SuperFreakonomics’ Authors on GeoEnginnering

University of Chicago Economics Professor Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner about Geoengineering Global Warming Fixes.  Their data about innovation planning shows how important creative thinking can be in addressing global problems.  From their followup best seller Freakonomics called SuperFreakonomics:

I really enjoyed what Levitt and Dubner’s research revealed in both books, it was very enjoyable reading.  Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (my review) and their recent followup SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance (my review) are two can’t miss books!

Tags: SUPERFreakonomics, Stephen Dubner, Steven Levitt, Economics, datasets, innovation, energy, population, poverty, technology, Sudir Venkatesh, terrorist, trends

Latest read: Where Men Win Glory – The Odyssey of Pat Tillman

I have a cousin on his third tour of Afghanistan and an old friend from school serving in Iraq’s Green Zone.  This book is an honest look at a military tragedy and hits home for all who have loved ones serving our country overseas.
Jon Krakauer has written a sobering, powerful book Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. This is about the life of a gifted patriot.  I finished this book on Veterans Day.

Krakauer’s focus is on the friendly fire killing and dishonor by the Cheney Bush Administration and Military towards Pat’s virtue, wife, mother and family.  As Krakauer points out the military conducted SEVEN investigations into his killing.

The opening chapter quickly introduces Tillman’s death then moves to his early childhood and life playing high school football. From there Krakauer traces his steps at Arizona State University where Pat was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and and Academic All-American.  He was drafted by the Phoenix Cardinals and turned down a $9 million dollar offer from the St. Louis Rams to stay in Phoenix.

Tillman proved time after time that he was able to overcome challenges placed before him and his measurement was not physical, but rather his heart and soul.  That is how Tillman was raised.  This even fell to brother Kevin Tillman.  Kevin and Pat both left professional sports careers (Kevin was playing pro baseball in the minor leagues) to join the Rangers shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

Continue reading “Latest read: Where Men Win Glory – The Odyssey of Pat Tillman”

Latest read: The Commission

The Commission: What we didn’t know about 9/11 will get your heart racing, stomach knotted, fists pounding and blood boiling. All in no specific order. You will feel moved-to-action regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum.

Read this book and allow yourself to come back up-to-speed with the events surrounding 9/11. Learn about dirty politics played by the Bush Administration regarding staff appointments to the 9/11 Commission.
The Commission: What we did not know about 9/11Philip Shenon, the New York Times staff writer in Washington DC offers a behind the scenes look at twisted politics and power in Washington DC and NYC. The book’s focus is simple: the Commission formation and events surrounding their investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Remember the Jersey Girls? Or senior Bush Administration officials who actually fought against forming the 9/11 commission?

Throughout the book Shenon documents how Philip Zelikow, appointed 9/11 Commission Executive Director was viewed by the commission staff as a mole for the Bush White House.  Zelikow served President-elect Bush as a member of his transition team prior to being appointed Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission. Soon after the Commission’s report was published Zelikow accepted an offer from Condoleezza Rice to work in the White House.

Remember George Bush initially nominated Henry Kissinger to head the commission? Yet when victims families first met with him (including the Jersey Girls) they learned Kissinger’s personal consulting company had the Bin Ladin family as a client. The families were outrage and Kissinger resigned the following day.

Continue reading “Latest read: The Commission”

Latest read: What the Dog Saw

I have been a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s writing.  Joining The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking and Outliers: The Story of Success comes his latest work What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures which is a collection of his writings with the New Yorker.  I have enjoyed all of his books and this new release is no exception.

And to prove life again is all about timing the NYTimes has it’s book review hitting tomorrow’s Sunday paper.  The book’s title is from his writing about Cesar Millan, the noted animal trainer with the hit cable show The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.

Gladwell breaks the book into three parts: Minor Geniuses, Theories – or ways of organizing experience and Predictions we make about people.  From these points Gladwell shares those articles that have stuck with him long after the New Yorker articles were published.

I was pretty amused in reading What the Dog Saw right after finishing SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

To say the data and stories by Gladwell and Dubner & Levitt may overlap, it was nevertheless a lesson in looking beyond the regular story to take the opportunity to learn hidden lessons.

Continue reading “Latest read: What the Dog Saw”

Latest read: Superfreakonomics

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner have released SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance a long awaited follow up to their hit Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.
If you enjoyed Freakonomics (my review here) or even Sudir Venkatesh‘s Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, the runaway hit from chapter three, then you will enjoy SuperFreakonomics.

I recall learning the book would be released in late 2009 but as soon as I saw it on the shelf I picked up a copy and began reading that night.  They have done another great job exploring new datasets.  Most readers will enjoy reading the data underlying a murder in New York of a woman in-front of 38 witnesses. Nobody called the police for help.  They explore what this says about society.  The book is more of the same: exploring the hidden side of everything.

From comparing street prostitution to a department store Santa to why suicide bombers should buy life insurance, Levitt and Dubner succeed in sharing unique datasets and telling a compelling story.  How did television empower women in India?  On the surface it may sound strange until you consider how they tell the story.

They provide inspiration as well. Their segment ‘The garden hose to the sky’ about global warming sounds funny on the surface until they share the idea is from Microsoft’s former technology director.  He is the principal owner in a scientific research firm that is developing tools to cool the earth.  It gets more interesting when you learn Bill Gates is an investor in the company.

Continue reading “Latest read: Superfreakonomics”

Latest read: The Post-American World

Most recognize Fareed Zakaria from his CNN show Fareed Zakaria GPS. His book The Post-American World is an enjoyable read. The bottom line:  The US is not falling behind but rather (quite simply) the world is catching up.  Some amazing technologies are lifting the citizens of the poorest third world countries.
The biggest elephant called out in his book is America’s educational system. It needs a much required re-boot in order to compete against tomorrow’s globalized students who have access to free, powerful computing tools including Linux, or new technology like water pumps in Africa.  He references Tom Friedman‘s The World is Flat: a Brief History of the Twenty-First Century which I found to be a great read as well.

Zakaria is able to simply convey that America remains the top country for innovation, technology and intellectual property but India and China are catching up fast by introducing more of their citizens to the global economy.  India is first only in population growth while their level of poverty slowly dropped.

While true to some extent the reader may be surprised to see the detail about how splintered Al-Qaeda has become.  In Iraq for example the aim of this terrorist group has moved from targeting American and Israel to fighting other Muslim warlords and religious groups for control of Al-Qaeda’s future.

It should be noted Zakaria also addresses the issues of global climante and energy.  But to again point to Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America not a lot of new ideas or information.

Overall Zakaria’s book is a gentle wake up call for America and is much smoother on the American reader than Mark Steyn’s America Alone.  The war in Iraq and Afghanistan while critical, reveals Al-Qaeda‘s struggle since 9/11 to deliver any significant violence on American soil.  Why?  Zakaria’s position is that Bin Laden has been so tightly curtailed, his organization still under a microscope has evolved into a communications company and is no longer a true terrorist organization.

Latest read: The Way of the World

Ron Suskind has written a revealing novel about the Bush Administration‘s attitude towards terrorism and American politics in The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism.  Suskind won the Pulitzer for A Hope in the Unseen and sets a pretty level playing field for the Bush Administration’s War on Terrorism revealing new insight to the strategy used by Bush/Cheney to “secure” war against Iraq.
The Way of the WorldSuskind brings many issues of concern to the forefront regarding the Bush Administration’s actions in taking the country to war.  I believe Suskind has clearly documented actions by Cheney as lessons learned from Nixon’s Watergate.  Cheney served Nixon as White House Staff Assistant in 1971 and Deputy Assistant to the President from 1974–1975.

During Watergate Nixon’s inner circle kept the President “in the know” but as Vice President Cheney has acted to deliberately keep W. Bush out of the loop for political and potentially legal reasons.  Suskind details the odd relationship developed by Bush in order to protect himself.

The 2% rule.
What does a sitting President do with a 2% approval rating with African American voters in a post-Katrina America?  With midterm elections on the horizon Bush simply extended (a bit early) the voting rights act.  That was the most strategic advice the GOP could offer?  Did they want to hit….say 4%?  This proves to be an excellent example of the political extremism underway in the Bush White House to show how the story and plans for war would be developed to further a political agenda.

Knifing the baby
Immediately following 9/11 Bush became accustomed to getting his political way with America, the mainstream media and government. History has shown this leads Presidents down dark paths.  When British intelligence (MI5 & MI6) notified the US that a plan was underway by Al Qaeda to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic Bush asked British PM Tony Blair to give up the terrorists to American authorities.  Blair refused saying British Intelligence had 2,000 operatives working this case for over a year.  They were eavesdropping on their ring of terrorists and looked to grab higher players within 30 days.
Continue reading “Latest read: The Way of the World”