Category Archives: Business

The Future by Gore

In the future, according to the former vice president, national governments will hold less sway than multinational corporations, there will be no privacy and all the world’s information will be freely available, we will struggle with basic strategic resources like topsoil and fresh water all the while we will try to change the genetic make-up of humanity (with possibly costly genetic failures) and continue to ruin our planet’s ecology and climate by the reckless use of greenhouse gasses. Yeah, the future looks a lot like Blade Runner.

The Future
By Al Gore
Random House
January 2013

The problem with Gore’s book? It’s right on. The changes that science fiction writers have seen and envisioned coming are coming and are even here. (Consider The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi for a recent, excellent novel with similar themes.)

Unlike Science Fiction, the Vice President breaks down the coming changes in deep, but easier to understand sections:

1) Earth, Inc. – the globalization of economic factors, the movement of labor from developed to developing countries and “robosourcing” (the movement of labor from humans to robots.
2) The Global Mind –the rise of the internet to connect all of mankind in network similar to the way a mind works with billions of bits of information travelling instantaneously around the globe and (frighteningly) the complete lack of privacy users can expect.
3) The change in power – from U.S. centric to global, from governments to corporations.
4) Strategic Resource Loss – the depletion of strategic resources like topsoil and fresh water due to the increase in the world’s population.
5) Future Science – the technology that is rapidly changing the way we practice medicine, how we have the power to manipulate DNA and the path of our genetic future along with new techs that will impact our world and lives.
6) Climate Change – (of course) the impact of manmade global warming and climate changes due to reckless use of greenhouse gases.

This book is so dense that the audio book is 18 hours long and filled with words that would make your average young adult reader grimace in lack of comprehension. There are some great call-outs, though, that everyone should be able to understand. (And some movies that warn of a similar issue, for those who do read at a young adult level 🙂

“When I became Vice President in 1993, there were on average four different offices representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture located within every one of the 3000 counties in the United States yet the percentage of total jobs represented by farm jobs had declined to 2%. In other words, a determined and expensive national policy to promote agriculture for a century and a half did little or nothing to prevent the massive loss of employment opportunities on farms. Although these policies arguably contributed to the massive increase in agricultural productivity. But the larger point is that many systemic technology driven changes are simply too powerful for any set of policies to hold back.”

The Vice President rightly points out that the changes are coming and will be more and more difficult to stop or slow if action isn’t taken now. Unlike the above situation, which Republicans would likely love to read out of context, we are still early on in the genetic modification of humans and need to get ahead of the curve by making changes to our DNA illegal now, before they become commonplace. (Ala, the Island or Gattaca.)

A theme that comes up over and again is the Vice President’s call to change accounting practices to count the costs of natural resources utilization and ecological impact: “The emergence of rapid unsustainable growth in population, cities, resources consumption, depletion of top soil, fresh water supplies and living species, pollution flows, and economic output that is measured and guided by an absurd and guided by a distorted set of universally accepted methods that blind us to the destructive consequences of self deceiving choices we are routinely making.”

Some may jump at that “self deceiving choices” phrase and go for the cheap shot about the Vice President selling his cable TV channel to Al Jazeera, the fact is that the future envisioned in the book is coming and no amount of character assault should distract us from quick choices and changes. (Also seen in Mad Max and every other post-apocalyptic movie about the fall of society based on a scarcity of natural resources).

The scariest section in my opinion was the section on the Global Mind and the lack of privacy we should expect. I immediately drew a connection between this book’s concerns and Arther C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter’s prophetic novel, the Light of Other Days, where characters wore privacy suits to hide their gender and keep private their DNA.

This book reads like a cautionary tale of what our society is coming to and the massively important decisions we need to make. To make them, though, we need to get past the arguments over global warming and climate change and the partisan politics (Gore hasn’t been in any elected office for 13 years!) I can’t see any logical reason to oppose the conclusion that man has negatively impacted global climate change and we need to make adjustments. Even if you don’t believe in climate change can’t we at least agree that less smog is good for us?

I highly recommend this book. And if you enjoy audio books, I recommend the audio book version of this even more than the print version. The Vice President reads it himself, and while he can come across as the long winded professor who’s lecture we all doodled through in High School, when he get’s passionate about the subject you can hear it and frankly that helps with some who may doubt the veracity of Mr. Gore. This should build empathy; a great starting point for discussion and positive change.

A note to my Christian friends: why are you against climate change? Is it only because you are Republican and this is a Democrat issue? Have we looked at the research or just the Facebook timeline pictures with the snarky bumper sticker phrases? Taking care of the environment IS a Christian virtue and responsibility.

Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Super Mario by Jeff Ryan

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, what company’s name was synonymous with video gaming so much so that many people didn’t realize that it was a company but rather the occupation itself? If you said, “Nintendo” then this book is for you.

Super Mario
How Nintendo Conquered America
By Jeff Ryan
Penguin / Portfolio Hardcover
August 2011

Starting during the explosion of the arcade, this book chronicles the growth of Nintendo as an entertainment company through its renewed dominance in the market with the Wii and DS systems. More than a history lesson, though, Ryan takes the readers through and behind the scenes of what happened giving life to the facts and enlightening those barely remembered moments of the past.

Every chapter is a detailed and delightful mental stroll down memory lane. From the origin of Mario to his use in dozens of games through the years, Ryan’s attention to detail rewards readers and fans of Nintendo and gaming. Some details I, as an avid gamer growing up during this time in America, had never heard. For instance, I had no idea that Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto created not only Donkey Kong and Mario, but was the driving force on games like Zelda, Pokemon, and Nintendogs. In fact, it seems like every game that Nintendo has made over the last 20+ years that has been a favorite of fans has been helmed by this video game genius.

Not everything in the book worked though. In fact, some of it “flopped like a koi.” Ryan used that quote to describe the Virtual Boy. And if you think that was oddly misplaced in the narrative then you and I agree that parts of this book are written in what I can only describe as a forced cool. From quotes about video games either selling a million copies “and a bag of chips, or [they] were whack” to others that refer to pop culture in ill-fitting ways, Ryan’s choice of words distracted instead of added to the narrative. Not always, but enough.

This book is a treasure for gamers and fans of Nintendo and is highly recommended in spite of the author’s interesting and sometimes distracting writing style.

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on Christianity, Zombies, and anything else he wants to.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Why I Failed In The Music Business by Steve Grossman

This book would seem to have a very limited niche market. After all, how many people are in the music business? Actually, if you include those who want to be in the music business I suspect there would be several million. But even that is too limiting. The title of this book may sound like an extremely boutique offering but in reality its usefulness extends well beyond those interested in winning Grammys.

Why I Failed In The Music Business:
And How not to Follow in my Footsteps
By Steve Grossman
WordCrafts Press
June 2011

First off the book is fast paced and engaging. This is generally quite important these days but it is particularly important when dealing with artistic types who think that books dealing with “business” are a waste of time and creative energy. Grossman blows that idea away pretty quickly and before you know it you are hooked. This is a good thing because the ideas presented here really do have useful practical application. Grossman comes from the unique background of having been a professional musician for twenty years before discovering that he really enjoyed business as well.

I would suggest this book highly for anyone in the performing arts, not just music. This book will both enlighten and challenge such readers. Grossman not only gives valuable insight into what is really needed for success in the arts but in the same process he causes the reader to consider what is really needed for success in life regardless of your chosen profession.

This brings me to my main complaint. I understand why Grossman titled the book as he did, and it is an arresting title. However, the insight provided by this book applies to virtually every field of endeavor. It’s unlikely that anyone is reading this who isn’t interested in going into the music business, but if perhaps you are are considering buying this for a friend you might want to get two and keep one for

Ronnie Meek is is a guy who likes to share good reads with other people and warn them about boring or bad stuff. His personal blog is It’s In There Somewhere where he is currently blogging through the New Testament.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

I’m Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards

In 2000 only a handful of people saw the value of pure search clearly, and many of them already worked at Google. Quietly, steadily, and without even a hint to their colleagues down the hall, the engineers were building a plan to share their vision of a perfect hammer with a much wider audience.

Because they knew the world was full of nails. (p.140)

Iʼm Feeling Lucky
(The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59)
by Douglas Edwards
July 2011

In 1999 Douglas Edwards was a successful middle aged marketing and product development manager for the San Jose Mercury News. He was married with three children and a mortgage. This seemed to be the perfect time to leave the security of a well paid semi-prestigious position and go job hunting in the wildly uncertain jungle of dot com start ups. Most people in his position who followed that rainbow ended up with a ticket on the Titanic. Doug ended up on Apollo 11.

There are some moments when is seems that Doug just wrote this book to rant about some gal named Marissa; however, even those moments often come off entertaining due to the engaging style of writing. Everyone has a Marissa in their life and while she tends to drive us crazy, in this case the author can at least give us some appreciation for her strengths. It seems that everyone at Google has strengths. When a
company starts out with smart people and has a policy of not hiring anyone who isnʼt at least as smart as you are… well, things can escalate pretty quickly.

In addition to being quite entertaining Iʼm Feeling Lucky offers clear insights to what makes Google click. Itʼs called being Googley and it is a dynamic mixture of brilliance, very hard work, very hard play, vision, and a creed that basically consist of “Donʼt Be Evil.” It also consists of an aversion to the standard rules by which Corporate America tends to operate. Sergey Brin, one of the two company founders, once seriously suggested that they take al of their marketing budget and use it to inoculate Chechen refugees against cholera. Why not increase your customer base by saving lives? (Thatʼs a new one for corporate America.)

From the free candy and good home cooked meals, to the company wide ski trips, to a corporate mindset for frugality that innovated placing fifteen hundred servers in a rented space where most companies only placed fifty this book is a revealing insiderʼs view of one of the most fascinating corporations on the planet. Through out the book trends in corporate DNA emerge that makes it pretty clear that Googleʼs secret search algorithms are only one ingredient in the “secret sauce” of their astonishing success.

Doug Edwards writing style is lucid and generally does an excellent job of making sense out of what appeared on the surface to be a fairly incoherent slice of history. Who should read this book? Anyone who is interested in computers and the internet. Anyone who is interested in corporate structure or entrepreneurship. Anyone who is interested in marketing, or the lack thereof. And finally, anyone who is having trouble with any gal named Marissa.

Ronnie Meek is is a guy who likes to share good reads with other people and warn them about boring or bad stuff. His personal blog is It’s In There Somewhere where he is currently blogging through the New Testament.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Male Factor by Shaunti Feldhahn

Like Shaunti Feldhahn’s previous works, the Male Factor is commentary based on surveys. I was introduced to Feldhahn’s work through For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women, which I found to be very helpful in understanding my wife and her needs. And though I am a man interested in women, I also read For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men to see how accurate I found the survey information to be. I found that Feldhahn was spot on and the surveys incredibly insightful. Now with this book, we get the same insightful information but based on surveys focused on the work environment instead of the home.

As a man in the business world I found that the survey was right inline with how I see the workplace and / or how I know that my male peers do. I imagine that if a woman was to read this book and implement some of the suggestions that they would immediately find their male peers much easier to work with and her job much more enjoyable. (In the same way, I look forward to the upcoming partner book, which will focus on how males can function better at work with females.) Interestingly, this book also sheds light on some of the weaknesses in the way that men function, and while reading I found that I could benefit from changing my worldview as well.

Another solid book that I recommend to all business people, male or female.

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

99 Ways to Build Job Security by Gary Nowinski

Looking at the book, no doubt you wouldn’t think much of it. Plain cover, undersized and clearly for the budget conscious, this book does not look significant. But on the inside there are a multitude of significant nuggets of wisdom! Like most “value gifts” the “99 Ways…” series is far more about what’s on the inside than the outside.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher, WaterBrook Press, as a part of a blog tour for value gifts, along with Fool-Proofing Your Life, which I will review in the coming days. I admit that I was hoping to receive 99 Ways to Stretch Your Home Budget or 99 Ways to Entertain Your Family for Free. But when I started reading the bite sized wisdom I realized that this book was exactly what I needed.

In an economy like this, with job security on so many people’s minds I found an easy outlet for the 99 Ways… – at my job! I started quoting Ways to my direct reports that I believed would benefit them, like #6 Self-Confidence and #89 Self-Defeating Thoughts. They were a hit!

Value gift books can sometimes be overlooked because of their presentation but at least in the case of the 99 Ways… series I believe that you should give them a second look.

Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.