Business Books That Waste Your Time and Money

Last Updated Jan 25, 2011 8:05 PM EST My BNET colleague Margaret Heffernan opened a can of anacondas with her post about the difference between business and war. It revived memories of my years reviewing business books, during which I encountered numerous authors who claimed lessons learned in another sphere of life could be applied to business. Sports, coaching, parenting, the military -- the list is long indeed. One of the first -- and weirdest -- examples is "Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World" (Berrett-Koehler), by Margaret Wheatley. I confess that I gave this business-as-quantum-physics thesis serious treatment when it appeared in 1992. I wasn't the only one who bought the validity of transplanting successful techniques from one area of endeavor to the world of business. "Leadership and the New Science," for example, was reissued in a third edition as recently as 2006. But suspicion mounted. Eventually, entries such as 1995's "Finding a Way to Win: The Principles of Leadership, Teamwork and Motivation" (Doubleday), by Super Bowl-winning football coach Bill Parcells and Jeff Coplon, did the trick. By 2002 I was able to resist "It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy" (Grand Central ), by D. Michael Abrashoff. Nothing since has changed my opinion that bupkis permeates the genre. The value of exporting business insights from anywhere else -- physics, coaching, you name it -- is limited, at best. Business is business. Running a Navy ship is similar in some ways, but has so many differences that the two worlds barely brush each other, much less collide. If you're looking for books about running a small business (as opposed to a football team), here are my favorites: 1. Will It Fly?: How to Know if Your New Business Idea Has Wings ... Before You Take the Leap (FT Prentice Hall), by Thomas K. McKnight. Forty-four things to check before you do or don't pull the trigger. 2. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Continue Reading

CBS News Logo Hawking, CERN scientists win $3 million physics prize

The foundation of a Russian billionaire announced Tuesday (Dec. 11) that it would hand out two $3-million physics prizes -- one to legendary cosmologist Stephen Hawking and the other to group of CERN scientists who spearheaded this year's discovery of a Higgs-like particle at the world's largest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), in Geneva. The Fundamental Physics Prize, nearly three times as lucrative as the Nobel Prize, was founded last year by physicist-turned-entrepreneur Yuri Milner and stands as world's richest science award. Hawking is being honored for his work on black holes and his "deep contributions to quantum gravity and quantum aspects of the early universe," according to a statement. In particular, he was cited for theorizing what is now called "Hawking radiation," a faint glimmer of radiation emanating from black holes. The prolific physicist said he was "delighted and honoured" to receive the prize, in an email to the Guardian. "No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before," Hawking wrote. "Nevertheless prizes like these play an important role in giving public recognition for achievement in physics. They increase the stature of physics and interest in it." [Stephen Hawking Biography] Hawking added that he will use the money to help his daughter with her autistic son and "maybe buy a holiday home, not that I take many holidays because I enjoy my work in theoretical physics." The other award is set to go to LHC particle physicists, who announced they'd finally found what looks to be the Higgs boson after decades of searches have turned up nothing. Scientists first predicted the existence of the Higgs boson, nicknamed the "God particle" by some in the popular media, in the 1960s to explain why other particles have mass. That multimillion-dollar prize will be split between seven scientists involved in the discovery, including: Peter Jenni and Continue Reading

‘The Dialogues’ Takes On Physics And Reality In Words And Pictures

Culture Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email Enlarge this image An image from Clifford Johnson's The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe. Courtesy of Clifford Johnson hide caption toggle caption Courtesy of Clifford Johnson An image from Clifford Johnson's The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe. Courtesy of Clifford Johnson The origin of the universe, the nature of space, the reality of time: These are ancient questions. Libraries across the world are filled with heavy books that are, themselves, heavy with equations on these issues. But how many graphic novels are exploring these questions? More importantly, how many graphic novels written and drawn by expert theoretical physicists are there? Well, happily for us all, the answer to the latter question is "at least one," thanks to University of Southern California physicist Clifford Johnson. Johnson's new book The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe is a penetrating exploration of questions — that are both ancient and modern — about the nature of the universe. I found The Dialogues to be compelling, and the use of the graphic novel format only deepened that impression. After finishing the book I wanted to understand more about how this project took shape. Clifford Johnson was kind enough to answer my questions, included below, over a series of emails. Why did you decide to use this format? Once I decided that it was important to me to present ideas in the form of an accessible series of conversations, I realized a bit later that it would be really great to see who was having the conversations: ordinary people of all kinds. Then, I thought it would be valuable to see where the conversations were taking place — out there in the world, in cafes, on the street, etc. So visually, I get to drive home the idea that science is in the mouths of everyday people, and out there in the world, as opposed to Continue Reading

Book excerpt: Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry”

Time is relative, but some of us still don't have enough of it to fully take in the most salient aspects of such topics as dark matter, exoplanets, the Big Bang, and why so many objects in outer space are spherical. Fortunately, we have Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose latest book, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" (published Tuesday from WW Norton), offers a shortcut to scientific literacy, with entertaining, bite-sized chapters that explore cosmic questions. Read the excerpts below. Neil deGrasse Tyson, our joyful guide to the stars ("Sunday Morning," 04/30/17) From: "Dark Energy" So what is the stuff? Nobody knows. The closest anybody has come is to presume dark energy is a quantum effect -- where the vacuum of space, instead of being empty, actually seethes with particles and their antimatter counterparts. They pop in and out of existence in pairs, and don't last long enough to be measured. Their transient existence is captured in their moniker: virtual particles. The remarkable legacy of quantum mechanics -- the physics of the small -- demands that we give this idea serious attention. Each pair of virtual particles exerts a little bit of outward pressure as it ever so briefly elbows its way into space. Unfortunately, when you estimate the amount of repulsive "vacuum pressure" that arises from the abbreviated lives of virtual particles, the result is more than 10120 times bigger than the experimentally determined value of the cosmological constant. This is a stupidly large factor -- a consequence of what may be the most embarrassing calculation ever made, leading to the biggest mismatch between theory and observation in the history of science. Yes, we're clueless. But it's not abject cluelessness. Dark energy is not adrift, with nary a theory to call home. It inhabits one of the safest homes we can imagine: Einstein's equations of general relativity. Whatever dark energy turns out to be, we already know how to measure it and how to calculate its Continue Reading

Stephen Hawking, who brought physics to the masses and battled ALS for decades, dies at age 76

Stephen Hawking, whose brilliant mind ranged across time and space though his body was paralyzed by disease, died early Wednesday, a University of Cambridge spokesman said. He was 76 years old.Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, England.The best-known theoretical physicist of his time, Hawking wrote so lucidly of the mysteries of space, time and black holes that his book, “A Brief History of Time,” became an international best seller, making him one of science's biggest celebrities since Albert Einstein.“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement. “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He once said, `It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”Even though his body was attacked by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, when Hawking was 21, he stunned doctors by living with the normally fatal illness for more than 50 years. A severe attack of pneumonia in 1985 left him breathing through a tube, forcing him to communicate through an electronic voice synthesizer that gave him his distinctive robotic monotone.But he continued his scientific work, appeared on television and married for a second time.As one of Isaac Newton's successors as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, Hawking was involved in the search for the great goal of physics — a “unified theory.”Such a theory would resolve the contradictions between Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which describes the laws of gravity that govern the motion of large objects like planets, and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, which deals with the world of subatomic particles.For Hawking, the search was almost a religious quest — he said finding a “theory of everything” would allow Continue Reading

What were Stephen Hawking’s most famous quotes, books and theories?

STEPHEN Hawking was revered the world over for his wit, wisdom and incredibly sharp intellect. The often provocative yet incredibly humorous physicist has died aged 76. Here are some of his most memorable quotes, and a look at his most impressive works. Stephen Hawking's most famous quotes: On the pursuit of knowledge “Ever since the dawn of civilisation, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. "Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. "Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.” - A Brief History of Time, 1988 On Intelligence: "People who boast about their IQ are losers" – when asked if he believed he was the most intelligent person in the world. - Good Morning Britain, March 2017 On God: “We shouldn’t be surprised that conditions in the universe are suitable for life, but this is not evidence that the universe was designed to allow for life. We could call order by the name of God, but it would be an impersonal God. There’s not much personal about the laws of physics.”- Reason Magazine, 2002 “What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn’t prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary." - Der Spiegel, 1988 "God may exist, but science can explain the universe without the need for a creator." - CNN, 2010 On his appearance: "Unfortunately, Eddie [Redmayne] did not inherit my good looks" - CNN, 2015, speaking of the Oscar-winning actor who portrayed him in the movie The Theory of Everything. On fame: “The downside of Continue Reading

InfoWars’ Alex Jones Writing New Book He Says Will Change Your Life

American Radio show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and New York Times bestselling author Neil Strauss are working on a book together.  According to a report published by CNN Money, Jones and “The Game” author sent a proposal to major publishers regarding the new book titled "The Secret History of the Modern World & the War for the Future." Jones is the founder of InfoWars, a far-right website known for pushing conspiracy theories.  In the 27-page proposal, Jones revealed that the book is "about the front lines of the war for your mind." He added the chapters will cover "the past, the present, and the future." Further, Jones said the book will open the reader’s mind in unexpected ways and will turn out to be a classic which will stick around for various generations to come.  "The chapters here will uncover it all. They will be like the moment you first discovered sex or the Internet or quantum physics. You will never look at your life or your world the same way again," the proposal read.  In this photo, journalist Neil Strauss attends the premiere of 'Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck' during the Tribeca Film Festival at Spring Studio in New York City, April 19, 2015. Photo: Getty Images / Ben Gabbe Neither Jones nor Strauss has confirmed the news about the collaboration yet but the proposal to the publisher was sent by Marc Gerald of United Talent Agency (UTA) who represent Strauss, who was also a former columnist for The New York Times. However, a representative for UTA, who chose to stay anonymous, denied representing the book.  Jones, who hails from Dallas, Texas, over the years has been at the center of a lot of controversies. Whether it is promoting Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting conspiracy theories or his opposing views toward gun control. He also gone as far as to blame the U.S. government for being involved in the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 attacks and the Continue Reading

The Ultimate BuzzFeed Books Gift Guide

You don't have to live with animals to be moved by stories about them, but those who do might especially appreciate these. For dog lovers there's Rescued: What Second-Chance Dogs Teach Us About Living With Purpose, Loving With Abandon, and Finding Joy in the Little Things, which does exactly what its subtitle promises but, be warned, will inspire any reader to immediately go out and adopt as many dogs as possible. (Check out a preview here.)Ditto Eric O' Grey's Walking With Peety, the tearjerker true story of a man whose doctor recommends a shelter dog, Peety, when he's diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes — and how Eric and Peety go on to save each other's lives.Total Cat Mojo by Jackson Galaxy is "the ultimate guide to life with your cat" but the life-long cat mom or dad will find it as valuable as the first-timer. It won't just teach you how to care for your cats — it will teach you how to understand them.The Inner Life of Animals — Peter Wohlleben's follow-up to his charming The Hidden Life of Trees — is a delightful, fascinating look at the emotions exhibited by different breeds. Nate Blakeslee's American Wolf reads like a novel, following the life of O-Six, the legendary alpha female Yellowstone wolf.And though Eileen Myles' Afterglow will especially resonate with a reader who knows what it's like to love a pet like family, this memoir is for anyone open to abstract, big-question thinking about consciousness, life, and whatever comes next. Myles' "dog memoir" — at its core, an autobiography about Myles and her beloved, late dog Rosie — is groundbreaking in its form and is most likely best for someone comfortable with experimental literature. Listen, you might think facts about umbrellas, colors, or log cabins wouldn't make for interesting books, but you would be WRONG — especially when it comes to people who can't get enough of random little tidbits. Kassia St. Clair's The Secret Lives of Color asks readers to look at Continue Reading

Book review: ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ by Ruth Ozeki

Perhaps a literary novel that flirts heavily with quantum physics, one written by a Zen Buddhist priest no less, is not necessarily the most inviting prospect. But this is Ruth Ozeki we’re talking about. She’s the author who won fandom by marrying such unlikely topics as Japanese television and American beef exportation in “My Year of Meats.” “A Tale for the Time Being” combines a fictional though fact-based version of Ozeki’s life with that of a 16-year-old Japanese girl contemplating suicide in Tokyo. The girl has reason to despair. Nao’s family has returned in shame from Sunnyvale, Calif., where she was raised from a toddler to be a thoroughly American girl. The shame stems from her father’s job loss after the burst of the dot-com bubble and his lack of prospects in Tokyo. After he’s rescued from the tracks of the Chuo Rapid Express, the site of his first suicide attempt, Nao and her mother learn that the job he claimed to have found was nonexistent. He’d actually been spending his days drinking on a park bench, supporting his family on OTB winnings until all was lost. Nao may have things even worse. In her middle school, as the oversize kid transferring in midterm, she’s subjected to horrific bullying so ritualized that it feels almost impersonal. Except that it’s very much her bruised and bloodied body she hides from her mother — and Nao’s stained panties that end up on an Internet auction closely followed by perverts and her peers. The girl’s story is tossed up on the shore of a remote island off the coast of British Columbia. There a writer name Ruth (nudge, wink) finds a scarred freezer bag holding a Hello Kitty lunchbox. The contents include a bound book, a packet of letters and a wristwatch dating to World War II. The watch, of course, is stopped — until it mysteriously starts again. Time is a trickster in this Continue Reading

Quakers put down roots in Southern Utah

For 12 minutes, the eight people sit in complete silence. Some close their eyes. Others focus on a fixed point in the small room or look out the window at downtown St. George and the mountains of the Arizona Strip in the far distance.Their thoughts, however, are of a spiritual nature. This is, after all, a worship meeting. They are people of faith but there is no leader, no sermon and no real organization. It’s a fairly typical gathering for the Southern Utah Friends Meeting, the local chapter of the Religious Society of Friends — a group commonly known as the Quakers.Of the eight people in the room, four of them are already following the Quaker way. The other four are there to learn more about the faith and its relatively new presence in Southern Utah. While this particular group of Friends believe in “expectant waiting worship” — meetings of mostly silence as they meditate and welcome the spirit of God to teach them — the silence is occasionally, briefly broken.Twelve minutes into the meeting, Theresa Mitchell is the first to speak. She tells the small group that she recently attended the DOCUTAH film festival and saw “The Hermits,” a documentary about Chinese Daoist Buddhist monks.“It was beautiful,” she says. “They’re sending out peace in their own way.”Mitchell only speaks for a few seconds and is silent again.About five minutes later another Friend, Rob Wilson, gently breaks the silence once more. He offers up a simple question. It might be directed at everyone in the room or none of them at all. Perhaps it’s just a question he’s pondering, and he feels compelled to share it with the group.“How can we find peace and share that peace with others?” Wilson asks as the room turns silent again.The rest of the hour passes without a word from anyone else. It’s so quiet you can hear every shift of weight, every cracking joint, almost every breath.This Continue Reading