Tag: Reviews

Reviews of tools, and technology I have used and like

Book Review: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson is a long book that leaves you feeling satisfied. This science fiction novel includes a lot of factual information with thoughtful but whimsical character development. If you invest the time in this book you will learn a lot about economics, climate change, philosophy, politics, history, and sociology among other things. The author clearly has a viewpoint, but he is informed by knowledge that he shares with the reader. The story is complex, but well-constructed with characters that defy reality while being relatable. I recommend New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson for a lot of reasons. The book is a good and satisfying read while delivering important messages about climate, society, politics, and economics. If you want to understand the times we live in; read this science fiction novel about New York more than a hundred years from now.

Book review: Stony the Road by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Stony the Road (Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow) by Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a history text. The book is dry and factual; not exciting. If you want to know the various ways that Black Americans were attacked and used as the antithesis of White; this book is a top resource. Today many of us know that people believe what they want to believe, but illiterate former slaves had to deal with an array of forces working to humiliate and diminish them. White was ultimately defined as everyone with European origins viewing and working to keep Black people inferior. Doctors, scientists, journalists, etc. were all in on a conspiracy to feed White egos and marginalize Black ones. Details are a strength of this book; the election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and his White supremacist policies, racist movies like “Birth of a Nation” (1915), Whites feeling anxious about Black troops coming back from World War I leading to the terrorist Red Summer of 1919. The book starts with Reconstruction after the Civil War and follows the hellish reality the Black Americans lived with through the 1920s. If you want to understand more about the history of White Supremacy in America put this book on your list.

Book review: Deacon King Kong by James McBride

If you want to read what I would call a great and imaginative mystery; try Deacon King Kong by James McBride. The author succeeds with deep social commentary, rich imagery, all weaved into a provocative story. The book is set in a late 1960s Brooklyn project where Black people have migrated north to escape the racism of the south only to discover a new version of it. The main character known as Sports Coat struggles against overwhelming odds due to family neglect almost from birth, racist abuse, poverty, and finally alcoholism. Tragedy strikes early in the book, but Sports Coat despite his flaws is a deeply spiritual man who struggles to the end to make his life meaningful. Friendship and fellowship are major elements of this satisfying book where all of the characters struggle in their lives, but possess inner strength and character. The world can be a tough place and Deacon King Kong does not hide this reality, but author James McBride does a masterful job of portraying the human spirit shining through the darkness.

Stress Test by Timothy F. Geithner

The book Stress Test (Reflections on Financial Crisis) by Timothy F. Geithner (former Secretary of Treasury) is a great source of information about the global financial system. I can say that I learned a lot by listening to the audiobook version. Mr. Geithner refers several times to the movie “Its a Wonderful Life” when people rush to pull money out of the Bailey savings and loan. That movie moment has always resonated to me as a way to understand the financial system. The system is based on trust and as Geithner says; “when trust disappears no one is safe” and that means especially the little guy. I have heard many people say that the bankers got away with murder, and the bailouts were unfair because only poor and working people were hurt. Geithner makes it clear that what he calls “Old Testament solutions” of punishment cause panic in financial systems(with lots more pain for the little guy). I would recommend anyone wanting to learn more about the financial system, the crisis of 2007-08 to read this book and “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis.

Forming and modifying good habits

The book Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg talks about being aware of our 1. cues (things that trigger behaviors), 2. routines (common behavior patterns we don’t think much about), and 3. rewards (the feeling, event, or praise we receive that reinforces the behavior). All of us fall into loops of behavior and activities that lead us to what we want in life, or further away from it. Duhigg talks about how powerful habits are in our lives and that we should try to control them. I agree with his conclusion. Lets make our journey through life one that is more of what we want by weighing our habits and whether they add or subtract from what we want to be.

Great podcasts that I recommend

There is a lot of growth in the podcast business and I want to share three essential programs that promote living well and enjoying liberty: 1. The Jocko Podcast is a great listen that reviews books and stories of military veterans and relates them to leadership and living well. Sound difficult? Host Jocko Willink with producer Echo Charles weave career, fitness, and lifestyle with military history and strategy for an entertaining, insightful, and funny show. To quote Jocko – “Discipline = Freedom”. 2. Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell is entertaining while teaching you a truth you did not know existed, but should. This is an excellent podcast. 3. The Dave Ramsey Show is great while being straight to the point about money and life – get out of debt, stay out of debt, and enjoy financial freedom. The stories are all different, but the road to better living is the same; get discipline, and lose debt.

Great podcast for those wanting more out of themselves

If you want more from your life, and want to listen to an ongoing conversation on ideas for doing it – listen to the Jocko Podcast featuring Jocko Willink, and Echo Charles. The podcast is predominantly about living and being your best through the lens of business consultant, former US Navy SEAL, and Jiu-Jitsu master Jocko Willink. A quote from the show that I feel sums a lot of the shows humor and good advice is – “When in doubt; get after it”.