Recently Read Books 2014

I thought I would take a minute and let you know the books that I have read thus far in 2014. Each of these is excellent in its own way and I don’t know about you but I try to put some thought into each selection since I am making an investment of my time. I have read The Black Swan and The Signal And The Noise twice and I really believe I need to read The Black Swan a third time to get a complete understanding.

(1) The Black Swan     Nassim Nicholas Taleb

(2) The Smartest Kids In The World     Amanda Ripley

(3) The Signal And The Noise     Nate Silver

(4) The Sixth Extinction     Elizabeth Kolbert

(5) The Sports Gene     David Epstein

(6) Average Is Over    Tyler Cowen


Finished Reading: The Sixth Extinction By Elizabeth Kolbert

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I finished this yesterday and I must say I highly recommend it. The author brings together various aspects of extinction that I had never contemplated. I was not aware of the current bat problem in the Northeastern United States as well as ocean acidification and what it is doing to the Great Barrier Reef.

This is a book which is thought-provoking from the standpoint of what can I do personally in curbing climate change. I hate to see species decimated but is it the natural state of the world? I also worry about bringing back species through DNA. What about virus’s or other diseases that have been dormant for all these years? How can bringing back mastodons really add value to our world?

That is what I really enjoy about this book in that it’s writing challenges my thinking and causes me to really analyze what I truly believe. Do I really believe in climate change after the near zero temperatures we had in Tennessee this winter? The coldest in several years. I know it is only one year but it does make you wonder.

I hope this book spurs me to read other books about climate change, extinction and ocean acidification and get a better understanding of these issues.


Continuing Reading: The Sixth Extinction By Elizabeth Kolbert

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The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert is an excellent read in understanding what we are facing in the future due to ocean acidification and climate change. I must admit that in my everyday existence I have not given much thought to how my actions and the actions of my fellow man has on the future of this planet.

This excerpt from page 120 stands out:

“Ocean acidification played a role in at least two to the Big Five extinctions (the end-Permian and the end-Triassic) and quite possibly it was a major factor in a third (the end-Cretaceous). There’s strong evidence for ocean acidification during an extinction event known as the Toarcian Turnover, which occurred 183 million years ago, in the early Jurassic, and similar evidence at the end of the Paleocene, 55 million years ago, when several forms of marine life suffered a major crisis.”

I must also admit that my understanding of the past five major extinctions is very weak and I really need to bone up on my knowledge as I move forward on this book. Overall, I highly recommend this book!!!

Began Reading: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History By Elizabeth Kolbert

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I picked this book up over the weekend and it looks fascinating from the standpoint I absolutely know very little about past extinctions and I am currently trying to understand about climate change. I will be reporting in this blog about this book and my thoughts, but any readers that may have read this and have any comments, we would certainly appreciate them.

Article of Interest: March 2, 2014

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In the March 3, 2014 I ran across this article by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker entitled Big Score: When Mom Takes the SAT’s

This is a short article primarily about Debbie Stier, who at the age of forty-six decides to tackle the SAT’s with the goal of making a perfect score of 2400. My takeaway from this article is that we are not measuring the correct areas when taking these standardized tests. It is great to focus on writing, math and reading, but as is stated in the article where is the focus on critical thinking.

Any readers know of research done recently that shows how top scorers in the SAT’s from twenty-five years ago are currently doing professionally? How would we judge their success?

I love this excerpt toward the end of the article:

“Whatever is at the center of the SAT—call it aptitude or assessment of assiduousness or ambition—the exam at this point represents an accident. It was conceived for one purpose, adapted for another, and somewhere along the line it acquired a hold on American life that nobody ever intended. It’s not just high school seniors who are in its thrall; colleges are, too. How do you know how good a school is? Well, by the SAT scores of the students it accepts.”

Please take the time to peruse this article and give us some feedback!