No matter what you think about the "War on Drugs", I urge you to read this book.
Judge James Gray's position is that the U.S. is not just losing the wa...moreNo matter what you think about the "War on Drugs", I urge you to read this book.
Judge James Gray's position is that the U.S. is not just losing the war, it's creating thousands of casualties at the same time.
Despite relying a little too heavily, for my taste, on anecdotal evidence here and there, Judge Gray explains why this country's drug policy is so pathetically abysmal. He alludes to the racist history of drug prohibition, explains how illegal drugs directly support terrorism, shows how our civil liberties are trampled by the federal government, and how futile our efforts are in stemming the flow of drugs into the US. On every measure, we are losing the war on drugs.
However bleak the outlook may be, Judge Gray uses examples, statistics and precedent to show us what we can do to solve the drug epidemic once and for all. He focuses on narcotics regulation, similar to what we use to govern alcohol and tobacco, education about the effects of drugs, addiction treatment, decriminalization and others. His reasoning is impeccable and sustains the principles of a free society. His resolutions are also humane, and they treat addiction as an illness, not a crime. Nevertheless, Judge Gray stresses the need to punish criminals who harm others in their pursuit to support their drug habit.
It's a great book; again, one I strongly encourage all who love liberty to read and contemplate.(less)
Wow. What a book! I can't believe it took me this long to get around to reading this fantastic piece of writing. I don't care if you are a barefoot ru...moreWow. What a book! I can't believe it took me this long to get around to reading this fantastic piece of writing. I don't care if you are a barefoot running disciple or skeptic, these stories are incredible and inspiring and so. much. fun. to. read!
Even though you can tell McDougall writes for magazines with all his zany metaphors and pop culture references, I must give the man great credit for weaving together a collection of experiences, anecdotes, histories, and narratives in THE perfect blend of storytelling.
Thrilling, motivating, life-changing! Get out and read this. Get off your butt and RUN!(less)
Ron Paul's "End the Fed" is the clarion call for Americans to awake and realize how the federal government is destroying wealth and future prosperity...moreRon Paul's "End the Fed" is the clarion call for Americans to awake and realize how the federal government is destroying wealth and future prosperity through the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve System.
Paul explains the history of America's central bank, how it was created to serve a select few in the banking sector, and how its power has constantly expanded to meddle with and manipulate the value of the dollar. Paul reveals that the Fed's monetary policy of simply printing money is an insidious tax on Americans that funds wars and bailouts and stimulus boondoggles.
Paul also bases his argument to abolish the Federal Reserve on three cases: the philosophical case (inflation is morally wrong because artificially devaluing the dollar is the same as theft), the constitutional case (the only legal tender was to be based on gold and silver - Article I, Section 10), and the economic case (central planning a la Fed leads to malinvestment, crushing consumer debt, and many other ills).
Reading this book has convinced me that ending the Fed is a no-brainer. We don't need a lender of last resort for foolish banks that deserve to go bankrupt. We don't need a central bank that prints as much money as it wants, with practically no accountability. We don't need to have our hard-earned money, and with it our purchasing power, lose value. We don't need the Fed.(less)
The author's premise that the world has become more verbal; boys haven't.
Identifying the reason boys struggle academically compared to...moreThings I liked:
The author's premise that the world has become more verbal; boys haven't.
Identifying the reason boys struggle academically compared to girls is due to weakness in reading and writing.
Debunking myths that boys' poor performance in school is due to feminism. This is a global phenomenon even in areas (like Saudi Arabia) that have no feminist movements.
A focus on personal mentorship, phonics instruction, and boy-friendly literature to get boys interested in reading and writing.
The proof (as shown in KIPP schools) that any gains boys make will not come at the expense of girls.
Sociological and demographic projections about how less-educated men will affect the economy and family life.
Things I didn't like:
The author's constant appeals to the U.S. Department of Education for a study on the issue of why boys are . I can understand why the author wants the Dept. of Ed. involved: it sets policy and precedent for the way millions of U.S. kids are instructed.
However, WHY WAIT? I didn't read a single sentence about the responsibility parents have to teach their kids and be involved in their education. Parents must not abdicate the role of teacher completely to the state. And I am not letting single parents off the hook. Don't wait for the government to come up with a solution. BE PART OF THE SOLUTION.
Overall a decent book that shed some light on how a parent can help sons adapt to an increasingly verbal world. (less)
I initially rated this book 4/5 stars because it was such a good read! However, I learned today (Aug 1, 2012) that Lehrer fabricated quotes attributed...moreI initially rated this book 4/5 stars because it was such a good read! However, I learned today (Aug 1, 2012) that Lehrer fabricated quotes attributed to Bob Dylan. See here for more info. I can't, in good conscience, recommend a book written by someone who admits to lying to his readers.
I really enjoyed learning about all the ways life can bump you into being creative. Living in cities makes you more productive. Being a little ADHD makes you more imaginative. Focus can do it, too. Being compelled to interact with your co-workers is a great way to spark new ideas.
I think the point of Imagine was to show us that we all have the ability to create amazing and beautiful things. The vignettes Mr. Lehrer presents that showcase incredible creative output--whether it's Pixar, or Yo Yo Ma, or Bob Dylan, or an arts high school in New Orleans, or Silicon Valley--show me that most of us really aren't that different from one another. We all have the seeds of greatness, and I loved this book for reminding me of that.
I also agree with much of Mr. Lehrer's advice at the end of the book regarding the things we can do as a society to spur innovation and creativity. The coda is worth a read and a re-read.(less)
Light, easy to read, entertaining book about 100 things you're supposed to know how to do like read out loud, barbecue, change a flat tire, write a th...moreLight, easy to read, entertaining book about 100 things you're supposed to know how to do like read out loud, barbecue, change a flat tire, write a thank you note, those kinds of things. I learned a couple of interesting tidbits.
Not bad over all. I skipped the parts about drinking wine and applying lipstick. Hopefully that last one won't come back to bite me in the end...just in case I get cast in the "Rocky Horror Picture Show", or a remake of "Tootsie" or a remake of "Bosom Buddies" or that movie with Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes were in.(less)
What makes a person successful? Is it innate talent? Genetic gifts that gives someone an edge? Malcolm Gladwell will tell you otherwise.
In team sports...moreWhat makes a person successful? Is it innate talent? Genetic gifts that gives someone an edge? Malcolm Gladwell will tell you otherwise.
In team sports, it's your birthday that often matters. In business it's seizing little-exploited opportunities. In music, computer science, and other fields, it's practice (about 10,000 hours' worth). In education it's discipline and commitment and culture. In many cases, it's just luck. Being at the right place at the right time. Hardly anyone's successful because he or she is a "self-made" man or woman.
Another very interesting aspect about success is culture. Gladwell explains how different cultures developed and why those cultures affect us so. Northern England's culture of honor was directly transferred to America's southern familial feuds. Chinese patience and attention to detail in the rice paddy transferred to Asian-American's excellence in school. Trust me when I say it's great reading and a great reminder that we are all a sum of many different parts.(less)
This book was a challenging read for a self-described know-it-all. My wife and I plan on homeschooling our children, so it's going to be so much fun e...moreThis book was a challenging read for a self-described know-it-all. My wife and I plan on homeschooling our children, so it's going to be so much fun explaining the world to my bright-eyed little ones, right? Except Mr. Holt says that if I do, I run the risk of crippling my children's desire to learn.
The tough part is, I believe him.
I went through school pretty much as a robot...learning stuff, repeating stuff on tests, then forgetting stuff. And even though I love to learn, in school, I got so, so tired of jumping through the hoops.
I want my kids to really enjoy learning, to make knowledge their own, to treasure wisdom. Mr. Holt has convinced me that the best way to do this, as the major premise of his book, is to let children direct their own learning. An involved parent works best as sort of a facilitator...answering questions, providing demonstrations when necessary, figuring out where a child can best find the information she's looking for.
I plan on reading this book again just to figure out better what my role as a parent would be to help my children learn.(less)
Decent review of Islamist groups in the Horn of Africa. It's a little dated, as much has changed since the book was published in 2007, but still, thos...moreDecent review of Islamist groups in the Horn of Africa. It's a little dated, as much has changed since the book was published in 2007, but still, those interested in African issues, particularly in the Horn of Africa, as they relate to militant Islam.
Starting with Sudan and its sponsorship of al-Qaeda in the 1990s, Gregory Pirio chronicles how Sudan fomented jihad and the spread of wahabist Islam to its neighbors.
Pirio also includes information about how Somalia's jihadist movement began, starting with Al-Ittihad Al-Islami, moving to the Union of Islamic Courts, and briefly mentions the current (as of mid-2010) Somali jihadist king of the hill, al-Shabaab.
Other jihadist movements in Kenya, Tanzania and Eritrea are mentioned (I think even Uganda gets a shout out), and Pirio does a decent job of explaining jihadists' motives: Islam is superior to all other religions and that supremacy should be gained and sustained by violence.
Pirio could have used a better editor to clean up some of the passages that repeat proper names. Perhaps the editor thought using pronouns would be confusing.
Anyway, if you are interested in the jihadist movement in the Horn of Africa, you should read this book.(less)
TL;DR: This book was written by a hypocrite who made a lot of money before calling it quits. The book is aimed at bleeding hearts who think corporatio...moreTL;DR: This book was written by a hypocrite who made a lot of money before calling it quits. The book is aimed at bleeding hearts who think corporations are the devil's spawn and that everything America does overseas is pure evil.
John Perkins should have titled his book "Confessions of an Economic Hypocrite" since he had no qualms benefitting from the corporatocracy while claiming a conflicted conscience. He spent decades making money doing things he felt were wrong, and he finally came clean, I guess, once his retirement account was big enough. If he wanted to lend any credibility to his experiences, he would have divested himself of all the money he made as an economic hit man and private energy investor and gone back to working for the Peace Corps. Instead, he comes across as a total hypocrite.
The funny thing is, I agreed with some of what Perkins claims. I think U.S. businesses receive way too much corporate welfare (including Perkins' energy company that got a congressional tax break -- hypocrite!), and I think the U.S. government relies way too much on the threat of economic and military force to achieve its aims. We can trade peacefully with other nations instead of pressuring them to assume debt and acquiesce to American demands. Are the United States working towards a global economic empire? Perhaps. Does America stick its nose where it doesn't belong? Absolutely. Unfortunately, Perkins is incapable of making me care because he's such a tool. In fact, if anything, because of him I feel like driving a car with an eight-cylinder engine and spending all of my money at places that employ third-world workers.
I hated his holier-than-thou attitude (everybody downsize and don't shop at Walmart because I spent decades making insane amounts of money and now I can tell everyone what to do) and his ridiculous chip on the shoulder crybaby grudge (I was never accepted at the hoity toity prep school I attended and spent my life resenting my parents and all along I knew better than everyone else around me blah blah blah). Yes, this is an ad hominem attack. I should be focusing on the actual arguments in the book and not the author. But when the author so undermines the ethos behind his attempt to persuade you to believe in his cause, I can't help but go after him.
I gave this book 5/5 stars not for the writing, but for the book's concept: a state's ability to declare an unconstitutional federal law null and void...moreI gave this book 5/5 stars not for the writing, but for the book's concept: a state's ability to declare an unconstitutional federal law null and void.
Anyway, with that stage set, Woods expounds upon the Compact Theory of the Constitution. The United States was created by an agreement of the States, not the general population living in the Colonies. This is an important concept because when the Federal Government passes a law or claims authority and power not granted by the Constitution, who can judge?
Most of us would say the Supreme Court, but how can a branch of the Federal Government objectively rule on actions of the Federal Government? The Supreme Court is comprised of men and women hand-picked by the very people who create and execute the legislation of this country. No matter how much the Supreme Court may claim to be an objective arbiter in such matters, no one can deny that the Federal Government, aided by the Supreme Court, has overstepped its constitutional bounds.
That's where the States come in. Whenever an objective judge cannot be found to decide on matters regarding an agreement (or compact) the decision is left to the compact's original parties. In this case, the States, as the parties who agreed to form a Federal Government and grant it certain, limited powers, are the entities who have the authority to decide whether their creation, the Federal Government, has exceeded its constitutional authority. This is a no-brainer.
Woods does a great job explaining these concepts and answers critics. Read this book to get a better idea of how our Founding Fathers intended our government to work, and why the State Legislatures should redouble their efforts to resist Federal encroachment on powers reserved to the States and to the American people by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.(less)
Not a bad effort, but this book skimps on the juicy bits. I guess it's because people need to cover their rears. I mean, we get some good stories abou...moreNot a bad effort, but this book skimps on the juicy bits. I guess it's because people need to cover their rears. I mean, we get some good stories about many of the operations and techniques companies in the corporate espionage business use to gather intelligence. There aren't too many surprises, either. Especially the "revelation" that government spies moonlight in the private sector to augment their paychecks. Not too earthshattering. Maybe the author was commenting on the ethical justification behind such a practice...I don't know.
But this book could have been so much better had we heard about all the gray ops we all suspect these companies execute to get what they're looking for. That's the juicy stuff I'd love to read about. But I realize that's too much to ask, since these companies can face prosecution for being naughty.
Oh, well. I guess I'll have to leave it to Hollywood and movies like "The International" to satisfy me when it comes to the shadowy world of corporate intrigue and espionage.(less)
And to clear up any misconceptions, the crisis wasn't caused by a failed "free market" in need of more oversight and regulation. For starters, the Federal Reserve's manipulation of interest rates and its ability to create of money out of thin air, along with the countless laws and alphabet soup of regulatory agencies, the market is far from free. The Fed, especially, sent all the wrong signals to investors, speculators, and potential homebuyers with an artificially low interest rate for much of the 2000s. And the answer to failed regulators who were supposed to have averted the housing bubble, ponzi schemes, and wild speculation about all kinds of financial instruments is NOT more regulators.
A part of the book I particularly enjoyed was the way Woods debunked myths about the Great Depression. Woods explains just how Hoover's and FDR's massive government works projects did more to prolong the Depression than restore the economy to sound footing. Woods also draws interesting parallels to how the Obama administration is repeating history, and the outlook isn't too bright.
Chapter 6 focuses on money and how the Fed has devalued the dollar by inflating the supply of money (without anything to back its creation). Because of inflation, Americans have no incentive to save because over the years, their currency erodes in value. Woods also makes repeated reference to the Austrian School, an economic philosophy devoted to liberty, sound money, and limited government developed in large part by Ludwig von Mises and Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek. (Two great websites where you can learn more about the Austrian School are The Mises Institute and the Foundation for Economic Education.)
Not only does Woods reveal the sources of the crisis, but he also offers solutions for the future. He says letting foolish companies go bankrupt is a good thing. The assets they mismanaged can be liquidated and better managed my wiser companies. Another solution is to get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored entities that have way too much power to meddle in the real estate market. The bailouts need to end. Where's the incentive to act prudently if you know the government is going to step in when you screw up? If I were a corporate executive, I'd make my company as big as I could, hoping I'd be "too big to fail". That way, I can pocket all the profits during a boom, and I can rely on the taxpayer to bail me out during the bust. The Fed's power to manipulate money must be abolished, and legal tender laws must be reformed to allow Americans an alternative to the ever-decreasing dollar.
The book, my friends, is a great, great read, and I plan on visiting it again and again to remind myself how we got where we are now and what we must do to avoid a similar crisis in the future.(less)