Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lucky Man By: Michael J. Fox

This is a touching story about the bravery and resilience of a person who has charged himself with beating the odds.  I believe biographies are the best books to read and this one only strengthens that belief.  Fox is a funny person in-spite of his obvious predicament.  This book covers his struggles with his personal, family, and public life and how this debilitating disease has in someways helped him to become a better person.  I find it remarkable that he is able to say that.

One of the interesting things I found out by reading this book is that ironically, not only was Fox really bad in school save drama, music and art he actually dropped out of high school to pursue his career in acting.  Born and raised in Canada, he like others knew that to conquer "Hollywood" he would need to make a journey.

Fox describes the whirlwind life he lived with substance abuse as well as his own self-destructive tendencies not to mention the hidden life of Parkinson's Disease.  Fox tells the tail of having to figure out when he needed to take his meds to ensure he would not find himself "off" as he puts it.  

Fox tells of his first signs of his disease, the surgery he tried to quell the tremors as well as the realization that the disease "was doing what it was suppose to do" referring to progressively taking over his body.  He described the difficulty of working in a career where he was in the public eye and hiding a dark secret that could end his career while popping medicine routinely to get through the next scene.

Later when Fox was unable to work as before, he took on a role of the face of PD.  He sat before a Senate sub-committee twice to lobby for funds to help research for the disease.

A couple of things I want to note that is outside the review of the actual book.  The amount of money that out government flushes down the toilet on wars, programs that are not reviewed, tracked and unfunded if no producing while we have the ability to help those in need here in our own country.  I would rather close the 900+ bases overseas, stop foreign aid, kill useless programs, scale back the government and use some of the saving to help fund cures for diseases.  I support the stem cell research because I am diabetic and I too, could be helped by its research.  Especially when the embryos are discarded anyhow.

The second thing is, Barbara Walters is a $&@*.  During a pre-interview with Fox, and as he was leaving, he struggled to get his jacket on.  She asked him if that was because of the PD, he answered, Yes.  She wanted him to show the audience during the interview how he struggled with the jacket as if he was a circus act.  Has she no shame?  The man is pouring out his guts on an already difficult thing and now you want to exploit him for you ratings.  Fox's wife stepped in and said NO WAY.  Well Played Tracy, well played.

Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Hyperion (April 9, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786888741
ISBN-13: 978-0786888740

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fahrenheit 451 by: Ray Bradbury

This was my first of Ray Bradburry's work I have read.  The writing style is not what I am used to reading.  The book takes place in a dystopian society where people do not read books, as a matter of fact, it is illegal to do so.  Firemen, in this society do not put out fires, they actually set them.

The book revolved around the awakening of Guy Montag which witnesses many life altering situations from meeting a young girl that is not scared of him and he connects with later to find out she has died (although book is unclear); to his wife's botched suicide, to the burning of an old lady by her own hand when the firemen come to burn her books.  The ever pressing WAR which weighs heavy on Montag throughout the novel. He questions the logic behind not reading books and eventually falls prey to their power, which eventually while bring about his potential demise.

Its funny to read books from older periods where they try to predict the future.  Compared to what we have today, this would be "lame".  Not a long book but certainly good.  I enjoyed it.

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (January 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451673310
ISBN-13: 978-1451673319

DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs in Government By: Jesse Ventura and Dick Russel

Ventura is a strange seed.  He has historically claimed his Libertarian beliefs yet this book has many inconsistencies when compared to the "Libertarian" platform.  Ventura implicitly supports the "rich" to pay 90% in taxes.  Although I do not believe that corporations or their executives should not pay $0.00, I disagree that someone, because they have succeeded on their own merits or have created exceptional products should be penalized by taking 90% of their earnings.  With that said, I am opposed to crony-capitalism and companies and "CEOs" getting rich by stealing from the public. 

Additionally, Ventura eludes to the support of Universal Health Care, Climate Change, and other "DemoCRIPS" ideology.  He is extremely hard on the "ReBLOODlicans" yet somewhat gives the "DemoCRIPTS" a pass.  Here are just a few of his inconsistencies:

1. Koch Brothers sent out a letter/memo telling their employees who to vote for.  Ventura neglects to say that the almost 100% "democript" Unions do the same thing.  I do not necessaarily agree with the practice but he had the opportunity to do some equal opportunity bashing.

2. He call Paul Krugman a "level headed" economist.  Nuff Said.

3. Tea party are BAD while OWS are GOOD.  He rants on and on about how the Koch brothers funded the Tea Party making it "AstroTurf" instead of a grass roots movement.  However he neglects to let you know that the OWS movement was also being funded by the democript's "shot caller" (To use his gangster analogy) George Soro's

I agree with a lot of what he said.  He seems to be a far left leaning Libertarian and supports massive regulation over free market, however he seems level-headed enough (save the conspiracy stuff) and has enough common-ground to be able to work with to get true change. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a hard core, even "radical" Ron Paul supporter. The presence of the chapter on Paul was very appealing to me.

The book is good and points out both sides', albeit lopsided, ignorance and involvement in this spiralling downward society where soon, if unchecked, will become a dystopia.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 1 edition (June 11, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616084480
ISBN-13: 978-1616084486

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Steve Jobs By: Walter Isaacson

I watched the 'Pirates of Silicon Valley' about 300 times.  I used to do this religiously on Sundays so that I could start work on Monday charged up and ready to "change the world".  Most of the beginning of the book is a rehash of that movie and I learned nothing new.

The book covers his professional career and life but falls short of a "traditional" biography.  Very little is covered about his pre-Apple years.  Even so, the book keeps you engaged as only Mr. Job's career could. 

My take on Mr. Jobs is that he truly was a "A-Hole".  He was mean, heartless and cold as ice.  He was not a genius in the sense that technically he relied on other people's talent however he was a genius in design and in pushing people to do what they perceived as impossible.  I never met him personally, but I know people like him that say things in such a way that even if you know it to be wrong, you second guess yourself.  I assume Steve was this type of person.

The book is filled with irony. For example, Steve rails on about how MP3 downloads was considered theft and bad karma however he had no qualms about loading HIS personal iPod with the bootleg copies of Bob Dylan's music.  Along the same lines about stealing, ironically he stole the 'Graphical User Interface' from Xerox while accusing Microsoft of stealing it from them (Apple).

Steve Jobs was a remarkable person.  His vision of products truly revolutionized the world and the way we live it.  Although very few, if any Apple product were actually original Apple products, Jobs had a way of putting his flare into the product and making it better and a success.  For instances, the 'Smart Phone' had been around for a while, as was a tablet PC, and an MP3 player,  Steve just made them better.

Seeing him contemplate death was very difficult.  For a person that was a control freak and ALWAYS got his way, it must have been the most debilitating experience for him.  Additionally, his relationship with his middle daughter or rather lack thereof was equally difficult.  I could imagine Steve giving President Obama a rash of $H!7 for being unfriendly to businesses.  Steve was on the money when he said that the politics makes things not work.  I agree with him.  The politics of the day, only serve to divide and conquer and no one wins when they pit one group against another. He was also on the money when he told Obama that teachers should be treated as professionals and not factory workers being unionized.  

I was a bit let down because I wanted to know the last days of Mr. Jobs, how he passed on and what was the funeral like.  What was his state of mind; was he at peace?  Did he have closure with Lisa?   Was it minimalist?  Who attended; who eulogized him; and how and where he was buried?  I hope some one writes a book about Steve Jobs that covers more of the beginning and the end as I feel Mr. Isaacson fell short.   

As a side note, the fact that I watched 'The Pirates of Silicon Valley' so many times, twisted my view a bit because I kept seeing Noah Wiley who played Jobs on the movie as I was reading the book.  He did, by the way, do a great Steve Jobs.

Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (October 24, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451648537
ISBN-13: 978-1451648539

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Freemasons of Gettysburg By. Sheldon A. Munn

Great "little" book about the many Freemasons of the Civil war.  At only 92 Pages it is very short but chock full of mini-biographies of many Freemasons of that period.  I feel such a special bond with all of these long lost Brothers.  Knowing that they too went through the same degrees I did is very interesting to me.  I enjoyed it because of my affiliation with the fraternity. Others that are not may find it non-engaging.

Paperback: 92 pages
Publisher: Thomas Pubns; 1 Ed edition (October 1996)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0939631687
ISBN-13: 978-0939631681

Lincoln Über Alles: Dictatorship Comes to America By John Avery Emoison

Quite an amazing book about Lincoln's "indiscretions" as 16th POTUS.  The book flies in the face of the "Lincoln Scholars" perspective.  I have long said that Lincoln was one of, if not the worst Presidents this country has ever had.  I know this subject is controversial to some, however if you open your mind and read this book with an open mind, you WILL at a minimum need to question your belief in "The Great Emancipator".

Mr. Emison blows the lid off of the "conventional" Lincoln story.  The book focuses on the many of the Unconstitutional and even treasonous acts committed by Lincoln and his minions.  Although many reviewers comment on the "German connection" made by this author, I found that there was one chapter about it and then sporadic mentioning in the latter chapters.  The majority of the book is about Lincoln's interpretation, and subsequent disregard of the Constitution and the concept of State's Right and sovereignty.

The book explores the incongruous statements by Lincoln sympathizers past and present.  The author gives you examples of "Lincoln Scholar" authors and their statements and shows you how their arguments do not hold water.  

My opinion is based on many books I have read.  When viewing secession of the Southern States compared to the secession of the original 13 colonies, it is clear to see that the South was well within their rite to dissolve their affiliation with the Northern States.  Mr. Emmison explains the basis of "equal footing" where all additional states brought in after the initial ratification were so brought in on an "equal footing" as the other existing states.  In addition to that, there was a lack of "unmistakablility" by the States in the Constitution.  Finally the precedent of Legislative Entrenchment makes it clear that no previous legislative body could have more power that any future body. 

With all of the aforementioned, it is clear from this book and many others that the North were the aggressors in this conflict.  The North wanted to subdue and overthrow a duly elected government by force.  It is clear that the war was not fought to free slaves as per the words of Mr. Lincoln himself and the actions he permitted as the commander in chief.  

I enjoyed this book because I am one of those who believe Lincoln was wrong for our country(s) and gets way too much credit for things he did, said, did not say and did not do.  Most of the books about Lincoln try to show him as deity and that he could not do wrong.  Those with even an elementary level of knowledge can see through that veil.

The book is well written and I enjoyed it greatly.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company (August 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589806921
ISBN-13: 978-1589806924     

Saturday, August 11, 2012

On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery by Robert M M. Poole

In the spirit of disclosure,  I started to write this review as I read the book.  Thinking the subject matter would end with the civil war.  Anyone who has read my reviews will know that Lincoln was not one of my favorite POTUS'.  I also do not agree with the premise that the "Civil War" was fought to free the slaves.  I also dont like the attitude the North takes/took as if they were somehow anti-racist because some of the were anti-slave.  With that being said.  Man was I wrong about this book.


Interesting book regarding how Arlington Cemetery came to be.  Ironically, the land on which it sits belonged to George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington's step-grandson and adopted son.  Mary Anna Custis Lee (his daughter and wife of General Robert E. Lee) inherited the property after the death of her father.

At the onset of the war, Robert E. Lee left his wife and home and headed South to fight in the Confederate Army.  Mr. Lee realized that Arlington House was in a very strategic location and would soon be overtaken by Union Soldiers.  He warned Mrs. Lee to collect the valuables and leave Arlington.  She heeded the warning and left to family eventually making her way to Richmond, VA (controlled by the South).

President Lincoln decided that he would tax those in VA a high tax for their property in hopes of having the owners default and the North take ownership of those lands.  Mrs. Lee sent a family member to pay the tax in full, and the office taking the payments insisted that it be Mrs. or Mr. Lee in person.  Montgomery C. Meigs, who hated General Lee, the Union Army's Quartermaster, decided to inter the bodies as close to Mrs. Lee's garden and as close to the home to ensure that the Lees would not be able to inhabit the home lest they wanted to live with the ghosts.

Eventually, General Lee's son, George Washington Custis Lee assembled a successful case against the United States claiming that the U.S. illegally and Unconstitutionally took the Lee's homestead.  The government paid the Lee son for the property.

This book proves that the all mighty "North" was not as great as they purported to be.  We see time and again how the North treated the South.  How the Southern soldiers, the very same the North wanted to stay in the union at all costs, did not allow for the southern soldiers to be interred in Arlington.  The blacks that the North claims to have gone to war for where called "contraband", forced to live in shabby shanties and were denied proper interment into Arlington.


This book was amazing.  I learned so much about the different wars and "conflicts" that I have an entire list to add to my 'to read' list.  The chapters on the "Unknown Soldiers" were amazing.  I did not know that the Vietnam "Unknown" was identified and now sits empty in Arlington.  It is impossible to do this book justice in such little space.  Read it, you will love it.

 The saddest part of this book is that you see just how many people are affected by war.  If we continue the Jingoistic views, we will soon require an entire state to bury those lost in wars.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Walker & Company; Fourth Edition edition (October 27, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802715486
ISBN-13: 978-0802715487

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse By: Sen. Jim DeMint

Jim DeMint is a great senator. Although I do not agree with him on every point he seems to have common sense and that, I can work with.  I do not believe the politicians need to agree 100% with each other, but what we have today is obviously not working.  We have indebted ourselves with the past two administrations and there appears to be no end in site, even with Romney being touted as the Savior.  The out of control spending and the misinformation and divisive ways of this administration is mind blowing.

This book is marketed as a call to action.  I think it is wonderful what the Senator has done with the Senate Conservative Fund.  With his help, we have seen Senators elected to office against the established RINOs that have fidelity to the Constitution such as Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Rand Paul.  Others not so much like Marco Rubio (See my review of "The American Son").

DeMint described the gridlock in Washington and the reasons for it.  The importance of a balanced budget and the stonewalling by Democrats in the Senate who refuse to even put it to a vote.  He sheds some light on the reasons why the Dems are stonewalling. DeMint also described the "problem" with bipartisanship and how nothing good comes from it except expansion of government.

I do not believe in parties.  I think they corrupt the system and leave you with a black/white solution for everything.  You are either 100% on or 100% off and they divide the country into class, race, sex, etc.  I am not a Republican, nor do I think they have all the answers, but I tend to see that they have more of a handle on the financial situation than the Dems.  This hoopla of taxing the 1% would only bring in 47 Billion in 10 Years.  We are borrowing $41K a second.  This would just be more money into the Federal Government to spend on frivolous shit.  This is a class warfare move since the Democratic run senate refuses to pass a budget, refuses to cut anything, even the Simpson Bowles recommendations from an Obama appointed commission has been ignored.  It seems the Dems are more concerned in divide and conquer than actually fixing the problem.  Why not say that there will be no more spending outside of the budget and all the money collected from the 1% would ONLY go to pay down the debt?

I do believe which DeMint barely touches that the reason the government can continue to do what it does is because of the "Federal" "Reserve".  Without their ability to fabricate money, it would be impossible for the US to maintain the constant state of war and the unsustainable social programs they have today.  If you don't track something, you can't improve on it.  There are hundreds of programs that are failing and rather than try to do away with them or consolidate with others and fix them; the politicians would rather not give the impression of "taking something from someone" and just create other useless failed programs.  This is where the duplicity comes into play.  Why have 200 failing programs and not one that is tracked and improved upon? 

Something needs to be done, and quickly.  The current administration does not seem to have an idea what they are doing.  It is not working partially because its ironically more of the same (W).  

A truly good book although most of the Information contained therein, I had already learned from other books, It was an interesting read with introductions of each chapter by one of the Senators SCF supported. 

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Center Street; 1 edition (January 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1455511846
ISBN-13: 978-1455511846