I bought this book for my son who wants to apply to the Naval Academy. There are books out there to explain service academies,...moreFrom one of my readers:
I bought this book for my son who wants to apply to the Naval Academy. There are books out there to explain service academies, but not how to get accepted. It has so many steps, it's confusing to keep track of. This book not only explained why the military makes it difficult, but the step-by-steps needed to be accepted. It is told through the eyes of a successful applicant and makes the reader believe anyone has a chance if they follow this guide.
It has chapters on how she started, the goals she set, why she picked USNA, the steps she took each year in high school from freshman to senior. It talks about her experiences with her Blue and Gold officer, the congressional interview process, how she resolved problems in her application package. A timeline tells you when she did what, what her grades were throughout the application process, how she prepared herself for Plebe summer, how and when she accomplished the myriad steps. It has check lists, examples of application materials, her application resume and explanations on how to solve certain problems that come up. Like the medical examination by DoDMERB. A family friend was disqualified at this exam, and this book explains what to do if you have a problem.
This would help anyone applying to any of the service academies--West Point, USAFA, USNA, Coast Guard--as well as anyone trying to get into an Ivy League. There are books on getting into every other highly-competitive college. I can't believe this hasn't been written before.
This book gave me a lot of inside information I didn't get from the USNA website or other books. I read everything out there, but this one is a first-hand view, starting with freshman year in high school, going through problems and solutions, how this successful candidate handled everything.
I have wanted to go to USNA since I knew it existed. Its tradition, its quality of education, the chance to do something with my life that means something. I'm great at sports, but I was worried about all the other pieces--mental, academics, that stuff. This book went into everything. I worried less. The author includes a lot of motivational quotes--"A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living." (John Kennedy). Throughout the book, I was reminded why I was putting myself through the grueling application process when I could have had it much easier.(less)
Brief Points is a play off Reef Points, the text all Mids are encouraged to memorize as Plebes, but aimed at parents--without the stress or drama. It'...moreBrief Points is a play off Reef Points, the text all Mids are encouraged to memorize as Plebes, but aimed at parents--without the stress or drama. It's a good conglomeration of information, covers the high points of Mid life, in a concise and pithy manner. The best time to read it is during Plebe Summer, when you can't talk to your Mid and are desperate for any tidbit of what they're experiencing. Be forewarned though: It doesn't include any information on Plebe Summer--rather 104 pages of what academy life is all about. It includes sections on academics, physical education, military life, money (it's hard to accept Mids are paid to attend, but it's true) and career. The Pro Speak (another 73 pages) is fine, but few Mids will come home on leave spouting these acronyms and/or neologisms.
Overall, a good read which puts you in the spirit of USNA life and the military future your child has chosen. (less)
I read Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man (Houghton Mifflin 1971) years ago as research for a paleo-historic novel I was writing. I needed background...moreI read Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man (Houghton Mifflin 1971) years ago as research for a paleo-historic novel I was writing. I needed background on the great apes so I could show them acting appropriately in their primeval setting tens of thousands of years ago. While I did get a marvelous treatise from this book on their wild environ, I also got my first introduction to the concept that they are almost-human, maybe even human cousins.
But I digress. Back to Jane Goodall.
This is the memoir that began her career, that relays her start in the field of anthropology, how she conducted her early studies and the price she paid personally and professionally for her perseverance. She had no formal background in primatology or fieldwork when she began this study. She entered Tanzania with an open mind, a patient attitude and an interest in exploring the adventures of chimpanzees in the wild. From there, she invented everything else that would allow her to investigate these fascinating primates. In the book, she shares every step with readers--how she followed the chimps until they finally accepted her presence without fleeing, how she learned to identify each animal and in that way track their lives, how she learned to understand their verbal and body language, how she learned to be a better mother by watching Flo's parenting skills.
At the time she wrote this book, chimpanzees were not considered human--still aren't. Goodall approached her fieldwork expecting to see them fail the tests of human-ness, things like using tools, caring for their families, working as a group, planning their actions. Each hurdle she put in front of them, they lept across, until her work destroyed all the rules about what made you and I human. She did for chimpanzees what Dian Fosse did for the gorillas and Birute Galdikas did for orangutans: she humanized them.
By the time I finished this book, I realized that chimpanzees have a good and fulfilling life. They have adapted their lives to suit their environment. They lack man's wanderlust, restricting themselves to smaller and smaller parts of Africa every year, but by Jane Goodall's account, they enjoy their lives.
I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably...moreI have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a novice, going from secretarial school to the Gombe to study chimpanzees. She stayed there on and off for thirty years. This book, Through a Window (Houghton Mifflin 1990) shares her thoughts and conclusions on what she learned from that stretch of time with the chimpanzees.
The book reads like an anecdotal history of a town, inhabited by chimpanzees, but no less vibrant than any human town you might visit. Families mingle, struggle for survival, fight for loedership. Children mate and have babies. Parenting styles differ, which dramatically affects the future of the youngsters. A war between factions breaks out and residents take sides. There is death and rebirth, pain and sorrow, and rebirth again.
This book could be considered about animal behaviro, but I challenge you to read it--without knowing it deals with chimps--and not recognize your neighbors, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues in the caste. You'll find the emotions you'd experience in friends and the actions you'd expect from those you work with. You'll think it's the history of a small town.
And it is, but a town of primates.
The chapter titles tell you what you're in for:
Mothers and daughters Figan's rise Power Change Sex War Sons and Mothers Love Bridging the Gap
Sound familiar? By the time I finished this book, after reading Goodall's others, I never looked at chimpanzees or any of the great apes the same. Their emotions, actions, thoughts, desires are too close to human to be relegated to some 'animal' that we can't understand. I'd recommend this for all those interested in studying our humanity.(less)
If you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you...moreIf you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you read me last week, you may wonder--I think I wandered a bit. Here's the synopsis: I'm writing a series on the life of earliest man--think 2 million years ago. There is little primary evidence, so I must do a lot of extrapolation based on facts. I've read scores of books that nibble around the edges, all resulting in a pretty good feel for what their lives might have been like.
One of those books is Margaret Mead's 'Letters From the Field'. She spent most of her life living with primitive tribes so she could understand their worlds. This primary research influenced every corner of her life. For example, she is widely quoted as saying:
'It takes a village'
This is her daughter's discussion of that concept:
“One of the ideas my mother got from Samoa,” she says, when asked about the concepts that shaped her childhood, “was that the way people were connected to each other was primarily based on kinship. That meant that children had a place in many households and a lot of adults were involved in the life of every child. So in raising me, my mother very deliberately created an extended family. I spent time in many households and learned different attitudes toward the world, and the rules were different. Her approach is reflected in an African proverb which is often quoted in the United States: ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ My mother created a village for me to grow up with, and it was the existence of that village that allowed her to pursue her career and come and go and feel that I was not abandoned.”
Here are ten of my favorite quotes from 'Letters from the Field: 1925-1975':
* "It [the Samoan language] is like an elaborate jeweled costume standing quite alone waiting for the wearer to appear..." * "...accompanied by some fifteen girls and little children, I walk through the village to the end of Siufaga, where we stand on an iron-bound point and watch the waves splash us in the face..." * In Samoa, I found I could not understand adolescents without studying pre-adolescents. * "They are great dialecticians and will argue for an hour over the difference between a word which means 'borrow to return the same object' and one which means 'borrow to return another of the same kind'. * The most frequent cause of women running away is if one wife is offended with another or doubts her welcome; the husband doesn't figure largely." * "They are quite willing to talk to use [Mead and her group] to keep us amused, as talk seems to be what we want" * "...the only way to get a house built was to have two built, and so now we have two houses which they are completing in their own good time, but strictly in step. And the next dilemma is which one to live in." * "There is to be a great birthday feast here in the West Palace and there won't be another for a year because there are no more children." * "Our route home is still uncertain. We have to wait for the water to rise to get into Tchambuli; the lake is nearly dry. And we have to wait fo the water to rise for this village to do any ceremonies. At present it simply eats, drinks, sleeps and has seances about crocodiles." * "They understand how to tell time and set a meeting for 'one o'clock'. But there are only two clocks and one watch in the village and the meeting is less likely to start on time than when meetings were set by the sun. They have learned about dates, but they have no calendars, so what day it is, is a matter for protracted discussion... They want good materials and good equipment, but they cannot write to order it nor have they any way of sending money."(less)
I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa w...moreI read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-stars of my story, I turned to the man who has become the guru of earliest man: Donald Johanson and his amazing find, Lucy.
In his book, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind (Touchstone Simon & Schuster 1990) Johanson and his co-author, Maitland Edey tell the fascinating tale of how they found Lucy, the most complete skeleton ever uncovered of an Australopithecene, the genus that immediately preceded Homo. Prior to this find, he was pretty much an unknown, toiling with many other paleoanthropologists in search of man's roots, maybe the now defunct 'missing link'. Johanson got an idea, followed it despite adversity, disbelievers, money problems and set-backs. These, he chronicles in the book, sharing every step of his journey with an easy-going writing style, breaking down the complicated science to an amateur's understanding and sharing his innermost thoughts on his discovery and how it changed then-current thinking on man's evolution. I learned not only about Lucy, but how paleoanthropologists do their field work, what their days are like, how they fight to prepare for an expedition, and the politics they must solve both to get there and get back. Johanson also includes well-written descriptions on the background of human evolution, field work in East Africa, the paleo-historic geology of Olduvai Gorge (the famed location where Leakey uncovered so much of our primeval roots), the discussion among scientists that pinned down the human-ness of the genus Homo and what differentiated it from older genus like Australopithecines (Lucy's genus), other animals Lucy likely lived with and survived despite of, how Lucy's age was definitively dated, and more.
Johanson jumps right in with the Prologue, telling us how Lucy came to be discovered, and then takes us back to the story of how he got there and what happened after. Through Lucy's story, we learn about man's beginnings and who that earliest forebear was. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
She had lain silently in her adamantine grave for millennium after millennium until the rains at Hadar had brought her to light again Bands of Homo erectus would wait in the valleys between the hills for the big game herds that migrated south for the winter. They drove the game into swamps by setting grass fires. Big men have big brains, but they are no smarter than small men. Men are also larger than women and have consistently larger brains, but the two sexes are of equal intelligence Desert people the world over shun wadis or defiles as campsites The ash became wet and, almost like a newly laid cement sidewalk, began taking clear impressions of everything that walked across it You don't gradually go from being a quadruped to being a biped. What would the intermediate stage be--a triped? I've never seen one of these. You might not think that erect walking has anything to do with sex, but it has, it has If one is to jump and snatch, one had better be able to judge distances accurately. The way to precise distance judgment is via binocular vision: focusing two eyes on an object to provide depth perception The chimpanzee...is the most adaptable of the apes. A hen is an egg's way of getting another egg.
For some truly beautiful and realistic drawings of man's predecessors, check out Jay Matternes. I have a slideshow of his early man images on my website, http://delamagente.wordpress.com(less)
Very readable book, despite the complexity of the topic. Not as simplified as McPhee, but fascinating enough I got through the science. My particular...moreVery readable book, despite the complexity of the topic. Not as simplified as McPhee, but fascinating enough I got through the science. My particular interest was where the little slip of California that is Pacific Plate came from--Central America? Some ocean island? I found lots of hints in this book, though as with everything that is pre-historic, it's impossible to say for sure. Overall, if you read this book because of an interest in geology, you'll enjoy the ride.(less)