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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Audio Books

I've recently started taking advatnage of the hour I spend on the road each day by listening to some audio books. Instead of listening to the same old songs on the radio I can catch up on books I've always meant to read or others that just looked interesting.

The first one I picked up at random out of the books on CD at the Library Station was Why Businessmen Need Philosophy. It's a collection of essays on philosophical perspectives of capitalism by Ayn Rand and others. It was pretty deep stuff for me but still very interesting. I'd like for some of my left leaning friends to read/listen to this book and let me know what they think.

One of the topics that stood out for me in this book was the subject of selfishness. Selfishness is a virtue that has been demonized in today's society. Today, we are predominantly taught, it is better to be selfless, to sacrifice yourself for the greater good. Sucessfull business people, through the selfish motives of creating profitable enterprises, create opportunity for others. One of the reviewers on Amazon says it better:

Business people find themselves under continual assault from government regulations, threats of lawsuits and under-appreciation of their positive role. The media, activists, politicians and even many religious officials cling to the cliché of business people as greedy, selfish or operating at the expense of others. The positive virtues of business people-self-sufficiency, responsibility and investment in the future--often are ignored by those who see business people as exploiters, cash cows for the government, or guinea pigs for government social policies.
It was a refreshing look at the subject of capitalism.

At work I noticed a book on a colleagues desk that, at least from the cover, looked interesting. It was Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. The subject sounds ground-breaking but overall the book was better as a collection of facts from interesting experiments. One site, which I cannot find to reference, made mention of it as kind of a story of intellectual adventure. The most interesting section described a test that can tell you if you have a prejudice for one race over another. The IAT test measures your reaction time to assosciating words to faces. Try it but don't get too excited if the results aren't what you expect!

I'm currently "reading" (can I say I've actually "read" any of these books?) Orwell's 1984. I pretty well had a good idea of the book just being immersed in geek culture, but had never actually read it. So far I'm enjoying it and catching more references to it in popular culture.

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Blogger Sniderman said...

Must be something in the air. I did the same thing at the Ozark Library recently.

Got through Obama's book on Cd. Now attempting to comprehend the Universe in a Nutshell.

It makes my noodle hurt.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

That's funny. I just borrowed 1984 from a friend. I realized I had never read it the other day and figured it was about time.

I am interested in checking out Why Businessmen Need Philosophy. It is strange how society paints business as an evil entity. I have fallen into that trap. But, when you step back and look at it that is silly. I would rather have corrupt businessmen than corrupt government officials. And, is "sacrificing" yourself for the greater good actually selfless? People call volunteering to help others a selfless act but do those who do it actually do it selflessly or do they gain something from it as well? Makes them look better to those around them.

Anyway, I am rambling about things that require their own blog post or a good conversation over drinks to really get into.

2:54 PM  
Blogger cpolka said...

If you are interested in Malcolm Gladwell, may I suggest his "The Tipping Point.." as well. It's less of a collection of anecdotes than Blink, but I have found it applicable in business, particularly when trying to get "buy-in" from clients. It's an easy read, or at least an easy listen :)

I've been meaning to tell you about another couple books I think you (Duane) in particular would find fascinating; they deal with technology and engineering but are really historical non-fiction that read like fiction. They are both by Erik Larsen and they are "Devil in the White City" and "Thunderstruck". All of his books have parallel stories that intersect at a crucial moment in history. For the former, it was the story of the construction and engineering of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and one of the most bizarre and ingenious (?) serial murderers of all time. In the latter book, it's the story of Guglielmo Marconi and another famous murderer who is practically the protagonist of the story. They are amazing in that every quote in the book is verified and documented (e.g. in a letter, transcript, court hearing, and so on). The author competently handles the technologies - which I know can be a pet peeve of yours :).

I could not put either book down and am reading a third book by the same author.

Re: "I would rather have corrupt businessmen than corrupt government officials."....can't we have neither?? ;)

5:11 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

If you liked the concept of selfish businessmen try reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It is an extremely long book (~1200 pages) and a difficult read, but an extremely interesting look at business practices. Just be careful not to get caught up in the message, it does seem somewhat naive after careful consideration.

P.S. See you next weekend.
P.P.S. Hi to CPolka, haven't seen you in about 7 years

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Steve Kirks said...

Sounds like it's time to add some weight to my laptop back with a few new books. I read 1984 back in high school and thought it was fascinating then; I wonder if it will still hold true.

4:22 PM  
Blogger thinkingthings said...

I'd never have survived all the drive time between social work stops without audiobooks, that's for sure.

You'll probably discover that some narrators are better than others. In fact, some are so awful I haven't been able to finish listening to the book. On the other hand, there are some books I've chosen simply because of who narrates them! Keep your eyes open for books read by Frank Muller and George Guidall. The actor Joe Montagna also is a great reader.


3:22 PM  

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