I'm the nerd who thought Spock and Scotty were the real heroes of Star Trek. I'm the nerd who wished that scene in Apollo 13, with the filters and theI'm the nerd who thought Spock and Scotty were the real heroes of Star Trek. I'm the nerd who wished that scene in Apollo 13, with the filters and the hoses and the "Make that fit into that," had gone on much longer. This is a ripping good yarn in the tradition of the Golden Age of science fiction, but with up-to-the-minute technological advances....more
I've read an awful lot of books on coping with and eliminating clutter. At one point, the books themselves became part of the clutter. While there areI've read an awful lot of books on coping with and eliminating clutter. At one point, the books themselves became part of the clutter. While there are several bits of advice that I could never use -- empty your purse every evening? keep your books in a closet? -- the main message of the "KonMarie" method seems to me to be universal. Keep only what sparks joy in you. Take each and every item in hand, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it does, keep it. If it doesn't, thank it for its service and send it on its way. After you're done, your home will be filled only with things that make you happy.
While I was reading, and starting this process in my mind, I realized that I have been keeping a drawing table that I've never used, for that "someday". Meanwhile, I keep bumping into it every time I go to bed or have to get to the closet. It's not sparking any joy, only guilt. Off it goes to the thrift shop next week.
Another message that struck a chord with me was this: keeping things that don't spark joy is about one of two things -- clinging to the past, or fear of the future. And both of those keep us from living in the present....more
I was there, but I was a little too young to follow all the events of 1960 to 1963, leading up to that awful day. I left Dallas as soon as I could, anI was there, but I was a little too young to follow all the events of 1960 to 1963, leading up to that awful day. I left Dallas as soon as I could, and never gave more than a few minutes' thought to going back. Maybe if I had known that Alger, Walker, Criswell, Dealey, and the Birchers weren't the whole story, maybe if I had known that people like Juanita Craft, Stanley Marcus, and H. Rhett James were still there, still fighting the good fight, maybe if I had stopped to think about the quarter of a million people who came out to enthusiastically greet the motorcade, maybe I would have stayed. Maybe.
I've read a few accounts of that day and the ensuing years of investigations and conspiracy theories, but never a book about the events in Dallas in the years leading up to 11/22/63. The story is related in the present tense, which gives it an immediacy that is lacking in the other accounts. Oswald is an important character, but hardly the central character. Jack Ruby is more three-dimensional than I've ever seen him before, and I can almost, but not quite, understand his motives.
Dallas in 1963 was just a microcosm of what we're seeing all across the United States today. For most of my life, I believed that fracturing started in November 1963, the day that the dreams of a more peaceful and more just society, died. What this book has shown me is that the fault lines were always there, and perhaps always will be.
I'll close with a quote from the speech that JFK was to have delivered at the Dallas Trade Mart that afternoon.
"Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country’s security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason— or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem."
There were many people in Dallas who had simple and swift solutions, just as there are today. Too bad we can't hear the voices of the peacemakers amid the loud noises of the fearful and hateful....more
Having had this book on my to-read list for several months, I finally listened to the audiobook during my commute, and I'm very glad I did. The authorHaving had this book on my to-read list for several months, I finally listened to the audiobook during my commute, and I'm very glad I did. The author is also the reader, and having seen him on interview shows before, I knew it would be a good reading, and it was.
I knew a little something about the early Church from reading I did several years ago, but there were still several nuggets that were new to me. For example, I never realized that the debate over "salvation by faith alone" - Paul's stand - versus "faith plus works" - the position of the Church leaders in Jerusalem, who still considered themselves Jews, dates all the way back to the origins of the Church. One aspect of the 2,000 year history of the Church is the struggle to balance these two competing philosophies, and I think it's most apparent in the 21st century American fundamentalist branches, which preach "salvation by faith alone," but at the very same time hew to a very legalistic and literal reading of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, at least when it comes to sexual, but not dietary, matters.
Zealot is an excellent introduction to this subject, and Reza Aslan is an excellent storyteller. I recommend this book to anyone who is at all interested in the topic of the early Church.
For a deeper dive into the subject, I've started listening to Bart Ehrman's lectures, The New Testament, from the Great Courses series....more
I have enjoyed reading the glowing reviews of other writers here. I just want to add that what struck me most about Pagels' narrative is to what a larI have enjoyed reading the glowing reviews of other writers here. I just want to add that what struck me most about Pagels' narrative is to what a large extent the disputes among the early Christians were never really settled but are still on-going to this day. Regarding the struggle between the followers of Paul, for whom belief in the Resurrection was both necessary and sufficient for being the "right kind of Christian," and the followers of the church in Jerusalem--led by Peter, and James the brother of Jesus--who believed that a true follower of Jesus must live a good Jewish life, as Jesus did--tradition tells us that this disagreement was resolved and Paul and Peter were reconciled. But in fact, Christians still argue this point to the present day. Pagels sheds a lot of light on this topic by showing how the Book of Revelation was used (and still is used) to not only support one side or the other of the argument, but to actually demonize one's opponents. Being vs Doing, Orthodoxy (correct belief) vs Orthopraxis (correct practice), words vs actions--still being argued, still being demonized.
Fascinating stuff. For a slightly different take on early Church history as it relates to the Christian canon of written sciptures, I highly recommend Bart D. Ehrman; in particular, "Jesus, Interrupted," "Misquoting Jesus," and "Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are."
Chuck Thompson probably didn't write this book with me in mind. As much as I sympathize with the sentiment in the title, I could not finish this bookChuck Thompson probably didn't write this book with me in mind. As much as I sympathize with the sentiment in the title, I could not finish this book and can't recommend it as a good representative of the genre. I grew up in the South[west] that he writes about, and I couldn't leave soon enough, in part because of the cult of sports--by which I mean, of course, football. So it should be no surprise that where I finally got so bogged down that I couldn't finish the chapter, much less the book, was in the interminable chapter that tries to show that college and pro football leagues and their misdeeds are characteristic of, and may even be the root cause of, everything that is wrong with the South. Preaching to the choir, Mr. Thompson. It doesn't take a never-ending chapter to convince me. Only a die-hard football fan could get all the way through this book.
Gail Collins connects the dots from Texas's failed experiments with deregulation and privatization, to their spread to the rest of the country. It's aGail Collins connects the dots from Texas's failed experiments with deregulation and privatization, to their spread to the rest of the country. It's a race to the bottom, and we're all losing....more
I'm actually re-reading this book. I first read it a few years ago and liked it very much, but couldn't recall the title or the author. I own a copy oI'm actually re-reading this book. I first read it a few years ago and liked it very much, but couldn't recall the title or the author. I own a copy of another Stilgoe book titled "Train Time," and seeing it was enough to finally jog my memory. Leave the car at home. Walk or ride a bicycle. Look, really look, at the human-built environment....more
This deceptively small book is the true story of the early life of author Elia Kazan's uncle, but contains the story of countless immigrants who prevaThis deceptively small book is the true story of the early life of author Elia Kazan's uncle, but contains the story of countless immigrants who prevailed against impossible odds to reach America. Kazan was a director, producer, actor, and writer, and the story of Stavros unfolds as if ready for the stage or silver screen--and in fact was filmed the following year, with Kazan writing the screenplay and directing.
The story had particular significance for me. My paternal grandfather was from the same part of the world as Kazan's protagonist Stavros. Cyprus was already a British protectorate, no longer under the exclusive rule of the Ottoman Turks, when my grandfather was born. I don't really know my grandfather's full story--I don't think he endured quite the same setbacks on his journey here--but Kazan's sort novel illuminates my own grandfather's life as no non-fiction account has ever done for me....more
History doesn't repeat, but it does rhyme. The parallels between the Great Depression and today's financial crisis have already been well-documented bHistory doesn't repeat, but it does rhyme. The parallels between the Great Depression and today's financial crisis have already been well-documented by Paul Krugman and other "demand-side" economists, but "Since Yesterday" is a contemporary account, told from the perspective of only a few years into the 1940s. All the same characters are here: the supply-siders who want to cut taxes on corporations and so-called job-creators; the same blame-the-victim mentality that makes the implausible claim that the borrowers, not the banksters, cause the financial collapse; the same calls for slashing government spending at a time when the country needs government spending the most; banks and "investors" that receive generous infusions of cash and then sit on it instead of letting it circulate; and on, and on. Change a few dates and names, and it reads like any news story from the last 5 years. ...more
"You have everything you need to be human. There is nothing outside of you that you still need--no approval from the authorities, no attendance at tem"You have everything you need to be human. There is nothing outside of you that you still need--no approval from the authorities, no attendance at temple, no key truth hidden in the tenth chapter of some sacred book. In your life right now, God has given you everything that you need to be human."...more
I'm not a big mystery reader, but I like everything about this series--characters I care about, a murder mystery that I care about, and wonderfully reI'm not a big mystery reader, but I like everything about this series--characters I care about, a murder mystery that I care about, and wonderfully readable writing. You don't always get all three in the same book. I think the last mystery series like this that I read all the way through without a break was the Lord Peter Whimsy and Harriet Vane series by Dorothy Sayers. And now I join the looong wait for Book 7, due to hit the stands in April 2011....more