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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.09
2102 used & new from $0.01

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tipping point in human behaviour, May 14, 2006
A while ago I reviewed Gladwell's latest book, Blink! And I wasn't raving about it either, I was disappointed by it. It felt like it was just going on and on and not making new points. The writing felt forced, it felt like I feel when writing an article and I don't feel like writing one (The glory being I don't get paid for this so I can chose not to write one) I got the book due to all the brouhaha I kept hearing about Gladwell. Never having read his first book, The Tipping Point, I picked it up and whizzed right through it like a plow to the land.

I think that perhaps Gladwell tried to hard to make Blink! A success like The Tipping Point has been. This is one fantastic book to read and should be read by everyone in my opinion. It would give us all a better insight into human behavior.

This book is about epidemics, not the biological ones like Bird Flu, but the epidemics of human behavior or created by human behavior. But mostly it's about the little things that give birth to an epidemic; these little things are what constitute the tipping point, the point where localized phenomena spreads... quickly.

According to Gladwell there are 3 rules to epidemics rising. The first one is "The Law of the Few" which states that there's a ratio called the 80/20 Principle. This principle says that 80% of the work gets done by 20% of the people. The second rule is "The Stickiness Factor". This factor points to information and the types of information that will stay with you, stick with you, like a kick-ass commercial that touched on something for you. The third rule is "The Power of Context" which is all about sensitivity to our surroundings and how it can influence us whether we accept it or not.

In the first rule, "The Law of the Few", Gladwell dissects it into 3 major players, human players; Connectors, mavens and salesmen.

"Connectors" are what I call social addicts. These people thrive on human interaction. They have social power and this is what's needed to bring people together for the impending epidemic.

"Mavens" are the information junkies who actually read the freakin manual, calls the 1-800 number of a company and crosses their T's and dots their I's for them. These are the guys that learn anything they can from a product. These are the guys that can tell you where to get the best deal for whatever you desire to purchase.

The third player is the "Salesman". The name says it all. These salesmen will sell an Eskimo a freezer. Why? Because they have this ability to mind meld with people, get into the proper frame of mind and can get anyone to agree with them, they can convince anyone, therefore sell anything.

Using all this information as a base, Gladwell then goes on to make his case, or cases. He has a formidable power of association where he can link Paul Revere's gallop through New England to warn that the British were coming with the seemingly inexplicable re-popularization of Hush Puppies by a sub-culture of fashion conscious youth looking for the item no one else is wearing. He links together a suicide spree in a country that had never had cases of suicide with teen smoking by pointing that cool people don't act cool, they are cool by acting on poor impulse control.

In the end, an epidemic starts by a few folks who dare to buy the new technology when the prices are still exorbitant, a few folks who live a life of laissez faire and can become Patient Zero for the aids epidemic in North America, like Gaetan Dugas; a French Canadian flight attendant who's promiscuous sex life with thousands of people across North America made him the target of vilification. Good or bad, an epidemic starts with people that dare to try, that dare to leap before looking.

This leads to another set of people, those who will jump in once the daring have done so. These are the ones that bring awareness to the epidemic, which leads to the masses. And before you know it, everyone has an iPod. I only wish that Gladwell could have written this book after the iPod craze to see just how he would treat it. Ipods went from woohoo-another-mp3-player to the must have item in no time flat. It's so popular that entire store walls are dedicated to iPod accessories. That's epidemic, iTunes, most likely the tipping point.

This was another book I just couldn't put down and had to read at every possible free moment I had. Undoubtedly a superior book to his Blink! And it has restored my faith in Gladwell. This book should be one everyone's to-read list. I impatiently anticipate Gladwell's next offering to the Dead Tree Society.

5 outta 5.

Hunger: An Unnatural History
Hunger: An Unnatural History
by Sharman Apt Russell
Edition: Hardcover
63 used & new from $0.01

9 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book Review : HUNGER: An Unnatural History by Sharman Apt Russell, April 9, 2006
People say I have a "bonne fourchette" which means good fork, which implies I have quite the appetite. And it's true. I live in a food-town and the variety alone will drive you to eat. Plus I have such a disposition. I know so well how hunger tortures me into eating despite knowing I shouldn't. So reading the book Hunger by Sharman Apt Russell was a given for me, a matter of time, since my appetite for reading is equal to my appetite for food.

Hunger is one of those books that look at things we would rather not. To stare into our own humanity's eyes and pass judgment. The book starts out with her own failed attempt at fasting. Who can blame her? Fasting for a day can be a lesson into our slavery to this bag of meat and bones.

I do quick and dirty fasts on a monthly basis, which means from bed to second rise, where I go to bed one night and don't eat until the morning following the next one. Its torture for me but it just cleans out the system. And the book reveals this as fact by pointing that children, not yet encumbered with cultural habits, will stop eating once sick and also that animals, when sick, will refuse to eat. Starve your illness, let your body fix itself; don't bother it with digestive chores.

The book takes us through all the facets of hunger. From fasting to anorexia to world hunger and it's no holds barred. It continues her fast with a history of fasting. She begins with the religious fasts, those "hungry maidens" who fasted for holiness, for God in the Middle Ages. Seems it was what honorable young maidens did to get close to God. This ultimately leads to hunger striking, fasting for political reasons. These chapters are the easy ones.

It's when the book gets to the starved victims of war and she goes deep into the Jews who suffered at the Nazi's hands in Poland. And if this chapter doesn't leave you with a deep need to vomit, it's because you have no heart. Nurses killing newborns so the Nazis won't experiment on them or torture them; mothers lying dead in the streets with her children still clutching unto her; and it goes on with other human atrocities.

There are also some interesting chapters of studies of hunger, starvation and famine done in the US with volunteers. It shows how our behaviors change when faced with limited food or no food at all. How we revert so easily to animals, hovering over our small plate of gruel, playing with it for hours, to make the eating last longer; the coveting of unnecessary stuff; volunteers wanting to become chefs or read books about food; stealing trinkets in stores, etc.

The studies take us inevitably to the paradox that is anorexia nervosa. Hungry people tend to become immobile, inactive, while anorectics on the contrary seem to have so much energy. An interesting parallel is established between the starving maidens and anorectics. How "the complexity of one woman's self-starvation might yet be a mix of chemistry, Vogue, Father's expectations, and ancient imperatives."

The book finishes off with famine and refeeding the famished. So we get a fast-track trip through all the major famines up to this day. And there is plenty of talk on the trials and errors of refeeding which are even more difficult with complex types of starvations (Yes there's more than one). Basically famine is easier than refeeding. The refeeding process is so complex, it covers the last section of the book. And this is where the book begins to fall apart.

The book follows what the title says it does; it offers us the unnatural history of hunger. But by the final chapters you feel duped. The book then feels like a manifesto pamphlet. I wanted to learn about hunger, to understand it better, I didn't want to be conned into feeling guilty for the life I live and basically get my arm twisted into becoming an aid worker for the Peace Corp.

I have all the respect they deserve for the insane work they do to help, but don't try to con me into it. Because it's not for everyone as the book tells us about a photojournalist who took pictures of a dying child. She literally died on the pictures. The photojournalist was criticized for doing so, why didn't he help the child they said. He could only argue that it was impossible to save them, there were too many hundreds dying each day. He still won accolades and prizes but ended up taking his own life once he crumbled under the crushing guilt of his inaction.

Not everyone can do this. I can't deal well with suffering children, even adults. But I could dissect humans as a coroner without ever losing my lunch. It's all about perception and where your heart is I guess. We can't all Schindler our way through life. So when a book about the history and the science of hunger turns into a war cry from relief workers, I feel like I've been lied to.

The writing style is good but isn't my forte. It feels like reading, and I exagerate, a much extended power point file, due to all the enumeration it contains of shrunk down and vulgarized scientific information. But for an information junky like me, it's still a satisfying read despite its manifesto aftertaste.

I give it a 3 outta 5.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2014 8:50 AM PDT

Matrix Warrior: Being the One (GollanczF.)
Matrix Warrior: Being the One (GollanczF.)
by Jason Horsley
Edition: Hardcover
66 used & new from $0.01

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Jake you are not The One., March 19, 2006
What's the worse that can happen to a philosophy book about The Matrix? Have it be written by a pop-culture hack who clearly doesn't understand the movie. Most reviews of this book are very good ones. This one will not.

This book should have been an essay at best. Not over 200 pages of his imagined view of The Matrix. I agree with the writer that the Matrix is much more than a simple movie but that's where our agreement ends. Like a trekker, the would be red-pills of this world, like me, will protect The Matrix' integrity and vision. Having it applied to other philosophies that are not part of its own universe will not pass. This would be like having the Enterprise show up in Battlestar Galactica. And it's worth pointing out that this book contains very little philosophy and is more of a social critique seen through the lens of The Matrix story line and then it is not that either.

The first chapter begins with just that, a critique of the blue-pills that inhabit the Matrix. But it's critiquing every day folk, not the players in the movies themselves. At the first read, I thought maybe this is more a sociology book from a geek's point of view, this could be ok. That we are all in a Matrix ourselves and this is what can be expected for your life if you never take the red pill.

But after a few chapters the reader quickly realizes that Jake Horsley is off his rocker. He quickly moves away from the movie's philosophy and starts renaming the character's archetypal roles. Blue-pills become humatons, Blue-pills who realize what's going on become Matrix Warriors, Agents become Gatekeepers red-pills become Matrix Sorcerers and The One becomes a Lucid. He then starts talking about 1st and 2nd attentions, eschatons and stalking.

This is his entire ploy to change the lens focus to another optic entirely, that of Castaneda and Phillip K Dick. He's an obvious fan of both as they keep coming to the surface of the discussion throughout his work. And he then goes on to discredit Beaudrillard as being unimportant to the movie. Despite the fact that the Wachowsky brothers had the major players in their movie read Beaudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation (along with Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World by Kevin Kelly and Introducing Evolutionary Psychology by Dylan Evans) and despite the fact that the book can been seen in the first scene of the movie, when Thomas opens the book to get diskettes for Choi and the luscious Dujour.

Yeah that's the ticket; let's just throw out the very foundation of the story so I can replace it with my own point of view of how it should be. The book soon turns into a "Warrior of Shambala" type guide book for the aspiring red-pill, I mean aspiring Matrix Warrior. The Matrix For Dummies Who will Never Understand It could have been a better title. Horsley also purports that his book his humorous. It must be that dry British humor because it wasn't funny at all. It mostly read like all those British pseudo-scientific documentaries on Stone Henge that can be seen on TLC or Discovery. Then he drives the last nails in by adding appendixes on Castaneda and Dick.

It was more rank-amateur low-end fanfic from a geek than it was sociology or philosophy. Though fanfic writes seem to have more respect for continuity in the story line than does Horsley. Why I found this book in the Philosophy section is beyond me, but after all the books I've read on the philosophy of The Matrix, this has to be the worse one yet. I'll be less tempted to purchase more books on the subject in the future because of this book.

It gets to choke on 1 red pill outta 5. Jake you are not The One.

If you wish to read great books on the philosophy of the Matrix I strongly recommend The Matrix and Philosophy and More Matrix and Philosophy edited by William Irwin.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 17, 2009 8:21 AM PST

The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
by Carl Sagan
Edition: Hardcover
51 used & new from $0.01

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did we long for those great graceful leaps and ecstatic moments of weightlessness in the shafts of sunlight of the forest roof?, February 28, 2006
This book is a timely and fortunate publishing in these days of division on the evolution vs. creationism. Only one thing. It was written almost 30 years ago by uber-genius, Carl Sagan. And boy he really covers it all in this relatively small book on such a vast subject. He vulgarises well enough for the layman to understand, although it doesn't get informationally dense at times. What did you expect? It's Carl Sagan.

The book is pretty simple. It takes us through a speculative ride through the evolution of human intelligence. Carl Sagan once said that if you want to make apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. Thankfully he doesn't start there; he picks up around the time we were but mere bacteria and works from there. He goes through all levels of monkeys and then hominids always keeping in perspective that we aren't that far away from being just apes in trees. Just a few aborted mutations and we're still flinging crap at each other in trees.

Yes he vulgarises, but not as much as I. I just love to kid. On the contrary, Carl Sagan is a poet with a doctorate in biology. Who knew that cold science could inspire such warmth of creativity? He writes of humans carrying memory from our earlier times, swinging from tree branches. Here's what he said:

"And after we returned to the savannahs and abandoned the trees, did we long for those great graceful leaps and ecstatic moments of weightlessness in the shafts of sunlight of the forest roof?"

After reading this, I had a tear in my eye, because I remembered, I remembered being a child swinging from branch to branch in trees. Bending entire cedar trees to catch the next trunk, all this 20 or 30 feet up high. Was my compulsion for tree climbing simply buried genetic memory asserting itself? Who knows, but damn does swinging from trees beat having to wake up in the morning to go to work. The good old days.

He confidently links our technological leaps as being the obvious continuance of our ape heritage. As apes living up in the branches we had certain built in fears.

One of them was falling out of the branches and cracking ones skull open on the forest floor below. This fear is built in from birth. The baby ape knows innately that falling down is certain death. Sagan connects that to dreams we all have, dreams of falling. He posits that this dream we all have is vestigial of our times as tree dwellers. That somewhere inside us, the primal fear of falling out of the tree still lingers. That this dream is a built in security system to keep us from falling out of trees while we sleep, such as we did eons ago. This primal fear manifests itself in our technology. Notice in elevators (perhaps the modern ones don't hold true, but they did back 30 years ago) that the indicator for down is red and the indicator for up is green. Red, meaning death, green, meaning the canapé of leaves. Simple coincidence? I'd agree with Sagan in saying no.

The book goes on with many other affiliations between our ancestral beings and the intelligence we have today. He then ventures further with incorporating technology into our size challenged brain and then of course, Sagan being Sagan, further speculates about AI and extra-terrestrial intelligence.

What I enjoyed from this book, being an IT specialist, is his use of the computer intelligence model to compare with human intelligence. I myself often use this comparison model. This is a model I understand well and made me understand his scientific arguments with ease. He does this throughout the book but still keeps it at an understandable level. But his naiveté about his knowledge of computers would crush him by today's techno-mayhem slowly encapsulating us, but I digress. He would have adapted expertly to today's technology anyway.

He doesn't shy away from controversy either. He even takes on abortion by detailing how the human brain becomes human when the neo-cortex is formed because it's what differentiates us from other species. So he pretty much gives his opinion on when an embryo becomes human. And then dares you to say otherwise by upgrading simple animals to the same held ethical standards on life. Pretty spiffy work and enjoyable. I just love to see genius at work, even though he accuses anything outside the scientific method as "soft" science or pseudo-science, but then again a scientist always preaches to his choir.

I give this book a mind evolving 5 outta 5. It's a must read for anyone, for any reason. Read it, thank me later.

The Center of Everything
The Center of Everything
by Laura Moriarty
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.95
278 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a fantastic novel..., February 7, 2006
This is the first novel I've read since high-school. I've always been more into philosophy, history or scientific books. I just love to suck up information like a sponge, but I've been on information overload lately and decided to start reading novels, or at least, give it a shot, expand my horizons. And when there's bargain bin madness at Chapters where I can pick up left-overs for two or three dollars, it's a good deal. I found The Center of Everything at the bottom of a bin; I grabbed it without even reading what the book was about. The title was sufficiently interesting for me. And I fear it may have ruined me for future novels.

The story is about Evelyn Bucknow, who at the beginning of the novel is but 10 years of age, born and raised on the wrong side of the tracks in Kerrville, Kansas, according to our narrator, Evelyn, is at the center of everything - because on American made maps the US is centered and Kansas is smack dab in the middle of it also. Evelyn is also one smart little girl living with her single mother, not knowing who her father is, in some small complex with more people on the wrong side of the tracks. Her mother is irresponsible and unable to deal with her own family, a father who rejects her as a whore for getting pregnant at a young age, a very religious mother, always trying to get her daughter and grand-daughter to come to church.

Evelyn and her mother are so poor that any screw-up, like a car breaking down, can completely halt their lives. So when her mother loses her job because she was having an affair with her boss, all sorts of troubles pop up, not to mention, she gets pregnant once again with her boss' child, who promptly moves away with his wife. Evelyn goes to school where she's constantly reminded of being poor by her peers and the teachers always pushing her to do better, as she is a gifted student.

The story follows her life through the following 6 or 7 years. Through thick and thin she does the impossible to get into college and make her life better. All the time, she has to make the hard decisions so as to never lose sight or her goals.

The book is depressing, gut wrenching and tear jerking at times. The story is brilliantly crafted and you never lose the connection with Evelyn and her coming of age story. Moriarty seems to have effortlessly evolved the language of the book as the narrator matures and grows up as the story progresses; her expressions, her inner thoughts all concord with her current age as we accompany her along her struggles. It feels almost like you are reading her diary. You are made to feel as she feels and emotions run high in this story. You just want to pick her up and hug her. Everything is pitted against her and she keeps on moving, keeps going forward.

The story will probably remind everyone of their own trials as adolescents and the effort needed to keep sane through it all. All along, to set the stage, we are reminded of the political movements in the 1980s, from Reagan to George H. W. Bush, many pop-culture references, such as Madonna and other 80's pop icons, the TV movie The Day After. There is also much about Evangelicals and tent revivals. This seems to only help you create Evelyn's universe in your mind and it helps make it all too real, makes you feel like you've been there.

You get carried away by all the layers in the story telling and attention to detail, but never flooding you with it either. The only issue I have with the writing is that the writer cuts into another "scene" without indication. It creates interruptions in the story arc; like cutting from one scene to another on a TV show or movie. But there are no visual clues to tell you that there's been a change of scene, leaving the reader with the feeling that something's missing, like the reader absently skipped a paragraph. After a few chapters the reader becomes habituated to this and is by then too engrossed by this book that comes alive, that its small faults are easily ignored.

I just couldn't put it down; it read as easily as Steinbeck and I believe could without contest, replace classic reading material for high-schools. It's more up to date and relevant to today than say, literary classics such as The Catcher in the Rye, or Of Mice and Men. Graceful story-telling, touching material and a good message that you don't need to railroad your life, that you can escape the machinations and traps set out before you, that you can soar above your troubles and succeed.

When I read the final words of the book, I felt sad because I wanted the experience to continue. Now I'm afraid of picking up another novel for fear that it won't be as good, as captivating as this wonderful work of literature.

Somebody give Laura Moriarty a prize, all I can give her is a 4 outta 5 for this shinning gem. And you must read this book.

The Great Divide
The Great Divide
Price: $6.99
171 used & new from $0.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful start to a solo career..., December 28, 2005
This review is from: The Great Divide (Audio CD)
Music Review : Scott Stapp - The Great Divide

Scott Stapp, for the uninitiated was the lead singer for the we-swear-we-are-not-a-Christian-band Creed. Although the band rejected the Christian band label (probably out of fear of being over-marketed as such a band) anyone who paid attention to the lyrics knew all to well that Creed (or at least Scott Stapp) was all about the man upstairs. But solo-Stapp comes out of the Christian Rock closet. In his thanks printed on the CD booklet he begins by thanking "My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!"

Stapp rams through the starting gate of his solo career with a hard pounding, aggressive, soulful and introspective album. OK so the music isn't innovative. It sounds exactly like Creed and even Creed wasn't a big innovator musically speaking. It takes no chances and is pretty formulaic. But if you loved Creed, you won't get enough of The Great Divide. Not simply because of the catchy and punchy melodies, but because it's Stapp's hard and haunting voice, his spiritual intensity and he really pours his soul out in this album.

Stapp seems to grasp something that most believers do not. Most believers seem to think that faith is about living under a code of conduct, being crushed down by dogma, strapping yourself to the ideals of being saved. Stapp doesn't preach at all. He simply surrenders. Faith is about the surrender.

There are obvious remarks and issues with the breakup of Creed, issues about his anger towards the band. And he's not afraid to speak of his addictions and love of the bottle. He seems to say "Hey I'm a screw up but I'm the one dealing with".

But most of the album deals with surrendering to God and asking to be saved. And it's particularly moving. I'm a godless Buddhist-wannabe but yet the intensity of his faith, the strength behind it, anchored by his heavy melodious voice almost makes me want to believe. I don't supplicate to any god, but I can't help but be moved by those with such intense faith. It takes strength, fortitude to surrender your self to the absolute, which is beyond the concept of God. Stapp's beliefs are deep enough that his lyrics border on the new-age at points.

I'm not going to analyze all the songs in depth in this review. Again, if Creed was your thing, get this album, you won't be sorry. I've been listening to it all day and it hasn't yet begun to get boring. There's nothing Popish about it and it's not the Christian Rock that would play in churches but it is accessible to anyone with a love for music and introspective lyrics. It's refreshing to hear lyrics that have meaning and doesn't sound manufactured by producers just looking for a hit. And it has deep meaning, it's personal. No sappy love songs about love lost and found. No silly ballade about finding The One. No bringing out the violins... oh wait, the last song does break out the violins, but it still works somewhat.

I give it a soulful 4 outta 5.

A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality
A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality
by Ken Wilber
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.40
233 used & new from $0.01

47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More like "The Ken Wilber Reader", December 7, 2005
What are we gonna do with Ken Wilber? He writes a book called A Theory of Everything and crams it in 145 pages. Turns out the book is more like "The Ken Wilber Reader", a condensed primer on his exhaustive theory of integral consciousness - I'm not even sure I go it right. It covers most of his bibliography, but packed enough to give Einstein a migraine.

So there's this thing called spiral dynamics. Spiral dynamics is this theory that human beings all begin from square one and evolves through the spiral. The spiral is a social construct about the evolving consciousness. It's built of embed levels called memes and each is color coded. Color coded that's for kids... wait.

There's the beige meme. At this level (Square one) is where it all begins for the young human and societies. It's the meme of instinct and pure survival. The kill of be killed level. What's important to the person at this level, is food, sex, warmth and safety. We're talking early bush tribes here. The hairless talking monkey takes a stand.

The beige meme is followed by the purple meme. This is the stage where all things are magical and animism takes form. This is where humans start taking care of each other. The world is filled with mysticism. This is the age of shamanism and rituals. The sense of family takes shape.

Then it's the red meme. This is the Tony Montana level, the "the world and everythin' in it Chico" level. It's all about survival of the strongest and getting some respect. It manifests itself in feudal kingdoms, the story of epic heroes and the terrible twos. It's all about impulse and the ego.

The blue meme is where it all goes to hell in a hand basket. It's about purpose and authoritarianism. It's about bringing order to the world, control through the absolute truth. It's about living under a moral code. The blue meme manifests itself through moral movements such as puritan America, the moral majority and codes of honor. This is where political conservatism resides.

The next level up the spiral is the orange meme. Strategy and the goal driven life lives here. This is where the overachievers live. This is where the game is played and won. Think liberal enlightenment, think Silicone valley, Fortune 500 and the corporate life.

Now we get to breath right? Heh, sit down junior, we're not done yet. We're only at the green level. The green level is the one that ignores the spiral - or at least tries to. Communalism and the egalitarian good life begin here. Where everyone is equal, where everyone has a voice. This is where Malkovitch moans about everybody's feelings being involved. This is where we shed our shackles of religious dogma. At this point in the spiral, we begin to search the inner-self. Think human rights, multiculturalism, pluralism.

Does it get better? Sure does. The yellow meme. This is where we discover the capacity of flexibility and responsibility, where we begin thinking systemically. Integrative concepts emerge. Ken then caps it with the turquoise meme. He does state that there are more to go, like the transpersonal, but that this spiral will be sufficient for the book's purpose. Turquoise is about holonic thinking. Experiencing wholeness through the mind and the spirit.

Ok you got all that memorized? Good. That was just an overview of chapter one. Only six more to go. Yeah I'm getting a headache also. But worry not it gets worse... hmm I mean better.

He starts with this spiral to then take you to his integral view, his Theory of Everything by displaying multiple diagrams about his concept of "All quadrants, all levels" ideas. Basically it's all about expanding consciousness. To me it just sounds like a western philosopher's re-interpretation of what the Buddha has taught.

But he drives the importance of all-encompassing thinking and living. That all the levels of the spiral are imbedded in each other. Some people are at the blue level, others at green, and some still at the red level. Some people are emotionally red but are intellectually blue. That spiritual growth isn't a one way line straight to the top. That people in the red zone, can still have spiritual epiphanies and still remain in the red. Evolution of mind isn't guaranteed for all. That a whole people won't move together to the next level. This isn't a race that has to be won.

He goes further when he applies the model to science. He states that modern science only studies one quadrant of reality and that they need to innovate to take in all the levels of reality. Then he jumps into the political arena. He rips the conservative side for their dogmatic ways. He demonstrates that their ideology is only a few steps from the gas chambers. So this gets you thinking he's a liberal right? Think again. He puts the liberals in a vice for refuting religion so harshly that instead of finding god, we fight to keep our wallet full. Blaming the liberal enlightenment for enslaving us to the economy after liberating us from dogma.

I wish I could explain more about this book, but as you can read, his ideas are complex and to explain more would extend this review even more.

Of course Ken is much more eloquent than I could ever be. And he can really put into words his ideas and concepts. He's of course nobody's fool. The ideas presented in A Theory of everything are brilliant - but then I rarely find myself disagreeing with his arguments, I'm surely biased. But how can you blame me. His argument is all about finding the absolute.

Reading Ken Wilber is not for everyone. He's a bit dry, coldly intellectual, clinical and does he love the name-dropping. Ken, buddy, enough with paragraphs of name dropping, it's annoying to read. We get the point. People agree with you. Enough already. But as a lover of philosophy, I can't get enough of his books anyway. On the day of writing this review, I've begun reading another one of his books. Instead of endlessly comparing what past philosophers have said and done, Ken Wilber puts forth new ideas. Ideas that can change the world.

Scientists love him, rabbis love him, the Wachowski brothers love him, and I can't get enough of him. For those who love to search for the true self, to understand consciousness, this is a book you must read, amongst his other titles also. If you've listened to his commentary on the Ultimate Matrix Box set, you'll understand that he's passionate about his ideas, though it's not obvious when reading him.

If it weren't for all the name dropping and the chilly feel to his writing I'd give it a 5 outta 5. But I give it 4 outta 5.
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Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful than You Can Possibly Imagine (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful than You Can Possibly Imagine (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
by William Irwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.43
84 used & new from $0.84

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Force is Strong with this one, November 27, 2005
A few weeks ago in a book store not to far away, I purchased this book, along with 6 others, simply because it's Star Wars and it's philosophy. It's a perfect mix for a geek like me. So far the "Popular Culture and Philosophy" series has 12 volumes and I've assimilated 4 of them. This title being the latest offered as sacrifice to my mind. And the series just never gets boring and its editors and writers aren't lazy (with an exception or two)

Contrary to many philosophy books, they won't bore you with long winded prefaces where they detach themselves from the material to keep their cred as serious philosophers. They take the material seriously, they love, they hate but they never ignore it. And like in other reviews of this series I'll reiterate that this is a book, a perfect book to immerse to non-initiated into the world of philosophy using popular culture as a conduit, thus making philosophy interesting to those who fear it. Most people fear philosophy and declare it boring; for the simple reason that it's perceived as much too cerebral.

It's supposed to be cerebral. Etymologically "philosophy" translates to "love of knowledge". But here you get to do it with the force as your ally. If you dig Star Wars and love philosophy or want to take your first steps into it, this is the book for you. William Irwin, the series' editor, goes for impartiality by choosing writers that may irk him by their one sidedness or stubbornness, not only the writers who praise the subject of his books. Thus you get a great amalgamation of diverse views, positive or negative, on all sides of potential issues stemming from the Star Wars universe... or should I say galaxy?

There are a few chapters where the philosopher is not making the reader think, but rather preaching - or it feels like preaching. They chastise George Lucas (but don't we all?) for glorifying technology over nature.

Elizabeth F. Cook, in her chapter on Environmental Ethics, goes so far in her ideological exuberance about protecting nature that all those right wingers/cons who've accused me of being a tree-hugger will have to review their labeling of my person as a centrist because it seems that we shouldn't disturb nature at all, not even pick flowers. This level of preachyness really itches my disdain of extremist ideology on both sides of the spectrum of thought. Human non-interference on nature, even from the most primitive of human societies is simply impossible. We are manifestations of nature, not outside observers. And even in this ideologue's utopia, how does she reconcile her arguments with those of Heisenberg on observation?

Then we have a chapter where the ball is dropped because the writer accuses Yoda of being against the flesh - by saying "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter" - and supporting his theory that Lucas upholds artificial life forms and technology above the living. The writer drops the ball by consistently suffering from selective memory and using the philosophical equivalent of sound bites to make his argument, completely disregarding the whole speech about the force being in every living thing, all around us and this living force being his ally. I found it disappointing and amateurish, considering that Star Wars fans of the rabid kind will be reading this book.

And that's as bad is it gets. There are some seriously delicious chapters like the one on Stoicism. This detachment from pleasure and pain that the Sith and the Jedi go through, reminds me a great deal of the Buddha's teachings but the difference is on compassion. Stoicism views compassion as a weakness of some sort, where as compassion is at the center of most schools of Buddhist thought. Also the chapter on Master-Slave relationships is priceless. It exposes how the slave has the better chances at a better life than does the master, using an elaborate "it's lonely at the top" argument. Only Vader could redeem himself and not the emperor. The emperor views all as below him, while Vader is in shackles despite having a great degree of power in the Empire. Only the shackled can free themselves.

They saved the best for last... ok the before-last. The chapter on why the Jedi seem to lie all the time and the Sith tell the truth all the time. It's one of the ethical questions I've had on the religious aspect of Star Wars. Obi-wan and Yoda keep lying to Luke, while Vader and the Emperor keep telling him the truth. But like the Oracle stipulates in The Matrix movies, just make up your own damn mind - and he does, by refusing what both Jedi and Sith tell him and believing in Vader's goodness. And that's not the only Oracle logic that can be found in the Star Wars galaxy. It's obvious that Mr. Impetuous Skywalker wasn't quite ready for the truth about his lineage. That kiddo couldn't handle the truth about Vader being Anakin Skywalker.

In some way Vader did kill Anakin, making Kenobi's earlier statement a truth. Just like Neo, Luke must know-thyself before understanding the deeper meaning of the truth. The truth can't be handed to you coldly, which is what the Sith do to control. They blurt out truths, hiding themselves in plain sight of all to see. Yes its true Vader is Luke's father. But didn't Vader take the most opportune moment to let his boy know the truth? This truth crippled him more than the cauterizing amputation of his hand he moments ago suffered.

The whole series is worth taking a look at and this book, for Star Wars fans, is a must read. I closed this booked re-assessing my opinion of Star Wars. I viewed Ep. 4-6 as a space cowboy movie with little thought put into it. I still worshiped the movies. I've seen Ep. 4 and 5 over 500 times each and Ep. 6 at least 200 times in the last 25 plus years.

What's not to love? Vader, Yoda, starships and space battles galore, light sabers and did I mention Vader? Even my blog's theme is jokingly Star Wars influenced. But I believed it was little more than a big expensive action movie that was just burned into my psyche since I was a child, and now I can see that this was just the surface. I realize that a lot more thinking went into these movies than I believed. I've even gained a bit more respect for those debacles... I mean prequels. I still think they suck to no end. Even Revenge of the Sith; I thought to myself before seeing the movie, that just having Vader in it, even for five minutes, would save the movie... and George screwed up that five minutes also. And yet after this read I can see the story's depth behind all those crappy rip-offs, so-so special effects and would-be jokes.

The force is strong with this one. Despite the fact that the book fails to explain how light can stop after three feet, this book gets a blinding 5 lightsabers out of 5.

More Matrix and Philosophy: Revolutions and Reloaded Decoded (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
More Matrix and Philosophy: Revolutions and Reloaded Decoded (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
by William Irwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.25
78 used & new from $0.01

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful

MORE MATRIX AND PHILOSOPHY: REVOLUTIONS AND RELOADED DECODED. If like me you worship The Matrix Trilogy and like me you thought philosophy classes in college were the melted cheese on your favourite hamburger... this book is for you. And be aware that this title is the follow up to the equally good book called THE MATRIX AND PHILOSOPHY: WELCOME TO THE DESERT OF THE REAL both edited by William Irwin.

This book, like the rest of this ever growing collection "Popular Culture and Philosophy" series is a compilation of various essays about the subject matter, exploring the philosophy of The Matrix films under 4 different categories, called scenes. The first scene discusses the Suck-Fest or Success of the sequels, followed with Scene Two in which Freedom and Reality are discussed. Scene Three applies to the religious aspects of the films, including Vedanta, Islam, Christianity, faith and messianic symbolism. While Scene Four delves into the social political aspects of the trilogy, including race and violence.

So the book is 216 pages long, so with 16 essays, an intro and an epilogue, it doesn't leave much room to go hardcore with all the varying aspects of the Matrix Films. But what I love about this series is that they give you enough information to want to pursue it even more. So far I've read 3 books from this series.

* Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale
* The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real
* More Matrix and Philosophy: Revolutions and Reloaded Decoded

All three were quite fascinating and gripping books to read. The newbie philosophy amateur will be very comfortable reading about philosophy especially when they refer to popular culture icons such as Neo and Morpheus or Buffy. The writers, for the most part, make their arguments accessible to the novice and still grasp onto more advanced ideas which the novice could easily look up on the web or by reading other books, the many books mentioned by the essayists. And thankfully they, with the exception of Sphincter-boy Slavoj Zizek, make you like philosophy and get you interested to just how deep the rabbit hole does go.

Speaking of Sphincter-Boy, I'll dedicate a paragraph to him but mostly to the editor... Slavoj Zizek wrote the final essay of this book and just slaps the Matrix Fans around like we are all idiots.

I had a unique opportunity of sitting close to the ideal spectator of the film -- namely an idiot.
-- Slavoj Zizek (More Matrix and Philosophy: Revolutions and Reloaded Decoded (paperback), Reloaded Revolutions, p.199)

Not only does he begin by insulting the fans of the series, but also the readers of this very book. I didn't purchase this book to get called an idiot. Not only that but he lacks to make the effort to write a new essay, since this paragraph can be found in his other essay, the first paragraph of The Matrix: Or, The Two Sides of Perversion (The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real (Paperback) p.240). I often complain that philosophers can hardly come up with original thought because they to often cite material over and over again written by other, perhaps greater philosophers. But to plagiarise one's own writing is an act of laziness unfitting of a writer and or a philosopher.

So I ask William Irwin, why Mr. Irwin, why, why, why, why did you allow him to write the final essay again? The final essay that was like having to pull out just before orgasm. Just completely ruined the entire satisfaction I was having reading this book. And just like the first book, I was robbed of my Jouissance, to use a word that Zizek abused during his mockery. After reading his essay, I was frustrated. I was made to feel like an imbecile for appreciating The Matrix trilogy, I was made to feel like a cretin for enjoying and reading the very books you exquisitely edited. Also to add that whenever someone denigrates readers, especially on philosophy which many don't want to read, it won't attract the lay-people to this type of critical thought, because no one likes to feel like an idiot.

One thing is for sure, I won't be picking up books by Zizek anytime soon. I don't give my hard-earned money to get treated like a dick by some would be philosopher who can't even address an issue without referring to its supporters as idiots.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

Despite getting an Intellectual Bobbit Job at the end I give this book a 4 outta 5

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