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If you want to understand why things are the way they are, this is the book. It will give you a deep, vertical perspective on our horizontal view of the world and how we fit into it. It provides a knowledge base to build a foundation for real change. Best of all, it is written for the layman and is easily understandable. You will not find any obscure scientific jargon nor abstract, confusing "new age" pseudoscience. There is something important for everybody in this book. I am of the opinion that no college student should be allowed to graduate until he/she has read this book.
This was a fascinating read that I couldn't put down and I wore out a new yellow highlighter in the process.
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To Mr. Rifkin's credit, he wrote _Algeny_ on this subject some 15 years ago. Unfortunately, he shows little familiarity with the topics he discusses -- the book is deeply marred by Rifkin's apparent fundamental misunderstandings of evolutionary science and Darwinism.
Rifkin also wastes much space on invidious comparisons between himself and "other futurists".
Mistaken in its premises, bombastically written, filled with bad logic that fails to support its sweeping conclusions: avoid this book.
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Since a 1980 Supreme Court decision that a living organism (an oil-eating microbe) could be patented, the patenting of life has become an accepted practice. As of 1997 over forty animals had been patented, including mice, turkeys, and rabbits. Human cells and hundreds of human genes have also been patented. Kimbrell poses the question of whether genetic engineering will eventually lead to the patenting of a human being?
While treating the reader to a highly interesting recounting of the histories of controversial biotech practices, Kimbrell makes a cogent argument that the marketing of life is dehumanizing; he calls for increased government control in the biotech field, especially as we enter the era of human genetic engineering. There is unquestionably a need for more public debate on biotech issues, but Kimbrell could have helped even more to further such debate by devoting a bit more of his book to the views of biotech proponents, even though he passionately disagrees with such views. Kimbrell's failure to favor the reader with a broader range of views dropped the rating for The Human Body Shop from five stars to four.
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After building the historical place of beef and cattle, Rifkin moves the story to present day and how beef is produced, butchered, packaged and shipped. Some of this section was particularly difficult to read during lunch, the descriptions of the slaughtering process are graphic and very detailed. Rifkin also explains the decreasing involvement of the USDA in the inspection of beef and the potential implications of this fact.
Other parts of the book which were informative to me were the chapters dealing with the destruction of the Brazilian rainforests. I, like most young Americans, have heard for years about the clear cutting and burning of the South American rainforests but never knew the details of this activity or exactly why the forests were being leveled. Rifkin explains this practice clearly and I am much more informed because of it.
Overall, Beyond Beef is an excellent read and if nothing else, will give you a great deal to ponder. It is clearly written with a slant against beef production and consumption and can come off a bit preachy at times. That being said, after you read this book, you will definitely want to pass it along to your friends and family, if for no other reason than to let them be informed when they bite into that burger.
This excellent volume was evidently composed to inform, enlighten, and alert us of the danger the cattle industry presents to humans and the environment. The ideas exposed here on this book help open our eyes to better understand what is really going on around this complex subject: the cattle and beef industry, and its destructive, impact on our Earth and its human inhabitants.
Beyond Beef is a well researched, and excellently written treatise written especially for those who are interested in protecting the environment, that have deep respect and appreciation for our fauna and flora, and a natural inclination toward vegetarianism.
This extraordinary publication of Jeremy Rifkin is worth its price
If you are reading this review then you have access to a computer. Take the time to do some honest unbiased research online and see how much water and grain it takes to produce one pound of meat. Then see how much better it would be if the land was used to produce better food for humans. Find out what pollution factory farms that raise cattle, chickens, pork, lamb etc produce as well as how inhumane the animals are treated. Also find out what drugs they use on the animals, that are then killed for food on your table. Be honest and ask yourself the hard questions. And if you must for whatever reason eat beef, chickens etc please buy organically grown ones that are not fed drugs and even byproducts of other animals. I am a realist and realize that we live in a meat eating society. So all I can do is ask that you know what you are buying and how it was raised and what the product has done to the earths ecosystem.
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What Rifkin tells us is that there is a war developing or even already going on, between the advocates of speed and efficiency--almost speed for the sake of speed--and those who prefer, as he puts it, a "more empathetic union with the rhythm of nature." In that latter category he puts many members of the environmental , holistic health, biological agriculture, animal-rights, economic democracy and other movements, who may just think that they're a little bit lefty, not engaged in a struggle for our souls.
Rifkin outlines a history of time, as it were, or more specifically, a history of how people have viewed time. He analyzes different cultures' views of time, which are considerably different, the sense that humans can have power over time, which has not been the belief of all cultures in the past, and the rise to domination of Western views of time (along with pretty much everything else, at least right now).
If you are white and ever been immersed in black or other minority culture, you may hear references to "CP time" or "Indian time". This has often said as a joke but refers to the very different sense of the importance of time and punctuality. It's a smart observation, really, that points out that not everyone is driven by the need to meet a deadline, arrive precisely when expected, operate in a way that those of us in the West feel is the right way. And it's at the heart of what Rifkin is saying about our attempts to capture and define time.
Though the book is written in a very clear style, this is not a book to be read while watching TV or while otherwise distracted. There are Big Thoughts here about who we are as a society and how humans will view their responsibilities, the concept of progress, the Information Age and more, now and in the future.
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Solutions to global worker displacement include shorter work week to share the remaining work to all workers. Rifkin also argues for investment in the third sector of volunteerism and social services to combat the rise in crime and violence that is inevitable in a society of large scale employment.
Although his historical examination is admirable, his future prophecy of a massive unemployment did not convince me that we are headed to a society run by machines. Alternatively I believe there will always be demand for human labor as machines present their own limitations. Several years ago many proclaimed that dot.com's will put bricks and mortar stores out of business. Despite these claims bricks and mortar stores did not disappear partly because many customers enjoyed the personalibility of social interaction with salespeople and other customers. Doing Christmas shopping over the internet is not a comparable replacement to going to a shopping mall for everyone. In addition, Rifkin never addressed the all important realm of unpaid work that will never diminish as long as there are humans on earth.
Overall, this book is a good read although I had trouble with his future predictions.
In short, Rifkin decribes the transition of the worker from pre-industrial revolution, through the era of machines and mass-production, and the advent of the information age in which he predicts there will be fewer and fewer workers. His analysis describes how this effects the worker, organizational make-up, employment relationships, and even how government has been forced to change to accomodate the modern economy.
I believe that anyone interested in the dynamics of technology and globalism on the workforce will find Rifkin's work very interesting, well-written, and easy to read.
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If you are a young professional and trying to develop a plan for professional development, or if you are a seasoned professional trying to come to terms with the mindset of the young, you should definitely read this book.
The biggest intellectual challenge that exists today for professionals is to understand the "new economy." I am always afraid that tidal waves of disruptive changes are right around the corner (or are already here) that could literally destroy my company or my career. Rifkin elaborates on several modern economic paradigms, and his analysis will help you anticipate and prepare for these fantastic changes.
I agree with some of the gloomy predictions like the destruction of our "Cultural Landscape." In a very vivid example, Rifkin mentions that there is a Dunkin' Donuts just a few yards away from the Trevi fountain in Rome. Even as a self described libertarian, I believe this kind of pollution of the "Cultural Landscape" should be stopped.
Rifkin's elaboration on the economic value of social trust is right on. Nevertheless his implication that trust is withering away in the US is not convincing.
My criticism is that although Rifkin has clearly diagnosed many of societies ills, he falls short of offering an action-based specific resolution. He seems to imply that "a handful of giant transnational life-science companies" represent the evil empire of today, nevertheless he does not say how to undo their influence.
Reading between the lines, it seems that Rifkin is implying that government ought to take control of certain things that are now considered private property. As an example, government would force Dunkin Donuts to move their restaurant to a less sacred location. History shows us that expanding the power of government can have disastrous results. I would have respected the author much more if he would provide a naked description of his action plan.
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I do not agree with all of Dr. Rifkin's points. If I happened to have an untreatable genetic disease, I personally would not wish to see laws enacted which would restrict my access to a cure that involved permanently changing my genetic structure. If my children could be born without the disease, so much the better, in my humble view. But I still give Rifkin five stars for The Biotech Century.
Rifkin has been labeled as an alarmist, and I disagree. The corporate spin doctors have conditioned all of us to believe that there is little or no risk to splitting the gene and tampering with the code of life. Rifkin lets us know of some of the hazards, and he does so with brilliance. Richard R. Hofstetter, lawyer, author of Mobius (1998).
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