Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by Ted Heiks, Jul 27, 2013.
How was that?
Hello, I've just begun reading it.
Oh, that was unclear. Interested to hear what you thought of it once you're done.
Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal- William Leuchtenberg
The Age of Reform: from Bryan to FDR- Richard Hofstadter and then The New Deal: A Modern History- Michael Hiltzik
The Black Panther Party: Service to the People Programs (2008), this book discusses 20 of the more than 60 community services that the Panthers operated in the 60s and 70s including providing free breakfasts, groceries, escorts for the elderly, legal aid, landbanking, ambulance and medical care. For each of these, they discuss what resources they need to launch them (e.g. how many volunteers, what equipment specifically) and how much it will cost. Fundraising tactics and the rationale for the different programs are also discussed. Based on the costs the book appears to be written in the 1970s so this might be a reprint.
Also included is the Black Panther Party Position Paper on the Elimination of the Offices of President and Vice President, some work by Elaine Brown, Ericka Huggins and Emory Douglas, several book excerpts (Revolutionary Suicide, Huey P. Newton's autobiography, Toward the United Front from Blood in My Eye by George Jackson, And Bid Him Sing by David Graham DuBois and I Am We by Huey P. Newton) and an afterword by David Hilliard.
It was a little different than I was expecting but a good read nonetheless. I think the most interesting program was landbanking, where nonprofits are formed that purchase vacant or abandoned lots, or empty land at low prices and then restores them or makes them livable in order to rent them at reasonable rates. This is similar to a housing co-op and could still be useful today.
A Choice Not an Echo (1964) by Phyllis Schlafly. This was her self-published book advocating Barry Goldwater for President and swung the California primary for him. It's very compelling, in that if you take it at face value she makes a strong case for Goldwater and against the unethical "kingmakers" who decided the candidates at nominating conventions of the day. Unfortunately Gell-Mann Amnesia comes into play here: she makes claims that don't stand up to scrutiny which makes me question the ones where I don't have deeper knowledge of the events stated.
For one example: in 1956 the kingmakers decided Nixon should not be Eisenhower's running mate and for his role in attempting (unsuccessfully) to get him replaced, the kingmakers decided former Christian Herter should be Undersecretary of State despite no experience or credentials in the role. Except that Herter was:
Attaché to the US Embassy in Berlin from 1916-1917
Secretary of the U.S. Commission to Negotiate Peace from 1918-1919
Assistant to Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover from 1919-1924
Member of Congress from 1930-1942
Board Member of the Middle East Institute starting in 1946
Chaired the Herter Committee (House Select Committee on Foreign Aid) that developed the Marshall Plan in 1947
Governor of Massachusetts from 1953-1957
And finally was appointed Under Secretary of State in 1957 and Secretary of State in 1959. To say he had no experience in government or foreign affairs is just a flat out lie.
She also advocates a range of simple solutions to complex problems like that to end Communism we merely have to stop giving Communist countries foreign aid. Color me skeptical.
Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam 1945-2010- James Olsen and Randy Roberts; The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt-Matthew Lassiter and All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s-Elizabeth Hoffman ( all next week)
Smarter Next Year by David Bardsley (2019). A short book, I read it in a night. It discusses neuroplasticity and strategies for reducing executive dysfunction and mild cognitive dysfunction.
Most of the strategies are common sense but a good reminder:
Get 8 hours of sleep a day
Eliminate toxic substances in your environment
Take a daily multivitamin and melatonin
Turn off electronic devices 30 minutes before bed
A huge part of the book is devoted to how exercise can improve your life, by helping reduce stress, improve your cognition and grow neurons through brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF).
One of the pieces of advice I didn't like was a recommendation to limit all possible medications. Even though it included the note to work with your physician to do this, I'm not sure I believe that most people are on unnecessary medication.
"Necessary" is defined by the doctor who prescribes it. There's a tendency in Canada, I find, for a family doctor to refer a patient to a specialist for just about anything. The specialist will often prescribe a finely-crafted cocktail of 4-5 meds that they think does a better job than any single med. Too many specialists = your bedside table breaks under the load. And so might YOU!
Best defence I've found? Limit the specialists and you'll limit the meds. I took none at all for 25 years. I have to take some, now, but I watch it. It's manageable. Some specialists don't like me.
"Fashion's New Tribe - [email protected] Girls - Risk Takers, Rule Breakers, Disrupters." Marko MacPherson, 2017
Dynamite, brilliant women, at all the new frontiers of the Fashion Industry. My kind of book! Some day I want to write one this exciting!
The Campaign Manager: Running and Winning Local Elections, 5th Ed. By Catherine Shaw. (2014)
This book is jam-packed with useful information about every aspect of running a campaign, with a specific focus on local and state offices (Statehouse, State Senate) and ballot measures.
I originally bought it to learn more about precinct and voter analysis and there's a complete guide for how to do that, including identifying swing voters and how to activate them.
Every aspect of campaigning is covered, including really practical stuff like how to place lawn signs, how to do (or when not to do) direct mail, fundraising appeals, brochure design, canvassing, talking to the media and more.
This is an awesome resource for anyone considering elected office. It doesn't feel dated given that many of the issues faced in local and state campaigns apply year after year, and it's careful to note where the information (like the section on social media) is likely to be dated by the time goes to print given the speed of the internet.
All in all, a great resource.
Just finished Fail U.: The False Promise of Higher Education by Charles J. Sykes (2016). The book is about issues with American universities, and follows the author's other books ProfScam (1989) and
Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add (1996). Apparently he's found a winning formula and is going to keep banging the same drum.
Sykes raises some legitimate criticisms: American universities have high tuition, and spend a lot on non-academic administration, sports, etc., at the expense of their mission to teach. Students aren't learning any better than they were years ago despite efforts to raise educational standards, and grade inflation and pressure to raise enrollment has caused students to be admitted who aren't equipped with the tools to be successful.
But he also has a lot of complaints that are either weakly argued or appear to contradict each other: he complains about "useless" liberal arts majors, while later in the book lamenting that most students lack knowledge of history and foreign languages, skills they gain in those 'useless' programs.
He talks badly about adjuncts while noting he himself was an adjunct professor of mass communication (likely one of those majors he would decry as useless.) He devotes at least 2 chapters to the idea that professors sit back and do no work. "Work" in this context is defined solely as teaching undergraduates. He uncritically dismisses the idea that professors are hired to do research and insists they're just being lazy. He calls students snowflakes (repeatedly) and uses education funding figures from 1960-1975 (!) to claim that schools are more funded than ever, while totally ignoring the decline in state funding of universities that followed.
One of the final chapters was about the rise of MOOCs, which the author noted failed to displace traditional higher education as expected.
I finally opened this book up again and finished it. Richard Dawkins is always a pleasant read, but once again I feel like he has left a lot to be desired. Rather than an elaborate discussion of his theory that religious belief is best categorized as a form of delusion, he only sprinkled the idea in here and there as he went along. Shermer did it much better in The Believing Brain. This was just one of many outlets where Dawkins explains why he does not believe in God, and why he thinks religion is bad. Same old, same old. He has this tendency to only very briefly summarize an opposing point of view, usually in an extremely oversimplified way, and only doing a slapdash superficial job of trying to refute it. Then, he'll spike the football, do a celebratory dance and go on and on and on and on and on about how crazy it is that, in this day and age, there still exist people in the world who actually disagree with him.
So, yes, I'm happy that I finally got around to reading this book, but it is absolutely not the groundbreaking, life-changing smackdown of theism that I've always heard it was.
Next up: Don Quixote. Should be fun!
See You Again in Pyongyang: A Journey Into Kim Jong Un's North Korea
Book by Travis Jeppesen (2016)
This book is apparently a non-fiction novel, mixing a deeply researched overview of North Korea with specific stories from the author's month spent at a university in North Korea on a language/cultural exchange. There is some playing with the narrative to give it a nicer flow, and the creation of composite characters (part of what makes it a novel apparently) but the author insists that everything described really happened in one way or another.
The author attempts to present a nuanced view of North Korea, including specific justifications for its nuclear program and critiques of defectors (among other things), that at time feel a bit like propaganda.
But he acknowledges the abysmal human rights situation at the same time and provides rich color and depth that I haven't read elsewhere on North Korea.
An enjoyable book all in all. It was one of 5 I picked up at the Dollar Tree recently! Worth it.
The Origin of Capitalism- Ellen Wood
77 pages, but no more Ted. Sigh....
Essential Juche Works, Red Flame Press (2020)
Never have I read a book that used more words to say less things in my life, and I read Atlas Shrugged.
This is not a comprehensive discussion of the Juche philosophy that North Korea falsely claims to be based on (although it does include brief mentions of things North Korea lies about providing their people: universal healthcare, education, freedom of religion etc.) Instead it's a series of writings by Kim-jong il and Kim-il sung, with a heaping of racism near the end as multiculturalism is attacked as weakening Korean society. The writings are not dense, but they are incomprehensible. They have no thesis, just logorrhea, with many of the writings simply saying the same things about the wonders of socialism and the dangers of capitalism. The actual writings are all available online, so you don't need the book.
Now that I'm finished I'm not even sure I want to keep it now that I know how terrible it is.
The Counter Reformation by David Luebke and Christianity in the West, 1400 to 1700 by John Bossy.
Separate names with a comma.