I don't know how academically rigorous the book is - although the methodological notes were almost as interesting as the actual story, I think she shoI don't know how academically rigorous the book is - although the methodological notes were almost as interesting as the actual story, I think she should put it the beginning of the book to give the stories more background. I don't know how typical the experiences of the 6th Street Boys are compared with the rest of the typical inner city population - although, given the incarceration rate of black men and the sheer number of them processed in the criminal justice system, I can't imagine that it's too far off. It's a fascinating look at life in the inner city, the failure of the War on Drugs, and its disastrous effects on the community, sort of like the movie City of God set in urban Philadelphia. It made me much more sympathetic to the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson and the Eric Garner choking death in New York City, but it made resigned to the fact that in both cases, they didn't return an indictment. ...more
I'm glad I read the book, it really highlighted some of the things that need to be done for women to succeed and gave some inspirational stories of woI'm glad I read the book, it really highlighted some of the things that need to be done for women to succeed and gave some inspirational stories of women who achieved great things. That being said, the reality of what these women are going through - rape, prostitution, honor killings, lack of basic health care and education - just made me sad and depressed :(...more
An in-depth look at how the CIA and DEA knowingly allowed the contras in Nicaragua to sell drugs to fund the their fight against the Sadinistas in theAn in-depth look at how the CIA and DEA knowingly allowed the contras in Nicaragua to sell drugs to fund the their fight against the Sadinistas in the 80s, leading to the crack cocaine epidemic. Makes me really interested in seeing the movie Kill the Messenger now. It's really sad that the author's career was basically ruined because of his reporting and he end up committing suicide by shooting himself in the head (twice!). As a total digression, it really bugs me that current Republicans consider Ronald Reagan to be their ideal (and there are so many great Republican presidents to choose from, I really admire Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower), after reading this, I think the GOP really ought to consider finding a new role model....more
In the forward to the book I'm currently reading now, The Last Full Measure, the author Jeff Shaara describes his works of historical fiction by sayinIn the forward to the book I'm currently reading now, The Last Full Measure, the author Jeff Shaara describes his works of historical fiction by saying, "it is the job of the historian to tell us what happened, to provide the dates and places and numbers, all the necessary ingredients of textbooks. It is the job of the storyteller to bring out the thoughts, the words, the souls of these fascinating characters, to tell us why they should be remembered and even enjoyed." What makes this book, and of his entire Liberation Trilogy, so sublime is that the books not only do a masterful job of providing a detailed account of the order of battle, of dates and units and battles, but reveals the thoughts of the individuals fighting the war, from Eisenhower and the high command all the way down to the lowly private in the front lines. Atkinson provides historical information of locations to place the conflict into a historical context and compare it to the epic wars and campaigns of history, and adds letters and anecdotes to put a human face on the conflict, to show that conflicts are fought by individuals, that behind every number in a casualty list is a soldier with a story, and in the case of those killed, one whose story has ended fighting this great struggle.
"Everybody shares the same universals-hope, love, humor, faith," Private First Class Richard E. Cowan of the 2nd Infantry Division had written his family in Kansas on December 5, his twenty-second birthday. Two weeks later, he was dead killed near Krinkelt after holding off German attackers with a machine gun long enough to cover his comrades' escape. "It is such a bitter dose to take," his mother confessed after hearing the news, "and I am not a bit brave about it." Cowan would be awarded the Medal of Honor, one of thirty-two recognizing heroics in the Bulge. Like so many thousands of others, he would be interred in one of those two-by-five-by-six-and-a-half-foot graves, along with his last full measure of hope, love, humor, and faith. The marching world marched on.
Affixed to a wall in Montgomery's caravan, amid the photos of Rommel and Rundstedt and the field Marshall himself, was a copy of Sir Francis Drake's meditation before his attack on Cadiz in 1587. "There must be a beginning of any great matter," Drake had written, "but the continuing unto the end until it is thoroughly finished yields the true glory." So too in this great matter, this struggle for civilization itself. The moment had come to seize the glory.
There's a part of me that wants to tell her to calm down and get a hold of herself. Every tragedy is this unique snowflake that is experienced differThere's a part of me that wants to tell her to calm down and get a hold of herself. Every tragedy is this unique snowflake that is experienced differently by everyone, and I wonder how this would have played out if it only was a mundane awful event like a car accident. But then I think about the magnitude of her loss and... yikes. I have no idea how I'd react to something like that, but I'm a moper so I imagine I'd probably act similarly. Some pretty funny parts when she harasses the Dutch family or puts on blast the guy who assumed her husband left her and assured her that this wouldn't have happened if she found a nice Jewish guy....more
As a food memoir, I liked it, the barbecue section made my mouth water and the bread section made me want to move back to San Francisco and eat TartinAs a food memoir, I liked it, the barbecue section made my mouth water and the bread section made me want to move back to San Francisco and eat Tartine and their bread (and morning buns) all day. But as a look at our food culture, there's something about his writing that I find grating.* I can't identify it, but maybe this paragraph can give a clue:
Given what a classicist once called "the Homeric horror of formlessness," it's not wonder that roasting is the only kind of cooking ever described in Homer. The pot dish, lidded and turbid, has none of the Apollonian clarity of the recognizable animal on a spit; it trades that brightly lit, hard-edged object and its legible world for something darker, more fluid and inchoate. What emerges from this or any other pot is not food for the eye so much as for the nose, a primordial Dionysian soup, but evolving in reverse, decomposing forms rather than creating them. To eat from the pot always involves at least a little leap into unknown waters. (p 159)
In all his books, Michael Pollan really drives home the point that food is a universal experience shared by all cultures, but it really feels like he's really writing to a very elite subset, and to me it gives him this breezy let them eat cake attitude. Gee, was there any doubt that the bread made at the Hostess plant is not going to compare to the artisanal bread meticulously made by a master of the craft? But there's the reality that the Hostess plant makes 155,000 loaves a day while Dave Miller bakes 400 loaves a week (p 266), so we'd need ~2,800 bakers (will they all be adept as Dave Miller at making bread? Probably not) to match the production of just one of the Hostess plants, plus the distribution needed to get the fresh bread to the 150k-odd households (yes, preservatives suck, but they do serve a purpose), plus those Austrian and Swiss artisans probably have to work overtime to make those stone wheels in handsome cabinets and old-timey pink-painted contraptions (p 272) to supply those 2,800 said bakers. Yes, modern life sucks because we have no time, and because of that we have to take shortcuts, and our eating habits especially suffer for it. But it's still ridiculously better than what life was like before, when eating meat was still considered a luxury and famine still loomed large as one of the four horseman of the apocalypse. The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler was a good look at how a simple chemical process allowed us to escape the Malthusian trap by massively increasing yields and ushering the Green Revolution-but led to problems of it own, including some that Michael Pollan rails against.
If Michael Pollan can write a book with practical tips for single mothers working multiple jobs, I think it'd be a spectacular book that I would give five stars and all the accolades it deserves, but as it were I really don't think they have the time or energy to cultivate their own live cultures for bread or to sit around for hours making the perfect braise.
*I studied chemical engineering, so I'm probably less receptive to his ideas. One of my professors had a picture of a Kix Cereal ad with the caption "no chemical engineering," and below, a letter from AIChE, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, saying that Kix, as well as the entire food system is nothing but chemical engineering. ...more
There's always a touch of fascination in revulsion: Could that happen to me? The less likely the terrible
Really makes me think about mental illness:
There's always a touch of fascination in revulsion: Could that happen to me? The less likely the terrible thing is to happen, the less frightening it is to look at or imagine. A person who doesn't talk to herself or stare off into nothingness is therefore more alarming than a person who does. Someone who 'acts' normal raises the uncomfortable question, What's the difference between that person and me? which leads to the question, What's keeping me out of the loony bin? This explains why a general taint is useful.
Some people are more frightened than others.
'You spend nearly two years in a loony bin! Why in the world were you there?' Translation: If you're crazy, then I'm crazy, and I'm not, so the whole thing must have been a mistake.
'You spend nearly two years in a loony bin? What was wrong with you?' Translation: I need to know the particulars of craziness so I can assure myself that I'm not crazy.
'You spend nearly two years in a loony bin? Hmmm. When was that, exactly?' Translation: Are you still contagious?
L Ron Hubbard is a weird dude, but can't say that he did not have an uninteresting life. The book doesn't really explain where all this money is cominL Ron Hubbard is a weird dude, but can't say that he did not have an uninteresting life. The book doesn't really explain where all this money is coming from, especially before they were really involved in Hollywood and celebrities. Hubbard doesn't seem like he has the organizational skills to assemble the real estate empire and business side of Scientology, but still had the means to buy boats and sail around for years with hundreds of people and fund campaigns to harass people with private investigators and endless lawsuits. And while he was very charismatic to his inner circle, it doesn't seem like the Sea org people who sign billion years contracts and do all the menial labor were the ones donating the money. It's crazy the accounts of what goes on, how much absolute control the leaders have over their lives and how they let him control them like that. ...more
Love listening to Wait, wait don't tell me on NPR and Roy Blount is one of the panelists. Maybe not as funny as the show, but really entertaining, andLove listening to Wait, wait don't tell me on NPR and Roy Blount is one of the panelists. Maybe not as funny as the show, but really entertaining, and the chapter on food in New Orleans, especially the part on fried chicken, made me really hungry. It's eerie that he wrote this in 2005, a year before Katrina, and talks about "the big one" that everyone knows is coming. I wonder how much has changes since then....more