Books and More Books

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Spychips: how major corporations and government plan to track your every move with RFID by Katherine Albrecht

Not enough people are bothered by having to use a grocery store courtesy card to get discounts on their purchases, so we shouldn’t be surprised to discover the insidious nature of RFID (radio frequency identification).

But we should be worried that large corporations and the government are busy developing this technology, that although it can be used for good, will most assuredly also be used for nefarious reasons.

It wouldn’t take much for RFID to track your every move – technology already exists to weave RFID threads into clothing that can’t be removed and isn’t harmed by washing.  Most worrisome would be RFID implanted into shoes since it is rare for someone to wear another’s shoes.  With chips in the soles of shoes and selected readers in floors, it wouldn’t take much for the government to know where you’ve been and when. 

Do you really want them to have this power?  I certainly don’t and I found this book frightening.  In addition to the book, the author is also the founder of CASPIAN and is working worldwide to get out the word.

It is well known that marketing executives are the bottom feeders of the business world, so read this book to find out how they plan to manipulate you into buying even more crap you don’t need and can’t afford.

This is a must read book – A+.

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August 22, 2008 Posted by | Books, Nonfiction | , , , | 1 Comment

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

I don’t remember how I discovered this gem of a book or how long it’s been since I read it.  But it was a charming, funny, delightful way to learn more about the Afghani people and one American woman who risked it all to help some of them. 

Reading about people trying to live their lives peacefully while bombs are exploding all around them, gives one pause when considering the efficacy of war.  I’m sure there are times when war is necessary, but I don’t think the decision to go to war should ever be taken lightly.

The book starts with the author’s bad marriage and her need to do something, anything to make a difference after the tragedy of 9/11.  She’s also a hairdresser in small town, Holland, Michigan, but she sees no way she can convince any non-governmental agencies working in Afghanistan to find her work as a

Deborah Rodriquez

Deborah Rodriguez

hairdresser!  So she takes a couple of disaster training classes and volunteers to spend a month in Afghanistan doing whatever she can to help.

As it turns out there are no decent hairdressers in Afghanistan so all the NGO workers from around the world flock to her room for haircuts and she’s found her niche.  She’s feisty, funny, brave, caring, all the qualities you’d want in a friend. 

Ultimately her contribution to bettering the lives of Afghanis is to establish a beauty school in Kabul so women can become self-sufficient.  What tenacity it must have taken for her to do this.

I loved this book, so I’m giving it an A.

August 20, 2008 Posted by | Books, Nonfiction | , , , | Leave a comment

Eight O’Clock Ferry to the Windward Side by Clive Stafford Smith

I read this a few months ago and it is a very powerful book.  I was thinking about this book when I saw this op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post.  What a heartbreaking legacy we are leaving the world when we fail to unequivocally denounce torture.

I was touched by several of the prisoners profiled in this book and by the good work being done by Clive Stafford Smith.  One can’t help but think while reading this book, that awful things can happen to very innocent people anywhere in the world.  Kafka well knew of this phenomenom and each of us should wonder whether we could find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and how we would handle it.

Many of the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay really are innocent and aren’t the “worst of the worse” as Vice President Cheney has often stated.  Some of these men were sold out by other people because the U.S. government was offering a $5,000 bounty for “terrorists.”  And some of these men were actually boys who were only trying to better themselves by getting an education.

Be prepared to cringe and cry when reading this book, but Americans have the duty and responsibility to educate themselves about what is being done in our names.  And make no mistake about it, torture of innocent people is taking place in our names, perhaps even as I write this.  Don’t count on our weak and compliant press to help keep you informed, because you will be greatly disappointed if you do.

The author, Clive Stafford Smith, has dual citizenship – American and the United Kingdom and is the founder of a non-profit organization, Reprieve.  He donated his time to represent these prisoners, so if you are so inclined consider donating a few dollars to his cause.  This is an A+ book and a must read.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Books, Nonfiction | , , | 1 Comment

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliosi

For someone my age and older, Vincent Bugliosi is best known as the prosecutor of Charles Manson and author of the book, Helter Skelter.  I was probably in my late teens, early twenties when I read Helter Skelter, and it scared the bejeebus out of me!

This book should scare you, too, but for a different reason.  What Bugliosi does is lay out his case for the prosecution of George W. Bush for the murder of American soldiers in Iraq.  No person is above the law in the United States, and that includes the president. 

Bugliosi’s argument is that Bush told two lies to the American public in order to convince us that we must invade a country that had not attacked us:  One, Hussein was an imminent threat to the United States, and Two, Hussein and the attacks on New York on 9/11/2001, were related.  He provides documented evidence of his claims and reminds the reader that there is no statute of limitations on murder.

Perhaps the new Attorney General of the United States will be brave enough to consider this case, and if not, then any Attorney General in any state that has lost a soldier in Iraq can also bring charges against Bush. 

Although I believe Bugliosi puts forth an excellent case, there are times when he devolves into hyperbole.  I really don’t think it was necessary, but it’s evident that Bugliosi is outraged by the way BushCo. has been handled by the mainstream media.

Read the book and decide for yourself.  Or you can get a bit more information here.  This book gets an A-.

August 17, 2008 Posted by | Books, Nonfiction | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I should have purchased this book to help the author’s family, but I checked it out from my local library and read it in one sitting.

I’m not much for this type of book, but I’ll make an exception here.  Randy tries hard to keep the reader from feeling sorry for him and I loved his approach to life.

As a child he made a list of things he wanted to accomplish in life like experience zero gravity, play for the NFL, be a Disney Imagineer, etc. and he set about finding ways to make his dreams come true.  I never had a list as a child and haven’t had much of one as an adult.  Now what is worse: making a list and not being able to fulfill it, or never having a list in the first place?

I took an early retirement, too early some might say, so now I’m back in the job market.  One gem I garnered from this book is that the brick walls in your life aren’t there to keep you out, they are there to show how much you want something.  I’m going to try hard to remember that as I go about looking for employment.

Read this book, not once but a couple of times, and absorb what you can from a man who clearly had much more life to live than what was afforded him.  I wish him peace and his family fond memories.  This is an A book.

August 17, 2008 Posted by | Books, Nonfiction | , , | Leave a comment

Six Degrees by Mark Lynas

This book will scare you into buying a hybrid, riding your bike more often, and buying locally grown food whenever possible!

Mark Lynas is an excellent science writer who can take a complex issue such as global warming, and make it palatable for the lay person.  This is a must read book for anyone concerned about the future of the planet.

The book is divided into degrees, beginning with a 1 degree increase in global temperatures and finishes with a 6 degree increase.  If we are foolish enough to not take action quickly enough, then a 6 degree increase will mean the end of most life on Earth, including humans.  Perhaps the world would be better off without us!

One thing I learned from this book is why so many politicians are not willing or able to embrace what the preponderance of the evidence suggests.  It seems that there are a variety of computer models that can be used to predict what certain variables will do to the planet.  And since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem, then those who are unable to see in shades of gray, are doomed to destroy the planet.

Six Degrees is an A+ book.  Please read it and tell all your friends about it, too.

August 17, 2008 Posted by | Books, Nonfiction | , , | Leave a comment

Desperate Passage by Ethan Rarick

Who hasn’t been fascinated by the Donner Party and what they endured?  When I was working as a children’s  librarian, I remember the school kids wanting to devour (pun intended) every book we had on the subject.  I guess as adults we are still enthralled by adversity and how others overcome it.

Once I started reading this book, I simply could not put it down.  The same held true for my husband.  These were flawed people in that they didn’t trust their own instincts enough and relied too heavily on the advice of strangers without questioning the purpose of such advice.  I’m an amateur genealogist and many of my ancestors did what the Donner Party did, i.e., they moved around searching for a better life for themselves and their families.

This book contains heroism, tragedy, triumph over adversity, and even a villain in case the nightmare winter isn’t enough to keep you up at night reading.  It is truly amazing any of them survived at all.  This book gets a hearty A+!

August 17, 2008 Posted by | Books, Nonfiction | , , , | 1 Comment