Niven weaves a tale about a motley collection of explorers, brought together by a weak but manipulative (VERY manipulative) leader, who explore a Ring World from (predictably) the human team member's perspective. The title almost gives the story away, and much of the story seems like it came from a Star Trek novella (yes, the human has sex with an alien).
Still, the interaction between the characters is good, and the descriptions of the physical aspects of the ringworld and its inhabitants make for a decent story reminiscent of Clark's Rama series. The influence on pop culture isn't missed either; the HALO series of video games leans heavily into Niven's uniquely constructed ring world, and the characters could be dropped neatly into any science fiction movie.
Overall, a worthwhile read, but not if you are looking for something profound.
A well written, objective scientific review of how our minds help us over ride our baser instincts...most of the time. This book sounds much like a philosophical doctoral thesis that tries to tie in the philosophies of the world, from Buddhism to Christianity.That aside, it does provide some key insights into human nature and helps one to overcome understand primal urges, and how to manage them. The chapters are logical in progression, and frequent historical examples (from philosophical texts and actual history) are frequently given to support assertions.
I would add that this book endeavors to identify biological and psychological bases for everything from charity to spirituality. It is not for those who fear having their religious beliefs challenged.
A quick listen by a talented presenter. I listened to this on long runs and was never bored.
Grabbed this book because I read and enjoyed Starship Troopers so much. I figured an author that managed a successful marriage of real-world military experience, leadership lessons, and science fiction deserved more of my attention. I readily identified with Starship Troopers because much of it mirrors my experience (except fighting bugs - I never fought bugs).
SIASL is a different animal. This book moved far away from the personal military narrative that was Starship Troopers and began to delve into personal relationships, religion, sexuality, and intergalactic law. This may be familiar territory for some, and granted, the entire story takes place on earth, but the story doesn't cover the same timeless ideas that Starship Troopers does. Summarily, SIASL is showing its age.
It is worth saying that many of Heinlein's predictions about these areas have come true, and it is amusing to read them through the eyes of the story's main character. However, the main character's ties to Mars are essentially the only science fiction aspect, and the gist of the story reminds me of many "character out of place" stories pushed out by Hollywood, and the resulting confusion/ hilarity that ensues. This story is heavy on the confusion, and low on the hilarity.
Bright points include the author's assessment of megachurches, which figure prominentely in the story, and the main character's assessment of the effectiveness of tying one's shoes together vs. tying them correctly: "One way holds the shoes on the feet. The other way is only good for lying down." The performance is also a high point - the reader personifies a wide variety of characters with a high degree of effectiveness.
After hearing a personal recommendation from Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame, I jumped to download this book. Knowing Levitt to be a levelheaded, logical, and pragmatic economist with a tremendous ability to assess cause and effect, I figured that this book would cover the basics of how and why violence blossomed in America. This came on the heels of my most recent reading of Pinker's "Better Angels of Our Nature", and exhausting but tremendously informative tome that covers the history, motivations, and science of violence in the human race.
As a result, I found "Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun" to be...not what I expected, but still an interesting listen. As the title implies, the books outlines author Canada's personal experience growing up in rough neighborhoods, and his personal choices to fix that. Canada tells an amazing story about how rough life in the big city can be, and compares it to the new threats that youth faces in the forgotten ghettos today. He also describes how he dove head-first into these rough areas to tackle the problem, and how his methods brought a surprising degree of success.
I was taken aback by the Canada's assertion that certain types of violence, applied strategically, can cause more serious violence to be mitigated, but his point is believable in light of his personal experience in this area.
If you are looking for a scientific study about how violence happens and why, look elsewhere (I would recommend the aforementioned Pinker book). If you are looking for a fast read that combines personal experience with one man's successful efforts to quell violence in an area he calls home, your search is over.
For starters, "Sharon" is a he, not a she. And Sharon presents a well researched, logically laid out argument for how evolution sometimes bites us in the butt. In a nutshell, the same genetic characteristics that allowed your forefathers to survive the plague of the dark ages are likely the root cause of some present-day genetic affliction (in this instance, hemochromotisis). It appears that sometimes nature may trade the ability to survive in the short term for the ability to survive in the long term. Moalem points out multiple examples of how genetic evolution can have second and third order effects...and they are not always for the better.
This is a quick listen that doesn't bore. If I had one complaint, it would be the heavy-handed preaching about evolutionary theory at the beginning of the book, which will undoubtedly grate on the ears of creationists and make them refuse to listen to the REST of the book...which is phenomenal.
Although I can't argue much with the casting of characters in the recent movie, the movie pales in comparison to the book. Hearing thoughts and background provides a richer experience that helps to crystallize what the author meant to say, or more correctly, meant to express. The tapestry of this story comes alive with imagined situations that give depth to the protagonist, the people she interacts with, and the scenario she is forced into.
Strongly recommend this - it is a quick "can't put it down" listen.
I hated this book when I started it - Chua is presumptuous, self absorbed, and brutal with her children. She looks down on Western culture, brags unflinchingly about herself, and is opinionated beyond belief.
But then there are the results of her actions.
She herself is an accomplished academic. Her daughters, who are key to the story, are superior musicians. She's a published author, for cryin' out loud. But at what price? Driving her children to practice repetitively with blatant, negative criticism probably doesn't do much for their egos. But the results are uncontested, and the validity of Chua's key Methodology is clear:
1. Make your children practice to be excellent.
2. By being excellent they will gain recognition.
This is wrapped up in the assumption that a child does NOT know what is best for his/her own development...a parent must choose that path for the child.
The first step is always the hardest. As the father of 3 children, I completely agree that most parents (not just Western ones) lose the battle here. However, I'm not sure Chua's method of derisive criticism and aggressive bullying is the best way to win the battle...and she herself admits that it didn't work with her second daughter.
It IS important to make children realize that although they may be hard-headed, WE as parents are more hard-headed than they are...and we have a LOT more experience in what works. The way to do that...is up to you.
Dry at times, but insightful as well, this book looks carefully at the Google founders from their startup efforts in college to the mammoth machine they control today. Emphasizing Google's unique mixture of genius and naivete, Auletta is simultaneously critical and in awe. His story provides a unique insight into Google's efforts to maintain its "small company" culture despite its overwhelming presence around the world.
Much can be gleaned on the nature of Silicon Valley startups and the creative application of great ideas, and Google's lessons can be easily applied to anyone who wants to pursue their passion. That said, the author sometimes heads off on tangents that don't immediately seem relevent, which detracts from the impact of the book overall. Google's cast of characters is immense, but detailed biographies of even some bit players slowed the flow of the story.
Generally well written, well researched, and applicable to many walks of life.
A very structured, analytical discussion about how the human mind perceives and assesses the world for intelligent decision making. In a nutshell, we operate in two speeds, as indicated by the title of the book. The reading is sometimes dry, but the ideas are refreshing and insightful.
The book's nonlinear organization makes it possible to start at any chapter.Each section is broken down into an explanation of the theory, supporting evidence, and some examples of application in the real world.
On a personal level, reading through the various sections caused me to rethink how I approach certain problems, personalities, and life decisions. The concepts posed by Kahneman help explain why and how people make decisions, and clearly show the bigger implications with multiple examples of everyday life.
Kahneman is no pundit or pop culture author in this area; he has spent his life as an academic and researcher, and has received a Nobel prize for his work.
This is not a fast moving book, so it may drag out a long bike ride or run. That said, sometimes the principles discussed require a short pause to digest, especially if listening while engaged in an activity that requires concentration.
Mary Roach demonstrates a curiosity for all things unusual, and her investigations in "Bonk" are both candid and amusing. Although the book wanders a bit, Roach's self-deprecating style and great sense of humor keep the reading light, and her questions are consistent with those anyone might ask about how a scientist investigates "the act"...albeit with a red face.
In Mythbuster's style, Roach's self-guided inquiries into how sex and research meet are only slightly scientific, but almost always thoroughly amusing. Be prepared for candid discussions that may not be well-received in car full of kids (or neighbors).
Although one can't answer specific questions by using "Bonk" as a reference, the book does answer a great many questions that may have never been asked ....in the first place.
Well written and easy to read (hear).
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