A rush job to meet the channel’s 20th anniversary in May. (Charts, illustrations)

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THE WEATHER CHANNEL

THE IMPROBABLE RISE OF A MEDIA PHENOMENON

Co-founder Batten provides a sloppy history of the Weather Channel's first 20 years on the air.

Its origins go back five years earlier. In 1977, Batten was CEO of a newspaper-radio-cable TV conglomerate based in Norfolk, Virginia, looking for a new venture. John Coleman, weatherman for ABC's Good Morning America, believed that a 24-hour weather channel could make money. The two men formed a partnership in 1979, selected weather-stable Atlanta as headquarters, and purchased premium satellite space. Three operational problems confronted them at the start. The first, gathering weather data from around the country, was solved by the government’s National Weather Service, which traded its information for good publicity. The second, sorting the data and creating local forecasts, was handled by two Digital Equipment computers and four programmers. Addressing problem number three, distributing the results and making sure that Chicago did not get Charlotte's or Cheyenne's forecast, relied on a new and developing system, WeatherSTAR. Batten and Cruikshank remain trapped in techno-speak while discussing the methodology of WeatherSTAR and other complex systems; they fail to provide useful metaphors or clarifying explanations—although banging a satellite dish with a hammer does solve some troubles. (Two other serious problems, a guaranteed sublease of the satellite to a movie provider for two hours every night and a 1985 threat to form a union by weathercasters enraged about favoritism and pay inequities, also disappear without satisfactory explanations.) TWC was losing $10 million annually and nearly went under in 1983. Batten and Coleman feuded in an embarrassing court case, but the publicity convinced cable providers that popular but struggling channels needed cash infusions. Subscriber fees were initiated, revolutionizing the industry and saving TWC, which went on to expand into Canada, South America, Europe, and the Internet. Revenues in 2000 were $302 million, but Batten is coy about profits.

A rush job to meet the channel’s 20th anniversary in May. (Charts, illustrations)

Pub Date: May 2, 2002

ISBN: 1-57851-559-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2002

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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