Saturday, September 29, 2012

Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member By: Sanyika Shakur

This book covers the early life of Crip gang member formally named Kody Scott who subsequently changed his name to Sanyika Shakur.  It gives you a deep look at the allure of "gang-banging"and how these gang members live their lives.  The book is well written although the author appeared to purposely used "big" words.  Some other awkward things were the excessive use of 'overstand' instead of 'understand', but aside from that, the book is well written.

I was shocked to find out that there was more Crip-on-Crip killing than what is normally portraid in the media and other sources.  Additionally, Shakur mentions in his book in a nonchalant manner that his Godfather was none other than Ray Charles.  Amazing that even with those types of connections, Shakur still felt that he could only turn to the streets.  The savagery in this book is difficult at times. Murder is talked about and committed as normally as going and getting a glass of water in the kitchen. 

The depiction of prison life and the frame of mind you require to survive that place was incredible.  He talks about the different ways someone looked weak that I would have never picked up on.

Someone wrote a review saying that it seemed that he was not remorseful for what occurred.  I disagree. I had this book in my to-read list for a while and finally picked it up.  I was definitely a change from my usual "type" of book.

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Grove Press (June 29, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802141447
ISBN-13: 978-0802141446

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Case Against the Fed By Murray N. Rothbard

Murray Rothbard cuts through the popular dogma our government expects us to sheepishly buy into.  Rothbard showcases his ability to present the facts in a way a layperson can understand it in lieu of the technical jargon and higher mathematics of the professional economist.  This books covers the creation of money and with it, its subjective value based on acceptance by the masses.  He shows a stark comparison of gold and other forms of "money" as it was adopted by other countries and civilizations and how specifically gold had become the standard of many societies. 

 Rothbard explains the detrimental effects of the "Federal" "Reserve" and the affects it has on our economy.  He also breaks down the creation of the "Fed" and the perpetrators of this deplorable organization.  This is an excellent book for any layperson who is interested in understanding money's creation, fractional reserve banking, and the role the "Federal" "Reserve" plays in our economy.  It is not a long book but is replete with great information and insight.

I was never "into" economics or really government insofar as I voted and toed the party line.  However after stumbling on to Dr. Ron Paul and listening to his message, I realized that the "Fed" and the economics of this country play a paramount role in how we "behave" as a country.  I have read some other authors recommended by Dr. Paul, Hayek, Mises, etc and this is my first step into Rothbard's work.  I plan to continue to read his work since I enjoyed this one so much. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Government Bullies By: Rand Paul

While I was reading this book, I do what I always do.  I connect to either Amazon or Goodreads and I look at the other customer's reviews.  Although I tell myself not to, it is something I cannot control.  At any rate, I did so and read one of the only review on Goodreads (since the book was so new at that time) wrote that the book sounded like Dr. Paul was trying to break his arm by patting himself on the back (my words).  I commented on her post and informed her I was on chapter three and did not get that impression.  Then it happened.  I saw the change in him.  Now don't get me wrong, I love Ron Paul, and the fact that THIS man came from the gene-pool of Dr. Ron Paul, he gets a small break from me.

The book covers a litny of inidents where the Federal Leviathan has overstepped their Constitutional authority and have caused head-aches, heart-aches, ridiculous fines, and even long stints in prison.  Paul describes real life stories of the EPA imprisoning people and destroying their lives because the LAND OWNERS decided to add fill to their properties; in some cases even after the EPA told them it was OK.  Paul also tells the story of the FDA raiding small business, how we have been stripped of our 4th amendment rights by the TSA while people board planes with expired boarding passes and fake IDs.

The book is well written.  The self inflicted accolades not withstanding, the book covers true issues that exist today.  As a supporter of the liberty movement, I feel that the we need to "organize" and find common ground with the political opponents when ever possible.  Lets at least fight beside them on the issues that need to be defeated and then stand without them on the ones that cannot be done together. 

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Center Street (September 12, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1455522759
ISBN-13: 978-1455522750

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Price of Politics By: Bob Woodward

Unbelievable; Absolutely unbelievable.  This book covers the mind-numbing collusion by both parties to come to some agreement on spending.  The content of this book tears the covers off of the stalemate in D.C. today.  Bob Woodward has a reputation for being a straight shooter although, this is my first book by him. 

Throughout this daunting read, words like (B)illions and (T)rillions were being thrown around as if it were Monopoly money, sadly that statement is very much NOT and exaggeration.  Both parties only worry about how the "program", "cut", "Decoupling", "revenue increase" will appear to their base.  At no point in time througout the entire book, did I get the feeling that either party had my best interest or even the best interest of the country on their mind.

Weather you agree with either side, the only logical conclusion is that the two parties is analogise to Apple Computer and the Apple/Macintosh sides to the same company. 

The asinine thing to this entire issue is that there were  never really any cuts.  All this posturing and fighting about "spending" really did nothing but "cut" proposed spending which was already insanely over budget.

Reading this book is a daunting task replete with budget, government, and monetary speak and unless you enjoy that sort of thing, you may find yourself "asleep at the wheel".  It is repetitive and hard to follow.  Although I am sure other books by the author are probably better, this one was not.  

Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 11, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451651104
ISBN-13: 978-1451651102

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Always Looking Up By: Michael J. Fox

I loved this book.  I was attracted to it after reading his other book "The Lucky Man"  Lucky Man Review  Fox is an intriguing personage that is extremely inspiring.

Faced with a debilitating disease that will trap him in his own body, he does not allow it to stop him.  His tenacity towards life is awe inspiring.  Fox has an appealing view of life, politics and even religion.

This book deals with more of the details regarding his political activism as well as his life as a husband, father & brother.  Fox takes you through his emotional acceptance of his sister K.C.'s, that also suffered a brain disorder (epilepsy) eminent death and how they needed to make the decision to disconnect her from life support.  Fox describes how her brave, successful, yet risky surgery to quell the seizures gave him the strength to undergo his own surgery.  

Fox's speech he gave for his son's Bar Mitzvah was very aper-pot for the occasion and gives you the overall tone of the book.  He talks about how he was determined to teach his son how to ride a bike.  He takes his son, strangely, to a baseball diamond to learn how to ride the bike.  During this process, and after successfully riding his bike around the diamond, Fox looks up and does not see his son on the orange clay.  He comes to the realization that his son must now chart his own course.  

He is a word-smith, and I hope he writes another book.  The proceeds of the books go entirely to his foundation.  I plan to make a donation to his cause. 

Stand up gentlemen.  

Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Hyperion (March 31, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1401303382

Shadowbosses: Government Unions Control America and Rob Taxpayers Blind By: Mallory Factor

This book is a very well written book.  Although it is a bit partisan, you can read it and make your own conclusions as to the the benefits or hindrance of public sector unions.  This book is controversial in the sense that it covers a subject that is considered a third rail by many folks in this country.  I know I will get flack for my comments but will try to be as non-partisan as is possible.

Mr. Factor takes on the idea of public sector unions and the harm they have done and are in-line to do.  I once read somewhere, a quote that was credited to, strangly enough, FDR that said something like, Unions are a monopoly on the worker and the company.  I will start by saying that in NO WAY, am I accusing the true workers that are union members. 

In this book, Mr. Factor exposes the differences between private sector and and  public sector unions.  The private sector unions are somewhat, if that is possible, less pernicious than that of the public sector.  The reasons given in this book will shock you as to the crony-ism involved in public sector unions.  A politician looking to get elected, is funded by hard cash (Donations directly to the campaign) and soft cash (the phone banks, get out the vote efforts etc).  Then once the politician is in a position of power, the unions go in to either redo exiting contracts or unionise new sectors of government and even non-government workers.  If the politician decides after he/she is elected to do the right thing, the union will turn on them and get them out of office by supporting the challenger.

Although I try not to trash Obama and try to give him the benefit of the doubt (although most of time, I end up with egg on my face), I will say that the unhealthy relationship between Obama and the labor unions is scary.

The book compares and contrasts the Union states and the non-union states and their financial statuses of the respective states.  The pernicious "check off" provisions and forced union membership is egregious.    In some states, the unions working with bought politicians managed to  unionise the home care people of that states without even allowing them to choose if they even wanted a union.  One day, they received a letter in the mail saying that from this day forward, they [the care givers] would need to pay the unions the dues.  In other states, you are discriminated upon and your first amendment right of freedom of association (not implicit in the constitution but is implied and was upheld by the supreme court) is trampled on by forcing you to belong to a Union as a requirement for your employment.  Some states allowed for a substitute teacher that only taught one day in school to receive a full teachers pension.

In addition to that, the book covers the practice of "spiking" where the worker will be afforded massive amounts of overtime during the last three years of their employment.  Since the pension is calculated using the last three years of work, the worker's pensions end up costing millions more.

I have been against unions since day one.  They never made sense to me even as a young electrician helper when I was urged to join a union.  I really don't get it.  However, with that being said, I know some folks understand it and support it.  For a private company or a publicly traded company that wants to have unions or allow unions that is fine with me because at the end of the day, they are beholden to the board, investors and shareholders.  If the CEO makes a bad contract with the unions and makes the company lose money, he/she will be held responsible likewise, if the company makes bad choices with the unions, they could face bankruptcy.  With the government though, its a bit different.  The "CEO" do not really care where the money comes from, since the cities cannot really go bankrupt, this forces them to continue to give in to the union's demands or face risks to the public (e.g. Police, Fire striking while no one is available or rather willing to do anything).

Anyone who can, in their minds except the unions bosses to have the monopolistic powers they do while criticising the corporations of the same is at best disingenuous.  The books is a good book and truthfully, I recommend you read it even if you are a union supporter.  I know that my views on the subject may taint the review, but I tried to read the book with an open mind.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Center Street (August 21, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1455522740
ISBN-13: 978-1455522743

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

American Pastoral By: Philip Roth

This book was recommended by a friend of mine.  When I started to read it, I was a bit confused.  It is a Pulitzer Prize Winning book.  The author's alter ego Nathan Zucherman seems to be giving you superfluous info about his adoration of Seymor "Swede" Levov, a childhood hero of his that was an inspirational figure since they were kids.  Swede is a glove manufacture like his father before him. Zuckernam continues to idolize Swede long after they mature and move on to adulthood.  The author assumes this good looking, successful, athletic guy has had a stellar life and while Zuckerman himself has never married or had kids, it only serves to magnify the affects. 

As the story unravelled, we found that Levov has three successful sons and when Zuckernam begins to peel back the onion after finding out Levov died,  he finds that Sweed's daughter Merry is actually "The Rimrock bomber" a radical ant-war Communist  who bombed a post office in their small town and killed and innocent man; a doctor. She has been on the run ever since.  Years pass and it appears that Swede and his wife Dawn are finally getting back to anything resembling normal, we see how he finds his daughter and in no time, his life begins to turn for the worse.


Swede's life becomes unravelled during the course of a day and a dinner where he finds out that his wife has been cheating on him with a friend and has elected plastic surgery for what Swede no suspects to be their mutual friend.  He also finds out that Merry's former speech therapist hid her while she was on the run and never told Swede who was, BTW having an affair with the same speech therapist.  He also finds that his daughter is still alive and has not only been raped but has also killed three others in similar bombings. 

The book tells the story of the downward spiral of a seemingly normal "perfect" life.  He did it right, ran a business, married a beautiful woman, had a great house, and his daughter turned out a mess, blaming her parents for all that is wrong and bad in this world. His wife and his infidelity.

The books has comedy as the author uses great characters, sex, sex (yes I meant to say it twice), infidelity, death, murder and destruction.  The ingredients of a great story.   I DID however learn more about gloves and glove making than I ever though I would need to know.