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PHIL

San Diego, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

ratings
159
REVIEWS
154
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
130
HELPFUL VOTES
374

  • Meeting at Grand Central: Understanding the Social and Evolutionary Roots of Cooperation

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Lee Cronk, Beth L. Leech.
    • Narrated By Claire Christie
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    From the family to the workplace to the marketplace, every facet of our lives is shaped by cooperative interactions. Yet everywhere we look, we are confronted by proof of how difficult cooperation can be - snarled traffic, polarized politics, overexploited resources, social problems that go ignored. The benefits to oneself of a free ride on the efforts of others mean that collective goals often are not met. But compared to most other species, people actually cooperate a great deal. Why is this?

    PHIL says: "Brilliant -- so many "aha" moments"
    "Brilliant -- so many "aha" moments"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have been looking for this book for more than a year: a clear entry point, and survey, of a cluster of ideas within economics, dealing with motives and dynamics within any organization, family group or society, toward cooperation or cheating. This is, to me, the most central concern of society, the greatest burden of any family, company, society, legal system, or deal. It is the central unspoken topic of politics: who are the free riders gaming and thus threatening the system? The rich? The poor? Various terms relate to this: agency problems (the people you hire or trust have motives to cheat), information asymmetry (different players know different things and exploit this); game theory (with various situations illustrating choices to cooperate or defect, such as "the prisoner's dilemma" and "the tragedy of the commons"). This book provides a lucid, carefully assembled, entry point and survey of these kinds of topics. I love a book that maps out and gives names to things I experience every day, that gives me a higher and clearer view and understanding of these things. In my search for this book, I have assembled many more technical books (which quickly leave the plain English discussion for lots of math), and now at last I feel I can have the comprehension to move into these more advanced levels. But this book is fine in itself, for the popular audience. There is much basis for wisdom and better choices here.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Financial Literacy for Managers: Finance and Accounting for Better Decision-Making

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Richard A. Lambert
    • Narrated By Kaleo Griffith
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    The language of business. In order to understand how your business is performing right now and to evaluate, assess, and devise new strategies to boost future performance, you need information. Financial statements are a critical source of the information you need. In direct and simple terms, Richard A. Lambert, Miller-Sherrerd Professor of Accounting at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, demystifies financial statements and concepts and shows you how you can apply this information to make better business decisions for long-term profit.

    Willy says: "Pleasantly Surprised"
    "Clear, practical, tremendous value"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of my favorite audiobooks ever (and I've listened to hundreds). I took financial and managerial accounting classes a few years ago. This worked as a refresher and went beyond that into solid, basic finance topics, very effectively. The information is useful to me for personal finance decisions as well (such as, using discounted value of future cash flows in decision support). Rarely have I found so much useful information so well and so compactly delivered. I will listen to it many times. I hope for more content form this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life

    • ABRIDGED (2 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Robert Lacey
    • Narrated By Ron Silver
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Based on interviews with Lansky's family, his close friends and criminal associates, law enforcement experts, and using previously unpublished documents written by Lansky himself, this is both the biography of a mob boss and a social history of American crime.

    PHIL says: "A good, straight, factual account"
    "A good, straight, factual account"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am grateful for the lack of razzle-dazzle and the straight-faced discipline here of sticking to known facts. Lansky was a cautious man with a sharp memory and a good head for numbers. He was more honest in dealings than his cohorts generally, and would avoid direct participation in the worst excesses of organized criminals, but he would team with some with no such scruples, such as Siegel and Luciano. Lansky was not the sensationalized demi-god of international criminal finance he is sometimes exalted as (a narrative which might dovetail with the mythos of shadowy international Jewish conspiracies). There were plenty of people he could not bribe and corrupt. We hear this in the later stages of his life, where he was a guy with a weak heart and limited assets fleeing the Justice Department from place to place. His interactions with Israel, as he attempted to use the right of return to emigrate (and to die) there, were interesting and well told from a legal point of view. Though Lansky had made some efforts in aid of the combatants founding Israel, and put on a full court press with forceful lawyers to make his case, the Israeli justice system appears (in my opinion) to have come to the right conclusion in ultimately rejecting his petition for citizenship. Lansky's children are given brief roles, and they turned out to be as flawed as anyone, and did not come away with great fortunes. Often stories like this are embellished a lot, maybe for sales. But I prefer this approach.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Scandal!: Amazing Tales of Scandals that Shocked the World and Shaped Modern Business

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By The Editors of Fortune Magazine
    • Narrated By Dennis Holland
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    Consider, for example, the case of the Swedish match king. At one time, Ivar Kreuger, manufactured almost half of the world's matches, with monopolies in 16 countries. He had so much money that he was a reliable lender to many countries, becoming known as the 'saviour of Europe' for his willingness to give aid to banks crippled by World War I. At the time of the 1929 market crash, his was the most widely held stock in the world. When he killed himself three years later, the whole thing went up in flames.

    Christine Renner says: "So much scandal...so little time"
    "Reads like a magazine, for better or worse"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    By "better," I mean it is light and entertaining, as business fare goes, and has enough detail to give a sketch of the histories, personalities and so on. By "worse" I mean it dwells on superficial but attention-getting things like the perks of the scandal-mongers and their more glaring eccentricities, rather than really digging into deal details. In this phase of my business-finance education and sophistication, I tire quickly of the list of silly consumer goods and the mistresses and such that many of these characters pursue. So, I listen to this as a "relaxation" business book, when I am a little fatigued or distracted. In those times when I am more focused and really wanting to learn with precision, this shallow flashiness bores me. A person earlier or less sophisticated in business studies may benefit from the listenable quality of this -- I would term it "sugar coated."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • How the Stock Market Works

    • ORIGINAL (9 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Ramon P. DeGennaro
    Overall
    (118)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (98)

    This course is an introduction to the stock market and stock investing for novices and experienced investors alike. Professor DeGennaro uses simple analogies to explain the origin of stocks and other securities, as well as their relative risks. He stresses the danger of trying to beat the market by trying to pick winners, predict price trends, or otherwise find opportunities that other investors have missed.

    Eric Dudeck says: "Bad analogies and useless anecdotes"
    "A very fine primer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have recommended this to several friends who are novices in this area. It stands alongside "A Random Walk Down Wall Street" as a favorite introduction to investment thinking. These ideas have earned my trust in the markets. It ranges beyond stocks to give some limited, basic explanations of other investments and markets.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Posthumanities)

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Timothy Morton
    • Narrated By Dave Wright
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Global warming is perhaps the most dramatic example of what Timothy Morton calls "hyperobjects" - entities of such vast temporal and spatial dimensions that they defeat traditional ideas about what a thing is in the first place. In this book, Morton explains what hyperobjects are and their impact on how we think, how we coexist with one another and with nonhumans, and how we experience our politics, ethics, and art.

    PHIL says: "Imperfect, sprawling, hypnotic, brilliant"
    "Imperfect, sprawling, hypnotic, brilliant"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This work has changed my thinking and everyday experience -- my highest praise. It's not that I swallow whole every assertion made there about a narrative flow of the "end of the world," though a credible if very non-rigorous model is sketched. This is not a formal work trying to bring a microscope to the exact problems we face as a species. What uniquely grabbed me was the radical approach to meaning and experience that peels off every comforting and supposedly "safe" surface or refuge and instills an amazing vertigo and bracing penetrating discomfort about -- pretty much whatever one clings to. I admire someone with the courage to rip into my stodgy mental structures and at least shake them up. And aside from its content, its form is arresting too. I think this a great performance in the audiobook genre specifically. The narrator's intonations coupled with the writing style make it a work and experience of -- philosophizing art -- an incisive commentary and a prose poem in the same moment. The least appealing parts to my mind were perfectly fine (and occasionally brilliant) descriptions of modern art works and their rhetorics -- I preferred when the author put his mental scalpel right into the stuff of everyday experience and thought, and turned the same in effect inside out. If one wants to open doors of perception, there's no need to make recourse to drugs. Just strap this sucker on and take a walk, anywhere. It is like walking inside a vast many-faceted work of art.
    People more versed in such schools as poststructuralism may not have this beginners' delight in the arresting clashes with the comfortable I find here. That's my next stop.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • How to Write LOI's and Term Sheets: An Executive's Guide to Drafting Clear Legal Documents Before Bringing in the Lawyers

    • UNABRIDGED (35 mins)
    • By Jonathan Handel
    • Narrated By David H. Lawrence XVII
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Read this book before you do your next tech deal. Here's why: Executives are often called upon to write letters of intent (LOIs), term sheets, and deal proposals before "bringing in the lawyers." These documents are almost more important than the actual contract, because they establish the framework of the deal. The wrong phrasing or an omitted point can result in a flawed deal, frustrating negotiations, a loss of leverage, and unnecessary legal expense.

    PHIL says: "A very good start in this area"
    "A very good start in this area"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think this is a terrific use of 35 minutes for those interested. Of course only so much can be imparted in this time. Also there is a fine audiobook here, Dead On Arrival by Roger Royce, that may be of interest to you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Sceptred Isle Vol 6: The First British Empire 1702-1760

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Christopher Lee
    • Narrated By Anna Massey
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Christopher Lee's history of Britain provides the definitive radio account of the events and personalities that have shaped our nation. Volume 6, covering the years 1702 to 1760, looks at several firsts: the reign of the first Hanoverian king, George I; the man known as Britain's first prime minister, Robert Walpole; the first renditions of 'Rule Britannia' and 'God Save the King'; and, importantly, the first appearance of gin!

    PHIL says: "I love the series, not this one so much"
    "I love the series, not this one so much"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had just finished a print book on this era, A Very English Deceit by Malcolm Balen (centering on the South Seas Bubble but giving a lot of color of the times) which I think spoiled me. Having seen a bit of the depth and richness of Christopher Wren's architecture, alongside bits of squalor in London, next to the twists and subtleties of Walpole's political machinations, I found this audio a bit flat and spare in its depictions. I do intend to continue listening to this series though, as overall I find them very rewarding. I don't regret listening to it, but might expect a tad more here in both scope and detail.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Mark Forsyth
    • Narrated By Don Hagen
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    In his inimitably entertaining and wonderfully witty style, he takes apart famous phrases and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or quip like Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming to achieve literary immortality or just hoping to deliver the perfect one-liner, The Elements of Eloquence proves that you don’t need to have anything important to say - you simply need to say it well.

    PHIL says: "Who knew rhetoric could be so much fun?"
    "Who knew rhetoric could be so much fun?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    (Yes, that's a rhetorical question.)
    This is not for everybody, but this is probably a bookish crowd, right? (We have a second rhetorical question already? Oops, and there's another?.) If you are delighted by English words and phrases, I recommend this. The author almost dances through it, tossing jokes everywhere. The narrator is ideal -- I wonder whether my laughing aloud on my listening-walks is at the wit of the author (and his often smartly goofy portrayals of very ostensibly serious writings) or the narrator's understated puckish style that always seems casual and yet right on the edge of laughter. This is a nice trip through English poetry and literature of the last few hundred years too. There are many little deconstructions of Shakespeare, also Dickens, William Blake, a bit of Jane Austen, some Churchill, on and on.
    I see the author has other books here, and I won't hesitate to snap them up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co.

    • ABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By William D. Cohan
    • Narrated By David Aaron Baker
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were the weapons of choice at Wall Street investment bank Lazard Frères & Co. For more than a century, the mystique and reputation of the "Great Men" who worked there allowed the firm to garner unimaginable profits, social cachet, and outsized influence in the halls of power. But in the mid-1980s, their titanic egos started getting in the way, and the Great Men of Lazard jeopardized all they had built.

    PHIL says: "Gossipy, shallow; but with limited virtue"
    "Gossipy, shallow; but with limited virtue"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was dismayed. I liked other works by this author. Here was an opportunity to map out a structure of these talented people networking, climbing, digging into the lattices of this massive corporate economy and culture at top levels, yet oddly, in the manner of old fashioned merchant bankers. Instead, we hear plenty of these haughty continental type fellows as if suddenly vaulted to some high in-group club which is itself only sketchily portrayed. Then the mutual sniping and titillating parts start. This cries out for more substantive detail. We hear plenty about every superficial aspect of the culture, such as the backward (or merely continental?) barbaric approach to many of the women working there. (Grotesque, making me happy I'm not there, even now.) OK, this is a valid part of the sociological descriptive approach, but hey, this is a book on banks, a finance work, not a brothel or a work of titillation. Or is it? A little is okay, but it this level of stuff can't carry the story at all. Ditto for the media wars surroundilng the infighting. There is mild utility to learning this, as it is a feature of NYC finance and power games, OK. It did feature into the story. Again, I differ with the author's weighting of these aspects as a driver of the book. If this kind of snipy muck (some might see Shakespearean tragedy, but I would say, without the pacing and soaring language; more conducive to needing an air sickness bag) satisfies the target audience, well, congrats to the author and publishers. I am a big finance book consumer, but apparently not this target audience. (I compare "High Financier" by N. Ferguson which had some similar features but gave me a better feel for the core of the matter: the deals being done, the challenges bested. Maybe it is too slow for some contemporary listeners' tastes.) There is some useful history here, some observations of our recent times, and it's not a total waste of time. Hence two stars, not one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dollar Trap: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Eswar S. Prasad
    • Narrated By Dennis Holland
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    The U.S. dollar’s dominance seems under threat. The near collapse of the U.S. financial system in 2008-2009, political paralysis that has blocked effective policymaking, and emerging competitors such as the Chinese renminbi have heightened speculation about the dollar’s looming displacement as the main reserve currency. Yet, as The Dollar Trap powerfully argues, the financial crisis, a dysfunctional international monetary system, and U.S. policies have paradoxically strengthened the dollar’s importance.

    PHIL says: "The best currency in a shaky neighborhood"
    "The best currency in a shaky neighborhood"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One needn't agree with the thesis here (that the dollar has reasons to remain the world's primary reserve currency for some time to come) to benefit from this smart tour of big issues in global money. The US dollar's demise has been proclaimed countless times, and for a host of reasons (many reviewed here), it keeps bobbing up to the surface for another interval as the most important global currency. Much of it might be called its enduring network externalities -- it serves needs no other currency can -- and the other contenders for various reasons haven't shown themseves ready for prime time. This continues to provide Americans an "exorbitant privilege" (a French politician's onetime term of resentment), so it is worth focusing on -- as life could be quite different in a world of faded dollar hegemony. Might as well enjoy it while it lasts, while being mentally limber for what might come next. Here I also sensed a subtext -- the USA has some unique qualities of internal robustness and stability (sometimes despite what seems like our best efforts) that this enduring buoyancy reflects. We are still in many ways a haven from world chaos, for people as well as their money.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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