Monthly Archives: August 2019

inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig

inGenius: A Crash Course on CreativityinGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My son is taking a management class and this is one of the texts assigned. As I have more than a passing interest, I read this and one of the others and though this is flawed, it at least has some good tips top share (I cannot recommend The Innovator’s DNA…not a good book on the subject and that it will be taught to collegiate minds is bothersome to me.)

First, there is nothing earth-shattering, groundbreaking here. It’s been said before in untold many other books. But there are still lots of soundbites. I’ll pull several for here, starting with

The scientific method is clearly invaluable when you are trying to unlock the mysteries of the world. However, you need a complementary set of tools and techniques— creative thinking— when you want to invent rather than discover.

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Theism or Atheism: The Great Alternative by Chapman Cohen

Theism or Atheism: The Great AlternativeTheism or Atheism: The Great Alternative by Chapman Cohen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read quite a lot on this subject and was surprised that I’d never come across this book. I learned of it in Harry Harrison’s autobiography. He’d read it at age 13, 17 years after its publication, and left religion and deist belief behind for the rest of his long life (Harry thought the author’s name was “a good English name and a good Jewish name!”) So, off on a hunt, which didn’t take me too long. Turns out the book is in the public domain and available from Project Gutenberg, a digitization of the original 1921 edition. This is not long, but Cohen has a skill with condensation of word and packs a lot in a small space. His positions are surprisingly modern and at the same time, his explanations quite unique. Thorough, detailed, and eminently logical, it’s no wonder young Harry came away changed. Continue reading

The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else by George Anders

The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone ElseThe Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else by George Anders

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had this on my professional shelf at work for a few years and took time to dig into it. In Anders’ Introduction, he bemoans the ability to identify great people as having deteriorated. My margin note was “we all want ‘great’ people, but not everyone is great. Not by a long shot (90% of all Navy officers used to be in the top 10%)”. The parenthetical aside recalled the old evaluating system, where if someone was not in the top 10%, it was a career killer, so everybody was – except the ones who needed a new career. The Introduction is littered with superlatives like “crucial new terms”, and definitive pronouncements like [a notion] “will show”…yes, I understand if you’re selling a concept, you have to guarantee something, but that’s a mental eye-roll for me when I see stuff like that.

Anyway, there are nuggets to be found in here for the “regular” hiring supervisor/manager, but they are hidden in plain sight among a lot of anecdotes that really don’t apply to that regular world. Fortunately, some of those nuggets are bolded. Not all of Anders’ bold choices are usable, but I’m sure some will be for some readers. I’ll share here a few I flagged. Continue reading

Power Trip: The Story of Energy by Michael E. Webber

Power Trip: The Story of EnergyPower Trip: The Story of Energy by Michael E. Webber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My mechanical engineering masters degree (2000) focused on energy management and I maintain a more than passing interest in the subject, both professionally and personally. I requested an advance review copy of this book last year and was approved, but a glitch linked the wrong book and the publisher wasn’t able to resolve it, so the offering site removed, well, the offer. I finally cleared some room and got a chance to read it. Quite glad I did. Dr. Webber is an academic, but he doesn’t write like an academic can tend write. This is an engaging narrative, filled with history, data, details, trivia, problems…and solutions. BLUF (bottom line up front)…an excellent read.

Webber says in his prologue that

For thousands of years the story of energy was slow-moving and incremental, but in the last few hundred years in the developed world, the energy story has become more interesting.

This is true for most technologies, but as he observes, “energy is unique: no other physical factor in society has such a wide-ranging impact on public health, ecosystems, the global economy, and personal liberties.” Webber talks about what energy has done and can do, and what the impacts of lack of sufficient energy are. Webber lists Nobel laureate Richard Smalley’s top ten problems for humanity: 1) energy, 2) water, 3) food, 4) environment, 5) poverty, 6) terrorism and war, 7) disease, 8) education, 9) democracy, and 10) population. Energy comes out on top because it is integral to cracking the other nine. Webber addresses those challenges from his perspective of energy availability and impact, and breaks them out into six chapters of Water, Food, Transportation, Wealth, Cities, and Security. Details, data, and more details, but written in such an engaging way that even the detail averse should like this. Some highlights… Continue reading