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Paid to Think: A Leader's Toolkit for Redefining Your Future
Paid to Think: A Leader's Toolkit for Redefining Your Future
by David Goldsmith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $27.76
73 used & new from $1.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paid to Think is well-written, to the point, solid with useful advice and a reference for teaching leadership worth rereading., March 20, 2015
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Paid to Think! I have worked in organizations that apply some of the methods and approaches that David Goldsmith teaches. They have been among the more successful and better managed operations that I have been associated with. I have never encountered a single source with such an abundance of useful management advice. Paid to Think is well-written, to the point, and solid with useful advice that is presented in an integrated program. It is a reference worth re-rereading.


The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America's Grasp
The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America's Grasp
Price: $16.49

25 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather than make recommendations how a multipolar world can be made to work the primary recommendations of the author are a disa, November 3, 2014
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This is a well-written book even with the sprinkling of factual errors, some quite important. One that particularly stands out is his statement that the parliament that removed Yanukovych from power "promptly appointed candy magnate Petro Poroshenko, "Ukraine's Willy Wonka" as president." Poroshenko was elected president with a decisive mandate in June, prior to the publication of this book. He was not appointed as a result of the parliament removing Yanukovych from power. In fact, the section on Ukraine presents an extremely one-sided view that does not reflect the realities of what occured and is taking place in Ukraine.

The idea of presenting Putin as a master strategist planning the future of Russia also does not square with realities. The fact that oil prices and commodities surged from the time that Putin came to power is a significant matter of luck. The concerted effort of the US and the EU to integrate Russia and to help build trade ties, including oil and gas to assure Russia of its security certainly contributed to Putin's success in lifting its economy out of the chaos that emerged with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The EU welcomed Russian gas in part to gain a stable and increasingly wealthy neighbor and not to revive an aggresive power that would endanger the security of Europe. Putin chose to invest in remilitatirzation in the face of opposition of his finance minister Kudrin, who said that Russia could not afford that path in 2011. Now, the current finance minister Anton Siluanov has delivered the same message.

Russia has become increasingly dependent on Western technologies after under investment in R&D by Russia to barely 1% of GDP with the EU reaching towards 3%, the US at 2.7%. The materials on the uranium trade were extremely interesting and point to effective use of Russian technology and Russian resources to gain control of that important market, parallel to the oil and gas market. The author presents a cataclysmic scenario for the US if world trade moves away from the dollar as the reserve currency. However, if there would be such a cataclysmic impact on the US, there would also be a major negative impact on countries that export to the US, particularly China. It would appear that post 2008 that institutional mechanisms are emerging to moderate such a catastrophe.

Clearly, as the world as a whole becomes wealthier, the US will become a relatively smaller part of global GDP. This would be a success for the international system rather than a failure for the US. There is no slipping of global energy trade from America's grasp. It is simply that world development is reaching towards a higher level that has been made possible by the international system created under US leadership after the devastation of WWII. Rather than make recommendations how a multipolar world can be made to work the primary recommendations of the author are a disappointment -1) stop runaway government spending, 2) stop everyone's invitation to get involved in every conflict, 3) stop tax rules and subsidies that encourage people to not work, and 4) stop superstition based regulations from interfering with the development of domestic energy sources. The author sounds like a climate change denyer who wants to encourage rapid development the environment and public health be damned. In sum - an interesting thesis, good writing, but the book falls short of proving the point. Putin seems to become somewhat clearer, after reading the book. But, next week's surprises may say that Putin remains as Russia - a mystery cloaked in an enigma.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2014 8:52 AM PST


The Obligation: A Journey to Discover Human Purpose on Earth and in the Cosmos
The Obligation: A Journey to Discover Human Purpose on Earth and in the Cosmos
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A concise expression of the metaphysics of space colonization, October 3, 2013
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I have been involved in the space movement from the mid 1970s when Gerard K. O'Neill's writings opened the prospect of humanity settling space. In 1977 I taught space industrialization and national priorities at Coe College convinced that by the 1990's thousands of people would be living in space. This future did not happen. With the last Apollo flight the momentum behind the space program fizzled with the Vietnam War and the resulting economic challenges facing the US. Although the US funded the Stars Wars weapons program, space fell from a national priority to a legacy program that Congress seemed to keep alive more due to the jobs in key districts such as Florida, California and Texas than to a commitment to US space leadership. The Obligation is written from the perspective of John, a Congressional staffer working for Congressman Grant, chair of the Space Science and Applications subcommittee. Congressman Grant is caught in a struggle to save the budget for the International Space Station in the face of pressures from a host of groups that include schools, environmental groups, seniors and scientists in disciplines not involving space. The plot is built around this political struggle and John's quest to understand the meaning of a plaque in Congressman's Grant's office "The colonization of space will be the fulfillment of humankind's Obligation to the Earth." John gains a sense of the vision underlying the message in the plaque through meetings arranged by Congressman Grant that are intended to reveal the six Endowments that are key to humanity achieving spacefaring potential. The book spoke to what I have felt for years that mankind is an expression of the larger whole of the Earth itself whose stewards we are.

I strongly recommend The Obligation, particularly for people committed to safeguarding the Earth and its environment. The book may speak to them showing that the drive to expand beyond the home planet is very deep and consistent with planetary stewardship. Space settlement is not just a geeky love of technology, although space ventures can satisfy the most demanding fascination with technology. It is also not about money, although space is likely to make many people very rich. It would be interesting to see how a filmmaker would treat the theme in The Obligation where Gaia, the organism of life on Earth seeking to expand into the cosmos, has evolved homo sapiens as part of the mechanism of planetary reproduction. As conscious beings our responsibility to the planet and the life that it bears runs deep. The seeds thrown into the cosmos must be capable of surviving and evolving, must have a stable structure much like the DNA that shapes individuals largely remains unchanged, yet alao produce the great evolving diversity that is needed to achieve spacefaring potential further in the galaxy over millennia.

I could not put the Obligation down and am eagerly looking forward to a sequel.


Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization
Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization
Price: $15.65

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an important work that redefines nanotechnology back to the original meaning conceived by Drexler, June 1, 2013
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In Radical Abundance Drexler offers an approach to the specification of a roadmap for the achievement of atomically precise manufacturing (APM). Key to the specification of a roadmap are intellectual tools to distinguish between science and engineering as well as types of engineering - exploratory engineering, systems engineering, etc. he points out that engineering approaches have not been applied to the nanotechnology field so a roadmap cannot emerge. On one level the book is an argument for the development of an APM roadmap and how this can be accomplished. Drexler outlines the historical evolution of nanotechnology from the coining of the term in his first book Engines of Creation published in 1986 to the subsequent confusion of the definition of nanotechnology through the politics of funding the multibillion dollar National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). Initially, NNI was funded to address atomically precise manufacturing, but by 2004 all reference to atomically precise manufacturing (APM) was removed from the NNI strategic plan and replaced instead by a concentration on phenomena at the nanoscale. Drexler argues pursuasively that this misdirection of NNI cost the US and the countries that followed the US lead considerable progress through a misallocation of large research funding. Merely concentrating on the size of phenomena offers no tools for exploratory engineering to define how to actually build things atom by atom with atomic precision as is done through the biological processes pointed to by Drexler. Drexler also points to the considerable progress that his been made towards APM and draws conclusions that the nanotechnology revolution is getting underway and that nanotechnology will effect disruptive change in production of most products. This will create great opportunity, but will also create disruptive change globally. This book is a must read for those already involved in nanottechnology - the entrepreneurs, scientists and venture capitals investing their time and resources to make a new world possible. The book is also important for decision makers at all levels in government, industry and education and research. APM is not a fantasy. APM is possible and APM will transform the world. What must be initiated now to get ready?


2312
2312
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
81 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary achievement!, May 2, 2013
This review is from: 2312 (Hardcover)
This is an amazing book written with a scale spanning the Solar System. I have read several other KSR books - Mars Trilogy, Years of Rice and Salt, and the series about climate change. This book is his masterpiece. It provides a focussed vision of a possible Solar System civilization that captures the science, technology, economics and politics that could bring about such a future. The book is profoundly hopeful about a place for humanity in a future of thinking machines that can outthink humans, where robots could do all the work, but there is room for men and women. The gender variation is an issue worth exploring and I am glad that KKR devoted so much text to this aspect. At this point the American space program is stuck without a clear vision of the possible in space. In fact, in this novel there is no significant role for the United States in space. Florida is underwater and in the process of being terraformed back into existance. The Dithering captures the current state of the country with no clear idea about where to go in space or agreement how to deal with climate change. The future that is painted in such glorious colors is plausible. The literary allusions throughout the book give it a rare depth for hard science fiction. I strongly recommend the book and would nominate it for the Pulitzer.


World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet
World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet
by Michael Chorost
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.58
137 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important, highly readable presentation of a radically different human future, July 4, 2011
Michael Chorost writes about the integration of humanity with the internet and computers from the the perspective of a person already experienced with implanted electronics - two cochlear implants. Over 200,000 people have cochlear implants. Optogenetics appears to hold the promise of making the brain directly interfaceable with the internet eliminating the need to text or speak with the potential to send and receive messages directly by thinking. Optogenetics is the genetic modification of animal cells to make them light sensitive. The book presents the results of work now underway at over 500 labs where neurons have had genes inserted that would cause the neuron to either fire or to stop firing depending on the frequency of light to which the neuron is exposed. Promising work includes treatment of Parkinson's through stimulation of specific neurons that are involved in Parkinson's symptoms. Chorost then presents the case of Thad Starner, an MIT researcher he dubs as the "most connected man in the world" who takes notes on all conversations and has a special one hand keypad. Hundreds of millions now regularly text at every opportunity raising the possibility of a nightmare scenario such as E. M. Forester's "The Machine Stops" where humans occupy separate rooms underground with no direct contact with others. The genius of Chorost's book is that he presents a scenario of the possibility of a high touch world where the people communicate directly with others where human capabilities are amplified in positive directions. Parallel to the exposition of the results of research Chorost recounts his experience in a "touch" workshop where he learns to explore and share touch with other people. Before reading this book I assumed that most people would reject implantable electronics as dehumanizing technology. The book makes a strong argument for wide deployment of implants that allow people to directly interface with the internet bringing about a "world wide mind". The implications of the "world wide mind" are both very positive and highly frightening. Given the creation of working devices implementation is likely to proceed very rapidly based on the dramatically improved functionality. What this technology will do to the minds of individuals or to the mind or minds of humankind will not be understood until well after these technologies are widely deployed. This is an important book to read for everyone, especially those involved in doing business through the internet or working with people with disabilities caused by brain disorders which may be treated with the technologies outlined by the author.


The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future
The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future
by Martin Ford
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.36
60 used & new from $6.48

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There are alternative scenarios inclduing expansion of the physical human environment to the solar system, March 9, 2011
Mr. Ford - You have produced an outstanding book! I tried to post information about your book to Paul Krugman's op-ed -[...] but the comments were closed.

I have struggled with the issues that you raised for several years. The response is to increase the physical human environment through space industrialization including the adaptation of other planets to human habitation and to the construction of large habitats in space. Like you I assume the purpose is to serve human beings. You have constructed a future with advanced technologies but with a physical environment that is limited to our planet. Although I like the idea of taxing capital and extracting the value of replaced work to drive consumption through government payments, I suspect that future may not be realizable. The natural tendency among people appears to be as resources diminish and allocation of those resources sets in for the state to become more authoritarian. We now have the technologies for a 1984 world to be indefinitely sustainable. A 1984 world may emerge as an interim solution until autonomous machines no longer need us. Marshall Brain in his Robotic Nation site has those without jobs essentially in prisons guarded by taser wielding robots. I am sure inventive minds that have already imprisioned 1% of our population will find ways to imprison many more.

A planetary civilization like ours thrusting to become a solar system civilization would create a need for vastly increased technical education and the creation of powerful machines to help build industrial facilities and powerplants in orbit, at the Langrange points and eventually on Mars and other planetary bodies. I believe such a strategy is not only good for the long term but also for the relatively near term - the next 25 years. Space-based solar power (SSP) is in principle feasible, can have a zero carbon footprint (to solve the climate change problem) and can safely deliver electrical power to virtually any point on Earth enabling India, China and Africa to pursue advanced development strategies. For the United States, with our still commanding lead in space development, leadership in launching a space-faring civilization would create an enormous number of high paying jobs here and also attract the best and the brightest in the world to work in the US (which could mean to work on the Moon).

The problem with current space policy is that it is extremely timid. To emerge from the problem that you outline and that is already visible whether in the riots in Egypt or in Madison, Wisconsin, our policy needs to be shifted from space exploration to space industrialization. Not investments in the NASA budget range - we spent a NASA budget per month in Iraq -- but more on the scale of the Iraq war. If a space industrialization strategy were backed by a trillion dollar investment fund we could see functioning SSP powerplants in orbit producing gigawatts of power in a decade. And all the industries and university research to get us there would be starting in the early stages of new businesses with exponential growth potential.

How do we get our timid leaders to think on the scale needed to address huge problems as you have outlined?

BTW - a friend of mine is buying 3 copies of your book from Amazon. He responded to my enthusiasm. I read and thoroughly enjoyed your free download. Thank you very much!!


Why the West Rules--for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future
Why the West Rules--for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future
by Ian Morris
Edition: Hardcover
89 used & new from $3.09

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the human future holds more possibilities than the Singularity or Nightfall, December 16, 2010
I read Why the West Rules for Now with great interest and have recommended it to many. The book is a major achievement. Morris erudition is impressive. His inclusion of Gunder Frank's ReOrient among others such as Jared Diamond, Pommeranz and Landes among the scholars that have addressed the significance of the patterns of history is noteworthy. I was disappointed by the concluding chapter of the book pointing to a seeming end-point in the Singularity as defined by Kurzweil. Apparently there is progress achieved not in some linear progression but rather in fits and starts as the species reaches a hard ceiling to further social advancement with collapse to lower states of social development more likely than success in surmounting the barriers through innovation. Howard Bloom presents a similar mechanism in his The Genius of the Beast where booms and busts drive evolution.

I am not convinced that near term future, i.e., before the end of this century, is a choice between between the Singularity and Nightfall as presented in the concluding chapter. There are other paths. The clearest alternative is space development, first a solar system civilization then possibly steps beyond to the stars. I taught a course Space Industrialization and National Priorities in 1977 that addressed this issue. At the time it seemed like the US would not turn its back on space much as the Ming emperors turned their back on Zheng He in the 1400s. Werner Von Braun envisioned a substantial Moon Base by the early 1990s. Boeing was working on space - based solar power satellites to provide the Earth with power and Gerard K. O'Neill envisions massive space colonies in his book The High Frontier. Yet manned spaceflight became a minor activity until the recent revival with people like Branson, Musk and others now promoting space tourism and rapidly growing interest in space in China, India, Europe, Brazil, among others.
At this point we (globally speaking) are bumping against the hard ceiling in the ways that Morris outlines - resources, energy, food, water, global weirding - but also in terms of jobs for educated people. In many fields a PhD leads at best to a long career as a post doc with the risk of having to drive a cab or work in fast food or construction to make a living. And the number of educated people is multiplying. Humanity needs to expand its environment to be able to create the jobs needed by the ever increasing numbers of educated people being churned out by universities around the globe.

Recent developments suggest that space-based solar power (SSP) can address all of the concerns. The sun shines 24/7 in orbit with an intensity about 9 fold of most points on the Earth. Technical feasibility of large-scale SSP powerplants in orbit is accepted. SSP can be directed to deliver power to almost any point on Earth. Lunar and asteroid resources can be used to construct SSP facilities in space after initial bootstrapping. Hundreds of documents discussing this are available at […]

With perhaps a one trillion dollar investment the global energy future could be assured that is carbon free and imposes much less stress on the environment. Having made that investment humankind would have also created the infrastructure to make the solar system its broadened environment. Think of the SSP as the steam engine that got the industrial revolution started. Yes, the SSP will deliver many gigawatts of power dwarfing what was done in the industrial revolution. But, that is the difference between a social development index of 1,000 and say 10,000.

The past President of India A.P.J. Kalam has called for making SSP a project of the G20. It would be a fantastic opportunity for US-China-India-Russia and EU partnership. See for recent commentary -[…] .

With space development for the next few centuries geography will again matter with the hard constraints of development on multiple planets human groups can again become isolatd from each other creating conditions where civilizations again can collapse as they struggle for supremacy. We are not yet near the end of history.


Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America
by Robert Whitaker
Edition: Hardcover
44 used & new from $9.99

17 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent material but why the propaganda, September 13, 2010
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I found Robert Whitaker's book to be an excellent (5 star) summary of research on long term outcomes of psychiatric medicines. However, he weakens his argument considerably by drawing other conclusions not based on fact that demonizes those involved in the manufacture, distribution, and promotion of these medicines. The book is written with the appearance of objectivity but this appearance is then used to further his argument with other, essentially irrelevent statements. As examples - p. 214 "But she has also battled ovarian cancer, and it's possible that illness was related to the psychiatric medications." These kinds of statements pop up in the book with some frequency. Why?

Also, I find no major difference between the statement about open dialogue therapy (pg 344) "We don't know how it happens, but [open-dialogue therapy] must be doing something, because it works." Clearly the meds also work in the short the short term for the majority of patients although the precise mechanism how they work is unknown. The brain is an exceedingly complex kludge and not a carefully designed and optimised instrument. It is possible that no theoretical mechanism will ever be discovered yet some of the medications will work some of the time for some of the people.

The author repeatedly also asserts that people on psychiatric medications die early due to the medications. There is fairly strong evidence that premature mortality of the mentally ill is primarily due to smoking. The vast majority of the mentally ill smoke. In fact, they consume 45% of the cigarettes sold in the US. Perhaps nicotine addiction is also a consequence of the meds, but that connection has not been researched.
Comment Comments (16) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2012 4:40 AM PST


Scenes In The Rearview Mirror: A Cabbies Journal
Scenes In The Rearview Mirror: A Cabbies Journal
by John Wallin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.98
19 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely illustrated series of stories from a cabdriver, February 27, 2010
John "The Milkman" Wallin tells his stories about a cabbie's experiences with authenticity. The dialogue is well-crafted and fits with each each "scene in the rearview mirror." The stories are brief and you find yourself compelled to read the next and then the next and the next until you are shocked to find yourself at the END. A delightful read that I would recommend to anyone seeking to enjoy some time away from the cares and worries of this hectic world to encounter the often zany people that John ran into with Car Fifteen. Several read like skits from the Late Night Show.


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