Review (Guest): I Was Blind But Now I See – Time to Be Happy

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James Altrucher

4.0 out of 5 starsLike a box of chocolates

By Gary North on September 23, 2011

This book reminds me of Forest Gump’s mother’s description of a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. As with any book you read, you will forget 90% within a week; 98% within a month. So, you want to know what you should concentrate on.

If you are in the corporate world, go to page 83: “What You Need to do if You Were Hired Today.” Read to page 89. Then read it again. Then read it again. He offers 10 rules. All of them are good. If you systematically implement all of them, you will stand out as a contender. But Pareto’s 20-80 law holds true here as elsewhere. You won’t implement all of them. So, implement 20% of them. That means two. Which two? #4 and #10. (Buy the book to find out the 10 rules.)

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Apr 8

Review (Guest): How To Be The Luckiest Person Alive

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James Altucher

4.0 out of 5 stars Chance favors a prepared mind – reloaded ;-) September 3, 2011
By Sasha

After I received a copy of the e-book version of this book for free, Mr. Althucher asked if I would post a comment at Amazon.com once I had a chance to read it. I have answered affirmatively, so what follows is a general impression on the book format and a summary of my findings regarding the contents of the book.

Although the book reads fast, it is not an easy read. There’s a wealth of information and a great variety of topics; and the book is structured to read more as a collection of separate blog entries with certain repetitions (for which we are warned at the beginning of the book). All of the above makes it difficult to absorb everything at once, so re-reading is required, and the cost of this was 1 star on the rating scale.

In my view, the Daily Practice recommendations are what the book is all about. A smart play with words aside, Mr. Althucher shows us not how to be the luckiest person alive, instead he teaches us how to be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually FIT so that we will be able to recognize/create, as well as act on/follow through opportunities for bettering our lives. I put some of the recommendations to action (the physical and mental ones) and was ashamed to realize that first; I couldn’t even do 5 push-ups and second; that after relying on a calculator for my daily tasks for so long, my mental “muscle” “objected” when I tried to add two numbers in my head. Not good…

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Apr 8

Review: The Future of Intelligence – Challenges in the 21st Century

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Isabelle Duyyesteyn, Ben de Jong, Joop van Reijn (eds)

4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for Libraries Not Individuals, March 30, 2014

I know one of the editors, Ben de Jong, and am disappointed in the publisher for failing to properly present the book. Below I provide the table of contents that should have been provided by the publisher.

Foreword and acknowledgements, Michael Kowalski 1.By Way of Introduction: A Systemic Way of Looking at the Future of Intelligence, Bob de Graaff 2. The Future of Intelligence: What Are the Threats, the Challenges and the Opportunities?, Sir David Omand 3. The Future of Intelligence: Changing Threats, Evolving Methods, Gregory F. Treverton 4.Is the US Intelligence Community Anti-Intellectual?, Mark M. Lowenthal 5.The Future of the Intelligence Process: The End of the Intelligence Cycle?, Art Hulnick 6.The Future of Counterintelligence: the Twenty-First Century Challenge, Jennifer Sims 7. Analyzing International Intelligence Cooperation: Institutions or Intelligence Assemblages?, Jelle van Buuren 8. European Intelligence Cooperation, Björn Fägersten 9.Intelligence-Led Policing in Europe: Lingering between Idea and Implementation, Monica den Boer 10. The Next Hundred Years: Reflections on the Future of Intelligence, Wilhelm Agrell 11.Conclusions: It may be September 10, 2001 today George Dimitriu and Isabelle Duyvesteyn

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Mar 30

Review: Still Ours to Lead – America, Rising Powers, and the Tension Between Rivalry and Restraint

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Bruce Jones

4.0 out of 5 stars One Third Provocative, One Third Delusional, One Third Ignorant, March 22, 2014

I was given this book as a gift, by someone who knew I can recite from memory the ten high level threats to humanity (as identified and prioritized by the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, and reported out in A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which is also available free online as a PDF.

My first impressions were negative. On a second pass I found more to appreciate, but the most compelling impression I was left with is that Obama is Bush and the Brookings Institution has lost its moral and intellectual compass.

One Third Provocative

To the extent that good is to be found in the two-terms of the ObamaBiden Administration, this book serves as a fine guide. I wondered more than once which foreign policy position the author was applying for appointment to. Sadly, what the author offers in the way of positive must be construed by any realist grounded in international reality as a second application of lipstick on the pig, the first being when the neo-conswervatives and Wall Street successfully trotted Obama out as the savior of the two-party tyranny. [I credit the term to Theresa Amato’s Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny — it is not possible to be a serious observer of American idiocy without first understanding that there is no real difference between the extremists of the right and the extremists of the left — they are both toxic.

One Third Delusional

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Mar 22

Review: Earth – An Alien Enterprise

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Timothy Good

4.0 out of 5 stars Credible, Eye-Glazing, Not the Polished Brief I Expected, March 16, 2014

I have read other books on extra-terrestials, have noted with interest that governments around the world have been declassifying their archives on actual contacts with extra-terrestials, and noted with interest the mock Congressional hearings a year or so ago in which a former Candian defense minister testified to their being no fewer than five alien races in contact with our governments and also in residence on Earth in various forms.

Normally I write a summary review of a book, but I quickly gave up that idea once this book was in hand. It is a mind-glazing textual dump. While it is organized sensibly, and every bit is in my view credible and useful,

Let me start with past books that I have read and found credible, along with a few I have not but whose titles I find helpful:

Close Encounters Of The Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction, UFOs, and the Conference at M.I.T.
Disclosure : Military and Government Witnesses Reveal the Greatest Secrets in Modern History
ALIEN AGENDA: Why they came Why they stayed
Opening Minds: A Journey of Extraordinary Encounters, Crop Circles, and Resonance
Hidden Truth: Forbidden Knowledge
Vital Signs: A Complete Guide to the Crop Circle Mystery and Why It is Not a Hoax
Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids
Saucers, Swastikas and Psyops: A History of A Breakaway Civilization: Hidden Aerospace Technologies and Psychological Operations
Black Operations, Weapons Systems and Experiments by Extraterrestrials, Grays and Governments
Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base

Now here, from pages 397-398, is the take-away statement from this book, citing Daniel Fry, who stated that he heard this from an alien in 1949:

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Mar 16

Review (Guest): The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man

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Luke Harding

4.0 out of 5 stars Ed Snowden and the American tribal fear meme, February 19, 2014

 

This is a story about what one American saw atop the tip of an iceberg called the “American national security state.” In the end, Ed Snowden, a 29-year old, $200,00/year High School dropout turned Computer Systems Administrator for Dell, and then Booz Allen Hamilton, both of which were under contract with the NSA, is little more than a proxy for the rest of us: the “paying customer” zombies and drones for the American “national security state.”

As he tried to “ride out” his tenure astride this violently bucking institutional Orwellian Frankenstein, Snowden quickly realized that he was losing ground to this secret self-fashioned protector of America’s deepest values. In our life time, the NSA had joined a long string of other self-justifying, self-certifying, security institutions, like the CIA, the FBI, Swat Teams, the DEA, even local police intelligence units, especially in America’s inner cities. In our lifetime, these institutions have acquired immense and unwarranted powers, often even unauthorized, unconstitutional and unearned and even criminal influence over our democratic institutions. Today, as this evolving behemoth huffs and puffs and bucks wildly out-of-control, Snowden decided he had no choice but to “jump ship,” taking with him a treasure trove of all that lay below the national security waterline.

What exactly is it that Ed Snowden saw that frightened him out of his wits and out of his $200k job and into the hands of a most curious savior of last resort: Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the ex-Communist ex-superpower that, since it was forced to commit suicide as an empire, has now become a capitalist Wild West frontier, a land full of out-of-control oligarchs, which is exactly where Ed Snowden’s favorite political hero, Ron Paul would like to take America — if he is ever elected president, that is.

As he now sits ensconced somewhere in Russia, one thought above all else must have occurred to Mr. Snowden: Is this some kind of sick joke? That me, a freedom-loving American, who willingly exercised my civic duty as a free-thinking defender of American values and the U.S. Constitution, conveying crimes being committed against that very Constitution, is now forced to run, hide and seek refuge in a failed ex-Communist state?

That Snowden’s reality is true in a nation that is still living on moral credit, and that takes much more credit for being democratic than it deserves or its historical record can substantiate, is almost as embarrassing an irony and contradiction as seeing the U.S. being “in hock up to the hilt” to Reagan’s other Axis-of-evil: the last standing Communist Police State, “Red China.” And lest we conveniently forget, said “Red China,” is the same state that less than three decades ago, we were referring to mockingly and derisively as being backwards? Now, that they are in bed with our capitalist oligarchs (the Red Chinese “Job Creators,” par excellence) rather incongruously, China has now become the world’s leading capitalist country, holding 60% of our debt, while the U.S. slides noisily, defiantly, but nevertheless persistently and decidedly, backwards. There is an embedded poetic logic to this irony that Snowden’s Ron Paul-Ayn Rand Libertarian sensibilities seems to have missed?

This book rather inarticulately unravels the story of exactly what it is that Ed Snowden saw; why he was so alarmed; and why he had no choice but to expose what he saw to the American public and then had to run. It tells how in the ultimate act of patriotic suicide, Snowden had to respectfully sue for the mercy of the “Obama Courts.” However, since he knew that with the “Obama Justice Department,” a fair trial was already off the table, he had no choice but to “punt early” by “going on the lam,” and seeking protection and a haven elsewhere.

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Feb 19

Review: Absolute Value – What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information

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Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

4.0 out of 5 stars Formula book, somewhat shallow, misses major opportunity, February 16, 2014

This book was a gift. The subtitle (What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information) overcame my reluctance and I gave it it a quick read, which is all it deserves. This is a formula book, and as one reviewer notes, would have been just fine as an article. The “innovation” in the book is the discovery that brand and prior experience are less relevant today to purchasing decisions that are now heavily influenced by up to date social commentary and readily available peer reviews.

At one level I find the book interesting as a quick once over of the obvious. At another level I am quite disappointed. There is nothing in this book about true cost economics or open source. If you want to be pretentious and talk about Absolute Value, it would help if you actually had a clue that Absolute Value includes virtual water, virtual fuel, virtual child labor, and virtual tax avoidance, among other things.

I appreciate the discussion of how false reviews and paid reviewers are losing ground to better systems for policing such abuses, and I am interested when they discuss the failure of most market research, which focuses on past experience and conventional concepts.

The importance of corporate monitoring of social media for all mentions of all of their products is presented in a useful manner. I particularly like the examples in relation to rapid recognition of flaws from specific production lines — this is about feedback loops.

The book ends weakly with a few examples of sites such as Goodguide, Decide.com, and BrightScope.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

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Feb 16

Review: Economics of the 1%

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John Weeks

4.0 out of 5 stars While Relevant and Pointed, Suffers from Hyperbole and Lack of Clarity, February 16, 2014

On balance, Lionel Tiger’s book The Manufacture Of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System is the better book, along with those by William Greider, John Bogle, and Matt Taibbi:

The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy

The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism

Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History

I found this book unclear and guilty of at least as much hyperbole as those the author seeks to criticize. I would have been much more impressed has the author taken the top ten canards (unfounded rumor or story) of fake economics as he calls it (in virtually every paragraph, an annoying pretense) and very simply made the case pro and con. Instead — I am not a rocket scientist — I found 70% of his words, graphics, and claims to be on a par with those he seeks to ciritize….unclear and unsatisfying.

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Feb 16

Review: Causation, Physics, and the Constitution of Reality

Categories: 4 Star,Philosophy
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Huw Price , Richard Corry

4.0 out of 5 stars My head hurts — connects science to philosophy as math, February 8, 2014

I was not expecting the math formulas and the dense language. It never occurred to me that philosphy would get so convuluted that it now has its own language and arcane formulas that require a lifetime of study to be conversant. Not fun at all.

Among the high points as I struggled with the various authors, most of them much too far from my own interest in humanities and the logic of human affairs:

01 Bottom line is about AGENCY — who gets to drive and in what direction. Science is the car and its elements and their capabilities. Causality is everything else.

02 There are two major camps: causal fundamentalists and causal republicanists. The first is adamant that causality is scientific and can be factored, the second that both science and philospphy have a convergent role in understanding causality.

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Feb 8

Review: Reforming Intelligence – Obstacles to Democratic Control and Effectiveness

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Thomas Bruneau and Steven Boraz

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful on the 30% That is Old Think — Oblivious to Evolution & Nuance, January 25, 2014

Although this book is seven years old, as the world confronts the twin debacles of CIA rendition & torture combined with drone assassinations of thousands (only 2% of whom could be construed somewhat legitimate targets) and NSA’s mass surveillance combined with its financial and cyber subversion of most other foreign intelligence services, I thought it important to buy and review this book.

It emerged from the Center for Civil-Military Relations (CCMR) at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in the USA.

It losed one star on page one, the opening chapter by Bruneau & Boraz:

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Jan 25