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Scott

Enthusiastic, Skeptical, Warm-hearted, Concerned.

Santa Clara, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

89
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 70 reviews
  • 84 ratings
  • 423 titles in library
  • 67 purchased in 2014
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  • The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science - and Reality

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Chris Mooney
    • Narrated By William Hughes
    Overall
    (161)
    Performance
    (136)
    Story
    (134)

    Best-selling author Chris Mooney uses cutting-edge research to explain the psychology behind why today’s Republicans reject reality - it’s just part of who they are. From climate change to evolution, the rejection of mainstream science among Republicans is growing, as is the denial of expert consensus on the economy, American history, foreign policy, and much more. Why won’t Republicans accept things that most experts agree on? Why are they constantly fighting against the facts?

    Ian C Robertson says: "Polls Apart"
    "Very well researched and presented"
    Overall
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    In spite of a fairly even-handed critique of both sides, I doubt whether most conservatives would feel comfortable with this book.
    For me, a liberal, this book has already helped me cope with the "I don't want to hear any viewpoint except my own" attitude I get from most conservatives. I do, however, understand their insecurities a lot better. Not that there's anything that can be done about it. If you're expecting a book that will help you convince conservatives that they're wrong, this isn't it. Nor will it help you sleep at night when you think of these people doggedly holding to views that are contrary to the best interest of our country, humanity, and the planet. What it basically explains is why there is absolutely no way to convince these people they are wrong by any logical means.
    The book goes on to explain why we need conservatives in our political mix. They are loyal, decisive, and persistent. Swell. But do we really need so many of them?

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Randall Munroe
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    Overall
    (316)
    Performance
    (301)
    Story
    (297)

    Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent of the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there were a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?

    Charles says: "Good in Smaller Chunks"
    "A humorous lesson in how to think—Brilliantly read"
    Overall
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    What is it—science? Fantasy? Comedy? YES! YES! And YES!

    What's fun about this book is how really crazy-sounding Randall Munroe's answers are—but what's great about it is how serious is the science. In a way, the entire book is a lesson in how to think scientifically without losing your sense of humor. Just the kind of thing that would have Richard Feynman falling out of his chair, laughing.

    To be honest, this book is so completely zany you might want to take it in smaller bites, like I did. That said, bring it on. It's great entertainment for anyone with a wry sense of humor. Also ideal for a high school student who just needs a tiny nudge in a scientific direction, or—for that matter, any high school student.

    Plus, Wil Wheaton is at the top of his form. His narration is absolutly perfect. He's energetic, lucid, and truly brilliant. And this book is the ideal showcase for his considerable talent. For fans of Wil, he's also fabulous narrating "Ready Player One," by Ernest Cline, and this narration is every bit as excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heroes of History

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Will Durant
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (150)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (58)

    At Will Durant's death at 96, in 1981, his personal papers were dispersed among relatives, collectors, and archive houses. Twenty years later, scholar John Little discovered the previously unknown manuscript of Heroes of History in Durant's granddaughter's garage. Written shortly before he died, these 21 essays serve as an abbreviated version of Durant's best-selling, 11-volume series, The Story of Civilization.

    John says: "A celebration of history"
    "For the love of history"
    Overall
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    No one loves history more than Will Durant. And arguably, no one writes more eloquently or vividly about history than he does.
    It's hard to convey the superlative experience of listening to an audiobook written by Will Durant and narrated by Grover Gardner. History is revealed in the characters, while insights are gained through the analysis of significant events and those who witnessed them.
    Durant's writing is transcendent—his use of language triumphant.
    As for Grover Gardner—he has no equal in the reading of historical prose. With his narration, stories come to reality, and characters come to life.
    This is a wonderful book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By David Fitzgerald
    • Narrated By David Fitzgerald
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (156)
    Performance
    (146)
    Story
    (149)

    Nailed sheds light on ten beloved Christian myths, and, with evidence gathered from historians across the theological spectrum, shows how they point to a Jesus Christ created solely through allegorical alchemy of hope and imagination; a messiah transformed from a purely literary, theological construct into the familiar figure of Jesus - in short, a purely mythic Christ.

    skepticalDustin says: "If only I was willing to make my grandma cry..."
    "Nicely researched—but isn't there more?"
    Overall
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    Okay, the author did a pretty nice job of making his point regarding the non-historicality of Jesus—but why the limited point-of-view?
    It's really interesting to learn about the lack of evidence for an historical Jesus. So far, so good. However—why confine that evidence inside the box of Christian myths? It seems that a reasonably comprehensive look at the topic would include not only the perspective of prevailing myths, yet also include a broader scope, based on all available historical evidence.
    Perhaps the author is hoping to provide ammunition to those who chose to confront contemporary Christians with the lack of historical evidence of their savior.
    Anyway, it's a wonderful bit of research, and a great listen. However—I'm left wanting more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By John Brockman
    • Narrated By Antony Ferguson, Danny Campbell, Jo Anna Perrin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    In The Universe, today's most influential science writers explain the science behind our evolving understanding of The Universe and everything in it, including the cutting-edge research and discoveries that are shaping our knowledge. Lee Smolin reveals how math and cosmology are helping us create a theory of the whole universe. Neil Turok analyzes the fundamental laws of nature, what came before the big bang, and the possibility of a unified theory. And much more.

    Gary says: "Equivalant to reading 25 books"
    "Physics in flux"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not written for laymen, but as physicist to physicist, this book outlines the future direction of physics—on both the subatomic and cosmological scales.
    This is the kind of book that makes you want to live long enough to find out the answers to the fundamental questions that contemporary physicists are asking right now.
    There's nothing "dumbed-down" about this book, and the topics are wide-ranging and fascinating. I won't claim to understand all of it, but that doesn't matter—it's really, really interesting, and well put together. We owe John Brockman a debt of gratitude for compiling this wonderful collection of perspectives on modern physics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Palestine-Israel Conflict

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Dan Cohn-Sherlock, Dawoud El-Alami
    • Narrated By Richard Aspel
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    The new audiobook edition of this best-selling book gives a thorough and accessible account of the history behind the Palestine-Israeli conflict, its roots, and the possibilities for the future. The audiobook is divided into two parts - the first by an American rabbi and Professor of Judaism, and the second by a Palestinian lecturer on Islam. The result is a real insight into the situation, with each author giving full vent to the emotions behind the two sides of the debate - Cohn-Sherbok and El-Amini come together at the audiobook’s conclusion to debate the issues.

    Scott says: "At last—a balanced presentation of opposing views!"
    "At last—a balanced presentation of opposing views!"
    Overall
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    Story

    If this book persuades you that either the Israelis or the Arabs are the villains in the current Arab/Israeli conflict, then perhaps you need to listen to it again.
    Both sides of this issue have been thoughtfully presented—without any ranting or irrationality—in this remarkable and comprehensive analysis of the history leading up to the situation in today's Middle East.
    Suffice it to say there is great tragedy—and far too much militarism—on both sides of this conflict, and I will not presume to weigh in on either side. Only this—if we are to understand the situation in the Middle East today, the perspectives voiced in this book must be understood and acknowledged.
    I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Michael B. Oren
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (837)
    Performance
    (438)
    Story
    (437)

    In Israel and the West, it is called the Six Day War. In the Arab world, it is known as the June War or, simply, as "the Setback". Never has a conflict so short, unforeseen, and largely unwanted by both sides so transformed the world. The Yom Kippur War, the war in Lebanon, the Camp David accords, the controversy over Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the intifada, and the rise of Palestinian terror are all part of the outcome of those six days.

    Patrick says: "Great overview of Middle East troubles"
    "Essential background on the Arab/Israeli conflict"
    Overall
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    This book is an important recounting of the Six Day War, and also of the historical events leading up to it. The writing is slightly biased toward the Israeli point of view, yet this is understandable, given the magnitude of the Israeli victory in the conflict.
    Personally, I chose to pair my listening of this book with "The Palestine-Israel Conflict" by Dan Cohn-Sherlock and Dawoud El-Alami, to gain a more up-to-date and hopefully more balanced perspective. This remains a sensitive and difficult issue, and hopefully listening to these books will serve to break down existing prejudices and pave the way to greater understanding and compassion.
    Robert Whitfield is ideal as the narrator of this account.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Frank Wilcze
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (26)

    Our understanding of nature's deepest reality has changed radically, but almost without our noticing, over the past 25 years. Transcending the clash of older ideas about matter and space, acclaimed physicist Frank Wilczek explains a remarkable new discovery: matter is built from almost weightless units, and pure energy is the ultimate source of mass. He calls it "The Lightness of Being." Space is no mere container, empty and passive. It is a dynamic Grid, modern ether, and its spontaneous activity creates and destroys particles.

    robert says: "We are part of the cosmic dance."
    "WHY is he WHISPERING???"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like this topic a lot—This book covers many great concepts in cosmology and theoretical physics, and they're beautifully presented. It's a significant contribution to that class of books which helps the listener piece together a consistent view of dark energy, dark matter, and the underlying structure of space itself.
    One of the most interesting discussions is on the history of the ether, and how the fashion of this concept has ebbed and flowed over the past one hundred and twenty years. Wary of this antiquated term, we're left with a description of space as some kind of soup of particle pairs that spontaneously appear and annihilate, due to the basic uncertainty of quantum fluctuations.
    However, what I found strange about this book was what it did NOT discuss. The fact that there was so much about spontaneously created and annihilated particle pairs begs the question—why is there no name given to this phenomenon? If the idea is truly distinct from John Wheeler's 1955 Quantum Foam proposal, then why is there no comparison drawn? And if space is full of this phenomenon, what is the possible extent of it, relative to the visible matter in the universe? Is the author purposefully avoiding questions to which he has no good answer? That doesn't seem scientific at all.
    Furthermore, the predominant view of this book is from a particle-based perspective,
    although there are many tantalizing references to quantum field theory—but no in-depth discussion of the specific nature of bosons vs. their associated fields.
    Overall, it feels like there are so many opportunities lost in this presentation of a truly fascinating subject.

    Now for the worst of it. The narration is intolerable. Walter Dixon narrates with a strange, affected whisper that's both distracting and demeaning. His unyielding, emotionally-charged tone is the kind of voice you'd expect of a dramatic fairy story told to a five-year-old. I've listened to more than three hundred audiobooks, and this reading is one of the worst. This is a book on SCIENCE, Folks—so what's with the reader's continual high-drama, hush-hush inflections? I only survived by continually mocking this ridiculous, over-the-top narration. Not that that's the whole of it—you've got to admire how Mr. Dixon can plow through a long, complicated sentence without taking a breath—but making a complex sentence go by quickly is NOT the best way to make it clear to a listener. Furthermore, at random intervals, his tone becomes strangely strident, making the listening experience both continuously frustrating and occasionally uncomfortable. You have to wonder—doesn't Gildan Media have a director to help wayward narrators match their tone appropriately to the source material?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6238)
    Performance
    (5809)
    Story
    (5812)

    Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

    Paige says: "Not his Wheal-house"
    "Wil Wheaton's reading is the best part—but..."
    Overall
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    Story

    John Scalzi's Sci Fi is supposed to be good, clean fun, and this book gets pretty close—but then, once you see where it's going, there are few surprises left in store. Fortunately, there's a lot of worthwhile humor in the story, which may explain its appeal.
    I love Wil Wheaton's reading, but they must have used that software that squishes words together, and it seems they had it cranked up way too high, leaving the narration weirdly rushed and mechanical—not Wil's fault at all.
    Furthermore, it get's pretty old when Scalzi's wording rarely varies from something "this person said" to something "that person said" then back to something "this person said" in rapid succession, page after page. It really seems like the author didn't pay any attention to the blatant repetitiveness of his writing.
    Honestly, this book doesn't hold a candle to "Ready Player One" by Ernest Kline—also read by Wil Wheaton.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Origin: A Technothriller

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By J. A. Konrath
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    Overall
    (414)
    Performance
    (381)
    Story
    (384)

    When linguist Andrew Dennison is yanked from his bed by the Secret Service and taken to a top secret facility in the desert, he has no idea he’s been brought there to translate the words of an ancient demon. He joins pretty but cold veterinarian Sun Jones, eccentric molecular biologist Dr. Frank Belgium, and a hodge-podge of religious, military, and science personnel to try and figure out if the creature is, indeed, Satan. But things quickly go bad, and very soon Andy isn’t just fighting for his life, but the lives of everyone on earth.

    Nathan says: "Awesome!"
    "Religious bombasity disguised as science fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I hated this book for so many reasons, not the least of which is that the title is misleading—it's a morality play, not a technothriller.

    I got so tired of all the drivel about who's religion is correct, together with all the characters' guilt, remorse, and desiring repentance. That same theme is played out over and over with every single character—far too improbably to represent any real collection of people.

    Before the end of the first chapter it became obvious—the book is just a blatant excuse for J. A. Konrath to burden us with his narrow-minded views on religion, Jesus, God, the Devil, God—and Jesus. Sound good to you? Okay—lap it up. For my part, I skipped most of the book to find out if any possible ending could justify all the tedious religiosity that drips from every chapter. And the answer is—NO!

    Some folks who reviewed this book seem to be impressed that it was gory, or creepy. For me, it was far less gory or creepy than just about any realistic history of WWI. I can only assume that the people who liked this book are mired in the same kind of religious conundrum that compelled Konrath write the book in the first place.

    Oh—Luke Daniels is a terrific narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

    • UNABRIDGED (57 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By William L. Shirer
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (3540)
    Performance
    (2574)
    Story
    (2583)

    Since its publication in 1960, William L. Shirer’s monumental study of Hitler’s German empire has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of the 20th century’s blackest hours. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world. With millions of copies in print around the globe, it has attained the status of a vital and enduring classic.

    G. House Sr. says: "A Tale of Momumental Evil, Stupidity and Hatred"
    "Excellent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a chilling and superlative insight into the politics of the Third Reich. We've heard of the battles, the bombings, the Holocaust, the slaughter—but this book details the political maneuvering of Adolph Hitler and his gang of pseudo-idealogues in a very unique way.
    William L. Shirer was there, and his perspective as a correspondent through the rise, the fall, and the war trials, carries intrigue, adventure, and fascination.
    Grover Gardner is, of course, the best at this kind of reading, and is flawless.
    Highly disturbing, highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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