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This book reminds me of the movie, "Titanic" in that you know from the begin it's not going to end well, yet up until that horrible moment, there's nail-biting suspense as you want that, somehow, it isn't real and never happened. And like the Titanic, this incident is also horrifyingly true.I blew through this gripping, yet heart rending book in a single day. I can't name a single novel at which I've shed more tears. It recounts in wonderful detail what went on behind the scenes of the catastrophic plane crash that occurred March 27, 1977 on Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, when two jumbo jet Boeing 747s collided on the ground, killing 583 people. I remember that accident well and how horrified I was that something so not good could happen. I'd never even heard of Tenerife until that time, and unfortunately, every time I've heard it since, this tragedy is the first thing that comes to e author takes you, step by step, through all the happenings that led up to it, again showing that every disaster has multiple causes, an unfortunate chain that could have been broken at any number of points, yet never was, resulting in the unthinkable. Incredibly, it started method before that, with the placement of the airport at a horrible zone where banks of fog were known to roll in from the adjacent mountains. Folklore has it that the "X" on the map was originally to indicate the put NOT to put the airport, yet later that rationale was lost, Murphy's Law prevailed, and that was exactly where it was placed. How ironic and how human.Having worked at NASA for over 20 years, including during the time immediately following the Challenger accident as well as when Columbia broke up over Texas skies in 2003, I'd already seen that pattern. It's never one, single thing, one single mistake, that causes a major disaster, but an unfortunate chain that is seemingly cursed by created my blood boil that it actually started with a terrorist attack on Las Palmas, another airport in the Canary Islands. While I'm sure there's a unique put in hell for the insidious individual perpetuating that scourge, it's horrible the hurt and loss of life their barbaric beliefs have caused. In this case, their actions of detonating a bomb in the Las Palmas terminal forced numerous aircraft to be rerouted to Los Rodeos, an airport far too little to accommodate such an influx of unexpected flights, especially wide-body, jumbo jets like the Boeing uly, this situation was an accident waiting to happen from the begin as two turret controllers near the end of their shift attempted to manage the unexpected situation with antiquated equipment; they didn't even have ground radar. These critical circumstances were further exacerbated by cultural problems and the quirks of human nature, always a factor in such a tragedy, yet so often far from deliberate. Someone makes a poor decision, never dreaming in their worst nightmare what the effect will be. And the coup de grace was the fog.I'm not sure it would constitute a spoiler to say more, given the unfortunate end effect is well known and documented. To say I enjoyed the book is a bit of a misnomer, given it was far from pleasant, yet a very emotional experience, which to me is the hallmark of an outstanding book. This one is skillfully written and represents meticulously detailed research, which provides a three or even four dimensional view of the events of that day.I'm probably not the "average reader" since I worked in shuttle and payload safety at NASA, I where I personally participated in accident investigations, had classes in such, and was involved in the post-mortem of the Columbia accident. I've read NTSB reports of other airline accidents with interest and had the privilege of attending Aerospace Medical Association Conferences a few times where such things were discussed, including TWA Flight 800, which went down in flames July 17, 1996 after taking off from JFK airport in Fresh York. Some beautiful interesting theories exist similar to that one, too, which were not included in the official accident e author did a spectacular job of leaving no stone unturned, reporting the situations, circumstances, and results in an objective, yet thoughtful manner, demonstrating once again that accidents don't just "happen," at least not of this e message, of course, for us all, is to recognize that nothing in life is guaranteed. There's no telling when what appears to be a benign decision might be the fatal link that takes a normal day into the realm of tragedy. For the human factors involved alone, this book deserves attention, especially for those who work in any industry that has the potential for a related disaster.I particularly appreciated mention at the end of different individuals reporting paranormal and ghostly apparitions appearing from time to time on the runway. This is the case of different areas where horrific loss of life has occurred. As a professional astrologer, upon finishing the book, I immediately cast the happening chart for the accident and could see that there were definitely very sordid aspects in play at the time, all of which reflected much of what was included in the book.Whether or not you believe in astrology, disaster charts tend to contain info that fall into the category "you can't create this items up." For example, it showed fog and unclear communications, power trips, rebellion versus authority and regulations to one's own self-undoing, death and separation from loved ones, and a tremendous amount of activity in the 8th house of death, including the asteroid Icarus, namesake of the mythological individual who tried to fly, on the cusp of the 8th house. It shows the compassionate action of those on the ground, and even that Tenerife would ultimate bear the stigma of being remembered for this horrific event. No, you can't create this items this book. It's outstanding, albeit heartbreaking. And never take anything for granted again.
This story is brilliantly told. Although it is about an happening back in the distant 1970s, it feels like it could have happened at any time, even today or tomorrow. A chain of intersecting happenings came together to make an almost unthinkable disaster with ghastly consequences for hundreds of people, their families and friends. The tremendous power of this acc is the method it absorbs the reader into the network of seemingly unconnected and random incidents, each building on the other until the full dimensions are revealed. This is a wonderfully imaginative contribution to the field of disaster analysis, based on studies of original documents and eye-witness accounts, offering far more than a straight acc of “what happened”. The author’s skilful writing brings out the full range of actions and reactions of the a lot of tangled up in this disaster. Listening in to the voices of the cockpit squads and the air traffic controller is almost too painfully intimate. The role of the captains, the various cultures of their companies, the result of personality and experience and the private interactions between them come together in a blinding moment which nobody could ever have predicted. As the author points out, none of us like to think that we are topic to chains of possibility and coincidence in the face of which we are ultimately helpless. Yet it is so. We are reminded to stand still for a moment and think about the deeper reality of the daily life we take for granted, the flimsy networks which keep it all together. In a sense, this is a deeply philosophical work, prodding at the sense of normality which can collapse at any moment when conditions dictate. Outstanding.
A most welcome antidote to the soapy docudramas of the Tenerife disaster and the hysterical caricatures of Captain Van Zanten, endlessly regurgitated on Youtube. By contrast this is a sober sensible acc a lot of times more informative. The author hit’s it right on the head when she observes:“Calling Van Zanten a murderer lets us off the hook. It helps us maintain the illusion of control, and protects us from a much more harrowing possibility— that none of us know what we might do when the stakes are so high, and the outcome is dependent on us making the right call.”For what so a lot of people cannot accept is that even the smartest, most experienced, cautious and sober can be outwitted in a flash by the right conditions. This psychology is outlined convincingly in the latest chapter. I prefer the description of Van Zanten given by one of the surviving Pan Am crew: “He was a gentleman who got himself into a hurry” compared to the hyped-up Youtube mob declaring Van Zanten arrogant and reckless.. To them, he is the Hitler of commercial aviation. These staggeringly ignorant posters support sustain the Van Zanten myth. They say “he deliberately ignored the rules.” As the author points out, this is not only counter to the final report, but absurd on the face of it, as it’s transparently obvious he confused an airways clearance with a takeoff ntrary to what another reviewer writes, this is a remarkably well written book IMO. She displays a very detailed knowledge of topic which is indispensable in unlocking all the layers of nuance so bluntly amputated by the Youtube mob. It is they, not Captain Zanten, who personify arrogance and recklessness. I might take problem here and there, but what a relief someone finally puts this happening more or less into its proper perspective.[edit: I should add that the book "Disasters In The Air" by Jan Bartelski has an perfect chapter devoted to this accident where even more fascinating detail is revealed. Curiosity: Modjeska insists that the allegation ATC was listening to/watching a soccer match traces back to planted misinfo. But in Bartelski's account, it's claimed the soccer match could actually be heard from the Pan Am's surviving black box. I wonder what the real story really is.]
Australian author OJ Modjeska is also a criminologist and historian in addition to writing in several formats, offering insights into history, criminal behavior and psychology. She graduated from the University of Sydney with a PhD in Modern American History in 2004, and received her Graduate Diploma in Criminology from Sydney Law School in 2015. In 2015 she was awarded the JH McClemens Memorial Prize by Sydney Law School for her scholarship in criminology. Before pursuing a writing career she worked for a lot of years as a legal writer and e author offers a Preface that locations us in the midst of the historical happening – ‘Forty years ago, on the afternoon of 27 March 1977, a mass of American and European tourists descended on a tropical paradise for the holiday of a lifetime. Within hours, hundreds were dead. The happenings described in this book are well known to people inside the aviation community. The Tenerife airport disaster was, and remains, the deadliest airplane accident in history. The twin turrets disaster of 2001 incurred a greater loss of life, but because that happening was the effect of deliberate sabotage, it has never been classed as an “accident”. The death toll of the Tenerife tragedy, 583 people, thus still stands as the worst on record in terms of aviation e compelling novella is a real story, the essence of which is summarized as ‘A mass of European and American tourists descend on an idyllic tropical island for the holiday of a lifetime. Within hours, hundreds are dead. What happened? The real story of one of history's most tragic and shocking disasters...in which aviation, terrorism, a sudden change in the weather and plain old poor luck created for a ruinous mix.’OJ turns this moment in history into completely show reality in the fine manner in which she explains the tragedy and in doing so she unveils a lot of of the mysteries of the happenings that seem to be occurring with greater frequency in our show world. This is a very necessary book on a lot of levels – history and psychology blend in a transformative fashion. Grady Harp, June 17
An awesome book. I didn’t really have high expectations, buying the book on a whim. But wow, it is an awesome story. OJ Modjeska is a trained historian and criminologist, and she applies her careful analysis to examining the accident that claimed almost 600 lives in 1977, in the Canary is short book is more than a work of historical fiction. Modjeska’s meticulous research not only informs her imagination about what might have happened, but also provides the basis of her careful historical analysis. The work transcends genre in this sense. It is part novel, part history, part philosophy – all focused on understanding this horrific airplane accident.But it was Modjeska’s skill as a writer that kept the pages turning. I literally could not place this book down. It’s an simple read in one sitting, but it really is fascinating and horrifying to contemplate. I commend Modjeska for writing about this accident, for reflecting on its meaning, and for helping us as readers to consider all the coincidences that had to align for this accident to occur. An awesome read. Highly Recommended.
I have read other books about the Tenerife jet plane disaster, but in a lot of ways, this book is probably the best one because it attempts to obtain into the minds of each of the major participants of the disaster. The book starts out by describing the terrorist group that bombs a shop at the main airport, and finishes up by asking would we do anything various than the KLM pilot under the same circumstances. In between those two ends, the book describes a series of happenings that seem to follow Murphy’s Law until finally disaster strikes. I had never heard of the Swiss cheese model theory of accident causation which more or less states that “there exist a lot of causes for potential errors in reliable organizations that at times occur independently of another.” I think that theory better explains the happenings that occur before the accident instead of the theory that the accident resulted from a chain of events. I could probably write a three or four-page comment section, but I’ll just say that I liked the book and recommended it to anyone that is interested in airplane disasters.
I wasn't even familiar with this story because I wasn't even born when it happened. Wonderfully written, a excellent non-fiction that shows you a horrible tragedy and if you are not familiar with the even, like I wasn't, you'd constantly feel on the edge, hoping that maybe things will turn out better for the people. A separatist group bombs the Canary Islands where a lot of European and American tourists are situated. The book is precisely written with no excess info or unnecessary parts - it is sharp, concise and painfully real.I believe that Modjeska did a unbelievable non-fiction and that her writing style is awesome and understandable. I would most definitely read her next books.
In this book, titled ‘Ubiquity’, Mr. M. Buchanan, comes up with a fresh and fascinating discovery : There is a natural tendency toward instability “woven in the fabric of our world” which explains why catastrophes, both natural and human, happen. This tendency is ubiquitous and calls for a fresh science to better define it and demystify it. But, its footprints are everywhere in the spread of forest fires, earthquakes, stock shop crashes, floods, and even in history and the rise and fall of this fresh 'science of ubiquity', as he calls it, the author believes that the whole globe is modeled on a easy template. The primary concept is built around a pile of sand. Imagine trying to build up a pile of sand by dropping one particle at a time in the middle of the pile. Gradually, the pile will grow larger and higher into a conical shape with steep slopes. Ultimately, one reaches a stage, called the critical state, where adding on one more particle of sand creates an avalanche . That’s when the whole building process collapses. This, in the author’s theory, is how crises and catastrophes start. Of course, what happens at the critical stage, e.g. human interventions, will, where possible, define the course of subsequent events. For decades, if not centuries, scientists watched with horror the destruction in lives and properties caused by catastrophic eruptions whether in floods, earthquakes, fires, or even the stock markets. They watched in despair not knowing what to do. Some blamed these shocking happenings on God’s anger, or ignorance or mismanagement. But no one really had a clue. That is why this fresh discovery by Mr. Buchanan has been welcomed. At least, it shed some light on the nature of the issue .But there is much more to be done. In addition to verifying the the scope of this fresh science and its effectiveness we need to focus on the art of scientific predictions and preventions. Given that the above fresh science may be sound and acceptable, how do we employ it to prevent hurt and destruction due to these natural catastrophes ?This reviewer lived through a major flooding disaster in the 1970’s in western NY state when a dyke broke and flooded the town. Although personally unharmed, the result of the catastrophe left lasting, painful memories to this day. It became clear that the hurt entailed by such happenings is not only physical (which could often be alleviated) but in fact psychological and mental. Watching mates and colleagues suffer physical and mental agonies was difficult to bear. Yet even after all these years, the cry for preventive measures is loud and clear - but mostly in vain.Fuad R QubeinDec. 2017
Amazing ideas, written with authority and showed the globe is not predictable. But the book had no pertinent conclusion and got tantalizingly close to to some predictions at least . A power law, is it not one method of fitting data anyway, or perhaps that is the point of this difficult take home was that instabilities are out there in most natural systems and should be recognized as usual, though these can be managed if understood. Prediction of such systems relies on too a lot of boundary conditions and should never be wrapped up in certainties.
A particularly interesting book which should be of interest to historians among others. The author, a physicist, demonstrates that happenings in a natural or historical environment move randomly into a critical state from which natural or historical catastrophes may or may not result. He applies mathematics to explain the randomness of the historical and natural globe and shows how these same patterns apply to historical results in varied environments, but cannot be used to accurately predict the future.
Are there general rules in situations where scientists have so far failed to search predictable patterns (for instance, the timing of the next huge earthquake, the form a snowflake might take, the next huge move in the stock market, etc.)?The author explores examples of natural or social systems that are out of balance (in a “critical state”) – as these systems are stressed, they are in a constant war between stability and instability. For instance, dropping grains of sand on a sand pile creates a critical state. Over time, with every fresh piece of sand dropping on a sand pile, whatever happens next becomes a critical state, the individual system parts may act in accordance to “simple” and predictable rules, but because there are so a lot of parts and they may each interact and influence each other, the emerging behavior of the system as a whole becomes complex and unpredictable.When you look back in time, however, the system's behavior is not random and a pattern emerges: the power law - every time a certain defining feature (earthquake strength, % change in stock market) is double (or halved), the number of times such a feature occurred in history increases or decreases by a fixed e power law produces scale invariant or self-similar systems: systems that look fundamentally the same at a bigger or smaller scale (think of fractals in computer land).Because the system looks the same at every level, there is no fundamental difference between a very huge happening or a very little happening (a heavy or little earthquake, a large or little stock shop move, a huge or little slide in a sand dune).The key implications are that there is no such thing as a typical fluctuation (patterns of change are neither regular nor random), there is no reason to think that a very huge swing is unusual or needs further explaining, and it is fundamentally impossible to predict the magnitude of the upcoming cause of this, any attempt to look for a singular cause to explain complex behavior is doomed to fail – there are no simple, deterministic laws for complex chains of e only thing that can be said about critical states is that under certain conditions, systems of interacting objects present universal features in their behavior (the power law). These ubiquitous properties arise again and again in things driven away from equilibrium and in things in which history ere are a lot of critical states in nature (forest fires, earthquakes, snowflakes, gas phase transitions) and it is somewhat amazing to think that while unpredictable, there is a universal pattern that governs their e book becomes more speculative in the exploration of critical states in social settings, such as the stock market, spread of diseases, and more broad societal patterns (wars, town size and structure, evolution of scientific paradigms).I’m still trying to figure out the takeaways. At some level, if you can only understand these systems in hindsight through statistic analysis and if you can’t predict what happens next and specific individual causes don’t really matter, then so what? Still chewing on that.An interesting part of the book is that the science behind critical states takes the form of designing and running simulation games. Simulating natural or social critical states in (computer) android games with (surprisingly) primary parameters produces statistical results that very closely match what is observed in true life. It will be interesting to see how these android games will develop further.I would have perhaps liked the book to have a bit more structure, such as in terms of specific definitions of critical states and their components. Also, there are very clear links with subjects such as entropy, network / info theory, biology / brain / intelligence, and emergent behavior and exploring those links in more detail would have been interesting as well.Having said all this, love reading about this stuff: exploring and trying to understand complex systems.
"Ubiquity" by Tag Buchanan, like his Ubiquity: The Science of History . . . or Why the Globe Is Simpler Than We Think, is a book on self organizing criticality, one very accessible to the average reader. Essentially the book addresses "Murphy's Law," and why it seems so often to be true!The author looks at a dozens of phenomena, extracting the essentials from them by examining the statistical distribution of the magnitude and frequency with which they occur. He discusses as widely divergent subjects as earthquakes, extinctions, economics and human history to present that at any given time "disaster" can strike without warning virtually because it's "written" into the natural e author illustrates that any natural system that is on the cusp between two various phases--total randomness and total uniformity--or "far from equilibrium" can be topic to abrupt and unpredictable change. Furthermore, it becomes obvious from his discussion that without this poised-on-the-point-of-disaster condition, life itself might not exist. In fact nothing at all might exist. Though individually we may pay dearly for this fact--as the latest multiple calamities in Japan certainly reveal--collectively we benefit from being continuously on the brink of clarifying the concept of Ubiquity, the author briefly discusses the power law: what it is, what it indicates and how it is derived. Those readers who, like me, are not really math-physics people need not fear; there are no overwhelming formulae to comprehend, only intellectual concepts. Most importantly he clarifies what can and cannot be learned through studying the statistics of something like the occurrence of earthquakes. Like other authors, Dr. Buchanan refers to the late Per Bak's sandpile experiments and "game," how nature works: the science of self-organized criticality, to explain these rprising, at least to me, was the sheer number of phenomena topic to a power law. Shocking too was the fact that such small actual physical understanding of the system was needed to produce a very clear picture of the inherent hero of the happenings arising in them. Basically an understanding of how an happening propagates through a system is all that is required. Amazing. Furthermore, the numerical constants that arise through a statistical examination of propagating systems can link very various types of events--forest fires and revolutions, for instance--which might not be thought of as having much to do with one another. (Though our propensity to use colourful descriptions that actually capture these relationships may indicate that we are at least unconsciously aware of them--as when we speak of a revolution as spreading "like wildfire" through a countryside.)It would appear that at base the author's arguments can be reduced to a few easy statements:* History is a series of random, non-repeatable (unique) events.* History only occurs in a dynamic system in a state of non-equilibrium.* All happenings that can occur in a dynamic system in a state of non-equilibrium will occur, given sufficient time. (Frequency)* An happening involving an individual constituent of a dynamic system in a state of non-equilibrium can become "frozen" in the history of the system creating a permanent feature of it. (Time)* Happenings involving various individual constituents of the dynamic system affect all other contemporary constituents. (Butterfly effect; the result of the individual on the system and of the system on the individual.)* The "freezing" of happenings which involve various individual constituents of the dynamic system affect all other later constituents (but no previous constituents.) (Time's arrow).* Some happenings may require more time than has already passed since the origin of the universe in order to occur, for instance the decay of a specific proton. (rarity)* While all happenings that can occur will occur given sufficient time, when and where they will occur is totally unpredictable.* While all happenings that can occur will occur given sufficient time, and although when and where they will occur is totally unpredictable, the frequency and likelihood of their occurrence is predictable based on those statistics of probability for a given category of event.* All individual occurrences within the same category and obeying the same power law have the same causes or types of causes irrespective of their individual st interesting to me was the fact that attempts to mitigate disaster by preventive measures--such as forest fire prevention--may actually increase the magnitude of an happening when it actually occurs. Clearly ignoring or denigrating the likelihood that the "worst case scenario" will occur, simply because we hope it won't, it hasn't yet, or it happened latest year so we're safe for another 100 or 1000 or 10,000 years, can have unfortunate outcomes. (As a geology text, Understanding Earth,for a course I took on earth history stated: The river doesn't know that if it had a 100 year flood latest year, it can't have another for another 100 years! Basically flood plains are for floods. I've seen this concept in a work on the rise of urban life in the Middle East, which suggested that cities arose to mitigate the effects of the unpredictable with the end effect that extreme happenings affected a greater number of people when they did occur; another on the Anasazi, Anasazi America: Seventeen Centuries on the Street from Center Place, discusses much the same thing occuring over the American Southwest, and one by Gill, The Amazing Maya Droughts: Water, Life, and Death, speaks to the fate of the ancient Maya civilization).Interesting too was the author's suggestion that the human need to be in control--or feel that some entity like God is--and to feel that life is somehow "predictable" underlies our misunderstanding of phenomena like earthquakes, even as scientists. In my opinion it arises because it was actually evolved into us; and not just humans, most living things that can undertake meditative steps in response to events--plants don't usually have the option of moving out in response to negative events. Individuals who answer to the experience of an earthquake by assuming "If it has happened, it can happen; and it can always be worse next time" by moving out of the affected area, are more likely to have surviving descendants than those animals that don't! Hence our belief that these happenings must have some underlying predictability that we can ferret out if we test hard e author's suggestion that history is based on so a lot of circumstances that it is unpredictable and that efforts to assign causation post hoc is misguided is also interesting, though I'm not sure I agree. Certainly history at least teaches us that "If it has happened, it can happen; and this is what it looks like when it does." Though I have to admit the show spread of revolutionary activity in the Middle East definitely falls amidst the author's descriptions of such eresting book.
This is not a hard book to read, but it is difficult to integrate into the method you look at the world. Tag Buchanan is a science writer who has worked on the editorial staff of Nature and as a features editor Fresh Scientist. In this book he is writing about the development of a growing field of physics - complexity. Complexity is chaos in critical states. A critical state exists in a system that is not in equilibrium. You may have heard of the "butterfly effect". That is, there is a chance that a butterfly flapping its wings in South America can cause a storm in Europe weeks later. However, that same butterfly can flap all in wants inside a closed balloon with no effects, other than maybe slightly increasing the temperature of the air in the balloon. The air inside the balloon is in equilibrium, even though the molecules [email protected]#$%!&aotic behavior. The atmosphere is in a critical, i.e. non-equilibrium, state. A little perturbation somewhere can lead to very huge changes.If the air inside the balloon is in equilibrium, its past, show and future are all the same. It has no "history". When things are in non-equilibrium, history matters since what happens now can never be washed away but affects the entire course of the e applications of this model extend from the piling of grains of sand in an hourglass to economics."Despite what scientists had previously believed, might the critical state in fact be quite common? Could riddling lines of instability of a logically equivalent sort run through the Earth's crust, for example, through forests and ecosystems, and perhaps even through the somewhat more abstract "fabric" of our economics? Think of those first few crumbling rocks near Kobe, or that first insignificant dip in prices that triggered the stock shop crash of 1987. Might these have been "sand grains" acting at another level? Could the unique organization of the critical state explain why the globe at huge seems so susceptible to unpredictable upheavals?A decade of research by hundreds of other physicists has explored this question and taken the initial idea much further. There are a lot of subtleties and twists in the story to which we shall come later in this book, but the primary message, roughly speaking, is simple: The peculiar and exceptionally unstable organization of the critical state does indeed seem to be ubiquitous in our world. Researchers in the past few years have found its mathematical fingerprints in the workings of all the upheavals I've mentioned so far, as well as in the spreading of epidemics, the flaring of traffic jams, the patterns by which instructions trickle down from managers to workers in an office, and in a lot of other things. At the heart of our story, then, lies the discovery that networks of things of all atoms, molecules, species, people, and even ideas have a marked tendency to organize themselves along related lines. On the basis of this insight, scientists are finally beginning to fathom what lies behind tumultuous happenings of all sorts, and to see patterns at work here where they have never seen them before."The mathematical models of this science don't really exist yet, and may never exist. We have empirical observations and we have games. The empirical data suggests that all these phenomena follow a power curve, and all with roughly the same shape. For example, looking at earthquakes, as the strength of the earthquake doubles, the frequency of occurrence drops by one fourth. This easy rule seems to apply to a lot of what does this have to do with creativity, strategy, leadership and innovation in organization? Well, I'm not sure yet. My intuition tells me that this is very necessary to those concepts. It may support us understand the frequency of occurrence of breakthrough ideas and innovation. It may support explain why some innovations cause such change and others do not. It may support produce better tactics to deal with chaotic and unstable markets. And, it may provide lessons for leaders in chaotic times.
Buchanan will present you a globe very various than you think you live in if you have taken on the dominant "linear" worldview pushed by most famous science books and TV talking heads. Unexpected, unforeseeable, hugely consequential happenings occur relentlessly for no unique reason at all, shaping the long term dynamics of the systems underlying our existence in hugely surprising ways, and yet we continue to order our lives and look to the future as if it will be a linear extrapolation of what has come before. Buchanan brings clarity and insight, as well as creative suggestions of his own on the topic of self organized criticality (SOC) and its implications for the globe beyond physics. This is a famous book, so don't expect to understand every technical detail of SOC or power laws after reading it. There are other sources for that, and following the references Buchanan provides, and where they lead up to the show day, will obtain you there. Do expect to be unusually thoroughly informed and entertained by this book, and to come away with a solid qualitative understanding of SOC and its consequences. This book continues to be relevant more than a decade after its publication as a lucent entryway into the deceptively easy ideas of Per Bak and their earth shattering consequences for the dominant worldview and the future of our civilization.
Since other reviewers have described the book in some detail, I will not attempt to duplicate their efforts. (As to the reviewer who thinks that power laws with integral exponents are somehow more convincing than power laws with non-integral exponents, I can only suggest that Nature may not share his prejudices.) Buchanan writes with wonderful clarity. I'm reading the book for the second time and am really appreciating the economy of prose. Buchanan is not selling snake oil, he judiciously weighs the evidence and points you to the literature if you wish more. On the dust jacket Per Bak, a founding father and wonderfully clear writer on self-organizing criticality himself, says that he wishes that he had written the book. I know exactly what he means. I eagerly look forward to Buchanan's next book on the science of networks and highly recommend this one.
I found this gem a very interesting take on major happenings having related underlying structures which simplistically are all disasters waiting to happen. Not so sure on the distribution of wealth whereby a top massive US distribution is not shared to this extreme by other 1st globe countries.
In the book Ubiquity by Tag Buchanan, processes as diverse as forest fire size, stacking rice grains, shop fluctuation, scientific paper citations, species extinction history, epidemiology, sizes of battles and earthquake severity are said to generate occasional catastrophic behavior following related statistical behavior. Buchanan presents these arguments in a very readable style at a level that can be grasped by the layman. I found the physical descriptions of the processes fascinating. The phenomena is, indeed, ubiquitous. Repeatedly, we search that, if X measures severity and f is the frequency histogram of occurrence, then numerous processes containing a catastrophic component adhere to a linear log-log plot with negative slope. Although unsaid in the book, probably to let access to a wider audience, the underlying probability density function of the ubiquitous process is a Pareto random variable with probability density function f(x)=(a/b)*(b/x)^(a+1) for x>b and zero otherwise. The enormously fat tails of this distribution let the outlier-like catastrophic happenings described in the book. Taking the log of both sides of the density function gives log[f(x)] = -(a+1)*log(x) + constant which is a line of negative slope on a log-log plot. If U is a uniform random variable on (0,1), then X=b*U^(-1/a) is a Pareto RV. Using this, plots related to the time series and log-log plots in Ubiquity can be straightforwardly simulated. Googling "Pareto distribution" gives a plurality of interesting web accounts, a lot of mathematically deeper, of this remarkable phenomena created wonderfully accessible by Buchanan.
This is a comprehensive and disturbing overview of the pervasive hurt caused by Facebook. Google and Amazon are mentioned in passing. Most of it deals with Facebook. After reading this, one is very well informed about the extensive methods and psychological tools used to make Fb addiction, as well as, more generally, tools used for mass persuasion. Unfortunately, the author's innate progressivism permeates. Throughout the book, the author repeatedly refers to 'hate speech', extremist views, and 'conspiracy theories'. As an example of the latter, he brings up Alex Jones and the website Infowars – but ignores or is ignorant of - the fact that much of Jones' content dealt with real examples of law enforcement abuses – exactly what Black Lives Matter (who he enthuses over repeatedly) was supposedly organized to fight. He calls for people with divergent views to 'talk' to each other – but progressives have demonized disagreement as 'hate speech' or 'gay bashing (same sex marriage), or 'denier ism (climate change), 'white privilege (financial success, ironically except for Zuckerberg, Bozos, etc). This worldview overlay dilutes the very true hazards of technology: only an aggressive government regulatory response is his answer. Except for DuckDuckGo, which is a browser that doesn't track users, no personal sector solutions are mentioned. Chapter 14, “What About You”, is short on concrete steps individuals can take right now to protect themselves, and long on calls for 'public pressure' to force external action. The author regurgitates every current progressive trope and buzzword: Trump as the devil incarnate whom the Russians got elected, hate speech, conspiracy theories, government regulation as the only solution, inadequate public school spending responsible for disengaged adult citizens, the Democratic party as America's saviors, George Soros as a savior, and so on. Yet there's no mention of the progressive philosophies that underpin Fb – collectivism and a belief in a higher-ordered visionary ruling elite. The capture of American education by tech companies which began in the 80's, is mentioned in passing. Absent is any free shop solution, except for generalized calls to encourage competition. Nor any solution other than government agencies tasked with micromanaging online content, what constitutes acceptable speech, and encouraging opposing views. He even calls for a click box labeled 'opposing views' for users to click on! Who would develop content for this is ignored. It is hard to imagine an NPR or MSNBC viewer seeking 'opposing' views. If they did so now, there wouldn't be the 'filter bubble' issue he repeatedly refers to. Why the assumption that 'hate' speech – which is dog-whistle speak for what the left opposes – must be censored? The author should be advocating for more openness, not less. Allow all ideas be tested in the marketplace of ideas, as was basically the case for the past 200 years. This book does an perfect job of laying out the issues caused by Facebook, but what could have been a wide-ranging examination of what is probably the largest challenge to modern life is narrowed by the author's narrow worldview. By all means read it – but recognize the progressive proselytizing.
I've been working in Silicon Valley for 30 years. I'm very cautious to listen to the rich elites like McNamee. McNamee makes a fortune on the shoulders of young, immature, arrogant children like Zuckerberg. So should we now pat him on the back for acknowledging things went wrong. Fb is Zuckerberg's first job. Zuckerberg had no industry experience prior. Zuckerberg became a billionaire at 23. Zuckerberg was known as essentially screwing over those who helped obtain him there. All of those things, and more, should have been cause for concern for the ethical future of any Facebook. Instead, however, investors on Sand Hill street just kissed his feet for a possibility to create millions. And now we're supposed to buy their book about how Fb and social media is poor and is destroying Democradcy? Where was McNamee 12 years ago when books like the Cult of the Amateur came out and laid out a lot of cases for why social media wasn't great? I'll tell you where he was: getting sickly rich off of it. As such a guru and mentor to Zuckerberg, why didn't he drive the company the right direction? My guess, Zuck simply wouldn't listen and that damage McNamee's ego and so now he's getting revenge by writing this book. Meanwhile, if McNamee had gotten out among the elder rank and file even 12 or 15 years ago you would have gleaned a lot more about the evils of social networking. In other words, the rich elites are out of touch and, as such, are surprised at what a lot of much wiser industry alums had already predicted. Maybe McNamee should eat lunch with a veteran technical worker instead of his investor buddies once in a while.
The first chapter almost discouraged me from reading more because of the author’s name dropping and shameless self-promotion of his band.But I’m glad I kept reading. The book’s substance grows with each chapter, crescendoing into a convincing alarm for the survival of e only post-Chapter-1 annoyances were the author’s admission after hundreds of pages that he still uses Fb (probably for his band) and the perfunctory disclaimer so common among fellow Ivy Leaguers that Zuckerberg and other Fb employees who repeatedly lied and violated user trust since the company’s inception “aren’t poor people,” just amazing people confused by narrow-minded business ’s time to redefine poor people as people who do poor things, even if that contains folk from the white and other-toned Ivy League chumocracy.Zuckerberg repeatedly demonstrated sociopathy or psychopathy since his days at Harvard, and probably well before — qualities amazing for shareholder value. The author describes Zuck’s known transgressions in detail over and over. It shows how VC people turn a blind eye to unscrupulous behavior and assume amazing can come from evil then act surprised when a lizard matures into a dragon. To quote, Zuck, “Dumb f—s.”
I was curious why the author would write a negative book about the people and company he helped nourish & develop. He did in fact criticize his colleagues at Fb early on and explained some of the techniques used to dramatically grow their user base. However it eventually devolved into yet another book about how the progressives had the 2016 election stolen from them by the Russians. Embarrassed I fell for the ol' bait & switch. I thought it was going to be a serious book by a serious writer. Buyer beware I guess.
I bought this when my own curiosity was spawned after watching an interview with Roger McNamee. His going back decades to early Silicon Valley and beyond, a time with which I was personally quite familiar, I found McNamee gained credibility with me. He introduces Fb as a betterment for the world, grown out of Zuckerman’s genius and own idealism “From its earliest days, Fb was a company of people with amazing intentions … focused on attracting the biggest possible audience, not on monetization ... and sharing with friends.” McNamee shows that this was real until, as he himself was surprised by Fb moving into uncharted territory—let’s say a various Business Model from where it began—now employing “persuasive techniques” employed by networks and advertisers, dependent on the harvesting of data, of private information, easily available to them on Android device phones, etc. and using these as a lot of others have done as legitimate business tools, while “running afoul of the law of unintended consequences” and ushering a host of unintended and “undesirable behaviors.” Maybe all hard for Zuckerman to initially accept, but something he now owned, something the globe is paying for, something that needs to be corrected.
In the context of government surveillance measures, Edward Snowden remarked that we are now “tagged animals, the basic difference being that we paid for the tags and they are in our pockets.” A very little number of large extremely wealthy organizations have even greater access to those tags than the government does, recording every movement, communication with others, and even every train of thought as we interact with the web.Facebook is clearly the most worrisome of all the Huge Data concerns. The social media giant exercises an wonderful amount of influence over what info people see, with this influence often being sold to the highest bidder. Together with Amazon, Google and Apple, the US economy and society have become controlled by monopolies to an unparalleled degree, monopolies that monitor most of the population's behavior for solely commercial e second order effects that Facebook's cash machine had on the globe wide web and by extension on the globe at large. Fb inadvertently made an entire ecosystem that spews out misinformation a million pages at a time – charitable referred to as ‘Social Media ep in mind: if you are not paying for it – you are the product.
The book was incredibly tedious. It's clear who his heroes are and who they aren't. He gives kudos to the Democrats for using Fb and admonishes/slams the Republicans and "bad actors" for doing the same things. His proof for his assertions was less than clear-cut. If you are a Fb user and totally up on all acronyms and phrasing in the globe of Facebook, maybe the book will create sense. If not, you'll be perennially lost.
What I intended to buy was an explanation of how Zuck had gone wrong written for a reader who required to be led through the explanation line by line. What I got was a lot of "filler" about the author's life and the history of computing. Had it been tied to a greater purpose that wold be fine but mostly the filler was a dead end designed, I guess, to bulk up the book. What is here could be condensed into a longish article.
I just finished the book and for the past week have been hesitating, maybe two or even three times before going to FB, Twitter, or even Amazon. Though the book’s eponymous title and Roger’s deepest experience is with FB, it’s a wake-up call to the use/abuse of metadata that’s so pervasive throughout our online journies. He sets the scene that our info is being abused, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Venture Players have a greater incentive to maximize the use of our data than to preserve our privacy, or democracy, and unless there are downside ramifications (he has specific suggestions as a conversation starter), it’s going to obtain much worse, before it gets e author does a nice job presenting a turbulent timeline in a cohesive way. I was generally familiar with the general facts, but it was really helpful to read again a lot of of the events, like Cambridge Analytica, with a much deeper slant than I remembered from news articles. We have a long method to go to once again obtain our privacy back where it belongs, with the individual and to regain trust in huge data companies doing the right thing.
Having stayed fairly-well informed about Facebook's problems and the method advertising works on the internet, I wasn't sure how much fresh I'd learn from McNamee's book. But having it all place together into a single, coherent, storyline with plenty of insider perspective and some thoughtful tip on where we can and should go from here created it an perfect and worthwhile read.
I've read about everything I can search on Chernobyl. I am an environmental engineering professor and I am most interested in the impacts of the explosion. Nuclear engineering is not my specialty but it is simple to understand the issues that caused the explosion. This acc covers the explosion, the people involved and the consequences but not in the same detail that others have written, such as G Medevdve or Piers Paul Read. I think the precise info of the happening will never be known, but the author is a small kinder to Dyatlov. He does state that most observers at the trial believed he was the most culpable. Certainly Medevdve puts the blame squarely on Dyatlov for a dozens of poor decisions. What's various about this book is that it is current and includes info on the later effects the explosion. We American's sometimes think we Ronald Reagan outspent the Soviet Union on star battles weapons, but I think the reality is different. Their economy was poor and because of Chernobyl, people understood that they could not believe their government. "Soviet nuclear reactors are safe - it is only in the capitalist west that profits are more necessary than safety." If you have not read much on Chernobyl then this book will give you a beautiful complete understanding of the issues. If you have read a lot, it will give you a small various view on the happenings leading up to and just after the explosion, but more importantly, a fresh perspective on the later impacts of hurt of the lies and secrecy of the Soviet system on its final demise.
I purchased this book because I was interested to learn what I missed. In April 1986 (when the reactor exploded), I was a senior in high school, just weeks short of graduation and thus oblivious to the world. Thorough in his approach, this book explores the disaster from the foundations - back in the 1960's when the Russian nuclear energy program was just getting started in Pripyat. In painstaking and excrutiating detail, he explores the disaster step by step. What I did not expect was the broader perspective he offered on Russian history since then. The author asserts that one of the key reasons for the collapse of the USSR was Chernobyl. Perhaps I am not sufficiently well-read, but that was the first I had encountered that argument. Based on his research and presentation, I search his argument quite compelling.
The author, a Ukrainian Professor at Harvard, writes a very detailed history of the disaster at Chernobyl, Ukraine. This occurred under Gorbachev's watch, and surely hastened the declaration of Ukrainian okhy is an perfect researcher and writer. I felt that while reading this book, I was also gaining an understanding of the immense power of the aging directors of a lot of of the necessary ministries in the USSR, who were in their 80s. The book shows how the blame is ultimately placed on hte operators of the Chernobyl plant itself. Belarus, with a population of 10 million, sustained the worst exposure to deadly radiation emitted by a type of reactor that is deemed so risky that it is not used in the U.S. In the U.S. all reactors have concrete "containers" yet the Chernobyl nuclear plant did not even have this rudimentary safety design. Ukrainians came to the conclusion that the USSR was using Ukraine for its most risky construction, giving more hope and confidence to Ukrainian nationalists. The assignation of blame to the operating personnel, and not the planners of the reactor that spewed awesome amounts of radiation into the atmosphere, measurable even in Sweden, went to three men who received 10 year prison sentences. No one in Moscow would take the blame--the man designated to show an acc of the disaster to the Internation Atomic Energy Commision in Vienna, succeeded on his 2nd suicide attempt. It was clear that he presented the most honest acc possible, highly lauded internationally, but considered "too much" by the minsters in Moscow. In reading the book, I felt the tension for those who knew what actually happened who wished to tell the truth, and the bureaucrats in Moscow who were committed to NOT revealing weaknesses in the Soviet system. Mikhail Gorbachev had hoped to lead the USSR into an economic recovery. Instead, he presided over the ultimate decline of a government that accepted no fresh ideas, and those who actually had met Lenin had inordinate power. In addition, there was a powerful effort afoot to rewrite history and rehabilitate the national and international photo of Josef Stalin.When I visited some of the "new" republics after 2000, I was amazed at how much still looked like the collection of Soviet states from the 1960s to the 1980s, with collapsing infrastructure. It was important even in major cities to watch where you stepped because there were holes in the sidewalks that were not marked. One could easily fall into a deep black hole. While these fresh countries have tried to hold their own cultures intact, the whole system shows lack of investment and upgrading going back 30 to 70 years. The disaster of the type at Chernobyl was inevitable.We see how Soviet "justice" is manipulated by someone who obviously knows it intimaately. This book is an perfect read, especially if you lived through the time of Chernobyl, and the following collapse of the Soviet system that could not hold up wiwth American productivity in any way.
I returned from a trip to Kiev and a tour of Chernobyl and Pripyat latest week. It is so interesting to read this book now! I have been fascinated with the Chernibyl disaster for years (and have a mate that was born in Pripyat) and it was so amazing to see this book come out recently. I also visited the Chernobyl museum in Kiev and so want that I had read this book first . At the museum there are photos, identification cards, and other memorabilia from a lot of of the people discussed in this book. I want I had known at the time who each of these people were. I highly recommend reading this book before going to Kiev if you plan to in the future. I have read a lot of info about the disaster online at a dozens of websites and this book is a fabulous collection of everything in one place! Yes, it does have a lot of politics in it, but that is very necessary to the event.
Until now nobody really knew what happened to cause the Chernobyl catastrophe, but this book tells it all. It is one of the most interesting (and disturbing) books that I have read in a long time. The book takes you through all of the actions and decisions prior to the accident, during the accident and after the accident. It tells you who created what decision and took what action. It is an awesome read and brings to light what happened during that time. It also brings to light how the Soviet Union would rather endanger the lives of not only citizens of their collective countries but of the globe at huge before admitting that something had gone terribly wrong at one of their nuclear reactors. The book describes an happening that quite literally changed the face of the globe politically and ecologically. The truly disturbing thing that I was left with was that there are still related types of nuclear power plants operating in Russia today and the chance looms that there could be another Chernobyl in our future.
I was astounded that the Chernobyl accident caused the release of //only// 5% of the reactor's core. The full core would have released the radioactivity of 500 Hiroshima bombs. Holy e author also detailed how Chernobyl caused the downfall of the USSR; it was the final straw that broke the Communist Party's back. I found it very interesting that the winter before the disaster, the Party Congress wanted more reactors constructed throughout the Soviet Union in five years--despite the fact that Soviet nuclear scientists understood that the minimum time to build a reactor, from architectural drawings to completion, was seven a result, the author, a Harvard professor, contextualizes the reactor's explosion--lots of political and private pressures.I really got a lot from this book.
This book was a comprehensive acc of the disaster at Chernobyl. In plain terms, author Plokhy gives the political and human accounts of the event, noting the lack of info from the Russian heads about previous accidents that were never passed along that could've saved lives. Instead, far too a lot of amazing people died or were seriously injured while politicians pointed fingers and blamed scapegoats. This book is riveting. Instead of bombarding the reader with technical terms, complex tech is explained in an simple to understand manner. You may need a score card to hold track of all the players and listening to the audiobook makes a difference, especially with the pronunciation of the Soviet names. The fallout of this disaster continues to this day, a warning for future generations. A superb read and listen.
There is a reason why we use pressurized water reactors in the West. They are inherently safer. While the Soviet RBMK reactors were less expensive to build, they were also "dirtier" and less safe than pressurized water reactors. This book is a amazing read. I remember clearly the Chernobyl accident and the attempts by the Soviet leadership to deny and then minimize the severity of the catastrophe. Thousands were affected by the explosion of Reactor #3 in Pripyat and the zone is still contaminated. This book is a harrowing, cautionary tale of how one should never place their complete faith in government, much less believe that any government will work in the best interests of the individual.
Outstanding review of what really happened at Chernobyl. This should be needed reading for anyone wanting to know about nuclear energy, but more importantly how the soviets handled this disaster. The KGB and leaders allow their people down in spite of the sacrifices the Ukraine people and others created to desperately control the radiation and the poisonous effects it had.
I thought that this was a well-done accounting of the effects of the explosion on the lives of the reactor workers and the people who lived in close proximity to the site. More tedious was the lengthy discourse on the political concerns and actions of the Soviet governmental personnel who seemed to be more concerned with saving face than tending to the needs of the thousands of citizens, particularly the citizens of Kiev and Prypiat. The book is much worth reading!
Warnings is a unbelievable book to place some of the largest threats versus humanity into perspective for the average citizen of the world. The first half of the book looks back at catastrophes that were predicted by experts -- experts who were ignored -- and the second half looks at the largest threats going forward, like sea-level rise, artificial intelligence, the hackability of everything, and even the prospect of an asteroid striking the Earth.What makes this book particularly amazing is the fact that you are guided through every chapter by an expert in that specific subject, giving you an inside look at the truly significant concerns and considerations of the those that work in each respective field. The book goes on to ultimately create suggestions to policymakers, e.g. the prospect of a National Office of Warning, or even just suggesting that decision makers start to take people more seriously that fit the "Cassandra characteristics" that are laid out in the middle of the l in all, I'm very satisfied that I gave this book a shot. It's a amazing tutorial for leaders of all stripes; public or personal sector, and teaches you how to look past your own biases and recognize objective truth when it's staring you in the face.
Richard A. Clarke is one of my favorite authors and I have read all of his books, both fiction and non-fiction. One of my favorite things about Clarke is his ability to write about nearly any topic matter in an exciting and titillating manner, his work often reads like a thrilling spy novel. He is one of the most knowledgeable experts in terrorism, national security, and cyber security.I was greatly looking forward to reading this book and I was not disappointed. It is as insightful, informative, and thrilling as all of Clarke's other books. I found the first half of the book particularly helpful in that the authors so clearly demonstrated how easily disasters can occur despite the fact that there is an expert warning about the impending catastrophe and they often have concrete data to back up their assertions.I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Richard A. Clarke is a national treasure and I very much look forward to his next book.
At its core, this is a book about human stories--stories about people that have the "gift" of foresight, but the "curse" that nobody will listen to them. The profiles are riveting and the book reads e authors have done a amazing job drawing upon their special experiences in government and business to provide context and bring the "characters" and their stories to life. They weave in a healthy dose of geopolitics, science, and finance that makes for an engaging e catastrophes foretold will be familiar to most readers, as will a lot of of the the warnings. Hopefully, the individuals highlighted in the second half of the book (the warnings) never graduate to Cassandra status, but all of the identified warnings merit deeper examination--fortunately, this book helps spark that st significant, however, Clarke and Eddy provide readers a useful lens of analysis to support separate seer from charlatan. Further academic research might be required to try their framework, but this book provides an necessary and fascinating look at how to distinguish those among us we should heed in order to avert catastrophe from the crazy bearded guys with sandwich boards predicting the end is nigh.
Clarke and Eddy both do a tremendous job in presenting noteworthy connections within latest 21st century tragedies as well as offer some of the highest quality of economic, political, and international relation knowledge to create potential predictions for the next several decades. As someone who seeks refreshing and smart opinions on historical happenings and future predictions for the next "big thing", this writing offers both, while refraining from throwing too much at the reader all at eir piece is extremely clear and well written, yet has more than enough insightful info that it'll hold the young and aggressive bull mindset full during the time spent reading it.
Who are the people that predict calamity and no one listens to them? The focus of this book is on the Cassandras who, like in Greek mythology have been given the bonus of prophecy but cursed because no one would believe -author Richard Clarke was a national security advisors to Ronald Reagan and takes the view that we have to search the Cassandras (and they may be outliers that are dismissed) who have seen the signs around us and come to a various conclusion from the majority whether it be the fall of Madoff, the housing shop leading to the collapse of Wall Road giants or The formation of ISIS as a effect of not good foreign policy decisions, there were people that predicted these things using their “sentinel personalities” to look at the arke and co-author R. P. Eddy provide us with an idea as to what makes these folks various enough to see signs that the rest of us don't see. If, Clarke and Eddy state, we can search that common denominator that makes these people right, can we foresee the next major disaster and prevent it from occurring?Given the precarious state of the globe today (although when hasn't it been precarious?), those with this skill could support us steer clear of icebergs in the sea of change we face every day.
Every so often a book arrives which combines history, policy analysis, and policy prescription in a particularly compelling way. My mates Richard Clarke and RP Eddy have done just this. They ask the fundamental question - Why don't we listen to Cassandra warnings? - and provide some systematic answers, as well as identify some fairly hair-raising warnings of catastrophes to come. The Cassandras past and show are well chosen, and their stories well told. Most impressive, though, is the metric - the "Cassandra coefficient" - which provides a method to analyze and evaluate any potential Cassandra situation. This framework of analysis will be considered as fundamental a breakthrough as was Graham Allison's Essence of Decision framework of 1972 - it is destined to change the method people think about the entire sphere of public policy. This is must reading for any student of public policy today.
Cassandra had the bonus of prophecy and the curse of being ignored. This book presents case studies of known experts, who warned us of amazing calamities and crises that actually occured, and were ignored. It then discuses current Cassandra's who are warning us about what could e book presents a clear picture of what the characteristics of a Cassandra are and what causes a Cassandra happening (an unheeded warning, followed by disaster). It outlines concrete steps for government, personal enterprise, and the public to follow to avoid future Cassandra e 21st Century will face threats unlike anything before. It's necessary we understand them, and support shape public policy accordingly. I highly recommend reading this book.
A amazing book about some of the possible happenings threatening the earth. I love the idea of using Cassandra's warning of "doom" - and no one believing. I have to admit I liked the fresh warnings more that I liked the past warningsIn the later chpaters an expert in each field is interviewed to give warnings about potential future damgers that we are facing - for example: in artificial intelligence - what could happen if artificial intelligence is not controlled from the very beginning; in the internet - how simple it would be to cheat into modern electric grids, in sea-level rise; what will happen to our cities if climate change is not addressed ... to name a few
In the first part of Warnings, Clarke and Eddy provide examples from our very latest history when, if we had but heeded warnings and taken (or were ready to take) preventive action, we could have ameliorated or perhaps even prevented happenings that ultimately affected millions. You can create the argument that you can't act on every warning, but Clarke and Eddy go on to describe how the Cassandra Coefficient can be applied to support with that decision. In the second part of Warnings, they apply it to see how the answers to its 4 questions may affect how we view serious problems that are facing us today. Thought-provoking insights!
“Warnings” is an necessary book in both its concept and central notice -- particularly as it relates to the long-standing warnings of climatologist Dr. James Hansen about the existential issue of climate 1988, Dr. Hansen, then Director of NASA’s Institute for Zone Studies, testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that NASA was 99% certain that the warming trend that year was caused by a buildup of CO2 and other pollutants – known as “the greenhouse effect.”At that time atmospheric CO2 was 353.69 ppm; in April 2017 it terrifyingly passed 410 ppm – all the method up from 400 ppm since 2013.Over the past ten years, there have been increasing calls, by Dr. Hansen and others, for a WWII-style emergency climate mobilization or equivalent:In 2007, the UN’s Ban Ki-moon said, “This is an emergency and for emergency situations we need emergency action.”In 2011, Lester Brown repeated his earlier warning that “mobilization must be unprecedented, because the entire globe has never before been so threatened.”In 2013, Dr. Hansen said, “We have a planetary emergency” that could destroy ese calls for emergency mobilization are now more urgent than ever. As of May 2017, business-as-usual carbon emissions would let only four years before the globe blows past the 1.5° rise in temperature above pre-industrial levels that was embraced by the Paris agreement to prevent truly risky global climate Winston Churchill warned in 1936, “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its put we are entering a period of consequences.”Let us hope that the Cassandras we have will no longer be ignored.
This is hardly a definitive history of the Chernobyl disaster. What the book covers is, by and huge informative and interesting. But it just does NOT tell the whole tale by any means, effectively glossing over critical happenings in the immediate post-accident "liquidation" and so forth. The author appears to rely, almost uncritically on official reports and statistics on deaths and illness that are accepted as reliable by relatively few I've ever heard speak to the issue.(and I'm not referring to those who wildly exaggerate the numbers either, but remember, we are talking about the Soviet Union here, for goodness sake!) Again, this book is a fine volume to add to your collection, if you have a serious interest in the topic. But to call this definitive as at best misleading, and I'd only recommend this to those who are just looking for another "angle" on the Chernobyl disaster - not a complete history of any kind.
I approached Dr. Mould's book "Chernobyl Record" with some trepidation, as I read some reviews that characterized it as unabashedly pro-nuclear. However, I did not really detect such a bias. Some claim that Mould downplays the effects of radiation, but I don't see how. He uses plenty of data to help his claims, and he hardly glosses over the horrible effects of radiation. But I think I am more apt to believe his claim that Chernobyl was the "greatest psychological disaster in history," in that a lot of of the effects in people outside the exclusion location and the Kiev zone were psychosomatic, tied to their fear of the effects of radiation. I am not trying to downplay Chernobyl's consequences, which are huge, but compared to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, its effects were less in magnitude and scope. However, even if some effects are only psychological, these too are quite sad and often as poor as the physical effects. The accident has led to economic issues in Ukraine, including high unemployment, and the displacement of a huge number of people, and these factors all lead to a high rate of depression and alcoholism among a lot of Ukrainians, including the survivors and liquidators."Chernobyl Record" provides an perfect inroduction to the Chernobyl accident, explaining all of the important terminology on radiation and nuclear reactors. However, it does kind of speed through the accident itself, and for in-depth accounts of the actual accident, one will have to look elsewhere, such as Grigori Medvedev's The Truth About Chernobyl. It is to books such as Medvedev's that one will also have to turn to for a detailed acc fo the heroism of a lot of of the firefighters and operators involved in cleaning and containing the e images (both in color and black and white) in Mould's book are quite invaluable as well, including a lot of of the interior of the Sarcophagus, the city of Pripyat, and of radiation victims from e largest issue with the book is that Mould concentrates primarily on the aftermath and consequences of the accident. This info is quite helpful and relatively up-to-date (2000), but some of the data on the effects on wildlife and foodstuffs are less interesting than the human aspects of the story. However, concluding with V. Legasov's "Testament" was an perfect method of bringing the human element back into focus.Overall, then, this book will prove indispensable for anyone interested in Chernobyl. However, as it was published in 2000, it is already outdated, since the effects of Chernobyl continue to be studied and there are plans to bulid another structure over Unit No. 4 and the Sarcophagus. Chernobyl still awaits its definitive history, but it is sad to think that so a lot of people have forgotten Chernobyl. There are several lessons in nuclear safety to be learnt from the accident that can be extracted from this perfect book. Nuclear power is not something to be taken lightly, and this book is a sobering reminder of that fact.
I subscribe to quite a few Kindle Bargain Book everyday e-mails in hope that I’ll search something interesting enough to spend a whole $1 on or obtain for free (free is good!)I’ve always been interested in disasters, how people cope despite the odds versus their survival, and the aftermath. So when Disaster!: A History of Earthquakes, Floods, Plagues, and Other Catastrophes by John Withington showed up in one of those newsletters for either for free or a buck, I figured, why not.I just hope I didn’t spend any cash on this turkey. Seriously, I read the book in an afternoon and found that I wanted my time back. About the only thing I liked about the book was the fact that the author did choose a few obscure disasters and managed to convey the info decently.I recommend this book if you are able to obtain it for a decent price (preferably free) and you are interested in a fairly superficial introduction to different disasters man-made and man-created.I give this book 3/5 stars as it really isn’t worth a second read.
This is a book that seems to be two various books melded together. Parts of it almost wish to be a reference book, sort of a mini-encyclopedia where you can look up different disasters and obtain a couple of pages worth of information. Other parts are more historical narratives telling a more complex story about certain incidents in history.=== The Amazing Items ===* I am an avid reader of history, and it is not often than I read of historical incidents that I know nothing about. This book caught me on a few, and not just items from the 3rd century BC. For example, one chapter in the book describes the "reign" of King Leopold II of Belgium in the "Belgian Free State of the Congo" during the end of the 19th century. It was an absolute disaster, with chilling tales of starvation, slavery, oppression and exploitation of the natives. I knew of the Belgian reign of this part of the world, but never knew how poor things were.* John Withington writes in a flowing, easy-to-read style. It can be a bit dry at times, but he avoids the long complicated paragraphs and obscure vocabulary of "serious" historians. This especially comes out in the latter parts of the book where the narratives are longer and more detailed.* The latest half of the book deals with "man-made" disasters, usually political misrule or terror, such as Nazi Germany or the Khmer Rouge. There is not a lot of fresh info in these narratives, but they are organized well, and provide concise and reasonably objective overviews of these historical incidents. They are, of course, a sampling of history, but provide a nice cross section of some of mankind at his worst.=== The Not-So-Good Items ===* I almost stopped reading the book during the early chapters. For example, one of the early chapters deals with floods, a lot of of which happened before the "modern" era of history, roughly the latest two centuries. The issue is that with older events, there are few info available, and only so a lot of ways to describe a flood. After after a few they all begin to sound alike. Related with other natural disasters, an earthquake in ancient Egypt sounds a lot like an earthquake in ancient China. The latter chapters are much better.* While a lot of of the historical records of disasters can be somewhat sketchy (how a lot of people really died at Pompei?), Withington seems to always take the highest available estimate and the worst possible scenarios. Fair enough, it is a book on disasters, but it would have been better to provide a more balanced look, perhaps by presenting a series of estimates. Similarly, some of the descriptions of horrors again seem to be based on the "worst case" of available accounts.=== Summary ===While I wouldn't say the book is a comprehensive look at all the disasters that have affected mankind, it is a very reasonable assortment of some of the major ones. A lot of of the earlier incidents have descriptions that sound very much alike, but the stories of more modern history are well done. I believe that Withington always errs toward the more severe and pessimistic side of available accounts, but I guess that is to be expected from a "disaster" writer.Overall, I did search a few things I was not previously aware of, and that always makes me appreciate a history book. Based on that, and the well-written summaries of a lot of incidents, I'd recommend the book for most any fan of history.
A chronological study of reasons why your never safe. I found the ancient disasters most interesting. Disasters I never heard of roll off the pages over and over. The wonderful numbers of people who were killed through history is astounding. Well written stories that are complete without going into too much detail. I finnish this book in two days what more can I say.
I have this volume and one similar. Neither were impressive. The writer's style is decidedly non-scientific.. The expected accounting in the sense of archeological, geological and paleobiological evidence and material was not forthcoming. I expected more technical material from the text.
I collect books about disasters, not sure why, but there were quite a few in this book I had not heard of before, which gave me ideas about future purchases. I guess I liked it because it reminds me to always think that something could happen at any time, and to always be thankful for every day.
I've been waiting for this book to be released for, like, FOREVER!!! I read this book and it is amazing. You should read it! I rate this book 5 stars out of 5! This is my most favorite book series in the WORLD!! Thank you, Rachel Renee Russell! :)
Very amazing information. It is told so that anybody can understand it. Liked the comparisons over time and so like the story being given in little sections. Really makes you think. Puts a voice to the why precautions areor aren't being taken. Well worth reading!
The author is far more informed and smart than I am. His book is beautiful alarming, though he sneaks up on the really poor news and implications more more calmly and politely than I would. I think the human species is in amazing risk of driving itself extinct by the end of this century. If you think I am correct, don't panic, read this book, it might obtain you started on some hopeful options to place our doom off. If you think I am an alarmist, then read this book because the globe is still full of dangers from floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, and so on, so even if our species is not in as much risk as I think, the info in this book might safe your life or the life of someone you love.
This book is a amazing purchase for someone who wants an overview of the various effects of climate change. In my opinion, it goes into just enough detail. The vocabulary is simple for the layperson to understand. I have a master’s degree in environmental science and it was also a satisfying read for me. Elizabeth Kolbert also does a amazing job on focusing on the science, however, she does mention politics.
While parts of the book begin to feel dated (originally published in 2005, after all), others take on a surprisingly prescient feel. Discussing droughts in California nearly a decade before they happened gives the book's other predictions a sharp e modernize is welcome, however, as it ties in to progress (or reress) that has been created in the latest few years. Final chapter carries some much-needed optimism and ends on a bright spot.Highly recommended.
A must read for everyone. This is not some conspiracy. We all need to act now, or be willing to promote the end of what we know as life on this planet and may our kids and grandchildren be dammed! Let's do this. Educate yourself.
Elizabeth is an awesome storyteller and also on the ground and in the thick of it. She's got a lot of courage in writing about this subject, but also in the time and energy she dedicates to being with these scientists in some inhospitable imate change is it folks. The huge IT. This will become more apparent as the decades pass and we realize that the time to act was 20-30 years ago. Our kids and grandchildren will be bewildered at how inactive and/or in denial we were. Let's hope more Elon Musks (and less Jim Inhofes) pop up soon or else civilization, as we know it, is over.
Very well written. Tends to focus on the political aspects of climate change--I would have preferred more exploration of the hard science, but there are other books that take care of that (notably The Long Thaw).
Perfect read! Depressing topic matter. She does a amazing job organizing the info she shares. I believe she is a journalist, not a scientist. She lays out all the info in a very readable, and even interesting manner. This book is fast and simple read. It definitely should be needed reading for ALL High School Seniors.
Elizabeth Kolbert is probably the best science writer in America who can translate scientific jargon for lay readers. This book is a collection of her NYker articles, so you know it's going to be a amazing read.
This book documents clearly and concisely the climate crisis up to where it stood 10 years ago. It explains some key concepts of climate change. Well worth reading for anyone interested in the truth of our time.
I decided to catch up on Vaclav Smil latest week. I had kept running into his name. That's not too surprising given how a lot of books he has written. So I ordered this book and his book on 'China's Environmental Crisis'. I am also going to read his book on Prime Movers and possibly some others. Now for some observations about this book.When I got this book in the mail I panicked. I had recently watched one of those 'Top Ten' countdown TVs shows on globe disasters. I had chosen this particular book almost at random. I was interested in reading anything by Smil. I at first thought that this was the book that that idiotic TV present was based on. But I was wrong. The subject was roughly the same but the approach was il is a serious scholar, He is quantitative and he is even handed. He is very far away from the mass media sensationalists who also write on these same topics. He has the courage to be optimistic in the face of a lot of seemingly poor news. He does however skip or skimp on a few questions and problems. He also is a bit disappointing in his lightweight and superficial approach to a couple r example he routinely criticizes American education in the same fashion we have come to expect in the famous mass press. He tells us that American children don't do well on the a lot of standardized tests now administered internationally. That's of course real enough if you only consider averages but is not real at all if you disaggregate the numbers by race. The Japanese, Koreans and Chinese do very well on these kind of tests and so do the East Asian children who live in the US. In fact our American Chinese, Japanese, and Korean children do better than they do in their native countries. This fact seems to argue that American schools are just fine. But Smil never discusses e latest books by Lynn and Vanhatten have shown that there is a correlation of about .40 between the IQ of a nation's population and its GDP. Smil discusses wealth creation from several aspects but never mentions the characteristics of the populations. He acts as if all peoples react the same to all inputs and all in a discussion of catastrophes can he not contrast the huge quake-tsunami in Japan with the other latest major quake in Haiti? Japan is arguably the best organized nation on Earth while Haiti is close to the worst.
Contrary to what the title suggests, this is not about over-hyping any apocalyptic scenarios. To the contrary, Smil thinks through problems in an insightful and detached way. From the book, you develop critical thinking skills to vaccinate your mind versus Media hype. You also develop a healthy skepticism towards any forecasts as they always miss the il classifies changes that could affect our civilization into two categories. First, the abrupt ones are unpredictable and potentially devastating. They contain natural phenomena such as asteroids, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, and influenza pandemics. They also contain man-caused wars, genocides, and terrorism. The second type of changes occur over half a century or more. Those contain the energy transition away from fossil fuel, and the slow changes in balance of geopolitical il states we are notoriously poor at forecasting risks or anything else. He mentions numerous Peak Oil forecasts that were invariably wrong. Smil mentions how in the 1970s, we were concerned a next ice age was upon us. Geopolitic, economic, and demographic forecasts have been wrong too. The rapid economic ascent of China and rapid retreat of Japan since 1990 were unforeseen by everyone. The sudden break up of the USSR was also il states we are even poor at explaining what already happened. As an example, Diamond in his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed mentioned only deforestation as a cause of the devastation of the Easter Island community. But, he missed out on rats infestation, infectious diseases, and enslavement. We invariably miss out on dozens of variables when explaining past il geopolitical outlook is fascinating. The prospects for Europe and Japan are problematic because of declining populations due to aging societies. Also, Europe's identity will be challenged by the heavy migration of Muslims who do not integrate themselves. This will stress Europe's already fragile fiscal condition. Japan's political system renders the country unable to adapt and resolve any upcoming national ssia, even more than Japan and Europe appears to face insurmountable demographic problems. It is the only modern society that is suffering an accelerated population decline due to both a drop in fertility rate and a rapidly decreasing lifespan. The latter is due to alcoholism among men. Russian officials have attempted to reduce the rate of alcoholism for decades in vain. This section contrasts with the embarrassingly bad After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism).The Middle East prospect is dire due to not good governance, not good living standard, high illiteracy rates, outdated legal body, weak social infrastructure, repression of women, lack of any scientific achievement, and lack of water resources and arable land. Those societies also do not provide employment opportunities causing huge young male population being diverted towards terrorist networks. For a amazing book on this topic, I recommend The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and ina is on the method up. It is the world's leading exporting manufacturer. By 2050, it should become the biggest globe economy. But, China faces challenges of its own. Its GDP per capita will remain a fraction of the US for several generations. Its one kid policy has caused an uneven female/male ratio. This will cause a rapid aging of its population. This has implication for a country relying on an abundant and vibrant labor force. Its rapid economic growth is stressing the environment. China is losing scarce arable land to both industrialization and erosion impairing the country to feed itself. This will effect in China relying more on meal imports. But, given its large population this is not a sustainable solution.Within chapter 3, Smil outlook for the US is not encouraging. This is because it has large Budget and Current Acc Deficits. Those are the symptoms of the U.S. excessive spending, inadequate savings, and hollowing out of its manufacturing base. The U.S. is now even a net importer of hi tech equipment. Smil notices that the US economy's share of Globe GDP has already declined from 35% in 1945 to 20% currently. The US has lost its share of Globe GDP mainly to ever, within chapter 5. Smil's US outlook is more upbeat as he focuses on its strength and relative position. Smil notes that the US fiscal position is better than a lot of European countries and Japan. Also, the US is still the winner of innovation and scientific discoveries. In 2004, 30% of the world's scientific papers were authored by the US versus only 6.5% for China. Adjusted for population size, the US is 20 times more productive than China. For another amazing book on this topic, I recommend The Post-American il's section on climate change is very nuanced. He confirms that temperatures are rising and is probably due to anthropogenic CO2 emission. But, he states estimates of rise in CO2 concentration, temperature increase, and sea level rise are uncertain. But, prospective sea level rise should be moderate and due to warmer water expansion and very small from ice caps melting. Relying on several estimates from insurers and scientists, he states that the economic costs of adapting to climate changes are very manageable. This notice contrasts with An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It apocalyptic il states that if we were a rational society we should be more concerned about changes in the water and nitrogen cycles than the rise in CO2 emission. He indicates that by 2050, nearly half of the world's population is projected to live in locations with scarce water resources. In 2003, half of the world's hospital beds were filled with patients with water-borne diseases (diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever, etc...). Such waterborne diseases slay over 5 million people a il mentions antibiotics resistance as a major environmental threat. Because of common overuse antibiotics resistance is now show in humans, domestic animals, and even wild animals that have never been exposed to those drugs. Some scientists think we may be near the point of returning to the pre-penicillin days, when we will have run out of antibiotics to defend versus rapidly evolving bacteria. The same scientists deem such a situation catastrophic as it would effect in extra millions of yearly il conveys how we are paranoia about infrequent risks that we don't control such as terrorism versus being phlegmatic about extremely frequent and very high risk we do control such as vehicle driving. He states "When powerful emotions are involved, people tend to focus on the badness of the outcome rather than the probability [of the outcome]." This leads to poor social and individual reactions to risks. For another amazing book on this subject, I recommend Calculated Risks: How to Know When Numbers Deceive You.
Covering what could happen and what appears to be unfolding from a probabilistic and uncertain perspective that really gives for some rigor in your global worldview and allows you to compare threats to relevant probabilities and really hold future planning from getting out of hand.
The three adjectives above say it all. Impressive work. He never resorts to alarmism even when the scenarios he paints seem dire. In fact, he is fast to point out when nature seems to counteract some of the attacks that it suffers constantly. I would not say there is optmism in his work, it's better to say that his views do not come with a set of ideologies behind, and this is so refreshing to read.
Vaclav Smil is the only clear economic voice with data and analysis to back up his position. And with 30+ books behind him, one hears very small argument versus his hard analysis. I just want he was known and read in the U.S.
Every once in a while, you come across some book that actually opens your eyes and shows how fallacious the general populace method of thinking is book is one of them.A must-read for people who wish to sort through the garbage newspapers and ill-informed politicians and public figures propose for the next 50 years
Perfect book of facts and figures and arguments, without reaching predictive conclusions. It was a bit difficult for casual reading. Having read a lot of predictions concerning global warming/climate change, I found this book to provide the most complete data and arguments suggesting the outcome of these trends cannot yet be defined because of the huge number of complex interrelationships we don't fully understand.
This book is a series of essays or speeches on the consequences of the Fukushima accident. The quality and amount of whitewash vary from essay. One essay I was particularly interested in discussed accidents at other plants. I hadn't been aware there had been so many. Although the book is on Chernobyl rather than Fukushima, I think the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment by Yablokov, Nesterenko, and Nesterenko gives a much better feeling for the consequences of a nuclear accident. The book is available on Amazon and I was glad I bought it despite the expense. To round out your knowledge of nuclear accidents, look up Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Mayak on You Tube.
THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK OF THE 21ST CENTURY. BAR NONE.Dr. Caldicott's book provides essays to a lot of experts about what really happened, and is event at Fukishima. All these experts are continually being silenced about the greatest man created disaster in history by the GE's and elites who own most governments.Her introduction alone about the radiated toxicity and cancer causing deaths it will be causing for generations to come, is worth the price of the book ere were three core meltdowns in the reactors at the onset of the crisis in March 2011. There is no safe level of radiation and TEPCO has no idea where to shop all the toxic waste water except to dump in the ocean and shop in leaking temporary e amount of toxic radiation just in the mass spent nuclear fuel alone, that will be toxic for generations to come, that have no long term storage plans, that are leaking, that have no funds for decommissioning as alternative power sources come online is a death knell in itself for this planets ve the bonus of truth for this Christmas, buy this most necessary book with all you mand to shut them all done NOW or we have no nukes, never again.
Written by the Don Quiote of Nuclear Horrors. The most trusted name in the business of revealing the medical consequences of ionizing radiation. There is no one who should not have this info and no one who doesn't need it! The worst and ongoing nuclear catastrophe in history. They can Never Clean It Up!!