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Loyd E. Eskildson "Pragmatist" RSS Feed (Phoenix, AZ.)
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Hearst's San Simeon: The Gardens and the Land
Hearst's San Simeon: The Gardens and the Land
by Victoria Kastner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $41.67
59 used & new from $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Overview of the Gardens and Outbuildings, May 30, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
An excellent photographic and narrative summary of the incredible outbuildings and gardens surrounding Hearst Castle. Fortunately, the photos were taken prior to the last major California earthquake that resulted in cracking the beautiful pool, its drainage, and subsequent years of sitting empty.


The Unspoken Truth About Autism: A New Look at the Etiology and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders
The Unspoken Truth About Autism: A New Look at the Etiology and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders
Price: $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe It's a Mix of Genetics and Early Upbringing, May 30, 2015
Interesting theory - that the cause of autism is due to an incomplete attachment within the first 2-3 years of life. Fits my situation (I'm somewhere on the Asperger's end) - my mother hated me, constantly beat me and punished me by requiring writing "I will not . . .. sentences 1,000 or so times, never hugged me or said anything nice about me, tried to knock my teeth out and kick me down the stairs, repeatedly sent me to school with black-and blue welts across my back, broke my glasses deliberately (and made me pay for them) - all while my father was busy with other matters. My younger brother, however, did not suffer from any of this, and was not autistic at all.

On the other hand, my youngest son seems to have many/most of my behavioral problems while his older brother did not - in both instances their mother was very loving. (I didn't neglect either son, especially the oldest, but wasn't overly loving either.) And as best I can tell, my father also was an Asperger's, his brother was not, both had a loving mother and distant (traveling salesman) father.)

Another factor, per my reading and personal experience - not all those with Asperger's have the same symptoms. Example - supposedly those with autism have a greater ability to mentally rotate complex structure; for me, that is a special weakness. I also find most repetitive tasks boring (including computer programming), contrary to the stereotypical autistic. I do, however, like most within the autism spectrum, dislike changes in routines, am preoccupied with a few interests, am relatively uncoordinated, strongly dislike reading fiction, constantly look for and find patterns in numbers and license plates, have difficulty 'reading' others, am sensitive to loud noises, am depression-prone, and find it very hard to make new friends. Worst of all, it's been extremely difficult to form emotional attachments with others.


Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs
Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs
by David B. Yoffie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.65
62 used & new from $14.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Lessons from Three Master Strategists, May 27, 2015
Authors Yoffie and Cusumano have focused most of their professional analyses on high-technology firms, partly because their environment changes much faster than that of other sectors - thereby placing greater demands on strategic thinking and providing faster testing of one's strategy and execution. They contend that lessons learned from studying high-technology firms are widely applicable, that both good strategy and execution are essential to success, and that the great strategists they've studied were not born with those skills - they developed them, making mistakes along the way.

The crux of 'Strategy Rules' revolves around five rules derived from their study of three master strategists - Bill Gates (Microsoft), Andy Grove (Intel), and Steve Jobs (Apple). They also point out that all three were enormously ambitious and had big dreams, had ferocious work ethics which they infused into the cultures of their companies, promoted searing intellectual debates that often became shouting matches and created brusied feeling, harbored a healthy sense of paranoia, and even they were sometimes slow to act.

Their first rule demands that leaders look beyond the immediate problems of today - thinking about the what they want their company to look like in 3 - 5 years, what customers will want, what their competitors are likely to do, and what changes are likely. This must be followed by plans for today, the next six months, etc. setting priorities, building barriers to entry, and moving early and decisively at key junctures.

Their second rule - make bold bets, without betting the company. They also focus not just on building products, but also creating and controlling platforms for third-party innovation and supporting complementary products and services. (Today that would include creating network effects.)

Jobs' success with Apple the second time around is credited to his strategy of creating a 'digital hub,' Andrew Grove's success at Intel derived from his non-stop pursuit of Moore's Law, and Bill Gates' Microsoft success came from extending its software beyond the PC.

At the end of their book they take a few pages to show how Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Larry Page (Google), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) have followed similar paths while building their companies.


Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
by Jerry A. Coyne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.61
51 used & new from $14.52

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Religion - The Only Mode of Discourse That Encourages Adults to Pretend They Know Things They Do Not and Cannot, May 24, 2015
The book opens with a quote from Robert Ingersoll. His point was to remind us that when theologians governed the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many, the poor wore rags and skins, and gnawed on bones, while today, after the dawn of Science, those in the middle class have more conveniences and elegancies than the princes and kings of the theological times.

Coyne then follows by describing 'faith as a poison for science, no way to find the truth.' Reason and empirical study (the way of science) produces reliable conclusions, while faith, dogma, and revelation (the ways of religion) are incapable of finding truth. Unfortunately, religion today is still competing with science for the minds of men today. Thus we continue with religious wars (eg. Shia vs. Sunni Muslims) , Christian Scientist (an oxymoron) parents are allowed to withhold vaccinations and medical treatments for their children, support for taking action on global warming is diminished (dramatically lower among those more confident about God's existence and who attend church more often), medical research is inhibited (eg. stem cells), suffering of the terminally ill is prolonged, and the overall value of data-driven analyses and conclusions is reduced.

Turns out that religion is only one form of superstition, albeit the most widespread, and having the greatest potential for public harm. Other examples include beliefs in astrology, paranormal phenomena, homeopathy, and spiritual healing.

Nearly half of American reject evolution in toto (between 40 - 46% for the last 32 years), espousing a biblical literalism in which man was created 10,000 years ago by a divine being. Most of the rest of us, per Coyne, believe God guided evolution, and only about 20% accept evolution as most scientists see it. Persuading Americans to accept the truth of evolution involves not just an education in facts, but a de-education in the form of belief that replaces the need for evidence with simple emotional commitment.

The proportion of nonbelievers among scientists in the U.S. and U.K. is about 10X that in the general public. (Wikipedia lists the proportion in the U.S. at about '9 - 10%.' Researchers reporting in a 2011 paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology even found that people viewed atheists as equally untrustworthy as rapists.

Coyne does not claim that religion is all bad - simply that overall, it has been a malign influence. On the 'plus side,' he readily admits it has also motivated many acts of goodness and charity, and served as a solace for the inevitable sorrows of human life.

Religious people stake their lives and futures on evidence that wouldn't come close to eg. the kind of data government requires before approving a new drug.


Nova: Rise of the Hackers
Nova: Rise of the Hackers
DVD ~ .
Price: $16.78
19 used & new from $11.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but Often Too Complex for Me, May 23, 2015
This review is from: Nova: Rise of the Hackers (DVD)
Program begins with detailed and lucid coverage of the use of prime numbers for encoding data sent across the Internet. It then went on to quantum computing, paranoid cryptography and other complex methods currently being developed and on the frontiers of science. The 'bad news' is that most of the latter material was beyond my comprehension, though it least familiarized me with the terminology and general ideas.


Tanzanite Healing Crystal
Tanzanite Healing Crystal
Offered by Crystal Age
Price: $8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, May 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Doesn't look anything the photos - very small, dull colored, didn't look anything like the photo.


Green Elephant Swarovski Crystal Pin Brooch
Green Elephant Swarovski Crystal Pin Brooch
Offered by fabuzone
Price: $29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Deal -, May 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Very nice, wife can wear with several tops and other elephant jewelry. Received a number of compliments and am very satisfied.


Is the American Century Over (Global Futures)
Is the American Century Over (Global Futures)
by Joseph S. Nye
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.32
48 used & new from $8.72

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Title (and pretext) For the Book is a 'Red Herring' That Largely Vitiates Its Value, May 22, 2015
Joseph Nye pioneered the idea of 'soft power' while serving as Dean at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and is currently on at least two foreign policy advisory boards, at the request of Secretary Kerry. Thus, he's certainly well-qualified to offer comments on the question of whether the American Century is over. Unfortunately, the title of the book seems to an inadvertent 'red herring.'

Why? America's military, influence, and per capital GDP clearly still lead the world. Thus, the obvious answer to the question posed by the book's title is 'No,' and that's what Nye concludes at the end of his 127 pages. The problem, however, is that many/most trends are going against America's ability to sustain that influence (Nye essentially agrees), and there's little substantive reason to believe those negative trends will be reversed. Further, China's economy is already seen as the world's largest (measured according to purchasing-power-parity), and though slowly, still growing far faster than that of the U.S. Meanwhile, it is also bolstering the stature of its military vs. the U.S. with credible asymmetric weapons (diesel-electric subs, ICBMs with multiple warheads, numerous fast torpedo-armed coastal patrol boats, building artificial islands out into the South China Sea, and its well-known 'carrier-killer' missiles.

It's government repeatedly has proven far more decisive and data-driven than our bogged-down, ideology-laden system that has been increasingly captured by large donors. Currently, we're pursuing a new trade-agreement (TPP) seemingly aimed at boxing China out; however, that agreement, like so many prior free trade agreements will most certainly cost more American jobs, as well as reduce our ability to run our own government and judicial systems while both reducing Medicare funding while increasing health care costs via expanded 'patent protection.'

Other nations see these trends and other trends (eg. a $13 trillion cumulative trade deficit since the early 1980s, our transitioning from the world's greatest creditor nation to its greatest debtor nation during the same time period, our creating the 'Great Recession' of 20008 (China largely avoided), the 'dot.com' bubble at the turn of the century, our world's most expensive health care and K-12 public-school systems, inability to act decisively on global warming, etc. Clearly, while the American Century is not yet over, it is on the way out.


Superpower: Three Choices for America's Role in the World
Superpower: Three Choices for America's Role in the World
by Ian Bremmer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.30
48 used & new from $13.30

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We Have A Foreign Policy Without A Strategy", May 19, 2015
America's allies around the world now question the strength of our commitment to the global responsibilities we claimed in better days. Emerging powers like China, Russia, Gulf Arab states, India, Brazil, Turkey, and others have proven they can reject U.S. leadership and economic guidelines while extending influence in their various areas.

China presents a particularly significant challenge. It has been building regional influence to increase markets and energy supplies, appease its military and re-awakened nationalistic fervor - becoming more confrontational in the region's disputed waters. Meanwhile, Japan is moving to a more aggressive defense policy. The U.S. could easily become drawn into a conflict between the two.

In Europe, Russia is pursuing a recovery of prior territory, particularly in Ukraine - with its large proportion of Russians. Putin seems convinced the West is not committed to a long-term fight - and he may be right. Russia is the EU's third-biggest trade partner, and its energy richness has drawn also drawn China and Russia closer together.

In the Middle East, unrest emanating from the U.S. topping Saddam's iron-fisted rule has bolstered terrorists and Iran, and our inability to tame the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan after 13-some years is another blow to our prestige.

As for economic leadership - we still have the highest GDP/capita, by far. However, China's PPP-adjusted GDP is now believed larger than ours, and our having helped lurch much of the world into the 2008 'Great Depression,' weak jobs recovery, and becoming the world's largest debtor nation also have diminished our soft power.

Bremmer sees America's foreign policy as lacking strategy and therefore becoming prohibitively expensive and increasingly dangerous. Since the end of the Cold War, we've stumbled from crisis to crisis in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine without a clear strategy. Author Bremmer would like to help change that.

Given the preceding, what role should America play in the near future? Some say the time has come for the U.S. to mind its own business, let other countries solve their own problems, and focus on rebuilding America's strength from within. Others insist we can and should pursue an ambitious foreign policy - designed solely to make America more secure and prosperous, not to foist our political and economic values on others. And a third group contends the world needs leadership, that only we can provide it, and we'll be better off if democracy, freedom of speech, access to information, and individual rights are universally respected. Bremmer's intent is to provide readers with an informed background for Americans to choose between the three.

Bremmer saves his recommendations until the end - he prefers the 'indispensable America' approach because only the U.S. can even attempt to lead efforts to contain the world's increasing number of conflicts, and he wants basic rights available to all. He also points out problems with this approach - the first being that American people would rather we go with the first alternative. A second - many people around the world don't consider America a leader worth following, and some even consider us an inept/inconsistent bully.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2015 11:57 AM PDT


Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB Portable External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup USB 3.0  (Black) STDR1000100
Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB Portable External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup USB 3.0 (Black) STDR1000100
Price: Click here to see our price
86 used & new from $50.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, If You Don't Use Their Software, May 18, 2015
Initial experience was not fun - froze my PC after downloading the software. Restarted and eventually ran OK again. Software did NOT make it clear what was being backed up - I was particularly concerned about my photos and favorites. Examined the Directory of the disc as best I could afterwards, and still was unable to determine whether they had been saved. Sent email question to support group - they replied within 24 hours, but the process for determining what had and hadn't been backed up seemed quite complicated. (No, I'm no PC expert.)

Then learned I could backup to the disc via the standard Windows File History software. Proceeded with that option, and am now proceeding down a known path that I've used previously with other drives.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2015 5:05 PM PDT


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