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Roger McEvilly (the guilty bystander) (Sydney, NSW Australia)

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The Call of the Wild
The Call of the Wild
von Jack London
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 3,60

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Exhilerating adventure story, for lovers of animals., 1. August 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Call of the Wild (Taschenbuch)
I first read The Call of the Wild when I was 11, and it had a profound effect on me. I loved the story, the adventure, the romance of the wilderness, and the themes of hope and the struggle for survival in the wilds of Alaska.
The book is mainly written for the young, but adults will find something refreshing, true to life, and escapist in the book.
Set in the goldrush days of the late 1800s to early 1900s, it is the story of a stolen dog (Bucks') experiences in the Alaskan wilderness, and his struggle for survival and for dominance amongst the huskies and half-breeds of the sled dogs in the extremes of the northern wilderness. The story is harrowing, but ultimately delightful, encouraging young readers to imagine, to feel, and to be inspired to search for adventure and meaning.
Another book by Jack London is White Fang, which is very similar, so those who like this book might consider reading this also.
Recommended for those who like dogs and dog adventure stories, the Alaskan wilderness, the goldrush days, and those with a spirit of adventure-especially the young, but also the young in spirit.


The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby
von F. Scott Fitzgerald
  Taschenbuch

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The wake of his dreams, 1. August 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Great Gatsby (Taschenbuch)
The depth of this book is such that I certainly can't give justice to it in mere review, but I'm going to try.
What a wonderful life this is. And what a wonderful book this is, capturing the essence of the ambition, lust, love and gay abandonment, not only of the 1920s, but of the human spirit itself. Widely regarded as a classic of modern literature, Fitzgerald manages to capture something very American, very modern, very sublime and truly timeless in this novel; from the relatively simple narrative of romantic yearnings, to the greedy ambitions, the lost loves, the complex enchantments, and the underlying despair; this is a journey of life, a musical symphony, a grecian poem caught up in a few idle words of a wondering writer in the early 20th century.
This book for me is just too much. Take the exchange between Nick and Gatsby about the 'past', and following 'lost dreams';- "You can't repeat the past" (Nick). "Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can" (Gastby). Can you? I still don't know. How about the early quote of "the foul dust that floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the shortwinded elations and abortive sorrows of men". A dark promise of things to come. And what about the exhileration and excitement of the "returning trains of my youth", near the end, where Nick decides to leave the 'big smoke' in New York, permanently tainted in his mind, for the wide plains, the homely townships, and to escape from the shallow, superficial and 'messy' lives of the Big Apple pretenders.
I won't spoil you with intricate details of the story, if you haven't read it and you want to understand modern literature and the modern western world, you have to read it. It is as simple as that.
This book is a poem, a unique expose of the human spirit, the western dream, the love and despair of life; quintessentially 20th century and quintessentially beautiful.
I wish I was seventeen and could read it again for the first time.
Oh Daisy, my long lost and hoped for true love, the future is still ours......


The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
von Matt Ridley
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Where I came from (updated version)., 24. Juni 2000
I found this book concerning scientific research on the evolution of sex pretty darn good, but rather complicated. Dont expect light holiday reading, but do expect a congenial informative style, and a smoragasboard of ideas regarding the evolution of a very complex part of biological behaviour, with particular reference to one homo sapien sapien.
Matt Ridley provides a good overview of scientific debate and research regarding the evolution of sex in the myriad species of earth (blue planet, third rock form sun). He melds the tension between inborn/innate characteritics and learning/culture amicably. This 'tension' is a perennial one, being more about definitions and models than absolutes, but one in which a better understanding and complementary framework is gradually gaining consensus. Any scientist worth his salt will realise that the tension between these two complimentary parts of our existance will be continued to be modified, updated, redefined and reviewed with the further gathering of knowledge. There are no absolutes when it comes to such things. Matt Ridley manages to hold and communicate this understanding pretty admirably.
Having read and admired some of his works, I do detect a subtle bias in his discourses, but it is not a bias which is held without evidence, nor one in which the tension between doubt and certainty is absent. He backs up his assertions with empirical evidence, he bases models of the human condition on such evidence, and he allows room for modification and review where necessary. Just the way science should be. He does have his leanings, but he makes it clear where these are, holding these with sobriety.
There are many theories of sex outlined in this book. I won't spoil the fun by detailing them. Be prepared for the Red Queen, Cain, sex, asex, changing sex, no sex, lots of sex, fungi sex, bacteria sex, sea horse females with a kind of penis, selfish genes and sex, organisms which appear to be all female, male redundancy, female choice, male choice, female redundancy, marriage, hermaphrodites, harems, infidelity, monogomous albaltrosses,promiscuous bonobos, cheating cuckoos, prancing peacocks, the list goes on and the discussion is fairly exhaustive.
As I said, don't expect "Where I came from" part 2. Rather: "Where I came from, a general guide for the species of earth, with particular reference to homo sapien sapien" (adult informative version).
Richly decorated.


Man and His Symbols
Man and His Symbols
von Carl Gustav Jung
  Gebundene Ausgabe

6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Under-rated, 8. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Man and His Symbols (Gebundene Ausgabe)
The works of Jung have been, in my opinion, under-rated. The 'discovery' of the 'unconscious' in the 1900s has been said by some to be discredited. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, certain interpretations/'meanings'/aspects etc of the'unconscious ' have been quite rightly discredited, much as occurs in any major discovery/field of science. Much of what Sigmund Freud has said, to some, has been discredited. But in my view, the works of Jung are far better and more accurate, for example, than those of his more famous colleague (Freud), and the progress of science seems to be bearing this out. Freud placed far too much emphasis on the sexual side of our natures, in which findings in psychology and other fields has proved time and again. However, just because some have misintepreted various aspects of the 'unconscious' doesn't of course mean that the theory of the 'unconscious', however you want to define it, is discredited.
Jung has contributed much to our understanding of ourselves and our inherited 'instincts', if you prefer, in the 20th century. His discourses are providing some input, for example, to the growing field of evolutionary pychology; that is, much of our behaviour is inherited from evolutionary processes. This is also the very same view, as I understand it, of Jung.
The theory of the unconscious is by no means dead, and this book explains in a clear and meaningful way many of Jungs and others findings in this fascinating field. Much that goes on in religion and myth and superstition, for example, is not well understood by science; much of this book seeks to explain it. In my opinion , for what it is worth, there is much to be learned here.
Jungs contributions will continue to provide input to various fields of human study for years to come. This book proivides a very good overview of many of his ideas, and was one in which he intended to write for the general public.
Recommended for those who wish to obtain a deeper understanding of their natures, and the nature of that of mankind in general.


1984
1984
von George Orwell
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 7,40

6 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Misleading, 27. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: 1984 (Taschenbuch)
I am going to go against the grain with this one. Whilst it may be true that the book serves as an educational warning against totalitarian thinking and so on, and while yes it is well written and widely regarded as a classic, I personally hated this book. George Orwell creates a world that transends all possiblity, compassion, love, hope, faithfulness and reason, to expose false thinking. Whilst we all know such a world is philosophically and scientifically impossible, that seems to be irrelevant, create such a world which bypasses all human decency to highlight the kinds of thinking which goes on in this real world of ours at certain times and places. But what is the point of creating a hideous and impossible world to expose so-called underlying truths of our existance, when we can't even exist without hope, without individuality, without love, and so on on. These very good attributes, along with our negative tendencies, are the very things which define us.
I'm sorry to say of all the books I have ever read on philosophy, science, and general fiction I fail to see the point in this book. Mr Orwell has gone way way too far in my opinion, and by doing so defeated the very purpose of writing the novel. His book Animal Farm, in comparison, was a work of genius, because it portrayed people (in this case animals as satire) as they often are. I also much prefer the Lord of the Flies in this kind of educational genre, again primarily because it is still in the realm of the real and the possible, and not some deliberately overdone zombie-like world where zombies are deliberately set up not to have feelings, and then the reader is asked to be in awe when it is found that they have some.
A waste of time.


The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
von Matt Ridley
  Taschenbuch

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The nature of 'good' and 'evil'-partly explained, 12. Mai 2000
For those who want to understand and explore what science is discovering regarding what makes people sometimes nice to each other, and sometimes not, this book is for you. You'll need a bit of courage, this book is pretty heavy going, but well worth the effort. I think parts of Ridleys analysis are close to genius, others a bit watery, especially towards the end. Nevertheless a good expose of (more or less) current thinking on game theory, motivation, evolutionary theory, and what we describe as 'virtue'. Remarkable insights.


Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
von Edward O. Wilson
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 12,30

4.0 von 5 Sternen Very good, but time will judge the books true value., 11. Mai 2000
The book discusses much of the usual very good sociobiology of Mr Wilson, intergrated with extensive philosophical excursions; the central theme being harmony, or consilience of knowledge, and the value this brings. It is not easy going, so one would have to be prepared for this kind of thing to get through it, and in that sense the book is primarily for those who are, intellectually speaking, the co-ordinators, the administrators, those who attempt to harmonise thought and people, rather than 'divide and conquer'. If you feel you are of this type, this book is for you.
Someone else has described this book as "Wilsons Impossible Dream", and I guess I probably agree. His fundamental thesis is the consilience of knowledge, that is, societys institutional and traditional structures are predisposed to encouraging divergance of thought, with little to encourage convergance, or consilience. I think it may be possible for a paradigm shift to alleviate some of the faults fruitful divergance brings, but it is not going to be easy to bring this about. He does have a strong point in arguing that for too long independent disciplines, especially between the humanities and natural sciences, have been just that, independent. He thinks one way to alleviate this is to use the growing understanding evolutionary theory is bringing to the humanities as a means of harmony-a good idea. What he basically confronts is the limitations of human nature itself-still that isn't cause for being tentative, it's just that it is going to be difficult to achieve. Maybe the times are right, societies may be in such positions in history to do such things. Consequently, historians may be rather interested in this book also.
Mr Wilsons reputation in the international academic community is very highly regarded. It may be that he is a true visionary, only time will tell.


Genome: The Autobiography of a Species In 23 Chapters
Genome: The Autobiography of a Species In 23 Chapters
von Matt Ridley
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Another piece in the puzzle of life, 9. Mai 2000
This is an excellent overview of current scientific discovery and argument regarding that inheritently common, but innately variable blueprint of 23 pairs of chromosones we all share.
Our knowledge of our genes is progressing at a rapid rate, so much so, that by the time I finish writing this sentence, our knowledge of the human genetic code has been updated. If you wish to know what kinds of things are being discovered, this book is a very good place to find it.
Matt Ridley devotes each chapter to one of our chromosones-23 in all, and describes some useful dicoveries and speculations regarding each. From such things as the ability to digest lactose, blood groups, cancer suppressors, 'instinct',intelligence, ethics, free will, allergies, aspects of language, ageing, sex, cloning, test tube babies, Mad Cow disease etc, he describes in a clever and clear way the discoveries being made in the field.
I would give the book 4 1/2 stars,(but there are no halves in these reviews), as no book is ever perfect, but a point to remember is no understanding of our world, or our genes themselves, is ever perfect either. But we can find pieces to the puzzle, useful and uplifting, and that is what this book is about.
Ridleys style is clear and clever, my only quibble is that he displays perhaps just a touch of arrogance, and a subtle air of bias. But give the author his due, an author is entitled to his opinions and leanings, what is important is that he generally makes it clear when he does so.
The book is highly recommended for both those familiar with the jargon, and those with enthusiastic minds who wish to learn about it.


Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
von Michael Denton
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 15,29

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Reasonable book.....not as bad a book as it looks, 15. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Taschenbuch)
For those who believe in orthodox evolutionary theory, this book is not as bad as might first appear. For those who reject evolutionary theory altogether, this isn't the manifesto you are looking for.
The book is wrongly titled, it should be called-"Some serious objections to current evolutionary thinking". Whether or not you agree with the overall conclusions of Mr Denton, there is nothing wrong with questioning established theories, dogma etc, especially if one feels they have evidence enough to write a book. The very notion of the books attempted balance between extremes gives the author, and the book, some credit.
The author is well read, writes eloquently, intelligently, and with obviously considerable background thought. The book has value in raising valid points concerning "orthodox" evolutionary theory, science, human nature, and the nature of objective thinking in general. It should be noted by those confused with the title that he doesn't reject evolutionary theory altogether, but he does reject much of what so-called "orthodox" evolutionary theorists believe.
For those who a know a little about evolutionary theory there are a few rather unorthodox ideas. Where Mr Denton stands on many issues is not as easy to follow as one might think. He is strong on the old idea of "forms" in biology, and in this way he is distinctly non-"postmodern". But curiously enough, he goes to great lengths to draw attention to the non-testability of aspects of evolutionary theory, and the dangers and assumptions that are associated with such non-testability, and in this regard he is indeed quite "postmodern". He divides original Darwinian theory into 2 theories- what he calls "macro" and "micro" evolution. His basic assertion is that while there is ample evidence to conclude that species transmutation occurs at what he calls the "micro" evolutionary level, (ie species emerge from previously existing species) his fundamental thesis is that there is little or no evidence for evolution at the "macro" level (in a nutshell-they can only change to a certain 'degree', and have a tendency to 'types' or 'forms'-something distinctly Platonic in approach). This approach is, in my view, useful in bringing attention to the inference and deduction that is required in understanding the very nature of the theory, and amply illustrates his overall failure to do just these things. In a nutshell, he is not a "big picture" thinker. At least that is how I interpret some of his rather unorthodox ideas, which despite initial appearances are not always easy to disentangle. For example, while he doesn't think there is much evidence for appropriate mechanisms to explain species transmutation at the present time (a rather unorthodox view), he does think it possible that in the future mechanisms will be discovered which cast a far better light on transmutation processes than is currently known (an orthodox and rather obvious view). He rejects strict creationism, believes species evolve, but doesn't understand all of how evolution occurs. (Join the club). In conclusion, he is not at all sure whether we have in fact evolved, at the very least not in the way current evolutionary theory thinks we have. Despite all this, the book is actually well written and researched.
Overall his conclusions, in my opinion, reveal an inability to extrapolate, deduce, and infer. In his overall skepticism he misinterprets the historical development of evolutionary theory, including Darwins personal views, he fails to see the contribution of other disciplines, but he does draw attention, in part unintentionally, to such things as speculation, inference, deduction, dogma, and the role and place of such things in both scientific theory and the human mind. For those scientists who mostly understand but dislike philosophy, best to skip this one, because although he doesn't discuss philosophy directly, that is what this book is about. For those who don't understand much about philosophy you won't learn much about it here.


Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth
Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth
von Hal Lindsey
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 9,69

1.0 von 5 Sternen OUTDATED, 1. April 2000
Read it if you wish to live in the Dark Ages, in about the 11th century. If you wish to live in the real world of the 21st century, and not be stimulated by irrational fear and paranioa, don't bother. That people could believe this kind of stuff in the 1st to 11th century is funny, yet understandable in some ways; in the 21st century-mind-boggling and tragic.


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