Archive for November, 2012

Dimanche and Other Stories Vintage International Sale-$10.20!

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Dimanche and Other Stories Vintage International. Dimanche and Other Stories Vintage International

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A never-before-translated collection by the bestselling author of Suite Française

Written between 1934 and 1942, these ten gem-like stories mine the same terrain of Némirovsky’s bestselling novel Suite Française: a keen eye for the details of social class; the tensions between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives; the manners and mannerisms of the French bourgeoisie; questions of religion and personal identity. Moving from the drawing rooms of pre-war Paris to the lives of men and women in wartime France, here we find the beautiful work of a writer at the height of her tragically short career.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #725 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-04-06
  • Released on: 2010-04-06
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 304 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780307476364
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Reflections on Family, Reflections on War5
The posthumous publishing of Irene Nemirovsky’s masterpiece, //Suite Francaise//, was an important literary event. It introduced the wartime French writer to English-speaking audiences, and readers were stunned by her deep reflection on the horrors of war. Now, //Dimanche and Other Stories// has been translated into English for the first time, giving us a chance to love this writer all over again. The stories, which take place throughout France, span the period of pre-war prosperity to post-war terror. The chasm between classes is felt in stories such as “Brotherhood,” where a wealthy Frenchman meets a poor immigrant who shares his last name. A similar gap between people is felt in the title story, where a young girl falls into the same trap of a loveless marriage that her mother did.

The wartime stories are horrifying and eye-opening. In each, a character comes to terms with the truth that no one, regardless of money or status, is safe. Nemirovsky’s skill with point-of-view and emotional detail comes shining through as a result of the wonderful translation by Bridget Patterson. This collection of stories is everything literature should be: gripping, beautiful, and thought-provoking.

Reviewed by Katie Cappello

George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I Discount.

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I. George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I

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In the years before the First World War, the great European powers were ruled by three first cousins: King George V of Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Together, they presided over the last years of dynastic Europe and the outbreak of the most destructive war the world had ever seen, a war that set twentieth-century Europe on course to be the most violent continent in the history of the world.

Miranda Carter uses the cousins’ correspondence and a host of historical sources to tell the tragicomic story of a tiny, glittering, solipsistic world that was often preposterously out of kilter with its times, struggling to stay in command of politics and world events as history overtook it. George, Nicholas and Wilhelm is a brilliant and sometimes darkly hilarious portrait of these men—damaged, egotistical Wilhelm; quiet, stubborn Nicholas; and anxious, dutiful George—and their lives, foibles and obsessions, from tantrums to uniforms to stamp collecting. It is also alive with fresh, subtle portraits of other familiar figures: Queen Victoria—grandmother to two of them, grandmother-in-law to the third—whose conservatism and bullying obsession with family left a dangerous legacy; and Edward VII, the playboy “arch-vulgarian” who turned out to have a remarkable gift for international relations and the theatrics of mass politics. At the same time, Carter weaves through their stories a riveting account of the events that led to World War I, showing how the personal and the political interacted, sometimes to devastating effect.

For all three men the war would be a disaster that destroyed forever the illusion of their close family relationships, with any sense of peace and harmony shattered in a final coda of murder, betrayal and abdication.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #490 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-03-23
  • Released on: 2010-03-23
  • Format: Deckle Edge
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 528 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9781400043637
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

A Fascinating Blend Of Personal And Political History5
Miranda Carter has produced an excellent biography of three prominent men of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. King George V of Great Britain, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany were the rulers of three of the most powerful states in the world. George and Wilhelm were first cousins as grandsons of Queen Victoria, while Nicholas II was George’s first cousin (their mothers were sisters), married to another of Victoria’s grandchildren, and a more distant blood relation of Wilhelm’s. Their tangled family trees meant the three men, who were all about the same age, grew up knowing but not necessarily liking each other, and their personal feelings affected their nations’ political and foreign policies during their reigns.

The biographies of all three men have been written many times, but Carter’s comparative approach allows for many new psychological and other insights to be made. There are many anecdotes, including many that I, though I have enjoyed reading about that time period for many years, had not previously come across. Some of the stories are hilarious, particularly those dealing with the Kaiser’s madcap efforts to make and unmake alliances and wars. In the end Wilhelm seems to have been the most intelligent (but also most erratic) of the three, while Nicholas, although more perceptive than he’s generally assumed to have been, was still far too passive and ignorant of his country’s troubles. George was the most enigmatic to my mind, primarily because as a constitutional monarch he took care not to make his opinions (if he had any) well known.

While this book primarily deals with the three monarchs and their families, there is also a wealth of information about the many politicians and advisors who guided (or at least attempted to guide) their rulers safely through the minefields of European diplomacy. The finest sections deal with the outbreak and conduct of World War I, which led to the collapse of the German and Russian monarchies and the execution of Nicholas and his family.

I’ve read many biographies and histories dealing with these three monarchs over the years, but I found much that was new and interesting in Miranda Carter’s new work. I believe it will become one of the standard references for the period. I certainly intend to reread and enjoy it many times.

This review is just as valid as the reviews below5
I am a librarian who depends on professional journal reviews AS WELL AS general reader reviews and I almost did not purchase this book for the library based on the “reviews” below.” I understand the frustration about the cost of the Kindle books, but your 1 star reviews show up on all versions of the book and this harms the author - who doesn’t have control over pricing.

Well-Written and Descriptive- A Fine Book.5
This book is a most interesting description and viewpoint of the era preceeding and leading up to WWI. The perspective taken is one seen through the eyes of the 3 main hereditary rulers of the time ( The rulers of Great Britain, Russia and Germany). This gives an interesting insight into the bungling and lunacy which delivered WWI to the world.

The premise of hereditary right to rule is completely destroyed by this book. One is appalled that the system ever existed to begin with. There have been many books written about each of the 3 monarchs, as well as the times before and during WWI. This is the first book that I have read that takes one behind the scenes of the personal rivalries of the rulers of Russia, Great Britain and Germany and allows one to view their stilted and limited capabilities, along with the “enabling” of the royal courts and the politicians .

At times, the feeble workings of the mind of Kaiser Wilhelm lead to utter disbelief that such an unfit individual was allowed anywhere close to the seat of power. His cousin, the equally clueless Tsar Nicholas of Russia, was equally well-endowed in the area of brain power. The British royal family demonstrated a complete lack of ability and came across as childishly as their cousins abroad. But,as they had no real power, they were easier to regard as mere performers of an ancient ritual. The royal family served to amuse and entertain the people,their ridiculous antics filled the gossip papers of the time, they were the equivalent of the “stars” of the reality shows which are so esteemed by some today.

Do read this book for a most interesting perspective of just how the vanities and falsehoods of relatively few individuals, led to the disaster that was World War I

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Sale-$18.48!

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

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A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities. We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate opportunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the “impossible.”

For years, Taleb has studied how we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. Now, in this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don’t know. He offers surprisingly simple tricks for dealing with black swans and benefiting from them.

Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world. Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. The Black Swan is a landmark book–itself a black swan.

*2nd Edition, With a new essay: “On Robustness and Fragility”

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1972 in Books
  • Published on: 2007-04-17
  • Released on: 2007-04-17
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 366 pages

Features

Lost in Extremistan with nothing but a Bell Curve5
If, as Socrates would have it, the only true knowledge is knowledge of one’s own ignorance, then Nassim Nicholas Taleb is the world’s greatest living teacher. In The Black Swan, Taleb’s second book for laypeople, he gives a full treatment to concepts briefly explored in his first book “Fooled by Randomness.” The Black Swan is basically a sequel to that book, but much more focused, detailed and scholarly. This is a book of serious philosophy that reads like a stand-up comedy routine. (Think Larry David…)

The Black Swan is probably the strongest statement of enlightened empiricism since Ernst Mach refused to acknowledge the existence of the atom. Of course, in theory, everyone today is supposed to be an empiricist - all right-thinking intellectuals claim to base their views solely on positive scientific observation. But very few sincerely confront the implications of rigorous empiricism. Specifically, few confront “the problem of induction,” illustrated here by the story of the black swan.

Briefly: observing an event once does not predict it will occur again in the future. This remains true regardless of the number of observations one adds to the pile. Or, as Taleb, recapitulating David Hume, has it: the observation of even a million white swans does not justify the statement “all swans are white.” There is no way to know that somewhere out there a black swan is not hiding, disproving the rule and nullifying our “knowledge” of swans. The problem of induction tells us that we cannot really learn from our experiences. It makes knowledge very problematic, if not impossible. And yet, humans do behave -almost without exception- as though they believe that experience teaches us lessons. This is forgivable; there is no better path to knowledge. But before proceeding, one must account for the limits that the problem of induction places on our claims to knowledge. And humans seem, at every turn, to lack this critical self-awareness.

In one of the many humorous anecdotes that seem to comprise this entire book, Taleb recounts how he learned his extreme skepticism from his first boss, a French gentleman trader who insisted that he should not worry about the fluctuating values of economic indicators. (Indeed, Taleb proudly declares that, to this day, he remains blissfully ignorant of supposedly crucial “indicators” like housing starts and consumer spending. This is a shocking statement from a guy whose day job is managing a hedge fund.) Even if these “common knowledge” indicators are predictive of anything (dubious - see above), they are useless to you because everyone else is already accounting for them. They are “white swans,” or common sense. Regardless of their magnitude, white swans are basically irrelevant to the trader - they have already been impounded into the market. In this environment, one can only profitably concern oneself with those bets which others are systematically ignoring - bets on those highly unlikely, but highly consequential events that utterly defy the conventional wisdom. What Taleb ought to worry about, the Frenchman warned, was not the prospect of a quarter-percent rise in interest rates, but a plane hitting the World Trade Center!

Yep, the precise facts of 9-11 were actually presaged by this French gentlemen, as a rogue wave that just might be lurking over the horizon. And, to the contemporary American mind, this is THE quintessential Black Swan. Of course, the Frenchman’s insight was just a coincidence - the thing with Black Swans is that they cannot be foreseen.

Taleb explains that conventional social scientists use induction to collect data, which is then plotted on the good old Gaussian bellcurve. With characteristic silliness, Taleb dubs the land of the bellcurve “Mediocristan” - and informs us that it is the natural habitat of the white swan. He contrasts Mediocristan with “Extremistan” - where chaos reigns, the wholly unexpected happens, power laws and fractal geometry apply and the bellcurve does not. Taleb’s fictional/metaphorical ’stans’ share something with the ’stans’ of the real world: very ill-defined borders. Indeed, one can never tell whether one is in the relatively safe territory of Mediocristan or if one has wandered into the lawless tribal regions of Extremistan. The bellcurve can only help you in Mediocristan, but you have no way of knowing whether you have strayed into Extremistan - beyond the bellcurve’s jurisdiction. This means that bellcurves are of no reliable use, anywhere. The full implications of this take a while to sink in, and are sure to cause huge controversy. In July, Taleb will debate Charles Murray (author of -what else?- the Bell Curve). I’ll let you know who wins.

Taleb frames his whole argument much more entertainingly than I could here, and he bolsters it with an astonishing command of both cutting-edge social science and the entire history of philosophy. This is an astonishing work of serious philosophy, and it reads like pulp fiction. Readers who enjoyed FBR will find here the same dry wit, the same literary erudition, and deep sense of the absurd that made that book so much fun. But this is better, by an order of magnitude - easily the best book I have read in 5 years. I smell a timely pop-science bestseller here to rival Gladwell or Surowiecki, but this is also a classic that will be read for decades to come.

Chapters 15 - 17 are excellent. The remainder is OK.2
Starting with the good (chapters 15 - 17), within chapter 15 Taleb explains where the Bell curve works and where it does not. The Bell curve captures well variables that don’t deviate much from the mean. Otherwise, it does not work. Taleb suggests we often fool ourselves in believing that correlation, regression coefficients, or standard deviation convey much information. This is because those coefficients are unstable (and can flip sign when possible) depending on the time selected. This is because the underlying variables are often not stationary enough for these coefficients to be stable.

Chapter 16 is excellent as an introduction to Mandelbrot’s fractal geometry as an alternative to Gaussian based investment theory. He supports well that these mathematical tools do capture randomness (of non-stationary variables) far better than the Normal distribution. However, he admits that Mandelbrotian models are not predictive. When looking at the same data set, he and numerous colleagues each came up with different underlying parameters to build fractal-like models. And a small difference in such parameters makes a huge difference in outcome. That’s why you will not hear much of fractal geometry within the quantitative financial community. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating subject that deserves further exploration. For this purpose, I recommend Mandelbrot’s The Misbehavior of Markets

Within Chapter 17, Taleb further elaborates on the flaws of the Normal distribution. He underlines that half of the return of the stock market over the past 50 years was associated with just 10 days with the greatest daily change. This is an example where stock returns have outliers of such magnitude that using the Normal distribution is not appropriate. Taleb describes the run-ins he experienced with the living legends of modern finance including Myron Scholes and Robert Merton due to his rejection of the Normal distribution assumption that underlies all their models.

The remainder of the book is not nearly as good. Hundreds of pages can be summed up in just stating that we can’t predict rare events. Taleb goes way overboard in attributing everything to luck. He thinks MicroSoft beat out Apple just due to luck. Taleb does not consider that MicroSoft open system allowed it to mushroom while Apple locked itself into a proprietary corner. Also, according to Taleb both the rise and fall of Rome were due entirely to luck. But, Rome was best at developing military strategy and transportation networks. However, it eventually suffered from imperial overstretch. Explanations are not always narrative fallacies as Taleb believes. They often beat out ignorance.

When it comes to advice, Taleb’s recommendation is interesting. It consists in an asset allocation of 85% risk free investments (T-bill) and the 15% remainder into buying way out of the money Calls and Puts. By doing so, he positions his portfolio to capture the occasional mispriced Black Swans.

This book is somewhat uneven in quality and is not nearly as good as his first book: Fooled by Randomness Revision (Not Available in US): The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and Life that has become a classic on Wall Street. Otherwise, it still is an interesting reading.

If you find the subject of this book intriguing, let me suggest a few other books that are more rewarding. Scott Plous’sThe Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making explores the flaws in human judgments far more thoroughly and clearly than Taleb in `The Black Swan.’ Perry Mehrling’s Fischer Black and the Revolutionary Idea of Finance is also an excellent book. Ideally, that may be who Taleb would have liked to become. Fischer Black was brilliant and as skeptical as Taleb regarding much of the body of economics and finance. Yet, he left a great legacy of elegant models that people still use extensively including the famous Black-Scholes option model. Yes those models were often based on Taleb’s dreaded Normal distribution. But, with minor modifications those models have remained valuable. Another recommendation is William Poundstone’s Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street that describes the career of a bright MIT mathematician, Ed Thorp. The latter showed how to successfully deal with uncertainty in gambling and investing. Even Taleb recognized Thorp’s unique expertise within `Black Swan.’

Many important ideas, many flaws that detract from the message5
This is an entertaining and enlightening book, and fairly easy to read. It has an important message regarding how the world works; that the world is governed not by the predictable and the average, but by the random, the unknownable, the unpredictable — big events or discoveries or unusual people that have big consequences. Change comes not uniformly but in unpredictable spurts. These are the Black Swans of the title: completedly unexpected and rare events or novel ideas or technologies that have a huge impact on the world. Indeed, Taleb argues that history itself is primarly driven by these Black Swans.

It is convincing argument, entertainingly presented with plenty of sarcasm, and indeed, anger, by Taleb. For example he rails against the academic community, economists (including specific names), and Nobel Prize committee. Considerable numbers of his arguments “ring true” to me, that is my experience in life confirms that they are more accurate than the traditional approach. Like any important work, 90% of what is in the book is not original; that does not make it less important. Taleb’s contribution is in integrating the material together, and showing how these different ideas are tied to the Black Swan.

The themes include: winner-take-all phenonomen, numerous effects of randomness on the world, the invalidity of the Gaussian Bell Curve to most things in world, concepts of scalablity, numerous instabilities in the world, especially the modern world where information travels so quickly, the fallacies about people’s inability to predict the future. The importance of these ideas, Taleb’s ability to weave them together into a single theory, and the ability of this theory to change the way you look at the world, means the book easily deserves my highest recommendation.

However, the book does have many flaws, unfortunately — unfortunate because I believe they will take away from the credibility of the message, which is in important one. The are numerous minor flaws such as, for example, the inexplicable invention of a fictional author (disclosed a few pages later), when certainly there must have been some real example that would have worked better. Another example is repeated jabs about the French; these may be amusing but I just don’t think they have a place in work like this. There are also diatribes against specific people, including famous economists, which, though amusing, and possibly justified, demonstrate a high level of anger by author and take away from his credibility. Often he also overreaches, for example in saying the usual combination of anti-abortion and pro-death penalty or the opposite combined views of pro-abortion and anti-death penatly cannot be explained logically, when in fact widely known theories such as George Lakoff’s (in Moral Politics) have explained hows these groups of views are entirely consistent.

Another flaw is that Taleb seems to go a little toward the extreme of saying that we can predict almost nothing about the future, and though he does not say so explicitly, this seems to imply we have no moral responsibility to the future. This, combined with Taleb’s advice to the reader about their behavior based on the “Black Swan” view of world just rubbed me the wrong way, for several reasons. One is that Taleb personally has very little in common with most people; never having as far as I know had a regular career (essentially what he calls non-scalable, e.g. dentist, engineer, baker) he nevertheless recommends that people choose these kinds of careers rather than a scalable career (e.g. financial trader, author, actor which are subject to a few lucky successful people and a lot of failures). This advise is odd first because Taleb is in a non-scalable profession (derivatives trader, then hedge fund manager) — indeed it appears he is quite wealthy. Even more odd because he says all these types of non-scalable types of work are boring and evens makes sarcastic comments (the book is extremely sarcasm heavy) for example about dentists being able to do well by diligently drilling teeth for 30 years. The second things that bothered me is that Taleb seems be somewhat amoral to me; in this type of book where plenty of his own emotions come through, plenty of his personality, he has plenty of criticism of others for their wrong models and wrong view of the world, and how this has hurt the world, but there remains a lack of moral responsibility to his advice.

Perhaps the best comparison I could make are to other important works that do not suffer from these flaws, for example the Age of Fallibility by George Soros and Irrational Exuberance by Robert Shiller (1st and 2nd editions). But probably Black Swan will sell better than either of these because of it’s “edginess,” i.e. aggresiveness; I personally have a distaste for this approach.

Despite my criticisms, the main ideas of the book as so important as to merit reading and indeed great consideration.

Moleskine Ruled Notebook Large-Retail $17.95! Sale Only $12.21!

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Moleskine Ruled Notebook Large

Moleskine Ruled Notebook Large-Retail $17.95! Sale Only $12.21!

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Moleskine Ruled Notebook Large Description:

This basic yet classic Large Ruled notebook is one of the best selling Moleskine notebooks. This reliable travel companion perfect for writings thoughts and passing notes has a cardboard bound cover with rounded corners acid free paper a bookmark an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket that contains the Moleskine history.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #869 in Books
  • Brand: Kikkerland
  • Published on: 2008-01-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .22 pounds
  • Binding: Journal
  • 240 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9788883701122
  • Condition: USED - VERY GOOD
  • Notes:

Customer Reviews:

Best Choice for Journaling5

I’ve been journaling ever since I was a pimply-faced teenager, and now I’m 31. In that time, I’ve used all varieties of notebooks, and filled them all. I came across the Moleskine brand a few years ago, and now I won’t use anything else. The large ruled notebook is sturdy, of excellent construction, holds I think 265 pages, and the pages will not fall out. This notebook is best for writers and diarists.

I wouldn’t use this book for school because, first of all, it is expensive. Second of all, it’s a bit of overkill. I doubt you’ll take a class in which you’ll have time to fill up this notebook. You’ll be more organized in a class if you buy a simple lab book or composition book to take notes in for each class.

I know a lot of people who try to write in jounals. They buy them with the best intentions, write a couple of pages, and then seem to forget about them and eventually buy ANOTHER journal, in which they will write a few pages and forget about. The key is just to keep the SAME journal, to keep in it in the same safe place, and to write in it whenever you feel like it, even if months go by without you touching it. If someone buys you another journal, fill up the first one first, and then move on to the new one. You can learn from my experience and start with the best, which is Moleskine. Otherwise . . . do whatever you want. The main thing is just to have something to write in.

I’ve also used all variety of pens. My choice is the Pilot Precise V5. Every now and then you’ll get a bum one, that you’ve just got to throw away because it’s not writing smoothly or properly. But, for the most part, these are the best choice for journaling and writing. They are fine point. They last longer than gel ink. They require no pressure whatsoever to be placed on the tip, as ball-point pens do, and they don’t smear.

A Ferrari exterior, with a Pinto drivetrain3
Okay. I admit it. I fell for the hype. Not so much the company line (”this book used by famous artists, and writers” blah blah blah)… but the beautiful exterior, clean professional design, and… naively… assumed that for twelve bucks, I was getting something nice.

Well… yes and no.

They’re “okay”. Everything I thought was special about them is true. They really look like something a professional would use. They look like something you could proudly use to write in while your sipping a latte at Starbucks. They have a look that makes people ask you what you’re writing in, and where you got it.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t deliver on the aspect that I took for granted. The paper.

I’d read some reviews that said the paper was cheap, and that it wasn’t good for artists. I… equally naively… disregarded those opinions, because I couldn’t believe that such a nice (and expensive) product would go cheap on the most important part of a notebook. The part you write/draw on.

I’ve tried gel pens, felt pens, ball-point pens, liquid ink pens… they all cause problems. Gel pens, and liquid ink pens smudge too much to be of any use (great for artists, eh?). Ball point pens are just cheap, ugly, and work poorly, and felt-tip pens look nice, and dry quickly enough, but bleed straight through to the other side, forcing you to only write on one side of each page. Certainly not what a journal writer, or novelist would prefer.

If there is a form of pen that writes on these things satisfactorily, I’ve honestly not found it.

I wanted to love the Moleskine. I love the story (I didn’t believe the story about Picasso, Hemingway, or Chatwin, but it is a compelling one). I love the design. I love the binding. I love the elastic strap. I love the bookmark. I love everything about them except for the paper.

It’d be like buying a Ferrari, and finding out someone replaced the engine with that of a Pinto. It looks great. Its a conversation starter. You might impress some people. Yet in the end, it just isn’t satisfying to use.

Honestly, the paper in a ninety nine cent composition book is better.

I’ll be looking elsewhere from now on.

The Positive Talk is Right!5
I’ve heard these books are wonderful. I take a lot of notes at my job. Having struggled with wire bound books (the bindings getting bent or snagging clothing) and being teased about being too old to use composition books, these notebooks are a joy to use. The attached ribbon bookmark and elastic band close have come in handy to use. The paper is smooth and a heavier weight than other notebooks. The paper is also a cream colored so there is no glare when writing in bright sunlight. The book is tough enough to be out on the job but professional looking enough for meetings. Love this book! I’m planning to buy more and have the covers laser-etched to give out as gifts.

Buy Fancy Nancy and the Sensational Babysitter At Amazon!

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Fancy Nancy and the Sensational Babysitter

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Fancy Nancy and the Sensational Babysitter Description:

Nancy is tremendously excited about her new babysitter coming over. She has their whole evening planned out, from playing with Marabelle to dressing up in fancy ensembles. But things don’t turn out quite as Nancy had planned!

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1583 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-05-01
  • Released on: 2010-04-27
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 24 pages

Customer Reviews:

About the Author

Jane O’Connor is the author of more than thirty books for children, including the Nina, Nina Ballerina stories, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo, and the Fancy Nancy picture book series. Ms. O’Connor lives with her family in ever-posh New York City.

Buy Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness At Amazon!

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

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Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness Description:

Featured on Bill Moyer’s PBS special Healing and the Mind, this practical guide to mindfulness, meditation and healing from the author of the bestselling Wherever You Go, There You Are is a classic in the field of alternative medicine.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #817 in Books
  • Published on: 1990-06-01
  • Released on: 1990-05-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 512 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780385303125
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Customer Reviews:

A Great Book5
This is a great resource for people who suffer from any type of chronic (long-term) health problems. It is based on the author’s experience with thousands of people who have participated in a course called the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program at the Univ. of Massachusetts Medical Center. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness is intended to be that program rolled up into a book.

The book’s tool is mindfulness meditation- a form of meditation originally developed in the Buddhist traditions- defined as a moment-to-moment awareness. Through mindful meditation, one can gain new kinds of control and wisdom in their lives. The book is very “hands on”, so don’t expect to just read it and be done with it. For example, you’ll be doing things such breathing exercises or yoga postures (I can also recommend Exercise Beats Depression as another good resource for those struggling with depression).

Since the mind plays a factor in stress-related disorders, and very undertreated in Western medicine, I feel like this book will fill a much needed niche for many people. With over five-hundred pages, there’s plenty of wisdom here to suck up.

Useful for Short Illnesses, Too5
I have both this book and Kabat-Zinn’s other, “Wherever You Go, There You Are.” That one is more of a general intro to mindfulness (i.e, concentrating on your breathing as a way to clear your mind and reach a deeper level) meditation. It’s written in a more aphoristic style: short and sweet, lots of quotes from Thoreau and various gurus, “try this” exercises at the end of each short chapter. A book you mull over, read in bits, inbetween the recommended practice.

This one is more wordy, a description of what goes on at the Massachusetts General Hospital Pain Reduction Clinic, where Kabat-Zinn uses a combination of (physical) yoga, mindfulness meditation, and something called the “full body scan” (lying down and concentrating on different parts of the body at a time) to help people with serious, stress-related illnesses such as heart disease, back pain, migraines and cancer.

There are instructions on how to do the above; statistical information on how well this program works; descriptions of the types of illnesses they deal with; lots of case studies of typical patients; and some general conclusions that the very insightful Kabat-Zinn has drawn from his work. I hate pop psychology but that’s not what’s delivered here - these are very real insights, not facile at all, on the damaging stresses of modern life and concrete advice on how to cope with them in such a way as to not get sick.

He says, for instance, that “your pain is not you” - that you can and should separate yourself from the pain, and from the negative feedback voice (”I’m never going to get better,” for example) that makes things worse.

They do recommend (as I do, and as I see another reviewer does) that you buy the tapes listed in the back of the book to help you with your program. But you can use the book without them: it just takes more willpower and concentration.

As far as personal testimony is concerned, I haven’t had to use this program to help me cope with any serious illnesses, thank goodness. But (like most women in their post-childbearing years) I do have a lot of miscellaneous aches and pains which I do deal with much better using the techniques in this book. I have not yet had time to make the recommended commitment for optimal results (45 minutes per day, 6 days a week) - I just use the techniques (which include, for instance, imagining that you are breathing in and out of the painful part of your body - it’s hard to describe, but it works!) when I feel headachy or in pain, and medicine either doesn’t help or isn’t possible to take because of stomach upset.

What I’m saying is, this book is valuable even if you don’t have a serious, chronic illness.

Besides, it really is preferable to use these techniques BEFORE you get sick, rather than after.

And they do give the advantages of regular meditation, too: a sense of deeper understanding of yourself, a sense of wonder, etc. (so hard to describe without sounding silly).

This book made a difference.5
I read this book and did not like it. I found it described a life I did not want to know about so I put the book aside having skipped a number of the chapters. Six months later when my wife was admitted to the ER with severe headaches I remembered the central message in this book.

The message is clear and simple, the “bad” times in life are as valid an experience as the “good” be there, be aware,accept,don’t wish for better times, don’t run away from catastrophe. I was aware and present for the next three weeks, the most important three weeks of my life. I felt so lucky that I had read this book. It could be a lot shorter and more focused but the central message is invaluable.

Amazon.com Review
Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, is perhaps the best-known proponent of using meditation to help patients deal with illness. (The somewhat confusing title is from a line in Zorba the Greek in which the title character refers to the ups and downs of family life as “the full catastrophe.”) But this book is also a terrific introduction for anyone who has considered meditating but was afraid it would be too difficult or would include religious practices they found foreign. Kabat-Zinn focuses on “mindfulness,” a concept that involves living in the moment, paying attention, and simply “being” rather than “doing.” While you can practice anything “mindfully,” from taking a walk to cleaning your house, Kabat-Zinn presents several meditation techniques that focus the attention most clearly, whether it’s on a simple phrase, your breathing, or various parts of your body. The book goes into detail about how hospital patients have either improved their health or simply come to feel better despite their illness by using these techniques, but these meditations can help anyone deal with stress and gain a calmer outlook on life. “When we use the word healing to describe the experiences of people in the stress clinic, what we mean above all is that they are undergoing a profound transformation of view,” Kabat-Zinn writes. “Out of this shift in perspective comes an ability to act with greater balance and inner security in the world.” –Ben Kallen

From Publishers Weekly
Kabat-Zinn is founder and director of the stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and the “full catastrophe” of which he writes is the spectrum of stress in life. His program, in a word, is meditation, rescued from the mire of mysticism that made it trendy in the 1960s. The author focuses on the advantages of employing “practiced mindfulness” to control and calm our responses without blunting our feelings–and a more convincing introduction to the many modes and uses of meditation could hardly be imagined. In personable, enlightening prose, Kabat-Zinn first explains how to develop a meditation schedule, and in later chapters pragmatically applies his plan to the main sources of stress. An impressive middle section clearly marshals scientific and anecdotal evidence relating state of mind to state of health. And while emphasizing meditation’s healing potential, Kabat-Zinn makes no sweeping claims, suggesting that the discipline serve not as means but end. Illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC and QPB selection.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review
“A practical guide not only to mindfulness meditation and healing, but daily life.” —Joseph Goldstein, Insight Meditation Society, author of One Dharma and coauthor of Seeking the Heart of Wisdom

“Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn eloquently explains the power of paying attention and increasing awareness. I strongly recommend this book for everyone who wants to begin healing their life.”—Dean Ornish, M.D., author of Stress, Diet, and Your Heart and Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for the Reversal of Heart Disease

“Happy 15th birthday to one of the great classics of mind/body medicine! More than any other, Full Catastrophe Living is the book that enabled Americans to discover the inner life. This book has brought peace of mind to hundreds and thousands of people and healed countless lives. This is your chance to let it heal yours.” —Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings

“A wonderful guidebook for those of us who choose life and healing. I hope you all make the choice and read the book.” —Bernie Siegel, M.D., author of Love, Medicine, and Miracles and Peace, Love, and Healing

The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy Sale-$17.81!

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy

The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy Sale-$17.81!

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The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy Description:

Combining modern genetic science and evolutionary biology, The Primal Blueprint dispels a number of the myths that modern medicine and conventional wisdom have come to accept as fact. Author Mark Sisson takes the reader on a fascinating journey through human evolution, comparing the life and robust health of our hunter-gatherer ancestors with a day in the life of a modern family - exposing potential health issues that arise from trying to do the right things living in the 21st century. Sisson offers a solution in 10 empowering ‘Blueprint Lifestyle Laws’ that can help us reprogram our genes away from disease and pain towards a direction of effortless weight loss, vibrant health and boundless energy. The reader learns how the right high-fat diet can actually help one lose weight; how popular low-fat, grain-based diets might trigger illness, disease, and lifelong weight gain; why doing too much cardio exercise might actually suppress the immune system and how some of today’s most common medications might make a health condition even worse. The consummate book on ‘Paleo’ or ‘Primal’ health.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #278 in Books
  • Published on: 2009-06-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 283 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780982207703
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Customer Reviews:

This book has changed my life.5
This book is absolutely amazing. It’s refreshing to find someone out there that truly wants to help people. Mark Sisson doesn’t try to get you to buy products/gimmicky DVDs/equipment - he offers simple, honest advice that works and that anyone can follow for FREE. Every single health problem I had in the past is GONE after following his advice for only FIVE MONTHS! I’ve lost 35 pounds, my depression is gone, my endometriosis has cleared up and I’m pain free for the first time in years. This book (and it’s companion[...]) has changed my life.

Following Primal Laws4
According to the author “the human species reached its evolutionary pinnacle about 10,000 years ago. After that, we started to take it easy, and get soft…” For that reason the author suggests reprogramming our genes by following primal laws that were validated by two million years of human evolution. These laws that enable us to live long and healthy, be fit and lose weight, are the following:

1. Eat lots of plants and animals
2. Avoid poisonous things.
3. Move frequently at a slow pace
4. Lift heavy things
5. Sprint once in a while
6. Get adequate sleep
7. Play
8. Get adequate sunlight
9. Avoid stupid mistakes
10. Use you brain

Some of these lows are just common sense and obvious, some others require some explanations, yet others might disagree with some people’s perception. This is why you need to read the book to find out what the author really means and why. The author explains how to apply these lows in our modern society that is used to consumerism and quick fixes rather then the pursuit of health. It is often not easy and for some readers this book might be revolutionary. Especially for those who like having their coffee with skim milk rather then with cream so as not to consume too much fat. Surprisingly according to Mark Sisson eating meat, eggs, and high-fat diet is not only healthy but it is also the key to losing weight, being healthy and energetic.

Yes, do eat less carbohydrates but don’t get crazy working out in your gym. Intense strength sessions and sporadic sprints can be more beneficial to your health then grueling daily cardiovascular workouts.

This book certainly deserves more than a casual glance. For those interested in more reading about the natural way of living, eating, breathing, exercising and generally living the life that the Nature has intended I suggest checking the book titled Can w e Live 150 Years?

It works!5
Implemented the program in Aug 2009, lost 22 lbs in 3 months. Its now Jan 2010 and I have maintained my weight loss and feel better than ever!

About the Author
Former world-class endurance athlete (2:18 marathon, 4th place Hawaii Ironman), BA degree in biology (Williams College), former Anti-doping Commissioner of International Triathlon Union and its liaison to the IOC, founder and CEO of Primal Nutrition, Inc., owner/founder of MarksDailyApple.com a top-ranked health and fitness blog with 3 million page views per month.

The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed Sale-$11.53!

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed

The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed Sale-$11.53!

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The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed Description:

The finest guidebook ever written for Kauai and the only one written by a writer who anonymously reviews the island. He visits every beach, restaurant, activity and trail on the island. The result is this comprehensive, humorous and easy-to-read full color guide that will lead you to more adventures than any other book. A must for travelers.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #734 in Books
  • Published on: 2008-10-15
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 260 pages

Features

Customer Reviews:

Indispensibly dog-earred5
I’ve spent a total of 6 weeks on Kauai and while I’ve checked out 4 different guidebooks on Kauaii I have used this book exclusively while on island. The authors do a great job of making it quick and easy for you to experience the best beaches, hikes, and other activities — just turn to the section you’re interested in (”Beaches” for example) and look for the big fat diamond symbol indicating a “gem” of an item (I wish all guidebooks did this as concisely and well as these folks do). The pictures are great and really help decision-making. Only rarely have I disagreed with their advice. Some readers have complained about restaraunt and helicopter tour recommendations — but that’s such a small part of what the island has to offer, and frankly I don’t recall be led astray by the book in these activities. If you’re mainly concerned about restaraunts and helicopters, simply stay at the Hyatt Regency and have their concierge set up a helicopter ride for you (the Hyatt can’t be beat for all-around luxury, good restaraunts, and quality service). But if you want to explore, and get the most from, the glorious natural beauty of this island, this is, as others have said, the only book you’ll need. I only wish they had one for Maui — but I’m stoked they have one for the Big Island and am ordering it today.

I wish I had bought this book for my first trip to Kauai!5
This is an outstanding guide book full of beautiful pictures and right on information. I picked up this book before my second trip to Kauai. We had visited the island the year before for our honeymoon. I really wish we had bought this book a year earlier!

There were so many things on Kauai that we didn’t even think of to do or see the first time and we bumbled around from place to place, seeing little of the island. The second trip, we used this guidebook and checked out some outstanding restaurants and beaches. Without the book, we never would have gone to JoJo’s Clubhouse for shave ice or found parking for Ke’e Beach.

Something we found helpful was the aerial photos of the resorts section where we got to see just how far the ocean is from where you are planning to stay. We were at the Hyatt for both trips and would readily make reservations there again in a heartbeat!

This is an amazing resource for the island. I wish the authors would write books for Maui and Oahu!

Not the book for Ugly Americans4
In reading through the customer reviews on here, I notice that the handful of people who gave this book 1 star complain about the restaurant reviews, or they say the people of Kauai aren’t really as friendly as this book claims. I’d suspect these are the people who expect paradise to be without bugs, rain, or or anything else that might “inconvenience” them… the people whom the reviewer from Kapahi complained about (11/12/00). If you act like a snotty haole, people will treat you like one. If you’re looking for five-star restaurants, you probably SHOULDN’T go to Kauai. That said, this book is great for those of us who want to be unobtrusive, low-budget travelers and eat plate lunches with the locals. The maps — which include 3-D relief shading — are by far the best non-urban maps I’ve ever seen printed in a travel guide. My only complaint (and the reason I’m giving 4 stars instead of 5) is that the Accommodations section is all about hotels and condos; there are only 5 B&Bs and 2 Vacation Rental Referral Services mentioned, and I didn’t find either of those services to be as helpful as I’d hoped. (For better accommodation info, check out alternative-hawaii.com.)

Review
“Best Guidebook: Ultimate Kauai Guidebook…You can trust it…Actually lives up to its title.” — Islands Magazine

“Best guide to Kauai…Ultimate Kauai Guidebook.” — National Geographic Adventure

“The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook is terrific—It’s like having a savvy local resident with you.” — Dave Barry, nationally syndicated columnist & humorist

Review
The finest guidebook ever written for Kaua’i. Now you can plan your best vacation-ever. This all new seventh edition is a candid, humorous guide to everything there is to see and do on the island. Best-selling author and longtime Hawai’i resident, Andrew Doughty, unlocks the secrets of an island so lush and diverse that many visitors never realize all that it has to offer. Explore with him as he reveals breathtaking trails, secluded beaches, pristine reefs, delicious places to dine, relaxing resorts, exciting waterfalls, colorful canyons and so much more. Every restaurant, activity provider, business and resort is reviewed personally and anonymously. This book and a rental car are all you need to discover what makes Kaua’i so exciting.

The most up-to-date and accurate information available anyplace with up-to-the-minute changes posted to our website

Frank, brutally honest reviews of restaurants, hotels and activities show you which companies really are the best…and which to avoid-no advertisements

Driving tours let you structure your trip your way, point out sights not to be missed along the way and are complemented by 100 spectacular color photographs

15 specially-created maps in an easy-to-follow format with mile markers-so you’ll always know where you are on the island

Clear, concise directions to those hard-to-find places such as deserted beaches, tropical jungles, hidden waterfalls, rugged scenic coastlines, freshwater lava pools and scores of other hidden gems listed nowhere else

Exclusive chapter on Kaua’i’s beaches with detailed descriptions including ocean safety

Unique Adventures chapter and over 60 pages of exciting activities from ATVs to ziplines

Fascinating sections on Hawai’i’s history, culture, language and legends

Companion website with links to every business, events calendar, over 70 resort reviews complete with aerial photos-so you’ll know if oceanfront really means oceanfront

“The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook” covers it all-from the mile-high summit of Mt. Wai’ale’ale, to the sparkling underwater reefs. This is the best investment you can make for your Kaua’i visit. Whether you are a first time visitor, or a longtime kama’aina, you will find out more about Kaua’i from this book than from any other source. Discover the island of your dreams with “The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook.”

From the Publisher
The finest guidebook ever written for Kauai. This brand new fourth edition has more useful information, the most up to date maps and scores of hidden gems listed nowhere else. This book and a rental car are all you need to discover what makes the Garden Island so special.

Maps include beach access to even the most remote beaches, mile markers so you always know where you are, hiking trails and numerous details in an easy to follow format.

Symbols quickly identify recommended sights and companies. We identify which companies really are the best…and which to avoid.

Special expanded sections on Hiking and Adventures.

Clear, concise directions to get to those hard to find places.

Web site with links to every business, last minute updates and more. Plus Web pages available exclusively to our readers that expand on all accommodation reviews with aerial photos of all the resorts (so you’ll know if oceanfront really means oceanfront).

Written by Kauai residents who know the island.

Frank, honest opinions from anonymous reviews—No advertisements.

We’ve covered it all—from the top of Wai‘ale‘ale to the sparkling underwater reefs. This is the best investment you can make for your trip to Kauai. Whether you are a first time visitor, or a long time kama‘aina, you will find out more about the Garden Island from this book than from any other source.

Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy Discount.

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy. Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy

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An incisive look at the global economic crisis, our flawed response, and the implications for the world’s future prosperity. The Great Recession, as it has come to be called, has impacted more people worldwide than any crisis since the Great Depression. Flawed government policy and unscrupulous personal and corporate behavior in the United States created the current financial meltdown, which was exported across the globe with devastating consequences. The crisis has sparked an essential debate about America’s economic missteps, the soundness of this country’s economy, and even the appropriate shape of a capitalist system.

Few are more qualified to comment during this turbulent time than Joseph E. Stiglitz. Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, Stiglitz is “an insanely great economist, in ways you can’t really appreciate unless you’re deep into the field” (Paul Krugman, New York Times). In Freefall, Stiglitz traces the origins of the Great Recession, eschewing easy answers and demolishing the contention that America needs more billion-dollar bailouts and free passes to those “too big to fail,” while also outlining the alternatives and revealing that even now there are choices ahead that can make a difference. The system is broken, and we can only fix it by examining the underlying theories that have led us into this new “bubble capitalism.”

Ranging across a host of topics that bear on the crisis, Stiglitz argues convincingly for a restoration of the balance between government and markets. America as a nation faces huge challenges—in health care, energy, the environment, education, and manufacturing—and Stiglitz penetratingly addresses each in light of the newly emerging global economic order. An ongoing war of ideas over the most effective type of capitalist system, as well as a rebalancing of global economic power, is shaping that order. The battle may finally give the lie to theories of a “rational” market or to the view that America’s global economic dominance is inevitable and unassailable.

For anyone watching with indignation while a reckless Wall Street destroyed homes, educations, and jobs; while the government took half-steps hoping for a “just-enough” recovery; and while bankers fell all over themselves claiming not to have seen what was coming, then sought government bailouts while resisting regulation that would make future crises less likely, Freefall offers a clear accounting of why so many Americans feel disillusioned today and how we can realize a prosperous economy and a moral society for the future. .

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #970 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-01-18
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 361 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780393075960
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Excellent and Credible Insights!5
Stiglitz believes that markets lie at the heart of every successful economy, but do not work well without government regulation. In “Freefall” he explains how flawed perspectives and incentives lead to the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008, and brought mistakes that will prolong the downturn.

Between 1996-2006, Americans used over $2 trillion in home equity to pay for home improvements, cars, medical bills, etc., largely because real income had been stagnant since the early 1990s. Economic recovery requires that we repay the remainder of these amounts, overcome stock market losses (10% between 2000-2009), the loss of some 10 million jobs, and reductions in credit card balances, and find an equivalent amount to the former home-equity sourced financing ($975 billion in 2006 alone - about 7% of GDP) to finance another consumer-driven GDP upturn - without the prior boom in housing and commercial building. Stiglitz also points out that the Great Depression coincided with the decline of U.S. agriculture (crop prices were falling before the 1929 crash), and economic growth resumed only after the New Deal and WWII. Similarly, today’s recovery from the Great Recession is also hampered by the concomitant shift from manufacturing to services, continued automation and globalization, taxes that have become less progressive (shifting money from those who would spend to those who haven’t), and new accounting regulations that discourage mortgage renegotiation.

Stiglitz is particularly critical of the U.S. finance industry - its size (41% of corporate profits in 2007), avarice (maximizing revenues through repeated high fees generated by over-eager and over-sold homeowners needing to refinance adjustable-rate mortgages that repeatedly reset), and ’sophisticated ignorance’ (using complex computer models to evaluate risk that failed to account for high correlation within and between housing markets; ‘eliminating risk’ through buying credit default swaps from AIG - blind to the likelihood AIG could not make good in a housing downturn), and excessive risk (banks leveraged up to 40:1 with increasingly risky mortgage assets - ‘liar’s loans,’ 2nd mortgages, ARMs, no-down-payments; taking advantage of the ‘too-big-to-fail’ and ‘Greenspan/Bernanke put’ phenomena). Much of this behavior was driven by lopsided personal financial incentives (bonuses) - if bankers win, they walk off with the proceeds, and if they lose, taxpayers pick up the tab. However, to be fair, any firm that failed to take advantage of every opportunity to boost its earnings and stock price faced the threat of a hostile takeover.

The impact of mortgage defaults is greater than one would otherwise expect because financial wizards found that the highest tranches of securitized mortgages would still earn a AAA rating if some income was provided to the lowest tranches in the ‘highly unlikely’ event of eg. a 50% overall default, thus boosting the ratings and saleability of lower tranches. (Fortunately for the U.S., many of these mortgages ended up overseas, spreading the disaster.) Another problem is that mortgage speculators make more profit from foreclosure than partial settlements. Meanwhile, investors worried that mortgage servicers might be too soft on borrowers required restrictions that make renegotiation more difficult and lead to more foreclosures. Similarly, those with 2nd-mortgages often found that those holding the second were unwilling to accept a principal write-down as their share of assets would be wiped out. Finally, new government regulations aimed at making banks seem healthier than otherwise allowed changing from ‘mark-to-market’ valuation of mortgages to long-term ‘mark-to-hope’ valuation - thus, writing down assets in a renegotiation would generate the very mortgage write-downs the new regulations avoided, and thus increased bank reluctance to do so.

“Freefall” also does an excellent job refuting many of the simple explanations, alibis, and remedies for the 2008 Great Recession. For example, Greenspan’s ‘nothing he could do’ alibi is countered by Stiglitz’s ‘require higher down payments or margin requirements’ (or increase interest rates). To those blaming Community Reinvestment Act requirements for increased mortgages to those with low incomes, Stiglitz says the default rates on those loans was less than in other areas; as for Fannie and Freddie being responsible, they came late into the sub-prime game. Responding to claims that increased regulation would stifle innovation and its role in economic growth, Stiglitz asserts that it is impossible to trace any sustained economic growth to those ‘innovative’ mortgages. (A ‘real’ contribution could have been made by less profitable innovative mortgages that helped homeowners stay in their homes.) On the other hand, he also admits that just giving more regulatory power to the Federal Reserve is not a solution - the Federal Reserve didn’t use what it did have prior to late 2008; similarly, the SEC boosted leverage limits from 12:1 to 30:1 and higher in 2004 - exactly the wrong move. Banks suggest banning short sales in the future as a preventive measure - Stiglitz, however, points out that the incentive provided short-sellers to discover fraud and reckless lending may actually play a more important role in curbing bad bank behavior than government regulators have.

Other factors, especially government actions, also receive attention from the author. Overall, global supply exceeds demand - thus, the recovery focus needs to be on boosting demand. Stiglitz points out that growing inequality shifts money from those who would have spent it to those who didn’t - weakening overall consumer demand. High oil prices have also impacted most those with low incomes, and probably encouraged Greenspan to hold down interest rates to counteract the negative impact. On a broader level, Stiglitz contends that IMF encouragement of national self-discipline and ‘rainy-day’ funds also weaken consumer demand. As for recommendations for more tax cuts and rebates, Stiglitz says these won’t have much impact on consumers saddled with debt and anxiety, and as long as there’s excess capacity, businesses will be reluctant to invest (Laffer’s supply-curve tax-curve is an irrelevant theory, at best). Stiglitz even suggests elsewhere that the failure of Bush’s 2001 tax cuts to stimulate the economy may have also influenced Greenspan to hold down interest rates for too long.

AIG, once bailed out, paid off billions to Goldman Sachs at 100% (Secretary Paulson’s former firm), while defunct credit-default-swaps elsewhere were settled at only 13 cents on the dollar, says Stiglitz. Overall, he is very negative on the financial-sector bailout (TARP), believing that the money would much better have been used to capitalize new banks at 12:1 leverage, or not spent at all. The resulting bank subsidies were unfair to taxpayers (Treasury put up most of the money and got short-changed on potential benefits), and implementation was inconsistent - some institutions and stockholders were bailed out, others were not. (The reason lending ‘froze up’ is that banks didn’t know whether they or their peers ere underwater.) The stimulus package, on the other hand, was too small (aimed at 3.6 million jobs, vs. 10 million lost plus 1.5 million new workers/year needing jobs), and was delegated to Congress without clear guidance. The result was a failure to provide mortgage insurance for those losing jobs, while instead creating the ‘cash-for-clunkers’ (mostly just moved sales from one period to another - [...] estimated only 18% were added sales, costing taxpayers $24,000 apiece; eight of the top ten purchases came from Asian manufacturers), ineffectual tax cuts, putting money into a failing auto industry, and increased road construction (greater global warming) instead of giving even more money to high-speed rail. The stimulus emphasis should have been on fast implementation, high-multiplier impact, and addressing long-term problems (eg. global warming). The employment situation now is worse than just the unemployment rate suggests - there are a record 6 applicants for every opening, the average work week is at 34 hours - the lowest since data was first collected in 1964, many have turned to disability instead of unemployment and are not counted.

Overall, Stiglitz believes there is far too much short-term thinking driving decision-makers, that business lobbies are too strong, and that markets are not naturally efficient. (Other inefficient market areas besides finance include health care, energy, manufacturing.) Meanwhile, we have done nothing to correct the underlying problems (big banks are even bigger) and Stiglitz also fears (reported elsewhere) the U.S. economy faces a “significant chance” of contracting again.

Interesting side-notes: 1)Stiglitz suggests that banks ‘too-big-to-fail’ should pay higher rates of deposit insurance, and incur restraints on executive incentives. In 1995 our five largest banks’ market share was 11%, 40% now. Regardless, the world’s largest three banks are now Chinese - #5 is American. (Not to worry - scale economics are no longer a factor for any of those banks, says Stiglitz.) 2)President Reagan made a major mistake in removing Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and appointing Alan Greenspan in his place. Volcker had brought down inflation from more than 11 percent to under 4 percent, which should have assured his reappointment. But Volcker believed financial markets need to be regulated, and Reagan wanted someone who did not. Thus, Stiglitz believes regulations must be mandated, and enforced by a neutral, not political, source. 3)Repealing the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 changed the culture of banking from conservative to high-risk, and also encouraged even larger institutions. 4)It is ironic that the Bush/Greenspan efforts to minimize government involvement in the economy resulted in our becoming de facto owners of the world’s largest auto and insurance companies, and some of the largest banks. 5)Stock options are doubly damaging - they undermine stockholder wealth while remaining largely hidden from stockholders, and they encourage maximum short-term accounting manipulation to move stock prices up. 6)The U.S. national debt will reach 70% of GDP by 2019, and when it hits 90%, paying 5% interest on that debt will consume one-fifth of federal taxes.

Bottom-Line: Most books on current economic issues written for the public are superficial, or even worse, mere demagoguery. Stiglitz’s qualifications - Nobel prize-winner in economics (2001), former Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors (1995-97), and former World Bank Chief Economist help provide an important, interesting and credible alternative. “Freefall” was a pleasure to read.

Accurate and timely5
Stiglitz accurately reflects on the mistakes made by the US government to prevent and address the financial crisis. The book is a must reader for those who want to understand the the economics and politics behind the crisis. This is an enlightening piece of work from one of the world’s best economist.

Speaking Truth to Power — Again5
Professor Stiglitz has repeatedly spoken truth to power. He wrote about the perils of unchecked globalization, the disaster of the Federal Reserves policies in the 90s and 00s, the wrong-footed solutions to the Asia crisis, and the cost of the Iraq War. Here he lays out in simple, straightforward jargon-free language, what happened to cause the worst economic crisis since the Depression and what steps we need to take to prevent it from happening again. Highly recommended.

Cat of the Century: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery Mrs. Murphy Mysteries Discount.

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Cat of the Century: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery Mrs. Murphy Mysteries

Cat of the Century: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery Mrs. Murphy Mysteries Discount.

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Cat of the Century: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery Mrs. Murphy Mysteries Description:

 
Acclaimed authors Rita Mae Brown and her feline partner, Sneaky Pie Brown, are back with this new mystery starring Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, the sleuthing cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and corgi Tee Tucker. And this time they must catch a killer determined to turn a birthday party into a funeral.

Harry’s beloved and tart-tongued Aunt Tally is about to turn the big 1-0-0. The alumnae association of her alma mater sees an opportunity to honor the event and make some loot off the centennial as well. The plan is to hold a big fund-raiser in Aunt Tally’s honor to recoup some of the school revenue lost in the cratered economy. But soon there’s more at risk than investments and endowments.

First, an impending blizzard threatens to ruin the whole affair. Then a suspicious transaction is discovered in the association’s account: board member Mariah D’Angelo has mysteriously withdrawn and then replaced $25,000.
 
But was that enough to get her killed? Mariah’s car is on campus, she’s gone missing, and Tucker has found human blood near the school’s stables.

What’s behind the disappearance? Was it Mariah’s donations to crafty politicians and crooked charities? Her rivalry with fellow board member Flo Langston? And is there a connection to the forty-year-old unsolved death of an old acquaintance of Aunt Tally’s? Using animal cunning and human canniness, Harry and her menagerie of mystery solvers must sniff out the answers or—even at a hundred years old—Aunt Talley may outlive them all.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #688 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-04-06
  • Released on: 2010-04-06
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 240 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780553807073
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Customer Reviews:

Too much politicizing, not enough story1
I used to really enjoy these Mrs. Murphy books, and own most of them. However, this one will be my last. Every single conversation between characters turns into a dig on the government. That is not why I read these cozy mysteries. Most of the politicizing has absolutely nothing to do with the storyline, and leaves me scratching my head as to why the author included it. Surely there is a better venue to express one’s political views than a cat mystery book?

had enough2
I have really tried to like her last three books but alas, I think this is it for me.
I am tired of the soap box and whatever tirade she is on at the time of her writing. The cats and dogs are the best part of the book.

If I want politics, and preaching I will turn on the all day news. they all do enough of it.
I read to escape and relax but Her latest books do neither. I know of two people that quit before the last two.

While I applaud the remarriage- Oh for the days when Harry and Miranda pushed the pets around the post office in a cart.

Hiss boo, what a sad book.1
I have loved most of RMB’s earlier books. I have all of them except for this one. When she wrote “Sour Puss” something about her changed I think as a person and it caused her delightful, fun, engaging fiction to plunge into a dismal state of getting on soap boxes, complaining about the government and basically all around using her book as a political platform with an occasional cuteness thrown in with a comment from Mrs. Murphy, Pewter or Tucker. Except now she has even gone and corrupted the animals. They are truly still the most likeable of the bunch, including Aunt Tally’s Gordon Setter, Doddles, and Enzo, Inez’s dog whose breed escapes me.

I truly thought after “Puss” I would give up reading Mrs. Murphy’s series because I figured out whodunit after 60 pages and didn’t bother finishing the book. However, I had high hopes when she released “Santa Clawed”, her last book, because it remaind truer to her previous wonderful stories rather than political jib jab and high horses. I had hoped sincerely with all the positive PR “Clawed” received that RMB would go back to what works. I was sadly mistaken.

In summary, I agree with most of the reviewers here who said they miss the old books with their playful banter and amature detection, rather than forums and pomposity. I am sick of the political forums, I would watch the news if I wanted that. Her dialogue has even changed where the characters now speak at each other rather than to each other. She adds qualifiers to everything! There is a part where Aunt Tally uses the word “Ain’t” in a fairly well known colloquialism most anyone can recognize, but Brown points out she is just using the expression as Tally always has an excellent grasp of the English language and grammar. So unnecessary! The writing here is just plain awful and once again, I figured out whodunit halfway through the book.

I would normally say die hard fans should check it out and see for themselves, but this book was so bad I wouldn’t even buy it in paperback when it comes out to complete my collection. Skip skip skip it unless you get it from the library and positively have nothing else to do. It is more fun to scrub your toilet than read this. I am sad to say good bye to Mrs. Murphy, but I too agree this will be my last one. There are so many other books out there to read than to hope Brown will go back to the old days.

From Publishers Weekly
Shady money dealings fuel Brown’s solid 18th mystery featuring Mary Minor Haristeen and her cat pal, Sneaky Pie (after 2008’s Santa Clawed). Aunt Talley Urquhart is looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday at her Fulton, Mo., alma mater, real-life William Woods University, but all is not well at WWU. Stockbroker Flo Langston, class of ‘74, is sure her hated classmate, Mariah D’Angelo, who heads the WWU Alumnae Association, has mishandled university funds. Mariah misses Aunt Talley’s party and vanishes. Then someone shoots Flo dead at home in St. Louis after Flo reveals that Mariah has been selling fake high-end watches. Taunting messages (e.g., Catch me if you can) begin arriving in computer in-boxes of various WWU alumnae, including Inez Carpenter, Aunt Talley’s 98-year-old best friend. Faithful fans already familiar with the characters will enjoy the cozy antics, but others may struggle to pay attention until people start dying. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
The eighteenth Mrs. Murphy mystery is far from the best of the series. Harry, no longer postmistress, but rather full-time wife and farmer, travels to WilliamWoods University with her old friend Tally Urquhart for an alumni reception and, naturally, encounters murder and mystery. As usual, Harry’s pets, Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker, travel with her and assist in the investigation. Heavy-handed dialogue intended more to deliver a message than move along the plot or develop the characters drags this one down. For dedicated series fans only. –Jessica Moyer

About the Author
 
Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of several novels, including the Sneaky Pie Brown series, the Sister Jane series, Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, and Six of One, among many others. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.