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    Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science
    by Carl Sagan
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (12 February, 1986)
    list price: $7.99 -- our price: $7.99
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    Reviews (26)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Not Quite 5 Stars
    This book is certainly thought-provoking. There are many great topics, and they make up for the boring ones. I liked the chapter on near-death experiences was most. The book really makes you interested in science. I think the low point of the book was the Velikovsky chapter, the chapter about naming craters, and some dry info about the solar system. I liked the beginning, and then end of the book the most. Despite it's age, it is still an amazing book.

    This is an awesome book that is certainly worth reading. However, I recommend skipping the Velikovsky chapter. I also liked the explanation of math, behind some of the facts, in the back of the book. It makes you want to start calculating things.

    BTW I loved the comment on this site that someone made that Sagan is currently in hell. Hahaha!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A time to think
    The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think. Sagan is a master of distilling scientific complexity for a layman's understanding.

    A fascinating journey through various aspects of science. There are few books in the world which can instill such wonderment for the meaning of things.

    Sagan was always opinionated, but seldom shows bias. He lets the reader make up his mind by asking the questions, not giving the answers.

    One of the pillars of any good book collection.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Sagan all over the place
    Broca's brain is a difficult book to rate, because Sagan is really all over the place with it, covering tons of different topics. I gave it four stars because a lot of it is fascinating and amazingly written (easily 5 stars), but some of the other sections really pull it down. By and large, it's all good stuff, with two exceptions - he goes on for a couple dozen pages about the names of various craters on various planets and moons in our solar system. Maybe I missed the point, but I just couldn't get interested in it. The second thing, which is what really lost the book that last star, is the chapter on Velikovskian Catastrophism. Apparently around the time this book was written (about thirty years ago, but it's all still interesting and relevant information), there was a book going around by someone named Velikovsky, who pretty much claimed that the book of Exodus, and all of the fantastic things that happen in it (the plagues, the parting of the red sea, etc.) where caused by some six comets or meteors that passed so close to the earth as to gravitationally (or magnetically, apparently this Velikovsky isn't quite sure) affect various things (i.e. somehow the gravitational pull of the nearby comet caused the water of the red sea to rise up in two different directions, therefor allowing the israelites to pass in between). Now I have a great deal of respect for Carl Sagan and his work, and I don't know what the climate of popular science was like thirty years ago. Clearly he felt a need to strongly discredit this theory - maybe a lot of people believed it then. But today, it seems pretty silly - I'm not a student of physics, astronomy or anything like that and the sum of my knowledge on the subject comes from popular science books that I enjoy reading. But the idea of six meteors flying that close to the earth, over the course of a couple months, plus the effects that Velikovsky claims would result, seem completely impossible - requiring maybe a page or two to respectfully discredit, but definitely not the fifty or so pages that Sagan uses to completely (and, it's important to note, respectfully) demolish the theory. I found it very tedious. I know that I've gone on for a while on this, but it really bothered me and detracted from an otherwise excellent book. Also highly recommended is Dragons of Eden, also by Sagan. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0345336895
    Sales Rank: 160815
    Subjects:  1. Cosmology    2. General    3. Philosophy & Social Aspects    4. Science    5. Science/Mathematics    6. Science / Cosmology   


    How Things Work : The Physics of Everyday Life
    by Louis A.Bloomfield
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (26 July, 1996)
    list price: $66.95 -- our price: $66.95
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    Reviews (7)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Highly disappointed
    While the book's contents are wonderful, my gripe with this book is with its format: one third of the book (21 out of 61 sections) are in PDF format on the author's webpage. You of course have to print them on your own expense (if you have access to the web and a printer at all!). Even if you do print them out you'll have to chug along hundreds of ugly PDF-printed pages (unless you have a beautiful & expensive color printer), and also bind them with your own money. When I pay almost 100$ for a book I expect to get 100% of the book, not 66% of it! I am highly disappointed and angered. This book has a very high value, but very low value-for-money! Please take this into consideration when buying your copy!

    1-0 out of 5 stars warning! you are buying half of a good book
    ...because another half which is supposed to be found as supplementary material on the Wiley Web site cannot be found there. The link provided in the book doesn't exist!
    And Wiley site is terrible to browse and locate the supplements.
    Of course! You have paid for it already. :-(

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great book.
    As a highschool physics teacher, I strongly recommend this book to everyphysics (and science) teacher. It can serve as a source for daily lifeexamples of physics principles in your instructions. Even if you are aninquiry minded person, you are going to find well-designed explanations forthe functioning of lots of tools, machines, etc. in the book. Reallyexciting, rich content, excellent book. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0471594733
    Sales Rank: 215741
    Subjects:  1. Physics    2. Physics (General)    3. Science    4. Science/Mathematics    5. Science / Physics   


    The Big Bang: Nerve's Guide to the New Sexual Universe
    by The writers at Nerve
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 July, 2003)
    list price: $25.00 -- our price: $16.50
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    Editorial Review

    Hip, frank, contemporary, and clever, The Big Bang is a savvy sex book, colorful in language and viewpoint. Authors "Em & Lo" of Nerve.com invite you to relish sex, appreciate your partner(s), and keep a sense of humor. This is not your parent's sex lecture: it's irreverent, chummy, and downright fun. Part 1, Sex for Beginners," covers the basics, from understanding orgasm ("a few blissful seconds of rhythmic muscle contractions that release all that pent-up sexual energy back into the universe, like a whistling teapot from Xanadu") to techniques of all kinds for pleasuring yourself or a partner. Part 2, "Sex for Advanced Swimmers," discusses female ejaculation, fisting, sex toys, and power play. Part 3, "Sex for Winners," promotes safer sex, with a frank, detailed discussion of STDs ("You know why flings are called flavors of the week? Because each one might have a different STD."). Whether you want to learn how to "house clean" for anal sex,choose a lubricant, use a harness,or "paddle the pink canoe," you'll learn how here. All consensual sex acts are treated with delight and respect. The glossy book is illustrated with drawings of positions, sex organs, and sex toys and color photos of sexy young men and women, most partially clothed (lots of bare breasts and buttocks), in various configurations and activities. Refreshingly honest, direct, and funny,The Big Bang is perfect for sexual novices with open minds and equally fine for spicing up the sex lives of those who think they know it all. --Joan Price ... Read more

    Reviews (28)

    4-0 out of 5 stars It's raw, it's graphic, it's absolutely great!
    As a concerned scientist and married man, I find this primer to be both very informative and very entertaining. This book definitely is not for the prude or for the ├╝ber-conservative, neither is for guys looking for pornographic material in books. It is, as someone mentioned, very clinical and factual yet posed in a frank and even raw manner. The pictorials are shocking and graphic, but they're so with a pourpose and for a reason. And that reason is that sex can and is one of innermost desires that conservative-minded people have tried to obfuscate for ages. We all live and breath sex. Humans are sexual beings, and any notion to the contrary is just ignorance. I don't have a teen-aged son or daughter, but if I did, I'd certainly entertain the idea of giving him or her a copy (depending on their maturity). I myself have learned many "tricks" that might have seemed obvious to me and never tried thinking that I was just being nonsensical and puerile, but have turned out to be of great satisfaction.
    Further, the unassuming and candid tone of the author(s) is very artsy and literate. The only one reason I gave 4 stars is the fact that I think they went a little too far with the plethora of euphemisms for masturbation. But, with no qualms, I recommend this book to all of you (teens, adults, old-timers, etc.)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, insightful, and FUN!
    Lots of reviews for this title are very favorable....I save the typing and just say...Me 2!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A book for everyone.
    If you want a book that covers the lot then this book should be on your shopping list.A comprehensive guide on sex in an easy to understand format make this book ideal for anyone.Had a good laugh too.Plenty of sensible illustrations throughout.This book wont offend anyone.
    A good quality book,on high quality-glossy paper,hardbound and written superbly make this book great value.The only thing I didnt like was the various photos throughout,they dont do the book justice.(though not offensive).Bit lame. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0452284260
    Subjects:  1. Family & Relationships    2. Family/Marriage    3. Love / Sex / Marriage    4. Sex    5. Sex instruction    6. Sexual Instruction    7. Sexual excitement    8. Sexuality   


    Asimov's Chronology of the World
    by Isaac Asimov
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (06 November, 1991)
    list price: $45.00 -- our price: $29.70
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    Reviews (13)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Essential
    Asimov's Chronology of the World is a superb reference work. Although not really (and not meant to be) a coherent narrative, it is highly readable and absolutely essential to any historical research. It is useful as a reference tool in almost any historical context; if you're not sure when something happened, or exactly what happened, consult the Chronology. If it was a major happening, it's almost certain to be there, and realtively easy to find.

    Asimov does sacrifice depth for breadth in this work; many more minor events are not covered. Also, if you plan to read this work cover to cover (I did, and it was very well worth the effort--doing so gives a broad perspective on history very difficult to find elsewhere), you need a good historical atlas on hand to understand how events unfold.

    The only complaint I have with this work is that Asimov did not live long enough to write the sequel, chronologizing the events from 1945-2000. If anyone has found a good book to fill this gap, please let me know!

    In sum, Asimov's Chronology is the essential one-volume reference to world history. No home library should be without it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great book by a great writer and communicator.
    This may be one of Asimov's greatest achievements.

    Long known as a science fiction and fact great, Asimov was an even greater historian.

    The author of some 470 books wrote my three favorite history books - and each one taught me more in each chapter than did each year of history in public school!

    You're going to find more in this book that will force you to read it in the bath tub, the bed, and, well, you get the point!

    Buy this book and learn about the world you live in - Bill Anderson

    5-0 out of 5 stars asimov's chronology of war
    typical asimov; superior writing and very informative.however; it's more a history of war and conquest through-out history than a chronology of the world (i guess the history of civilization is a history of warfare, unfortunately).
    gives insight to how various nations,cultures,ethnicities of today got started in their dislike of each other!
    A GOOD READ!! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0062700367
    Sales Rank: 57390
    Subjects:  1. Asimov, Isaac - Prose & Criticism    2. Chronology    3. Chronology, Historical    4. Encyclopedias    5. Reference    6. World - General    7. Reference / Encyclopedias   


    Starship Troopers
    by Robert A. Heinlein
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Mass Market Paperback (01 May, 1987)
    list price: $6.99 -- our price: $6.99
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    Editorial Review

    Juan Rico signed up with the Federal Service on a lark, but despite the hardships and rigorous training, he finds himself determined to make it as a cap trooper. In boot camp he will learn how to become a soldier, but when he graduates and war comes (as it always does for soldiers), he will learn why he is a soldier. Many consider this Hugo Award winner to be Robert Heinlein's finest work, and with good reason. Forget the battle scenes and high-tech weapons (though this novel has them)--this is Heinlein at the top of his game talking people and politics. ... Read more

    Reviews (603)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Duty, Commitment, Servitude.... A Timeless Novel.
    After reading about halfway through this book, I was thinking how helpful much of what's covered in this book would be if applied to America today.... then I noticed the date it was written!Almost 50 years ago!Much of what he wrote as theoretical back then is coming true in our present.More and more people believe they are born with certain unalienable "rights" that they are entitled to, without feeling any responsibility to give something in return.Thankfully we still have people who are willing to sacrifice their lives if need be to protect what many take for granted.

    Regardless of your personal beliefs, this book will stimulate thought on a variety of topics.I wish I would have had the ethics class he described in the book while in school.I mean wouldn't it be nice to have some classes in school that force some contemplative thought about commitment, sacrifice, and servitude?Maybe then our younger generation would have a greater appreciation for what it took to achieve the freedom we enjoy today.

    And for all you military people (or wanna be's) out there, this is a great book about small-unit leadership and cohesion.Read it and enjoy.Semper Fi.

    3-0 out of 5 stars not really all that controversial
    I picked up an older version of "Starship Troopers" one with the cover featureing the titular soldiers in their "power-suits" (in the movie, next century soldiers walked around unarmored as if drafted into some pre-WWI army). Like that copy, the new edition heralds "Troopers" as "The controversial classic of military adventure." Much like the war it depicts, I couldn't understand what the fuss was about. The war is already in full swing when the book starts off - with Johnny Rico's squad assaulting a planet of bug collaborators.Unlike the humans of the film, those in Heinline's story know from the start that they are up against an implacable and intelligent adversary, one that combines every aspect of every enemy man has faced in his earlier wars against his own.The nature of the bugs themselves is given little space in the story - they're the enemy and that's enough.

    "Troopers" neither glorifies war nor goes the extra step in utterly condemning it - this is not a sci-fi version of "Johnny Got his gun." Instead, grim mobile-infantry Juan "Johnny" Rico goes about the gloomy business of landing on hostile planets like Klendathu and hunting down bugs. For a lowly recruit, Rico seems well informed as to the inner workings of the interstellar army as well as the pitiless realities of war and man's slim chances of prevailing by its end. Optimism may seem ridiculous under those circumstances, but it's hard to imagine surviving such a desperate battle with as little of it as Rico has. Instead, Rico dwells on the fine points of military training and heirarcby, though he makes no aspirations to rank himself.
    So where's the controversy?If "Troopers" was a parable of some future war against the numberless horde of communism, it's hard to imagine a less controversial plot. There are no peaceniks, and no bug-lovers link hands around the federation's citadel in a show of love against interstellar imperialism. Not even the prospect of genocide (whether ours or there's, the only conceivable outcome of an inter-species war) makes an appearance to give the story some bite (or sting in this case). While reading the novel, I was surprised to see how closely the film followed it. In one respect, the film surpasses the book: the overtones of 1930's euro-fascism that suffuses the film's future raised the biggest question of all - should man survive?

    4-0 out of 5 stars Starship Troopers
    This was a good but complicated book.The plot was completely different from other science fiction thrillers.Overall the book was great.
    If you have seen the movie, don't expect this to be anything like it.The book is far more adventurous and exciting.What I liked about the book was the basic elements/locations in which it was told, it didn't just stay in one place the whole time.It took you on a great journey of action and horror.I liked it because of the outer space military action.It has everything and more that should be in a book. If you're in the military you will have a blast while you read this and it will motivate you to do better in and throughout your life. What I thought was a let down on the book were the flashbacks.I think it was complicated and it did not make any sense to me for a while.It went back years than present time, years and then present time, it was just confusing for me.Other than that it was great.The basics of this book are it takes place in the future when the human race is at war with bugs from another world.The humans must defeat the bugs in order to maintain life on earth.This book is a heart thumping thriller and gets you on the edge of your seat as you read.Robert A. Heinlein is the author of this and other great science fiction novels.If you don't know what to read, make it Heinlein.

    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0441783589
    Subjects:  1. Fiction    2. Fiction - Science Fiction    3. Science Fiction    4. Science Fiction - Adventure    5. Science Fiction - General   


    The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
    by Robert A. Heinlein
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (15 June, 1997)
    list price: $14.95 -- our price: $10.17
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    Editorial Review

    Tom Clancy has said of Robert A. Heinlein, "We proceed down the path marked by his ideas. He shows us where the future is."Nowhere is this more true than in Heinlein's gripping tale of revolution on the moon in 2076, where "Loonies" are kept poor and oppressed by an Earth-based Authority that turns huge profits at their expense.A small band of dissidents, including a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike, ignite the fires of revolution despite the near certainty of failure and death. ... Read more

    Reviews (186)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary Heinlein
    A story that once again shows the depth on Heinlein as a thinker.How to stage a revolution combined with a look at the practical aspects of marriage arrangements, political systems and the nature of power and its corruption.Should be required reading in the schools.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The American Revolution?
    This was the first scifi novel I read for my PSU sci fi class.I took it as a retelling of the American Revolution, and was increadibly entertaining and at parts, moving.I proudly display this in my library, and because of reading it, became a sci fi junkie!

    Good buy.Great read!

    5-0 out of 5 stars What sexism?
    Okay, yeah the technology might be dated, but the political ideas are not.What I want to know is why everyone seems to think this book is sexist.

    Women are in charge in this set-up.The main-character seems to think women should be in charge.Everyone agrees, women's whims are sacred, and men had best smile and dance the tune they set.It's a basic law of supply and demand, and if you think it's been proven wrong, I challenge you to go to the Engineering building on any college campus.Now, guess who runs the show there?Women.There aren't many of us, so we are given our own way, and we enjoy the ability to do what ever we durn well please, and they clap.

    Wyoh's character was necessary to the plot.In the first speech she was the "Patrick Henry", who was willing to die rather than live in chains.She represented the masses that weren't content.She was as strong as most of the men, and she possessed an even greater inner strength than Manny (see what she said when Shorty was killed).She might not have been technically-minded, but she possessed a better organizational mind than any other than Proff.And he had more experience than her.

    I say the fact that you think that if a woman is beautiful and is comfortable with her sexuality, she must be a "dumb blonde" speaks volumes for the dated opinions of the people on this board.

    I enjoyed the dialects of the characters-the blending of Russian and English.I enjoyed the politics.I'm a libertarian, though, so I guess I have to.I mostly enjoyed the social commentary on gender roles.I still cry every time I read about what happened to Mike.It's my favorite book. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0312863551
    Subjects:  1. Fantasy - Epic    2. Fiction    3. Fiction - Science Fiction    4. Science Fiction    5. Science Fiction - General    6. Fiction / Science Fiction / General   


    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values
    by Robert M. Pirsig
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 October, 2000)
    list price: $13.00 -- our price: $10.40
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    Editorial Review

    Arguably one of the most profoundly important essays ever written on the nature and significance of "quality" and definitely a necessary anodyne to the consequences of a modern worldpathologically obsessed with quantity.Although set as a story of a cross-country trip on a motorcycle by a father and son, it is more nearly a journey through 2,000 years of Western philosophy. For some people, this has been a trulylife-changing book. ... Read more

    Reviews (428)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Go Deeper.
    The search for a greater understanding, greater meaning than what you see on the surface, is something that many men have but few men actually undertake, and fewer yet find what they are looking for. An ideal first step to becoming one of the individuals that makes an effort to go on this search is to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. One of the deepest, most profound works ever written, the book takes you on a journey of a who that searches so deeply into the mind that he eventually loses his, and takes on the personality of the narrator. The narrator then goes on a journey with his son, Chris, to discover a greater understanding of what his alter-ego, Phaedrus, was looking for. Along the way, we ponder deep, philosophical questions, most notably "What is quality?" and the split between the underlying function of things and what they appear to be on the outside (classic vs romantic).The ideas to be sparked, the questions to be asked further, and the deeper and deeper levels of the mind to be pondered after reaading this work will go on for thousands of years. Take advantage of your mind, go deeper, and explore the intidmitating, yet glorious possibilities.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Painful read.
    Don't get me wrong, I like the ideas Pirsig presents.But his style of writing was extremely boring and uninteresting to me.Then again, I was forced to read this for a class and didn't have interest in the subject at all.If you enjoy philosophy and the sort, there's a good chance you'll like this book.If you're just a casual reader, you would do well to avoid it.

    3-0 out of 5 stars The plot agrees with me but i dont agree with the philosophy
    I just finished the book a minute ago and I feel a little better about it having reached the end. I have mixed feelings about the book. The plot is interesting in the way that Pirsig slowly reveals the story of Phaedrus and develops a conflict between the narrator and his former self. I felt driven to carry on with the book because I wanted to see what happened with Phaedrus and how he would resurface in the story. But as other reviewers have pointed out this part of the story only accounts for a small percentage of the book. The rest is devoted to Pirsig's philosophy.
    Pirsig's long-winded rhetorical musings were much harder to get through than the story itself. I am a philosopher of sorts that identifies with Zen and Taoism and for this reason was attracted to this book. Pirsig's philosophy falls short of both of these eastern religions, however. I personally did not agree with his arguments and that made the book less appealing to me. Pirsig denounces the classic philosophers but at the same time is a tool to the same powers as they were. Instead of denouncing the ideas of truth and quality he seeks to define them. Any good Zen student knows that a man who polarizes the world with concepts like good and bad is not on the path to enlightenment. Pirsig, like the classic philosophers, views the world through the biased eyes of men instead of removing himself from the common persons way of thought.
    Pirsig's philosophical parts of the book were long, boring and not something I could personally identify with. Pirsig makes important points about our values and important social commentary but I feel he did not go far enough. He makes it seem like Phaedrus has made a huge step out of classical human thought and is driven mad by this but I feel he is still too traditional in his interpretation of the world. This is not a story of Zen philosophy; it is a story by a man whose vision is stilled clouded by the Wheel of Things.
    This book has its virtues but 400 pages would not be needed to reproduce them in an equally successful book. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0060958324
    Subjects:  1. Eastern - General    2. Eastern - Zen    3. Emotions    4. Essays & Travelogues    5. General    6. Psychology    7. Travel - General    8. Psychology & Psychiatry / Emotions   


    In Defense of Elitism
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 August, 1995)
    list price: $12.95 -- our price: $9.71
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    Reviews (29)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Thank you Mr. Henry, RIP.
    I just read this book for the second time and it was better than the first.Here we have the classic story of an old school "pacifism is not the answer; America is not Amerika" Democrat being careened rightwards by the sick, irrational forces of political correctness.The author is bewildered to find himself agreeing with people like me on countless issues due to the lies of radical feminism, afrocentrism, and queer studies.He knows that it's all hogwash and regrets the minimalization of his own college achievements by the Burger King, "you want it; we graduate it," attitutde of the academy today.Many of the examples he cites are tragic, but absolutely hilarious.This is an old-fashioned pistol whipping of PC even though Henry may have mixed feelings about giving it.Although the reader won't have any mixed feelings about spending time with the author's rich, elite style.Most of his friends are liberals and one can gets to observe, through his stories, their obvious discomfort with the sensitivity police that are ruining their careers and their lives.These liberals, unlike conservatives like myself, are frustrated by the fact that they'll be in many a catfight should they say anything about it.William Henry, you are missed. Culture warriors like you are tough to replace.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Call to Excellence
    America's vital lie is egalitarianism, claims William A. Henry III, and with a "rising tide of mediocrity" what we need is to call to excellence, as well as the renewed confidence to say that some ideas, people and things are simply better than others. In other words, we need more elitism. In this well reasoned (though not rigorously argued) treatise, Henry's unflinching conservative opinions will no doubt infuriate some, especially as he applies his central thesis to multiculturalists, feminists, affirmative activists, and others. But he provides some thought provoking arguments that I thought made the book worth reading.

    Henry begins by outlining his views of elitism, which he believes has been unfairly derided. He believes that at its core, elitism embraces excellence, not snobbery. Realizing that, we should reclaim the confidence needed to sort out, rank, and decide between competing ideas and values. Elitist societies uphold objective standards, embrace rationalism, and respect accomplishment. They also believe that competition brings out the best in people more than coddling does, and that people who make the most of themselves and contribute the most should be rewarded for their achievements.

    Those ideas aren't pervasive today as Henry would like. Instead, many embrace the notion that "everyone is pretty much alike, that self-fulfillment is more important than objective achievement, that the common man is always right & needs no interpreters or guides for his thinking, and that society should succoring its losers rather than honoring and encouraging its winners to achieve more and therefore benefit everyone." If we believe that everyone is equal, then success and failures are anomalies, and therefore luck determines our fate more than hard work, talent, intelligence, or initiative. Rugged individualism & self-reliance falls out of fashion, and is replaced by an "entitlement mentality." Objectivity & rationalism are viewed as cultural artifacts, no more valid than intuition or other more primal ways of viewing the world. We believe that
    "all of the children are above average," much like in Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon, despite that fact that our children's test scores are falling relative to children in other nations.

    Although the Declaration of Independence proclaims that "All men are created equal," Henry believes it's been a grand folly to take that idea to the extreme, seeking not just equality in a legal sense, but also equality of outcomes in every field. People are not equal - some people are brilliant, some dim, some hearty, some handicapped, some slothful, some productive. And as a result, some of society's rewards are distributed unequally. But we don't know what to do with inherent inequalities in the egalitarian, democratic USA. We assume that "fair" competition would result in all groups sharing equally in society's rewards, and that any differences must be the result of an unfair system.

    In the end, Henry's arguments are sound, and worth reading and considering. But this is by no means a balanced book, and that's why I didn't find his arguments more persuasive. He doesn't acknowledge the complexity of some of the issues he discusses, nor does he anticipate counter-arguments and refute them. For example, he believes in providing equal opportunity to pursue excellence, but ignores the historical (and sometimes legally sanctioned) lack of opportunity for women, blacks, immigrants, etc.

    Society will always struggle with what to do with the successful, talented, or lucky versus the poor, short-changed, and unlucky. Ultimately, the extent to which we correct these discrepancies requires that we know how much of one's success is due to individual choices, and how much due to random chance, and how much due to society's help or hindrance. Separating these influences is a difficult if not impossible task, and thus the debate between egalitarianism and elitism will no doubt continue.

    5-0 out of 5 stars William Henry Argues for a more Elitist Society
    William A. Henry III, with his perfect name for an elitist, argues that the society has gotten too egalitarian wanting equality of results and status for everyone and everything, with no attention being paid to elitist values of striving for excellence, enforcing discipline, and ranking people, things, and ideas according to their merits. Anyone who thinks that society has gotten too egalitarian will be pleased with this book.

    Henry sometimes sounds like a far right winger like David Duke or Dr. William Pierce with his arguments that conquering the frontier civilized this country and with his rebuttal of afro-centrists who claim that blacks invented some basic technologies and once had a high civilization in Egypt. However, the direction of his arguments eventually leads to the liberal ideals of integration, equality of opportunity, and assimilating any individual of any race into this country which has been predominately white for so many years. His idea of America is one in which any individual of any race should swear allegiance to Western ideals which will make them American--a citizenship not based on race.

    Problem is, it may be very hard, if not impossible, to enforce Western ideals in a multi-racial society especially if assimilation is not enforced. He seems to make the same mistakes in thinking that libertarians do--that we are just individuals and we are not tied to an ethnic group and its culture.

    He calls racists and sexists "creeps", but by identifying himself as elitist, he vaguely realizes that he will also be considered a creep by quasi-marxist egalitarians who have developed the concepts of racism, sexism, and anti-elitism. He has a way of offending the politically incorrect crowd that might agree with him in order to keep his mainstream liberal credentials. (He was a culture critic for Newsweek.)

    I think the dubious advantage of an egalitarian society that de-emphasizes excellence is that people can be lazier and not have to work to be the best that they can be. Meanwhile though, we are competing with other cultures that may not be so lazy and egalitarian.

    The author may some interesting comments of education. He said that his mother who went to a school in the 40's of average reputation had to read all 37 of Shakespheare's plays in one semester, as opposed to the one a week assigned during a 12 week semester at average colleges today. With the increase of numbers of people going to college, a dilution of the quality of that education has taken place.

    Henry questions whether it is a good idea to bankrupt the middle class by finances their childrens' college education if the education does not really advance their career life monetarily. He mentions college grads that are messenger boys on a permanent basis. (I must say that the economy is tough these days--it's harder to find a white collar professional career.)

    He talks about how there is a glut of journalism grads, but not enough job slots in the field to give all these grads a job in journalism. He wants an education system that puts more people onto a vocational track and leaves college for the true eggheads of this world.

    He deplores the turning away from tracking students according to ability in high schools and including special education students into the class of students of normal intelligence because doing so slows down the rest of the class. This problem stems from egalitarians who hate the elitist idea that it is beneficial sometimes to exclude people that don't qualify to join a certain group.

    Henry mentions that our European-derived culture is a mix of egalitarian and elitist ideals. Since World War II egalitarianism has dominated the culture.

    I would say that many of us have egalitarian and elitist impulses wanting to exclude others at times as a matter of pride in accomplishment and status, but also not wanting to excluded from any group feeling that we are equal to anyone, even though we aren't. We feel the shame of inferiority when we are excluded.

    I don't agree with him that we should have more confidence in the mainstream media as opposed to the alternative one because he asserts that it has higher journalistic standards, although he criticizes mainstream media for not keeping up to those standards.

    Elitism probably won't solve any racial dilemmas, if we go back to a system of meritocracy, we will still have an underclass of pre-dominately lesser talented non-whites discontent with the lower pay that lesser talent brings. They are not to blame for being lesser talented, if it is genetically based. That's probably why theegalitarian notion of equality of results is popular; it gives people the illusion that everyone of whatever race is equally talented. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0385479433
    Sales Rank: 34997
    Subjects:  1. Elite (Social sciences)    2. Equality    3. Poverty    4. Sociology    5. Sociology - General    6. United States    7. Social Science / General    8. Reading Group Guide   


    Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly over the Edge
    by Ed Regis
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 1991)
    list price: $17.50 -- our price: $17.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    Sometimes a book has such a wonderful title that you assumethe text could not be any good: but The Great Mambo Chicken is in fact a wonderfully rollicking masterpiece of scientific reportage about some of the wilder ideas being seriously considered by scientists "slightly over the edge" Regis describes the life and ideas of rocket scientists who would like everyone to have their own way into space, cryogenecists who hope to freeze people for revival in the future, nanotechnologists who want to build molecular robots to fix everything, and space colonists who want to build new worlds from the spare parts of the solar system -- and beyond. The most remarkable thing about the stories: Regis reveals that these seemingly disparate communities are all interwoven in unexpected ways. Even Evel Knievel makes a surprise visit in the chapter on personal rocket ships. Very Highly Recommended, and likely to become an Amazon.com Books customer favorite. ... Read more

    Reviews (19)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Passionate and Visionary - More than he realized...
    This is a great and funny book.Yesterday and today, there were articles on the web about Ted William's body at Alcor, having the head severed and both the head and body frozen.In this book's funniest chapter, titled, "Heads will roll".One of the book's characters takes his poor sick mother to Alcor, and they sever her head as she's about to die.The ensuing legal and criminal implications are a riot as they first start to attempt to get a death certificate to get her body buried.The coroner is highly suspicious that a body without a head, "died of pneumonia."Criminal charges and other problems erupt.Hard to believe that similar issues have surfaced again 12 years after this book first appeared.If you like science and seeing the amusing side of it, then you will enjoy this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Most Amusing Science Fact I've Ever Read!!
    This collection of accounts of historical science is every bit as amusing as its title.Topics ranging from independant space travel and AI to cryonics and immortality have been breached in real science.This book is the only way you can hope to learn about them and stay awake.I loved this book!!

    3-0 out of 5 stars Weird and wacky science
    Here's a thought: the problem with teaching non-fiction in schools is that as a culture we value story, even it its most cliched forms, over memorization. The great wave of edutainment hitting us now is trying to meet this need, merging story (the "Mario" adventure, in a nutshell, is a fairy tale in which it's man, or plumber as the case may be, vs. nature, albeit a very twisted view of nature, to rescue his true love) with facts. While the grooters are tied to the tube wonking on flying turtles, they have to solve puzzles that actually contain meaning.

    Story and facts have been merged into one for years. There's some speculation that the Bible was preserved to retain warnings for behavior (food choices, ethics), while histories are basically the story of the past written by the winners. Today we get our non-fiction in a multitude of forms, but I have to admit that I prefer a well-done story version as in Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown and here in Ed Regis' take on wacky (but plausible) science.

    Regis' idea on science goes something like this: there's always been science that people thought a little strange if not laughable (tiny living organisms that carry disease?), so what's the current wacky science, is it really plausible and why, and where's it heading. But he tells us this through the lives of the scientists (and I may be using that term loosely for some of these people). People like Eric Drexler (nanotechnology), Hans Moravec (downloading brains), Dave Criswell (stars for energy), and Michael Darwin (cryogenics). What they have in common with each other and such people as Robert Heinlein, Timothy Leary, Evil Knieval, and Richard Feynman illustrates the heady stuff of science on the edge. If at times it seems science fictional, then that's probably because SF writers make it their job to keep up with fringe elements such as these. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0201567512
    Subjects:  1. Engineering    2. Forecasting    3. General    4. Miscellanea    5. Science    6. Science/Mathematics   


    An Underground Education : The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (20 April, 1999)
    list price: $17.95 -- our price: $12.21
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    Forget the history you were taught in school; Richard Zacks's version is crueler and funnier thananything you might have learned in seventh-grade civics--and much more of a gross-out, too. Described onthe book jacket as an "autodidact extraordinaire," Zacks is also the author of History Laid Bare, making him something ofan expert guide through history's back alleys and side streets. There's no fact too seamy or perverse forZacks to drag out into the light of day, from matters scatological and sexual to some of history's most trulybizarre episodes. Curious about ancient nose-blowing etiquette? What about the sexual proclivities ofCatherine the Great? Throughout chapters such as "The Evolution of Underwear" and"Dentistry Before Novocaine," Zacks proves a tireless debunker of popular myths as well as a muckraker par excellence. ... Read more

    Reviews (51)

    5-0 out of 5 stars THINGS I NEVER KNEW, I NEVER KNEW.


    5-0 out of 5 stars This is a stellar, stellar book, just...
    ...be warned.If you're like me, you've read the reviews and you can think of half a dozen people you would like to buy "An Underground Education" for as a present.How perfect for Larry, John, and Dad.

    Well, maybe not Dad.I had intended to buy this for my father as a Christmas present, but when I received my copy, I realised that there was a problem."An Ungerground Education" is littered with photographs. There are castrated men (full frontal) & lots of early porn and all sorts of other fascinating and freaky things. It's all very interesting, except that I cannot even begin to imagine giving it to my father... It's still a good read, though, and I highly recommend it.Just not as a gift for ol' Dad.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A page turner
    This book has kept me up for three nights because I can't put it down.It has something for everyone.I wasn't totally interested in the business section, (not my thing) but there's so much more to the book it didn't matter.Sacks references to other books in his book got me to order two more books from Amazon to further my "education" on certain subjects.Wonderful. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0385483767
    Subjects:  1. Curiosities & Wonders    2. Curiosities and wonders    3. Handbooks, vade-mecums, etc    4. Reference    5. Sociology    6. Reference / Curiosities & Wonders   


    The SAS Survival Handbook
    by John Wiseman
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 1995)
    list price: $24.00
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    Reviews (34)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good book for some environments, not all
    It may be impossible to write a survival book that is accurate and authoritative on all environments and all areas of the world, and this is something to keep in mind when purchasing a general survival book like the SAS Survival Handbook. For the most part, it's quite good and gives excellent information on outdoors survival in most temperate climates. HOWEVER, one place the book does fall down is in areas like jungle and desert survival. There is little specialized information for those environments, ESPECIALLY important topics like navigation, first aid, water collection, and animal/plant information, and what there is can be dangerously vague. For those interested in jungle or desert survival I would definitely recommend other specialized books like Adventure Travel in the Third World by Jeff Randall or The Ultimate Desert Handbook by Mark Johnson, which do a much, much better job at covering those environments.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome Reference!
    I teach hunter education for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and base many parts of my lecture dealing with survival on parts of this book.I find it to the point, with great illustrations and directions.I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the outdoors.

    Marvelous reprint, yet for Nineteen Dollars & free shipping one can find hundreds of titles, including just about every military manual known to man, in The Ultimate Family Survival Guide, from Survival Press, or an absolute comprehensive TOTAL survival collection on four cds for a few bucks more -survivalpress at hotmail dot com. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0002171856
    Sales Rank: 281822
    Subjects:  1. Military - Strategy    2. Outdoor Skills    3. Self-Help    4. Sports & Recreation    5. Outdoor survival skills   

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