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review 2017-08-27 00:45
The Best American Magazine Writing 2017 - Sid Holt,The American Society of Magazine Editors

"The Best American Magazine Writing 2017" is, just as it says, a collection of great magazine articles written in 2017. Duh! Now, how to write a review based on a wide-ranging selection of stories.....
I found some of the articles to be fascinating. Jeffrey Goldbergs "The Obama Doctrine", written for the Atlantic, was one. It really brings the sometimes confusing style and thinking of President Obama into focus. A thorough examination, it's not one based on the 30 second sound bites we received from the national news. Rather, it appears to get through the hype and really explain Obama's reasoning. I only wish Obama himself could have explained himself better, to a wider audience, in language they could understand. Then, maybe, people would appreciate him more.
Another great article was by Matt Taibbi, of Rolling Stone. "President Trump, Seriously and "Appetite for Destruction" and the Fury and Failure of Donald Trump. A serious examination of how we (America) got to where we are today. The failure of the two party system. I'm going to quote some of the article, but it really helps to get the gist of it. "Lie No. 1 is that there are only two political ideas in the world, Republican and Democrat. Lie No. 2 is that the parties are violent ideological opposites, and that during campaign season we can only speak about the areas where they differ (abortion, guns, etc) an never the areas where there's typically consensus.....Lie No. 3 is that all problems are the fault of one party or the other, and never both. Assuming you watch the right channels, everything is always someone else's fault." How true!
My favorite article was written for Mother Jones, by Shane Bauer. It was called "My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard". Bauer spent four months working for a private, for-profit prison. I, myself, worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons for 21 years. It was interesting to see the growth of Bauer as he worked as a correctional officer. I experienced many of the same emotions and questions, found myself at similar crossroads, and thought many times whether or not I was crazy for choosing this career. The author has a way of putting into words many disparate thoughts and ideas that he had. While his stint was for a pay-to-play company, and I think a much less "honorable" organization, he learned some valuable lessons about himself. There is one line in the article that really, really shows me that the author "got it". When he realized what an inmate told him was true, and could make his life in prison a lot easier...."Just know at the end of the day, how y'all conduct y'all selves determines how we conduct ourselves. You come wit' a shit attitude, we go' have a shit attitude". That ladies and gentlemen, is the one thing you need to learn is you want a career in corrections. Spot on!
There are many other articles in the book, some great, some good, some not-so-good. It all depends on your own perspectives. But there is something for everyone in here!

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review 2016-06-29 00:00
Symposium on Erosion and Cavitation (Sixty-fourth Annual Meeting Papers)
Symposium on Erosion and Cavitation (Six... Symposium on Erosion and Cavitation (Sixty-fourth Annual Meeting Papers) - American Society for Testing and Materials This book was geared towards scientists, researchers, and engineers. It was very technical, very scientific and had lots of math formulas. I did find it interesting though. It dealt with erosion and other problems that in particular effect metal and other substances used in airplanes, turbines, etc. I had never thought, for instance, that a 1 or 2 mm drop of water falling 1000 feet, at many hundreds of feet a sec, was the equivalent of a bullet hitting metal (which of course would be of particular interest to aeronautical engineers). The book also looked at craters such as on the moon to compare with similar craters on materials on earth. The scientists state that the evidence in some of the lunar craters (with a raised portion in center) would suggest that the impact from whatever produced said crater hit with such force that both projectile and surface of moon were momentarily liquefied, the almost instantly (because of the extreme temps) frozen. I think that because of the vast amount of technical data, and math problems many people would find the book extremely boring, but I learned some things.
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review 2016-01-31 09:14
The Rise of the Corporatocracy
No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs - Naomi Klein

As I mentioned under The Shock Doctrine, this book is about the internal problems with the American Empire as opposed to the external concerns to the rest of the world. In a sense it is the idea that our culture is being destroyed by a culture of consumerism and that idea of profits before people is the main motivator of the modern corporatocracy. We do need to put this book in context though, being written at the end of the 90s, just after the anti-globalisation protests in Seattle, an event referred to by many as the Battle of Seattle. I guess the events really brought to the forefront how the American Government was willing to go to war with its own people to protect the interests of the corporatocracy. However, remember that between 1989 and 2001 there was no real external threat to the United States, and as such there was no way of distracting the population to an external threat, so another means of distracting them was required. The concept of the brand is not new, however it is during this period that we begin to see a rise against the corporatocracy which resulted in a rejection of the militaristic foreign policy of the early 21st Century.

 

I am going to be honest though, there is nothing different now than there was during the rest of US history, though I will point to the writings of Howard Zinn to direct you to the discrimination and oppression that has been a mainstay of American, and in fact world, history. Things have changed though, and one of the major things was the rise of the middle class. The appearance of the middle class did bring about massive changes in modern society, and one had resulted in the French Revolution. However, industrialisation also brought about the rise of the working class. With the appearance of the working class, the middle class was allowed to develop whereas the working class were then oppressed. However, with the rise of communism, and the fear of a world wide revolution, the working class was appealed to, and universal healthcare (at least in the British Empire) as well as minimum wages and benefits, were introduced. The problem with this was that hiring labour became much more expensive.

 

Now I seem to have diverged a bit, though in many cases I tend to like to try to put a few things in context. Now, I do very much agree with Klein's assessment here, however I do feel that there are a few misleading ideas, such as the idea of cheap labour in poorer countries. Now, don't get me wrong, I am opposed to the mistreatment of any human being, and am opposed to unsafe and discriminatory work practices. This was something that was thrown out of the western world over 100 years ago, however it has simply moved to the developing world. Low wages are not necessarily the problem though, since if you do travel to these places you will discover that the low prices of goods there more than makes up for the low wages. For instance, it costs around $100 a night to stay in a hotel in Melbourne, while it costs $30 a night in Hong Kong, and in Bangkok I found a hotel for $14 (though my friend's comment was that it was probably a pretty shitty hotel). However, low wages are still a problem, but what makes things worse is cost cutting as a means to increase profits. If, for instance, the manufacturer cuts costs so that the worker is working long hours, has no breaks, is not allowed to go to the toilet, and the workplace is so unsafe that accidents regularly happen, then that is not good. However, the price of the shoes, or the shirt, in Australia does not change, despite the factory in Australia closing down and the one in Asia opening up. This is not a means to make the goods cheaper, but a means to increase the profits of the corporation, and in turn the shareholders. No only are the workers being exploited, but so are the consumers in Australia.

 

One thing she talks about is the concept of space. Basically space is being taken over by the corporatocracy. Once one would go shopping on the main street and spend some time in the town park. That is no longer the case: main street has closed down and much of the activity has moved to the shopping centre. There is a big difference between the town centre and the shopping centre and that is that the town centre is a public space while the shopping centre is not. What that means is that the owner of the shopping centre has complete control over what goes on there, thus creating an ordered and sheltered place where people can go and spend money and not be disturbed. However I have noted that at times The Body Shop have plastered their shop with anti-corporate logos, even in the middle of a Westfield Shopping Centre.

 

The further idea of no space is that all of our space is being taken up with advertising, and that the main thought forms of today is the brand logo. However branding once again in not new. Christianity has been using the brand logo for centuries, and in many was it has brought about the development of the brand as a means of advertising. The brand has also been used in the past to mark possession, such as slaves or cattle. However, you could say that the modern brand also marks possession. We see the swoosh on a shirt or my shoes and we know that they are Nikes. Nothing more needs to be said, but then I raise the question of whether those of us who wear the brand are in fact possessions of the company. I would say not, however to me it is a means of cheap advertising, though the cheapest form of advertising is always word of mouth. Personally, I must admit, I like Coopers Pale Ale, and as such I will wear a T-shirt with the brand on it (though I should also point out that the T-shirt was given to me as a gift). I guess, if the brand was a brand that I didn't like, then I wouldn't be wearing it (unless of course I was paid to do so, then I wouldn't have a problem, unless of course it was something that I was violently opposed to).

 

Some have suggested that the modern corporatocracy is launching a war against the middle class. To be honest I am going to dispute that namely because the corporatocracy needs the middle class, and even a cash flushed working class, to survive. Things have changed dramatically since this book was published, as the corporatocracy attempted to increase profits by increasing availability of credit. However, the more people got into debt, the less of an ability they have to pay it back, and when they cannot pay it back the debt must be written off. Come 2008, the entire economy reaches the brink of collapse, and the banks have not yet recovered. The economy survived, barely, and some still say it is on life support. However, many of the masters of the economy have fallen from grace, but this was not through the actions of demonstrators and protesters, but through their own greed. In the end it is much like a Shakespearian tragedy.

 

As mentioned, the corporatocracy need the people to survive, to create and grow their profits, but they have effectively reached critical mass. All of the jobs that filled the pockets of American workers have gone overseas, and as such these workers have been left without anything. Further, their savings accounts have also been drained and their credit has been maxed out, therefore they no longer have any money left to partake in the consumer society. Sure, the staples such as Walmart and McDonalds can survive because everybody needs food, but the others can't. Instead, with no money left to suck out of the working class, they need to look elsewhere for support, and unfortunately that does not exist in the developing world. The workers there are still underpaid and cannot afford the luxuries of the west. Therefore, in the end, the corporatocracy is its own worst enemy, and its endless pursuit of power and profits is going to be its own undoing.

 

Though I still love the free market capitalist who hated short sellers. I know this has nothing to do with this book, but I have to mention it. It is typical of the hippocracy of the extreme capitalist. They love the free market right up to the point that the market spins around and smacks them in the face, then they will jump in with regulations in an attempt to protect their profits. All I can say is if you want a free market, then you have to accept all of the free market, both good and bad. Personally, I see nothing wrong with short sellers, and in fact I actually quite like them because they piss off the capitalist to no end.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/323594123
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review 2015-08-04 06:47
A criticism of the Bush administration shortly after their election
Stupid White Men - Michael Moore

 

Okay, I may not actually be writing this review (as I had done so a while back) but I am going over it again to try and correct some of the glaring spelling and gramatical errors (as I have been doing for most of my reviews – and I am getting quite close to finishing them off). Anyway, I am currently sitting in a flying coffin at 30,000 above Malaysia, on my way to Phuket where I will be using the time to tidy up a few more of my reviews, as well as visiting Salamanga at James Bond island. However, that is beside the point because I probably should be spending more time relaxing and exploring than writing book reviews – but then again I guess that is one of things things I like doing. Anyway, on with the review.

 

This book is quite dated since the Bush cronies are now gone and the Democrats, lead by Barak Obama, are now well into a second term in the oval office (though they were recently smashed is the mid-terms). However, just because this ultra-right wing conservative government has been tossed out of the door does not necessarily mean that things have changed, or that change is going to be effected overnight. Many people are now criticising Obama on the fact that when he entered office on the platform of 'change you can believe in' that all of the problems that plague the United States would be solved overnight. As became obvious, the power brokers in this neo-fuedal system were not going to lie down without a fight. Even the Health Care Reform was little more than a cobbled together attempt to move the United States away from the two-tier system that had evolved that simply gives the health insurance industry more money (namely by forcing the insurers to accept applicants – then again, a government funded system would result in huge losses to the private insurers as it would mean that people would no longer see the need to take out private insurance).

 

However, the legacy of the Bush era is a multi-trillion dollar debt, a sluggish economy, more people under the poverty line, millions unemployed, a two wars in which many have lost loved ones or have had their lives drastically changed due to a roadside bomb. In fact one could point to these two wars as the reason that the United States is struggling with a debt burden that is going to be impossible to pay. However, despite all of this, the elite still live in the multi-million dollar mansions, sip their pina colladas, and watch their broadway plays, while the middle class is slowly being destroyed and the ranks of the poor are ever increasing.

 

We cannot say that we were not warned. It is interesting that it was well known that Bush was in fact a very bad manager of money. He ran two companies into the ground, ran the state of Texas into the ground, and a year before his term expired, the American economy was pushed to brink of collapse. However the companies that were responsible for this were bailed out, and then the government was further required to cut back on spending on essential services while the directors of these companies simply went on with life as normal. In the end, as in every similar situation, a fall guy was found (Mardoff) and all of the rage and anger was focused on him while the real criminals simply went off scott free.

 

As for Bush's Christianity, that is something that I am not at liberty to make comment, though it is interesting that his mentors turned out to be the usual suspects when it comes to the Christian right in the United States. This is an anti-abortion, and in fact, anti-fun coalition that is trying to impose a rigid morality on the United States, still believing that it is a country that has been blessed by God because of its Christian heritage. If economic success is a sign of blessing, and blessing only comes because a country remains true to its Christian heritage, then maybe the economic miracle in China is nothing more than a fraud (and people actually seem to think that this is a case). Or how about Ethiopia, or Kenya? These two countries have a very strong Christian heritage, but struggle with endemic poverty. This idea is once again a part of the so called prosperity heresy (as I like to call it), and now I understand why these pastors live such luxurious lifestyles - it is simply to convince the members of their church that the prosperity doctrine does indeed work because God has blessed them with riches (despite the fact that these riches have simply come through tithing and selling merchandise that peddles this false doctrine).

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/509303858
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text 2014-03-02 01:49
Reading progress update: I've read 11%.
Holy Bible - Anonymous
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