Latest Reviews

August 15, 2022

This is one of the great non-fiction reading experiences I have had. 'Numbers Don't Lie': 71 stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World' is one of the more recent of 40-plus books by Vaclav Smil.

I was blithely unaware of this author until about a decade ago when I read that 'most people think in three dimensions Vaclav Smil thinks in eleven', and it has stuck with me.

June 1, 2022

'Brief Answers to Big Questions' is Stephen Hawking's last book and despite promises made and almost kept, about no equations, I still found myself frequently in deep weeds of lack of understanding. But after re-reading in some areas the weeds became less thick. You may find yourself with your own “uncertainty principle” .

While I have developed no ability to imagine multiple dimensions beyond the standard three, I was persuaded to add 'time' as a fourth. I also learned that a triangle can have more than a total of 180 degrees in its three inside angles.

February 15, 2022

Forgetting, or at least the pathological kind, is one of the great fears of this senior generation. So worrisome that the half serious epithet “if that happens to me, just shoot me” can be heard with respect to dementia. Few are likely to ask for such an out for any other disease.

November 30, 2021

 

Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced and Stumbled our Way to Civilization, by University of British Columbia professor of philosophy, Edward Slingerland is a history demonstrating the positive contribution of alcoholic beverage to the growth of civilization. I could imagine this subject and the treatment in this book having a broader appeal than most non-fiction.

November 6, 2021

 

Margaret MacMillan's “War; How Conflict Shaped Us” is an extraordinarily information dense 270 pages.

That wars are good for us is a more likely conclusion for this book than the hackneyed 'war is hell'. While the Canadian historian doesn't say it is more one than the other, she gives space to both, but seems to favour that it has ultimately been more beneficial, at least the way it has played out so far with the technology available.

October 23, 2021

Get exercising and work up to 7 or 8 hours weekly is the best way to maintain brain health and stave off Alzheimer's disease and other dementia is Sanjay Gupta's primary recommendation in his book “Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at any Age”.

Forget those over-the-counter memory pills or reliance on mental puzzles and games other than to improve your skill in those areas. Going forward, evolving computer games may provide a breadth of stimulation in exercising the brain, with some hope of replacing drugs, says the author

August 24, 2021

 

The name of the author, 'Bill Gates', will do as much to sell the book as the subject and material. But his renown as an entrepreneur and technological innovator coupled with his philanthropy should not detract from his well-earned expertise demonstrated across many fields.

 

It is not the specialty of official education and career, but more akin to that of a well-informed journalist. He has an ability to read and absorb huge amounts of complex material readily, such that he brings much knowledge to any interview with experts.

 

March 18, 2021

Review

The author of 'Melting Pot or Civil War?', a son of immigrants, argues against open borders. Reihan Salam, at first blush, may seem to be making the traditional conservative case of limiting immigration. But that is not actually where he is coming from.

The Liberal immigration philosophy seems to be that none should be restricted, at least not based on race, ethnicity, origin or poverty.

January 28, 2021

 

'After Kilimanjaro' is a novel that I wouldn't have imagined I would review, but I am. In fact it is a book I wouldn't have imagined I would have read, but I did.

 

I have never read a Harlequin romance, but I have taken a course on how to write one and this novel, with some unusual variants, seems like it could be one.

 

January 5, 2021

 

 

The reader is soon disabused of the idea that 'The Fate of Food: What we'll Eat in a Bigger Hotter, Smarter World' by Amanda Little is about the pros and cons of different menus.

 

In fact it is indirectly about food and really about modern hi-tech agriculture and the twists and turns it could take going forward.

 

The looming pressure effecting it is climate change, particularly heat and disrupted water supply.