Last Words – by George Carlin

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Last Words – by George Carlin (with Tony Hendra), 297 pps., 2009

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What I liked about this book

Okay, full disclosure first.  I am a life-long fan of this man.  Although I never had the opportunity to see him LIVE, I did see many of the HBO specials and listened to many albums from childhood into adulthood.  It is no wonder that he and comedians like Richard Pryor were “joined at the hip” during their first days of comedy.

Carlin mastered the English language and had a unique (and overpowering) delivery.  He makes mention of his natural “ability” (understatement) to grab an audience and compound the humor on them.  He had an amazing ability to engage with his audience.

 

What I disliked about this book

It sort of got a little slow in the middle of the book.  Though I’m not against slowing the pace to build on the plot, it almost seemed like there was repetition of the same portions earlier in the book.  Perhaps it was either intentional (as reinforcement) or because this book is derived from his compilation of notes.  Nevertheless, my mind wandered a bit – only to be “rescued” by a strong finish.

 

To whom would I recommend this book

I would definitely limit my readership to 18 and  older.  Repeated discussions on the “7 words you cannot say on television,” along with George’s general delivery of all information would be the reasons.  Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable ride for a mature/ adult audience.  It’s easy to miss this guy.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

Microsoft APAC

Rise of the Robots – by Martin Ford

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Rise of the Robots

by –  Martin Ford, 286 pgs.

What I found most amazing about this book

The most amazing thing about this book is the stark realization that many forms of human labor as we know it is on the tail end of its very existence.  It’s no accident that corporations have seized on both the efficiency and profitability that robots – when built and operated properly – can offer them.  Unlike humans, there are no sick days, vacations, health insurance, etc. that otherwise “inconvenience” the 24/7/365 profit machine mindset

That may seem fine in a money-making sense, but it far from solves every potential problem.  In fact, it may prove to create some brand new ones.  Unless new methods are derived to figure out how all of the millions (up to even tens of millions) of displaced workers are going to miraculously afford to buy those state-of –the-art, robotically-built products and services, then we may come to regret outsmarting ourselves in our technological prowess. 

It is something to keep in mind in our quest for perfection.  In fact, the author proposes a few interesting options with respect to how we could compensate those of us who may pay the ultimate price in this process – that of losing our careers to robots.  As one pretty insightful scientist (Isaac Newton) once put it, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  Let’s hope that we’re mindful of our actions as we move to the next generation.

What I DIDN’T like about this book

I thought this book was the most eye-opening I’ve read in several years.  As advanced as the concepts are, the author did a fantastic job in wording it in a way that even a very young person could relate to.  It is a game changer, a disrupter, and it will most certainly be cited often in the coming years.

Whom would I recommend to read this book

This book is (like it or not) a “must-read” for all working adults who may not even realize how close they are to being replaced in their occupation.  Yes, yours!  I would also strongly recommend it to all college students who are at the point of declaring majors and career-planning for the next stage of their lives.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

Microsoft APAC

Conspiracy of Fools – by Kurt Eichenwald

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Conspiracy of Fools

by –  Kurt Eichenwald, 675 pgs.

What I found most amazing about this book

It was interesting to revisit the new millennium – a time when the U.S.A.’s company heads were spending like drunken sailors, startups were hideously overvalued and debt- laden without revenues, and the world appeared to be at everyone’s feet.  This was termed the dot com boom days. Of course, it didn’t last.  Nothing this hedonistic could have lasted long.  Within a few years of 2000, most were brought to a grinding halt – as a result of economically unwise strategies and reckless errors. 

It is now 2017 and history appears to be repeating itself.  Despite the fact that we recently experienced two economic crises – the dot com bust in 2000-02, AND the Great Recession in 2008-09 – we have yet to fully learn from the error of our ways.  What should have changed our ways permanently seems to have eluded us in favor of more greed and arrogance. For the most part, our collective capitalist memories seem to have been wiped clean after each recovery – only to repeat similar (and sometimes worse) actions in later years. 

We should try harder to never forget that we are not the only economic empire to ever exist in history.  It’s so easy to become complacent with the belief that we can always “pull through the next one.”  I guess we’ll only truly realize this when we experience the event that becomes too catastrophic from which to recover.  At any rate, this book is a great reminder of what happens to those who operate without thinking about the consequences of their actions.

What I DIDN’T like about this book

I liked pretty much everything about this book.  I think it was interesting, well researched and a smooth read. 

Whom would I recommend to read this book

This book is a great read for any adult who has an interest in learning about the true story of a seemingly normal Fortune 50 company which was hijacked by corporate greed and steered into destruction. It’s easy to forget about all of the family members of every employee who are affected by such incompetence and selfishness.  Retirement accounts are squandered, college plans vaporize and innocent futures are never the same again. This is all the result of self-inflicted wounds and the inability to stop deviant behavior despite combined years of executive education and experience.  By not having (or choosing to circumvent) a system of “checks and balances,” it is easy to get so many people (innocent and not so innocent) become ensnared in a colossal and deadly spiral. 

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

 

Microsoft APAC

Phishing for Phools Book Review (by George Akerlof and Bob Shiller)

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For additional information on this book and all others reviewed by this author, please visit:

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The gist of this book is the myriad ways in which our culture is directly and/ or indirectly affected by those who may  (or may not) always have our best interests in mind.

What I liked about this book

One of the interesting references the book makes is concerning the marketing ideas conceived by a company you may be aware of, Cinnabon, as an example of luring weary (and often times hungry) air travelers by the delicacy’s notorious “scent” and how strategically placing kiosks near airport gates became an easy means of trapping the traveler while at his or her weakest emotional moments.  This makes for easy prey – and astronomical profits!  This would hardly be a problem but for the fact that if the traveler were thinking straight, they might realize that they are about to scarf down over 800 calories per treat!   Not a good trade-off for a momentary fill.

It’s funny, but this reminds me of a similar situation I encounter often when I pick my children up from school in the afternoon.  I noticed about 10-15 minutes prior to the bell ringing, I see an old, rickety blue ice cream truck ripping around the corner to secure the most strategically-located spot for the schoolchildren (soon to be excused by the bell – which I’m sure he knows the exact time it is scheduled to occur).  What is even more peculiar (and a bonus to Mr. Ice Cream) is  not only how easy the pickings are with the kids,  but because we live in a very hot and dry area, he even corrals more than a few of the “big kids” (i.e. the parents) who cannot resist the chance to grab some ice cold sugar for a quick fix.  Well, so much for that early morning workout in the park, right?

Whether we are talking about a multi-million dollar franchise pushing high fat, sugary items our way at our weakest moments, or a barely solvent ice cream pusher capitalizing on our child-like tendencies, both are clear examples of how to enact a sneaky yet highly effective method to lure us into parting with our money and blowing up our bellies in the process “without thought.” Though all is perfectly legal, it is proof of the concept of  baiting the weak and  “phishing for phools!”

What I did NOT like about this book…

Nothing! It’s an excellent read with many interesting points made.

Whom do I recommend should read this book

This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a quick and enjoyable read.  It is good for all ages and would even work well entered into a bibliography for any book or book report in the area of psychology or the use of subliminal marketing techniques with respect to how we are easily ( and often negatively) influenced by others in our daily decisions.

 

Microsoft APAC