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Wayne Radinsky "Future Thinker" RSS Feed (Denver, CO USA)
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SHADE IT BLACK: Death and After in Iraq
SHADE IT BLACK: Death and After in Iraq
by John Hearn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.98
122 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A matter-of-fact account of experiences in the Mortuary Affairs unit, and return to civilian life, February 11, 2012
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Shade It Black is a matter-of-fact account of Jess Goddell's experience in the Mortuary Affairs unit of the United States Marine Corps during the Iraq War, and her return to American society afterwards.

The book is a difficult read. It is a slim volume and can probably be read in a single sitting, but it took me 4 months to read it. The book can be thought of as two parts, although it is not actually demarkated that way: the first part being her experiences in Iraq, and the second part being after her return to civilian society. In Iraq, perhaps paradoxically, even though she is rarely directly involved in firefights, she is exposed to tremendous death, as part of her job in the Mortuary Affairs unit. As you read you will get a sense that this has a profound psychological effect on her and the others in the unit. At some points you may worry that Jess and her companions in the Mortuary Affairs unit are going a insane, but they hold themselves together and get their job done. After she returns to civilian society, you realize that the profound psychological effects you noticed in the first part of the book were only the tip of the iceberg, and that war experiences are even more powerful and change people in deep and profound ways.

Some other recurring sub-themes in the book are the hyper-masculine culture of the US Marine Corps and how it is unsuitable for women, and, in the part after she returns to civilian life, the profound difference between military and civilian culture, which makes re-adjustment to civilian life very difficult after serving in a war zone. Military life is all about deep integration into a group, where everyone depends on each other for survival; civilian life is all about atomized individuals competing for money, and hedonistic self-centeredness.

I would like it if everyone read this book, so people who support war policies and war candidates for government office know what it is that they are supporting. People think they understand what it means to support a war policy, but they don't. They "support the troops" once conflict has started, and put a yellow magnetic ribbons on their cars. Jess describes how she drives by cars with yellow ribbons, and avoids those people, because they think they support the troops, but they don't have a clue what they are supporting, and encounters with them are awkward. A lot of the second part of the book chronicles Jess's struggles to understand why the war was done, and her own guilt for being involved in an enterprise that involved so much death and destruction. War veterans with PTSD cannot just idly dismiss these questions with clever slogans. It is amazing war veterans can keep from just all killing themselves, and of course, some of them do. Some are mentioned in the book.

However, I doubt many members of the public will read this book, or if they do, I doubt they will fully understand it. The book ultimately is probably of most benefit to other US military veterans and others who have experienced PTSD. Jess's struggle to make sense of her war experiences may help others, if for no other reason than to help others realize they are not alone.

A person with PTSD can't necessarily "recover" and go back to who they were before, and there is no instant, quick-and-simple solution, but by talking honestly about what they experienced, and incorporating those experiences, even those that shade parts of themselves black, they can forge a new path forward that is positive and meaningful, as Jess demonstrates with this book, both in the frank re-telling of her experiences, and her plans, described towards the end of the book, to use those experiences, and her future life, to help others.


Secrets of Body Language
Secrets of Body Language
DVD ~ Secrets of Body Language
Price: $10.08
30 used & new from $5.95

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to body language, January 22, 2011
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This review is from: Secrets of Body Language (DVD)
This documentary covered more than I expected and used real footage for everything. Looking around I note that the other reviewers fault it for not covering enough topics and for using clips of famous people and people who were on TV news -- but I think it covered plenty in an hour in a half for anybody new to the subject, and I thought it was great that it used TV footage of famous people and people like Susan Smith that were in the news, because they needed to use footage that showed actual real-world body language and facial expressions, rather than using actors, and TV news is an obvious place to go for such video. They got footage of lots of people in a variety of high-stakes situations, doing what people do in such situations, which is sometimes to try to fake expressions and body language and sometimes to be genuine. Since I am a beginner with this subject this was perfect and I give it 5 stars.


It's Not You, It's Biology.: The Science of Love, Sex, and Relationships
It's Not You, It's Biology.: The Science of Love, Sex, and Relationships
by Joe Quirk
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from $3.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic comparative biology book for non-scientists, January 2, 2011
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I gave this book 5 stars because I think once you understand what the book is about and what it is and isn't, it is truly a fantastic book. What the book is is a comparative biology book comparing the human species to other species -- primarily other mammals and our closest relatives, other primates. What the book *isn't* is a dating/relationship advice book, analogous to "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" or somesuch. If you're having problems in your relationship, and don't understand why your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend is doing peculiar things that make no sense, this book probably won't hold the answers for you. But if you want to know how human males & females compare with the rest of nature, and learn many surprising facts about our biology, this book is for you. Not everything in the book is about sex, but most of it is. I'm not certain every idea in the book is correct, but it'll all make you scratch your head and say "oh wow" and Quirk provides references for all the scientific research, so you can investigate anything further for yourself. It's also a lot of fun to read, written in an irreverent humorous style -- a very wise approach considering the subject matter and how easy it is to be uncomfortable about it. Anyway, approach this book with the right expectations, a "comparative biology" book for non-scientists, and you will love it. It's fun to read and I zipped through it, and now I'm going back and reading it more slowly and checking out the notes and references where the scientific research comes from.


True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society
True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society
by Farhad Manjoo
Edition: Hardcover
85 used & new from $0.54

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll never look at the "news" the same way again, June 22, 2008
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I really really like this book and highly recommend it to everyone. The book describes various cognitive biases that are built into all of us -- things called, such as, selective perception, selective exposure, "experts", particularized trust -- and how these interact with the sudden change in the huge number of news sources brought about by the internet and other information technology changes -- to give us a world where "objective" reality disappears and different people live in their own versions of "reality".

You may disagree with the author's beliefs about the particular examples he uses to illustrate these ideas -- Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, 9/11 conspiracy theories, the Iraq war, global warming, and so on. But his opinion on these things are not really the point of the book. The point of the book is how different people see these things in different ways, and how this difference persists in the face of more news, more information, more photos, more videos, more blogs, etc -- instead of more information getting us closer to the truth, it instead takes us farther away from the truth and further into our own echo chambers. And describing how this process works -- and how certain people, such as savvy public relations firms, try to manipulate the process to get certain ideas and belief out into the public -- is the real point of the book. So, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the authors point of view on any particular examples, I guarantee, after reading this book, you will never look at the "news" the same way again.


The New Renaissance: Computers and the Next Level of Civilization
The New Renaissance: Computers and the Next Level of Civilization
by Douglas S. Robertson
Edition: Hardcover
82 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Unique perspective on what causes transformations in civilization, April 25, 2007
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There are two great things to say about this book: First, Doug has done some truly unique research into the information processing capacity of previous civilizations. This is eye-opening in and of itself. But, second, Doug explains how these increases in information processing capacity lead to abrupt "phase changes" -- transitions in the fundamental structure of civilization. For example the transition from monarchy to democracy -- only possible with the printing press, and not before, or the scientific revolution, and the industrial revolution, again not possible before the invention of the printing press. He uses this to predict a "phase change" in the future as a result of the computer revolution -- that's why he says the invention computer is the beginning of (a new) civilization. He doesn't speculate much on what this future will look like, only saying the world after previous "phase changes" was impossible based on what came before, and this one should be no different. I give the book "4" stars because he goes off on quite a few pointless tangents -- his writing style improves noticably in his second book, "Phase Change". But even though Doug's books were not bestsellers, I belive everyone in the futurist community should read this book and "Phase Change" (which basically expands the chapters on the future of math and science into another whole book). I say futurists should read these books because futurists talk endlessly about Moore's Law and exponential change and exponential "progress" -- but "progress" does not occur as a smooth curve, exponential or otherwise. Instead, information processing capacity increases "in the background", but every so to cause an abrupt "phase change" to explode out of nowhere and utterly restructure society. Historians almost never mention the role of information technology in these revolutions. Doug's book is the first I've seen to zero in on this concept and convince you that it really happens. After reading Doug's book you will stop expecting the future to be a smooth extrapolation of the present (either linear or exponential, as promulgated by futurists such as Ray Kurzweil), and instead start thinking about what discontinuities/ruptures/surprises future "phase changes" might bring -- how civilization could be restructured into something unrecognizable from the world we live in today. I believe this is an important shift in perspective. Doug's thinking style is highly influenced by mathematics, so if you enjoy math and thinking in a logical, rigorous manner, you will enjoy Doug's books.


Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (Incerto)
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (Incerto)
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.86
235 used & new from $0.87

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history that didn't happen, August 21, 2006
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I loved this book. Taleb shows how we are blind to the ways randomness affects our lives -- which matters a great deal in terms of how we should behave in the future. For example, should we try to get rich by emulating other people? If we know people who got rich from winning the lottery, it's obvious that we shouldn't try to emulate them -- their method of getting rich will not work for us (probably!). But what about "The Millionaire Next Door" and such books, that explain how other rich people got rich? Taleb explains how various fallacies, such as survivorship bias, cloud our perceptions. Survivorship bias is, for example, you might see that lots of people got rich by taking risks average people aren't willing to take. But if you only see the "survivors", what you don't see are all the people who took risks and didn't get rich. Taleb talks about many other biases as well, such as the "Black Swan" -- the rare, totally unexpected event -- named for our subconscious belief that because something never happened, that it never *can* happen -- because every swan we've ever seen was white, we believe every swan we will ever see will be white... until we encounter a black one. He also talks about how we accord high status to people who succeed by randomness, and look down on those who fail by randomness -- as if they "deserve" it -- our brains are simply not designed to handle randomness. The book is full of lively stories of Taleb's trader friends, such as Nero, who makes $1 million a year, and John, the lucky fool who makes $10 million, but is unaware he is a lucky fool -- he doesn't know what risks he's taking, and thinks (like everyone successful) he is succeeding in the markets due to his own knowledge and skill. But he still looks down on Nero, who feels like a beta male. Until John blows up.

For me, the biggest effect of this book is that I now think about all the histories that didn't happen -- both in my life and in the world -- and not just the one history that actually did. It is a weird way of thinking, but important, because it gets you thinking about, how could you have predicted what actually happened using only the knowledge you had at the time? Because you need to prepare for what is going to happen using only what you know now. And if that statement doesn't make any sense to you, it will after you read this book.


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