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Nelson Alexander

New York, NY, United States
  • 59
  • reviews
  • 803
  • helpful votes
  • 81
  • ratings
  • Exact Thinking in Demented Times

  • The Vienna Circle and the Epic Quest for the Foundations of Science
  • By: Karl Sigmund
  • Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16

Inspired by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and Bertrand Russell and David Hilbert's pursuit of the fundamental rules of mathematics, some of the most brilliant minds of the generation came together in post-World War I Vienna to present the latest theories in mathematics, science, and philosophy and to build a strong foundation for scientific investigation. Composed of such luminaries as Kurt Gödel and Rudolf Carnap, and stimulated by the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper, the Vienna Circle left an indelible mark on science.   

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Historical narrative, with physics and despair.

  • By Philip J. Kurle on 10-08-18

Appears to be broken

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-03-18

The file cuts off after chapter 7, was very good until then. Trying to fix or return now, hope it can be repaired.

  • The Shipwrecked Mind

  • On Political Reaction
  • By: Mark Lilla
  • Narrated by: Michael Kramer
  • Length: 4 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20

We don't understand the reactionary mind. As a result, argues Mark Lilla in this timely book, the ideas and passions that shape today's political dramas are unintelligible to us. The reactionary is anything but a conservative. He is as radical and modern a figure as the revolutionary, someone shipwrecked in the rapidly changing present, and suffering from nostalgia for an idealized past and an apocalyptic fear that history is rushing toward catastrophe.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Broken File

  • By Nelson Alexander on 04-02-17

Broken File

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-02-17

Files appears to be broken, does not work on my iPod, hope company can fix it.

1 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Plato's Meno

  • By: Plato
  • Narrated by: Ray Childs
  • Length: 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 48

A dialogue between Socrates and Meno probes the subject of ethics. Can goodness be taught? If it can, then we should be able to find teachers capable of instructing others about what is good and bad, right and wrong, or just and unjust.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Why Incomplete?

  • By Nelson Alexander on 08-27-16

Why Incomplete?

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-27-16

I don't quite understand. This seems to be missing half of "The Meno" dialogue, yet specifically says "Unabridged."

The entire latter half with Meno and Anytus isn't there! Is this an error in the program? Otherwise the audiobook is excellent, but this unexplained omission makes me distrust the publisher.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • A Macat Analysis of Ernst H. Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology

  • By: Simon Thomson
  • Narrated by: Macat.com
  • Length: 1 hr and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars 1

Examining 1,200 years of history from the foundation of Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire to the beheading of King Charles I in England is in itself a mammoth undertaking. But it is the issues explored by German American historian Ernst H. Kantorowicz in his 1957 study The King's Two Bodies that have had a profound effect on the way academics think about the study of history.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Written by a Smartbot?

  • By Nelson Alexander on 06-24-16

Written by a Smartbot?

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-24-16

This is my first encounter with the Macat titles. "Macaw" might be a better name them, given the brainless repetition of words and phrases.

Though these titles apparently cover a superb, interesting selection of scholarly texts, the format is oddly robotic, to say the least. The audio is divided in Sections and Modules. Each Module repeats what was in the previous ones, with some sentences and details added. I am about halfway through and though we have yet to get to the work itself, I have heard that the author was "influenced by Carl Schmitt's Political Theology" eight or nine times. It is repeated anew again and again in each module, along with most of the other information. Then a bit of addition information is added.

It appears that the idea is to somehow impress the material, phrase by phrase, on your neural system without engaging your consciousness. Perhaps the format is intended for students who want to input test material while sleeping. Alternately, it could be used to train a scholarly-sounding Macaw: "Kantorowicz influenced by Schmitt! Ach! Ach! Cracker! Cracker!"

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Age of Genius

  • The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind
  • By: A. C. Grayling
  • Narrated by: Ric Jerrom
  • Length: 14 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 33
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 29

The Age of Genius explores the eventful intertwining of outward event and inner intellectual life to tell, in all its richness and depth, the story of the 17th century in Europe. It was a time of creativity unparalleled in history before or since, from science to the arts, from philosophy to politics. Acclaimed philosopher and historian A. C. Grayling points to three primary factors that led to the rise of vernacular (popular) languages in philosophy, theology, science, and literature.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Today is a function of the 17th century

  • By Gary on 10-22-16

Thespian at Work

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-20-16

Though I am only an hour into this, I must write with some annoyance that the reader makes comprehension extremely difficult, at least for me. He might be a good reader for fiction, but here, instead of narrating ideas ordered into paragraphs, he strives to bring out the imagined theatricality of each sentence with British fillips of overemphasis. Not terrible, but give it a listen before deciding. Some publishers seem to think that the more scholarly the material, the more drama it requires, like restauranteurs who try to enhance their cuisine by adding loud dance music.

9 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • A Tour of the Calculus

  • By: David Berlinski
  • Narrated by: Dennis Holland
  • Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 40

Were it not for the calculus, mathematicians would have no way to describe the acceleration of a motorcycle or the effect of gravity on thrown balls and distant planets, or to prove that a man could cross a room and eventually touch the opposite wall. Just how calculus makes these things possible and in doing so finds a correspondence between real numbers and the real world is the subject of this dazzling book by a writer of extraordinary clarity and stylistic brio.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Top Poet among Mathemeticians

  • By Kindle Customer on 05-27-14

A Tour of Incalculable Verbosity

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-14-14

I am about ten minutes into this, skipping ahead, and giving up for now, quite exasperated. I had hoped for a good overview and cultural description of calculus. This work is so wittily overwritten, so full of long, fanciful descriptions and soaring metaphor it is nearly impossible to remember what on earth we are talking about. The writing is actually good, but seems to have leapt the fence out its genre, striving to be Nabokov with little regard for the listener who just wants a bit of lucid mathematical explanation. I may try again later, but post this warning: you'll have to shovel aside heaps of colorful "prose" to get to anything about calculus.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • The War State

  • The Cold War Origins Of The Military-Industrial Complex And The Power Elite, 1945-1963
  • By: Michael Swanson
  • Narrated by: Larry Wayne
  • Length: 8 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79

Today when you factor in the interest on the national debt from past wars and total defense expenditures the United States spends almost 40% of its federal budget on the military. It accounts for over 46% of total world arms spending. Before World War II it spent almost nothing on defense and hardly anyone paid any income taxes. You can't have big wars without big government. Such big expenditures are now threatening to harm the national economy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Surprisingly Good

  • By ohmie on 04-22-14

Cold War, The Cliff Notes Version

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-14

If you want a good high-school-level summary of the Cuban Missile Crisis with Kennedy as anti-establishment hero, by all means buy this work. As a bonus you will receive three final Chapters 9 to 12, which pad the audiobook out by repeating everything in the previous chapters, then telling you how to sign up for the next book on this important subject by the same author--who apparently, from the five-star reviews here, enjoys his own clique of eager followers.

Presumably, this next book will contain some new revelations, economic analysis, and original scholarship, though I wouldn't bet on it. The greatest failure of the book, apart from its numerous repetitions, superficial polemic, and slipshod writing (Is there an editor in the house?), is the lack of any economic context. I am actually sympathetic to the author's basic concept of the "war state," but he fails to detail the "industrial side" of the "military-industrial complex," the profits, credits, bond financing, and lobbying that continue to provide the economic inertia behind our immense weaponized Keynsianism.

Nor does the author take military Keynsianism seriously as a necessary logic of modern capitalism. His approach seems to be more libertarian than left, with the idea that by reducing the executive branch, the military bureaucracies, and large military industries we can reduce oppressive taxes and deficits and return to our roots as an isolationist Jeffersonian democracy of peaceful farmers, small-town banks, and small business entrepreneurs. This ignores not only economic reality, but our own national history since the Indian Clearances, the Mexican War, and the Spanish American War as an outward-rolling commercial-military empire, from Polk to Cheney.

That said, I thank the author for identifying NSC 68 as an interesting point of departure. There are a few good story details, a hopeful anti-militarism, and the reading is okay. If you really know nothing about this period of U.S. history, the book is worth the time.

4 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Fractals: A Very Short Introduction

  • By: Kenneth Falconer
  • Narrated by: Jason Huggins
  • Length: 3 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

Many are familiar with the beauty and ubiquity of fractal forms within nature. Unlike the study of smooth forms such as spheres, fractal geometry describes more familiar shapes and patterns, such as the complex contours of coastlines, the outlines of clouds, and the branching of trees. In this Very Short Introduction, Kenneth Falconer looks at the roots of the "fractal revolution" that occurred in mathematics in the 20th century, presents the "new geometry" of fractals, explains the basic concepts, and explores the wide range of applications in science, and in aspects of economics.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

  • By Nelson Alexander on 02-05-14

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-05-14

So I plopped down ten dollars on behalf of everyone who wondered how the topic of fractals could possibly work in an audiobook format. The answer is, it doesn't. At least not for the most part. Large chunks of the book consist of recitations of equations, logarithms, and descriptions of images that make the ears glaze over. Still, I did give this title three stars. It does include a PDF with illustrations (though I listen on the go and rarely make use of such accompaniments.) Yet even though a good third of the content is hopeless in audiobook form, there are some very lucid, interesting explanations, and in the end I did feel that I learned a bit. Worth it if you're willing to consult the PDF and put up with long interludes of numerical droning.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Making History: How Great Historians Interpret the Past

  • By: Allen C. Guelzo, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Allen C. Guelzo
  • Length: 12 hrs and 15 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 55
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48

How do historians create their histories? What role do the historian's viewpoint and method play in what we accept as truth? Answer these questions and more as you go inside the minds of our greatest historians and explore the idea of written history as it has shaped humanity's story over 2,000 years

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Professor Shows Amazing Breadth of Knowledge

  • By cmurrell on 03-23-16

More Histrionics than History

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-08-13

A previous reviewer criticized the overwrought delivery on the part of this lecturer, and I failed to heed the warning, in part because a second reviewer rolled out an enthusiastic defense. From the sample, I thought I could manage. Wrong.

I hate to criticize a man who is obviously a good scholar, an enthusiast, and probably a fine, lively teacher in the flesh. But I'm afraid this venture just didn't work out. Perhaps at the publisher's urging, the material has been way, way over "popularized."

The thespian antics, wry chuckles, and jokiness seem aimed to hold the attention of a room full of six-year-olds. I almost picture the lecturer with hand puppets.I don't mind a bit of oomph and personality in a lecture. But this is so distracting I find it nearly impossible to grasp the content, which may be very good--but I'll never know.

There may be audience for this. If others feel differently, I hope they will write in. Perhaps I'm just old and mean, but I prefer scholarly lectures as I prefer a martini--straight up and dry, thank you.

13 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • A Companion to Hegel

  • By: Stephen Houlgate, Michael Baur
  • Narrated by: Noah Michael Levine
  • Length: 34 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19

G.W.F. Hegel (1770–1831) was one of the most important and sophisticated modern thinkers, but only now are his substantial contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, political philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of history, and philosophy of religion gaining the recognition they deserve. This companion is the first collection of essays to do justice to the extraordinary richness and diversity of Hegel's philosophy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A very coherent set of essays

  • By Gary on 02-06-17

Great Audio Tome Desublated by Publishers

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-28-13

First, any review of a 35-hour audio tome of essays on Hegel will be tempered by misgivings about the mental state of anyone who would actually purchase such a thing. An obscurantist dialectician with way too much time on his hands? Who can trust such a reviewer?

What can I say? The title doesn't lie. You know what you are getting. You either are a Hegelian or you are not a Hegelian--unless, of course, you are a Hegelian, in which case you are both.

As a matter of fact, I was delighted to find that these essays are relatively clear, quite diverse, and nicely comprehensive. The editor Stephen Houlgate is one of the best and most lucid of contemporary Hegel scholars. The works, so far, are clearer than one might expect, (though I have only started, and have a long ways to go before I approach the Judith Butler essay at the very end, where editor-defying syntactical horrors undoubtedly await).

The reading is clear, well-paced, and manly, seemingly sturdy enough for the 35-hour march. Though to differentiate the Hegel quotes the reader does toss in a German accent that to my ear sounds a bit odd. Of course, there are no recordings of Hegel himself, so perhaps he really did sound like Gandhi attempting Yiddish. (Though if he had, I suspect Schelling would have noted that for posterity.)

And then there are the publishers! It it is really very admirable that they would actually produce such an audiobook for the three individuals in the world who might be enticed to purchase it. A noble work. But...!

But why no chapter titles and a mismatch between the book chapters and the audio chapters, which renumber with each audio "part." So you have 35 essays and no way to find them by title or even by counting. Why do so many publishers do this? I mean, here we are with Google glasses and 3D printers. Is it really so hard just to divide and label the digital chapters? Am I missing something?

One of Hegel's contemporaries, I forget who, explained Hegel by noting that he was a Schwabian and Schwabians hate to be understood. Evidently his audio publishers are Schwabians as well. Aside from that, if you actually want to hear some good, clear Hegel commentaries--in shuffle mode--next time you're out jogging, this is the audiobook you've been waiting for!

31 of 34 people found this review helpful