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review 2017-04-15 23:16
Are the Elites really experiencing a "Twighlight"?
Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy - Christopher L. Hayes

I listened to the audio book.  It is interesting.  Christopher Hayes sounds as if he has sucked Obama's jizz and is enraptured by the former President Obama and places Obama on a God-like pedestal.  With this out of the way let's dissect this book and its arguments.


Hayes argues that Meritocracy is Oligarchy as another writer or Politician or visionary has said.  Hayes uses MLB, the Hunter College High School where he was schooled, Wall Street, and The Ivy Leagues and maybe a few others I am forgetting to show that Meritocracy is flawed and does more harm to society than not.  I tend to agree with these arguments, especially given the college test prep industry that has sprung up as well as the test prep industry for the Hunter College High School Hayes describes.  This can be summed up as "money talks and bullshit walks."  


Hays talked about the Occupy Wall Street/99% movement and how are current Institution of Government is failing or has failed the people of The United States.  I tend to agree with the latter part of this too. 


Hayes also says that things like Pilots licences, doctors credentials/certificates should not follow a meritocratic distribution because there are some that already hold these that should not be pilots or practicing physicians and handing them out meritocratically would just be follly and put lives in danger.  I agree with this too.


Hayes also quotes the belief that power is corrupting and absolute power corrupts absolutely and I agree with this too.


In the final chapter Hayes' solution to Meritocracy which leads to Oligarchy is redistribution of wealth by taxing the rich and having the government re-distribute that wealth to the poor and this will end the problem.  


The problem I see with this is that the Ruling Political Class which controls the Government of the United States will spend any tax revenues they collect and money will not be re-distributed to the poor.  We have seen this with Social Security and Medicaid and instead it will likely be spent on foreign wars, foreign aid, the CIA, and the Military Industrial Complex.  Secondly, Robin Hood has already tried this and as long as the Meritocracy, Oligarch, and Plutocrats are in power I don't believe many or most of them are altruistic enough to do the right thing rather than pocket the money to make themselves richer and further rig the system in their favor.  


A good book which was written and published in 2012 so it's a little dated though worth the listen or read.  

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text 2017-04-14 15:12
Why PopLit Isn't All Bad, or, James Patterson Serves a Purpose
The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
1st to Die - James Patterson
The Twilight Collection - Stephenie Meyer
Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James

So, for the last week I've been at the mercy of someone else's library. We've all been there: You're on vacation, staying with friends and you forgot your eReader, you didn't bring print because... You get it.

Anyway, spent a lot of time reading over the last week, and little of what I read would have been on my list. (It wasn't all bad though; any week where I read six Tor shorts and a Dick Francis is a success.) And I spent a bit of that time reading best-sellers, as you do, specifically books by James Patterson and Dan Brown.

And I almost enjoyed it.

Look, this is not my first go round with either of these authors (I was young, they were popular...) and I'm not trying to attack them or question the tastes of the public that has made these men millions of dollars. Instead, I'm going to try to explain it (to myself, more than anything, so you can skip this if you've an excuse from your mum).


1. The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown  It's Fun to Feel Smart


    Dan Brown makes relatively simple puzzle thrillers, often historic and/or artistic twists to them. They are flawed, sure, but Brown does a few things brilliantly: He uses patterns to help is readers solve the puzzles with his characters; he foreshadows his twists enough so they're comfortable, but doesn't spoil them; and he expertly uses controversy when it rears it's head.

I'm going to focus on the puzzles. What Brown does is give you a very difficult puzzle to start, then walk you through it, step by step. Then, later, he'll give you a simpler variation on the same puzzle, then a harder one, slowly escalating until you're solving problems at the same time and skill as Langdon himself. It's rewarding and addictive, and makes the reader feel good about his books. Hence, repeat sales.


2. 1st to Die - James Patterson   It's Fun to Be Surprised


    James Patterson is another author who gets tons of sales and no respect (except from Larry King), but he also has a few awesome tricks up his sleeves: Short chapters and paragraphs, leading to a constant sense of accomplishment; constant cliffhangers and foreshadowing, to keep you reading; and a lot of twists, so you don't get bored. Ever.

That's the big one, because most people think of reading as either work or boring. If you can get around that, people will love you for it.


3. The Twilight Collection - Stephenie Meyer  Female-Targeted Pseudo-Porn!


    Cracked.com talked about this in their Ninja Turtles episode of After Hours, oddly enough. Lots of talk, something resembling empowerment, and just enough sexuality to make you feel happily naughty. (Don't worry, I didn't actually read this one, which is why I refuse to mock it... except for the sparkles. Fuck that shit.)


4.  Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James   Wish Fulfillment; Also, PORN!!


     The success of this series has been debated all over the place, but it's not complicated: Everybody wants to get off; everybody likes feeling superior (speaking here of the grammar and spelling errors); and everybody wants to win the lottery (or have a rich, gorgeous person pop in out of the blue and say, "Fuck me right, and you'll be well-compensated," except, you know, suave).

Nothing wrong with that.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-18 22:52
The Twilight Wife
The Twilight Wife - Lisa A. Banner

I'm not saying this book could be a soap opera, but...


The Twilight Wife follows Kyra Winthrop as she recovers from a diving accident that cost her at least four years of her life. Helping her is her husband, Jacob, as they live a charming life on Mystic Island, off the coast of either Seattle or British Columbia, not sure which. As time goes by, though, and as Kyra's memories come back to her, she starts to realize that things, especially Jacob and the nature of her accident, are not what they seem.


This book is advertised as a psychological thriller and it does get there. The last third of the book was awesome and I finished it fairly quickly. The twists were original and while I saw the final twist coming, it was still a good one. Not some weird copout twist. Banner did a really good job of leaving all the clues and connecting them all together in the end. 


The characters were okay. I did like Kyra though she easily got on my nerves in a lot of places, since she reads as really naive and a total pushover. Which, there are people like that in the world, so it was realistic, just frustrating. Jacob I disliked from the start. He was creepy and controlling and it was so obvious. I wish Banner had been much more subtle with him because it is obvious that he's up to something sinister. Part of the reason the final twist wasn't that surprising. The other characters were okay, just nothing really memorable. 


My favorite thing in this book is the setting. I love the sound of Mystic Island. The Pacific Northwest is my favorite kind of landscape and I would love to have a vacation place up there. We're going to the area in May and this book only made me more excited for that. Her descriptions of nature and the island are really incredible and I give her full credit for that. 


The reason I'm giving this book 3 stars is because, enjoyable as it was, it was so dramatic. It reads like a soap opera, especially with the amnesia thing. Most of the book is just Kyra feeling like a burden because she can't remember things she and Jacob did in the past. The plot is there, the execution is just full of melodrama where it makes it hard to get into it as a psychological thriller. For example, the overwhelmingly obvious fact that Jacob is not a great guy. Just a little more subtlety would have done wonders for this book. 


Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars. It's okay. Nothing spectacular, a fun read, and one I might pick up again if I need a quick read but I'm not in a hurry to get to again any time soon.

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text 2017-03-08 04:59
Reading progress update: I've read 12 out of 304 pages.
The Twilight Wife - Lisa A. Banner

This was on the New Fiction shelf at the library and the premise sounded interesting to me. Plus I had checked it in several times before so I figured I might as well read it. Maybe I'm just in a mood tonight, but the first chapter has left me with an uneasy feeling, as if this book is headed for a dark direction. I'm looking forward to finding out.

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review 2017-02-25 00:30
The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner
The Twilight Wife - Lisa A. Banner

A special thank you to Goodreads First Reads and Touchstone/Simon & Schuster for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Kyra Winthrop, a thirty-four-year-old marine biologist, is recovering from a head injury she sustained in a diving accident.  She has no memory of the accident.  Her most recent years come to her in flashes; she is completely dependent upon those around her to fill in the gaps, most notably her doting and patient husband, Jacob.  Because of the extent of her injury, Jacob tells her the same stories over and over, and answers the same questions again and again.  He compiles pictures in a ‘memory’ book for her to assist with her recovery.  Sounds like the perfect husband…so then why is she remembering another man, Aiden Finlay?  Did she have an affair?    


The couple live on a small island, cut off from civilization, and all is not what it seems.  Kyra’s visions become more recurrent, people are not who appear to be.  She stops taking her medication to try and make sense of memories, are they flashbacks, or were they told to her?  As her memories become more frequent, she feels like she can’t even trust herself so she starts to see a therapist in secret to help her make sense of things.  Through her continued therapy sessions, she begins to piece together events and dissect the foundations of her relationships.  The truth is in fact a nightmare and Jacob doesn’t want her regaining her memory. 

In the same vein as S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, this page-turner has the reader questioning relationships and those who they trust.  A solid 3.5/5 stars.       

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