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Darkcoffee

Allen, TX, United States
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  • Cycles of Time

  • An Extraordinary New View of the Universe
  • By: Roger Penrose
  • Narrated by: Bruce Mann
  • Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 127
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 96
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 96

From the best-selling author of The Emperor’s New Mind and The Road to Reality, a groundbreaking book that provides new views on three of cosmology’s most profound questions: What, if anything, came before the Big Bang? What is the source of order in our universe? What is its ultimate future?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Difficult, Awe-inducing and Fascinating

  • By Darkcoffee on 05-29-11

Difficult, Awe-inducing and Fascinating

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-29-11

Wow, this is a challenging book. I was tempted to stop listening at various points, but it was usually there that Penrose dropped in a gem of insight or an utterly fascinating speculation on the nature of the universe, and on I went. I finally settled in when I realized that I was listening to a unique book: it is written for the general reader, but it doesn't try to soft pedal any of the complexity of thought that leads to the conclusions. In the end, I loved it.

What is the book about? Penrose is proposing an admittedly conjectural notion of universal cosmology. He is, in fact, making a new argument for something like the balanced beauty of the old Steady State idea of the universe's orgin and life while using all the new stuff on black holes, the cosmic background radiation and black holes. He's attempting to reconcile the Big Bang with a steady state by arguing that at the extreme end of things -- the heat death of the universe after all the black holes have evaporated and all that remains are mass-less protons, gravitons and such -- the geometry of the universe will match the geometry necessarily in place at the time of the Big Bang. And things could, thus, start all over again or, as Penrose puts it, bounce. We could be somewhere in the midst of an endless cycle of expanding and "bouncing" universes.

Whether or not you buy Penrose's conclusion, the road there is hard, awe-inducing and fascinating.

I highly recommending downloading his cool illustration packet, many handdrawn, and referring to them from time to time, as well.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Known and Unknown

  • By: Donald Rumsfeld
  • Narrated by: Donald Rumsfeld
  • Length: 30 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 503
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 316
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 317

With the same directness that defined his career in public service, Donald Rumsfeld's memoir is filled with previously undisclosed details and insights about the Bush administration, 9/11, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also features Rumsfeld's unique and often surprising observations on eight decades of history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Inside view of five decades in politics

  • By Brooks on 02-19-11

Good Straightforward Account, Better Toward End

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-03-11

A directly written account of most of the major episodes in Rumsfeld's political and business life. It becomes more interesting and less hagiographic toward the end, which is clearly still simmering in Rumsfeld's mind at the time of writing. Interesting inside takes on the inside politics of the Bush admininstration--or at least it will be interesting for those who are not wearing ideological blinders. Rumsfeld isn't. This should be a test for leftie listeners and for those who defend Bush policies without even thoughtful reservation due to the left's decade of slime and ad hominem attack--are YOU as open-minded as Donald Rumsfeld? I felt challenged by this obviously self-written memoir. Rumsfeld is a good leader of a particular Midwestern cultural stamp and someone whose intelligence and forthrightness ought to be an example to all politicians.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Ascent of Money

  • A Financial History of the World
  • By: Niall Ferguson
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,624
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,581
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,569

Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of finance, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it's the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it's the chains of labor. Niall Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • An informative grind

  • By Sinjin on 01-08-12

Part one tour de force; part two slower going

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-26-10

The first chapters (up through Ferguson's elucidating chapter on how insurance works) is a wonderfully clear account of how financial systems evolved and how they work. Unfortunate, Ferguson gets on a few obvious personal hobby-horses in the last half of the book and if you don't agree with his politics (he makes a point of calling American Republicans idiots, which immediately alienates half his audience to no purpose, especially on a subject such as this. One supposes he is attempting to keep his academic Facebook friends list from going down). In any case, there are some excellent insights and generally good writing throughout and the book is definitely a worthwhile listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • My Manchester United Years

  • By: Bobby Charlton
  • Narrated by: Christian Rodska
  • Length: 1 hr and 55 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

Bobby Charlton is Manchester United through and through. He was a member of the original "Busby Babes" and has devoted his career to the club, playing in 754 games over 17 years. During that period he won everything the game had to offer, played alongside such greats as Best and Law, suffered devastating defeats, and was involved in one of the greatest football tragedies of all time. Here, for the very first time, he tells the story of those United years.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • For All

  • By Sean Downey on 09-09-18

A Fine Reminiscence from an English Football Great

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-09-10

A touching couple of hours of reminiscence from an English football great. It's a bit twee at times, but overall a great piece of history for anybody interested in the history of soccer or Manchester United, the greatest team of them all.

  • The Yosemite

  • By: John Muir
  • Narrated by: Michael Zebulon
  • Length: 1 hr and 30 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 98
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 68
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 69

John Muir, who was born in Scotland and emigrated to America in 1849, was an advocate of U.S. forest conservation and was largely responsible for the establishment of Sequoia and Yosemite national parks in California. Muir has emerged as perhaps the greatest prophet of an era which finds itself suddenly aware of the urgent need to care for our planet.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Muir at his descriptive best

  • By Darkcoffee on 09-02-10

Muir at his descriptive best

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-02-10

John Muir provides a wonderful description of the Yosemite valley and paints a picture between the lines of the delightful and adventurous time he spent living there. The high point of the essay is his description of Yosemite Falls in different seasons. Love his claim to have seen a "moon-bow" hovering in the spume! A great portrait of a place, a time, and a very unusual, perceptive, athletic and fearless writer.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Road to Serfdom

  • By: Friedrich A. Hayek
  • Narrated by: Michael Edwards
  • Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 222
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 68
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 74

Originally published in 1944, The Road to Serfdom has profoundly influenced many of the world's great leaders: from Orwell and Churchill in the mid-40s, to Reagan and Thatcher in the 80's. The book offers persuasive warnings against the dangers of central planning, along with what Orwell described as "an eloquent defense of laissez faire capitalism."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A little dry perhaps but hardly boring!

  • By Kelly on 06-22-10

Classic of Political and Economic Thought

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-05-10

A simple thesis: socialism inevitably leads to totalitarianism, whether this is intended or not by those who advocate and enact socialist policies. Totalitarianism crushes the individual and eventually destroys all individual rights. This is the most important book on political philosophy and economics of the twentieth century. Good thing I was listening, because if I were reading and underlining the succinct, telling and amazing lines of this work, I would end up underlining the entire book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Rational Optimist

  • How Prosperity Evolves
  • By: Matt Ridley
  • Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
  • Length: 13 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,263
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 987
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 994

Life is getting better at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down all across the globe. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people's lives as never before.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Delightful Case for Things Looking Up

  • By Darkcoffee on 06-09-10

Delightful Case for Things Looking Up

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-09-10

An extended argument that human intelligence and the well-being it allows is created, collected, maintained, distributed and extended by trade. Trade is "ideas having sex." Ridley builds his case with point after point then examines all the usual counterexamples and objections, taking them out one by one. It's a wonderful book. Of course it helped that he was preaching to the choir with me. What's most delightful is Ridley's goodhearted skewering of pessimists -- the technological and environmentalist Jeremiahs in particular -- with the most obvious of weaknesses is their flimsy cases. He's almost embarrassed for them. Ridley is a bit repetitive at times, but maintains a wry humor and lighthearted tone throughout, which makes his writing all the more effective. He's a good writer and he's right about everything.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • The Modern Scholar: The Anglo-Saxon World

  • By: Prof. Michael D. C. Drout
  • Narrated by: Michael D. C. Drout
  • Length: 7 hrs and 50 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 689
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 437
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 421

Had the Angles and Saxons not purposefully migrated to the isles of the Britons and brought with them their already-well-developed use of language, Angelina Jolie may never have appeared in the movie Beowulf. Professor Michael D.C. Drout is at his best when lecturing on the fascinating history, language, and societal adaptations of the Anglo-Saxons.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazingly good

  • By Matthew on 02-13-10

Hwaet! dat was gud stuffe!

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-21-10

Good stuff with much new thinking for those of us who last visited this subject decades ago. Old English studies have really moved ahead in recent years! I also enjoyed Drout's other lecture series on the history of the English language and his excellent lectures on the literature of science fiction and fantasy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Language of Life

  • DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine
  • By: Francis S. Collins
  • Narrated by: Greg Itzin
  • Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 133
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 88
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 87

A scientific and medical revolution has crept up on us, based on study after study, from hundreds of laboratories around the world. It is no longer just a theoretical shift: every one of us will be touched by it, and many of us already have been. The meaning of disease, our understanding of the human body, and crucial decisions about what we all need to know and what choices we make about our health are at stake. Welcome to the new world of personalized medicine.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The future of medicine

  • By Ronald E on 04-12-10

Call to Action on Your Own DNA

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-24-10

I was very surprised as how far DNA analysis has come in the past five years. The book is a call to action to do something with your own DNA (which is now fully accessible for a few hundred bucks), and Collins makes an extremely convincing case for doing so. More a compendium of resources and anecdotes than a coherent book (and the fully-read web addresses make for some extremely trying listening), but fascinating new information about what you can do with your DNA to improve your health and consider choices you may or may not have to make in your life.

3 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Herzog

  • By: Saul Bellow
  • Narrated by: Wolfram Kandinsky
  • Length: 18 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 36
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 10

An instant classic when it appeared in 1964, Herzog is the story of Moses E. Herzog, a tragically confused intellectual who suffers from the breakup of his second marriage, the general failure of his life, and the specter of growing up Jewish in the middle part of the 20th century. He responds to his personal crisis by writing a series of letters never to be sent, to friends and enemies, colleagues and celebrities, examining his life and times with wry perception and heartfelt revelation.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Horrible Narration of a Great Book.

  • By rworthen on 07-03-09

Thinking Man's Breakdown and Redemption

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-08-10

First, I'm not sure what to say about previous reviewers disliking the narrator, Wolfram Kandinsky. I can only assume they didn't give him a chance. I thought he was not just wonderful, but inspired. He doesn't have a Ken Burns narrator voice, true, but this is a novel with large sections that are the main character's thoughts. My goodness, some NPR announcer voice would have been entirely snooze-inducing! So not only did I not mind the reader, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the book because of Kandinsky's reading of it. That said, this is a landmark novel of the 20th century, one of the best books written in the last 100 years. Moses Herzog, thinking man's lover of women and semi-tough guy intellectual, is entirely unique and specific and yet utterly representative of a very smart man, and a very American man, figuring out how to live and find meaning in the modern world. Any thinking person who has found him or herself confused, bemused and even confounded by the modern condition will find much to take identify and take pleasure in via Bellow's marvelous, sometimes pathetic, always whimsically-profound creation, Moses E. Herzog. As a plus, you'll probably find sentences, phrases, conceits and images from the book echoing through your mind and heart for years to come.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful