by Gary Schwendiman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 30, 2015
An evaluation of the potential energy technologies of the future that draws on a sports metaphor to choose a winner.
A debut book examines the most likely energy developments of the next decades.
In this science and policy volume, Schwendiman uses the Super Bowl as the organizing metaphor for a discussion of the competing visions of the future of energy in the United States. Technologies belong to either the Fuel Conference (gasoline, ethanol) or the Electricity Conference (nuclear, solar) and face off against each other as the author evaluates their potential as primary power sources in the 21st century and beyond. The book comes down firmly in favor of both nuclear power and ethanol production and does not hesitate to make sweeping pronouncements: “Nuclear energy is the solution to all electricity problems in the world.” The supporting arguments are largely persuasive, although many of the book’s citations point to news articles and industry publications as opposed to independent research. Schwendiman favors the small modular reactor, a compact form of the device that overcomes many of the objections to large-scale nuclear plants. He makes largely compelling arguments for the technology’s safety, although his tendency to attribute the problems of Chernobyl and Fukushima to shortcomings in Soviet and Japanese cultures is less convincing. The book also examines the futures of wind, hydroelectric power, solar energy, and natural gas and finds them far less viable in the long run. Schwendiman is clearly knowledgeable about both the scientific and financial aspects of the energy processes described in the volume, although he sometimes oversimplifies the data, as in a graph of oil prices showing a smooth curve increasing from 1985 to 2050 that ignores the price fluctuations to date. Although this work is not authoritative enough to put an end to debates over the future of energy or inspire universal enthusiasm for nuclear power and ethanol, it does an excellent job of organizing current knowledge of the technologies and their potential for meeting the world’s energy needs.An evaluation of the potential energy technologies of the future that draws on a sports metaphor to choose a winner.
Pub Date: Dec. 30, 2015
Page Count: 216
Review Posted Online: June 13, 2016
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Daniel Kahneman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2011
Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...
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
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011
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by Erin Meyer ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 27, 2014
These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.
A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.
“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.
Pub Date: May 27, 2014
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014
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