Review: Superforecasting, Philip E. Tetlock

Rating: 4 out of 5

I really enjoyed this one — it has both depth and focus, and the structure of the novel is a bit clearer than the oft-mentioned ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. That said, the main drawback for me was the author’s failure to illustrate the benefit of forecasting in a personal view. The examples that were given were all major events (wars, political upheaval, elections, etc) and not something of potentially more use to an individual — the various questions related to our everyday doings.

Now, it is certain that one can take the methodology utilised herein and make it work from a personal point of view, but I wish the author would have spelled that out more clearly. One of the examples, was, to be fair, of a person who had lost their incomes in the GFC and had been shocked into forecasting since then. However, this is a bit of a backward stance and it still did not seem as if this higher perception of public affairs was being used to impact the individual’s personal sphere.

And, I say this because while it is obviously useful to be aware of what is going on in the public sphere, the only way to actually make a meaningful impact in our lives is to utilise this information. Sure, I could forecast rather accurately who the next President/Prime Minister or anything else is going to be — but how does that get me to figure out what I need to do to ensure that my future continues in its possible best way?

So, that is the question I wish the author would have asked. Even without it, this is a monumental work which helps shape perception, but with it we would have been talking of a top class novel. I would read it alongside Kahneman and others even so, for it does help us — but I think a sequel deserves to be written which helps us even more.

Review: Odysseus Ascendant, Evan Currie

Rating: 4 out of 5

Evan Currie is really giving empires a bad name — I wonder what they ever did to him? Too much of the social aspect on these novels now seems to be a bit too “perfect” if this makes sense. If the social conduct of this foreign power was a bit different, if the hierarchies worked a bit different, if there was a clear underlying motive to what they are doing…

I did enjoy it — but that’s more due to the amount of innovation and enterprising solutions which get presented, though I was not a fan of that last and final one. What was impressive was how good a tactician some of the people in it were, and therefore how thoroughly thought out some of the action starting with Books 3 and 4 has actually been. This was an aspect which increased my estimation of the author.

Lastly, every book that passes makes it look as if there could be twenty more — although Mr Currie also indicated in which direction this series is going and who is the “real” antagonist, which is a fact that is probably quite obvious to the reader but not to the people in the actual novel. We’ll see how true this course is — or, at least, I will, because despite some of the negatives above I will read the next one as well.

Review: Odysseus Awakening, Evan Currie

Rating: 4 out of 5

The series’ sixth installment continues much as before although with a slight change to the previous narrative structure (only one conflict here though it lasts for the duration of the book). The (often dark) humour of the previous episodes continues here much as it did elsewhere, but I am in general less happy with this one — mostly because these novels really play out as a more complex level after the previous one, and so on in an endless series. If you took this to the logical conclusion, this might never end.  Continue reading “Review: Odysseus Awakening, Evan Currie”

Review: Liivimaa riimkroonika

Hinnang: 4 / 5

Ajaloolisi allikaid on raske, isegi ehk võimatu, hinnata tänapäevaste standardite järgi, kui just selleks ei võta teose võimalikku kasulikkust praegusele ajahetkele. Liivimaa riimkroonikal, või siis õigemini Liivimaa vanemal riimkroonikal, seda eriti ei ole. Siin teoses ei tooda välja suuri moraale ega lahendata eksistentsialistlikke probleeme.

Selle asemel on tegu kirjeldusega Riia linna, Mõõgavendade ordu ja Liivi ordu tegemistest 13.ndal sajandil, peamise rõhuga Lätis. Enamus mainitud kohtasid on praeguseks kadunud või varemetes kui me nende asukohta üldse aimame, ning läbikäivate inimeste nimed ei ole vast tänapäevaste inimeste kõrvu kordagi jõudnud. Sellegipoolest on tegu julgete karakteridega, kes astusid vastu (põhieesmärgiga siiski omakasu saamiseks) kohalike rahvastele ning kõige huvitavamaks aspektiks ongi äkki kirjeldusest läbikäiv kohalike rahvaste südisus vastupanus.

Veel üks asi, mida tasub mainida, on autori järjepidevus suhteliselt standartse riimikasutuses — tema keeles ei olnud väga palju või häid võimalusi, kuid ta on järginud ja pusinud läbi umbes kaheteisttuhande riimirea, mis on päris hea saavutus (eriti arvestades, et see projekt võttis vist aega umbes kuus aastat ning takistus edukale lõpule oli ilmselt kirjutada surm).

Review: Warrior King, Evan Currie

Rating: 4 out of 5

I recently noticed that Books 6 and 7 of this series were out, so I wanted to refamiliarise myself with the previous volume and then jump to those two. Reading it again, I think I am drawing the same conclusions as I did the last time round: This is not the best book ever written, nor is it even a close second — what it is, however, is thoroughly enjoyable entertainment. Continue reading “Review: Warrior King, Evan Currie”

Review: The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben

Rating: 2 out of 5

This is a hard one to review. I enjoyed the subject, but not the author’s take on it. Taking a look at trees as actively living creatures is a mystifying concept to the vast majority, and it was my feeling that this book should change that — but the author’s attitude makes me expect that Winnie the Pooh will jump into the next scene. Continue reading “Review: The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben”

Review: Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record, Carl Sagan

Rating: 3 out of 5

This was a weird one: a book dedicated to explaining why we sent a certain selection of our combined arts into space instead of other options. While I wholeheartedly stand beside the reason for which the people described within went through these actions, I found that aside some anecdotal stories (such as that of the Georgian evaluating traditional music as well as the numerous accounts of Beethoven) the book itself did not compel me to learn more. Continue reading “Review: Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record, Carl Sagan”

Review: Sex at Dawn, Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha

Rating: 5 out of 5

Sex. What a loaded concept in this modern world… And, no matter where one looks, one is made to think it has ever been so divisive. Or, at least, that is what would be termed the “standard narrative”. I use this here not in the sense of the authors (who do like that terminology), but rather as the generic cultural framework in which we exist — and in which our existence, in many a way, has been made very difficult (though primarily for half of the population only). Continue reading “Review: Sex at Dawn, Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha”

Review: This Sceptred Isle: The Dynasties, Christopher Lee

Rating: 5 out of 5

It was very easy for me to pick up another volume of ‘This Sceptred Isle’ as I absolutely adored the general historical collections I went through earlier this year. The one doubt I had was to do with this one’s name: “Dynasties”. I thought that though the Plantagenets and Windsors have their charms, it might not be that interesting. Firstly, I was mistaken — this deals with the common(er) dynasties (and the people who have actually been influential), and secondly, it was very interesting indeed to go through the stories of so many families. Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle: The Dynasties, Christopher Lee”

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