Category Archives: Books

Feb. 6, 2012 Fortune

On Feb. 6, 2012 Fortune magazine’s Adam Lashinsky wrote “The Secrets Apple Keeps” about a company keeping a lid on new products to keep a competitive advantage. It is a paranoid place that is not always a lot of fun to work for. The pay is competitive but people still want to work there for the prestige. Lashinsky also interviewed Google’s  Larry Page. Compared to Apple Google seems more open and fun loving.

LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman wrote “The Real Way To Network” about building relationships versus traditional networking. Dale Carnegie is still relevant.

David A. Kaplan wrote “Salesforce’s Happy Workforce” about Marc Benioff’s philosophy and practice of trying to do the right thing.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 30, 2012 The New Yorker

On Jan. 30, 2012 The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote “Private Inequity” about private equity firms like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital that buy companies and then lay off workers. Their profits are dependent on taking on debt and giving themselves large dividends or management fees. A company they buy may go under but they will still make money.

Jonah Lehrer wrote “Groupthink” about Alex Osborn’s strategy for teams of people to fix problems. “The most creative spaces are those which hurl us together. It is the human friction that makes the sparks.”

Adam Gopnik wrote “The Caging Of America” about why America has more people prison than any other country. Six million people.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Extraordinary Ordinary People

A Memoir Of A Family

By Condoleezza Rice

Born in the segregated South, Condoleezza Rice was fortunate to be the only child of educated upper class parents. She was fortunate to benefit from the Civil Rights movement with opportunity to choose her career in foreign affairs. She was fortunate enough to be able to choose not to marry and have children. While the book tells a touching tale, it ends just as she is about to join an administration accused of rolling back all the the human rights she was fortunate enough to enjoy.

Remember the less fortunate.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 16, 2012 The New Yorker

On Jan. 16, 2012 The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote “Year Of The Yo-Yo” about how market volatility is good for traders but lousy for ordinary people. “the only way to win the games is not to play.

John Seabrook wrote “Streaming Dreams” about the history of YouTube and the increasing amount of professional content.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 9, 2012 Time

On Jan. 9, 2012 Time magazine’s Jim Cantore wrote “Weather Beaten” about climate change causing more severe storms and adversely affecting the economy. Thirty years ago a billion dollar weather disaster would happen once a year. By 2012, such disasters happen once a month.

In an article titled “Hello, My Name Is Sophia” about  an American woman born in 2012. Statistically she might live until 2093. She will likely become an obese divorced mother of two children and unlikely to have a college degree.

Austin Ramzy wrote “China’s Buy List” about Chinese buying food, used aircraft carriers, coal and other raw materials in a sort of neocolonialism. They are also buying media to promote their interests.

Deirde van Dyk wrote “The End Of Cash” about using your phone to make purchases rather than your wallet. It can dramatically sped up customer service.

Harry McCracken wrote “Control Freaks” about the trend from watching cable TV to streaming video online subscriptions.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Gabby

A Story Of Courage And Hope

Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly

This is story of two remarkable people who found each other and struggled to survive an attack that had consequences far beyond anything anyone could imagine.

On January 8, 2011 in a Tuscon Arizona shopping center, US Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot (allegedly) by Jared Lee Loughner. Eighteen people were wounded and six were killed, including John M. Roll (R-AZ), the chief judge for the United States District Court for the District of Arizona and nine year old Christina Green.

Known as Gabby Giffords, she was a critic of Arizona’s tough immigration law and a supporter of health care reform. A Democrat in a Republican district, her congressional office was vandalized after voting for the health care bill in March 2010. She was also literally targeted to be removed from office with a map put on the Internet by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. Palin’s Facebook page said “We’ll aim for these races and many others.”

Giffords said in March 2010 “We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. People who do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”

Most unsettling is the news that Sarah Palin recently bought a big house in Arizona. Hmm…

If Gabby decides not to run, I hope her husband runs for her seat. He’s seems like the kind of guy who is unstoppable after somebody hurt his wife.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Blind Allegiance To Sarah Palin

By Frank Bailey

It was inevitable that someone who worked with Sarah Palin would write a revealing book. Nowadays it doesn’t even have to be a book. The story can go viral online and spread around the world with no way to stop it.

The book would be funny if it were not so sad. Sarah’s sweetness and light routine is a big con. Her voters and supporters were left in the lurch when she saw a career opportunity and left Alaska. Her financial backers were taken on an expensive ride. Her family was put on display for her own political ends. Her handlers tried to keep members of the press from doing their jobs. You feel sorry for anybody that has to be around her.

In summary, she is not meticulous with her words (ask any reporter), makes the wrong assumptions (ask any voter), takes things personally (ask David Letterman), and does not always do her best (ask Gabby Giffords).

When someone like this rises to leadership in an organization, it is a sign of serious trouble.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

The War For Late Night

When Leno Went Early And Television Went Crazy

By Bill Carter

Carter reminds us that show business is a business. His previous book on late night talked about how Jay Leno maneuvered David Letterman out of the job that Johnny Carson held for decades. This book shows how Jay Leno did the same thing to Conan O’Brian.

The fracturing of mass audience that was starting to happen when Johnny Carson retired in the 1990s had grown worse by 2005. TV networks scrambled to get the young demographics that advertisers wanted. Leno was losing that audience and NBC invited Conan to take over the Tonight Show at 11:30PM. Leno decided to hang on with a show at 10:00 PM. It was a terrible show and it dragged down Conan. Logic dictates that Leno had to go. Instead they drove Conan to TBS and his demographic went with him.

Beyond this story, Carter also gives background stories about the executives and other late night hosts. Craig Ferguson creates laughs out of thin air. Jimmy Kimmel brings a street sensibility that Leno could only promise. Jimmy Fallon is likable because he really is a nice guy.

David Letterman has the oddest story, which is fitting. He made a joke about Sarah Palin’s daughter. Palin deliberately misinterpreted the joke and attacked his reputation and tried to force him out of his job. A few weeks after this, someone tried to blackmail Letterman over an affair. Letterman did the stand up thing and did not budge. Instead he turned it into comedy, because even Sarah had to admit, Dave’s funny, huh?

Carter also puts an end to anyone ever using the movie Sophie’s Choice as a metaphor for pushing somebody out of job. Executives kept using that story without realizing it is a tragedy about a woman who lies about everything, including her monstrous father.

In the end, it doesn’t matter when the Tonight Show is on or who is hosting it. People are not watching television anymore. They watching video online. It is not when or where you are funny. It just matters that you are funny.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved

Steve Jobs

By Walter Isaacson

This is a hard review to write. There has been some discussion about if this is a good authorized biography. People seem to forget it will be the only authorized biography. I had an advanced copy but simply could not write a review three months ago. It is now January, the time of year when people went to San Francisco and saw Steve Jobs unveil new products. That will never happen again.

It is a warts and all biography. After reading it I wonder if Apple would hire anyone else who was this flawed. Would they hire someone with a history substance abuse? Someone with a severe eating disorder? Someone who smelled? Someone who would not acknowledge his own children? Someone who was upsetting to co-workers? Someone who parked in handicapped parking spaces? They would if they saw the most flawed people are the ones who work hardest to achieve perfection.

I’ve read a lot of science fiction and I could not help but wonder about how his life might have turned out differently. The possible permutations have an remarkable pattern. His biological father’s family was from Syria and his biological mother was a midwestern farm girl. Conversely, his adoptive father was a midwestern farm boy and his mother’s family was from Armenia.

What if his bio mother and father had kept the baby? What if they had stayed in Syria? Would he have been a demonstrator criticizing the government as you know he would? Would he have died last October in the streets of Homs?

What if his bio parents had stayed in America? Would he have grown up as the son of restaurant owner in Silicon Valley? Would he have gone into technology anyway?

Okay, here is a really wild one. What if Steve Wozniak’s parents had adopted Steve Jobs in 1955?

What if he had been killed in that robbery in the early 1970s while selling a black box? Is it interesting that he started and ended his career selling phone equipment? Was Jobs taking advantage of AT&T both times?

What if he had become a cult leader at that commune in Oregon instead of moving back to Silicon Valley? As you might have seen in the TV show Portlandia, there are some kooky cults south of Portland, although they probably operate out of office buildings today.

What if he had stayed at HP and persuaded them to build PCs in the 1970s? What if he had remained at Apple after 1985? What if he had not returned in 1997? What if he had died in 2004 instead of 2011?

We can speculate about what might have been if only to sharpen our skills to imagine what might yet happen. Individuals make a difference in history like pebbles in a stream. Together we change the course of time.

In the end, the question is how people are remembered. On the week Steve Jobs died, I was walking down University Avenue in Palo Alto. I was across the street from the Apple store. I stood in front of a Borders bookstore which had closed because it could not compete with Apple’s technology. Many years before that, the bookstore had been a movie theater, which was another medium that Apple had rendered obsolete. Did his technology destroy the media but not the messages?

Next to me was an Australian media mogul who was looking at all the colored Post-It notes of people mourning Steve Jobs. I wondered aloud, “Do you think your buildings will be covered in notes from well wishers when you die?” The post-modern Citizen Kane bowed his head, knowing that all things, good or bad, come to an end.

Here are some of the people that appear in this book.

 

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

 

The Dogs Of War

The Courage, Love, And Loyalty Of Military Working Dogs

By Lisa Roga

A simply written book about dogs in the military. This book has useful references to other sources. You can learn how to interact with dogs used for security. The individual stories and pictures are moving. The most surprising photo was a dog jumping out the back of an aircraft. I had the image of him capturing an enemy aircraft like a frisbee. Good dog!

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 2, 2012 The New Yorker

On Jan. 2, 2012 The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote “Delayed Gratification” about how companies try to get consumers to buy on credit rather than waiting until they can afford it.

Margaret Talbot wrote “Stumptown Girl” about Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, the creators of Portlandia.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 19, 2011 The New Yorker

On Dec. 19, 2011 The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote “Living By Default” about how corporations declare bankruptcy at the drop of a hat but are worried that individuals will do the same to them.

Elif Batuman wrote “The Sanctuary” about a 10,000 year old Neolithic site called Gobekli Tepe near Urfa in Turkey. It was built by hunter gatherers as a religious sanctuary and then suddenly buried around 8200 BCE. There are carvings of boars, foxes, lions, scorpions, spiders, snakes and vultures. The people who built it were taller and healthier than the agricultural people who showed up later. Jared Diamond, author of Guns Germs And Steel, thinks that the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture was a mistake that led to “…gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.”

Burhard Bilger wrote “The Great Oasis” about various attempts to turn back to growing deserts like the Sahara using both complex and simple ideas.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 28, 2011 The New Yorker

Nov. 28, 2011 The New Yorker’s Mattathias Schwartz wrote “Pre-Occupied” about the Occupy Wall Street Movement in Zucotti Park. The organizers cite Saul Alinsky’s book Rules for Radicals and Linus Torvald, the creator of the Linux open operating system.

George Packer wrote “No Death No Taxes” about Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel and libertarian futurism. “Probably the most extreme form of inequality is between people who are alive and people who are dead.” According to Packer “In Thiel’s techno-utopia, a few thousand Americans might own robot driven cars and live to a hundred and fifty, while millions of others lose their jobs to computers that are far smarter than they are, then perish at sixty.”

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 21, 2011 The New Yorker

Nov. 21, 2011 The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote “Debt By Degrees” about student college loan debt that is so high, that young people will not be able to go into further debt by buying cars or houses, getting married or having children. “Two million college graduates are unemployed and millions more are underemployed.” We need to change the way we educate people and the way we pay for it.

Jane Kramer wrote “The Food At Our Feet” about Denmark’s Rene Redzepi. He is reviving foraging for food by identifying the best foods for his restaurant customers.

Thomas Mallon wrote “Never Happened.” about the counterfactual or alternative histories of Monica Ali, Michael Chabon, Nicholas DiChario, Philip K. Dick, Don DeLillo, Harlan Ellison, Niall Ferguson, Elizabeth Gaffney, William Gibson, Jeff Greenfield, Robert Harris, Samantha Hunt, Stephen King, Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, J.C. Squire, Bruce Sterling, and Harry Turtledove.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote “The Tweaker” about what made Apple CEO Steve Jobs so successful.

Jill Lepore wrote “Birthright” about the history and future of Planned Parenthood.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 31, 2011 The New Yorker

On Oct. 31, 2011 The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote “Big Is Beautiful” Small companies do not drive growth as much as large corporations. Big business enjoy economies of scale and are more productive. “…after the Second World War, when American workers became part of the middle class, very big companies employed a huge percentage of the workforce: one in five nonfarm workers worked for a Fortune 500 company.”

Burkhard Bilger wrote “True Grits” about chef Homer Sean Brock efforts to create authentic Southern cooking using heirloom crops and animals.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 17, 2011 The New Yorker

Oct. 17, 2011 The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote “How Steve Jobs Changed” about how Jobs was a perfectionist who created devices at the heart of closed systems but knew there were had to be exceptions. “In giving up a little control, Jobs found a lot more power.”

Hendrik Hertzberg wrote “A Walk In The Park” about the spread of the Occupy movement across the country “There are spinoffs in more than a hundred cities and towns from Atlanta to Anchorage, with plans for more.”

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 10, 2011 The New Yorker

On Oct. 10, 2011 The New Yorker’s John Cassidy wrote “The Demand Doctor” about British economist John Maynard Keynes, the author of The General Theory Of Employment in 1936. Economies do not recover on their own. He supported government spending to get economies going after downturns, depressions, recessions and collapse. You cannot cut your way to prosperity. He called for investments in infrastructure, schools, housing, roads and bridges that would lead to a multiplier effect. People with these jobs would spend their wages and create other jobs as their money worked its way into the economy from the bottom up.

Joshua Davis wrote “The Crypto-Currency” about Bitcoin and whether the mysterious founder might be Satoshi Nakomoto.

Jane Mayer wrote “State For Sale” about wealthy conservative Art Pope’s control of North Carolina politics.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 3, 2011 The New Yorker

On Oct. 3, 2011 The New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert wrote “Peace In Our Time” about Steven Pinker’s book “The Better Angels Of Our Nature.” He thinks violence has declined over the centuries from changing attitudes and and the rise of government. American cities with high murder rates in poor neighborhoods are “Effectively stateless, living in a sort of Hobbesian dystopia beyond the reach of law enforcement.” “The civilizing mission of government never penetrated the American South as deeply as it had in the Northeast, to say nothing of Europe. Pinker works hard on his arguments but many see the violence in the news and think otherwise.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Pirates Of Barbary

Corsairs, Conquests, And Captivity In The 17th Century Mediterranean

By Adrian Tinniswood

More tales from the shores of Tripoli. During the 1600’s a convergence of greed, poverty, state sponsored terrorism and religious intolerance led to an explosion of piracy in the Mediterranean sea. The parallels to current piracy are very close.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All right reserved.

That Used To Be Us

How American Fell Behind In The World It Invented And How We Can Come Back

By Thomas L. Friedman And Michael Mandelbaum

To be great we need not to focus on another country’s strengths but on our own. We are creative, open, risk takers. There is a lot of talk about retraining workers to be competitive in the global marketplace but the message of the book seems to be that political gridlock from lobbyists block America from becoming a great nation.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All right reserved.

Lone Survivor

lone survivor.jpg

By Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson

SEALs are remarkable people. They are tough soldiers who win through speed, stealth and endurance. They put up with a lot because they want it more. This is the story of a kid from East Texas who winds up on a mountain in Afghanistan. Everyone else in his team is killed and the Taliban or Al Queda tries to hunt him down. He is wounded, hungry, thirsty, running out of ammunition and not wearing any pants.

Pashtun tribesman ultimately protects him by some custom where they are obligated to protect their guests. From there Special Forces rescue him.

He is a big fan George W. Bush. This made it hard to read. Luttrell is not fan of liberals, the media or restrictive rules of engagement. He feels the rules of engagement led to the disaster that befell his team. Gwynne Dyer, a close observer of war, might agree. He said that soldiers are asked to do things that society generally finds unacceptable, unless they do it to another society. To expect rules in war is to expect order in chaos. The realities of combat seldom fit in official guidelines.

Despite his views, I recommend the book.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

The Man Who Warned America

manwhowarnedam.jpg

by Murray Weiss
A biography of FBI agent John O’Neill killed in the World Trade Center. It turns out he was right about Osama Bin Laden. The book doesn’t pull any punches about his complicated personal life and gives a good look at his complicated professional career. Despite his flaws, he left a lot of friends behind; many of them will carry on his work.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Sep. 5, 2011 The New Yorker

Sep. 5, 2011 The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote “Europe’s Big Mistake” about the European Central Bank (ECB) raising interest rates during the recession and slowing the recovery.

Rebecca Mead wrote “Better,Faster, Stronger” about Silicon Valley self-help guru Timothy Ferris.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Horse Soldiers

By Doug Stanton

After September 11, 2001, a team of Army Special Forces and CIA operatives dropped into Afghanistan to assist local tribes in overthrowing the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They found themselves fighting a very new and very old kind of war at the same time. Soldiers with laser-sighted rifles found themselves on horseback in cavalry charges while calling in airstrikes. The keys to their early success were a willingness to learn and communicate with local tribes.

According to this book, it was always the plan to kill Osama bin Laden and dispose of his body where it could never be found. The allies never intended to take any of the guilty to court. They just hunted them down and killed them one by one, even if it took years.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.