Ariely was the most engaging keynote speaker of the 2010 JMP Discovery Conference. I disagree with his interpretative conclusion for a couple experime...moreAriely was the most engaging keynote speaker of the 2010 JMP Discovery Conference. I disagree with his interpretative conclusion for a couple experiments in this book, but generally he presents accurate observations of human nature.(less)
This is the first book I've read cover-to-cover on any topic in less than twelve hours in years. It's that engaging! I think she does an excellent job...moreThis is the first book I've read cover-to-cover on any topic in less than twelve hours in years. It's that engaging! I think she does an excellent job of presenting the conflict in her life and why she chooses to remain connected to Mormonism. A wonderful read for a liberal Mormon or one familiar with Mormon culture. I haven't busted a gut laughing out loud from a book in a long time. This book was fantastic.(less)
An enjoyable if sometimes disjointed collection of tales told by a country music legend. My favorite was of Sammy Davis Jr. chewing out a celebrity-la...moreAn enjoyable if sometimes disjointed collection of tales told by a country music legend. My favorite was of Sammy Davis Jr. chewing out a celebrity-laden audience partway through Merle's first song for not giving him an appropriate welcome when he took the stage. (less)
This book demonstrates there is something to admire about Eastwood (namely his work ethic and relative frugality) but also something to abhor (his wom...moreThis book demonstrates there is something to admire about Eastwood (namely his work ethic and relative frugality) but also something to abhor (his womanizing). He is most noted for making non-traditional westerns as opposed to the mythical westerns of John Wayne. Perhaps if he had loosened up the reigns earlier in his career as a director the way he did in "Unforgiven", and every movie thereafter, he might have created more enduring films. Unquestionably an enigmatic figure - rare for a film star of his calibre.
My favorite portion was this paragraph early in the book discussing traditional (i.e. mythical) versus non-traditional westerns of television in the 1950's.
"'There is something consensual here, some need for nightly reassurance that the family (which was also, metaphorically a small corporation), properly managed and controlled, could be an institution for all seasons, that its leader and father figure, was capable of mastering all situations. Daddy always knew best, even in the wide-open spaces. The old general in the fifties White House, the older doctors and lawyers on the medical and legal shows, the younger but no less controlling fathers of the sitcoms - all eventually rounded up their charges and headed 'em out on a righteous path.
When today's right-wing social critics call for the media to celebrate 'family values' it is something like this they are nostalgically attempting to summon up. They forget - as people refused to acknowledge at the time - that there was always something abnormal about fifties normalcy. At best, the word refers us in any period to a consensus about what the culturally dominant middle class believes to constitute the good- or, anyway, respectable - life for its members and aspirants. Yet everyone knows that millions are excluded - or exclude themselves from these consensuses. The Era of Good Feelings that we thought we shared in the fifties was in the largest sense a fraud or, at best, a kind of metafiction. On most important matters - the relationship between races, sexes, classes, and generations, for example - it grotesquely, even tragically, misrepresented reality, with the mass media amplifying (and in the processs further distorting) this misrepresentation."
Eastwood and Wayne differed in their viewpoint and objective for telling the story of the West but they respected each other nonetheless - a model of tolerance we should all attain.(less)
This book is an account of a well-to-do 19th century British woman, Jane Rio, who uprooted her life to pursue belief in Mormonism at its nascent only...moreThis book is an account of a well-to-do 19th century British woman, Jane Rio, who uprooted her life to pursue belief in Mormonism at its nascent only to be disillusioned on her arrival in Salt Lake City with the discovery of polygamy and unbridled authoritarianism. Her experience is summed up by the following (p.139).
"My 20-acre farm turned out to be a mere saleratus (sodium bicarbonate) patch, killing the seed which was sown instead of producing a crop," Jean Rio recalled years later in an addendum to her diary. Admitting defeat, she deserted her land, moving into a "small log house" in Ogden to learn dressmaking. "I have tried to do my best in the various circumstances in which I have been placed," she wrote. "I came here in obedience to what I believed to be a revelation of the most high God, trusting in the assurance of the missionaries whom I believed to have the spirit of truth. I left my home, sacrificed my property, broke up every dear association, and what was and is yet dearer than all, left my beloved native land. And for what? A bubble that has burst in my grasp. It has been a severe lesson, but I can say that it has led me to lean more on my Heavenly Father and less on the words of men."
Two of her sons left Utah territory as soon as they were able. "They could not stand poverty any longer so ran away from it." Later Jean married a Gentile in Utah who lived only six months. Her oldest son, William, who was devout and a polygamist was reinstated after being disfellowshipped for purchasing a pair of boots from a Gentile. She eventually left Utah with the remainder of her family, excepting William, to join her sons in California who had prospered. She became a member of the First Congregational Church and contributed to her community there. Jean made one 21 month long visit to spend time with her son William and his family in Richfield, Utah before returning to California to live out the rest of her life.
(p.180)"Wilford Woodruff issued the first edict against polygamy that forced William into hiding and ultimately result in his incarceration as a polygamist. Ordered to divide his property and cash among his two families, and required to provide for them financially, he found the task impossible. Despite his ample income, there was simply not enough to support two wives and eighteen children." [His second wife:] Nicolena suddenly found herself a forty-five year old mother of seven with little if any outside support. She, like hundreds of other polygamist women in her position, received no financial aid from the church." Nor was the husband she was depending upon to pull her "through the veil" able to provide much assistance." "When William died in 1901 he received a substantial obituary reflective of his longstanding stature in the community of Richfield. Neither Nicolena nor any of his children by her were named as next of kin. Like the thousands of other children of polygamists, they were treated as if they were illegitimate and in effect punished by disinheritance and social stigma by the very society that had sanctioned and encouraged the practice of polygamy." (less)
This book was published in 1941 so it is largely outdated. However, the historical perspective it provides from pre-1941 and post-1941 makes it well w...moreThis book was published in 1941 so it is largely outdated. However, the historical perspective it provides from pre-1941 and post-1941 makes it well worth reading for the native Hoosier.(less)
I picked up this book after hearing the author interviewed by Bob Edwards earlier this year. Many times authors can speak much more interestingly abou...moreI picked up this book after hearing the author interviewed by Bob Edwards earlier this year. Many times authors can speak much more interestingly about their book than the book is to read. This book was slow going at first but picked up speed. It is part Bacardi distilling history, part Bacardi corporate history, and mostly the turbulent history of Cuba. How Bacardi avoided nationalization by Castro was the most interesting.(less)
The joy in reading this book is, as Will Bagley notes, is that Abner did not write a piously sterile account of his life like most Mormons of his time...moreThe joy in reading this book is, as Will Bagley notes, is that Abner did not write a piously sterile account of his life like most Mormons of his time. As Bagley expressed in his Mormon Expressions podcast interview, certainly more people have left Mormonism over the years than stayed. Yet for various reasons there is little in the historical record telling us about these people, church culture during their era, or their views of Mormonism. Without a doubt it is impossible to believe that everyone who went west with the Saints was a true and faithful Latter-day Saint that church history portrays them to be today.
Blackburn's narrative is that rare look through the keyhole into Nauvoo and Utah pioneer Mormonism - where members uninitiated into polygamy observed its secrecy firsthand, questioned the seditious nature of Mormon doctrine preached in Missouri, feared Brigham Young's tyranny in Utah, scoffed as the excessive piety of the Saints, and ultimately decided they were better off in a more productive land.
One of the enjoyable attributes of this book is that one observes the root of current Mormon cultural practices in Blackburn's era.
The Saints meet together every Sabbath to hear the word of the Lord from Brigham or some of his apostles and they would talk business more than religion, for their belief was an acknowledged success, as they thought. If there was any member that did not do his duty, he was roasted with the most severe language. If anyone committed any crime, they were threatened to be cut off from the Church, below the ears.
The most bigoted in the cause of the Church were appointed Bishop. They would call on their members for tithing and tenth besides their regular taxes. They have some very good business regulations. The whole business centered in Brigham and anyone outside of the Church is ostracized or boycotted. This was no place for them.[/quote:]
Blackburn was excommunicated and fined $25 for participating with others in a "Spanish Rusty" by riding into town with a girl on the saddle in front of him (instead of the accepted Mormon custom of behind the man).
When we went to a dance, the girl rode in the saddle and her partner rode behind on the same horse. The boys did not care and the girls did not mind it. The authorities gave us a severe lecture. They said such indecent proceedings must stop... It is a disgrace to the Saints to have their daughters chaperoned about in such fashion...
W.W. Phelps was the last to speak. Says he, "The California boys puts me in mind of a young lady, a gentleman, and a dandy. There were conversing about what they would like to be in a future life. The lady said she would like to be a lilly of the valley for all to admire. The gentleman says he would like to be a far off twinkling star in the vast universe of worlds. The dandy says he would like to the left horn of a woman's saddle."
Now I would like to know who was worst, the California boys or Brother Phelps. This conversation took place before thousands of people.[/quote:]
Blackburn's narrative is full of life - honest-to-goodness life. Not a censored and contrived account to convince others of his righteousness. It's sad there aren't more honest accounts from his era.(less)
This book provides an in-depth look at the atomic era in American culture. It examines scientific and public perception over the years by referencing...moreThis book provides an in-depth look at the atomic era in American culture. It examines scientific and public perception over the years by referencing literature and film. Although it is not always the most engaging read (sci-fi readers will love it's coverage of sci-fi history), it provides a historical viewpoint not covered in Richard Rhodes' works on this subject. Of special enjoyment is the background and analysis of Stanley Kubrick's hit "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb" - long one of my favorite movies.(less)