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Denis Benchimol Minev "Amazonia" RSS Feed (Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil)

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Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places
Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places
by Paul Collier
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.95
80 used & new from $2.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars INTERESTING THOUGHT ON THE BOTTOM BILLION, A BIT TOO OPINIONATED, January 18, 2011
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For those who have been trying to educate themselves on certain international affairs such as politics of poor countries and arms trading this book attempts to explain it. Collier certainly has his opinion about democracy and why it is failing. He argues that the wrong aspects of this system are being promoted. This has led to a lot of corruption in voting systems and the illicit trade of arms around the world.

Unlike other books on the subject, Wars, Guns, and Votes was written in a uniform manner. It is very directed at those who have a certain opinion about these topics. It is written with a wry British humor and sarcasm that comes through.

Reading this book is similar to listening to your uncle who has a strong opinion about some topic. It is difficult to stop listening to him tell the supporting stories behind his opinion, but the whole time you want to go double check the things he is telling you because you're not sure if they are factual. The same is true with this book. Collier certainly tells his side of the story, but readers may find themselves never quite sure if they could take away the factoids they found within.


The Return of History and the End of Dreams
The Return of History and the End of Dreams
by Robert Kagan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.70
96 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars VERY BRIEF (GOOD) VIEW OF FUTURE INTERNATIONAL POLITICS (SO-SO), January 18, 2011
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The Return of History and the End of Dreams is an interesting book which presents some intriguing ideas about the world that we live in now. Written by Robert Kagan, this book takes a realist perspective of the future of international politics and America's role in this new world.

The problems stem from this optimism that was produced by the fact that people in democratic nations saw the worldwide decline of communism as being equivalent to the rise of democracy. However, in reality, countries such as Russia and China, while not being communist, have been increasingly autocratic. There are other smaller examples such as Venezuela and some Islamic countries of the Middle East, but the powerhouse countries of Russia and China tightening things up will definitely equate to a decline in democracy and a rise in autocracy.

The book is OK. If the reader is well experienced in international politics, this book is very short and offers some (not many) insights. For the newcomer to the topic or someone just trying to get an initial perspective on it, there are definitely other better sources.


Systems Thinking for Curious Managers: With 40 New Management F-Law
Systems Thinking for Curious Managers: With 40 New Management F-Law
by Russell L. Ackoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.00
33 used & new from $15.88

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRIEF INTRO TO ACKOFF'S THINKING, January 18, 2011
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Many middle managers will enjoy reading through Ackoff's Systems Thinking for Curious Managers. The systems thinking approach is one which most will see some benefit from. There is a f Law for everyone and everyone certainly will be able to relate to some of the concepts or see the mistakes of oneself or others through the systems thinking lens. The content in this book, including the 120 or so f laws are meant to be an intro to the rest of Ackoff's work.

Ackoff was a legendary man in his industry, although most were not as well aware of him as they were Deming, who helped rebuild Japan's post WWII economy. He introduced Kaizen and Just in Time thinking which helped propel certain Japanese businesses to worldwide domination. Ackoff was doing the same thing, producing excellent work on supply chain management and systems thinking while generally increasing the body of knowledge in each of these fields.


Rashomon (The Criterion Collection)
Rashomon (The Criterion Collection)
DVD ~ Toshirô Mifune
31 used & new from $2.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UNIQUE CLASSIC, January 18, 2011
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The film Rashomon is a pure classic. The acting and plot twists make this a truly enjoyable movie to watch for everyone from film students to casual viewers. When you start watching the classics, you start to realize that modern film is built off of classic film like this. Truly, Akira Kurosawa's much revered movie has become a model off which countless other movies have been made. Overall, the film is enjoyable to watch, and the storytelling is superb, especially when taken in perspective with modern film. The structure of the story is one which has been copied in many movies, even those which are quite famous.

What makes Rashomon notable, besides the fact that it was made in 1950 in Japan, well before the modern convention was used in most films, is that is uses a non-linear approach to the tale. Instead of having a static protagonist and setting, the same story is told from many points of view. In Rashomon, there are four main perspectives from which the same story is told. The event which the story revolves around is a rape and murder. However, just as in real life, the truth about what really happened is not as clear as we would like.

The movie is full of action which keeps most viewers entertained, but it is also home to a stunning story of truth, justice, and consequences. The director, Kurosawa, focuses on the difficulty in knowing what human nature is really like, as it goes through the different perspectives of the characters in the story. The picture is better because background information about the film indicates that the director's favorite actor, Toshiro Mifune, plays the lead role. This unity is obvious throughout the film which is a work of art.


The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World
The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World
by Larry Jay Diamond
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.43
63 used & new from $4.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST REFERENCE FOR THE TOPIC OF DEMOCRACY, January 18, 2011
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The Spirit of Democracy by Larry Diamond is a great book for those who are looking for insight into the often debated question of if democracy is a universal desire throughout the world. There are often discussions of democracy versus more controlled governmental systems, and the current state of democracy in the world.

Diamond goes deeply into the configuration of a democracy, demonstrating that it is not only elections, it is also a set of institutions that work together to guarantee a level playing field politically and certain freedoms, especially of minorities and of speech. The book is peppered with practical examples of successes and failures, with interesting analysis on the reasons.

For those who engage in discussions about the future of societies and whether democracy is a universal value (Diamond certainly thinks so) and if so, how to spread it, this book is a great reference point.


Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended
Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended
by Jack F. Matlock
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.89
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT DESCRIPTION OF NEGOTIATIONS, PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP, December 22, 2009
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Matlock, the author, was US Ambassador to the USRR and assistant secretary of state during the period of the Reagan administration. This book is written from a US perspective, with rich detail on US positions and thinking and relatively little form the USSR perspective, as is to be expected.

The book goes into detail on Reagan's attempts to negotiate first with Chernenko, then with Andropov and finally with Gorbachev. It goes into especially lively description of the Reykjavik meeting, a low point in the relationship but that turned out to open the door to future agreement. It follows with Reagan's visit to Moscow and his address to the soviet people, followed by Gorbachev's visit to the US.

Though interesting and definitely entertaining, this book is very focused on the specific negociations and meetings between the US and the USSR, not on the general scenario or the outsinde conditions that led the parties to make their choices. It is a bit thin on specifics about the leaders of the negotiation on the USSR side, especially I think because at the time of writing much of these were still not available. I recommend it to those already familiar with the topic who would like a more in depth knowledge of the negotiations, but there are many other books for the first time reader of soviet affairs.


Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)
by Richard P. Feynman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.75
315 used & new from $1.21

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GOOD, BUT NOT FEYNMAN'S BEST, December 22, 2009
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Feynman is of course one of the greatest physicists and pop science writers of all time, one of the originators of the genre. This book starts by recounting much of his childhood and early years through anecdotes (3-4 pages long usually, some funny, some not so much) about his relationship to science, starting with his initiation, to the ways he found to make money through it, and so on. The book continues on with many of these short stories, including his period in the Manhattan Project.

Through written in short anecdotes that make it easily readable, I believe this is not Feynman's most interesting book. I would highly recommend "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out" as a much more thought provoking book. In it, Feynman not only tells stories, but also searches for meaning in life and physics and takes the reader along. In this title, it seems he only recounts stories, trying to be funny but never making the reader reflect deeply.


On My Country and the World
On My Country and the World
by Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev
Edition: Paperback
Price: $23.79
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GORBACHEV ON HIS ROLE IN HISTORY, December 22, 2009
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This is a very interesting volume by perhaps the most influential person alive in our history. Mr Gorbachev starts with a brief description of his formative years, explaining clearly where his reformist zeal came from but also how a reformist could manage to rise through the bureaucracy. He then focuses on his reforms, clearly stating his intentions, his views on US positions and the maneuvering taking place.

Perhaps most interesting about this book is Mr Gorbachev, though recognizant of the failures of the communist regime, still makes a case for the progress that was achieved under communist rule and his belief that socialism is an ideal still to be espoused.

His comments on the current state of russian affairs make it clear he was not seeking a complete market democracy. His obvious dissapointment over the course Yeltsin and now Putin are taking is clear.

Overall, it is a good book to learn what the man thinks -- however, it is less interesting than one would expect from such a global leadership. To understand better what happened to the USSR, I recommend Lenin's Tomb, which takes multiple views of the collapse.


Designing Inclusion: Tools to Raise Low-end Pay and Employment in Private Enterprise
Designing Inclusion: Tools to Raise Low-end Pay and Employment in Private Enterprise
by Edmund S. Phelps
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $99.99
27 used & new from $19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE ECONOMICS OF SOCIAL INCLUSION, March 1, 2009
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Edmund Phelps is the very best eocnomist to tackle employment as a problem to be solved. In this very short book, Phelps puts in policy making language the findings that have made him famous and earn a Noble Prize.

The problem is clear: how to improve the lot of low wage earners. Low wages, though they may seem economically efficient, carry along heavy social externalities, such as malnutrition, poor education, poor health, etc. Phelps explores the economic alternatives to improve the lives of low wage earners. He carries the reader through his thinking, presenting ample evidence and reasoning so that the reader arrives at his well thought out conclusion.

Just as an advance of the book (in order not to leave one in suspense), his main conclusion is that a subsidy for companies to hire workers at a certain wage (a minimum social wage) is the best way to stimulate profit seeking companies to adjust wages to that level. A small subsidy is generally sufficient to achieve a good improvement in wages.


Amazon Peacock Bass Fishing: Top Tactics for Top Locations Book 4
Amazon Peacock Bass Fishing: Top Tactics for Top Locations Book 4
by Larry Larsen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.85
29 used & new from $2.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NICE LITTLE GUIDE, AIMED AT ENTHUSIASTS NOT BEGINNERS, March 1, 2009
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This books tried to be a guide to peacock bass fishing, in all its aspects. Having been a peacock bass fisherman for nearly 20 years, I can say there are several positive sides to this book, with a few minor drawbacks.

First, you should be a fisherman already to read this. The vocabulary is very focused on those who know what they are talking about. On the positive side:

1. There are good pictures of fishermen catching large specimens. The pictures seem very exciting, but they are not of once in a lifetime catch; with a bit of luck you will indeed end up with one of those).

2. There is a good guide to locations, as the Amazon is vast and there are areas where you can only find small fish (nature's puzzle). They give good indications of where to look and how to get there (with recommendation of tour companies that are from 2003, so may be a little outdated.

3. There is very brief and interesting section on features of the region, such as geology (why are some rivers black and others clear?), biology, etc. In very small doses, those are interesting and may wet the appetite for reading more on the region.

On the downside, the author describes almost as science the preferences of the peacock bass as to lure color and type. Having fished for many years, I can tell that these features change from year to year and from lake to lake, so my best advice is bring a full tackle box and try out alternatives. There is no science (yet) on what will make the peacock bass lunge.


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