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Philo

San Diego, CA, United States
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2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-27-18

Just the facts? NOT. Hasty, hysterical rant

Don't get me wrong. I am receptive to this basic narrative. But even that could not overcome the feelings of being baited by the publishers' statement (except the last paragraph, the quoted review part, which gives a better sense of what is really here: Trump, it is said, is the worst thing since the Civil War and this author is some sort of lone hero crying in the wilderness, uniquely informing us here). I was also misled by some reader reviews purporting that this book would straightforwardly outline the story. (Those folks are obviously the converted, having already imbibed the kool-aid unfiltered, or lack the critical thinking skills to tell facts from rather crude shrill editorials.) A few moments into the listening, I realized this is, at least next to more careful writing I have seen, is lots of flashy bad labels and conclusions often untethered from careful pinning to facts I expect from good writing, or for that matter, even good everyday journalism. Ominous words like "obstruction," a very serious accusation, head long lists of names -- hey, every Republican and staffer in sight! If they are guilty of this, let's slow down and get a bill of particulars. But the lurid words just keep streaming like a flashing sign. We don't need to crawl to Trump's level to supposedly refute him -- it is counterproductive. Again, I would not complain except this comes as a dump -- nasty bullet point term, names, scary words, a smattering of factual claims, rinse and repeat. This doesn't excuse Trump and company from their brazen use of exactly this sort of trashy public discourse (not to mention the very grievous acts alluded to here, if true) -- it's just that I expect better from their critics. This is like Cliffs Notes (with my apologies to that fine company and its products, which bear no connection to this) on way too much caffeine. This author says he is a novelist -- my suggestion: stick to novels.
Yes, there are important facts in here, and the short format was a good idea, but I can't bear this. It's a shame this didn't (IMO) live up to its promise. I REALLY wanted THAT book! The one I didn't find here: the sharp summary! The author is overweaning and doesn't trust me to think for myself.
The foregoing is 100 percent my opinion. I expressly disclaim any supposedly factual claims about this work or author.

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0 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-26-18

For me, hilarious, intimate, life-changing

Nothing has lit up my mind quite like this. I gained new angles, intimate angles on self, death, complex realities, absurdities. Frequently this has prompted big bursting smiles, which is quite a feat. I am liberated from dozens of little longtime traps in mood and view and cognition. As with Philip K. Dick, there is also uproarious snarky poetry for one's tech (or rather, speculative math-philosophic) side.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-24-18

AMAZING tour of the whole illicit cyber world

This is one of the best audiobooks I've heard. The word "terrorism" doesn't begin to cover the scope of this book -- it covers all sorts of crime as well as things as commonplace as use of social media by and against parties in divorce cases. The book is encyclopedic on all sorts of actors and activities worldwide. It shows sophistication (yet gives listenable explanations) in technical, legal, governmental, and cultural matters, as well as clear expositions of methods used by all players -- criminals, vigilantes, government agencies, etc. It is very current. It also shows a thoughtfulness on all sorts of themes above and beyond what I expected. If a chain is as strong as its weakest link, imagine living in a world littered everywhere with weak links, or as the wince-inducing phrase has it, "attack surfaces." Many statistics are eye-rolling: 600,000 facebook accounts per day compromised? Yikes. One thing is apparent: there is lots of work to be done, I suppose that also means, money to be made (legitimately of course).

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-13-18

Who monitors the monitors?

This book operates on several levels. It tells a history of advancing surveillance technologies, their deployment (usually from military origins, via private makers) into law enforcement, and finally, the clashes between these methods and members of the public in criminal cases. Finally, in most instances, some third non-interested party with an interest in clarifying rights gets some look at what has transpired. And finally, come kind of constraints are put on law enforcement (or not) for the particular technology involved. In one case this required a meticulous, focused criminal defendant to fire multiple defense attorneys, work countless hours, and drag the system (and its funding) against all its inertia kicking and screaming, inch by inch, through a criminal case (ultimately settled), before most members of the government who were funding (and ostensibly overseeing) law enforcement first glimpsed the existence of a cell phone tracker in wide deployment -- the "sting ray." The existence of this device and its use had been conveniently left out of warrants, reports, and so on: it was being used without accountability. Often these uses result in vast warehousing of who-knows-what-all data for unknown (and unconstrained) time periods, potentially for use in some hypothetical different future when the usefulness of the data to get at someone becomes apparent. If this sounds incredibly awkward, almost a random and accidental way to govern, you have seen a major theme of this book. Along the way, as we meet people and hear stories, we are briefed on various technologies and then related legal doctrines the courts and legislatures have carved out. The greatest hits in Supreme Court law are reviewed (from the Katz case in the 1960s until around 2017), and their rules and yardsticks for measuring privacy are well explained. We have a look at listening devices atop a phone booth, phone company pen registers, metadata sweeps, license plate readers, government-installed spyware, border searches, orders to decrypt devices, cell phone towers and location data, etc., the legal frameworks for each, and how governments from the local police to federal officers and agencies are handling these matters. The book keeps a nice balance between human-interest stories and technical issues. It provides heaps of background and context for this now fast-moving area (being published just as two big events hit the news, the Supreme Court's Carpenter case on cell phone location data, and a new set of California statutes somewhat resembling the new European privacy laws). I feel well briefed now, to step into the study of the current events.
Behind it all, one astonishing thing is the blitheness of the USA public in the face of these vast changes. The book closes with a look at a technology screening committee in Oakland, CA, seeming amazingly ad hoc and like a flea on the bow of a vast ship steaming forward at full speed into challenging and murky waters. It does seem belatedly Congress is stirring, and we will see how far that goes, and where it goes. On the evidence of this book, I'm pretty concerned.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-13-18

Very good, but buyer beware ...

This choppy-quick presentation format is a very efficient way to review a lot of Supreme Court law. The descriptions are a model of brevity and clarity. But I say review, thinking this would not be the best starting point to learn Constitutional law. The problem there is, despite the excellent plain-spoken style of this work, it jumps right in to fact situations and doctrines the newbie might not recognize yet. Also, the law topics are not systematically introduced, but rather are lumped into a sort of greatest hits approach, and delivered one-two-three, mostly chronologically in each subject area. The new learner might struggle to fill the gaps between the ideas and terms and stories. One great help would have been to systematically say the year of each decision up front, because much better historical context would instantly be added. Instead, at times no date is stated, or the listener must (awkwardly, sometimes) await the simple date statement or enough story to figure out when this case was decided. That makes it more laborious than it needed to be. With all that said, this is one of my favorite AudioLearn legal books to date. Make a bankruptcy one, PLEASE !

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-03-18

What's shaping up, today and tomorrow

I'm teaching business law to people looking forward to a full career lifetime. It is pretty critical to me, to add value for them, to get this kind of info. The author sticks close to the data and it has a ring of truth from that. I started in law practice in offices where of course the key professional hired secretarial and research support staff. In my own practice, I was of the first generation to learn computer use as a professional (the older generation spurned keyboard skills), and to not hire humans in that process. I learned to code, and had my computer as my support staff. This shift is well tracked here, with updates (useful to me, as I have been merely teaching for awhile). Anyone similarly planning the setup of a business may be interested.
The economy continues to produce gainful work, and new businesses. Big-picture doom scenarios are not here, for now. However, per this author, these new businesses are of particular configurations, often corporate in form with minimal staffing.The author offers reasons for this, that ring true to my experience.
The subject can be dry, but for me it is worthwhile focusing here. And I may do another startup in the future.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-03-18

Some will lack a sense of humor for this

I missed the wars and never was in the service. I grew up in two towns right alongside big bases though, and my pals as a kid and today include many active and former members, from grunts to senior officers. I understand the spirit expressed here. Some doubtless would focus on the offensive elements of some of the slang. Alongside that, there are plenty of acronyms for all sorts of equipment and other things encountered in various branches of the service. Some of the terms date back to WW2. I enjoyed this a lot. It gives something of a flavor of the experience and the life. There are some clever wags in the military.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-03-18

Well-written, punchy tale of a wheeler-dealer

If you like a business story with colorful characters, quotes and events, this should be to your liking. The author reads his story and does a great job all around. He knows how to craft a sentence out of short, high-impact words, coming out listenable and easy to understand. He knows how to tell a story through little action scenes between people one can relate to. That includes trades of some sophistication, where this author shows a real gift of simplicity and clarity. The icilng on the cake is a very skillfully paced reading by him, breaking sentences into punchy phrases.
Beyond the level of the principal characters, is a wider story of changes in British retail business, banking and culture, from the 90s into the 2000s. Of interest is the shifting of the old Eton type elite crowd (in banking, politics, fashion and so on) toward finally kissing up to a character as crude and blunt (though charismatically so) as this one. Many were attracted by this charisma but ultimately were ejected from the ensuing pig-wrestling match with some harsh lessons, bruises and sometimes some nice cash. The world keeps generating these sorts, born traders with big hungers and sharp mouths and elbows, in a hurry. And when the time comes to throw others under the bus, they are poised and ready. Meanwhile various bystanders like this author and myself (myself as a prof) interpret all this to a public. It takes all kinds.

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-29-18

Gets pretty kooky, but as always, revealing

This Dr. Kuczynski is quite a piece of work. His work here, I could say benefited me, in plain terms, as stimulating thought about how people juggle (and mismanage) conflicts in their lives in ways surfacing as disturbing thoughts or behaviors. There is an interesting series of parsings between OCD and other forms of behavioral problems, such as the plight of the psychopath (his term). I'm not current with mainstream behavioral sciences to the point of being able to tell how marginal these particular views may be. For example, there is a lot of echoing of Freud here. While holding forth on a personality with divided or confused motives and actions, Dr. Kuczynski's presentation switches into a discourse between two speakers who seem both to be versions (and vocalizations) of himself. He uses terms which I have been lately told (by a medical professional, not a psych one though) are archaic -- such as sociopath or psychopath (versus antisocial personality disorder.) I'm not in a position to speak authoritatively on that. I understand this author's intended meanings quite readily. I'm looking for insight, not checking a checklist on what peers think is strictly current-kosher. And on that scale, I'm pleased with this work. Once again, he shined a light on my own mental interior (and longtime behaviors) I haven't found anywhere else. I might only peripherally see myself in some of these examples, but they shed a lot of insight. And to bring such things into awareness is to be that much liberated from ignorantly laboring in their shadows.

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2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-29-18

I was left thinking, there's gotta be more.

I thought I would save a little time and money here. Sometimes with these summaries, this works. Given what I have seen of the original work, I think it didn't really work very well here, for my purposes. I felt the telling here was too fleeting. I didn't get a sense of who these Russians really are, for example. Saying pretty flatly they are linked to Putin doesn't tell me much. I need to see other deals that provide a meaningful story, and some anecdotes to get a feel for the people and situations.

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