A Christian Case For A Phenomenon Many Realize As They Mature. In this short text – right around 40 pages or so – Christian theologian Timothy Keller makes a Biblical case for getting onself to the point of both self acceptance and no longer caring what anyone thinks of you. He spins this through his own worldview and builds his case based primarily on a text from 1 Corinthians – and both cites it within its context and doesn’t directly appeal to any other texts to “prove” his points, thus earning a rare 5* rating from me for a Christian nonfiction book. Solid within its frame, as noted here there are other methods for achieving the very same state Keller claims is only possible for Christians, which hurts his case objectively but which is understandable within the author’s own mindset. Very much recommended.
Welcome To The Roaring Twenties. As I finish this book a couple of weeks late – yet appropriately just hours before the Roaring Twenties come back – I’m actually thankful I wasn’t able to complete it sooner due to various traveling I was doing in the early parts of this month. Because this book is a phenomenal look at the Roaring Twenties, young adult disillusionment in their twenties generally, and the realities we sometimes face in our thirties. But it is also extremely tragic, and without actually giving anything away let’s just say be prepared to bawl for the last 100 pages or so of this 400 page book. Truly an excellent work, and very much recommended.
Every American Needs To Read This Book. In well documented yet easy to read prose, Duane lays bare why the stakes are so high for his ultimate premise: If a cop unexpectedly questions you, state your name, why you were in the location they saw you *at the moment they saw you* (and not even a second before), and four simple words: “I want a lawyer.” Citing case after case after case from around the country, many of which have wound up with Supreme Court decisions on them, Duane shows why this is so utterly imperative for every American. And yet he is also careful to bow to our police overlords with “appropriate” obsequiousness, lest they try to attack his argument as being just “anti-cop”. Truly one of the most important books any American will ever read in the modern American police state. Very much recommended.
This Is Frank Castle Speaking. To know the tone of this book, you really only need to know about two other things within the pop culture psyche, if a bit obscure: The 80 page Galt Speech in the back part of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged gives you an idea of the overall length, and Frank Castle’s letter over the final scenes of the 2004 Punisher movie show you the overall style. This is a dogmatic polemic against Democrats and Republicans that is generally roughly as problematic as the problems it (mostly correctly) points out. It could absolutely use more documentation and a far more extensive bibliography, and even its general points and recommendations need quite a bit more thought. But it does espouse a bit of thinking that more people need to be exposed to, and therefore even with its issues it is recommended.
Solid Introduction To The Arguments. This short and easy to read book is a solid introduction to the various arguments on the issue at hand. The only way it is lacking is in that many of these arguments probably need a lot more discussion of their various points and counterpoints and nuances, but that doesn’t seem to be the intent of this particular book. Instead, this book seems more geared to those that are looking for the basics, and is written in exactly that tone – scholarly, yet more of a “fireside chat” and not the hyper dry prose normally reserved for works aimed at fellow academics and particularly those in the same field. Very much recommended.
Decade Old Data, Still Solid Reasoning. This book was written nearly a decade ago now, in 2011. The data is solid from that period, though I did dock a star specifically due to lack of a detailed bibliography – truly the only major flaw I could find with the book. The reasoning is centrist-ish, maybe a touch libertarian, but purely focused on economic, cost/benefit rationale. Indeed, this book seems to have influenced the thinking of the economic policy proposals of 2012 US Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who ran as the nominee of the Libertarian Party that year. (At one point late in the text, he specifically notes cutting Federal spending by 43%, back to 2001 levels, and this was one of Johnson’s core proposals that year.) Remarkably, more recent works such as Gilbert Gaul’s Geography of Risk -published in late 2019 – back up at least some of the author’s assertions. (Here specifically, the rising cost of damages from coastal storms and flooding being due at least in part to US Federal economic policies that encourage building in more flood prone areas.)
A final note of disclosure, just to be safe: Despite then-regional proximity (I lived in Georgia all my life until right around the time this book was being written, and even then moved closer to UGA – where Dorfman is a Professor of Economics – itself despite being in another State altogether) and even similar-ish politics (I was very active in the Libertarian Party of Georgia in my last few years of living in the State, including serving as its Legislative Director and as a regional representative on its State Executive Committee), to my knowledge the author of this book and I have never interacted other than the very asynchronous nature of his writing this book and my buying a copy of it and reading it many years later.
Real “Myths”. Real Woman. This memoir from one of the first female “reality tv” stars is an extremely interesting look at both her decade+ working with the (possibly arguably) the show that made her famous… and how she got there and a bit of what has happened since that fateful day in 2014 when she (and later the world) was informed that she would no longer be on that show. And she doesn’t hold back too many punches, usually only being a bit circumspect when it is clear that being more direct could result in legal issues. While some of her work is now directed at getting kids into science, if you’re squeamish about f-bombs… she is known to casually drop a few in this text. But ultimately the tale is that of an extremely interesting life on and off camera and how an artsy/ edgy world traveller from San Fransisco wound up working at M5 Industries and becoming world renowned as a “science girl”. Overall a very much recommended book.
Gone With The Kimchi. This book has the depth and emotion of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, but it is set beginning in 1930s Korea and continuing through the major events of the Korean people from then to now. Never overly graphic, yet conveying the appropriate gravitas regardless, this book highlights so many of the horrors of the Imperial Japanese government during this period – and how being a part of it came to haunt one (fictional) man. Ultimately a story of undying love and an undying belief that we are all truly one people, this is a book that cannot be missed. And if you happen to read Jeremy Robinson’s Island 731 before or after, you’ll have an even better sense of the true tragedy conveyed in this tale. Very much recommended.
Another Excellent Hallmarkie Romance. If you like Hallmark type romances, Dallen is absolutely an author you’re going to want to check out. In fact, from that angle the only real quibble here is that the epilogue is primarily setup from secondary characters for the next book – as they are talking about the primary characters from this book. Beyond that, typical sweet romance with a bit of fairly quickly resolved drama at the end. On a more personal note, this is Book 200 on the year for me – a personal record I never thought I’d achieve and one that will likely stand for many years. Very much recommended.
As a romantic comedy, this book falls into the “zany/ WTF” kind of mold. A “numbers girl” who has recreated herself as a software engineer following the death of her husband after just a single year of marriage in her mid 20s finds out that sometimes life itself isn’t nearly so clean as numbers and code. And sometimes that is actually a very good thing.
From a more technical standpoint… it is pretty clear that the author herself is not a coder. Much of the plot revolves around our main character constantly “tweaking the algorithm” to match certain desired outcomes. Including using the same program designed to demo-mine social media to help companies target their advertising to also attempt to determine whether or not potential dates match her own desires. From a non-programmer perspective, I can see where a non-techie would think the two ideas are close enough that it would be plausible that the same code and algorithms could do both tasks. As an experienced Senior Developer with now 20 years of programming knowledge and 13 years of professional corporate level experience… yeah, no. Doing both is very doable, and in fact I’m aware of real world programs that do either/ or. And while yes, the actual algorithms themselves are at least superficially similar – you’re scanning a particular thing and looking for matches to a given set of criteria – the actual implementation details would be too dissimilar to keep even within the same project and likely even within the same database. (Though *perhaps* a strategy could be arranged that they could share at least the same database but with only a few tables referenced by both projects.)
Regardless of the technical inaccuracies though, the overall point of the book is that our lead character has dived into the programming side specifically because she is running away from living in the actual real world of breathing human beings, and that is something that many of us in this field come face to face with at some point in our careers – particularly after long and detailed projects that force us to dive deep for a while. And in that scenario was very much relatable indeed to many of us, and in the particulars of what is going on in that real world is at least somewhat relatable to many beyond our field.
Ultimately a story of actually healing long after you had thought you had healed from a tragedy, this is a story that is very much recommended for all.
As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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