Dude Notes

Sometimes, just sometimes, when we read books or articles, we take notes. Rather than have these simply sit on our hard drives doing nothing other than making us feel like we’ve done something, we’ve decided to share them with anyone who thinks they might be of value. The notes are pretty eclectic – we like to think we’re “men of the world” – but there’s likely to be something you’ll find interesting.

To download a set of notes, just click on the “Dude Notes” button on the left of the title.

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A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation (2007) Noah Lukeman

“Remember to keep in mind two important principles. The first is that there is great merit to punctuating scarcely, only when you absolutely must. Just as word economy should be strived for, so should punctuation economy. The second is to let your punctuation unfold organically as the text demands. Punctuation should never be forced on a text, never be brought in to rescue you from confusing sentence construction. It is not here to save—it is here to complement.”

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All in a Word (2010) Vivian Cook

“The more often a word is used, the less likely it is to be replaced by a new one. The side effect is that common words are most likely to break the rules: man and child have kept their irregular plurals men and children since Old English. The most frequent verb in English is to be, with its different forms making up four of the top twenty words for English. And of course to be also has a highly irregular present tense, am/is/are; it is the only verb in English with different past-tense forms for singular was and plural were, and is the only verb that still sometimes has a subjunctive form, ‘If I were you.'”

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Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology But Less From Each Other (2011) Sherry Turkle

“Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities. And as it turns out, we are very vulnerable indeed. We are lonely but fearful of intimacy. Digital connections and the sociable robot may offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. Our networked life allows us to hide from each other, even as we are tethered to each other. We’d rather text than talk. People are lonely. The network is seductive. But if we are always on, we may deny ourselves the rewards of solitude.”

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And a Bottle of Rum (2007) Wayne Curtis

“This book strives to answer three broad questions about rum: How did it grow to become the most important spirit in the New World in the eighteenth century? How did it come to be eclipsed by other drinks in the nineteenth century? And how did it manage to find its way back?”

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Capturing New Markets (2011) Stephen Wunker

“While it is attractive, growth through tapping new markets is difficult, particularly for older and larger firms. This book explores in detail how the strategies that companies pursue in established industries often do not apply when markets are nascent. Indeed, many of the best strategies for new markets—targeting non-consumers, entering narrowly, avoiding sales channels, and other key moves—at first can seem counter-intuitive. For established firms, success in new markets may also require acting in unfamiliar and entrepreneurial ways.”

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Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British Empire (2011) Jeremy Paxman

“It was their empire which convinced the British that they were somehow special. Yet the disappearance of their empire has failed to persuade them that they are not so very different from much of the rest of Europe.”

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Everything is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer (2011) Duncan Watts

“Common sense, in other words, is not so much a worldview as a grab bag of logically inconsistent, often contradictory beliefs, each of which seems right at the time but carries no guarantee of being right any other time.”

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I is an Other (2011) James Geary

“Young children are such prolific metaphor producers because their pattern recognition circuits, not yet confined by conventional categorizations, are working full blast. So kids routinely come up with a profusion of metaphorical comparisons, but only a few of them are on target.”

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Living With Complexity (2011) Donald Norman

“No matter how well designed some things are, no matter how good the conceptual model, the feedback, the structure, and modularization – complex activities must still be mastered, sometimes requiring hours, days, or months of study and practice. This is the way it is in our complex world. Relax. Realize that life is complex. In other words, everyone has to learn to understand and use complex systems.

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Metaphors and Analogies: Powerful Tools for Teaching Any Subject (2009) Rick Wormeli

“It’s time to bust metaphors out of solitary confinement in English classes. Many people see metaphors as one type of figurative language that they might have to memorize in a poetry unit or perhaps as a big brother to a simile. But metaphors have amazing utility in all subjects; they are as natural a learning tool in science, math, physical education, music, art, and history as they are in English.”

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Nothing: A Very Short Introduction (2009) Frank Close

“One hundred and twenty-seven pages ago we started with the question “where did everything come from?” Having surveyed over 2,000 years of ideas, we have arrived at the modern answer: “Everything came from nothing.””

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Sound Change and the History of English (2007) Jeremy Smith

“This book is about sound change in the history of English from its divergence from other Germanic varieties until approximately 1800. It seeks to cover and link up many ‘canonical’ sound changes during this period. It offers an articulation between current trends in socio-historical linguistics and wider debates in historiography. Where appropriate it brings to bear new syntheses such as that offered by Evolutionary Phonology. But, above all, the book aims to identify, examine, and explain the processes whereby speaker innovations develop into systemic changes in the language system.”

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The Big Disconnect (2013) Catherine Steiner-Adair

“The tech effect has transformed every facet of our lives—from work to home to vacation time away—emerging, dot by dot, to reveal a new and unsettling family picture. While parents and children are enjoying swift and constant access to everything and everyone on the Internet, they are simultaneously struggling to maintain a meaningful personal connection with each other in their own homes. It is the parental paradox of our time: never before has there been so much opportunity for families to plug in and at the same time disconnect.”

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The Origin of Speech (2008) Peter MacNeilage

“To investigate the evolutionary origins of speech, MacNeilage draws on work in linguistics, cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and animal behavior. He puts forward a neo-Darwinian account of speech as a process of descent in which ancestral vocal capabilities became modified in response to natural selection pressures for more efficient communication. His proposals include the crucial observation that present-day infants learning to produce speech reveal constraints that were acting on our ancestors as they invented new words long ago.”

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The Shallows (2010) Nicholas Carr

“Just as the pioneers of hypertext once believed that links would provide a richer learning experience for readers, many educators also assumed that multimedia, or ‘rich media,’ as it’s sometimes called, would deepen comprehension and strengthen learning. The more inputs, the better. But this assumption, long accepted without much evidence, has also been contradicted by research. The division of attention demanded by multimedia further strains our cognitive abilities, diminishing our learning and weakening our understanding.”

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Txtng: The Gr8 Db8 (2008) David Crystal

“All the popular beliefs about texting are wrong, or at least debatable. Its graphic distinctiveness is not a totally new phenomenon. Nor is its use restricted to the young generation. There is increasing evidence that it helps rather than hinders literacy. And only a very tiny part of the language uses its distinctive orthography.”

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You Are Not So Smart (2011) David McRaney

“You are naturally hindered into thinking in certain ways and not others, and the world around you is the product of dealing with these biases, not overcoming them. The three main subjects in this book are cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies.”