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review 2017-04-25 07:42
The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures
The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures - Carla D. Hayden,Library of Congress

 This is probably the most pleasant, and by extension, interesting, history of something as mundane as a card catalog as I'm likely to ever run across.  From the first example of a book catalog, pressed into clay in cuneiform, to the modern day usage of MARC records, the text flows in a tight, succinct narrative that is neither chatty nor dry (and I'm sure nowhere near comprehensive).

 

Where the book truly shines is in its photographs and illustrations.  The author and publisher were generous with the photographs and they fill at least 1/3 of the pages.  Most of them are photos of the old cards and the books they belong to, but there are many old pictures of the Library of Congress and other related images.  The number of cards the Library of Congress had to deal with daily in the mid-50's is staggering.  I can't even imagine the logistics.

 

Did you know that the Library of Congress still has their old card catalog and it's still in use?   (Most of it.)  I think that's wonderful and the perfect example of how old and new methodologies can complement each other instead of competing.  

 

This isn't the kind of book that's going to have wide appeal, but for those that find the subject interesting, it's a beautiful book, thoughtfully put together.

 

 

Page count: 220
Dollars banked: $3.00

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review 2017-04-12 18:18
Review: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream - Barack Obama

This is about policy and a "get to know the candidate" book that those in public office write to make themselves more familiar to voters as the candidate vies for national office. U.S. Senator Obama wrote/published this back in 2006, so there are a lot of references to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush II administration, and nothing about the growing problem of housing/Wall Street that blew up in the recession of late 2007-2009.

 

I will state upfront I voted for him in both presidential elections, and knew enough about his policy stances to feel confident in my votes. However, I found the stances much more nuanced in this book then an any article or interview about him. For the most part I liked what he had to say, even if I disagreed with him on some of the finer points or came from a different perspective. Some of his thinking comes from his time as a community organizer, some from his time as a lawyer and professor, and some from his time in the Illinois state legislature. The little of what we see from his time in the US Senate is about his trips to Russia and Ukraine or to the Middle East and how those experiences influences and sometimes changes his way of thinking about a policy matter. Most of the trips mentioned are of his going back to Illinois for town halls, campaign events, or speaking engagements.

Mixed in the policy talk are personal anecdotes, conversations with citizens, conversations with senior political office holders, and biographical material. This is a pretty personal toned book from such a policy wonk.

 

Be ye forewarned: This man really likes to take walks through history to provide context at the beginning of a few chapters. The chapter on the Constitution starts out with a history lesson that begins with the Founding Fathers and moves along slowly. So much law professor lecturing going on. Most of the history walks start with Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson.

 

I found the chapter on faith/religion the big obstacle in my enjoyment and learning from this book. He basically sold out irreligious and people of faith other than evangelical or mainline Protestants and kissed the asses of the conservative Christian right. He wants Democrats to take pages from the GOP and use Christian language and imagery to help explain party platforms, ideas, and policies. He also uses his Christian faith to defend his stand on opposing same-sex marriage. The one non-Christian mentioned in this chapter is a Jewish GOP Senator who is in charge of planning the Senate's voluntary weekly Bible study meeting...yeah. Nothing about how the Muslims are treated, nothing about the rise of anti-Semitism, nothing but the hate crimes against Shikhs (who are targeted because they are mistaken often for Muslims), nothing about the UU church- nothing about religion other than Christianity. No thank you; I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state.

 

Overall, I found a lot of policy topics for which I can think about from either a different perspective or think about more in depth. I just wished I skipped the chapter on faith.

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text 2017-04-08 17:46
Read 100 out of 375 pages
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream - Barack Obama

I'm not one for taking notes while reading, but this book is compelling me to read with a pencil in my hand so that I can line some of the important items (it is my own copy - so no worries about destroying public library property :D). Here is what I underlined in the first 100 pages:

 

"...underscore one of the differences between ideology and values: Values are faithfully applied to the facts before us, while ideology overrides whatever facts call theory into question." (pg. 59)

 

"When, for fear of appearing censorious, progressive political leaders can't even acknowledge the problem, those parents start listening to those leaders who will - leaders who may be less sensitive to constitutional constraints." (pg. 61)

 

"Sometimes we need both cultural transformation and government action - a change in values and a change in policy - to promote the kind of society we want." (pg. 63)

 

"Still, I wondered if, in our reliance on the courts to vindicate not only our rights but also our values, progressives had lost too much faith in democracy." (pg. 83)

 

"...as I suspect was true for those teaching Scripture, I found that my students often felt they knew the Constitution without having really read it. They were accustomed to plucking out phrases that they'd heard and using them to bolster their immediate arguments, or ignoring passages that seemed to contradict their views." (pg. 85)

 

"...may be the vision of the Founders that inspires us, but it was their realism, their practicality and flexibility and curiosity, that ensured the Union's survival." (pg. 94)

 

"...that deliberation and the constitutional order may sometimes be the luxury of the powerful, and that it has sometimes been the cranks, the zealots, the prophets, the agitators, and the unreasonable - in other words, the absolutists - that have fought for a new order." (pg. 97)

 

"He [Senator Byrd] told me I would do well in the Senate but that I shouldn't be in too much of a rush - so many senators today became fixated on the White House, not understanding that in the constitutional design it was the Senate that was supreme, the heart and soul of the Republic." (pg. 100)

 

Chapter 3's focus was on the Constitution and was like reading a Constitutional Law 101.

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review 2017-04-06 05:10
Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties
Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties - Rachel Cooke

Just what it says on the wrapper, this book is an encapsulated look at the lives and careers of 10 British women at their professional peak during the 50's, a decade that, in my entirely biased opinion, was the beginning of the end in so many ways.

 

But not for women; they were just starting to gather momentum.  Rachel Cooke writes about these women in an extremely casual, laid-back style that is often funny and always easy to read and entertaining.  She manages, in just a few dozen pages at most, to give the reader a really good feel for these women, their lives, and the trails they blazed.  

 

For at least half of them, I have to say, that feeling is that no matter how successful they were, they were also a hot mess.  There is a long trail of deceit, neglect, and dishonesty behind some of these 'extraordinary' women; at least 3 of them should have had their children taken from them (although that's just my opinion of course).  By the third chapter, I was wondering why, as much as I was absolutely loving Cooke's writing, I was continuing to read about these women; they may have achieved great things professionally but they hadn't done it with any grace or integrity.

 

But perhaps Cooke wanted to get the brilliant, scandalous, and brilliantly scandalous out of the way at the outset, because the remaining 70% of the book highlights women who were able to achieve great things and make a name for themselves without neglecting their children or cheating on their partners.  Mostly.  Well, ok, they did it without neglecting or abandoning their kids.

 

The highlights for me were reading about Margery Fish and Rose Heilbron, gardener extraordinaire and the first female QC, respectively.  Margery's subversiveness towards her husband was hilarious and her ethos on gardening is exactly the same as my own; building and maintaining 2 acres of gardens by herself, however, is way out of my league.  I loved, though, that she didn't even begin what she would become so famous for until she was in her 40s.  

 

Rose Heilbron, however, was truly the most inspiring woman showcased in this book.  Not only were her achievements truly extraordinary by any standard, not just 'for a woman', but the manner in which she went about achieving them makes her truely worthy of admiration. The way Cooke writes it, she went through her life with such grace, integrity, intelligence and rationalism, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for some huge scandal to be revealed, which is a sad commentary on what I've come to expect from 'achievers'.  Fortunately, no such scandal was revealed.  This woman should be the role model of every female (AND male) in the world; not for what she achieved, but for how she achieved it.  

 

As far as these books go, I think Her Brilliant Career would appeal to a broad audience.  Cooke manages to write about history without causing chronic drowsiness, and about feminism without beating the reader over the head with it.  Instead she allows these women's lives to tell the stories they need to tell and in the process both entertain and inform the casual reader.

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review 2017-04-03 12:48
Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month by Terry Albert
Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month, 2nd Edition: Everything you need to know at each stage to ensure your cute & playful puppy gr - Liz Palika,Terry Albert

A straight forward instructional manual for owning a German Shepherd.  The book includes how your GSD matures month by month, from bringing your puppy home, to 12 months.  The book also explains how to deal with house training, other types of training, nutrition, grooming, socialisation, health, vet visits etc.

 

 

 

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