some on the left will be uncomfortable when a microscope is turned onto the banker-urban-populist bargains in the runup to USA's 2008 subprime credit bust. But by the time this story is detailed, we are already well briefed on a history of unstable banking bargains in US history, among various players. This made me look with a more appraising and cynical eye at the smooth cartoons of rosy all-around public benefit and skillful crisis management produced by politicians (on either side) as their self-serving draft of history, and as an apologia for their various manipulations of banking systems.
    USA's set of bank bargains, and their outcomes and present state, can be compared, apples-to-apples, with Britain, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Germany, and more. (This is, however, primarily a history book, not specifically an update of very current events.) This book stands alongside any I've ever read in these various sub-fields. I agree with the likes of Niall Ferguson that finance gives key understandings of history, when done with smarts and disciplined scholarship. This book tells me more about why nations are where they are, than any other I can think of.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wall Street: A History, Updated Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Charles R. Geisst
    • Narrated By Stephen McLaughlin
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (12)

    Wall Street is an unending source of legend - and nightmares. It is a universal symbol of both the highest aspirations of economic prosperity and the basest impulses of greed and deception. Charles R. Geisst's Wall Street is at once a chronicle of the street itself - from the days when the wall was merely a defensive barricade built by Peter Stuyvesant - and an engaging economic history of the United States, a tale of profits and losses, enterprising spirits, and key figures that transformed America into the most powerful economy in the world.

    PHIL says: "Many books in one; best linking of stories, eras"
    "Many books in one; best linking of stories, eras"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have read dozens of books in this genre. Yet, here I had many "gee whiz" moments, understanding in new ways (and sometimes clearly for the first time) how many of these dots connected between personalities, groups in society, financial innovations and eras, and various world players affecting, and affected by, Wall Street. The explanations are sensible and clear, and flow sensibly across time and through these overlapping factors. Many books have picked up some segment of this, and I have heard many of these stories in a fragmented way, but these fragmented books tended to wander into details that can lose the thread of important facts and ideas, or to start and stop at arbitrary points. Half a dozen segments here could be books in themselves.
    As for the narration, at first I thought it a bit on the relaxed and plodding side, but as time has passed, I have found it very listenable, and able to hold my attention.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Legacies of Great Economists

    • ORIGINAL (7 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Timothy Taylor
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (14)

    When it comes to economics and economic theory, a few thinkers dominate the landscape. Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Alfred Marshall, John Maynard Keynes, and a handful of others have shaped the world of economics and influenced our lives. These 10 lectures acquaint you with the thoughts, theories, and lives of these great economists.

    PHIL says: "A fine basic survey: a home run for Prof. Taylor"
    "A fine basic survey: a home run for Prof. Taylor"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This professor is passionate, obviously engaged with his subject, clear and accessible. This survey moves across many big books full of ideas pretty quickly, so naturally it does not get into the more abstract and technical fine points. But to readily get a good basic feel for these ideas and thinkers (and their writing, which is critiqued a bit, and explained in light of the prevalent ideas of their times), one couldn't start at a better place.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Thinking Like an Economist: A Guide to Rational Decision Making

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Randall Bartlett
    Overall
    (83)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (75)

    Economic forces are everywhere around you. But that doesn't mean you need to passively accept whatever outcome those forces might press upon you. Instead, with these 12 fast-moving and crystal clear lectures, you can learn how to use a small handful of basic nuts-and-bolts principles to turn those same forces to your own advantage.

    A User says: "A difficult subject made easy!"
    "Clear, useful, accessible"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It was a pleasure to listen to this. I never found myself zoning out or wondering (as I often do) when the speaker will cut through the fuzzy jargon and get to the point. The points are all set out. This has helped me think more clearly in my own decisions, and express myself more clearly in my own business teaching.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Alan Greenspan
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    Like all of us, though few so visibly, Alan Greenspan was forced by the financial crisis of 2008 to question some fundamental assumptions about risk management and economic forecasting. No one with any meaningful role in economic decision making in the world saw beforehand the storm for what it was. How had our models so utterly failed us? To answer this question, Alan Greenspan embarked on a rigorous and far-reaching multiyear examination of how Homo economicus predicts the economic future, and how it can predict it better.

    PHIL says: "I profit from listening, and sometimes disagree"
    "I profit from listening, and sometimes disagree"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a wide-ranging tour of ideas and history that have been capturing Mr Greenspan's attention since he left the Fed, and he thereafter admitted before Congress as the Great Recession unfolded, that some big assumptions and models he was using hadn't worked. I like to listen to his mind working, as, for example, he loosely cobbles together an economic model in front of the reader, or walks through a stretch of history, lucidly pointing out big salient features of how we got here. Like many very smart people I know, he shows a gift sometimes for displaying (what seem to me glaring) gaps in his reasoning, or for ignoring a 900-pound factual gorilla looming in the situation. (This is the reputed libertarian Ayn Rand disciple who yet worked in and around government much of his adult life, openly disliked government's solutions, yet became arguably the most powerful individual inside government, whereupon he showered cheap credit into the banking system for a very extended period (meanwhile refusing to exercise his statutory powers to regulate various mortgage finance practices) as a vast unstable housing bubble heaved up and (soon enough after he left the job) collapsed into the worst mess since the Great Depression.) This wouldn't be the first time models worked well until they didn't. But, aside from some sidestepping perhaps, he intrepidly wrestles with some big questions. For example, he tackles why this recovery was seemingly this tepid and slow. I don't agree with all the answers he finds, but along this journey I find this book has helped me clarify and sharpen and update my own views and opinions. And for that, I give Mr Greespan credit and thanks. In that light, I think this work is a success.
    I've seen reviews that complain about the wide range of sub-topics. But all of them are interesting to me, and I like the way the guy describes things.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By John Brockman
    • Narrated By John Allen Nelson, Khristine Hvam
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (86)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (68)

    What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit? This is the question John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org, posed to the world's most influential thinkers. Their visionary answers flow from the frontiers of psychology, philosophy, economics, physics, sociology, and more. Surprising and enlightening, these insights will revolutionize the way you think about yourself and the world.

    Benjamin says: "Amazing book!"
    "A sampler of spicy ideas to liven up the mind"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm finding this series habit-forming. I like the quickness of each little vignette: it introduces an idea or new phrasing or view of things that may be novel to me (great!) or not (fine, it's not too long). From time to time one hears a very gifted explainer: it introduces me to authors whose full-length books I also read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Money: The Unauthorized Biography

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Felix Martin
    • Narrated By Nicholas Guy Smith
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    From ancient currency to Adam Smith, from the gold standard to shadow banking and the Great Recession: a sweeping historical epic that traces the development and evolution of one of humankind’s greatest inventions.

    PHIL says: "Meandering, repetitive, pseudo-clever; not all bad"
    "Meandering, repetitive, pseudo-clever; not all bad"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Take a reasonably interesting idea: e.g., the Yap islanders' use of largely stationary stones as money (seen many times in other books), and various interesting implications of that. Repeat it ad nauseum, as if the listener was too dense to get the simple logic of it. (How many versions and iterations of this simple explanation must I hear? Did you think I forgot since the last Nth time you repeated it? Is there an editor in the house?)
    Lard on all sorts of low-information padding, strings of words roughly in the nature of 'you might be astonished to hear ...', interrupting the flow of actual information, which add bulk and a wordy pseudo-academic sound, but no meaning. (At least it is read in a clear and pleasant voice!)
    Purport to challenge various common ideas and traditional (and quite useful) understandings about money, but don't really raise an effective challenge; just say they are wrong. Insert colorful descriptions of such things as long-dead peoples' intentions in doing certain acts, without good evidence. Pretend that a few easy inferences about money (apparent to any clear thinker who has done much of any reading in the field) are new or clever ideas, while these are often repackaged truncations of existing ideas or obvious inferences.
    Dress it up, perhaps in a UK-centric style, try for a gravitas-but-wide-audience-snappiness reminiscent of Clarke's 'Civilisation' or Ferguson's 'Ascent of Money' (anticipating a TV special maybe?), with colorful stories and a lofty British tone. Now you are getting close to sensing some of what goes on here.
    So what do I like about this book? It is a nice fit for walking around my river park, reflecting, pondering certain stories and features of money and credit, without being taxed too hard mentally. It gives nice gentle nudges to the imagination from lots of angles about these topics. Since this subject is of great interest to me, it doesn't hurt to do walk-throughs from lots of viewpoints. Here and there a novel phrasing of some idea is a nice fit with my growing knowledge. It is a pleasant presentation and, for someone with an interest in this (and perhaps not quite as far along the scholarship curve), and subject to some of the above issues, time pretty well spent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ceo Guide To Doing Business In Middle East: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain And Qatar

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Ade Asefeso, MCIPS, MBA
    • Narrated By Susan Lee
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    The UAE is situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia. The UAE is a federation of seven Emirates each with its own Ruler. Saudi Arabia's command economy is petroleum-based; roughly 75% of budget revenues and 90% of export earnings come from the oil industry.

    PHIL says: "A fine presentation"
    "A fine presentation"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have many business students from various of these countries, and I feel much better informed about the settings they are coming from. Of course, a book this short must be a summary, but I appreciate having a much better sense of the identities of these individual nations/emirates. It is certainly not "one size fits all."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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