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ECCO Men's Track II Low Gore-Tex Oxford
ECCO Men's Track II Low Gore-Tex Oxford
Price: $204.95 - $210.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Soles fall apart, November 25, 2013
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I had a pair of Ecco Track shoes for ten years. Lots of wear. They wore out naturally. I loved them. So a year ago I replaced them with a new pair, since the old pair were so comfortable and fit so well. On these, the soles fell apart into pieces in a year of relatively light wear. Listen to the others - the soles of these shoes are defective.
Note added later: I called Ecco and complained - they said "Yes - we know of the problem. There was an incorrect chemical mix to make the soles during one period." They replaced my shoes without question (although I had asked for a refund). The new shoes are fine after a year, wearing gracefully.


The Quantum Ten: A Story of Passion, Tragedy, Ambition, and Science
The Quantum Ten: A Story of Passion, Tragedy, Ambition, and Science
by Sheilla Jones
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.96
38 used & new from $6.40

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The roughest years, July 2, 2013
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This was definitely worth the read. With great determination, but through a narration lacking strong cohesiveness, Jones tries hard to capture the turbulent nascent years of the new quantum physics as its startling revelations unfolded in the 1920s. We witness the brilliant new proponents emerge, roam through the leading European institutes and periodically assemble; mostly young physicists; many in their 20's. Their insights into the quantum "action" occurring within the atom deeply changed our world view forever, more so even than Einstein's relativity. Physics changed, philosophy changed, and the subatomic sea in which we reside was exposed as almost unimaginably strange and unfamiliar in its operation. With revelations came also a kind of darkness: the depths of atoms went from the unknown to the unknowable. Awful stress, soul-searching, and even suicides resulted.*

The effort to show the personalities at play here is rewarding and the characters do come somewhat to life (or even death). The story is also helpful in that we get a good flavor of the scientific search in progress. Many important battles are described, e.g.: a man agonizing for years to reach an true understanding (e.g. Bohr); one hitting upon a massively simplifying method (Schrödinger); and another articulating a correct off-the-wall prediction (de Broglie) that helped sort things out. We also get to know their ernest competitions to be right, or at least to have the most useful idea, fought through scientific thrusts and parries inside letters, lectures, and papers.

As many other reviewers comment, Jones's tale is not put together in a way that works very well, due to the frequent skipping back and forth in time and between institutes. A single chronology might have been better, but one also senses that this method would have precluded the insertion of the background factors of each man's life, factors which illuminate their individually unique struggles. But what I felt most disappointed with was the lack of a summing-up at the end, after that long rough ride of a decade.

In the tale, I would have enjoyed hearing less about the domestic and career-searching angst of these men, since it really didn't connect that well with their individual science views, in preference to hearing more of the intellectual details relating to the course of the competitive progress toward the new science. For example, the theme of how one idea may prevail over another is constantly present in the book and heavily treated in details, but finally given very scant conclusions at the end as to how well it all went, with little modern retrospective. The epilogue jumps a gap from 1927 to 2005 so as to end not with how the Copenhagen School faired (it prevailed), but rather an allusion to the similar messy world-view disorientations we are now facing (potentially) from string theory.
---

*I also recommend Pais' "The Genius of Science" to gain a heightened appreciation of the intellectual bravery required of the theorists of the times to grapple with what they were learning.


The Elusive Wow: Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
The Elusive Wow: Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
by Robert H Gray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.96
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very solid review of a very strange event, January 31, 2012
If intelligent alien signals ever reached Earth, they would likely be picked-up only through a specialized and directed search using one of our ~80 astronomical radio telescopes operating around the globe. Hallmarks of such an amazing signal of intelligent alien origin would be it's proven origination from deep space and it's "narrow-bandwidth", meaning that the signal energy would be confined to a narrow frequency range (like our Earth radio stations, and unlike our Sun or radio galaxies.) Such a signal has been searched for on and off for decades. But space is vast, and frequency-space even more so. Only one transmission fitting these two criteria has ever been detected.... It is famously called the "WOW Signal", so-named because of what astronomer Jerry Ehman wrote on the observatory computer print-out when he spotted its reception - he wrote: "WOW!" This detection occured in August 1977 and was the most intriguing event in the long-running and successful astronomical radio emission survey conducted by Ohio State University's "Big Ear" Radio Observatory between 1963-1998.

In this wonderful book, Robert Gray describes the WOW signal attainment, and chronicles his WOW follow-up work. This is the very work that astronomers should have done - follow up on the signal and try to reacquire it. Gray is not an astronomer, yet to try to track this absolutely fascinating "Cold Case" of a possible alien signal, he did the impossible. Consider: when an astronomer wants to use a world class radio telescope, the two credentials he/she must present, even to apply, are a PhD in Astronomy and a funding institution. Gray had neither of these, and further, his observing proposals (looking for aliens) were, to say the least, suspect. Yet he managed to learn a great deal of radio astronomy and build a sound and respected colleague-base, and was granted precious observing time on three world class radio observatories to pursue the elusive WOW. Gray even built a centimeter wavelength observatory in his own back yard to pursue this signal. This book follows the author's journey attempting to learn the origin of this signal, and reacquire it. In relating his decades-long quest, he gives the reader fresh firsthand insight into the ongoing global search for signals of extraterrestrial intelligent origin.

I very much enjoyed this book. The writing style is simple and understandable. Gray describes his efforts with the right combination of enthusiasm, wonder and humility. Two of the passages that I found most amusing are when he went to a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) conference and later felt he had spoken about his theories a little too much, and another passage where he remarks offhandedly, that trying to build a centimeter wave radio receiver completely on your own is a mistake.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2013 8:06 AM PST


Starquake
Starquake
by Robert L. Forward
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.41
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The fun goes on - but not as far., March 1, 2010
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This review is from: Starquake (Paperback)
You have got to love the challenge Forward sets out for himself in the Dragon's Egg, and in this sequel, Starquake. He has a mid-21st century crew of astronauts sent out from Earth to discover and interact with the most exotic of species, living on the most exotic of worlds. The "Cheela" are intelligent beings inhabiting the surface of a neutron star. They eat and think and fight, and romance, and even cultivate "plants" and "animals" much as we do. However, due to the forces inherent to nucleonic matter, the Cheela are barreling through time (as defined by the pace of sequential events) at a clip one million times faster than humans. They experience the changing stages of social evolution just as rapidly. The inter-species interaction itself is brief: the two novels span just two Earth days and thus hundreds of Cheela generations. In these short hours, the neutron star civilization has time to rise up from barbarism not once, but twice, and the Earthlings and Cheela each experience their own epic disasters requiring that they spend some of their time rescuing each other. The story of Dragon's Egg was brilliantly original and bold. It was a thrilling ride, with the reader witnessing the mutual discovery of the most disparate life forms by each other, and was filled with wild inventiveness. Furthermore, the first book exemplified Clarke's axiom about advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic, and showed how widespread social belief in magic can a drive a people in very strange directions.

But the novelty of Dragon's Egg has worn off a bit in Starquake. One feels that Forward was compelled to complete his challenge in full, with a multitude of material and social interactions explored. Epic history is made through every sort of species-specific and inter-species act of heroism. To further facilitate this, some lucky individual Cheela escape their brief 45 minute life-span limit, and via a convenient rejuvenation process live on for multiple generations to stay with us much of the tale. Unfortunately, even in such creative surroundings with: monopoles; black hole dust; millimeter mountain ranges; trillion Gauss magnetic fields; the setting of an 8000 K stellar surface, a familiar problem of some Forward novels comes to bear in Starquake. Its thin plot is peopled with superficial characters who can not fight their way out of the sea of technical details inundating the story (earning it the "hard science fiction" mantle), so as to carry our interest very well.


Mr. China: A Memoir
Mr. China: A Memoir
by Tim Clissold
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.46
140 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Investing in Chinese Factories, September 24, 2008
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This review is from: Mr. China: A Memoir (Paperback)
"Mr. China" is a collection of vignettes of real-life misadventures by Wall Street in its drive to invest and profit from China's production abilities in the 1990's; attempts to make profit from investing in the "one billion three." Here, the author is the first person protagonist as he tries to supervise his many venture factories.

Every possible disaster ensued: flooding; national economic downturns; international incidents. Personnel problems topped the list. The Chinese directors manage to do everything possible to sink their own ships (sometimes to fund a new one): resist modern efficiency; embezzle; set up competing businesses; spend millions on fruitless unauthorized enterprises and to play the government and the courts against their foreign partners. The disasters drove the author, via stress, to near death.

The book is an effort to convey and to understand what happened. The surprising conclusion of the book is that the author believes the business mismatch of East and West, when looked at from the Chinese perspective, shows, in fact, the strength of the Chinese character: in times of trouble, to look to the short term and seize advantage when offered. In the end the author became life long friends with many of his adversaries.

The book seemed long on disasters and short on solid insight. But the book can serve well as a cautionary tale to today's investors in China's industries.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 29, 2011 6:48 AM PDT


China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power
China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power
by Rob Gifford
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.39
167 used & new from $0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From a reader in China, September 9, 2008
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I pass along this review from a reader in China, L. Li.

"The author of this book came to China in 1987 when he was 21 years old to learn the language, and then stayed for nearly 20 years conducting the research and journalistic reporting. For six years, up until 2005, he held the position of the American National Public Radio Beijing's correspondent. During his work, he traveled all around China and to many other Asian nations.

In this book, the author relates a special two months of travel as his farewell to the land, crossing China from one side of China to the other, hitchhiking much of the time, or utilizing any conveyance at hand. On the road he meets and talks to all sorts of people as he journeys from Shanghai to the Kazakhstan frontier along the unassuming Federal Highway 312.

In his journey Gifford shows profound insight and sensitivity into the day-to-day life of the rapidly changing Chinese society. This, for me, was the book's greatest surprise; that a foreigner to China could possess this level of understanding, and be able to retell his insight to a native born Chinese person such
as myself. The author captures well China's local understanding of itself - especially its admirable human qualities manifest even under the weight of the nation's massive history. The work is a tribute to his years of
research.

The author also intertwines his journey with the journey of China itself, relating what he experiences to the
history of the land and the people. Finally he reflects on where this is all going, giving a forecast of the
possible futures China may face with thoughts on China's possible dangers, judgments that will be needed to keep the current China in it's present situation, on course.

But, this is the part of the book with which I felt some resentment. The author points out that China is developing perhaps too fast - and sounds an alarm for other nations as to its potential for instability. This seems to me a bit of hypocrisy, and a bit of arrogance. Consider the United States - 5% of the World population using something like 30% of the World resources. By what standard can China's rapid growth, not into riches (as in the West) but simply into modernity, be faulted so easily?"


Thirteen Moons: A Novel
Thirteen Moons: A Novel
by Charles Frazier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.53
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Immersive Historical Fiction, July 2, 2008
As in Cold Mountain, when Frazier lets you into the room of the past, he quietly closes the door behind you. You are there, you are immersed. And he lets you think you understand what is important about that which is unfolding before you - in Thirteen Moons, for example - it is the life story of the frontiersman Will Cooper, told in first person, from age 12 to 90, living through the entire 1800's within the Eastern Cherokee Indian Nation in North Carolina and making something of a success of it. This is a romance too of, yes again, passionate unrequited love, with the man being, again, left largely in the dark, but only a bit moreso than the woman. The quietly played-out background drama, the uprooting of the entire Cherokee Nation, leading to their Removal and the Trail of Tears, only slowly dawns on the reader. It is truly gentle way to experience history - through anecdotal daily life, experiencing the waves of change and the clear effects of the villains, e.g., Head of State Jackson and heroes, e.g., the philosophical Bear.

To me the weak point here is that we never really get to understand at all two of the main characters - Claire and Featherstone. The novel starts and ends with Claire, and yet her story is left as a mysterious as it began. OK, I can take it and work with this - but Frazier does such a good job with Will I wish he would have given us the full circle of the three lives.


Dance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice Age
Dance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice Age
by Björn Kurtén
Edition: Paperback
Price: $29.95
66 used & new from $0.06

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very educational and enjoble novel, June 27, 2008
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The Neandertal people were the sole inhabitants of Europe for 65,000 years, starting from 100,000 years ago. With the arrival from the South of modern man, the Homo sapiens, the Neandertals rapidly vanished - a mystery to this day. The Dance of the Tiger offers one plausible model of the interaction between these two peoples during their crucial encounter era. The author does this with the explicit admission that we actually know little about how or even if this encounter took place and what happened. As such, the novel is a thought experiment. But it is also an action novel and murder mystery made very engaging through its rich cast of characters: intelligent animists, tested leaders, warriors, shaman, shysters, artists, etc., as the two groups vie for their place in primeval Scandinavia. The plot contains interactions and intrigues as nuanced as any set in modern times. And unlike a book of a similar ilk - The Clan of the Cave Bear, this novel focuses accurately on the rich natural world at this period of ice age thaw, and sets the story into a sharp unsentimental focus.

To criticize - I would say the plot for me, despite its crafting, was fairly predictable. Ironically, more attention was given to weaving it, than to providing complexity in the many minor characters, who seemed almost contrived to serve the plot. I also ended up doubting the model attempted by the author to solve the overriding mystery (would people continue this practice once the result quickly became evident, and where then are the commingled bones?).

What do we take home? Something very nice. We are allowed to imagine a past where there are two very different types of intelligent peoples interacting, who each see the world clearly, and perhaps even more directly than do we, and further, who are in a more immediate way involved in forging the future. I recommend it as highly enjoyable and entertaining read.

Get the version if possible with the introduction by Steve Jay Gould. It is a brilliantly written piece. Gould raises these points: The encounter between the Neandertal (no longer believed primitive and brutish) and Homo sapiens was unprecedented in the history of Earth - never before had two such alien peoples encountered each other. Second - that the sort of tale Kurten tells is the best way for a scientist to layout such speculation - such a novel is the most productive way to explore exploratory science.


Mao: The Unknown Story
Mao: The Unknown Story
by Jon Halliday
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.02
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tyrants Playing Chess with their people, September 3, 2007
This review is from: Mao: The Unknown Story (Paperback)
The authors chronicle the devious and bloody course of Mao's rise and reign. Are the historical facts skewed? In general, it seems they are well supported. While they compile and document their facts, many new, with care, the authors' voices can be heard imploring the reader to see the reality of the man that dominated China and influenced world affairs for so many decades. Spending 600 pages with the authors, one realizes several things: they are right - that this individual first manipulated people and then ruled by terror, killing, depriving, and turning his political allies against each other. Communism in this story is not a concept of shared wealth but rather an individual's pretense for skewering his contemporaries, instilling unshakable fear in a population to subjugate them, and ultimately as a means to open a pipeline of resources from Stalin and other World leaders. The pretense of achieving the common good repeatedly achieved a common hell for the people but often achieved Mao's goals for Mao. Barbaric actions were committed in the name of the people, against the people, largely to make them obey absolutely.

I often wished that the authors' invective and revulsion toward Mao were absent from the prose. Additionally, the authors stretch a bit at each turn to be sure to villainize Mao, sometimes in frivolous matters, so much so that the reader is left wondering if the authors may have overreached and may have asserted some unsubstanciated conclusions. But, in the balance, the evidence is overwhelmingly there - the vision of unity he sought for China was anything but a benevolent one and the methods he employed were heinous.

Even while the authors harp on Mao, I also must admit, having their sanguine (albeit repetious) human insights voiced during the rough ride eased the horror of the journey they lead. This book could well be revised in years to come so as to just leave the proven cold facts. The fuel for the fire of outrage is present in the facts alone.

The narrative held something else new for me: a fresh perspective of global politics as they are in fact played out. It portrays men, with Mao or Stalin the masters, and Khrushchev, Kennedy, and Nixon the other actors, playing chess. The chessman are their people: one chessman may be an entire army of soldiers, or tens of thousands of townspeople, or one of their country's resources: grain, minerals, technical knowhow. Or a pawn may be the civilians in one area, or even local civil sanity, or somethings as actually chess-like as the fear of a potential rival or a ruler's son held hostage.

In the game, the Queen is national or world opinion and the King is the main player: the man who wins the game and the country or the world arena. This saga gives much insight as to what a shrewd world leader can be seen willing to do with his might.

BTW - the "Was this helpful" votes for this book's reviews are clearly bogus - a ploy termed "click fraud."
(If you look at the wild votes ratios for different reviews and review quality, this will be immediately apparent. E.g., where are to be found the intellegent bad critical reviews of the book to support the vote statistics?) This vote fraud is an interesting, hopefully distant echo of the political methods portrayed in this book.

(Note added years later - the click-fraud has fortunately been removed - no longer are there present for the many good reviews of this book, the strange tallies for "Was this helpful?" like No = 150 Yes= 21.)


How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe (The Hinges of History)
How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe (The Hinges of History)
by Thomas Cahill
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.07
1064 used & new from $0.01

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun way to learn history, August 8, 2004
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Perhaps like yourself, I gained only a spotty appreciation of world history in high school and college, but since then have started to build a better picture in my mind
of the twisted path taken by civilization in the East and the West, by reading lots of good books. This is one.
"How the Irish..." is written in a laid-back yet scholarly way, and it's a fun read because of the wit and irreverence of the author, whose conversational familiarity with the singular characters of medieval Europe (including St. Patrick) operating in the century or two around the Fall of the Roman Empire provides a tour de force of story-telling.
While, I had known that the Church and literacy were deeply coupled, I had not realized how this coupling could lead to a "single point failure" where we almost lost both together following the demise of the Empire.

Why is this important? Because along with losing libraries, we almost lost the foundations of democracy, justice, science, and philosophy as propounded and recorded by the Greeks and Romans.

The rescue of our civilization, the theme of this book, is surprising as for per identity of it's heroes and improbability of the rescue at all. To quote (as does the author) Kenneth Clark: "It is hard to believe that for quite a long time - almost 100 years - western Christianity survived by clinging to places like Skellig Michael, a pinnacle of rock eighteen miles from the Irish coast, rising seven hundred feet out of the sea."

One of the most amazing revelations of this book was the depiction of a golden age in Ireland where the best of
the Irish socially-oriented, humorous upbeat spirit was combined with the best of Christianity (think St. Francis) and other acquired themes (Egyptian, Armenian, Yiddish) to yield a flower-child period of faith in action on the Emerald Isle.

I will definitely read the subsequent volumes of this series: the Hinges of History series by Tomas Cahill


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