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Pete

Hines, OR, United States | Member Since 2003

32
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 12 reviews
  • 439 ratings
  • 642 titles in library
  • 16 purchased in 2014
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  • The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Brian Christian
    • Narrated By Brian Christian
    Overall
    (311)
    Performance
    (196)
    Story
    (189)

    The Most Human Human is a provocative, exuberant, and profound exploration of the ways in which computers are reshaping our ideas of what it means to be human. Its starting point is the annual Turing Test, which pits artificial intelligence programs against people to determine if computers can "think". Named for computer pioneer Alan Turing, the Turing Test convenes a panel of judges who pose questions - ranging anywhere from celebrity gossip to moral conundrums - to hidden contestants in an attempt to discern which is human and which is a computer.

    Roy says: "A Wedding of Computer Science and Philosophy"
    "Fascinating examination of being human"
    Overall

    I really liked this book. It was fairly well written and read. There were spots where the author went on and on about some obscure aspect of technology (e.g., lossy vs. lossless data compression) and some stretches where the focus seems to wander, but overall this was a fascinating and comprehensive examination of artificial intelligence and what it means to be human. I though the author could have provided a more consistent thread relating to his participation in the Turing test, but the competition itself was less important than his examination of the various aspects of humanity. I liked this book so much that I assimilated (i.e., read) it in one day, then again on the very next day. There was just that much fascinating detail to hold my attention as much the second time through as the first.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Civilization: The West and the Rest

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By Niall Ferguson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (810)
    Performance
    (680)
    Story
    (674)

    The rise to global predominance of Western civilization is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five hundred years. All over the world, an astonishing proportion of people now work for Western-style companies, study at Western-style universities, vote for Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes, and even work Western hours. Yet six hundred years ago the petty kingdoms of Western Europe seemed unlikely to achieve much more than perpetual internecine warfare. It was Ming China or Ottoman Turkey that had the look of world civilizations.

    F. Ribeiro says: "Niall Ferguson's Most Enjoyable Book"
    "Fascinating Insight into Western Civ"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This book is a fascinating examination of western civilization: its origins, strengths, and weaknesses. As Ferguson sees it, western cultures developed "6 killer applications" that allowed them to succeed as empires. While one might not agree with each and every assertion that Ferguson makes, this book will no doubt stimulate discussion and consideration of these factors. What's more this book does a very nice job taking the history out of the history book and making it relevant to modern events as well as an eye toward the future. This book is well written and interesting. I recommend it for anyone interested in history as well as the intersection of historical processes with current events.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • How to Survive the Titanic: The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Frances Wilson
    • Narrated By Robin Sachs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (14)

    On the terrifying, chaotic night of April 14, 1912, while the Titanic was sinking, Bruce J. Ismay, the ship's owner, made a decision that would save his life - and end it. Ismay boarded a lifeboat meant for women and children, and within days became The Most Talked-of Man in the World. Branded a coward, he became a flesh-and-blood embodiment of Joseph Conrad's legendary eponymous character, Lord Jim.

    Pete says: "Not especially uplifting, but quite good"
    "Not especially uplifting, but quite good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    The author did a good job pulling together quite a bit of different sources to describe what happened leading up to and following the sinking of the Titanic. This was a great story and look at J. Bruce Ismay's life. The story was fascination and mostly well told. It was a bit convoluted in parts and delved into aspects that seemed only tangentially related (e.g., there's a long section relating Ismay to a character in Conrad's "Lord Jim"), but overall I would rate it as entertaining and informative. It wasn't entirely satisfying in that one never really knows whether Ismay is a selfish bastard who took a spot in a lifeboat from one of the 1500 casualties OR if he was just an opportunist who jumped in one of the last boats to leave OR if he was the secret cause in his acting as superCaptain. It almost doesn't matter what the answer is since in trying to figure out the answer to this question one may actually have insight into one's own character and thoughts. Ultimately until and unless you're put in that situation I don't think it's possible to know what you would do and that may be one of the points of this book. Recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Daniel Yergin
    • Narrated By Robert Petkoff
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (273)
    Performance
    (214)
    Story
    (214)

    A master storyteller as well as a leading energy expert, Yergin shows us how energy is an engine of global political and economic change. It is a story that spans the energies on which our civilization has been built and the new energies that are competing to replace them. From the jammed streets of Beijing to the shores of the Caspian Sea, from the conflicts in the Mideast to Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley, Yergin takes us into the decisions that are shaping our future.

    Joshua Kim says: "Best nonfiction book of 2011"
    "Mostly good; could have been better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    For the most part I really enjoyed this book. Yergin does a good job of going through the history of the geo-political universe that has led us to this point as regards energy. While this book is very U.S-centric for the most part, he does investigate energy from a broad perspective in numerous parts, which adds to the depth of this book. What's more he laces his narrative with subtle historical aspects of the energy story that give it more depth than I was expecting. For instance, he talks about the people involved and the back story in some detail. This makes the book rather long, but it wasn't annoyingly so. In addition, this book was very timely and up to date. My biggest issues with this book were the seemingly glib glossing over of certain problems, especially environmental concerns as regards hydraulic fracturing (fraking) and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. For instance, with the latter the author cites a NYTimes report that bacteria are consuming the oil and that the spill was just not that bad an environmental problem. I think this is a gross simplification of an important component of an important issue. Another problem I had with this book was that the author went into great gory detail about certain aspects of new energy (e.g., photovoltaic effect to make solar panels), yet didn't even mention certain emerging technologies that may arrive on the scene of energy production. For example, no mention of tidal power, which has been operating successfully in France for several decades. Granted this would fall in the tenths of percent of energy currently produced, but if your goal is to look forward to the "remaking of the modern world" one would think that more fully discussing these possible energy sources would be of value. Alas, no. This book is mainly about oil, coal, gas, wind, solar, and efficiency. Don't get me wrong, I HIGHLY recommend this book and think it essential reading for anyone interested in the intersection of energy, conservation, efficiency, and our complex global economy, but it could have been better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz: A True Story of World War II

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Denis Avey, Rob Broomby
    • Narrated By James Langton
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (54)
    Story
    (54)

    The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz is the extraordinary true story of a British soldier who marched willingly into the notorious concentration camp, Buna-Monowitz, known as Auschwitz III. In the summer of 1944, Denis Avey was being held in a British POW labor camp, E715, near the site of Auschwitz III. He had heard of the brutality meted out to the prisoners there and he was determined to witness what he could.

    Pete says: "Great, great story"
    "Great, great story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Who cares if it's all entirely true or not, this is a great, great story. Funny at times, gruesome in spots, this book recounts the exploits of Avery during his time in British forces of WWII. I thought it was very well written and well read. The humor is of the dry, British sort, but this book kept me listening just to find out what else could happen to Ginger (Avery's assumed name). I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Seth Grahame-Smith
    • Narrated By Scott Holst
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6779)
    Performance
    (5160)
    Story
    (5240)

    While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

    Haden says: "My friends thought I was crazy."
    "Very fun book"
    Overall

    This book was well written and well conceived. It weaves together historical events with seemingly plausible fictional events. I liked this book because at times it was hard to tell where the fiction began. Overall, a very fun book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Steven Milloy
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    In Green Hell, Steven Milloy shows how the government and environmental elites will soon have you under their Green thumb, controlling the speed you drive, the temperature of your home, even when you can retire - and that's just the tip of their melting iceberg. Milloy argues that our hasty Green policies are more harmful to society than helpful to the environment and shows how we can counter the Green agenda. We all want a healthy planet, but we don't need to live in a Green nanny state to have one.

    Rodney says: "must listen"
    "Not worth it"
    Overall

    I listened to this book hoping it would be an even treatment of these issues. Sadly, it's not worth the time or money. Very one-sided in most parts, just plain wrong in other parts, and extremely hard to get anything constructive out of this book.

    5 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Daniel H. Wilson
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    Overall
    (281)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (65)

    How do you spot a robot mimicking a human? How do you recognize and deactivate a rebel servant robot? How do you escape a murderous "smart" house, or evade a swarm of marauding robotic flies? In this dryly hilarious survival guide, roboticist Daniel H. Wilson teaches worried humans the secrets to quashing a robot mutiny.

    Gurmukh says: "Funny and Interesting Book"
    "Tongue-in-cheek"
    Overall

    This book is fantastic. It's funny, engaging, and fairly factually based. The author does a good job of incorporating recent advances in robotics into a fun and entertaining book about how to beat back the robot hoardes. I recommed this short book for a good laugh.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By John M. Barry
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (1252)
    Performance
    (603)
    Story
    (613)

    No disease the world has ever known even remotely resembles the great influenza epidemic of 1918. Presumed to have begun when sick farm animals infected soldiers in Kansas, spreading and mutating into a lethal strain as troops carried it to Europe, it exploded across the world with unequaled ferocity and speed. It killed more people in 20 weeks than AIDS has killed in 20 years; it killed more people in a year than the plagues of the Middle Ages killed in a century.

    Nancy says: "Gripping and Gory"
    "Fascinating"
    Overall

    This book is an extremely interesting review of medicine in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The author does an excellent job of reviewing the state of medicine, the men (there were apparently only men in medicine back then) involved, and how the so-called "Spanish flu" ravaged the world while World War I raged in the background. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in learning how pandemics can emerge and affect people worldwide.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Jennifer Traig
    • Narrated By Melinda Wade
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    The struggles and humiliations of adolescence are told in an unflinching, funny, surprisingly universal tale of one good Jewish girl's battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

    Dr.Watson says: "Wonderful"
    "Fantastic"
    Overall

    This is one of the best books I've assimilated in a while. Traig writes a hilariously funny account of her life, which should be made into a movie (I'm thinking of Amy Sedaris as Jenny). If you enjoy a good laugh and actually know how to detect and appreciate sarcasm and off-color humor I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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