July 17, 2013

Review: Slaughterhouse-Five

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 11:14 am

Slaughterhouse-Five
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am quite surprised I never got around to commenting on this book. I read this right after Sucker’s Portfolio. For being one of his groundbreaking novels I am equally surprised I did not read this much earlier in life.

This book was amazing. The picture it paints of an American GI in the European Theater of WW2 is breath taking and enlightening. This mixture of horror and humanity is one that is difficult to put in words without one reading it for him or herself. At many points it brought a tear to my eyes.

Fantastic work!



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Review: The Constitution of the United States of America

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 11:11 am

The Constitution of the United States of America
The Constitution of the United States of America by James Madison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well it was about high time I read the US Contsitution in its entirity. The electronic version I read also had the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederacy. This is some great stuff of course. Perhaps I am biased because I am a United States citizen. What I found most interesting was the clarification of important points between the Articles and the Constitution. The refinement that went on was a telling path to what the founders of the United States of America felt strongly about.

I read this in one afternoon and plan to re-read it on a regular basis.



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July 14, 2013

Review: Religious Right: The Greatest Threat to Democracy

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 3:30 pm

Religious Right: The Greatest Threat to Democracy
Religious Right: The Greatest Threat to Democracy by A.F. Alexander

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, a bit about the writing itself and the Kindle version. This book is long, very long, and at some points I think a bit more editing could have pared it down somewhat and removed redundancy. On the otherhand, the writing style is very approachable to a wide audience. Whle rife with from primary sources, the book is not weighed down to the point of being disjointed. The layout translated well to the Kindle but there are some typos and curious grammatical quarks that I believe are more attributed to the conversion than overall editing. I have seen similar issues with other electronic books.

A.F. Alexander makes no bones about his concerns with the religious right and what I think is very important is that he does so not at the expense of Christianity. He is very respectful of Christianity and does not at all attach the religion. This is not an “athiest attach on the tenants of Christianity” but a thoroughly researched warning of a very strict, very dangerous, fundamental segment of the religion that is on a crusade to turn the United States into a Theocracy. Aside from the primary resources cited, A.F. Alexander was himself brought up in the movement.

The text focuses on the Dominionist movement accounting the 7 Mountains Mandate that targets 7 levels of society: Business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family and religion. The Seven Mountains were coined by Bill Bright the founder of the Campus Crusade, Loren Cunningham founder of Youth with a Mission, and Francis Schaeffer. An account of the rise of Evangelical Fundamentalism is provided and how their mission to influcence politics from grass roots level up to coroporate sponsered superfunds has been attained.

At the heart of this book is the first ammendment to the Constitution of the United States:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

What is important to understand is that the founders of the United States did not form a Christian Nation; that is revisionist history. Many of the founders were Deists. The first ammendment clearly builds a wall between religion and the government. A wall that provides no preferential treatment to any one religion nor interferes with one’s religous choice. What Dominionist are doing is erroding that wall and entagling their religion with politics attacking the very tenants of this country and infriging on the rights of those who do not adhere to their world views. They are taking Christianity into a dark place where many historic accounts abound when a theocracy holds a nations and the atrocities committed there in. We have only to look at other nations like Iran and Egypt where a religious minority have usurped government and created a fundamentalist state with aborrant results. We as a nations must protect the first ammendment and disentangle religion from politics or risk spiraling into a similar society of oppression and violence.

Pick up any newspaper today or visit most any website on current events and you can see this battle being played out from Womans rights to immigration issues, environmental issues, birth control and marriage equality. We as a society need to stand up for the tenants of the constitution and disentangle religion from politics and being to make better progress. Otherwise we ruin both our nation and sully Christianity.

A very thought provoking book.



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May 13, 2013

Review: Sucker’s Portfolio

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 9:45 am

Sucker's Portfolio
Sucker’s Portfolio by Kurt Vonnegut

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really love Vonnegut and this collection of short stories and one non-fiction essay did not disappoint. The first story – Between Timid and Timbuktu really caught me from the start. While the ending elicited an initial let down response, upon further reflection it worked very well. I don’t think I want the answer to what was proposed.

The non-fiction essay was great, very entertaining and informative. Including this in the book was not a disappointment at all. What was a bummer, though, was that the last story was incomplete. Just as one is getting into it, it’s over. The story reminded me a lot of The Sirens of Titan.

Great collection and if you are a Vonnegut fan, a must read!



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April 29, 2013

Review: Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 9:25 am

Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street
Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street by Neil Barofsky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bailout as very frustrating to read. Not because it was poorly written, quite the opposite; I though the book was a smooth read. No it was frustrating to catch a glimpse of the turmoils one has to weed through to navigate the bureaucracy in Washington to get some meaningful change implemented. This hint of the troubles involved opens the window to see how inefficient and troubling it is for any kind of effective reform.

What concerns me the most, though, is that the given the challenges and the mess going in, and the walls imposed along Barofsky’s trek, coming out the other end, there was little reform to stave off a repeat necessitating another bail out. Of course, this frustration was palpable throughout the summary of the book.

My one complaint is that I am unclear as to why Barofsky stepped down from his position. Was it this red tape and frustration prompting him? Did he feel his work was complete and it was time to move on? Did he feel ineffectual? I was not clear on his reasonings. He seemed to have a short lived career as a SIG.



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April 9, 2013

Review: Real Mermaids Don’t Need High Heels

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 8:55 am

Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels
Real Mermaids Don’t Need High Heels by Helene Boudreau

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book three of the Real Mermaids series read. This one had a good deal of action and mystery that it did and a coming together of friends at the end. What more could an adolescent girl ask for? There is even some headier romance. I will say, Boudreau has done another great job and the book kept me interested too. I look forward to reading the fourth novel in the very near future!



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Review: Real Mermaids Don’t Hold Their Breath

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 8:45 am

Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath
Real Mermaids Don’t Hold Their Breath by Helene Boudreau

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book picks up right were the first one ended and does a great job keeping the pace. My daughter loved this book.

There are new wrinkles along the way as the truth about Jade is revealed to her best friend. There is a quest to find her mother and return her to the family, and of course her blossoming relationship with Luke, who we learned from the end of the first book is also a Mer.

Pure, delightful fantasy for a pre-adolescent and not a bad read for adults, if you like mermaids and pre-teen angst.



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February 21, 2013

Review: The Hunger Games

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 1:19 pm

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. The characters were compelling and the story very well paced. I look forward to reading the other two volumes in the trilogy as well as watching the movie at some point.



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February 6, 2013

Review: Real Mermaids Don’t Hold Their Breath

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 10:03 am

Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath
Real Mermaids Don’t Hold Their Breath by Helene Boudreau

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book picks up right were the first one ended and does a great job keeping the pace. My daughter loved this book.

There are new wrinkles along the way as the truth about Jade is revealed to her best friend. There is a quest to find her mother and return her to the family, and of course her blossoming relationship with Luke, who we learned from the end of the first book is also a Mer.

Pure, delightful fantasy for a pre-adolescent and not a bad read for adults, if you like mermaids and pre-teen angst.



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Review: Who Stole the American Dream? Can We Get It Back?

Filed under: Uncategorized — dann @ 9:50 am

Who Stole the American Dream? Can We Get It Back?
Who Stole the American Dream? Can We Get It Back? by Hedrick Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an eye opening book. The author does a great job summarizing his points based upon the events of the past 50 years and their impact on the Middle Class in particular. The main point is that when business and working class/labor force goals are aligned a virtuous circle is created whereby the needs of both are met, profits are made, and the economy as a whole prospers. The author’s point is that in the past 30 years in particular business has shifted away from supporting their work force to bolstering the wallets of share holders and wallstreet. The shift to profit at any cost, the movement to driving down labor costs, and seeking out resources in other countries has driven a huge schism between management and labor and unless some serious shifts in business and economics are made the downward spiral will continue.

One salient example to all this is covered in the chapters on Walmart. Walmart’s drive to offer consumers the lowest cost possible has pushed manufacturers to move their factories over seas to China. By pushed that means Walmart has specifically told manufacturers they need to move their factories over seas to reduce cost or their products will not be sold at Walmart. To a business, this is the death kneel and those who have tried to fight this have sufferred tremendously. While consumers get the lowest cost, that cost is then passed on to the rest of the economy causing loss of jobs, increased dependency on welfare programs, and increased dependency on foreign goods and services. Walmarts profits soar but everyone else suffers in the long run. Since reading these chapters I have not shopped at Walmart, instead focusing more on local businesses.

I think the author does a fantastic job presenting his information culled from years of research and reporting on these topics. There is clearly a bias here towards labor and the middle class, and I would like to read some counter points to his arguements to make a more informed decision on these topics. Still, what I have learned is very jarring.



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