Archive for the ‘A Good Read’ Category

Book Recommendation – Hard Thinking

http://www.stormkingpress.com/HardThink.htm

“Hard Thinking – The Fusion of Politics and Science” by Herbert Meyer

“Herbert E. Meyer argues that as we move into the twenty-first century our survival requires that we fuse the two cultures; that we transform politics itself from the struggle for power to the quest for knowledge about how we can best organize and manage our public affairs.”

— from the Author’s Website

Every scientist interested in public affairs should read this book. So should every politician.”

— Dr. Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine and
Founding Director of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies

“Delightful! To infuse the spirit, the methods, and the fundamental good will of science into politics would indeed be a giant stop forward.”

— Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University

This Small Book is huge in its implications and the challenge it issues. Setting aside emotional thinking in favor of the rigors of a scientist is clearly explained my Mr Meyer in clear & easy to understand language.

Recommended!

S

Our Madness Today Foretold

American Author Garet Garrett was commenting on the Bi-Metal US Treasury debacle of the late 19th Century in his 1922 novel “The Driver.”

His words were a scorn for political ideas and ideals which somehow imagined to replace reality with their newly defined declaration of substance.

It was a systemic insanity to his eyes & mind, a madness which we find griping ourselves now, as we imagine some populistic declaration of redistribution of wealth and re-segmentation of the measure of wealth, that being currency, will somehow positively affect our economy.

“You may define a mass delusion you cannot explain it really. It is a malady of the imagination incurable by reason that apparently must run its course.”

“They had not the notion why or how they were mad because they unable to realize that they were mad at all. “

“I have recently turned over the pages of the newspapers and periodicals of that time to verify recollection that events as they occurred were with no awareness of their significance. And it so Intelligence was in suspense. The faculty judgment slept as in a dream the imagination loose inventing fears and phantasies.”

Yes, he recognized that economic policy not based in cold hard fact and sound understanding of the functions were faire tales of the worst sort – much like our presently fantasies of “Green Shoots” and “[self]-stimulus money.”

Profoundly he rings forth with several truisms:

“Money is not a thing either true or untrue. It is merely a token of other things which are useful and enjoyable.”

“Naive trust in the power of words to command reality is found in all mass delusions.”

And goes on to mock the inane notion that government can simply “say it is so, and it will be so” as if in a children’s story:

“[Adherents of the Popular Socialism of the Day] were laughed at for thinking that prosperity could be created by phrases written in the form of law. Congress thought the same thing.”

We are caught in a madness. A madness being defended by a government willing to work to suppress the open statement of knowledge that it is “all made up.” It would be as if every person watching the naked emperor in the children’s story had their mouths taped up, or preferably to the machinery in action now, that they would never had even had a voice.

Garrett also notes that the populist “Madness” must simply run its course. Perhaps a solution can be found, maybe even in accidental “unintended consequences” of otherwise unsound actions, but more likely by the population slowly coming to – regaining awareness – of the folly trying to steal from yourself is.

Recommended book, “The Driver” (the Mises.org reprint is said to be the best of the lot) and an unavoidable future as the “great experiment” runs it course.

The Road to Serfdom in Cartoons – Social Political Lessons in an Easy-Read Form

The Road to Serfdom in Cartoons
click on the photo or this line for link to the whole cartoon

“The Road to Serfdom” illustrates how subversion by those claiming an overall social good can prostrate the inalienable rights of man.

Appropriately this Cartoon version through simple words and illustrations makes that lesson clear.

For your enjoyment and for the provocation of thought….

 S

A Good Read – “Aloft – a Meditation on Pigeons & Pigeon-Flying” by Stephen Bodio

Aloft Book Cover - courtesy Amazon.com

“Aloft – a Meditation on Pigeons & Pigeon-Flying” by Stephen Bodio is an outstanding account of the art & sport of Pigeon-Flying told in a way that shares the passion with reader.

Stephen is a gifted outdoors writer that amazes me with his “writer’s reach” – his ability to touch the reader from his written word.

The book is a personal account of a passion for things Pigeon. The link on the title is to Amazon.com which is where I bought my copy. The reviews there do a better justice to this well told book than I can.

You can also read more of Stephen Bodio’s ponderings at Stephen Bodio’s Querencia Blog.

Highly recommended!

Steve

A Good Read – Life Tools Series – The Seven Laws of Money by Phillips & Rasberry

Seven Laws Cover

“THE SEVEN LAWS OF MONEY” is the second recommendation in the “Life Tools Series” – a book important enough that you really should read it and own a copy.

The following laws were published in 1977 in ‘Seven laws of Money’ by Mike Phillips. Mike, a Bank of America banker, was instrumental in developing Master Charge.

1. Do it! Money will come when you are doing the right thing.
2. Money has its own rules: records, budgets, savings, borrowing.
3. Money is a dream – a fantasy as alluring as the Pied Piper.
4. Money is a nightmare – in jail, robbery, fears of poverty.
5. You can never give money away.
6. You can never really receive money as a gift.
7. There are worlds without money.

This one is easy to track down as it is in print and available from Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0931425417/

Consider this the Economics “Life Series Tool” book.

Highly recommended!

Steve

A Good Read – Life Tools Series – How to Keep Score in Business by Robert Follett

“How to Keep Score in Business – Accounting and Financial Analysis for the Non-Accountant” by Robert Follett is the first of my “Life Tools Series” of recommendations.

Alpine Guild LogoAvailable via the Alpine Guild or secondhand book sellers. (Note Alpine Guild is Robert Follett’s business to sell business books, set up after he retired as CEO of Follett a multi-billion dollar multi-national firm.)

“The purpose of HOW TO KEEP SCORE IN BUSINESS is to teach you the fundamentals of keeping score in business, so that you can be successful in business despite your lack of formal accounting education. The book will help you read, understand, discuss, and use a balance sheet, an income statement, and other financial reports.In business, the score is kept in dollars. The system of accounting provides the rules for keeping score. Some people don’t understand keeping score in football. They get mixed up about touchdowns, safeties, field goals, and points after. And when there is talk of sacks, percentage completions, and yards per carry, they go blank.

A lot of people don’t understand keeping score in business. They get mixed up about profits, assets, cash flow, and return on investment. Discounted cash flow, current ratio, and book value per share leave them blank.”

Cutting to the chase, the book is the first of my “Life Tool Series” recommendations – books that do their topic area so well that any other books is just a restatement, and a book that everyone should read.

If you have a business to run, a pension to invest, or even just track projects as a volunteer, this book holds the information that is key to your understanding the numbers financial scores are kept in.

Highly recommended!

Steve

Life on Both Sides of the Wall – Gunther Skaletz’s Epic Life in His Own Words

EDIT Jan 2009: (From a Comment to this review I posted in 2008):

A couple of comments relating to how much of the book is stories that have grown over time, taking issue with timelines, and how much readers have read into the book beyond what was actually written, have been left for moderator.  I have also received emails and letters from people with concerns that Gunther’s Story is not Autobiographical, rather a mix of facts & tales.

I am not able, nor willing, to post these as I lack the resources to mediate or do independent research.

If this book were presented as a work of complete Fiction, or as a Semi-Autobiographical work it would still stand as a good read – a well told story.

Any disagreement or conflict is for somewhere other than this minor review.  As Gunther and his publisher are easily located, perhaps that would be a great place for any discussion to start.

Again, if the book were presented as just a tale – even as Historical Fiction or a Mash-Up –  I would have enjoyed reading it.

Cheers,

Steve

——————

“Gunther Skaletz’s Epic Life in His Own Words” is a personal account of such WWII importance that a reader is well rewarded to hunt down a copy.

Gunther Skaletz is one of those people who have lived adventures, including horrors, almost unimaginable while holding true to the values & drive that to this day make him a “Friend of the Community” where ever he goes!

Polish born German speaking the youthful Gunther first hand lived the sharp edge of WWII, the Gestapo, imprisonment in Auschwitz, the bombings of Berlin, arrest & interrogation by the KGB & their tortures, death labor gang duty under the Russians, death train escape, escape over the “wall” to West Germany, and much much more.

http://stumpjack.blogspot.com/2007/04/life-on-both-sides-of-wall.html does a better write up than I can, and has pictures of Gunther at a recent book signing.

Currently on in private printing, LaDeDa Books can arrange to ship you a copy.

The book is printed by Prompt Printing in Two Rivers, WI which is a story onto itself.

A eleven page extract of the draft of “Life on Both Sides of the Wall” was published in 2005 to introduce the project. In 2006 the production copy was ready and a private printing was arranged.

As the book is fully about overcoming challenges perhaps it isn’t such a surprise that a health crisis at Prompt Print had caused production to halt with the book somewhere between typesetting and binding. Though the crisis was eventually to pass, family & friends of Prompt Printing and of Gunther & Elaine came together to somehow produce enough copies for orders on hand.

Yet one more time Gunther had adversity put in the way of his life & projects, and again with his drive and help from friends it was overcome.

It should be mentioned that along the way Gunther added languages, qualifications and ever moved westward, including serving the USA as the White House Chef for President Johnson. The book as a project started when President Johnson told Gunther “Mr Skaletz, you must write a book.”

The book bring personal memories, as my military service was Cold War in defense of part of the Iron Curtain Gunther so bravely crossed. Unusual for the time I was allowed on several occasions to stand with the toes of my boots inches from the border between West & East – between the American Zone and the Russian Zone. The clearing full of mines, razor wire fencings with explosives, guard dogs and elevated observation/gun stations lay right in front, with small crosses on the western side remembering those who tried to cross and failed.

Tales often intertwine, as part of my family (also ethnic Germans) lived near where Gunther was born, though they had left for America 80 years earlier.

Back to the book, while highly personal and stylistically “a diamond in the rough” Gunther’s life tale directly touches the soul and inspires.

Very Highly Recommended.

Steve

Bad Monkeys – great new read by Matt Ruff

Author Matt Ruff has a new romping mind twist novel out “Bad Monkeys”

Themed around his “OMNES MUNDUM FACIMUS” slogan the novel a dystopian mix of “Catcher in the Rye” meets “1984” mixed with a bit of “V is for Vengeance” vigilantism and a good dash of “The Matrix” – oh did I mention the mind twist?

Not wanting to spoil the plot it is enough to say that few of the characters real end up as what they seem.

 

He has a cool website running just for the booK:

The super-secret Bad Monkeys web site is now open to visitors:

areyouabadmonkeywb.gif

Come by and snoop around. You might win something.


Any books that has feature lines like “Well, it all started when I figured out that the janitor at my high school was the Angel of Death...” well … just has to be cool!

My copy came from Amazon, in a strange sealed brown mailer from some mysterious sounding “fulfillment operation” which is likely just coincidence – a sort of serendipity – but then reading “Bad Monkeys” perhaps it was not!

I’ll write a bit about Matt Ruffs other novels later in the year.

“Bad Monkeys” – a recommended read!

 

Steve