17. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Business, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson, 272 pages, read by Kira, on 03/17/2015

fut perftI read Future Perfect because I was so taken with Steven Johnson’s paradigm-shifting book Everything Bad is Good for You, which made a compelling case for the internet actually making us smarter – contrary to popular knowledge.  This book is more nuanced.  Johnson argues for a peer-to-peer revolution, in both politics and economics.

He starts off comparing the French configuration of rail lines versus the Germans.  The French had a master-plan, where every rail line would follow a straight line, and every line would pass through the center of the world – that being Paris.  This is in contrast to the Germans rail lines, that were a hodge-podge of lines that followed the terrain, forming a lace pattern, with much duplication.  But during WWII, the German rails proved their superiority, as they were much faster at transporting soldiers to whichever front, compared to the French who faced the bottleneck of Paris. cartography,map,network,train,transportation-839c638d5f46b779eb80ae800beb4d61_hindex Johnson uses this metaphor of networks or peer-to-peer operations consistently outperforming top-down hierarchies.  Johnson then applies the model to problems the US faces in politics and economics.  Worthwhile to ponder this alternate model.

13. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Madeline, NonFiction · Tags:

This Town: two parties and a funeral--plus, plenty of valet parking!--in America's gilded capital by Mark Leibovich, 400 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/01/2013

Tim Russert is dead.
But the room was alive.
Big Ticket Washington Funerals can make such great networking opportunities. Power mourners keep stampeding down the red carpets of the Kennedy Center, handing out business cards, touching base. And there is no time to waste in a gold rush, even (or especially) at a solemn tribal event like this.

Washington—This Town—might be loathed from every corner of the nation, yet these are fun and busy days at this nexus of big politics, big money, big media, and big vanity. There are no Democrats and Republicans anymore in the nation’s capital, just millionaires. That is the grubby secret of the place in the twenty-first century. You will always have lunch in This Town again. No matter how many elections you lose, apologies you make, or scandals you endure.

In This Town, Mark Leibovich, chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, presents a blistering, stunning—and often hysterically funny—examination of our ruling class’s incestuous “media industrial complex.” Through his eyes, we discover how the funeral for a beloved newsman becomes the social event of the year. How political reporters are fetishized for their ability to get their names into the predawn e-mail sent out by the city’s most powerful and puzzled-over journalist. How a disgraced Hill aide can overcome ignominy and maybe emerge with a more potent “brand” than many elected members of Congress. And how an administration bent on “changing Washington” can be sucked into the ways of This Town with the same ease with which Tea Party insurgents can, once elected, settle into it like a warm bath.

Outrageous, fascinating, and destined to win Leibovich a whole host of, er, new friends, This Town is must reading, whether you’re inside the Beltway—or just trying to get there.

31. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , , ,

Waiting for an Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq by Farnaz Fassihi, 291 pages, read by Tammy, on 01/30/2013

waitingWall Street Journal’s Middle East correspondent, Farnaz Fassihi, relates her interactions and interviews with the citizens of Iraq and how they are dealing with the affects of the US/Iraq war since 2003. She relates stories mainly from the ordinary working and middle class people she mets while living in Iraq. See the war through their eyes, everyone from a middle class art gallery owner to taxi drivers to radical teenagers.

19. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

Troubled Water: Saints, Sinners, Truth and Lies about the Global Water Crisis by edited by Anita Roddick with Brooke Shelby Biggs, 138 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/17/2012

This month’s reading challenge for our library staff reading competition was to read at least one environmental book.

This was a very informative book which showed it’s facts in a variety of ways: photos, graphs, traditional text, and artwork. This book is defiantly an eye-opening read about the scarcity of clean drinking water throughout the world including countries like the U.S. that traditionally haven’t worried about water supply. It also discusses a variety of ways that countries are trying to deal with this crisis. The author is definitely anti-privatization of water supply and I have to say I agree. Water is a necessity for life and shouldn’t be something that companies make a profit from distributing. That said, I do see a growing challenge for towns, states and countries to continue to provide safe and affordable drinking water for their citizens.

28. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

The people are revolting! (in the very best sense of the word) by Hightower, Jim, 100 pages, read by Kira, on 03/27/2012

people revoltingVarious political speeches and presentations by Jim Hightower.  I really liked his quote I’m paraphrasing “an agitator in a washing-machine gets rid of the dirt, so being an agitator is a good thing”.  He notes that we need both the bean-sprout eaters and the snuff-dippers working together :); and though the Christian Coalition and bean-sprout eaters may not have much in common on social issues, they do agree up and down on economic issues.  He then goes on to dismiss the terms conservative and liberal, saying these are political ideologies, what is more useful in categorizing voters is by how much money you make.  How many of you make more than $28,400?  Michael Eisner head of Pixar makes $28,400, not in a year, not in a month, not in a week, no, he makes that much in an hour.  Whew!  Puts $71 million a year into perspective.

These are the sort of interesting things you learn on this Audiobook.