Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Library Loot ~ three today

Go Set a Watchman ~ by Harper Lee, 2015, fiction (Alabama)
Twenty years after the trial of Tom Robinson,  Jean Louise Finch — Scout — returns home to Maycomb to visit her father and struggles with personal and political issues as her small Alabama town adjusts to the turbulent events beginning to transform the United States in the mid-1950s.  Originally written in the 1950s, this was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird, which I re-read last month.
It Can't Happen Here ~ by Sinclair Lewis, 1935
A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America.  Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to Hitler’s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press.
Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence ~ by Jonathan Sacks, 2015
Rabbi Sacks tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God.  If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, he argues, then it must also form part of the solution.  Through an exploration of the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, he shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths.  By looking anew at the book of Genesis, with its foundational stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Rabbi Sacks offers a radical rereading of many of the Bible’s seminal stories of sibling rivalry:  Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Rachel and Leah.  "Abraham himself sought to be a blessing to others regardless of their faith.  That idea, ignored for many of the intervening centuries, remains the simplest definition of Abrahamic faith.  It is not our task to conquer or convert the world or enforce uniformity of belief.  It is our task to be a blessing to the world.  The use of religion for political ends is not righteousness but idolatry ... To invoke God to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but of sacrilege."
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to share the names of books we checked out of the library.  See what others got this week.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Caturday ~ new bed

Oh, it's been weeks since my last Caturday post?  Sorry 'bout that, but I've been busy catnapping in my new bed.  When I got it, I tried to chew through it to get at the catnip inside somewhere.  Okay, I admit I went a little bit crazy.  But it's a nice bed Bonnie got me, isn't it?  Very cozy.  I like it.

Clawdia, 'til whenever   >^. .^<

Friday, December 25, 2015

Beginning ~ by philogagging

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes ~ by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, 2007
Philogagging: An Introduction
Dimitri:  If Atlas holds up the world, what holds up Atlas?
Tasso:  Atlas stands on the back of a turtle.
Dimitri:  But what does the turtle stand on?
Tasso:  Another turtle.
Dimitri:  And what does that turtle stand on?
Tasso:  My dear Dimitri, it's turtles all the way down!
This bit of ancient Greek dialogue perfectly illustrates the philosophical notion of infinite regress, a concept that comes up when we ask if there is a First Cause — of life, of the universe, of time and space, and most significantly, of a Creator.
A bit long for the "beginning" of the book, but necessary to give a feel for it.  So what's it about?  This:
Lively, original, and powerfully informative, this book is a not-so-reverent crash course through the great philosophical thinkers and traditions, from Existentialism (What do Hegel and Bette Midler have in common?) to Logic (Sherlock Holmes never deduced anything).  Philosophy 101 for those who like to take the heavy stuff lightly, this is a joy to read — and finally, it all makes sense!
It covers ten categories of philosophy:
  1. Metaphysics
  2. Logic
  3. Epistemology
  4. Ethics
  5. Philosophy of Religion
  6. Existentialism
  7. Philosophy of Language
  8. Social and Political Philosophy
  9. Relativity
  10. Meta-Philosophy
I'm probably the only one here who majored in philosophy in college.  I even taught Ethics at Tennessee Wesleyan, as an adjunct.  If I like this book, I'll have to explore their others:

Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between ~ by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, 2009

Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington: Understanding Political Doublespeak Through Philosophy and Jokes ~ by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, 2008

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Clawdia ~ being insistent

Clawdia knows how to be insistent without saying a word.  When I got back from Christmas Eve dinner, Clawdia ran out into the hall to let me know it was her turn to go out.  We usually walk to the elevators so she can look around after others in our "senior living" facility are no longer apt to be coming and going, so I told her, "Wait until I put this stuff down."  She waited.  After I closed our door — the one on the right, beside the exit to the stairs — we walked all of maybe ten or twelve feet before she sat down at our neighbor's door, wanting to visit.  She knows she's always offered kitty treats when we visit there, so Clawdia refused to continue our stroll down the hall.  Can you "hear" her attitude telling me to knock on the door?  Finally, I shooed her back home and into our own apartment.  My gregarious fur buddy was not amused.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

TWOsday ~ TWO new books

Abraham's Children: Liberty and Tolerance in an Age of Religious Conflict ~ edited by Kelly James Clark, 2012, religion
Scarcely any country in today's world can claim to be free of intolerance. Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, Sudan, the Balkans, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and the Caucasus are just some of the areas of intractable conflict apparently inspired or exacerbated by religious differences. Can devoted Jews, Christians, or Muslims remain true to their own fundamental beliefs and practices, yet also find paths toward liberty, tolerance, and respect for those of other faiths? In this vitally important book, fifteen influential practitioners of the Abrahamic religions address religious liberty and tolerance from the perspectives of their own faith traditions. Former president Jimmy Carter, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Indonesia’s first democratically elected president, Abdurrahman Wahid, and the other writers draw on their personal experiences and on the sacred writings that are central in their own religious lives. Rather than relying on "pure reason," as secularists might prefer, the contributors celebrate religious traditions and find within them a way toward mutual peace, uncompromised liberty, and principled tolerance. Offering a counterbalance to incendiary religious leaders who cite Holy Writ to justify intolerance and violence, the contributors reveal how tolerance and respect for believers in other faiths stand at the core of the Abrahamic traditions.
Outsider in the White House ~ by Bernie Sanders with Huck Gutman, 2015, politics
The political autobiography of the insurgent presidential candidate. Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the presidency of the United States has galvanized people all over the country, putting economic, racial, and social justice into the spotlight, and raising hopes that Americans can take their country back from the billionaires and change the course of history. In this book, Sanders tells the story of a passionate and principled political life. He describes how, after cutting his teeth in the Civil Rights movement, he helped build a grassroots political movement in Vermont, making it possible for him to become the first independent elected to the US House of Representatives in forty years. The story continues into the US Senate and through the dramatic launch of his presidential campaign.
I got these two books last week.  A new half-price bookstore opened a block from me, and I stopped by to see if they had a book a friend needed.  She's still recovering from hip-replacement surgery, and I figured I could save her a trip to bookstore or library by doing it for her.  (She needed To Kill a Mockingbird for today's book club meeting downstairs in the Circle@Crown Café, but that's another story.)  I found a used copy for only $2.99 for her, and she was delighted.  I also found a reduced-price new copy of Abraham's Children, which delighted me.  Half-Price Books is even closer (and less expensive) than Barnes & Noble, which is only a half mile if I drive or two blocks if I walk.  Oy!  I'm living between bookstores, within a couple of miles of two libraries (not counting the small one here in the Crown Center), and zero miles from my mailbox...

...which is how I got Outsider in the White House.  I've already read nearly a hundred pages of this one.  Bernie Sanders seems to be the only presidential contender wanting to make the changes I think this country needs.  Gotta go get ready for my book club discussion in just over an hour.  By meeting in the Café, we can each buy tea or coffee or something to snack on while discussing our books.  I love it!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thursday Thirteen ~ Happy Chanukah edition

1.  Chanukah at the White House:  (Getty Image by Chip Somodevilla)
Rabbi Susan Talve delivers remarks during a Chanukah reception with Israeli first lady Nechama Shulman, U.S. First lady Michelle Obama, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and President Barack Obama in the East Room when the White House to celebrate the annual festival of light yesterday.  Why does this interest me?  Read #2 about the rabbi.
2.  Rabbi Susan Talve:
I attended services at Central Reformed Congregation Saturday before last, where Susan Talve is the founding rabbi.  This video shows her speaking at the White House yesterday.  Her portion begins at the 9:15 mark.  Near the end of the video, President Obama smiled, gave her a side-hug, and said, "Got us all fired up."  Talve is an activist who also gets St. Louis fired up.  I knew of her for over a year before I met her.
3.  Black issues:  (UPI photo by Bill Greenblatt)
Rabbi Susan Talve has been active in protests in St. Louis since the death of Michael Brown in August 2014.  A year later, this August, she was arrested when a group of about 200 protesters marched to the Federal Building as part of a day of disobedience.
4.  Neighbors:
Beverly thought of me when she read the "Mutts" comic strip.  Mooch, the cat, was wearing a hat when he informed Earl, the dog:  "Shmillie is posting pics of me on a cats with hats website."  Hmm, it does sound like something I'd do.  Should I take a photo of Clawdia wearing a hat?  Nevermind, she's opposed to that idea, saying she'll write her OWN posts for Caturdays.  Yes, I've noticed she hasn't posted anything since October.
5.  Books:
I didn't tie together the beginning and ending of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) until last week.  The first words of the book:  "When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow."  I never thought about he how he "got his arm badly broken" until I finished re-reading the novel, turned back to the beginning, and read the first sentence again.  This time, I was there in Jem's bedroom with Atticus and Scout the night he was hurt so badly.  This time, I felt his pain.  This time, I knew what had happened.  Do you remember?
6.  Activities:
Donna and I attended the Vitality Ballet exercise class offered last week.  No, it wasn't a bunch of old ladies jumping around, pretending to be young and agile.  We simply moved our arms (and occasionally our legs) into our closest approximation of the flowing shapes our teacher showed us.  Jessica, a professional ballet dancer here in St. Louis, led the class.
7.  Family:
My granddaughter wrote, "Raegan is excited about her library book about houses.  She said it is like her favorite house show (TV show Fixer Upper).  She loves houses!"
8.  Weather:
As I compose this Thursday Thirteen on Wednesday evening, it's 52° and partly cloudy in St. Louis.
9.  Women's issues:
The Guardian published "He sexually harassed my 13-year-old daughter — right in front of me."  Her daughter "is beginning to experience alternative ways of imagining men — menacing ways."
10.  Discussion groups:
How I know one group may be dying ~ All both of us who showed up decided to chat instead of discussing the topic of the day.  Thanks, Debera!  Oh, you want details?  Okay, one emailed that morning that she wouldn't make it, one was sick with a fever, one was in the hospital after a fall that broke her hip, one was helping her brother who is scheduled for surgery, one asked to be removed from our emails, one was teaching and didn't get back in time, one had an ob/gyn appointment, one said she already knew the subject, and three never let me know whether they would come or not.
11.  Words:
Why don't these words rhyme — tough, though, cough, through, rough, thoughts?  Yet for some reason these words do rhyme — pony, boney, Coney [Island], bologna.
12.  Health:
I caught a cold from someone in my many activities and stayed in my apartment for three days.  When I did mingle again, at the Crown Center's Chanukah party, I wore a mask to keep from spreading that cold to anyone else.  I wore it, even though I was probably no longer contagious by that point.
13.  Food:
Henna cookies for a wedding look fantastic!  No, these aren't on my diet — or even on my horizon — but I saw them on Facebook and thought they were beautiful.

The only rule for Thursday Thirteen is to write about 13 things.  The New Thursday 13 is hosted by Country Dew @ Blue Country Magic and Colleen @ Loose Leaf Notes.  If you want to read lists by other people or play along yourself, here's the linky for this week.