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Anthropology

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  1. 3.2 hrs • 9/1/2016 • Unabridged

    Fifty years ago, neuroscientists thought that a mature brain was fixed like a fly in amber, unable to change. Today, we know that our brains and nervous systems change throughout our lifetimes. This concept of neuroplasticity has captured the imagination of a public eager for self-improvement — and has inspired countless Internet entrepreneurs who peddle dubious “brain training” games and apps. In this book, Moheb Costandi offers a concise and engaging overview of neuroplasticity for the general listener, describing how our brains change continuously in response to our actions and experiences. Costandi discusses key experimental findings, and describes how our thinking about the brain has evolved over time. He explains how the brain changes during development, and the “synaptic pruning” that takes place before brain maturity. He shows that adult brains can grow new cells (citing, among many other studies, research showing that sexually mature male canaries learn a new song every year). He describes the kind of brain training that can bring about improvement in brain function. It’s not gadgets and games that promise to “rewire your brain” but such sustained cognitive tasks as learning a musical instrument or a new language. (Costandi also notes that London cabbies increase their gray matter after rigorous training in their city’s complicated streets.) He tells how brains compensate after stroke or injury; describes addiction and pain as maladaptive forms of neuroplasticity; and considers brain changes that accompany childhood, adolescence, parenthood, and aging. Each of our brains is custom-built. Neuroplasticity is at the heart of what makes us human.

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    Neuroplasticity

    3.2 hrs • 9/1/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 4.6 hrs • 8/30/2016 • Unabridged

    The maestro storyteller and reporter provocatively argues that what we think we know about speech and human evolution is wrong. Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey that is sure to arouse widespread debate. The Kingdom of Speech is a captivating, paradigm-shifting argument that speech—not evolution—is responsible for humanity’s complex societies and achievements. From Alfred Russel Wallace, the Englishman who beat Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it, and through the controversial work of modern-day anthropologist Daniel Everett, who defies the current wisdom that language is hard-wired in humans, Wolfe examines the solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zig-zags of Darwinism, old and Neo, and finds it irrelevant here in the Kingdom of Speech.

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    The Kingdom of Speech

    4.6 hrs • 8/30/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 8.2 hrs • 7/19/2016 • Unabridged

    In this seminal work that has spent more than thirty years in print, Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin explain the reasons behind anti-Semitism, the world’s preoccupation with the Jews and Israel, and why now more than ever the world needs to confront anti-Jewish sentiment. Why have Jews been the object of the most enduring and universal hatred in history? Why is the Jewish state the most hated country in the world today? Drawing on extensive historical research, Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin reveal how Judaism’s distinctive conceptions of God, law, and peoplehood have rendered the Jews and the Jewish state outsiders and labeled them as threatening. But as Prager and Telushkin are quick to point out, anti-Semitism is not just another ethnic or racial prejudice and is not caused, as so many people falsely believe, by Jewish economic success or the need for scapegoats. Rather, anti-Semitism today, as in the past, is a reaction to Judaism and its distinctive values. Prager and Telushkin examine in detail how anti-Semitism is a unique hatred—no other prejudice has been as universal, deep, or permanent—and how the concept of the “chosen people” spawned that hatred. They also explore the role of non-Jewish Jews, such as Karl Marx and Noam Chomsky, in provoking anti-Jewish animosity. In Why the Jews?, Prager and Telushkin identify the seven major forms of anti-Semitism—pagan, Christian, Muslim, enlightenment, leftist, Nazi, and anti-Zionist—and explain why it is impossible in today’s world to be an anti-Zionist without being an antisemite. With an eye on the larger picture, Prager and Telushkin express why anti-Semitism threatens more than just Jews and what kind of changes are necessary to achieve a world without hatred.

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    Why the Jews? by Dennis Prager, Joseph Telushkin

    Why the Jews?

    8.2 hrs • 7/19/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    9.3 hrs • 5/31/2016 • Unabridged

    One of the most significant works on our evolutionary ancestry since Richard Leakey’s Origins, The First Signs is the first-ever exploration of the geometric images that accompany most cave art around the world—the first indications of symbolic meaning, intelligence, and language. Imagine yourself as a caveman or cavewoman. The place: Europe. The time: 25,000 years ago, the last Ice Age. In reality, you live in an open-air tent or a bone hut. But you also belong to a rich culture that creates art. In and around your cave paintings are handprints and dots, x’s and triangles, parallel lines and spirals. Your people know what they mean. You also use them on tools and jewelry. And then you vanish—and with you, their meanings. Join renowned archaeologist Genevieve von Petzinger on an Indiana Jones–worthy adventure from the open-air rock art sites of northern Portugal to the dark depths of a remote cave in Spain that can only be reached by sliding face-first through the mud. Von Petzinger looks past the beautiful horses, powerful bison, graceful ibex, and faceless humans in the ancient paintings to the abstract geometric images that accompany them. These terse symbols appear more often than any other kinds of figures—signs that have never really been studied or explained until now. Part travel journal, part popular science, part personal narrative, von Petzinger’s groundbreaking book starts to crack the code on the first form of graphic communication. It’s in her blood, as this talented scientist’s grandmother served as a code breaker at Bletchley. Discernible patterns emerge that point to abstract thought and expression, and for the first time, we can begin to understand the changes that might have been happening inside the minds of our Ice Age ancestors—offering a glimpse of when they became us.

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    The First Signs by Genevieve von Petzinger

    The First Signs

    9.3 hrs • 5/31/16 • Unabridged
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  5. 0 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5
    10.1 hrs • 9/1/2015 • Unabridged

    From award-winning columnist and journalist Gillian Tett comes a brilliant examination of how our tendency to create functional departments—silos—hinders our work … and how some people and organizations can break those silos down to unleash innovation. One of the characteristics of industrial age enterprises is that they are organized around functional departments. This organizational structure results in both limited information and restricted thinking. The Silo Effect asks these basic questions: why do humans working in modern institutions collectively act in ways that sometimes seem stupid? Why do normally clever people fail to see risks and opportunities that later seem blindingly obvious? Why, as psychologist Daniel Kahneman put it, are we sometimes so “blind to our own blindness”? Gillian Tett, journalist and senior editor for the Financial Times, answers these questions by plumbing her background as an anthropologist and her experience reporting on the financial crisis in 2008. In The Silo Effect, she shares eight different tales of the silo syndrome, spanning Bloomberg’s City Hall in New York, the Bank of England in London, Cleveland Clinic hospital in Ohio, UBS bank in Switzerland, Facebook in San Francisco, Sony in Tokyo, the BlueMountain hedge fund, and the Chicago police. Some of these narratives illustrate how foolishly people can behave when they are mastered by silos. Others, however, show how institutions and individuals can master their silos instead. These are stories of failure and success. From ideas about how to organize office spaces and lead teams of people with disparate expertise, Tett lays bare the silo effect and explains how people organize themselves, interact with each other, and imagine the world can take hold of an organization and lead from institutional blindness to 20/20 vision.

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    The Silo Effect

    10.1 hrs • 9/1/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 1 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5 (1)
    9.3 hrs • 8/4/2015 • Unabridged

    The Fulani are the largest surviving group of nomads on the planet. In Walking with Abel, Anna Badkhen embeds herself with a family of Fulani cowboys—nomadic herders in Mali’s Sahel grasslands—as they embark on their annual migration across the savannah. It’s a cycle that connects the Fulani to their past even as their present is increasingly under threat—from Islamic militants, climate change, and the ever-encroaching urbanization that lures away their young. The Fulani, though, are no strangers to uncertainty—brilliantly resourceful and resilient, they’ve contended with famines, droughts, and wars for centuries. Dubbed “Anna Bâ” by the nomads who embrace her as one of their own, Badkhen narrates the Fulani’s journeys and her own with compassion and keen observation, transporting us from the Neolithic Sahara crisscrossed by rivers and abundant with wildlife to obelisk forests where the Fulani’s Stone Age ancestors painted tributes to cattle. Together they cross the Sahel—the savannah belt that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic—with Fulani music they download to their cell phones and tales infused with the myths that ground their past, make sense of their identity, and safeguard their future.

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    Walking with Abel by Anna Badkhen

    Walking with Abel

    9.3 hrs • 8/4/15 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5 (1)
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  7. 13.2 hrs • 6/23/2015 • Unabridged

    America’s #1 conspiracy theorist and New York Times bestselling author Jim Marrs explores how the GOD syndicate—a global monopoly of guns, oil, and drugs—is consciously destroying American values and offers prescriptive solutions to fix our nation. According to the Declaration of Independence, “all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” But America today has failed to live up to the Founding Fathers’ ideals. In 2014 there were three million homeless people in the United States and almost twenty million vacant homes. The most technologically advanced nation in the world has a life expectancy lower than that of Chile and Bahrain. And citizens of the wealthiest country on the planet continue to ingest toxic chemicals through their food, their vaccines, and even their water. America, Jim Marrs argues, has been seized by a culture of death. And who promulgates this culture? The globalist masters of the GOD Syndicate—guns, oil, and drugs. Pushed to the brink by this lethal triumvirate, Americans increasingly find themselves headed toward an inexorable decline ending in servitude and premature death. In Population Control, Marrs takes aim at our deteriorating nation and offers practical steps we can take to save it. As he exposes how daily living—from the food we eat to the water we drink to the drugs we ingest—pushes us closer to an early grave, he shows us how a return to true prosperity is possible and explains what we need to do to fight back and save our lives and our nation’s soul.

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    Population Control

    13.2 hrs • 6/23/15 • Unabridged
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  8. 6.6 hrs • 6/9/2015 • Unabridged

    The mere mention of red hair conjures vivid images and provokes strong reactions. Popular stereotypes of redheaded women range from the fiery-tempered vixen and the penitent prostitute—Mary Magdalene is often portrayed in art as a redhead—to the fun-loving scatterbrain Lucille Ball. Red-haired men, meanwhile are consistently associated with either the savage barbarian or the redheaded clown. But why? Red: A History of the Redhead is the first book to chronicle red hair and redheadedness from prehistory to present day. As both intrepid cultural detective and compelling storyteller, Jacky Colliss Harvey weaves a fascinating history beginning with the moment the redheaded gene made its way out of Africa with the early human diaspora. She goes on to trace red hair in the ancient world, the intolerance manifested against it as an indicator of Jewishness across medieval Europe, red hair as the height of fashion in Renaissance England, the redheaded “stunner” in Pre-Raphaelite art and the paintings of the Impressionists, and into the modern age, from its symbolism and adoration in popular culture to “gingerism,” perhaps the last unacknowledged from of discrimination. More than a book for redheads, Red is both an exploration of red hair as “other” and a celebration of every aspect of its unique social and scientific heritage, at a time when it has never before been so frequently in the news or played such a prominent role in our visual culture.

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    Red

    6.6 hrs • 6/9/15 • Unabridged
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  9. 1 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5 (1)
    8.1 hrs • 6/2/2015 • Unabridged

    Like an urban Dian Fossey, Wednesday Martin decodes the primate social behaviors of Upper East Side mothers in a brilliantly original and witty memoir about her adventures assimilating into that most secretive and elite tribe. After marrying a man from the Upper East Side and moving to the neighborhood, Wednesday Martin struggled to fit in. Drawing on her background in anthropology and primatology, she tried looking at her new world through that lens, and suddenly things fell into place. She understood the other mothers’ snobbiness at school drop-off when she compared them to olive baboons. Her obsessional quest for a Hermes Birkin handbag made sense when she realized other females wielded them to establish dominance in their troop. And so she analyzed tribal migration patterns; display rituals; physical adornment, mutilation, and mating practices; extra-pair copulation; and more. Her conclusions are smart, thought-provoking, and hilariously unexpected. Every city has its Upper East Side, and in Wednesday’s memoir, readers everywhere will recognize the strange cultural codes of powerful social hierarchies and the compelling desire to climb them. They will also see that Upper East Side mothers want the same things for their children that all mothers want—safety, happiness, and success—and not even sky-high penthouses and chauffeured SUVs can protect this ecologically released tribe from the universal experiences of anxiety and loss. When Wednesday’s life turns upside down, she learns how deep the bonds of female friendship really are. Intelligent, funny, and heartfelt, Primates of Park Avenue lifts a veil on a secret, elite world within a world—the exotic, fascinating, and strangely familiar culture of privileged Manhattan motherhood.

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    Primates of Park Avenue

    8.1 hrs • 6/2/15 • Unabridged
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  10. 7.3 hrs • 5/19/2015 • Unabridged

    With their large brains, sturdy physique, sophisticated tools, and hunting skills, Neanderthals are the closest known relatives to humans. Approximately 200,000 years ago, as modern humans began to radiate out from their evolutionary birthplace in Africa, Neanderthals were already thriving in Europe—descendants of a much earlier migration of the African genus Homo. But when modern humans eventually made their way to Europe 45,000 years ago, Neanderthals suddenly vanished. Ever since the first Neanderthal bones were identified in 1856, scientists have been vexed by the question, why did modern humans survive while their evolutionary cousins went extinct? The Invaders musters compelling evidence to show that the major factor in the Neanderthals’ demise was direct competition with newly arriving humans. Drawing on insights from the field of invasion biology, Pat Shipman traces the devastating impact of a growing human population: reduction of Neanderthals’ geographic range, isolation into small groups, and loss of genetic diversity. But modern humans were not the only invaders who competed with Neanderthals for big game. Shipman reveals fascinating confirmation of humans’ partnership with the first domesticated wolf-dogs soon after Neanderthals first began to disappear. This alliance between two predator species, she hypothesizes, made possible an unprecedented degree of success in hunting large Ice Age mammals—a distinct and ultimately decisive advantage for humans over Neanderthals at a time when climate change made both groups vulnerable.

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    The Invaders

    7.3 hrs • 5/19/15 • Unabridged
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  11. 5.1 hrs • 5/12/2015 • Unabridged

    Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs, RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes, including:How to make nerdy friendsHow to rock awesome cosplayHow to write fanfic with feelsHow to defeat Internet trollsHow to attend your first conAnd more! Plus, insightful interviews with fangirl faves like Jane Espenson, Erin Morgenstern, Kate Beaton, Ashley Eckstein, Laura Vandervoort, Beth Revis, Kate Leth, and many others.

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    The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy

    5.1 hrs • 5/12/15 • Unabridged
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  12. 2.2 hrs • 3/1/2015 • Unabridged

    Enough of the imbalance that is causing the degradation of our environment, the demise of our democracies, and the denigration of ourselves. Enough of the pendulum politics of left and right and paralysis in the political center. We require an unprecedented form of radical renewal. Henry Mintzberg offers a new understanding of the root of our current crisis and a strategy for restoring the balance so vital to the survival of our progeny and our planet. With the collapse of the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, Western pundits declared that capitalism had triumphed. They were wrong—balance triumphed. A healthy society balances a public sector of respected governments, a private sector of responsible businesses, and a plural sector of robust communities. Communism collapsed under the weight of its overbearing public sector. Now the “liberal democracies” are threatened—socially, politically, even economically—by the unchecked excesses of the private sector. Radical renewal will have to begin in the plural sector, which alone has the inclination and the independence to challenge unacceptable practices and develop better ones. Too many governments have been co-opted by the private sector. And corporate social responsibility can’t compensate for the corporate social irresponsibility we see around us. They won’t do it. We shall have to do it, each of us and all of us, not as passive human resources, but as resourceful human beings. Tom Paine wrote in 1776, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” He was right then. Can we be right again now? Can we afford not to be?

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    Rebalancing Society

    2.2 hrs • 3/1/15 • Unabridged
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  13. 1 reviews 0 5 4.9 4 out of 5 stars 4.9/5 (1)
    5.1 hrs • 12/9/2014 • Unabridged

    In sharply argued, fast-moving chapters, Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free takes on the state of copyright and creative success in the digital age. Can small artists still thrive in the Internet era? Can giant record labels avoid alienating their audiences? This is a book about the pitfalls and the opportunities that creative industries (and individuals) are confronting today. An essential read for anyone with a stake in the future of the arts, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free offers a vivid guide to the ways creativity and the Internet interact today, and to what might be coming next.

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    Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free by Cory Doctorow

    Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free

    Forewords by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer
    Read by Wil Wheaton
    5.1 hrs • 12/9/14 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4.9 4 out of 5 stars 4.9/5 (1)
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  14. 27.0 hrs • 11/4/2014 • Unabridged

    In Jared Diamond’s follow-up to the Pulitzer-Prize winning Guns, Germs and Steel, the author explores how climate change, the population explosion and political discord create the conditions for the collapse of civilization Environmental damage, climate change, globalization, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of societies around the world, but some found solutions and persisted. As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe, and weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. Collapse moves from the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island to the flourishing American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya and finally to the doomed Viking colony on Greenland. Similar problems face us today and have already brought disaster to Rwanda and Haiti, even as China and Australia are trying to cope in innovative ways. Despite our own society’s apparently inexhaustible wealth and unrivaled political power, ominous warning signs have begun to emerge even in ecologically robust areas like Montana. Brilliant, illuminating, and immensely absorbing, Collapse is destined to take its place as one of the essential books of our time, raising the urgent question: How can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide?

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    Collapse

    27.0 hrs • 11/4/14 • Unabridged
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  15. 11.2 hrs • 6/15/2014 • Unabridged

    Taboo!: The Hidden Culture of a Red Light Area is a journey of discovery into the infamous red-light district of Lahore, Pakistan, known as the Shahi Mohalla (the Royal Bazaar) or Heera Mandi (the market of diamonds). The phenomenon of prostitution coupled with music and dance performances has ancient roots in South Asia. Regardless of the stigma attached to prostitution, it has for centuries given rise to many well-known performing artists. Here author Fouzia Saeed paints a more realistic picture of the phenomenon through the stories of the people living there: the musicians, the prostitutes, and their pimps, managers, and customers.

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    Taboo! by Fouzia Saeed

    Taboo!

    Produced by Made for Success
    11.2 hrs • 6/15/14 • Unabridged
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  16. 8.8 hrs • 5/6/2014 • Unabridged

    Dr. Peter McGraw, founder of the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder, teamed up with journalist Joel Warner on a far-reaching search for the secret behind humor. Their journey spanned the globe, from New York to Japan, from Palestine to the Amazon. Meanwhile, the duo conducted their own humor experiments along the way—to wince-worthy, hilarious, and illuminating results. In their quixotic search, they questioned countless experts, from comedians like Louis C. K. to rat-tickling researchers, and answered pressing (and not-so-pressing) questions such as: What’s the secret to winning the New Yorker cartoon caption contest? Who has the bigger funny bone—men or women, Democrats or Republicans? Is laughter really the best medicine? As a final test, McGraw uses everything they learned to attempt stand-up—at the largest comedy festival in the world. Funny, surprising, and often touching, The Humor Code is a revealing exploration of humor, society, and an unusual friendship.

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    The Humor Code

    8.8 hrs • 5/6/14 • Unabridged
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