Category: Nonfiction

The American Way of Poverty by Sasha Abramsky

book jacket text on cardboard photoThe American Way of Poverty: How the other half still lives by Sasha Abramsky (2013)

The book is full of tales of woe, so much so that you would think that politicians could not ignore such a reality. I considered suggesting sending this book to legislators, but their collective entrenched delusions would not comprehend these stories as FACT. Neither would they see this situation as SYSTEMIC. The few unfortunate cited are exceptions, not the standard way of this great America life, contrasted with their own economically secure collective multimillion dollar personal life experience.

The tyranny of the majority now in government at state and federal levels is deliberately eliminating every possible aspect of the common good. Proudly dismantling the safety net. The stupid people that voted for the monsters remain deluded that they will be better off.

The American Way of Poverty is divided into two parts. Broadly speaking, the first part of the book tells the stories of the impoverished people I met around the country, whereas the second part of the book maps out a broad set of policy discussions and connections between issues that any meaningful national level attempt to tackle poverty will have to include. These include tax reform, the welfare system, wages, access to healthcare, changes that could be made in the criminal justice system, changes in how America deals with addiction and mental illness, reforms in the foster care system, and many other area that overlap with poverty. (p. 330)

Note the link in the paragraph above goes to the web site for the book and contains some of the interviews and oral histories.

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Raising the Floor by Andy Stern

book jacketRaising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream by Andy Stern (2016)

This is a good book. I am buying this book. I do not agree with everything he says in the book, but the writing is clear and broad in scope. I was reminded of something I knew, that Alaska changed their state constitution to provide a basic income to all resident citizens from the money oil leases and such brought into the state by putting all that money into a dedicated fund to share the wealth. And a Republican governor did it.

I have some doubts about the purported takeover of technology for jobs, but that is probably a prejudice or failure of imagination on my part due to my lack of education and experience (pre-females being allowed to take shop in public schools). It is like watching magic to see a video of the automation that puts car parts together, or the mind blowing details of how the new Bay Bridge was built. Or when I saw the giant machine used to drill out the tunnel under the English channel. For that matter, every day I took the New York subway, especially though the tunnel under the water from Queens or when I drove through the Holland Tunnel and did not drown, well, it just doesn’t seem possible that mere mortals could figure out how to make tools and how to use them to accomplish such feats.

We have people who cannot make change correctly so cash register machines had to be modified to contain a function that simply told workers what the correct change should be. Icons are used instead of words, although I have to say, from a user interface point of view, this actually is a good thing on many levels: multilingual, faster, and more accurate. Translating the abstract concept of FRIES by having a little graphic of french fries in the container eliminates a lot of cross-brain work translating the letter symbols into a word and then punching a value of numbers in the register.

Trust is the number one criteria for people to accept a lot of the mechanization and technology. As a grocery shopped, you select a product based on a posted sign for a particular price. When the item is scanned at the register, can you remember the price of all the items selected to ascertain if the automated system actually priced it as the sale take listed or maybe it added a penny or a dime. Who actually watches the $$ values that are being rung up and are confident enough in their recollection to contest a price? Peer pressure of people standing in line waiting for you, the inability of the register clerk to know anything beyond what the computer tells her is right, having to call a manager over to assess the situation and go back to the shelves to check the sign, all to save 2 cents on a $2.00 purchase. Not a scenario to encourage questioning the accuracy of the technology. Even self-serve registers have this problem, or worse, because you have to do the scanning yourself while watching accuracy and then do the bagging too, again with people standing there impatiently waiting while you try to figure out why your credit card swipe is demanding a pin number you don’t have and it just seems wrong to push the red cancel button to continue.

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Thieves in High Places by Jim Hightower

book jacket author with sandwich board sign in red long johnsThieves in High Places: They’ve Stolen our Country and it’s Time to Take it Back by Jim Hightower (2003)

Another funny book by the author of:
 If the gods had wanted us to vote they would have given us candidates (2000).

Funny but it makes you want to cry way, book of commentary and actual facts from Jim Hightower. He starts the introduction with a very appropriate word for the W days: Kleptocrat Nation. I have since learned another word that better suits the 2017 administration: kakistocracy.

For those of you who don’t want to click the link, Wikipedia defines it to mean:

“a state or country run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens”

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The Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs

book jacketThe Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs (2000) [author 1916-2006]

The book jacket flap praises this book as a modern urban classic. The book “is written in the form of a Platonic dialogue” which I hate.

“The conversation over coffee among five contemporary New Yorkers. . . discuss[es]: Does economic life obey the same rules as those governing the system in nature? For example, can the way fields and forests maximize their intakes and uses of sunlight teach us something about how economics expend wealth and jobs and can do this in environmental beneficial ways?”

Wikipedia has a good article on her writings and activism.

The book is difficult to read despite what reviewers say. The drifty conversation model makes it difficult to follow a theme. The multiple personalities that express various points of view are difficult to grasp as entire characters. A novel would build some backstory so the points of view would have something on which to anchor their views.

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Zombie Politics and Culture by Henry A. Giroux

book jacket with dark street sceneZombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism by Henry A. Giroux (2011)

Though the whole zombie bit grows old, this slim volume expresses my views on the current state of affairs only now we are worse off post 2016 election. This is a MUST READ BOOK!

I wrote about another of his books that was amazing too, The Violence of Organized Forgetting.

The author writes for Truth-out so his thoughts subsequent to this book are also available online at www.truth-out.org here are a few links I picked up on a Google search for “henry giroux” 2016 election:

Anti-politics and the Plague of Disorientation: Welcome to the Age of Donald Trump
T
his one begins with a great quote:

“Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
— James Baldwin

The Authoritarian Politics of Resentment in Trump’s America (November 13, 2016) Here’s the opening paragraph to it (LOVE his use of language!):

In the face of a putrid and poisonous election cycle that ended with Trump’s presidential victory, liberals and conservatives are quick to argue that Americans have fallen prey to a culture of incivility.

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This Land is Their Land by Barbara Ehrenrich

book jacket title is this land is your land but then your is scratched out with bright red marker and replaced with theirThis Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation by Barbara Ehrenrich (2008)

One of my favorite essayists, I read this book before, but picked it up again to see how much that was true then is true now. Sardonic is the word used on the jacket copy to describe her tone and I would add wickedly funny for those of us with very dark senses of humor in dark times. Good jibes, or maybe the right word is “snarky” and that is what I aspire to when I write my reading posts. Sadly, must work much harder to get to her sharp, concise, and clever turns of phrases. As an example, here is a random clause from the chapter titled “Heating Bill from Hell(p. 26): “But no, it turns out, as usual, the flip side of misery is gluttony.

This is a comment while she discusses situations like the coincidental massive increase in heating bills after a hurricane. Turned out, they were not necessarily simply the result of extreme weather. She cites six oil company CEOs having combined salaries (2008-ish) of $33 BILLION.

Her pithy response: “Forget hurricanes; this is a greed storm.

Considering we have now reached the point where Republicans are not even pretending that government is for the HUMAN people. The neoliberals (DINOs) and the rest of the gang of thieves in Congress have been pushing “individual responsibility” like sheer willpower can actually make food magically appear on a table in an imaginary home. The U.S. government provides something like 50 BILLION dollars to multinational oil conglomerates in subsidies AND oil leases to drill on U.S. territory, WITHOUT MAKING A DISCOUNT PRICE AVAILABLE TO AMERICANS, or even a U.S. first requirement for our OWN oil.

She continues with, “What are the companies going to do with all the money?

But as we all know too well, all the rich people or corporations got their money by their own hard work and risking of their hard-earned (inherited) wealth. I’m sure they would all pass a lie detector test when asked, “Do you rely on government for any assistance to make your fortune?” “Of course not,” they would reply. Such is the nature of cognitive dissonance that is pervasive in our contemporary world in particular. They don’t consider the sweetheart deals for businesses built into the IRS tax code to be anything less than their rightful due. Maximizing tax deductions is legal and if the technique like carried-forward interest is immoral but legal, well that just makes taking the deduction good business. I looked up the whole boondoggle at one point, good enough to grasp it, but apparently no well enough to retain, repeat or retrieve the citation for the description.

The point she goes on to make is that of course the company is not going to spend one thin dime on anything for their employees or the community.

In fact, we no longer have any expectation that businesses will do ANYTHING voluntarily to pay workers a living wage or to “give back” to the community possibly. The concept is ludicrous.

The for-profit businesses pay property taxes, well theoretically, unless they have been gifted with tax “incentives” to locate there (like sports areas often are) and other fees for local services, like sewer and fire and police protection.

But since the sports arena gets a tax break just to be there, ALL the people in the community have to pay whether they want to or not (TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY). They have to pay even when they never go to any sports event, never want to go to a sports event, and can never afford to go to a sports event. Their tax dollars are paying for the share that the sports teams don’t have to even though the owners make millions and pay themselves millions and pay the athletes millions of dollars. The woman working two jobs to make her mortgage payment that includes property tax while earning a variable amount of $20,00 to $35,000 a year (gross pay) IS NOT ACTUALLY THE ONE who should be covering the sports arena costs or anything to do with it.

Instead, the businesses should be PAYING THE CITIES with trust funds for employees who have no job when there is nothing going on at the stadium. Or maybe pay HIGHER property tax because THEY HAVE THE MONEY so that low wage workers in their little homes don’t have to cover for millionaires.

THE FALSE SECURITY OF LABOR LAWS
There are many slick little tricks built into our labor and safety laws. One common one is the exemptions for “small businesses” with employees of 50 or less.”  You get a job, you think you have some kind of protection against discrimination or other abuse by management but gosh darn it, the law is not there to protect you because of an arbitrary number of employees as a floor before a labor law applies. Wrong and exploitive it may be, and illegal in a business with 51 employees, but legal such exemptions remain. Of course the bigger companies complain like stuck pigs that their “free” market is rigged by this gift to 50 and under companies. But their solution is NOT to eliminate the floor so all employees have the same rights. Their solution is to exempt themselves, essentially eliminate the worker protections.

Business is NEVER ABOUT YOU. It is always about PROFIT. More now than ever before and to the point that it is a faded memory of when that was not the case.

Furthermore, AT THE SAME TIME, these same people and their puppets declaim any GOVERNMENTAL responsibility to provide protections, regulations, recourse, and benefits to the employees. So they get to deny any obligation to people (employee or community) and then PAY LOBBYISTS to make sure that the politicians do not do anything that would break the crushing hold they have on the wage slaves that make their excessive profits and not giving a damn that people, their employees, are struggling to make ends meet.

Actually, they probably do care, but in a perverse way. If people are struggling to make ends meet, they are going to be docile, subservient, and CHEAP workers because unlike the immortal corporations, people have been enslaved to wage earning to live. The debt industry is keeping them there as well. And the high prices we pay for merchandise from the two or three manufacturers of Made in China goods is just another method of taking from the people.

We pay too much, for too little quality, made for cheap by other nations’ workers, with no actual choice other than one brand or another (maybe three), and we pay sales tax to fund city services but not enough to do the job and the corporations do not have to pay local sales tax, only their employees do. And the employees have to pay their property tax, the gas tax, the fees, the cost to park, the cost to ride the bus, the list is endless. Because they are HUMANS and they need these things to live, to earn a living, to support their families, and prepare for medical conditions, save for colleges, save for retirement, save for long term care, and there is not enough money to pay for all the city services that keep a community maintained well, safe, healthy, and so on.

People don’t have the money. THE BUSINESSES MAKING MILLIONS IN PROFITS have all the money with no conscience or legal obligation to pay for their employees health insurance, or day care, or parking, or maternity leave, or a living wage.

Or, as the author more eloquently (and more briefly) puts it:

Of course the oil companies could reach into their pockets to help people with fixed incomes, low incomes, and no incomes stay warn this winter. Not that the oil executives are totally unaware of those people’s plight. Questioned about it by a CNN reporter, one such executive kindly suggested that it was “the responsibility of government” to help the needy. And we thought all those CEOs hated “big government”! But he wasn’t offering to pay WINDFALL PROFIT TAXES to help the government  —  already strapped by war and tax cuts for the wealthy — in this mission of mercy. (p. 27)


WORKPLACE BULLIES
One of the worst things I have heard is that some employers now still are legally allowed to dictate when and often employees can use the bathroom. Well, that was an issue in 2008 that the author brings up as well.

It is common knowledge now that keeping “hydrated” is important. So many people are walking around with water bottles, it has become a very competitive industry, albeit one that is as corrupt and the next using carcinogens in their plastic. But if you keep hydrated, there are consequences, and of course, women suffer the consequence more often and with additional inconveniences like fertility that may require them to use the bathroom more than once every four hours exactly when such a pleasant break from the job is permitted.

Women have one less muscle in the bladder somewhere (I was told) and that makes it harder for us to “hold it” as long as men can. Be pregnant and squish that bladder for 9 months plus passing a 10 pound bowling nearby for 24 or 36 hours of “labor” and it is no wonder than most women need to use the bathroom more than some schedule obsessed little tyrant supervisor might prefer. When did this happen? Or maybe the question should be, why didn’t this “bullying” as she calls it, be made to stop.

book jacket showing a public toilet

I could go on with examples of what could be called “bullyless bullying,” in which no aberrant individual can be blamed. [Systemic/structural bullying]  There’s the matter of bathroom breaks, for example, which can be perilously infrequent , and not only for the elderly and the pregnant. The title of the one academic book on the issue tells it all: Void Where Prohibited: Rest Breaks and the Right to Urinate on Company Time.

In this chapter she discusses how RANK allows people to abusive their subordinates without guilt. And everyone is above someone. If you are the lowest of the low men on a totem pole, you still have your wife to go home to and beat up or the dog to kick. That is what having a higher rank means: you are entitled to do whatever you want to anyone different, smaller, weaker, “other” person or creature to you. She remarks that workplace hierarchies can be something other than abusive but I don’t think so. I don’t think she does either:

We may be carrying hierarchy–and it’s evil twin, “rankism“–to an unnecessary extreme in the workplace. . . . American employers [are] creating a workplace culture of “organizational totalitarianism” marked by “degradation, intimidation, and terror,” with the terror stemming from the CONSTANT THREAT OF BEING FIRED, LAID OFF, or “right sized” out of a job. The result, he [anthropologist Howard Stein] argues, is that, “is one sense, the spirits of tens of millions of American workers have been broken.”

Employers take note: one of the first casualties of an overly authoritarian workplace is creativity and its byproduct, innovation. You’re not going to venture a breakthrough idea if you know you’ll be IGNORED or you won’t get the CREDIT for it or for that matter, your bladder is bursting. Which is why the most dynamic enterprises of recent years have been the dot-coms and other hi-tech companies, where dress codes and punch-in times are often abandoned for a freewheeling, less hierarchical corporate culture.

Authoritarian workplaces can also be counterproductive when the fine points of hierarchy — that is, office “politics” — begin to take precedence over getting the job done. (p. 117)


This book of essays has sustained the passage of time so that everything she said about the country then (2008, so probably was written but not published before the crash) is still true, and even more so than then. In an early chapter, THAT SINKING FEELING,  she provides some stats about wealth inequality. As horrific as her numbers were then, it is well documented that inequality is much worse now. These stats are from a Paul Krugman article in the New York Times (book page 92):

. . . that those in the top 10 percent of the income distribution have been seeing gains of only [!!!!] about a percent a year, or a total of 34 percent between 1972 and 2001. In the same period, those in the top 1 percent of the income distribution saw a gain of 87 percent, and those in the top .01 percent registered a gain of 497 percent. That’s right, four hundred and ninety-seven percent. 

She also notes earlier on the page an Associated Press article stated that “the BOTTOM 25 percent suffered a DECLINE from a net worth in which their assets equaled their liabilities in 2001 to owing $1,400 more than their total assets in 2004.”

She concludes this chapter where I too will conclude, where she responds to the criticism of a New York Times columnist, David Books, that she has “an overly negative view of reality” and being out of touch with “the broader society.” Condescending little prick.

Brooks cheerily reports that “only19 percent of American males and 27 percent of females are in poverty — a percentage that is “probably much smaller than most progressive commentators would estimate.” If you average 19 and 27 percent, weighting for a 51 percent female population, you get an overall poverty rate of 23 percent. To my mind, a 23 percent poverty rate is totally outrageous, especially when compared to the federal government’s faux poverty rate of about 12 percent. So are falling incomes for the college-educated middle class and mounting plunder for the plutocrats at the top. Maybe I’ve been living in the “broader society” after all.

You and me both, sister.

 

 

 

 

The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel

book jacket photo of the ladies of the titleThe Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel (2016)

I saw her talking about this, her latest book, on BookTV and reserved it immediately from the library. There was a queue.

 

Her book, Longitude, is one of my top ten favorite books that I loved so much I bought it. Even though I owned that copy book jacket photo of the clock an the inventorwhen the illustrated version came out, I really wanted it too, but had begun my mostly successful attempt to stop cold turkey my buying books addiction (owned more than 3,000 at one time) so settled for savoring the library’s copy of it.

 

She has some other good books too, the link on her name as author takes you to her Goobook jacket painting snips of Galileo and one of his daughterdreads page where another one I liked, Galileo’s Daughter is on the list.

 

This one is sad as I recall. How could it not be?

 

Like the recently book to movie , Hidden Figures, that shows women HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THERE in some way or other WHEN ALLOWED but too often erased from the records kept at the authority of men, I hope The Glass Universe also get a film treatment of it. Be sure to check Book TV for her discussion of it to though because that was delightful.

The really short version is that the director of the Harvard University Observatory had the brilliant idea to take photographs of the night sky for a long term (decades) documentation project. Hmm, I was just rereading the first few pages and am a little confused who first had the decades long concept. Dr. Henry Draper was the astronomer who began taking photographs of the night sky on glass plates coated with chemicals to react with the starlight. But whether Henry initially planned it to be decades long or Pickering decided to is not clear at the start of the book. Some of both perhaps, since they were friends as were all the astronomers of the day, being so few and so specialized.

Mr. Draper had been a professor at New York University and planned to pursue a project with his own observatory to resolve “the seemingly intractable age-old mystery of the chemical composition of the stars.” (p. 5) Mr. Draper had been awarded medals and was elected to prestigious scientific organizations for his STELLAR PHOTOGRAPHY. [Stellar in the photography of stars rather than as an adjective of achievement.] He died suddenly, unexpectedly, too shortly after retirement to make much photographs as he planned, just 300.

Professor Edward Pickering was the Harvard Observatory director who contacted his widow, Mrs. Anna Palmer Draper, after Henry’s death to offer to help. Pickering had previously offered Henry Harvard resources to “decipher the spectral patterns by measuring them with specialized equipment at Harvard.” Henry had declined, expecting to be able to make his own equipment. He died before he could do so.

November 15, 1882 is the night Sobel opens the story with, which was when Henry collapsed and then died 5 days later from pleurisy that infected his heart. Henry, 45 years old,  had been out hunting two weeks before in the Rockies and suffered exposure when stranded without shelter from a sudden blizzard.

While this is the story of “underdogs” getting a chance to shine, it is hard to reflect on the societal forces that got everyone to this precise set of circumstances in the first place. In 1882 women couldn’t vote, and couldn’t do much of anything beyond wives and mothers. However, the sister schools of the Ivy League had been founded and [white] women were getting higher education at a superior level. They studied mathematics and other coursework that demanded intellectual rigor rather than how to wash dishes.

Mrs. [Mary] Anna Palmer Draper is defined with her “maiden” name because she was an heiress. She lived with Henry in the home her late father built from his income as a “railroad and real estate magnate” named Cortlandt Palmer.

She and Henry were notables among notables. Thomas Edison was at dinner party the night Henry took ill.

I am not sure if Henry Draper was the first to “see” that stars were different colors in the scientific discovery sense, probably not since people have been star gazing forever I think. But he did figure out how to take the photographs “through a prism that split starlight into its spectrum of component colors. Although the photographic process reduced the rainbow hues to black and white, the images preserved tell tale patterns of lines within each spectrum — lines that hinted at the stars’ constituent elements.

Henry’s father was also a man of wealth. He was “the first physician in the family to mix medicine with active research in CHEMISTRY and ASTRONOMY. Obviously, having a parent with money, education and expertise in these fields made Henry Draper possible. Had he been poor, a woman, another race, whatever brilliance of his mind grasped that a photograph could be made using a prism that would show meaningful scientific information could not have happened. The average poor, non-educated, or otherwise socially disadvantaged might never see a prism or heard the word or have the significance explained to them to make the intellectual leap that colors of the stars showed chemical composition.


BIG DIGRESSION, not related to the book, but for photographers
Skip this part if you have no interest in night photography.

I know the stars have colors because I have been a night photographer for over ten years now. Not a stellar photographer with the equipment to move along with the rotation of the earth so that the stars remain stationary to the photograph plate (sensor) since that takes special equipment, but easily available today. I generally like the kind of night photographs that show the star “trails” recorded by long exposure and the earth rotation which makes it look like the *stars* are moving in a photograph.

The direction the camera is pointed, BTW, changes the “direction” the stars move. Point north and you will get the stars circling around the North Star. If you are interested in more about night photography, I personally recommend Lance Keimig workshops. He is also in the group, National Parks at Night, where you will see many variations on photographing the stars at night.  I participated in at the Zion National Park location in 2016. He has written The Definitive book on night photography, The Nightskye, now in it’s second edition.

Dennis Mammana is an actual sky photography, or I guess the proper term is astrophotographer. Plus he is an actual astronomer. He lives in the darkest town on the continental United States. FYI, if you go, rent vehicle in advance and make sure it is 4 wheel-drive with high ground clearance. I was fortunate that a last minute idea to hop out to see San Diego just because I had never seen it before using a really cheap (alas now bankrupt) air travel company, that he happened to do be doing a photographing the night sky at Borrego Park which I discovered 2 days before my flight and reserved a spot for and attended to my great enjoyment. Except the car part. No four wheel drives were left to rent, so it was a bit tricky, but we drove in a caravan so if I got stuck in the massive deep sand tracks, someone *might* be able to get me out. No extra room to maneuver in places though! Dennis is a great guy, kind and knowledgeable.

Okay, back to the book.


COUMPTERS
I  am too lazy to Google for more details as to how women who did math became known as computers. Obviously when contemporary people talk about computers they picture a machine. I suspect that since the job was to compute numbers, that’s why the original people that did those computations became called computers. Again too lazy to check if there were men computers at that time as well, or did the drudgery and detail already be deemed “women’s work” like typing became.

Anyway, Sobel mentions the “meagre wages” the workers got without digressing off on a comparison to what the professors made or what the Observatory director made. This is not the book for that. But the sheer injustice of it all just burns me up.

The book jackets gives a nice summary paragraph about the main women characters of this book:

They helped discern what the stars were made of divided the stars into meaningful categories for further research, and even found a way to measure distances across space by starlight. Their ranks included Williamina Fleming a Scottish immigrant originally hired as a MAID who went on to identify TEN NOVAE and more than THREE THOUSAND VISIBLE STARS; Annie Jump Cannon, who designed a stellar CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM that was adopted by astronomer the world over and is still in use today; and Dr. Cecilia Helena Payne, who in 1956 because the FIRST WOMAN PROFESSOR of Astronomy at HARVARD — and Harvard’s first female department chair.

Annie Cannon is my favorite because the classification system she developed is astonishing; a work of art really as much as science.

Good book, worth a read as hers all are but particularly fascinating post “Hidden Figures” historical depiction of how it used to be that some of us lived through but this one is back further by a century so to speak, falling in the 19th Century at the start. That is, before World War I, and way before the Enigma and the “computing machine” used to solve it (IBM was already making computing machines by WWII).

One little example of the tasks another woman (one of six already employed as computers at Harvard) is described as:

No, Mr. Pickering told her, as far as he knew the practice [employing women as computers] was unique to Harvard, which currently retains six female computers. While it would be unseemly, Pickering conceded, to subject a lady to the fatigue, not to mention the cold in winter, or telescope observing, women with a knack for figures could be accommodated in the computing room, where they did credit to the profession. Selina Bond, for example, as the daughter of the observatory’s revered first director, William Cranch Bond, and also the sister of his equally revered successor, George Phillips Bond. She was currently assisting Professor William Rogers in fixing the exact positions (in the celestial equivalents of latitude and longitude) for the several thousand stars in Harvard’s zone of the heavens, as part of a worldwide stellar mapping project administered by the Astronomische Gesellschaft in Germany. Professor Rogers spent every clear night at the large transit instrument, noting the time individual stars crossed the spider threads in the eyepiece. Since air — even clear air – BENT the paths of light waves, shifting the stars’ APPARENT positions, Miss Bond applied the mathematical formula that connected Professor Rogers’s notations for atmospheric effects. She used additional formulas and tables to account for other influential factors, such as Earth’s progress in its annual orbit, the direction of its travel, and the wobble of its axis. (p. 9)

The first lady mentioned, Williamina Fleming, the one who was a Scottish immigrant met a far better fate than she would have otherwise because her husband abounded her while she was pregnant, but they kept her on at Harvard regardless. She even had funds and the courage to go back to Scotland to have the baby, left him in the care of her mother and grandmaster, and still had a job and money enough to come back to continue work at Harvard.

This is a woman who otherwise in other places, indeed most times and places, including today, would have been shamed, shunned, and forced into a life of poverty, child care, and possibly only left with prostitution as a way to pay for food for herself and her son. What a disgrace this world still remains over a century later. she’s the one who identified TEN NOVAES and more than 3,00 visible stars.


The book has an excellent bibliography, decent index, and a timeline that needed some graphic designer to make it visual, but one can get the gist. The center has a section of color photographs (at least those that had color) so it is fun to see the people mentioned in the book.

last note: I am a bit confused about something but just want to finish this and get on to other things I must do. The woman who was a maid — for Mrs. Henry Draper, in another place is referred to as the developer of a classification system, but then Annie Jump Cannon is the one who designed the Henry Draper classification system. Google and see what’s what if you wish.

 

 

 

 

IF THE GODS HAD MEANT US TO VOTE THEY WOULD HAVE GIVEN US CANDIDATES

clever book jacket with his face in cowboy hat and blue and red stripes with stars on either side with the photo of heads of politiciansIF THE GODS HAD MEANT US TO VOTE THEY WOULD HAVE GIVEN US CANDIDATES: More political subversion from Jim Hightower (2000)

Note, there is an updated and revised 2010 edition. This cover image is from the 2000 edition I got from the library. They may have the newer version too, and I definitely want to check it out (pun intended!).

I had heard the name of Jim Hightower and recognized him as a politician. I had no idea he was so FUNNY! Since he was from Texas I just assumed he was one of the humorless, hostile, conservative types. Turns out he will SKEWER ANYONE with equal delight!

Jim Hightower, America’s most popular populist, is a bestselling author, radio commentator, public speaker, and all-around political sparkplug whose credo is “You can fight the gods and still have fun.” Twice elected to statewide office in Texas, he has long battled the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought to Be: the working families, consumers, the environment, small businesses, and just plain folks.

Though the jacket copy above used the cringe-worthy “folks” that has forever been made vomit-inducing from the W use of it (and followed by Obama continuation of same while speaking in an elegant fully literate way otherwise), I was delighted to read this description, itself amusing.

The title alone perfectly sums up the 2016 election without needing any updating. In fact, it might be even more applicable to 2016. The 17 losers (and I include 45 in particular despite the Electoral concept biting US all in the ass), was astonishing in the shallowness of the candidates, the YUUUUUGENESS of their egos (45!! Unbelievable. Trust me. Believe me. Sad.)

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The Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey D. Sachs

book jacketThe Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey D. Sachs (2015)

This is a book worth reading despite some egregious realities that are not even touched on at all (disability). It has a massive scope ranging from poverty and economics to healthcare and fertility, biodiversity and climate change, and more. With pictures! And graphs!

More than a bit depressing and overwhelming too since we humans were gifted with brains and mainly chose to use for exploitation and degradation of all of earth and life of all kinds.

I wanted it to read the chapter (11) on “Resilient Cities”

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America’s Unwritten Constitution by Akhil Reed Amar

book jacket

America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By. (c 2012) Akhil Reed Amar,

the author of America’s book jacket title and image of quill penConstitution: A Biography (c 2005)

Okay read. Could be better.

 

 

I am completely mystified about this blank page. I am sure I wrote something on the first title of these books, but I see I tagged it “must re-checkout from library.

As I recall, this first one was a good book. I remember have a few criticisms like the ill-designed index and somewhat inadequate index (not the author’s fault, professional indexers are usually used to create).

I learned a bunch of stuff from this book and it really peeves me that I read and did not, apparently, write a post at the same time. I guess that means it had pretty gripping material.

I do recommend it for a read.

 

book jacketI also checked out his other book, The Constitution Today Read parts and skimmed most, but did not find it particularly good. To explain what I mean by good, it has to tell me stuff I didn’t already know, be organized in a coherent and useful pattern, and have some kind of consistent point-of-view. It seemed to me that this was just a thrown together collection of somewhat outdated essays. Not recommended reading; a disappointment.