Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck

I found this story to be overwhelmingly sad and depressing. That's not to say that it wasn't exquisite to read. I can't wait to read the next two in the trilogy. It did make my heart ache but that's the mark of a great writer. It also made me feel gratitude for what I have in my life and for being born when and where I was. It was intriguing to read about the different culture, so alien, so opposite to what we know in the U.S. today. It also made me want to squeeze my baby again and again, and snack. Aside from the story, the actual prose was beautiful in and of itself.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Let's Get Lost: Adventures in the great wide open by Craig Nelson

Oh my goodness what a joyride! We went to Egypt, China, Africa, the South Pacific, the Amazon, India and more. I had amazing time seeing all the sites and meeting so many amazing people and learning so much about the world, all without getting out of my chair. I learned history, anthropology, astronomy and more. He made it deliriously fun and funny. I wish he would write more volumes like this one, I'd read them all. Unfortunately it's given me the travel bug pretty bad and there is no hope in my lifetime of ever being able to afford to go anywhere ever again.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Post-Corporate World: Life after capitalism by David C. Korten

Eh, a lot of good points I guess. The book made some pretty big promises by bringing up quantum mechanics. But it never really goes anywhere and the suggestions are old, tired, impractical, unhelpful, and rhetorical. He compares capitalism to a cancer and given the clinical definition it certainly adds up. "The cell begins to seek its own growth without regard to the consequences for the whole, and ultimately destroys the body that feeds it." Sound like anything? Anyway, it should have been a feel good book but I just got angrier and angrier as I read it knowing he was right about how fatal capitalism as we know it is. But people are becoming more and more enslaved to it and giving up all their power. We're beyond grassroots movements and shopping at farmers' markets. Nothing will change until the dollar bottoms out and we're slaves to the Chinese or the poles shift and our infrastructure crumbles to the ground leaving Wal-mart's shelves empty.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Going Broke: Why Americans can't hold on to their money by Stuart Vyse

Mostly statistics and some slightly interesting psychology. Some blaming of advertising and the ease of credit card use and some studies about it. Eh, but totally glosses over the fact that wages have stagnated a the cost of living continues to rise. When your paycheck is two dollars less than your mortgage amount, how are you going to contribute to a 401K?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Utopia by Thomas More

I never thought something so old could be so enjoyable, even funny. I loved his tone of "I'm not SUGGESTING anything, I'm just tellin' ya what I heard." As for the actual description of Utopia, I remember thinking a lot of "hellz yeah, we need that" and "no way, that would suck" and "would never work". Once again I find myself wishing I could figure out the third option. Capitalism obviously doesn't work in its current form (or maybe it does and what is actually not working is what we have which is an oligarchy.) And communism didn't work. Each has their points, but neither one appeals to me in its entirety. There's gotta be something in the middle that would work. Hmmm...Anyway, Utopia did sound pretty sweet but the lack of room for artists and fashion I found disappointing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save money, breathe easier, and get more mileage ot of life by Chris Balish

Mostly and advertisement for the lifestyle. He had me at "How". The rest is just details and testimonials that anyone could easily figure out for themselves if they'd take the time to think about it. I'm so ready to give up my car, but without the fam on board, no dice =(

The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches: A practical (and fun) guide to enjoying life more by spending less by Jeff Yeager

This guy has a lot of great ideas if you're not already living on the brink. I'm sure it feels great to save so much money when you're actually making some. But when you have to be this cheap because you don't make much money, scrimping pennies is less satisfying when there's still nothing left over. Living under your means is great advice, but when you are making less than what the government considers poverty, it's just not possible. These tips are not new if you've had to figure it all out from necessity.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Outliers: The story of success by Malcolm Gladwell

I don't even know where to begin, how to describe just how enlightening this is. I have to say there wasn't a whole lot for me to take to improve my life at this point. I am too old and job enslaved to enact the 10,000 hour rule (explain in a sec). But it will help me with Sid. For one, I will make sure I send him to school the year he will be oldest in his class. 9 months can make a huge developmental difference at a young age and apparently teachers aren't taking this difference into consideration when they are choosing the talented students to poor their attention into and which "slower" ones to ignore and make feel stupid. What results is that over the years it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy based on an originally false pretense. The 10,000 hour rule says that it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to master it. The thing is, who has 10,000 hours? No one with a job that's for sure. I intend to make damn sure Sid does not have to work as a teenager and make sure we find out what he's good at and likes and can get a fair shot at opportunities to work his ass off. Yes, success require astronomical amounts of effort, concentration, and hard work. But it's not as simple as that. A lot of hard work is the result of an opportunity to do that work, like things that require rink time, access to certain equipment and technology, coaching, etc. Anyway, what it all boils down to is that I've always said that all hard work is not rewarded equally and this book is the proof. I haven't learned this much truly original (new to me) stuff from a book in long time. He talks about cultural legacy and how where we are from dictates more of our behavior than we know. I just wish there was a way to look up my own cultural heritage and read about what it means for me. Anyway, I take issue with people who would argue that if one is not a success in life then the ONLY thing they were missing was work ethic. Work ethic is a must, but having it doesn't mean one will be a success. This book is a must for those people.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I don't normally read fiction. Sometimes I think it's a waste of time when there is so much to learn. Not true with this one. It is beautiful, tragically sad and blissfully uplifting. I do need a good novel once in awhile. Now I can't wait to see the movie. OH yeah and I did learn some stuff about bees, but for the most part I was just taken with the courageous honesty of the main character in the writing. She was so real. This may sound weird but other things I've read have main characters that aren't conflicted enough to be real. Anyway, this isn't meant to be helpful, I just wanted to record for myself that I read it and that I loved it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Economic Apartheid in America: A primer on economic inequality and security by Chuck Collins and Felice Yeskel

Ok, I don't know if I should really be writing about a book I didn't even finish, or even read half. But I just got bored with all the statistics and graphs. I know the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the gap is getting wider. The number of people with more is shrinking, the number of people with less is growing. This is common knowledge any more. I know this and that's why I picked up this book. The cartoons did elicit the occasional smile. There were suggestions and the end for action, but I could tell as I flipped through that they weren't for me. I'm not looking to start a grassroots movement. The system is pretty irreversibly rigged at this point. I'm more interested in ways to live my life in a way that makes me happy in spite of this. I guess this is why I enjoyed Commonsense Rebellion more. I'm not going to waste any more of my emotional energy trying to change the unchangeable. The only thing I can change is myself. I don't need a bigger piece of the monetary pie to be happy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Economics by Tom Gorman

So this is one of the things I was reading that dampened my previously uplifted mood. But not much. It was happily pretty technical although I did make a few notes of philosophical argument. Umm, something about the fact that our whole economic system is hitched to the principal of scarcity which I believe doesn't exist. With our current technology and knowledge and resources, there is so enough food and shelter for everyone on Earth. "And, tragically, we don't know how to overcome poverty, hunger, crime, and other evils rooted in economic reality." My pink sticky says, "Can but won't." I believe he actually makes the claim in there somewhere about real wages having risen, which is an utter fallacy. When adjusted for inflation, wages stagnated after the 70's and have begun falling. I made a note reminding myself to do some further research on communism and why it is hitched to dictatorships. Hence the name "communist dictatorship." Why do these automatically go together and is there an alternative? When discussing the "invisible hand" at work in supply and demand, he makes a passing mention of the amount of waste produced which I noted gives lie to the notion of scarcity driving the train. Anyway, by the end I mentally gave up just like I did with my nutrition studies. Too much of anything is bad, don't get bogged down in details and find balance in the big picture.

Commonsense Rebellion: Taking back your life from drugs, shrinks, corporations, and a world gond crazy by Bruce E. Levine

I wish I hadn't waited so long to write about this book. As I was reading it I could feel my life changing, or at least my attitude, with every passing paragraph. I felt such a weight lift from me. I've read a couple things since then that have dampened it, but not much. Let me see, I have a lot of pink sticky notes in here. First off, the general point and idea is that the increased demand for SSRI's and Ritalin etc isn't because we're crazier or have serotonin issues. We are having an appropriate human reaction to our dehumanizing institutional society. But he takes it beyond that to pretty much every aspect of life in an A to Z fashion. So much of what he said is stuff I've always felt and theorized about, now I'm pretty sure it's true. Take depression for example. Any time it's been suggested to me that I should be taking an antidepressant, I refuse. When I get depressed, my question is, ok, what's wrong with my life, where have I strayed from authenticity, WHY do I feel this way? Not what pill can I take to make it go away? Here's a quote: "Are we sure that depression is a valid "disease"? What if it reflects an emotional and aesthetic sensitivity, a greater capacity to reason and see truth, a greater disdain for authoritarianism, and a more pained experience over lack of community? What if those who became seriously depressed were only considered to be "diseased" by those who were genetically predisposed to insensitivity, injustice, compliance, coldness, and an incapacity to see through sophistry?" I refuse to pop a pill, shut up, and fall in line. Depression tells me something and I need to listen when it speaks. To anyone suffering from depression, please don't read this as "it's all in your mind suck it up." I'm saying there is DEFINITELY something wrong but IT'S NOT YOU! He also talks about our public schools. His message is crazy similar to what I read in It's A Boy, reviewed below. Both have me seriously considering home schooling. I'll send Sid to school at first, but he only has to ask me once and I'll take him out the next day. The minute I sense the color running out of his world I'm taking action. I'm not giving him a pill because he has a boring teacher that can't inspire him. I'll tell you right now what I learned in school: how to get an A. It hasn't proven to be all that useful or motivating. It certainly hasn't turned into a lucrative career. Learning how to get an A in any class never taught me what I was good at or what I liked. Now I'm a f$@#g cashier. I don't mean to sound like I blame teachers. There's only so much they can do in our institutional school system. Here's a quote: "Former teacher Alfie Kohn admits he relied on grades to "motivate" students only when he lacked the skills and the curriculum to help students develop a genuine interest in learning. Kohn tells us in his 1993 book Punished by Rewards....the signs of student dependency are questions such as "Do we have to know this?" and "Is this going to be on the test?" That student is saying, "My love of learning has been kicked out of me." Anyway, moving on to the next sticky, hmm. Oh yeah school, Ritalin, ADD. Is it that our kids all of a sudden have ADD in record numbers, or is it that the traditional school setting is unnatural and out of whack, especially in our new world. With the massive amount of information being hurled at us on a minutely basis, wouldn't it be advantageous to be able to ignore the extraneous, useless, boring material? Also, a note on ADD kids: they function every bit as well or better as regular kids when the activity is freely chosen and intrinsically motivated. Oh but life isn't like that you say? Only for those who believe it, the main message of public school. It's designed to turn living people into drones fit for the labor market. There's more right with kids labeled with "ADD" not wrong. Another excellent quote on the subject: "Because creativity and a sense of humor are dismissed as being unrelated to intelligence, teachers are employed regardless or their talents in these areas. When a child doesn't pay attention to a boring authority, the kid is labeled as having ADD. That the teacher was incapable of holding a kid's attention is not considered a deficit in "intelligence," and is thus taken out of the equation." To anyone interested in the subject I also recommend The Edison Gene: ADHD and the gift of the hunter child by Thom Hartmann. He goes on to talk about rewards and how reward removes the joy from an activity. I know from experience that this is absolutely true. Everything I've ever loved that I tried to do for money turned to trash. It doesn't matter how much I love doing something, as soon as I HAVE to, I don't want to. That's why I read and read and read and read, but I can't got to school. I lose all interest and thirst for further knowledge because it's directed by someone else. I have to remember this for Sid. "Even a single, one time reward for doing something enjoyable can kill interest in it for weeks. When an authority figure gives a reward for something, he or she is defining it as intrinsically joyless." Anyway, I could go on and on, but I recommend just reading the book. It covers so much more than the two areas I chose to highlight. It goes into the messed-up-edness of mass scale and it's dehumanizing effects, chemical dependency, ODD, food, health care, jail, TV, pharmaceuticals, and more. I will probably re-read the advice at the end of each chapter on a regular basis, particularly when it comes to parenting. I will never be a "do as I say because I say so" type parent. That is the surest way to make sure your children never respect you. Give them something to respect. They're not stupid. Anyway, the reason I felt so changed by it is probably because it was so affirming of my nagging doubts about everything. Seeing the truth will help me change it in my own life and get back on the path to authenticity and happiness. For free.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Promises I Can Keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage, by Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas

At times it was like watching Ricki Lake or Maury. I must have lived a pretty balanced life because I can so easily relate to these poor women profiled and the affluent women referred to. I understand the pressures and the desire to become established financially and get married before starting a family, and I can understand having no hope for a future outside of children and having them early. Despite being "affluent" growing up, I wanted a baby since I was 16. It all has to do with having meaningful options. Despite what right wingers want us all to think, the poor don't have the meaningful options of the rich with regards to education, careers, and mate choices. I had all of the options financially but don't feel I was encourage emotionally to pursue any of them. My self esteem was not strong enough to support ambition. Despite being talented and smart, all I cared about what getting married and having children. My marriage failed to produce children and I got divorced. I went from being the average middle class affluent educated married woman to having nothing, starting from square one like a 16 year old life drop out. Was I going to start over as though I wasn't about to turn 30? HELLLS NO! I had a kid anyway despite being dirt poor and not married to the dad. Because like the women in this book, I feel that children are central to having any meaning in life and to put money first is having your priorities backwards. Despite living paycheck to paycheck, eating Ramen noodles and going 6 years without buying a new pair of underwear I have not regretted it for a second. My son has given me all the meaning my life lacked. Having children saved some of these girls from jail, the streets, drugs, and worse. Maybe having children early might keep an already rich girl from becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but these women weren't going to be those anyway and neither was I. Some of these women on the bottom of the economic heap only went to school and got decent paying jobs BECAUSE they had children to support. Alone they had despair and no prospects for any kind of life. Why don't they (and why didn't I) choose mates with better prospects for themselves? There's only one Cinderella and she isn't real; neither is Pretty Woman. Oh yeah yeah, so why don't they get married? Because they don't want to get divorced, and the poor men available to poor women just aren't marriage material. They hold marriage to a very high standard and don't treat it like the piece of paper that some of their more affluent sisters do. "Young women also believe that they must be complete in their person-hood before entering into marriage, rather than look to the relationship to provide that wholeness. To marry before that is to be disingenuous, because the changes that may be required to achieve wholeness could destabilize the relationship." These are words of wisdom I could have used before I got married. It perfectly sums up the reason I got divorced.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Confessions of a Slacker Mom by Muffy Mead-Ferro

Thank you thank you thank you Muffy for saying it! All of it needed to be said. I too am a slacker mom. Apparently I'm a slacker altogether because I read this a couple weeks ago and am just now getting to write about it. I'm glad I put sticky notes on all the spots I especially liked. I'll start with the only negative thing, not even a negative thing, just...I dunno. Point is, the author is all against the stuff we're made to believe we need to buy, (or at least the message that we HAVE to have certain things for happy heathy smart children and lives) then admits to being and advertising executive, hmmmm.... Anyway, moving on, I love that she pointed out how Einstein and Mozart weren't raised with Baby Einstein paraphernalia and um, they were still smart =) And furthermore on that point, I just have to quote, I cannot in my own words express so perfectly how I feel about the current state of children's toys. "Wow, this violin plays music all by itself! Hey this book reads the words for me! Gosh, this paper magically doesn't let you color outside the lines! I really wonder if this is good. It might be unthinkably bad. It might be turning our children into dimwits, dolts, and dullards. Not geniuses." Anyway, I appreciated this book so much. Around every corner I kept thinking, this lady is as lazy as I am! Another helpful quote regarding safety safety safety. "And I believe that good judgment will take them a lot further than safety measures and safety rules." Anyway, final thought, I know that to be a good mom, I have to inspire not pressure, lead not push.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reality Check: What your mind knows but isn't telling you by David Weiner

Ok, essentially the same premise as Zen Physics except where Zen Physics left me feeling positive about life and death and gave me some faith, Reality Check just left me in despair. He looks at the same astronomically infinitesimal odds of life springing from matter, the vastness and infinite smallness of the universe and sees nothing, meaninglessness whereas I see more meaning than ever. He thinks that because each of us won a 300,000,000 to 1 sperm lottery then we are each insignificant whereas I feel like a winner. My dad could have coughed at a crucial time and I'd be a boy or brilliant, but he didn't, and I am as I am, and I am grateful. The thing was full of typos anyway.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Diaper Diaries: The Real Poop on a New Mom's First Year by Cynthia Copeland

I recommend this to all new mom's and not new mom's. It's hilarious and all so true. It's quick with cute little cartoons. I've read a lot of books that only deserve one line reviews and I don't bother posting them. But in this case it was worth the mention in case anyone's reading this might check it out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex by Olivia Judson

I had fun reading about all the buggies and fishies and how they mate or spawn and eat each other and all that good stuff. It was enjoyable in a zen way, but I am disappointed that I don't feel like I have a bunch of knowledge to show off. It was just so much information whizzing by. Mostly reading or watching anything about the animal kingdom makes me glad to be a human. So to make this more interesting I'll just randomly open to a page and share the most intriguing animal on it. OK, hmm, let's see, male bowerbirds. They're related to the birds of paradise that do those awesome dances for their women and puff out their feathers like fuzzy UFO's. Anyway, bowerbirds build and elaborately decorate huts and towers. They use leaves and twigs like a normal nest, but they take the time and care to decorate them all fancy by painting them with berry juice and hanging shrooms, flowers, feathers, shells, bug parts and other goodies. But what's even cooler is that they seem to have various fashion districts. Plus they're totally not random. If you go and move some dude's art around, he'll put it back the way he had it. They've also been known to steel camera equipment and socks. If you think you're helping him out by adding your own touch, he'll throw it out. Don't go messing with his vision.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream by Carl Elliott

It's hard to sum up this observant report on how we Americans live. Each chapter goes on its own little adventure through the psychosis that is identity. I guess if I were forced to say what it's "about" I'd say enhancement technologies and their place in American culture but it really doesn't take a stand on them. What I found telling is the point made in various ways that most people who purchase enhancement technologies (i.e. Prozac, boobs, amputations [?!]) claim that they do so to feel "more like themselves". People don't see themselves as depressed, fat, flat-chested, anxiety ridden, short, or rather their egos refuse to see themselves as such. The medicalization of stupid, old, home-body-ness, prone-to-blushingness has come about because our egos can't stand those labels as part of our identities. Surely I am none of those things, the real me is just like all those people on tv, all I have to do is fork over my hard earned money to buy the surgeries and pills I need to show the world who I REALLY am. I am thin, my body is just fat so I'll pay for liposuction so I can jump out and say "ta-da, look world, I was a skinny girl hiding in a fat suit all along, take that, I kept telling you all I was thing but no one believed me!!" I am a happy person, my BRAIN is just depressed. And a country like America where the economy is so wholly dependent on the "self" as a deity is happy to oblige. I guess I'm giving away my opinion on matters here a little =) What I also found interesting was the discussion of group identities (goths, punks, bodybuilders, etc). If you don't fit in with the mainstream, you can always join a subculture and fit in with them instead. What they don't like to admit though, is that subculture is just a "sub" division of our mainstream culture. You can't truly opt out, ever. You can pretend like you're "above it" that you don't "buy into it", but people are still judging you, always, you don't get to just not play. If you go outside of your house you will be observed and deduced about. Even Adbusters has its own anti-brand brand called Black Spot. No one's original, and if your thing is being original, there's a whole bunch of other people out there whose thing is being original too. They call you "alternative" or "indie". And once those get too trendy they'll come up with something originaler. All that high horse crap of mine aside, the final and more interesting adventure took us through territory inhabited by people who feel they were born in the wrong body, either the wrong gender, or with, ahem, two legs and two arms. Yes people are begging to have their limbs amputated to feel "more like themself"!! This is the kind of thing (the only kind of thing) that might make me think twice about my above position. Amputees in past lives perhaps?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Zen Physics by David Darling

Since I was about 3 or 4 I have been afraid to die. Of all the people I know, I might be the most intensely afraid. Despite a largely Christian upbringing, my rational mind does not accept its teachings and all I can see is an infinite void, utter annihilation of my self. So ever the loving father, my dad tried several different times to frame death in a way that did not scare me so. Essentially, he told me that even if death were nothing, I would never know, cuz it's nothing. This never helped. And that's the message of this book, if death is truly nothing and the self is only a construct of a living brain, then there will be no self to experience death, and therefor we can only experience life. Why this book put my mind at ease and not my dad? Dunno, but David Darling rocks. Despite a detailed description of what happens to the body in the weeks after death and a vivid tour of Japanese ritual suicide, I have never read a more uplifting affirmation of life. Using findings from quantum physics, he illustrates how the brain is not a source or conduit of consciousness, but a limiter and prison of it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America by Victor Tan Chen and Katherine Newman

Wow, each one of these stories was more depressing than the last. I don't mean this in a bad way, I mean you know going into it that it's a sad subject. If anything it made me feel gratitude for what I have in a time when I was really lacking it. However, all the subjects were from the same little area in New York and 98% of them were immigrants who barely spoke English. The problem with this? It's not about the near poor in America, it's about immigrants and their difficulty getting a foothold here. That's ok, just call it that. I agree with all the reforms and programs proposed at the end, but so what, it's just a book. If only books could change things like they used to. They made an important point in warning not to let the American principal of if you work hard you will prosper become a lie. But it already is a lie. People who have it good think that the people who don't make a lot of money deserve it because they are lazy. These people work their asses off. All employed people work their asses off. Working your ass off in America isn't rewarded equally. Another realization is the effect of two simultaneous fucked up events. On one hand over here you have welfare reform booting a bunch of single mothers into the workforce. Ok yay, punish those welfare queens. On the other hand over here you have No Child Left Behind resulting in all kinds of extra academic demands on children and their parents. So now you have a bunch of kids of single mom's failing school because their mom's can't get off work to be a force in their children's academic life. So now their kids are gonna be undereducated (stupid) and will have to take their own shitty paying benefit free exhausting job. I'm not really describing this properly right now because I am also watching "Obese and Pregnant" on TLC. Anyway, point being, those of you "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" people forget that not everyone has boots. Yes we do expect people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and welfare isn't supposed replace effort, it's just the boots. To those of you who begrudge them this I say wow, good for you, I sure admire the choices you made before you were born, aren't you glad you didn't go get high the day parents were handed out like those other losers.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse by Gregg Easterbrook

This must have been written before the "recession" "depression" "economic downturn" we seem to be currently experiencing. Well, at least I am, everyone around me seems to be doing dandy. Maybe it's just because I didn't go to college and made the wrong choices with my personal life, lied to myself about what I really wanted in life because I thought I couldn't have it, and am therefor stupid and deserve less security than everyone else. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, so since we all aren't dying of plague, dumping our poo out the window onto homeless people, and have food (any food) we should all be happy now. He totally tortured the statistics to prove his case and must live in some gated community where he doesn't have to look at poverty. He's right to make fun of all the garbage there is to buy and all the people desperately spending dollar after dollar hoping to fill the void left by their jobs which can never pay enough to make up for the portion of the soul they've taken. Anyway, I didn't finish it, the guy was a silver spoon asshole.

The High Price of Materialism by Tim Kasser

Pages and pages of statistics and examples of painfully obvious psychological questionnaires. I don't disagree with the premise, but the material was dry. Plus it seemed like a rehash of something we all now intuitively, but it sure didn't make me feel any better about being poor.

It's a Boy!: Your Son's Development from Birth to Age 18 by Michael Thompson Ph.D., Teresa Barker

So, I guess I'm gonna home school my kid or he'll be dead inside and illiterate.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to 2012 by Synthia Andrews, Colin Andrews

It started out as an engrossing reference about the Maya. I had fun practicing writing numbers in Mayan. It got a little less and less interesting as it went along, really bumming me out somewhere at the 60% mark with all the doomsday prophecies, then just trailed off to where I slowed to a skim and only read the bold headings until the end. Morgellons, are they kidding me? How about just telling us where to move where it's safe. Texas maybe? Siberia? Be sure to keep extra batteries and canned food for when the gamma rays dissolve the planet. A little more on the Maya, a little less on the wackadoos, except that Edgar Cayce guy, he sounded interesting.

There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Anthony Flew

Reading this conjured images of elbow patches, beards, and tobacco pipes. Ok so apparently they actually did the monkeys and typewriters experiment to see if they'd come up with Shakespeare. So by taking the number of actual words they typed including the letter a with spaces on either side (very few if any) in however many pages they typed, they calculated how long it would take them to come up with a Shakespeare sonnet. The outcome was like 1 in some number that was greater than the number of particles in the known universe. So essentially, not possible. So then he shows us the statistical probability of the first elements creating amino acid chains for life as 1 in some other number even ridiculously bigger than the monkey one, point being, not really in the realm of extreme possibility. Therefor there's a God. I dunno, maybe.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Body Wars by Margo Maine

Excellent cause, good effort. Just a little simplistic, fighting fat phobia is a lot harder than this little volume would have you believe. It is a great resource if you need a list of resources. I didn't feel like I read anything I didn't know. A few more facts to back up her arguments would have been helpful. Just the wrong subject matter for where I'm at right now. I'm losing this baby weight not conceding to the cake and expecting movie theaters to make bigger seats for my butt.

Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye by Brad Warner

Hardcore Zen was awesome and I'm pretty sure I gave it rave reviews on my old site from some other life. I even exchanged a message or two with the author, very cool. Sit Down and Shut Up was also good if just a little crabbier, but that's ok, I'm crabbier these days too. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't get everything which I am not used to. Unfortunately, I just got the idea to keep track of books I read a month or so after I finished this, so I don't remember too much but I wanted to mention it. I didn't hate it or love it. But that's not a commentary on the book, just my own attitude about everything at the moment.

Why Men Fall Out of Love: The Secrets They Don't Tell by Michael French

I enjoyed the sneak peek into the minds of men, but I hope not all men. From what I can tell the subjects all had mommy and daddy issues and found women who also had mommy and daddy issues. No one ever wants to get over their mommy and daddy issues cuz it's hard, so everyone blames each other and breaks up cuz they're babies. Not a crappy book, but longer than necessary due to the subjects suddenly deciding to make up for their lifetimes of manly silence.

You Want Fries With That: A White-Collar Burnout Experiences Life at Minimum Wage by Prioleau Alexander

This guy had me rolling with laughter for the first, like, two thirds. I really enjoyed his style and sense of humor. He comes off as someone everyone can relate to at first. His description of life sitting at home with a working wife is strikingly familiar. He made a tour of shitty jobs interesting and fun. But he lost me towards the end where he pretty much forgets everything he said at the beginning and returns to his white collar la-di-da elitism. In the beginning he gives these minimum wage jobs their due and accurately surmises that if all of these workers were to walk off the job one day, life would stop and that everything you spoiled soft civilized people have is because of them. But having experienced this life, he decides he's too good, encourages us to run as far as we can from these jobs. So let's all read the book, get office jobs, and sit around in our own crap looking at each other blankly wondering when the pizza is gonna get here.