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    • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, read by Lindsay Duncan -- I just finished my approximately annual listen of this audiobook. Austen is difficult to get just right aloud: you have to have a feel for her dry humor, and be able to be true to the characters without making the annoying ones too much of a burden to the listener. I have audiobooks of all Austen’s finished novels, and this is my favorite narrator (as well as my favorite Austen novel!) Duncan does all of the above, and her Lizzie is perfect, smart and mischievous and warm.

      The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, read by Robin Miles -- Speaking of favorite narrators, Robin Miles is my favorite audiobook reader of all time. Her accents and character voices are amazing, she has a beautiful voice, and she makes sentences intelligible as well as emotional. I first was blown away with Miles's work on the Nigerian historical epic Half of a Yellow Sun, and was so excited when I found out she was going to be reading this series, the Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. These books are set on a planet that is tectonically superactive: the 'Fifth Season' of the title is what the human inhabitants call a period of volcanic apocalypse -- often involving an ash-cloud winter. These Seasons interrupt and reset their civilization periodically, in different ways. Rules for surviving have been passed down as 'Stone Lore', and are almost the only history they have for sure past a certain point. Some humans are born with an ability to channel energy on a geological scale, but they're hated and feared by the others, especially since their powers untrained can easily save them from geological threats at the expense of those around them or nearby. When the books open, a civilization has lasted an unusually long time by training and enslaving these people to suppress earthquakes and volcanoes. The worldbuilding is intense and fascinating, and Jemisin's writing is always strong and evocative. These are the books that won her three 'Best Novel' Hugos in a row, an unheard of feat.

      Dracula by Bram Stoker, read by Fredric Scadron, Mary Beth Quillen Gregor, et al (unabridged Brilliance audio version with 5 readers) -- Dracula is cheesy, and you have to love this particular kind of Victorian cheese to love Dracula. The heroes are square and earnest, the underlying themes and fears are so 19th century (railroads, shorthand, and typewriters will save us from ancient magic!) This unabridged version embraces the cheese beautifully. The readers are earnest and well chosen, and they coordinate well, so a diary entry from Dr. Seward will be read complete with Van Helsing's lines in a good impression of the Van Helsing accent the other reader does. Dracula doesn't need bells and whistles and music: it needs to be a pile of diary entries, newspaper articles, and so on, performed with complete conviction. This is it, and I find it so much fun to return to again and again!

      A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki, read by the author -- Oh, this book. When I finished listening, I almost started over again immediately, because the book's voices had become my friend and I missed them already. My sister, who recommended the book, is aghast that I listened to it, missing out on the wealth of footnotes with which the print version is apparently enriched. But the author included an afterword on the audiobook about the differences, which encouraged me to see the two as both having their own special charms. I'll read the paper book too, eventually. This is a literary mystery, in a way: the first narrator, a writer living on a remote island, finds a teenage girl's diary in a lunchbox on the beach, apparently washed all the way from Japan. As she reads the diary, she becomes more worried about the girl's fate. That's the bare bones. The meat of the story is...the two voices, of the diary and of the finder; their observations and inquiries into the world, the things they learn and wonder. It was my favorite novel of 2017, and I read some doozies. It's about alienation and connection; language, Zen Buddhism, and crows. It's deep but intensely charming, and I can't wait to have the author speak it in my ear again someday.

      The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson, read by Robin Miles -- My other favorite book of 2017, this one non-fiction! This sprawling history book worked great read aloud, which makes sense, as the author did hundreds of oral history interviews to assemble the story of the Great Migration of Black Americans from the rural South in the 20th century. She chose one migrant's story to focus on for each decade of the height of the migration, and masterfully weaves those together with others' stories and the overall view. The result has the scope of Tolstoy but the intimacy of your oldest relatives telling stories -- but for me, as a white American, stories I'd never heard, texture and weight on the bare paragraphs of a history book. (Plus, read by the divine Robin Miles!)

    • Chris MacAskill

      Listened to it, loved it. The captain himself narrates it and I thought that made it very authentic.

      However, I think the management problem he's solving is different from Silicon Valley where I work, or Hollywood. When I came to Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs lectured us about the job not being about getting the best out of normal people. It's about finding the best person in the world, not the second-best, and hiring them.

      The captain was dealt a hand of sailors and he did an amazing job of getting them to perform incredibly well. His job wasn't to go find the best sailor in the world so they can win the world championship, or design the Mac or win an Oscar.

      Netflix has an amazing HR doc that the Harvard Business Review featured where Netflix likens themself to a sports team. Each year you have to fight to make the team next year. The reward for adequate performance is a generous severance package.

    • I’ve worked for Fortune 500s, as well as in the government and nonprofit sectors, and I would agree with your assessment.

      I remember doing a project at a division of a high tech company and one of our managers complained to the VP of Engineering about the wasteful spending in providing catered lunches on a regular basis. The VP calmly explained the math: for five bucks a head during meetings held over lunch, he got an extra hour of work from an engineer making $45/hour.

      By contrast, when schools provide dinner to teachers on parent teacher conference nights, which is three hours of additional work after a full day of teaching, the typical fare I’ve seen can be a pot of hot dogs.

      In addition, at a typical school the only employee making $45/hour or better is the principal.  And turnover for school principals is almost as bad as for teachers:

      Elsewhere in Texas, the first school to be closed by the state for low performance was Johnston High School, which was led by 13 principals in the 11 years preceding closure. The school also had a teacher turnover rate greater than 25 percent for almost all of the years and greater than 30 percent for 7 of the years.

      Source: https://nepc.colorado.edu/blog/examining-principal-turnover

      @lidja can probably speak most authoritatively on the talent acquisition and retention challenges in the non-profit sector.

      In environments where it’s much harder to attract top talent, I think the need for managers who can train, develop and get the best out of passionate individuals is crucial.

      In an alternate reality, Elon Musk’s tenure as a high school principal would be short-lived.

    • @lidja can probably speak most authoritatively on the talent acquisition and retention challenges in the non-profit sector.

      A surprising thing to many people not familiar with the world of non-profits is that development officers (professional fundraisers) are often paid on a higher scale than nearly everyone else on the staff, including top-level administrators. So, an equivalent to “talent acquisition” in the for-profit sector is probably “access acquisition” in the non-profit sector, since access to philanthropic dollars is an absolutely critical piece of a non-profit’s ongoing success.

      Thanks to @Chris’ comment about Steve Jobs’ employment policy, we see the psychology behind the poaching that is sooo prevalent in Silicon Valley. I personally think the idea that there is *one* person in the world that is *best* for any given job is mostly BS, but Silicon Valley seems to love that kind of “tip of the spear” thinking. It is pervasive. (On a related note, I have never seen so much dysfunction as when I served on the board of The Tech Museum. The self-interest at all levels of that organization was unfathomable, but reflected the reality of the way things are done in the Valley.)

    • I don't want to believe in the one person philosophy, but I have to admit that I've lived through a couple times where I've thought, "but for that one person..." It was John Lasseter at Pixar. I don't see how the Mac happens without Bill Atkinson. I don't see how Apple turns around without Steve.

    • ...from the long view, though... do you really believe there would be no CGI animation without John Lasseter? No digital music storage devices without Jobs? No creative computing without Atkinson?

      These people were in the right place at the right time with their particular skill sets to give us *what we now have*... but their accomplishments were all results of the work that many, many people did before they came along and alongside them as well as their own Herculean efforts and vision.

      However, the savior narrative is what a LOT of us prefer to believe...

    • I honestly think I prefer to believe that each of us has the power within us and with enough determination a team of regular people can accomplish amazing things. Those make for great, inspirational stories and they're actually true in the case of John Lassiter (fired from Disney as an animator), Jobs (not a standout until Apple), etc.

      And I do think great computing an animation would have happened anyway without them. But would we have Pixar without Lassiter? Apple without Jobs? I honestly don't think we would.