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review 2018-06-22 20:53
Review of The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes
The World As It Is - Ben Rhodes

I really enjoyed this memoir by Ben Rhodes who was a speechwriter a national security advisor to President Obama for eight years. This book is basically a history of the foreign policy and international relations of the Obama administration. There is very little time spent looking at domestic issues outside of how international issues impact the administration politically.

Rhodes writes very well (he has an MFA so that makes sense) and does a great job of mixing his personal story with the story of Obama. I find it annoying that in many memoirs, there is far too much name-dropping but I did not see that in this book.

My political lean left so I was very sympathetic to the struggles and frustrations discussed in the book. With that said, I didn't find that Rhodes went out of his way to attack the other side, and I think that anyone who enjoys politics and recent history could find enjoyment in this book and not think it was overly negative.

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review 2018-06-22 10:21
WE: ROBOT by David Hambling
WE: ROBOT: The robots that already rule our world - David Hambling

TITLE: WE: ROBOT: The Robots That Already Rule Our World

 

AUTHOR:  David Hambling

 

PUBLICATION DATE: 2018

 

FORMAT: ebook/ PDF

 

ISBN-13: 978 1 78131 805 8

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NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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From the blurb:

Robots exist all around us. They populate our factories, assist our surgeons and have become an integral part of our armed forces. But they are not just working behind the scenes – impressive inventions such as free-roaming hoovers takecare of your household chores and the iPal is set to become your closest friend.

David Hambling reveals the groundbreaking machines – once the realm of science fiction – that are by our sides today, and those that are set to change the future forever. From the Reem robocop that polices the streets of Dubai to the drones that deliver our parcels and even the uncanny Gemonoid Hi-4 built to look just like you, here are fifty unique robots that reach into every aspect of our daily lives.

We:Robot examines why robots have become embedded in our culture, how they work and what they tell us about our society and its future.

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In We:Robot, David Hambling discusses the myriad of ways that robots and humans already work together and what the future may hold for robot-human interactions.  He provides a variety of specific robotic examples under four categories:  robots at work, robots at war, robots in your life and robots beyond.  Each robot example includes a page sized diagram (and sometimes a photograph), its dimensions, construction material, power source, processor, year of first use and then a summary of the robot's history and uses.  

Examples of specific robots include:
(1) industrial robots such as those that help put cars together, those that are designed to pick strawberries, skyscraper window washers (aptly named the Gekko Facade Robot), pilotbots, the alpha burger-bot, and the robot that herds and milks cows!!;
(2) household, lifestyle and medical robots such as the Roomba "vacuum cleaner", the Automower 450X, the Da Vinci Surgical System, the kiddies entertainment unit (IPAL - not sure letting a robot raise your child is a good idea, but it's there!), bionic hands;
(3) war robots such as drones, the packhorse replacement packbot, exoskeletons; and
(4) robots in the future such as the robonaut, underwater dolphin robot, a remote controlled lifeguard robot, Curiosity Mars rover, the soft, squishy octobot, swarming kilobots, and the Dubai police robots.

I found this book to be particularly fascinating - I had no idea there were that many robots running around!  The writing style is clear and conversational, with no technobabble.  The illustrations are beautifully (and colourfully) rendered and accompanied by colour photographs of a selection of the stranger robots.

This is an interesting book that takes a look at some specific robots, how they work, how they fit into our lives and what the future holds for us and them.  I suspect even technophobes will find this book interesting.

 

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review 2018-06-22 04:19
2.7 Out Of 5 STARS for me on this one...
Wake of Vultures - Lila Bowen

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~BOOK BLURB~

Wake Of Vultures

Lila Bowen

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Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She's a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don't call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood and he turns to black sand.

 

And just like that, Nettie can see.

 

But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn't understand what's under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding—at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead her to find her true kin . . . if the monsters along the way don't kill her first. 

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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This felt like it was trying too hard to be about as many relevant topics as it could, and for me personally, I think it just came off as overtly chaotic.  It started out good, I was feeling the alternate old west world she had created…then it just became crude and uncomfortable.  Then there were the supernatural elements, seriously it had everything from Vampires to Chupacabra's, with several more in between, too many really…but  hey, there are plenty of readers out there who liked this.  With that being said…its overall message about not being afraid to be yourself is the best thing about this book, and it's the reason I rated as high as I did.

 

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~MY RATING~

2.7STARS - GRADE=C-

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 3/5

Main Characters~ 2.5/5

Secondary Characters~ 2/5

The Feels~ 2/5

Pacing~ 3/5

Addictiveness~ 2/5

Theme or Tone~ 3/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 3.5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4/5

Originality~ 4/5

Ending~ 3/5  Cliffhanger~ "to be continued"

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Book Cover~ Very cool

Narration~ 3 by Robin Miles…I don't think she was bad, she just didn't work for me.

Series~ The Shadow #1

Setting~ Old West

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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text 2018-06-18 22:02
Reading progress update: I've read 28 out of 416 pages.
Done: The Secret Deals That Are Changing Our World - Jacques Peretti

The psychological contagion cash carries is fear of poverty, and this is the true success of the digital revolution-to make us believe cash is synonymous with social inferiority, and using it, even coming into contact with it, could mean contracting the contagion of failure.

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review 2018-06-17 00:27
One command's struggles against the U-boats
Bayly’s War: The Battle for the Western Approaches in the First World War - Steve R. Dunn

Over the past few years Steve Dunn has carved out a niche for himself writing books about various aspects of the First World War at sea that have often be overshadowed by its more dramatic personage and battles. His latest book is an account of the Western Approaches (the waters off of the south of Ireland) centered around the effective, no-nonsense figure of Admiral Lewis Bayly. When he assumed position of Senior Officer of the Coast of Ireland station in 1915, he took over a command that was struggling in the war against the U-boats. Like the rest of the Royal Navy it officers and men were working out how to respond to the deployment of this new weapon of war, a task made more difficult by the shortage of appropriate ships and the competing demands made on the available resources by the demands of war. As a result, sailors went to sea aboard inadequate vessels and pursued ineffective tactics such as trawling the Irish Sea in the (usually vain) hope that they might entangle German submersibles or force them to exhaust their batteries.

 

Upon taking command in Queenstown Bayly brought a renewed determination to the station. Focusing on the war, he set the tone for his men by curbing the social activities and customs that had endured from the prewar era. With the aid of new ships and more men he carried out his orders vigorously, protecting merchant shipping and hunted down U-boats by any means possible. In this his command received a boost in the summer of 1917 with the arrival of the first warships of the United States Navy. This proved Bayly’s finest hour as commander of the station, as he established harmonious relations with American officers as they worked to protect the vessels transporting the doughboys to the front. The esteem in which they held him was reflected after the war with their efforts to support and honor Bayly in his retirement.

 

Dunn’s book provides readers with a succinct and effective description of the war off of the Irish coast. Though he concentrates on Bayly, he does not do so to the detriment of his coverage of the many men who fought and sacrificed in their battles with the U-boats. While this comes at the cost of a degree of repetitiveness in his accounts of U-boat attacks and the efforts to sink them, it is a minor issue with what is otherwise a worthy study of a part of the war covered only in passing in larger accounts of the naval history of the First World War.

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