Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Books and Films July 2009

This is intended to be a personal commentary on books/films - not intended as a review. Listed for archival purposes.
Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons by Tim Russert

I picked this book up off the shelf at the library. I liked the subtitle of the book that it included lessons and letters from daughters and sons. I am always looking for interesting lessons to teach my daughter's. Or, I am always looking for ways to learn from the wisdom of other fathers. So that I can be a better father to my two daughters.

Brooke ended up being a collection of letters that have been written to Tim after he had written an earlier book about his relationship with his father. I read through many many pages of letters in the book, but I did not read every page. Some of the stories were meaningful and significant, and brought me to tears. As would be expected, some of the stories seem insignificant or boring.

One of the things that strikes me as important with this particular book is the fact that the book was essentially authored by Tim, using work done by other people. That is, all Tim did, it was to collect letters from his writers and put them together under one title area. I wonder, what can be done with thinking about publishing in these ways.

After reading the book, I did have a conversation with my father, about his antique toy collection, and the fact that he could potentially solicit pictures and stories from elderly persons with their toys and make a toy book out of it, and or use the pictures and stories of people with their toys as the turtle for a toy museum.

Death at the Priory: Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England by James Ruddick

this book was a quick read for me. I did not read all of the central portions of the book. The key issues of the story could be discerned, quite frankly, by reading simply be jacket cover. I did do more than just read the jacket cover however. The book follows the story of a fair maiden, already widowed, Florence Ricardo and tells the story of how she likely poisoned her second husband, and got away with murder in Victorian England, the end of the 19th century. What made the story interesting, is the fact that the principal characters involved. Would have been the people magazine for us magazine famous people of their day. Including, for example, the doctor to Charles Darwin. In the end, the author concludes that Florence, poisoned her second husband, but was able to get away with it when her made help cover it up.

Not a particular interesting read, not the kind of material I normally read, but a nice distraction from other reading.

When Principles Pay: Corporate Social Responsibility and the Bottom Line by Professor Geoffrey Heal

I did not read this book in its entirety. I began researching the book and thinking about using it for an ethics class I'm teaching to MBAs.

I was disappointed when I began reading the book, new at the public library, and someone has already underlined several pages in the book.

The observation that I would have about the book has to do with its style of presentation. Many of the books I have read recently, have used a very straightforward and clear approach for presenting their material. In fact, in the more popular books I'm reading-popular being defined by the number of copies that they sell-the more popular books seem to say, and restate, and restate, the same basic principles throughout her in. It does seem to be the case that the most popular books that get published and read these days, could be cut in half if you cut out all of the redundancies as authors state and restate what they will be doing in each chapter. While this can be frustrating, is something that I need to observe as I think about publishing or writing my own books.

As I think about the writing of people like John Maxwell or Stan Toler - I am sometimes amazed at how they can take just a very few things and state them again and again and again and again and get their books seem to sell. Something to consider as I think about my own authorship in the future.

What Women Want by Patricia Ireland

this was an interesting book to pick up and read significant portions of, though not the entire book. The book is authored by a significant and influential person in the civil rights movement, that is the civil rights movement insofar as the concerns the national organization of women. The store is filled with numerous personal anecdotes and biographical information including the author. Again, not a book I read in its entirety, so I cannot comment on all of the features of the book. I was intrigued with knowing how this particular woman and how women in the pursuit of women's interests have moved forward area as a sort of manifesto for women's rights, this book would fail. It was to biographical and lacking in clear argument or position statements

Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets and Growing Up in the 1970s by Margaret Sartor

I did not read this book, and in fact simply picked it up for my wife to read. Neither Robin Mariah finished it. The book is truly nothing more than a collection of journal entries from the author, and in that sense, it intends to detail. The coming-of-age of a particular person in the 1970s. The only reason to make any comment about the book, is to take note of the fact that at least in this publication, the author has done nothing more than to collect her journal entries, and use that as the basis for an entire book. Yes, this entire book is essentially nothing more than a journal entries of its author.

The book is unmoving and insignificant. However, it does cause one to think about the daily news of writing and how in the daily list of writing, there exists the kernel materials necessary for possible publication.

As I think about Robyn's writing and blog in particular, i.e. want to think about ways that I can help her to process and work towards her own writing in the future, using the daily miss of her blog and daily stories as the framework out of which something larger could develop.

The Parents We Mean To Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development by Richard Weissbourd

I am always looking for interesting material that deals with families, family dynamics, parents, children. I always want to do the best I can do to understand families and family dynamics.

What is most striking about this book, is the fact that the author essentially demonstrates that parents are too concerned with trying to make their children happy. Parents confuse what their children's real needs are and in fact make their children more vulnerable to long-term failure or problems. By simply trying to make them happy, instead of making them into well-developed moral persons. The author uses several stories in order to demonstrate that parents need to take careful responsibility for their children's well-being. In order to develop long-term moral Kurds and stability for children.

This book would deserve a second read, a further review. At some point in my future. There is no doubt there was significant fodder in this book that I could use to reconceptualize issues for my own future.

One of the striking teachers, as I read the book, had to do with my own reflection on my life with my daughters. I am very thankful for my wife and her role in helping me with my daughters. Particularly coming out of a divorce situation, there is no question that I., at times, have attempted to make my daughters happy. While I have given into them in ways that were not fully healthy. I certainly have no significant regrets about things that I've done. But I'm also thankful for the perspective of an outside person, my wife, to ensure that the decisions I make for the sake of my children is in their best long-term oral health and development.

Again, a book that I would like to come back and review at another time.

Jump the Curve: 50 Essential Strategies to Help Your Company Stay Ahead of Emerging Technologies by Jack Uldrich

I reviewed this book, as I began to think about teaching a class on ethics for MBAs. The book would not be effective for my teaching purposes. Therefore, I did not read the book in its entirety. There were several interesting things about the book however that I would like to note. Essentially, the author begins with a story from his early years in school in which he learned the value of exponential growth. He talks about how exponential growth is better than receiving thousands of dollars a day. Specifically, he uses the story of receiving a penny that doubles over 31 days, or receiving $100,000 per day for 31 days. The author lays out several different strategies for what he calls dumping the curve. Most of the stories that he told seemed old stories that were redone in a new way. For example, he tells the story about how once someone ran the four-minute mile, within a short period of time. Numerous other individuals were able to do it. Thus demonstrating the exponential growth. Several other stories are told about science fiction, NASA, computer gigabytes etc.

in the end, the author encourages his readers to stay ahead of exponential changes that take place in the world by going to his website www.jumpthecurve.net

I'm not sure if it will be worth it.

Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World by N. D. Wilson

This book was complete gibberish. It seemed to be creative, published by Thomas Nelson, and included the language of having wide-I'd wonder in God's spoken world. The book included a preface that talked about significant theologians and philosophers, people like David healing, or Ludwig Wittgenstein. After feeling like, several pages of reading, was complete and total nonsense. I went and read a few reviews on the book. I have no idea how someone can write this as a good book. I have no idea how this ranks as something that is readable. I have no idea how people like this get published. If this is the kind of material that gets published, and receives favorable reviews, I cannot be a writer.

It was random, it was awed, I could make no sense of it.

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. by Daniel Coyle

This was a fascinating and enlightening book. He was a significant book for me to read in my life at this point in my journey. There is no doubt that this book will have a significant impact on the way I think about things. The author uses several stories of tennis players, Canada players, musicians and athletes a variety of sorts, alongside neuroscientific information about the brain, specifically Myelin that becomes the material in the brain that reinforces how we make decisions.

The essential premise of the book is that we can, by using the practice, develop skills in our body and brain. If we practice long enough. The key issue is that the practice must take place over a period of approximately 10 years, six hours per day, 10,000 hours. And that must take place before the age of 50, after the age of 50 the brain's ability to reproduce or produce new Myelin breaks down. It really caused me to stop and think in my own life about what things I can do before I turned 50. I have 12 years ahead of me. Is there anything in my life that I want to focus on. If there anything that I want to become an expert on.

It made me think very seriously about how I have been apparent in how I wish I could go back and re-create some things in my parent relationship with my children. Is this something I can give them where they can practice where they can become experts.

Key quotes, from page 51. Every expert in every field is the result of around 10,000 hours of committed practice. Delivered practice, deep practice.

Page 77, he talks about chunking NL since his work and how we memorize data uses the example of the settings. "We climbed Mount Everest on a Tuesday morning." The sentence is then written backwards in indiscernible chunks. It looks like nonsense until you know, the key for reading it.

Page 110. The key issues have to do with needing to be motivated to move forward.

Page 136. In tests conducted with students, the students who were praised for their intelligence did not improve on the second test. But students who were praised for working hard continued to work hard and continued to receive success. The result proved, or demonstrated, that if people are praised for the right answer. They can become lethargic, and not try to work any harder, thinking he never answers and giving up if it situation becomes difficult. Instead, though, if they are told they work hard, they might have a greater reason to work diligently on another further problem, not giving up as easily.

Page 170 uses examples from coach wooden about how the importance of repetition and automaticity is important. "Don't look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement, one day at a time. That's the only way it happens-and when it happens, it lasts." "Repetition is the key to learning."

A fantastic and remarkable book. I need to come back to this book.

Not Becoming My Mother: and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way by Ruth Reichl

Even though this book is not really my style, because it was short and personal, I read it from cover to cover. Essentially, the author tells the story of her life, and the story of her mother. Specifically, in order to narrate how her mother taught her to become what she was, who she is, by not becoming the kind of controlled and patriarchal society woman that her mother was.

In the end, you are the only one who can make yourself happy. It is never too late to find out how to live the life you want to live.

Not an excellent story, but one that was captivating and intriguing to read.

It does cause me to reflect on the fact that we have much to live for in our individual lives. We can, in a sense, reinvent our lives.

It did cause me to think about the fact that we think about our lives lived in daily menace, but our lives are lived in larger periods of time. Even as I think about. Time I've spent at my current place of employment. There have been moments and ethics of events that have shaped how I become and on what I've done.

The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of Us? The Answer that Changed my Life and Might Just Change the World by Richard Stearns

I read this book, nearly in its entirety. I wanted the book to be so much more. Essentially, the author tells his story of having come to the conversion late in life after having been a wealthy and important business person. He has gone on to become the president of world vision. He weaves stories about world vision alongside numerous statistics of social global need, in order to talk about the role that is lacking in the Gospel. He does weed in several stories and issues of Scripture, narrating the fact that Christians need to be involved in social causes.

The book was well written.

I enjoyed hearing the perspective of the author.

What was so frustratingly disappointing about the book is that the book does not say anything new. The core issues of statistical facts that are presented in this book have been published by Ronald sider. Many many years ago, and republish several times in his book. Rich Christians in an age of hunger. What was frustrating about this book, is the premise that you have to become a rich and wealthy business executive, before you can learn what the hole in the Gospel is. Unfortunately the hole in the Gospel is not the hole in the Gospel, the hole is in rich wealthy business executives and a rich middle class in America who have failed to see what the Gospel has always included, social and political aspects to reach out to others.

It is not so much that I was disappointed with the book, as much as I was and am disappointed by the fact that a book like this needs to be published. We have so few good exemplars of what it means to live the Christian life in our world today. And it's frustrating that there are basically two kinds of persons who make the news. The Uber, religious, who literally give it all away, Mother Teresa. Well, the wealthy and rich to get elected to be president of large organizations who give money away. It's all of the middle level Christians, the ones who attend to the needs of the derelict and the homeless on a regular basis, they really need to be celebrated.

Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Chris Gardner and Mim E. Rivas

I wanted this book to be good, it wasn't.

I did not read it in its entirety.

The author tells long stories in order to illustrate 44 lessons that he has outlined about how to live your life.

Each of the stories contained too much biographical information, or to long story. The book was excessively long for what is actually in the book of content.

It felt very obvious to me when I was reading the book that each one of the lessons is simply a story that the author has told at some public speaking engagement, where he has illustrated and goats, proverbial sayings, wisdom tradition that he has garnered in his life. I found nothing to be significant or meaningful in the stories that I read, though I did not read all of them.


Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count by Richard E. Nisbett

The basic principle set up in this book is quite simple, namely that intelligence can be learned over time, it is not necessarily hardwired.

Some interesting statistics discerned in the book, from page 55. School that only makes people smarter. Information and problem-solving skills learned in school, result in higher IQ scores. Peoples abilities to perform tasks measured by IQ have improved over time.

"Intellectual capital is the result of stimulation and support for exploration and achievement in the home, the neighborhood, and the schools. To think that this can be changed by mandate-operating only through the schools-is preposterous." Page 119.

On page 150, the author makes an interesting cost-based analysis, benefit-based analysis, on what it would cost to improve education. Over against the cost of incarceration. The math works out in such a way that the most successful prekindergarten programs, which cost money, in the long run are more successful and cost less than incarceration.

On page 191, the author talks about successful's skills for effective tutoring, including: encouraging a sense of control, challenging a child, instilling confidence, fostering curiosity, and contextualizing by relating the task to the real world / or to a movie/television show.

A brief history of theology: from the New Testament to feminist theology. By Derek Johnston.

This was an interesting perspective for reading about church history and Christian geology. The author is essentially follows the biographical influence of several persons who have shaped different perspectives in theology. Beginning with St. Paul, including important significant figures like Augustine and Aquinas, moving up through the current page, including Walter Brueggemann and Don Cupitt.

One of the features of the text that I appreciated, is the fact that each and every one of the chapters as a stand-alone quality. It is clear that the author organize the material as a whole, but it also seems to be evident that the author organized his own perspective. In the process of writing this book, working in smaller units, working with individual theologians along the way, here it in some sense, the book operates like an extended Wikipedia article on any one of the persons that is covered. This is not a criticism of the book, simply an observation. As I think about my own writing, it might be well for me to think about writing in blocks, managing smaller historical periods were textual data in chunks and informing the larger whole.


Why we make mistakes: how we look without scene, forget things in seconds, and are all pretty sure we are way above average. By Joseph Hallinan.

This book is a collection of stories from crime scenes to coinage about how we think we know, what we have seen, but we often misperceive or miss-see that which we think we see. The author gives several different examples of ways that we think we are intelligent drivers, think that we are credible witnesses, but in the end, we are tricked by our own inability to perceive accurately because of our inability to focus on everything that our brain and eyes are managing.

An interesting read, but nothing transformative for my life's experience.

How did Christianity began? A believer and nonbeliever examined the evidence. By Micheal F. Bird and James G. Crossley.

This book was an interesting combination of perspectives. It seems to be the case there is a new genre of literature that has emerged that intentionally puts in perspective opposing or polemic positions in order to expose what is going on. This book for that genre.

I did not read the book in its entirety. While the material may be interesting or intriguing for someone with less knowledge, as I began to read the book. It seemed tedious and boring to go through the same arguments that I have encountered in various other literature. Over time. It obviously would be the case that a book like this would simplistically and easily put a variety of arguments under one cover, making it accessible for someone who had not seen all of the issues presented. It seemed to be a good text. Not one I would necessarily use in class were purchased for myself. However, it might be a book that I would recommend to someone who wanted to consider the polemic positions that are must be considered.


A People's history of Christianity: the other side of the story. By Diana Butler Bass.

I loved this simple introduction to Christianity. This book was really nothing more or less than a review of church history. But the way in which the information was presented seemed “light” and easily accessible. No doubt the author passed over numerous issues, of which she herself is aware, but the book made the history of Christianity, easily accessible. I was very impressed with this easy access for the sake of thinking about how I might write an easily accessible perspective on the Old Testament.

The author has taken the story of Christianity and broken it down into the five big C’s. Christ, Constantine, Christendom, Calvin, and Christian America.

The author is clearly an expert in her study. And I have to wonder if the ease with which she tells the story of Christianity is not a reflection of her expertise. The book is easily testable, but it seems to be the case that it's easy access is a direct result of her high academic ability, clear discernment of the issues, and practical breakdown of matters in her presentation. I was very impressed with this book.

Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy. By David Ramsay Steele.

I really intended to read this book, but in the end, chose not to. I am a theist. Love it or leave it, like it or not. I believe. I therefore decided it was pointless for me to read it.


Film: Herb & Dorothy

a very enjoyable film that my wife and I viewed together. Essentially, Herb and Dorothy spent their entire lifetime collecting works of art. They amassed a very important collection, and since have donated to the national Gallery. Their works of art were so extensive, that the national Gallery cannot accept all that they provided to them so their collection has since been further broken down and distributed 50 pieces of art to 50 separate art museums throughout the United States. Or, 50 pieces for each state. An intriguing film and testimony to live lived well in its mundaneness.


Film: Valentino: The Last Emperor

Follows the life of Valentino Garavani and his ups and downs in his last years, along with his life long partner and lover, business partner.

An intriguing life about eccentricity, style, grandeur and “pomp.”


Zee said...

Atheism explained actually sounds like an interesting book to read...

after spending 5 years in a "Christian" university where my Bible teacher taught us that there's no devil and God's a "love-emanating energy", i started to love the challenges. and how can you defeat the challenge when you know nothing about it? :)

heh... it's kinda funny how people are trying to prove to themselves that God doesn't exist... what's the point then? funny and sad...

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