The thing I love about Christopher Hitchens, is that every page I read of his, I often see a word I've never seen before. Hard to believe I know, but the guy was a freaking genius. I was poised to attend his lecture at University of Waterloo, until he canceled it for health reasons.
This book is what you would expect, a shoot'em from the hip biography of Thomas Jefferson. I was reading this book at the same time as watching Downton Abbey. The vivid imagery from the TV show, allowed me to visualize what it would be like for TJ. Also we recently visited Virginia on the way back from Gatlinburg. While deep down I know that the differences in each State is diminishing, it was a real eye opener to see how much of a disparity still exists. When the waitress at VA Shoney's said 'Ain't she purty!' to Layla, it was a bit of southern culture which I thought had disappeared from modern America.
Ever since I found out Thomas Jefferson went through the Bible and cut out all the incredulous stuff, I've always respected him. Good biography, obviously well written. Would recommend to anyone interested in American History.
Okay, I think I've read too many of the same types of books. This is yet another everyday laymans psychology book. It follows the same Gladwellian format. The underlying theme is of course that we don't really have a say in what we think. By the time our conscious realizes it has made a decision, it is too late. Our mind is already made up. Our unconscious mind is busy at work in the background processing information, thinking even when our forefront conscious isn't. So take it easy, don't think so hard, your subconscious will do all the hard work. I think.
I heard this guy talking on CBC Ideas. I was fascinated by how much he knew about biology. Also by how smart he was. How he was going on about sequencing the DNA of millions of microbes in his boat.
That is how ignorant I was. I didn't realize just what a science super star this guy is. This book is an autobiography about his professional career and how he managed to sequence the human genome before the government sponsored effort. Although a bit technical at times, it isn't to a fault, because how else is he suppose to explain all the stuff he did and his many technical insights. He is a very captive storyteller. Often he is on the defensive, explaining why he made decisions he made. The bottom line is he was always looking for funding his research, and sometimes that required him to get intertwined with big corporations in order to get money.
Overall I really liked the book. He kind of inspired me to want to get my gnome sequenced. I know that about 3 years ago it was quite a hype. Many of the websites which offered the sequencing service were criticized by scientists claiming the application of the results were often too speculative. I imagine things have improved a bit since public databases and number of people using the service has grown.
Also 3 years ago it was $300 now it is only $100. They website says they have an API where you can do statistical analysis programmatically of your own DNA. Awhile back a guy wrote on facebook that he had done it, and couldn't believe how informative/rewarding it was.
Anyways good book to read, I can't wait to see the move and see how visual effects will make the characters come to life!
Love Richard Wiseman. I've read a couple of his books now, and have hear him speak many times. He's also been a guest many times on SGU. I love the fact that he uses social media to help him do his research. Something most people simply aren't doing yet. Not only is he doing it, he is doing it well.
So, this book is designed to double firstly as a popular psychology book and secondarily as a self help book. In Wisemanesque fashion, he references countless studies and presents them in plain english. He does all the hard research and just shows you the results of interesting and quirky studies.
Right from the get go, he pushes his ground breaking theory that instead of thinking about doing something, you should just do it. Often times this means acting it out. For example he talks of the smoker who in a study was instructed to act like he was going to quit smoking. He met with a pretend doctor and gave the reasons he was going to quit smoking. Low and behold, people who played the part of someone who was quitting smoking was more likely to quit smoking.
The theory is a silver bullet and keeps momentum throughout the book.
The other side of things, the self-help checklists. I didn't quite under stand them. I found them cheesey and distracting.
But as for content a great read for anyone.
Les recommended Slaughter house five to me. I read through it and I also read through B-fast of Champions. I was shocked how this guy writes. He kind of writes how I think. Or how I use to think when I was 20. Often unconnected random thoughts. He seems to break all the rules. Almost purposely. I guess that is good writing. When I write all I do is try to do the right thing. Something that is hard enough. But to be so smart that you can be good at writing and write all the random stuff that just pops into your head?! The guy is either a lunatic or a genius. I wonder how many of the phrases in these books are inside jokes to himself!
Alright, well I know that you are suppose to read books of all sorts of genres and not keep reading the same things, but currently my favorite type of books are those of popular psychology and sociology. These books are great, and I'm not sure why I enjoy them so much. After reading this book, I felt like I came across 20 situations where I thought hey maybe things are that way because of that.
So this book, is just like the rest, it cites psychology journal entries to show how everything we do in life is influenced by things we didn't even realize. From colours biasing our decisions to people's names affecting what job they do, and how successful in life they will become.
A fun book, quick read for anyone who likes these type of books.
My only complaint would be for the couple of: 'In a recent study 11 people were divided into three groups and a significant number of the control group blah blah'. Best to have a few more people, and a few more studies before you present the findings as fact to the masses.
Not sure why I have always hated Steve Jobs so much. Perhaps I bought into the 'us' vs 'them polarization which plagues modern america. While learning computers, I decided to side with PC/ Microsoft because that is what was available to me in my teens. I was very hesitant to read this book, but I felt like it was so popular perhaps I could give it a try.
The book tells an authentic raw gritty story. It describes everything you would want to know about Steve Jobs. Often going into so much detail you want to stab your eye out. Eg. Jan 1988 so and so sent this email and so and so said that. Overall I enjoyed the book though. I was fascinated to learn that SJ became a multimillionaire many times in many different ways. I didn't realize how much money he made at Pixar and how he made more there than he did at Apple the first time round.
It was also interesting to realize how capricious he was. Often making extreme decisions on a whim. Often illogically. The one pattern of his success was his ability to get really pissed off and make people scare him. I was really satisfied how the author strived to tell both sides of the story. Often making SJ look like a lunatic. Other times portraying him as the genius he clearly was.
Gladwell would say that SJ was a product of impeccable timing and circumstance. Something that seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the book. Was SJ successful because he has the foresight to spend 1 million dollars on a logo? Was he so detailed oriented that he truly made amazing products? Who freakn' knows.
After Layla was born, I had to take a bit of time off reading. Now that she is getting a bit older, it has been easier to get a few minutes here and there to read. This was the first book I read in the new year. I was captivated with the story of Kevin Mitnick in the 90s. I remember when he was in jail, and people were asking to free him. This book was great. It goes into considerable detail on how he hacked many systems. Surprisingly his best tool was social engineering. It seemed, especially from his perspective, that he could call up anyone and get them to do anything. From typing in commands they didn't understand, to pretending to be a company technician in the field requiring some much needed information.
I felt that I could related to many of his curious escapades. We seem to share the same sense of driven curiosity for systems. The difference is he has of course acted on his impulses to a far greater extent than I ever would. Now that I'm at a different stage in my life, I no longer feel the need to exploit things. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you have to do it. For example, in high school, I remember using a password snifter to get my teacher's root password. I then anonymously put the password on the board in big letters. Kevin describes pretty much the same type of scenario when he was in high school. At the time I just thought I was 'liberating' the stupid lockdown software. I feel embarrassed now. Who knows that could have been his banking password too.
Just when you think he's gone too far, he always goes a step further. Each exploit being more creative than the last. The story is enthralling, and I would recommend to any computer guru.
This book was written awhile ago, and is considered one of the classics, and is a must read for all budding skeptics. The book left me satisfied. Although it is a bit winded in parts. I guess that is forgivable since it covers so much material. I especially liked the section which addresses holocaust revisionists. A couple of years ago I watched a few of those conspiracy youtube videos which talked about how the holocaust was a fake. I know that these videos are just conspiracy videos made by some crack pot, but there were a few points which got me thinking. Or to rephrase, these videos had some valid points, but I just didn't know how to refute them. Thankfully this book went through and addressed some psychological pitfalls in the revisionist reasoning.