Monthly Archives: September 2015

On School Fundraisers.

Last week at work, we printed 2 different fliers as well as the envelopes used for a local school fundraising company. You know, the cookie dough and kitchen essentials (in this case) stuff that your grandchildren and/or coworkers children beg you to buy every year.

What I find amazing (and sad) about these fundraisers is that everyone can agree that the stuff is too expensive and the actual amount of money going to the schools is too low and yet, it’s still the preferred way to donate! I was talking with my 60 year old coworker and said it was sad that no one donates money unless they get something in return for it and she agreed with me. I then made an off hand comment about how food banks would actually prefer to receive money so that they can buy the food directly from the manufacturers at a discount. She told me that she’d never donate that way because you never know where the money actually goes (how many hands it passes through). I agree with that point and am usually the first to complain when 80% of the funds raised by an organization go towards “operating expenses”. Later, she mentioned that her grandkids would be bringing a similar fundraiser to her soon enough and she hoped that it was something worth buying. I laughed when I reiterated that no one donates without getting something, but it probably went over her head.

Why should we pay $10 for the ice cream scoop we don’t need or $14 so we can make 40 chocolate chip cookies when we know that the classroom might only get $5 or $9 (if that much) rather than the full amount we’ve paid? Why not give the teacher the $10 or $14? Are we afraid that she’ll pocket the money instead of using it to buy crayons? I’ve heard a lot of parents complain enough when they spend a small fortune buying their kids school supplies only to find out that the supplies are pooled together and split between all the children in the classroom. Because we all know that the other parents didn’t do their job buying their kids supplies (sarcasm intended).

As it is, I guess these fundraisers seem like the safest way to donate to schools and hey, at the very least, even if the school doesn’t see a penny of the funds, at least the donor got something for their money.

Northanger Abbey

I’m very glad that I’ve decided to finally tackle the works of Jane Austen. The more I read of her, the more a fan I become.

Northanger Abbey started out kind of slow, which I expected when the introduction implied it was the first novel she’d written even though it was only published after her death. It starts out sounding very much like a rant against society, which I think is common amongst young writers. I know that my one attempt at writing a novel gets a C- from me simply because I spent too much time ranting. Of course, Ms. Austen had the skill that I lacked which is in her ability to reign it in, or at least when it’s viewed from 2015, these rants would have been shared by all of us modern women, so we sympathize instead of condemning her “youth”.

This is definitely a book that a lot of teenage girls today would still find relevant, especially when it comes to the “friends” who are self-centered and conniving. I could only groan at the comments that Catherine used to be so easy to persuade and that it’s her fault that their trip would be ruined because she has other plans. There are plenty of women in therapy now because of the guilt laid upon them by “friends” who are actually abusive users.

I also found the conversation between Catherine and Henry on the definition of matrimony as relative to a country dance. They end up with such a complex definition of what it means to be married, I’m surprised that just 2 weeks ago another debate was hashed out in our court system that a marriage can be so easily defined as “between a man and a woman”. Goodness: if that’s all it takes to make a marriage last, why on Earth does divorce exist?!? Of course, in today’s world, most people would agree that there is also more to a marriage than a man supporting his wife  and the wife making “an agreeable home”. ‘Course, I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable if they proscribed way to find a husband (a woman’s only duty, of course) was for her to hide every scrap of intelligence she has, or to not be intelligent to begin with.

“Yes, I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.” I’ve always been the “smart” one of the group, but I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve been appreciated for not being pretentious. I do not like people using a “5 dollar word” as a measure of intelligence especially since many who do use such words incorrectly. I have had to say on a few occasions: “I’m not sure the word you just used means what you think it means” and I admit it’s difficult to do with a straight face. Luckily, most don’t mean any harm by it, they’re simply trying to sound smart, but I like to think that smart is something you do, not something you say.

I was listening to an interview on NPR with researchers who want to promote physical intelligence instead of merely mental intelligence in US society (the action of creating something rather than the mental processes of thinking about stuff). I disagreed with the whole notion that a single individual can excel at both ways of learning because I don’t think it’s probable for all humans to be geared towards the exact same way of learning: kinetic vs. listening vs. optical. Yes, US society looks down upon the individuals who lack “book knowledge”, but watching my BF load and unload a car Friday night shows me that there is a considerable amount of intelligence that goes into physical labor! My brother would also tell you that it IS a skill to be able to load a trailer properly–he’d been the unfortunate victim of one such person too many times when he quit his job loading them because the other person’s “walls” kept falling on him.

My only complaint is that when Catherine realized the error of her ways in making assumptions about the General based on her experience with romantic novels, she was only able to extend her miss-assumptions to those who live within her general area (or at least this is how I read this passage)–people in the far east and west would still be like the villains and heroes of her novels: either good or evil and nothing in between.

On that note, I anxiously await my next Blogging for Books request: Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and as Warning. I’ve heard that it relates to the xenophobia we’re now seeing with the refugee crisis in Europe. Something doesn’t sit right with me when doctors, lawyers, and teachers are treated like vermin simply because they’ve been forced to take sketchy boats, trucks or just walk to cross borders  just to get away from oppression in their home countries.

P.S. Does anyone know why this book was originally called “Susan” by Ms. Austen? I’m pretty sure that there is no one called by that name in this novel!

The Amaranth Enchantment

To start with, The Amaranth Enchantment is a retelling of Cinderella. You should understand this and then throw everything you think you know about this story based on this information out the window! I shall refrain from telling any spoilers, but on p. 244 of this edition, Lucinda does something so un-Cinderella-like, I burst out laughing. This is the girl who wants the prince, but she sure as Hell doesn’t NEED the prince!

The quote on the front of this edition is “Thoroughly surprising and satisfying….Enjoy” –Kathi Appelt. This is accurate 100%. I kept trying to predict what would happen, but then I kept being wrong, which is refreshing in a fairy tale.  Ms. Berry writes an excellent fairy tale and I look forward to reading more of her works.

Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado

“It is better one hundred guilty Persons should escape than one innocent Person should suffer”

–Benjamin Franklin

I first heard about Unfair via NPR (not sure which program the author was speaking on) and was amazed at the idea of using Avatars and recorded testimony to better present information to a jury at a trial. Turns out that this book is full of a lot more than just this idea for reforms.

This book looks into the science behind why people do what they do: the perpetrators, the judges, the lawyers, the witnesses, the jury, the public. While reading it, I started wondering which of my extended family members (a group that succumbs to many of the fallacies listed here) would most benefit by reading this. My conclusion was probably none. Even if they were able to finish reading it, they’d still probably label it “liberal rubbish”. What I find ironic is that these types are covered within: the ones who when presented with overwhelming evidence that their beliefs are misguided (at best) they will still find a reason to reject the evidence.

I don’t know if I’m simply more educated than the general public, but a lot of what I read in Unfair seemed to be common knowledge now. I thought people were aware that eye-witness accounts are more often than not limited if not completely incorrect. Benforado makes it seem like no one in the public sector knows this, but I can imagine that in especially a trial setting, lawyers will overstate the importance of eye-witnesses and other facts.

I certainly will forever question the validity of an eye-witness after reading about at 74 year old woman who identified the wrong man even though the actual rapist was also in the line-up (put there simply as filler by the police). Especially when you look at a photo of the line-up and only the real rapist looks like the original description, given 5 weeks prior.

In this era of what appears to be more police brutality, I thought that there were a few quotes that maybe some folks should take to heart.

The first comes during the chapter on why the public seeks to find someone to blame when a crime is committed, even if that means taking a pig or dog literally to court, or the public thinking it’s okay for a pitcher to hit an innocent player during a baseball game in retaliation for one of his own teammates getting hit. “[W]hen a harm has been committed, our desire to find a culprit and reset the moral scales by inflicting punishment may sometimes override out commitment to fair treatment.” I was immediately reminded of watching the latest video evidence of the shooting of Walter Scott. Officer Slager claimed that it was in self-defense or otherwise was in defense of the public, because they’d just emerged from a scuffle on the ground when they got up and Scott started running again so Slager used his gun. You see, when I hear that story (of a scuffle and the retaliation), I picture me acting in “hot blood” to hurt the person who just hurt me. Officer Slager had just (probably) gotten hit in the nose (or somewhere else that resulted in injury or at least insult) and in anger pulled out his weapon and fired. I suspect this “hot blooded” approach to justice occurs in more cases of police brutality than anything else (Unfair does touch on the Rodney King case, but only from the perspective of the expert witnesses).

The second quote that stuck out to me was “Numerous studies have shown that those who have murdered a white person are more likely to be sentenced to death than those who have murdered a black person.” Well, this is a statistic that the Black Lives Matter cause should pick up. Currently the debate seems to be centered on police brutality towards black suspects with opponents saying “well, what about Black on Black violence?” It seems to me that the Justice Department is making a statement that White Lives are more important than Black Lives simply because they go after harsher punishments when the victim is white rather than black.

The third quote is “In one recent experiment, researchers had two groups of participants read about a fourteen-year-old with seventeen prior juvenile convictions who raped an elderly woman. Participants were then asked to what extent, in general, they supported sentences of life without parole for juveniles in non-homicide cases. The texts given to the groups were identical, aside from one word: for the first group, the defendant was described as black; for the second group, he was described as white. Participants who had read about the black teenager expressed more support for the severe sentence and for the notion that kids are as blameworthy as adults.” I think this should give EVERYONE cause to stop and reflect on their own preconceptions. Of course, this is also discussed in Unfair: jurors are told repeatedly that they are completely capable of being impartial and most of us want to believe that even though there is mounting evidence that at least some amount of bias skews our judgments. People are so certain that they would never discriminate that they are blind to the fact that they do it daily.

I think this is one of those books that should be required reading. Even if it doesn’t have an effect on the Criminal Justice department, at least it will shed more light on the social issues that cause crime. Armchair politicians like to admit that lack of education and poverty contribute to the crime problem, but when it comes to saying where tax dollars should be spent, it’s usually on a bigger prison rather than a new school. I’ve heard more people talk about the waste of throwing money at education, but not the same about the waste of throwing money at jails. Except when some new jail can’t be used because of a wonkie law–then the complaint isn’t that the jail was built, but because it cannot be used.

I received this book for free via Blogging For Books, but as always the review/commentary is all mine.

You Just Look Guilty
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Christmas Jury
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The Cincinnati Red Stalkings by Troy Soos

My dad was the one to first read the Mickey Rawlings Series many many moons ago. He read them out of order depending on what was on the shelf at the library and I kind of read them behind him, but realized that I hated the parts that were missing. I only recently began re-reading this series starting from the beginning and I must say that it’s a better experience.

These books stand alone just fine, but you’ll miss out on the character interactions if you go out of order.

Oddly enough, even though I probably read all of the first 5 books in this series before (this being #5), this is the one that I definitely remembered reading. It didn’t mean I could remember the ending, but I definitely remembered it.

I also remember not particularly caring for it at the time. I still can’t place my finger on why this is my least favorite book in the series, but I suspect it has something to do with Prohibition and gambling/Mob….maybe just the gambling/Mob connections since Prohibition isn’t a new item for this series. Or maybe it is since this one introduces Prohibition (maybe I have read the next book in the series without remembering so). Maybe it’s because the historical connection, since it is Prohibition and the gambling scandals, isn’t as compelling at the earlier dealings with race, unions, etc. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s simply because I read them out of order and couldn’t figure out the characters very well!

I do know that I enjoyed this book this time a lot more than I did the previous time. It you like baseball and don’t mind a murder mystery, this is a great series for you. Soos does a heck of a job researching the games and the real life events! He even responded to a complaint I made about Murder at Wrigley Field, which should have been called Murder at Weeghman Park because that’s what it’s name was during the time that the book was set and that’s the name the park went by throughout the book (Wrigley wouldn’t buy the park until after the end of the book). It turned out that his publishers had insisted on calling it Wrigley on the cover to help it sell better since they were still insisting on the “Murder at…” format. He gave in to the publishers, but had wanted the more accurate title. There’s nothing that annoys me more than facts being made up rather than doing the research.

Baseball Poster Memorabilia
Baseball Poster Memorabilia by cardland
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Deep Kiss of Winter

This book is comprised of 2 different stories from 2 different (yet similar) authors. I’m going to use the words book and story interchangeably because I’m used to using the word book to mean story. But I’m keeping these reviews separate, so you’ll know when I change from reviewing the first story to that of the second. For more information on why I feel the need to define my terms, see my post on Jargon.

The first story in this book is Untouchable by Kresley Cole. This is part of the Immortals after Dark series. I got hooked on this series over about 2 years ago because I could read a lot of the books online. Then I hit this one and could not find a copy online, so I kind of forgot about the series until now (found while browsing my “to-read” pile on Goodreads).

This story is about Murdoch, the last of the 4 Wroth brothers to find his “Bride” (the term given to the woman who essentially brings a vampire back to life: makes his heart beat and all the lovely romance stuff that comes with that). Murdoch’s story runs simultaneously with that of his brothers, so while reading the previous 3 stories involving the Wroths (which, since this is book 8 may not have immediately preceded this book), Murdoch’s story was hinted at a lot. In that way, this book wasn’t very surprising, but it was a good book to remind me of the important bits of the other 3 and round out the parts that were hinted at but never explained. Hmm….I guess this is where I need to tell you that this book is a SPOILER for all the previous ones. Read it at your own risk, then.

Also read at your own risk because this book is full of sex. I mean, a Sherrilyn Kenyon book has sex mentioned on probably a quarter of the pages. Kresley Cole is more like 50%. But this story was more like 65%. It started to drag, but at least the sex is, in my opinion, well written if that’s what you’re going for.

Side note: the sex in 50 Shades of Grey was not well written, in my opinion.

What I like about Kresley Cole, is that even though the sex takes up so much of her books, the plot itself is usually really good. Since this one focused more on the sex than the plot, it wasn’t as good as her previous books in this series. ‘Course, the “enemy” of this story was mostly internal, whereas in previous books the problem involved a lot more physical action, so that also played a role.

And this brings me to the second story in this book: Tempt Me Eternally by Gena Showalter. I don’t think I’ve read anything by Ms. Showalter, and as of right now, I’m not sure I have any interest in doing so.

I stopped reading this story about halfway through and I may or may not get back to it depending on when I finish the rest of my pile of library books.

The problem is that it’s nothing but sex. Here’s the thing, I read all three books in the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy because there was just enough plot to keep me going even after I started skipping chunks of the sex because it’d gotten so repetitive and dull. Less is more, people; less is more! I congratulate E.L. James for her excellent marketing skills: she turned what should have been a single okay book into a best selling trilogy simply by chopping it into 3 sections at the most suspenseful cliffhanger she could write and filling the resulting thin volumes with enough bad sex to make them book sized.

Tempt Me Eternally doesn’t have a decent plot to support it. OR RATHER it does have a decent plot going on, but Ms. Showalter doesn’t care enough to make it important! I mean, there’s supposed to be an alien invasion coming and instead the important part is this Breean (male of another alien species) repeatedly violating the main female character! He locked her in a room for a WEEK “comfortable and fed” yet she had to talk to herself when the lights went out at night?!? That means she wasn’t very comfortable if she wasn’t given a light in order to read by (I accept her not wanting to sleep because she needed to keep watch over herself, but if the only way she could keep herself awake was by talking to herself, then something wasn’t right). There were hints that the guy, Breean, had spent that week doing recon and whatever, but again, to Ms. Showalter, this action is insignificant when it compared to describing how he can make himself smell irresistible and how his penis keeps getting excited whenever Aleaha is near or he’s just thinking about her.

I had hopes that Aleaha would be an interesting and strong female character, but she’s buried under “oh I can’t think straight when he’s around” and once he enters the picture, any action where they’re not together gets dumbed down to a sentence or two of recap. Blah, blah bleck!

I told BF the other night that I’d quit reading this book because it had too much sex in it and he asked me if it was making me too “randy” (yes, he used that term and I need to remove it from his vocabulary) and I told him “no: it’s making me nauseous.”

I happened to read the Acknowledgements before Tempt Me Eternally started and it was a gush fest over Kresley Cole. It read like a new writer was so ever eternally grateful that an established writer had deigned to put their names together and publish a book to help the new writer get their career off the ground. Imagine my surprise when I started hunting down Ms. Showalter to see if this was the start of a new series and it turns out that not only has she published a lot of books, but this is set in the middle of an established series Alien Huntress.

 

Winter Snow Poster
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Jargon

Last week at work we had a bit of confusion in bindery. A guy (22) used the word “make ready” and a woman (62) was like “what?” She’s worked in bindery for at least 10 years and never heard this word used before, I guess. I stepped in and explained to her that “make ready” is the same as “set ups”. When she was satisfied I turned to the guy and laughed: “you just like to use jargon!”

He said, “What? What’s jargon?”

Alrighty then. I thought this was one of those words they still taught in school. I know that it’s where I first heard the term.

Jargon is (according to Google Definitions) “special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.” I used “toss and turn”, “work and turn”, and “case vs box” for examples we use in the shop.

I’ve tried to keep politics out of this blog, but this seems to be the post that most deserves a mention. There’s at least one word that keeps popping up in a political context that is definitely an important bit of jargon:

THEORY

For this one, I’m going to a better (in my opinion) dictionary: Merriam-Webster.com:

Full Definition of THEORY

:  the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
:  abstract thought :  speculation
:  the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art <music theory>
a :  a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action <her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn>

 b :  an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all>
:  a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <the wave theory of light>
a :  a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation

 b:  an unproved assumption :conjecture
 c:  a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject <theory of equations>
Theory, as a word, gets misused all the time in political debates. One of the most common is that “evolution cannot be real because it’s just a theory.”
Here’s the problem. Scientists use the word theory as jargon. It has a VERY specific definition within the scientific community: 5 :  a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <the wave theory of light>. Opponents choose to use the “English” (as I refer to it) definition, which is: 6 b:  an unproved assumption :conjecture. It’s comparing apples to oranges. Or when a box is a box and when it’s actually a case.
I’ll keep this short as I leave you with an important bit of advice:

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

!!!! I got an award!    ?    Cool. Hahaha.

Thank you Tea and a Good Read for nominating me! I too didn’t know that anyone read my blog :-).

Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  • Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Nominate ten blogs.

Questions:

1.) What is your favourite book of 2015 so far

Probably The Strange Case of Hellish Nell because it’s a supposedly true story that is beyond belief. It’s about Helen Duncan, the last person imprisoned under the Witchcraft Act of 1735 for being a thorn in the British Government’s side during WWII because she kept predicting strategic war events before they were revealed to the public. Whether or not this book has any truth to it, it was still a really fun read.

2.) If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

Hmm….well, I wrote one of my essays to get into college about Peter Pan and never wanting to grow up. ‘Course, my take on it was about embracing adulthood while still taking regular flights of fancy back into childhood–to enjoy playing with blocks and doing puzzles with the Kindergartners :-). Or just reading those books that take you back to the land of fairies where you don’t have to worry about bills and family feuds

3.) E-books or hard copies? And why?

Hard copies for 2 reasons. I love the feel of a real book in my hands. And since I only have a laptop for a “digital device” if I’m going to read an e-book, it’d be on this. On my computer, I have a habit of forgetting about my book in favor of researching whatever happens to pop into my head. Plus, hard copies of books don’t have batteries that go dead while you’re stuck on the side of the road.

4.) Do you have a literary crush/love and if so, who?

Lots of them, haha. I liked the idea of Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility but he felt like an addendum. Huh…I’m sitting here wondering why I haven’t read many “May/December” romances sense obviously I’ve got a thing for older men and then I’m like “Durr–most of my literary crushes are hundreds or thousands of years older than their love interest”. My first crush was probably Beast from Beauty and the Beast.

5.) How do you take your coffee/tea? Cream, milk, sweetener or black?

I don’t drink coffee or tea. I’ll drink Southern Iced Tea (which is rather sweet) if I’m desperate, but usually I drink water, milk, or orange juice.

6.) If you could visit any place in the world (that you haven’t been yet), where would it be?

I’ve always wanted to go to Germany to visit my paternal familial stomping grounds. Attendorn, to be precise. I would want to go to Italy to see where my mom’s family came from, but I don’t know where that is, yet. I got pretty excited when I found a record for a great-grandmother on her side that her parents were born in “Algeria”, but given that the 2 or 3 other census records said her parents were born in “America”, I don’t know what to think.

7.) If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only have one book, what would it be?

Heidi, because then maybe I could actually finish it, haha. I guess for practicalities sake I’d want an environmental textbook on the flora and fauna of the island I was on or a book on survival on a desert island. Before I started dating my boyfriend, Night Play was the book I re-read to make me feel better about being single, haha.

8.) Do you ever read in the dark? And if so, how?

With my eyes closed. Have you ever fallen asleep while reading and swear that you’re reading the actual book? I got into a bit of trouble in high school because we were reading Heart of Darkness and I swore that something had happened, but it turned out that I’d imagined it because I’d been sleeping instead of reading and didn’t know the difference (I was reading it at home the night before and it affected my quiz grade). Of course, what I’d imagined wasn’t much different from the reality which is apparently someone trying to put out a fire with a holey bucket…I think–I never really understood most of Heart of Darkness.

9.) Have you ever been nominated for a blog award (other than this one)?

NOPE!

10.) What is your favourite book-turned movie?

This is a tough question: do you mean the movie that was totally better than the book? Hands down The Notebook. One where the book was so much better than the movie? Water for Elephants. A good movie from a wonderful book: Most of the Harry Potters. And a movie that can take the place of the book(s) (and vice versa) is The Hunger Games series.

My Questions:

  1. What made you start your blog?
  2. What is the book you recommend most often?
  3. What is something you need to do every day?
  4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  5. What is something you want to change in your life?
  6. What is your dream job?
  7. Describe your ideal date.
  8. What is your favorite season? Why?
  9. What’s your favorite memory?
  10. Where is Waldo?

Nominees:

Epbot

Treestand Book Reviews

angelica.mercedez.anderson

Breakneck Hobbiest

Little Owl Notes

Bookish Things and Tea

There’s no place like homemade

Carter Library

Family, Life, and Books

These Glittery Hands