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Anthony Barker (Toronto)

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Post-Capitalist Society
Post-Capitalist Society
by Peter F. Drucker
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.78
53 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with insight-Unfortunately not packed with references, July 6 2004
Drucker is masterful in his integration of business, history and social sciences. This book covers technology, the rise of management and social trends. A great read - my only hesitation is where is the bibliography?
The thesis of the book is that Marx was wrong. The major owner of capital and thus companies are now pension and mutual funds. Thus workers - primarily knowledge workers now are the main owners of companies. There are a couple of flaws in his argument though.
The biggest winners in the current US stock market system aren't the pension funds - its managers and people who start companies or take them public. There is the rise of hidden perks to senior managment - stock options that are essentially free for the managers.
Drucker argues that this is all small peanuts compared with Morgan or Rockefeller.
Other points he makes:
1) Agriculture declined to 2-3% of the workforce. Manufacturing will see a similar declining to 10-15% of the workforce
2) Knowlege workers are more like members of an orchestra. The conductor could never replace the viola players.
3) He forecasts the decline in the Nation state. Governments are driven by pork barrel politics.

Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip
Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip
by Jim Rogers
Edition: Hardcover
43 used & new from CDN$ 2.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but utimately disappointing, July 6 2003
There is a lot to like about this book - it tries to be a snapshot of the world the turn of the century which is part adventure, part culture and part financial/economic analysis. Rogers has flashes of insight - but mostly fails in his goal.
In Investment Biker we could feel the adventure. Whether it was the harsh winds of the Sahara, hours behind a shaking motorbike or fighting off crooks in the Congo. In this book he is older, more out of shape - somehow he doesn't look like an adventurer anymore. He cruises through third world countries with his air conditioning on high. Instead of driving a Toyota pickup - he drives a bright yellow Mercedes. In effect saying to most of the world - we have money and you don't. Is there any wonder that much of the world despises the US with ambassadors like Rogers to rub poverty in their faces?
Also killing the sense of adventure are the endless boring details of visa acquisition. Where are the pictures or description of the second car? We never hear about their travel companions.
He vilifies politicians, NGOs and taxes - but doesn't seem to realize that his form of speculative investment - creating nothing, simply waiting for and buying depressed asset values and then selling them before after they have adjusted could equally be described as useless by many people. Not that I am against speculation - it plays a valid market role.
Rogers does have keen financial insight. Unfortunately there is not enough in this book. This would have been better written as set of financial essays than a drawn out boring adventure.
Some points he makes
>China is the powerhouse of the future. (Check out Goldman Sach's analysis #99 BRIC economies [online])
> Buy assets at the end of a long war (Peru)
> Most of the industrial world is aging and not having kids (particularly Europe)
> Chinese and Koreans are having a surplus of boys
> Turkey and Iran have potential - High quality bright people
> Myanmar is opening - and there are opportunities to be had
> Invest in Commodities during times of inflation
> Exploiting commodities in Africa is profitable
> Exploiting commodities in Peru, Bolivia and Chile is profitable
> Countries with good highways have potential: Chile, China, etc
> Countries with bad highways and/or custom agents are poor investment opportunities: India, Korea
> Russia and its ex-republics are are run by Mafia don's who got a great deal on government privitization.
> All empires decline - currently the US is in decline
> The EURO may replace the dollar as the foreign-currency reserve of choice
> Europe has its own set of integration problems
> The US should stop overextending itself overseas (korea etc)
Conclusion: Skim and toss. You might get enough information from the website. A lot of the financial advice in the book will be quickly dated.
A better investment would be a subscription to the Economist magazine. For an amusing analysis of the world economy check out P. J. O'Rourke.

Commanding Heights
Commanding Heights
DVD ~ David Ogden Stiers
Offered by 5A/30 Entertainment
Price: CDN$ 159.03
11 used & new from CDN$ 64.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to World economics, June 30 2003
This review is from: Commanding Heights (DVD)
This is a very well put together documentary: excellent interviews, great archive footage, and good flow. I was constantly amazed how they got so many interviews with the movers and shakers of the world economy. 4.5* stars.
I did find it lacking in several points:
1) No mention of productivity and its importance
2) Very little mention of competition policy (anti-monopoly). Competition is what drives productivity and quality improvements.
3) Little mention of the level of corruption in many third world countries. IMF loans go to dictator's Swiss bank accounts.
4) Oversimplification - the series seems to say - "free markets create growth". It blames Japan's recession on its market being too closed. How then did it become the world's second largest economy?

The Biotech Investor: How to Profit from the Coming Boom in Biotechnology
The Biotech Investor: How to Profit from the Coming Boom in Biotechnology
by Tom Abate
Edition: Hardcover
12 used & new from CDN$ 26.18

5.0 out of 5 stars A strong dose of reality to the often hype driven sector, April 24 2003
Tom Abate has been covered the Biotech industry for the San Francisco Chronicle for years. It shows. He brings a strong dose of reality to this hype driven sector.
Who this book is for:
-Independent investors willing to spend a lot of time doing research
-People looking for a current industry overview
-Job seekers
The Good:
-Extremely well written
-Up to Date (as of spring 2003)
-Knowledgeable - several small tidbits of data pay for the book by themselves
The Bad:
-Will quickly go out of date. For example the Appendix contains a list of firm websites and market caps; Market Caps change - companies disappear.
-Not enough FDA information. This should have been a separate chapter covering the FDA approval process in detail as well as other countries' processes.
-Too much basic investment advice: firm valuation/free cash flow/ portfolio theory / investor risk profile. Other books do a better, more thorough job of this.
-No bibliography
I gave it 5 stars because if you are going to invest in biotech the book will more than pay for itself.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization
The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization
by Thomas L. Friedman
Edition: Paperback
80 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Well written - but Friedman is no economist, April 5 2003
Lexus and the olive tree is extremely well written overview of the causes and impact of globalization. It is also very flawed. Friedman is an excellent journalist - not an economist or technologist. His arguments show large holes.
For example in the first chapter he compares 1900 dollars to 1990 dollars with no inflation charges. His errors continue from there. This book reads like someone who never got beyond Economics 101 and has no grounding in basic Finance. After a few chapters I lost steam reading the book and skimmed the rest of it. If you are aware of current economic trends the book won't tell you much new.
His anecdotal stories are excellent as are his insights into the fear of globalization. He argues that people see the problems of globalization, but the benefits are hidden. Perhaps this works in the US - in other small open economies such as Taiwan or Canada people are much more aware of the benefits. JK Galbraith when asked what he thinks of globalization replied - "It is a long term trend". Underlying Friedman's argument is that globalization is new and can be stopped. It isn't and it can't.
He says has that technology has displaced more workers than globalization. But gives no proof. Near the end of the book he says - "I believe the Almighty may destroy the Internet much like he did with the Tower of Babylon". According to Schumpeter's "Creative Destruction", the job loss associated with technological change is central to the capitalist system's ability to maximize output and total wealth creation over time. Productivity increases peoples standard of living and technology is one of the main drivers of these gains.
Perhaps Friedman should focus on writing about Middle East politics and leave the economic analysis to others.

More Secrets of Consulting: The Consultant's Tool Kit
More Secrets of Consulting: The Consultant's Tool Kit
by Gerald M. Weinberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 44.05
9 used & new from CDN$ 37.55

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent advice, but advertising is annoying, Dec 9 2002
Weinberg is the master of condensing useful tidbits and advice culled from other sources into readable books. So when I saw this new consulting book I immediately wanted to read it. Unfortunately he has stepped beyond the technical or managerial material that he wrote previously. The book is full of EQ (Emotional IQ) info that is better told by others, confusing acronyms, and ceaseless self promotion.
The book is a hodge-podge of self-management (EQ) and other consulting principles such as time management and contract negotiations. If you are a well-balanced individual and know yourself you may not find much new here. If you aren't - the material only scratches the surface - you'll be better off reading somethink like Dr. Phil's book, "Self Matter" and "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" combined with some NLP books.
Weinberg has given up on his "Wisdom of the Sufi's" approach to imparting advice. The previous book was full of ridiculous stories that somehow rang true. By taking himself more seriously the acronyms that he invents for the description of consulting principles eg "the yes/no medallion" come across as confusing, annoying, and pompous.
I really enjoyed weinberg's previous consulting book and was looking forward to this one. And while there is good stuff in this book - I found the blatant self-promotion a bit over the top. In every chapter he references previous books or seminars - giving away only enough information to peak the reader interest in an additional purchase. Why pay for what is essentially a thinly veiled ad?
Miscellaneous tidbits that I found useful:
Money - "the Wisdom box":
I would like to learn something new - but what I know pays too well.
When you stop learning new stuff it is time to move on because consultants only value is knowledge.
Don't disregard money - do what you love but keep a weary eye on value add
Contracts - "The Wishing Wand"
eg: don't kid yourself into thinking that contracting agencies are working on your behalf. Typically they negotiate the customer up and the contract consultant prices down.
Keeping contracts shorter can be useful
Burn-out - "Oxygen Mask"
Comes often mid-career through competence in your field (accepting too much work) and the allowing others to make choices for you - "shoulds" - see dr phil
Solution - saying no to work and leading a balanced life - see 7 principles
Conclusion - Worth checking out - but not a must have.

Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices
Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices
by Paul R. Lawrence
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 31.66
28 used & new from CDN$ 21.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Applies sociobiology to business, Nov. 14 2002
Excellent book that synthesizes recent research in sociobiology (a term coined by E.O. Wilson in On Human Nature)psychology, evolutionary biology and anthropology and applies the results to organization behavior and business management.
Even if you disagree with the basic findings of Lawrence and Nohria the book contains a wealth of information explained pragmatically via case studies (Russia, HP etc). You can immediately apply as a framework to understand your daily life.
If you enjoy it I recommend checking out "On Human Nature, and Jared Diamond's books "The Third Chimpanzee" and "Guns, Germs and Steel".

The IT Consultant : A Commonsense Framework for Managing the Client Relationship
The IT Consultant : A Commonsense Framework for Managing the Client Relationship
by Rick Freedman
Edition: Paperback
9 used & new from CDN$ 1.60

3.0 out of 5 stars Over-rated, Oct. 23 2002
This is a good book - but by no means a classic. It is perfect for its target market - geeks who don't know about business and business value and just want to read a summary of information available from more authoritive sources.
Better books include "Managing the Professional Service Firm" or "Secrets of Consulting" by Weinberg.

Python Cookbook
Python Cookbook
by Alex Martelli
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 42.82
15 used & new from CDN$ 16.34

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More of an encylopedia than a cookbook, Aug. 15 2002
This review is from: Python Cookbook (Paperback)
This book is more like an encyclopedia than a cookbook - each section is introduced and written in a different style and different sections are stronger and more cohesive than others. Some sections are bursting at the hinges and others feel like they are incomplete (like the algorithms section).
The introductions to each chapter alone are worth the price of the book. Each introduction is written by a different Pythonic luminari, such as Fredrik Lundh, Tim Peters, Alex Martelli, Guido van Rossum and many others. These literary pieces are insightful, humorous and excellent.
I love python, it follows Albert Einstein's principle « Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler ». As such, this book plays a valuable addition to my library. However, if you are just starting out I would recommend getting a different book first.

The Adages of Erasmus
The Adages of Erasmus
by William Barker
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 45.95
10 used & new from CDN$ 45.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily readable and extremely relivant, July 7 2002
This review is from: The Adages of Erasmus (Paperback)
Erasmus was fascinated by proverbs and this book highlights over 80 proverb essays of the more than 4,000 that Erasmus collected and commented on. Typically each is accompanied with his comments, which are sometimes in a few lines and sometimes in full-scale essays. They display his wit and elegance, along with bursts of satire alternating with serious views. The proverbs when published was kind of a « top seller » of Europe at the time.
This selection by Dr. William Barker emphasizes Erasmus' skill in explaining the proverbs, shows how he made his book, and demonstrates the way in which many of the proverbs moved into the English language. The text is illustrated with images by Brueghel and Holbein and examples of proverb use from emblem books.
Of the 80 proverb essays, some are masterpieces of social criticism (War is sweet to those who have never tried it), others provide scholarly explanations of philosophical ideas or gestures and customs (Thumbs up). Many of the proverbs have passed into modern usage (Know thyself, To give someone the "finger", Well begun is half done), some even retaining their Latin form (Deus ex machina). And a few, it turns out, were created by Erasmus himself through his occasional misinterpretation of the ancient languages (Pandora's box, To call a spade a spade).
Above all the book is extremely readable and Professor Barkers comments are thoroughly enjoyable. It is the kind of book you can dip into now and then for some quick insights or amusement.

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