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The Immortal Cell: One Scientist's Quest to Solve the Mystery of Human Aging
The Immortal Cell: One Scientist's Quest to Solve the Mystery of Human Aging
by Michael West
Edition: Hardcover
52 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why do we grow old and die?, December 20, 2003
Michael West is a controversial scientist with a single quest: to conquer the process and reverse the damage caused by human aging. This book explains his journey, which has generated such a furore a recent newspaper headline compared him to Bin Laden.
Biotechnology has always polarised the public. But tinkering with human DNA and unborn embryos is certain to create as many critics as those who endorse its therapeutic potential. This book offers an excellent review of the genesis and potential of cloning as a means of regenerating damaged tissue, and the ethical issues that stand in its way. It's well pitched, summaries the major developments in gerontology (aging research) and explains the fascinating relationship between aging, cancer and disease. I found it progressively more intriguing with each chapter.

Tomorrow's Gold: Asia's Age of Discovery
Tomorrow's Gold: Asia's Age of Discovery
by Marc Faber
Edition: Paperback
83 used & new from $0.01

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rise of the East?, December 14, 2003
"Buy a basket of commodities and hold them". This is Marc Faber's investment advice for the future, distilled. He makes a case for the ascension of Asia, the relative decline of the U.S. and the debasement of common asset classes such as equities and bonds as stores of value. Why? In the case of the US, Faber believes the Fed will do anything it can to avoid deflation, and a managed devaluation of the dollar will be the way it achieves this. The argument for Asia (and particularly China) as an economic powerhouse is well made. Most of his theories are well supported, however I'm not a fan of cycle/wave economics which smacks a bit of astrology. Faber supports his theories on bubbles, business cycles and prices with quite long winded lessons in economic history. Depending on your fondness for this sort of writing, you might find it pretty dry. Style aside, the author is extremely well informed and since this issue went to print, has already been proved correct in respect of his calls on the dollar and metals. I think the future will continue to be validate his predictions.

The Dollar Crisis: Causes, Consequences, Cures
The Dollar Crisis: Causes, Consequences, Cures
by Richard Duncan
Edition: Hardcover
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valid crisis - an unlikely resolution., November 8, 2003
Author Richard Duncan may not have been the first to highlight the dollar problem, nor is he the only one presently voicing concern.
The ?problem? is that global economic growth is primarily driven by the US trade deficit, principally as a result of the strong dollar. The rest of the exporting world reinvests the US$ receipts back into the US to avoid selling dollars and appreciating their own currency (this would make their exports less competitive) and ?well, Duncan?s contention is that it can?t continue.
According to the author, how will the wheels fall off the trolley?
1/ The ability of the US to generate sufficient dollar denominated debt instruments is tied to the large budget deficit.
2/ The budget deficit will eventually contract and balance of payments will be restored.
3/ The effect of (2) will be to force repatriation of the trade surplus ie. widespread selling of the dollar.
There is already a well argued case for depreciation of the dollar, and the US Fed appears to have acquiesced to this weakness since the beginning of ?03, but Duncan would (correctly) argue the order of depreciation required to solve the problem is much greater. Should the consumer credit binge supporting the US economy falter, perhaps as a result of a housing collapse, a chain reaction of reduced investment and downgraded commercial creditworthiness could be the trigger for a major decline. A decline in the dollar would likely become self feeding through speculative action and a ?rush for the exits?.
The book?s weakness is in its closing chapters. Duncan proposes a global minimum wage as the solution to persistent trade imbalances. This is a fine academic proposal, but why argue for something that so patently will never occur?
?Crisis argues that a status quo in which the United States trades off its own financial assets in return for imported goods cannot be maintained. The conclusion: a significant fall in the dollar, is made very convincingly.

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Edition: Hardcover
81 used & new from $3.00

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare, useful advice, November 8, 2003
This is a book about probability and the way we misunderstand it. Author Taleb introduces the concept of the `lucky fool', and reflects on how we (wrongly) ascribe positive characteristics to the schmuck who succeeds purely as the result of luck.
Taleb's domain (and that of the book) is the world of finance. He is quite rightfully scornful of financial journalism, which attempts to fit rationales to the most insignificant movements in asset prices. According to Taleb, most of this price activity is purely random, pointless to predict and futile to explain. The flip side is the tendency of markets (and natural phenomena) to exhibit extreme, unusual behaviour that confounds conventional theory. The occurrence of this skewed behaviour (referred to as the `Black Swan' problem) has plenty of precedents in financial markets and has bankrupted numerous traders and former experts.
As a general rule, practical advice on financial speculation is almost always useless. If Taleb has a core belief, it is that `I may be a fool, but my edge is that I know I am'. This recognition is not an exercise in humility; it is a prerequisite for success in a world where we are continually fooled by uncertainty and causation.
Taleb's book is a convincing, entertaining lecture on probability and human nature. His written style is little difficult to digest, possibly because of his classical influences. His insights are fantastic, though. Anyone who trades or invests should read this book, and reread it until the message sinks in.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2012 2:56 PM PST

When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management
When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management
by Roger Lowenstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.28
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Liars Poker Part Deux, October 25, 2003
Some of you may remember Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis, written over ten years ago about the author's experiences at Salomon Bros. One of the central characters (John Meriwether) is back in 'Genius - this time at the helm of a hedge fund employing sophisticated quantitative methods in the bond and equity markets. Along with Meriwether, the hedge funds partners include names like Robert Merton that (literally) wrote the book on Corporate finance and asset pricing.
The aim of LTCM is to 'beat the market' and it does so consistently in the early stages, before going bust in spectacular style. What are we to conclude from this meltdown? The author clearly believes that the theories the firm used to predict financial market behaviour are incomplete and ill equipped to model extreme turbulence and crowd behaviour. It's difficult to disagree, as LTCM's collapse happened largely a result of adhering to them without question.
Author Lowenstein wouldn't have got much help from Meriwether in writing this, but he appears to have produced an accurate and highly readable account, extensively indexed and well noted. I couldn't put it down.

The Biotech Investor: How to Profit from the Coming Boom in Biotechnology
The Biotech Investor: How to Profit from the Coming Boom in Biotechnology
by Tom Abate
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from $0.35

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well structured and interesting, September 16, 2003
An excellent introduction to biotech investing.
Tom Abate is a good writer and knows his subject. I thought this book was written in a guarded, pragmatic way that suits the reader's purpose (presumably investment). The dustjacket shouts of a 'coming boom' but the author can be forgiven for what is basically puffery. Abate is clearly arguing for a period of drawn out growth fuelled by demographics and accelerating technical progress - not an imminent goldrush.
I gained a number of insights I consider valuable:
-An understanding of the mechanism of FDA approval and how companies manage themselves around it.
-The fluid business models of existing companies.
-The way in which institutional fund managers seem to advocate active trading over a 'buy and hold' approach to biotech portfolios (this surprised me).
Timely, relevant and convincingly argued. I'd probably buy another book by this author.

Bioinformatics For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech))
Bioinformatics For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech))
by Jean-Michel Claverie
Edition: Paperback
56 used & new from $0.01

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walking amongst Dummys, August 23, 2003
I'm glad I bought this book and I will continue to refer to it. The remit of the Dummies series is to provide a guide to its subject matter without any great fuss. The text focuses on practical techniques without unnecessary diversion into the detail of molecular biology or computer science. In this respect it would have been a difficult book to author, readers having come from one discipline or the other. I agree with previous reviewers that this is well worth reading before doing a bioinformatics course or degree. Bioinformatics is a new field, and this book has delivered a useful introduction to it without recourse to expensive textbooks full of unreadable filler.

Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future
Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future
by Gregory Stock PhD
Edition: Hardcover
92 used & new from $0.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gene therapy on the horizon, August 19, 2003
Germline gene therapy is the manipulation of the genome at the germinal stage (i.e. at conception) as distinct from somatic gene therapy, which involves the manipulation of living cells. What I got out of this book was a clear understanding of how germline engineering (the author's area of expertise) will be easier to achieve, arrive sooner and be more ethically provocative than genetic manipulation that alters our bodies directly.
Early on in the book, Stock addresses some of the Kurzwellian predictions for our future biology and finds areas of disagreement with previous authors. This debate centres on Cyborgism, Fyborgism and the extent to which humans and machines will fuse. I didn't agree with him, but this is not to say he lacks structure or clarity in his arguments.
Be aware that Stock is an expert in germline engineering, a particularly controversial biotechnology. Perhaps understandably, he devotes much of the latter part of the book to addressing ethical dilemmas and social responsibility (something to note if this type of hand wringing doesn't exactly set you alight).
This is a timely book, generally well written. I particularly liked Stock's fascinating thesis on the potential of artificial chromosomes. This is worth the book's price alone.

What's Next?: Exploring the New Terrain for Business
What's Next?: Exploring the New Terrain for Business
by Eamonn Kelly
Edition: Hardcover
35 used & new from $0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Futurism that's both thought provoking and relevant, July 4, 2003
This very readable book was given a favourable mention in last year's 'Wired' magazine. It presents informal, interview style responses to topical questions affecting the future landscape of business. The 'What' in 'What's Next' includes Economic trends, Public policy, Ethics, Biotechnology, Terrorism and many more. Futurism is often a distracted and boffinish business, in which little or no practical advice is offered as to how to use its predictions. This text however has a strong strategic skew. It targets a business reader with a view towards orienting long term business strategy to take advantage of emerging and yet to emerge trends. If you want informed medium and long term predictions this is a good resource, particularly if you have an interest in technology investment.

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (Perennial Classics)
The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (Perennial Classics)
by Steven Pinker
Edition: Paperback
194 used & new from $0.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lengthy but worth persevering with, July 4, 2003
Whether you agree with Pinker's theories (some being extensions of concepts he presents in the earlier 'How the Mind Works') or not, the value of popular science writing is that it simplifies the complicated, and ignites the reader's interest in the subject matter. I feel this book does both. It has elicited the usual responses to his work: generous acclaim from the public and bitter invective from academics and pseudo-intellectuals. I would suggest you distinguish the qualities of the book from that of its pro-Chomsky arguments. Pinker's writing is engaging, well reasoned and funny. There is a lot of it though, and the varying quality of the chapters adds weight to the argument his books could be cut down in size, allowing them to be read before the printed material itself perishes naturally.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2012 9:39 PM PST

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