I have a shameful secret. Despite 25 years working in the financial industry, I can’t handle money. I live paycheck to paycheck like many Americans. I...moreI have a shameful secret. Despite 25 years working in the financial industry, I can’t handle money. I live paycheck to paycheck like many Americans. I have mortgage and credit card debt like many Americans. Unlike many Americans, I know that I shouldn’t be living this way. I know the correct way to spend and save my money yet somehow I am unable to put any of my knowledge into practice.
Paul Gubany offers a way out of this situation. He claims that people like me suffer from an unhealthy relationship with money. He claims that he can help us to “see” this unhealthy relationship and then change it to a healthy relationship.
I think not.
All he is offering is a bunch of psychobabble based on wrong information and twisted interpretations of western philosophy.
For instance, explaining the origins of money he says “around the time prehistoric peoples advanced from hunter-gatherers to farmers living together in villages of approximately one hundred or so, the symbolic faculty of the brain emerged.” It is a well-known fact that Neanderthals had “symbolic faculties” while living in caves, not villages. Ditto our own human ancestors who also lived in caves.
He claims that money “defeated” feudalism. Feudalism was “defeated” by bubonic plague, knowledge brought from the Near East by returning crusaders and the spread of that knowledge thanks to the invention of the printing press.
I could go on and on.
He cites Karl Marx over and over in support of his (Gubany) theories on money and consumption. He seems oblivious to the fact that Marx’s theories were disproven decades ago. Also according to Gubany, those of us who thought Carl Jung wrote about psychology and religion were completely wrong. In Gubany’s world, Jung actually was writing about money.
What Gubany really is writing about are his own issues with money. He also has some serious issues with his mother. He erroneously assumes that the rest of us suffer from identical complexes.
I am just as appalled as anyone else when extremists burn books, but I have finally found an exception. This book is not just an extreme exercise in narcissism but it is also dangerous. People with no knowledge of psychology, philosophy or history who read this book and believe the “facts” as presented in this book will be seriously misled, not helped. (less)
Most of us will eventually be responsible for moving an elderly relative into a nursing home or ourselves become a patient in a nursing home. These ar...moreMost of us will eventually be responsible for moving an elderly relative into a nursing home or ourselves become a patient in a nursing home. These are wrenching decisions and enormous lifestyle changes, yet how much do any of us know about nursing homes?
Thankfully there is now a source of information as well as guidance on where to find information about this vital topic. Inspired by her mother’s death which was hastened by a brutal beating in a nursing home, Diane Sandell has compiled a much-needed guide to nursing homes and nursing home care.
This thorough guide offers advice on caring for the elderly in your home, how to make the decision to move to a nursing home, what to look for and what questions to ask when looking for a nursing home and most importantly, how to monitor the care that patients receive, how to advocate for them if their needs are not being met and what to do if you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused.
Just that information alone is invaluable, but Ms. Sandell doesn’t stop there. She offers guidance on how you can form a task force to work with your legislator(s) to pass laws regulating nursing homes and enforcing existing regulations.
Ms. Sandell writes in an engaging style, rendering complex situations and laws understandable to anyone going through these difficult circumstances. Most importantly, she stresses that you are not alone. Many people are going through the same thing or have gone through it in the past. She points out the importance of caring for the caregivers, of reaching out to others for help or just a shoulder to lean on.
This is an invaluable guide to a stage of life that all us will be facing, either ourselves or our loved ones. (less)
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. Although not a reader of The Washington Post, I am well aware of the reputation of this great periodical...moreI couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. Although not a reader of The Washington Post, I am well aware of the reputation of this great periodical and the legends who work there, both past and present. How is it faring in an era when newsprint is being steadily replaced by websites and blogs? How is it changing to meet these challenges?
Author Dave Kindred first takes us through the early years of The Post. And that is where he lost me. His sketches of people and events seemed, well, sketchy as if whole chunks of time and information were being left out. Was he assuming a lot of knowledge on the part of his readers, knowledge that I didn’t have, or was he writing for insiders, professional newspapermen and women who don’t need a lot of details or groundwork to understand how The Post became a world-class institution?
Then he switched gears. In an effort to illustrate the changes at The Post, he gives us detailed bios of some of its great reporters and the stories that made them famous, stories that could not be published in today’s environment. At least I think that’s what he was trying to convey. There was so much information about the reporters and so little information about the newspaper that I had to keep checking the bookcover to reassure myself that the title was "Morning Miracle: Inside The Washington Post" and not "Morning Miracle: Reporters Whose Work I Admire".
Thrown into the mix at seemingly random intervals are tidbits about The Post website; how it came to exist, how it has changed, and who has worked on it. While he notes that the revenue stream has grown over the years, he does not go into any detail of how this occurred or future plans to grow this revenue.
Kindred ends his story with the election night coverage in the newsroom of Obama’s historic election. What that has to do with the negative revenues at The Post and the minimum profits of its website, is left up to the reader.
This book is more than a disappointment. The stories between the covers have nothing to do with the title on the front. It can’t even be called a very rough first draft. It doesn’t hold together at all. It appears to be parts of several different books thrown together with the only unifying theme that they are all about The Washington Post.
One of the reasons a lot of people give for not reading books on history is that they are not relevant to their lives. I have to agree with them that...moreOne of the reasons a lot of people give for not reading books on history is that they are not relevant to their lives. I have to agree with them that most history books are boring recitations of dates, wars, treaties and the important figures of those eras accompanied by dry analyses. It is difficult to imagine what life would have been like for ordinary people during those times.
John Paul Godges offers a different take on history. He writes about 20th century history from the point of view of his family’s history. Starting with his maternal grandparents’ experience immigrating from Italy through his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party, he illustrates the important events of the previous century.
Suddenly, history becomes relevant. Thanks to the Godges family, readers experience vicariously the major events of the 20th century and how they impacted the lives of ordinary people. Instead of the “immigrants came to America seeking a better life”, we are treated to stories of what life was like in Europe and what “a better life” actually meant once people arrived here. Likewise, the turbulence of the 1960’s had different effects on different people as illustrated by lives of different members of the family.
I learned a lot about the immigrant experience from this book. I hadn’t realized that some immigrants came here only temporarily to make money and then return home or that sometimes they went back and forth a few times before settling down. I was also surprised to learn how readily they helped each other with loans of money.
Ending a story such as that of the Godges family is always difficult. The author chose the celebration of his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary which is a logical endpoint but I felt that he lost focus in this chapter. All the preceding chapters in the book followed the lives of the family members along side the events of the 20th century. In his final chapter, Godges chose to get very personal and talk about the dynamics of his family. It would have been more consistent and more satisfying for the reader if he had used the anniversary party as an opportunity to look ahead to the next generation and talk about the differences and similarities between their lives and the lives of those who had gone before them. (less)
Although born a Baby Boomer, I was raised by parents for whom WWII was the defining event in their lives. Every year on December 7, my mother sent me...moreAlthough born a Baby Boomer, I was raised by parents for whom WWII was the defining event in their lives. Every year on December 7, my mother sent me off to school with the admonishment to remember that it was Pearl Harbor Day. My family watched every movie ever made about the war and all of the television series set during the war.
The Cold War with its accompanying Duck and Cover Drills defined my life. Signs in public buildings directing visitors to fallout shelters were ubiquitous. NATO stood guard in Europe. A war was being fought in Viet Nam to prevent the spread of Communism in Asia. I read long and deeply trying to understand the how and why of the Communist threat that hung like a malevolent cloud over my life.
When I picked up this book, my first thought was “Otto who?” I thought that I knew just about everything about the political threats of the first half of the Twentieth Century. The reason I had never heard of Otto Katz is that he was so successful as a spy, few people ever knew his real name. Born in 1895 to a wealthy Czech family, he was a lazy playboy and a “useless” soldier during WWI. After the war, he drifted to Berlin joining the art scene and becoming a true believer in Socialism.
It was his wealthy background and artistic contacts that made him such a successful spy and fundraiser for the Russians. He travelled the world using different names and passports making him difficult to track by Western intelligence agencies. He spent time in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, in Hollywood amongst German expatriates such as Marlene Dietrich and the director Fritz Lang, and in Mexico City where Germans who had fled Hitler’s Germany had settled.
In the end, it was his cosmopolitanism that did him in. In Stalin’s paranoid mind, anyone who had spent significant amounts of time outside of the Eastern Bloc was suspected of having been turned by Western intelligence agencies. The fact that Katz was a Jew sealed his fate. He was tried and executed in 1952.
Author Jonathan Miles does a good job of tracing Katz’s complex life. The book is rich in detail about Katz’s life up to the beginning of WWII. After that point, the narrative becomes less detailed and more hurried as if Miles is impatient to get to the end of his story. Katz’s trial, execution and rehabilitation a decade later are given short shrift. I wish that Miles had taken more time and given more weight to the last decade of Katz’s life. It was an important period not just in his life, but also in world history. WWII shaped the political landscape of the second half of the Twentieth Century. Katz was an important participant and deserves a full treatment of his entire life, not just part of his life. (less)
If you have never read anything by P.G. Wodehouse, this book is an excellent place to start. It contains two novels and a collection of short stories,...moreIf you have never read anything by P.G. Wodehouse, this book is an excellent place to start. It contains two novels and a collection of short stories, all featuring Bertie Wooster and his omniscient manservant, Jeeves. The stories collected here span most of Wodehouse’s career, from among the first Jeeves stories to the last.
One drawback to reading an anthology like this is that it is much like watching a "House" marathon on television. The plotlines are all the same. In House’s case, the first 15 minutes are devoted to the setup, introducing the new patient, his/her misdiagnosis and the friends and family surrounding him/her. The next forty minutes see House and his team pursue various clues while making wildly wrong diagnoses until in the final ten minutes House has an epiphany and comes up with the correct diagnosis. The fun, of course, is in the byplay between the characters and like any good mystery, guessing which are the real clues and which are the red herrings.
Wodehouse’s Jeeves stories are much the same. Each story starts out with Bertie and his friends and relatives faced with a seemingly insurmountable personal situation, which after much drama is neatly solved by Jeeves. The fun in these stories is the dry, English humor and guessing what solution Jeeves will come up with. "Drama" is relative. Like "Seinfeld", these stories are about "nothing". Nothing important (to anyone but the rich, selfish characters) ever happens. No one ever dies or is seriously hurt. Yet to the characters in the stories, the situations in which they find themselves, are of vital importance. Only Jeeves can save them.
All the stories are told from Bertie’s point of view. We are never privileged to enter into Jeeves character or thinking other than to hear his explanations of the solutions he comes up with to solve the dilemmas of the idle rich. His simple but effective answers to their seemingly insurmountable problems, offers him an opportunity to comment on their ignorance without actually calling them morons. Bertie and his friends and family remain blissfully unaware that he is mocking them. (less)
The reviews of this book present an interesting dichotomy. Scholarly reviewers rave about author Stacy Schiff’s ability to flesh out the life and time...moreThe reviews of this book present an interesting dichotomy. Scholarly reviewers rave about author Stacy Schiff’s ability to flesh out the life and times of a queen about whom very little is known. Other reviewers complain that there is very little about Cleopatra herself in the book. Although not a professional historian, I am firmly in the camp with those who stand in awe of this recreation of an extraordinary woman.
History is written by the victors. As Schiff points out, in Cleopatra’s time they were men, Romans whose culture did not allow for powerful women or female rulers. In their eyes, she was the enemy who had seduced Caesar and Mark Antony, bent them to her will and contributed to their destruction. Subsequent authors through the ages, accepted this interpretation of her and embroidered on it.
In this book, Cleopatra’s life is placed in the context of both the Egyptian culture that she ruled and the Alexandrian culture of the ruling class (her ancestors were Macedonians who had conquered Egypt). Both of these cultures allowed for a woman ruler, unlike many other ancient cultures. To the Egyptians, she was a goddess, the incarnation of Isis.
Both cultures allowed her to rule without a husband unlike many future European queens who were forced to make the difficult choice of remaining single like Elizabeth I of England or choosing a husband who either alienated her subjects like Prince Philip of Spain, the husband of Elizabeth’s half-sister Mary, or cost her her throne like Lord Darnley, the husband of Mary Stewart of Scotland.
Her world is brought to life in this enchanting book. One can almost smell and feel the humid, spice laden air of Alexandria and the chill of the Roman hills. The colors, the pageantry, the rites and the people come alive.
It’s been more than thirty years since I last took an ancient history course but the author provides plenty of background information on each country and personage who was a part of Cleopatra’s life. I was able to follow along with no problem.
Unlike the heavy, ponderous style of male biographers, Schiff’s writing style is peculiarly suited to her subject. Her light feminine style provides the perfect voice for a smart, fearless, feminine queen. (less)
The title of this book, "Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans" is a...moreThe title of this book, "Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans" is a bit off-putting. Reading it, I mentally prepared myself for a diatribe written by a disgruntled low-level employee out to get his pound of flesh. We all know that health insurance companies are in the habit of denying coverage and raising premiums, occasionally exorbitantly, but they aren’t all that bad, right? Surely not as bad as the Wall Street firms that first took away our retirement savings and then our jobs.
I worked in the financial industry for 25 years. Nothing I saw there was as heinous as what is revealed in this book. Put simply, Wall Street may take away people’s money, but health insurance companies take away people’s lives.
Author Wendell Potter was an insurance company executive, heading up a PR department. For years, he participated in the shameless pursuit of profits over lives until he finally came face to face with the effects on real people of what he was doing. Visiting a clinic set up on a fair ground offering free health care to those who had no insurance and no means to pay for health care, he saw ordinary hardworking people reduced to being treated in animal stalls.
He has written about his experience in the health insurance industry, as well as his epiphany, in a straightforward manner, making it more powerful than if he had penned an hysterical screed. He takes us, step by step through the changes in the health insurance industry from a privately held companies offering true health insurance to the modern publicly owned companies whose focus is on profits rather than health.
The lengths to which health insurers go and the collusions in which they participate are extraordinary. They routinely deny coverage to people who need it and drop coverage of people who become ill. They hire outside PR firms who form bogus grassroots groups who lobby in favor of health insurers. They provide statistics to back up all of their false claims that any kind of healthcare reform is bad.
Potter devotes an entire chapter to revealing how health insurers torpedoed Healthcare Reform using all of the dirty tricks he had discussed in previous chapters. The reason we have no public option is because it would put the health insurance industry out of business prompting them to wage all-out war against it.
It took the death of a child who was denied a liver transplant to convince Potter to leave his job with CIGNA. He devotes his time now to healthcare reform advocacy and as a health insurance critic. He testified during the healthcare reform debates, but obviously not enough people listened to him.
In my opinion, this book should be required reading for every member of Congress. They need to know how they have been bribed and manipulated by the health insurers to do what’s best for the health insurance industry instead of what is best for the people who elected them to office. (less)