Archive for December, 2008

Neither Here Nor There. Travels in Europe. Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson in 2005. Bill Bryson American writ...

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Neither Here Nor There. Travels in Europe. Bill Bryson. 2001. ISBN0385658605.  In his hilarious understated style, Bryson revisits those parts of Europe he last visited 30 years ago.  I howled from page to page as he skewered  pretty well every place he visits (well almost).  He has that ability to quickly summarize the day, the place, the people and the attitude with memorable prose.  If you have not read this one, I recommend it. Great inflight entertainment on your way to the EU.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill B...
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The Red Rubber Ball at Work. Elevate your game through the hidden power of play Kevin Carroll

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The Red Rubber Ball at Work. Elevate your game through the hidden power of play Kevin Carroll. 2008. ISBN 9780071599443. Interesting thesis. Ask people who have made a difference in the world, to talk about a defining moment of play that has affected who they are today.   Using  five topic areas the author organizes the small vignettes. The topics are ;   innovation, results,teamwork, leadership & curiosity. Kevin Carroll is the also the author of Rules of the Red Rubber Ball and What’s Your Red Rubber Ball?! He travels the globe speaking to businesses and to young people about the importance of sport and play in life. He is an  advocate in the Sport for Social Change movement. Find out more at This is a very enjoyable, quickly read book, that just may adjust your attitude. It will certainly give you more stories to tell.

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Seven Pillars of Wisdom T.E. Lawrence

Seven Pillars of Wisdom T.E. Lawrence. 1933. ISBN 0140016961. Lawrence of Arabia wrote this book and Revolt in the Desert – the story behind the raising of the Arab Army which allied with the British to take on the Turks during  WW1 in the Middle East. This book was recommended by an old college buddy  Paul Edgecombe, and I thank him.  As an insight into the multitude  of peoples, tribes, ethnics  with terrific blood feuds raging across Syria, Arabia, Persia, Palstine, Lebanon there is really nothing that I have read that gives you this insightful  look.  This area  makes Bosnia and Serbia look like bastions of civility and peace.  As well Lawrence became a man torn between the ultimate perfidy of British, French & Russian politics and the anarchistic, yet noble “freedom” of the Bedouin and other tribes.  He lived right in it, sleeping on the ground, replete with bugs, vermin, bad food, cold and hardship  for seven years into his thirties.  Too bad no politicians appear to  have  been curious enough about this book to read it.  But maybe knowing what Lawrence learned would have made life too complex for enlighted Westerners.

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Costumes of Arab men, fourth to sixth century.
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X Saves the World. How generation X got the shaft but can still keep everything from sucking. Jeff Gordinier

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X Saves the World. How generation X got the shaft but can still keep everything from sucking. Jeff Gordinier. 2008. ISBN 9780670018581. So the secret is out. With the election of a Gen X President Obama, it is time for the boomers to just get out of the way. Gen X has already brought sweeping changes, from Google, Craigslist, Youtube, Wikipedia, Tech billionaires, Nirvana, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and much more. While the world was not watching the slacker generation has been doing all the work. Gordinier does a good job with his subject and it does make an old boomer like myself take notice. In such a short book, he packs a lot in, and I confess to not even knowing much about what was important to this generation. Very interesting to me and to the Gen X ers of course


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Little Brother. Cory Doctorow.

Cory Doctorow reads Little Brother
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Little Brother. Cory Doctorow. 2008 ISBN 9780765319852.  This author is new to me. He is a coeditor of Boing Boing and a Hugo Award nominee winner .  Plus he really knows his stuff.  If you like your science fiction to be about events just around the corner then this is the book for you and your misunderstood teenagers. I can not imagine any young person under 21 who can not relate to the behaviors, attitudes and events in this book.  Riping plotline (DHS turns San Francisco into a police state), believeable (and recognizable) characters (only the young can get eveyone’s freedoms back) , with decent development make this my recommended science fiction gift book of the season, but,  you will want to read it too.  All the stuff in here could happen. As a bonus,  there is a decent learning sets on crypto and security systems embedded in the highly readible text, with some moral business lessons as well.  Cleanly written work, a great East – West plane ride book. Microsofties may take some offense – this is an open source advocates zone for certain. Love the names. e.g. Paranoid:Linux, with version names like  ParanoidXBox!

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Outliers. The story of success. Malcom Gladwell

Pop!Tech 2008 - Malcolm Gladwell
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Outliers. The story of success. Malcom Gladwell. 2008. ISBN 9780316017923.   Ask your significant other to get this for you for Christmas.  Once I started reading, I did not (could not) put it down.  The online reviewers have covered the 10 000 hr rule (the amount you need to practise to become really good) , the rice paddy and Jewish lawyer legacy.   I was taken with his analysis of why Asian school children do so much better than North American – basically they do not have such long summer holidays. Kids need to be in school much much longer, especially with the time it takes to “get ” math. (As an ex Math teacher I really understand this) The description of the KIPPS schools results is heady stuff.  Well written, well researched and no shortcuts were taken. (His end of book notes are almost another book). Loved it, buy it, read and enjoy it!

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Tribes. We need you to lead us. Seth Godin.

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Tribes. We need you to lead us. Seth Godin. 2008. ISBN9781591942330.  I think Godin is just getting better and better. Yes his books are short- tiny even. Yes they are very simple and single minded. Yet that is exactly why they are so good.  This one explains (along with other stuff) that:

  • Tribes have leaders,
  • Social media creates tribes
  • Skype created a tribe – and killed telco revenues
  • Wikipedia, Al Gore , Steve Jobs -all tribe builders
  • Crowds have no leaders
  • Crowds are tribes with no communication
  • Heretics make change
  • You decide to lead, not manage.
  • And “R U Stuck on Stupid?”

This is a short plain ride book, a quick after Christmas turkey read.  At the end Godin suggests that the best thing you can do with this book – is pass it onto someone else to spread the word about leading.

I liked it. A lot.

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The Inside Advantage. The strategy that unlocks the hidden growth in your business. Robert H. Bloom

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The Inside Advantage. The strategy that unlocks the hidden growth in your business. Robert H. Bloom. 2008. ISBN  139780071495691. The author is a very seasoned successful marketer with a long list of very high impact campaigns to his credit.  On top of the experience he brings the knowledge and insight to make the sometime esoteric topic of marketing very simple and straightforward.  Our history in this market ties completely in what Bloom espouses.  He brings good value with this book , as he lays out not only what to do , but step by step how to do this work with your own people.  This is required reading for any marketer and a CEO would find this tremendously informative. I always enjoy the client stories and found his on NeoCitran/Theraflu,  Nestle, Southwest Airlines and T-Mobile especially compelling. Check out

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Reality Check. The irreverant guide to outsmarting, outmanaging, and outmarketing your competition. Guy Kawasaki.

Reality Check. The irreverant guide to outsmarting, outmanaging, and outmarketing your competition. Guy Kawasaki. 2008. ISBN 9781591842231. This is pure Kawasaki. Smart, sassy and funny he still writes the most pragmatic text in the industry when it comes to how to make a business work.  I could not put this down, as his non fiction reads like compelling fiction.  His prolific blogging shows in the clarity and tightness of his chapters.  If you are in a start-up – or it just feels like it, this book will help.  If you work for idiots, tight asses or assholes, this book will help. If you have just graduated this will help. If you are looking to sunset the industry this book will help.  I have added another good  Kawasaki book to my shelf and I advise you to buy it, enjoy it and review it from time to time. Its already a classic.   Yes I liked it.

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Chi Running. A revolutionary approach to effortless, injury-free running. Danny Dreyer.

Chi Running. A revolutionary approach to effortless, injury-free running. Danny Dreyer. 2004. ISBN 9780743251440.  Some of you may know that I am a recovering runner – still coming back from an Achilles injury last February. Up until I read this book I expected that I would face a series of re-occurrences of my leg injuries, one time hamstrings, another the quads, many sore ankles and then now a weakened Achilles.  I turned to swimming and thanks to Timothy Ferris (4 hr workweek) found a wonderful resource called Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin (wait for the review).  Laughlin referenced this book by Danny Dreyer.  What a find. As aging runners we now have a plan and a program that really pulls a lot of the “good stuff” together. Certainly over the years I have tried to run barefoot in the summer to smooth out my landing and take the hits off my heels. I have learned to lean forward  like the Kenyans. This book takes it all much further with a crystal clear logic and a full preventative and recovery plan.  If you harbor any desire to run like a youngster again or like me, a desire to enjoy it, and perhaps get back to a competitive level, I suggest this as a lifelong resource for you.  Very easy to read and thoroughly pragmatic. I am now running painfree!

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