Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Subversive Living: Fight Back, Young Women!

Subversive Living: Fight Back, Young Women!: Be Rebellious by Megan Clinton is a call to young women everywhere to take charge of their destinies and become the women they were cr...

Friday, September 19, 2014

An Instaread Summary of D'Souza's "America"

This little book was my introduction to the Instaread series.  Since I have not yet read America: Imagine a World Without Her by Dinesh D’Souza, this summary was a good way to find out if that book is different enough from D’Souza’s other books (which I have read) to justify my time and cash.

I was not disappointed.  Instaread first gave a broad overview of the book, which is an account of the two different viewpoints in American politics and culture today.  On one side are the progressives (also recognized by D’Souza as anti-colonialists) and on the other are the conservatives/constitutionalists.  Very brief accounts of key people are also included in the introductory matter, in case the book is read by a political or historical novice.  Notable is the summary of Saul Alinsky’s 4-point Lucifer strategy: polarize, demonize, organize, and deceive.  D’Souza appears to have nailed the progressive plan.

The body of the book consists of chapter summaries.  I can tell from these summaries that the book includes detailed discussions of the value conflicts between conservatives and progressives, including economic freedom v. sexual/social freedom and entrepreneurship/capitalism v. tolerance/entitlement.  The chapters cover reparations, foreign policy, bureaucracy, domestic spying, and many other issues relevant to concerned Americans today.

Reading this “30-Minute Instaread Summary” has made me more enthusiastic about making time to read the entire book by Dinesh D’Souza.  I also will seek out more Instaread e-books as a supplement to reading reviews on book websites.

I received my copy of America by Dinesh D'Souza - A 30-minuteInstaread Summary free for my review.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Roar Blog Tour Stops Here in North Carolina!

As an older woman and a Libertarian (once a Reagan Republican) I was interested to hear and understand what a younger woman really thinks.  Hughes has given me hope that not all women of her generation are dressing in silly vagina costumes and plotting the socialist demise of America while aborting their helpless babies conceived in a one-night stand with a community organizer.  Get this book if only for the great chapter on gun control, or the great chapter on what women really want economically, although there is much more to like.

Scottie Nell Hughes is a journalist, trained in the (now lost) art of journalism.  One chapter of the book laments the loss of the distinction between news reporting and editorial content.  With the lines so blurred in both traditional and new media, objective truth is more elusive than ever.

Hughes has a chapter on being a parent in modern times.  As one who lived through the transition from the traditional upbringing (what I got from my family/school/community) to the safety/self-esteem/precious princess/non-competitive/organic world of modern “parenting,” it was nice to hear from a mother with a balanced view: who uses car seats, but doesn’t think we must be forced to keep kids in them until they are 18 years old and 200 pounds, for example.  She sums up the dangers of the post-Christian, postmodern society as follows:  “…there are more tools to help lead our children astray than there are ways for us to keep them on the straight path.”

Older women, read this to regain an ounce of hope for the future.  Young women, read this to know you are not alone in wanting to protect and defend your family and country from those who are tearing them down.

I received a free copy of Roar for my review from Worthy Publishing.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Does Modern Education Endanger Reading?

Do our students read enough? Are technologies crowding out recreational reading time? Given the importance of reading in a free society, where an educated population is essential, these are important questions. Reading engages the mind, exercises the imagination, and improves concentration. Through literature we interact with other literate people across time and space. Good literature may reinforce our beliefs or challenge them. Literature provides a model for us as we compose our own essays and stories. Students who do not read great writing cannot be expected to produce great writing. More importantly, children who do not read will become adults who do not read.

It is worth asking ourselves whether school, with its increased emphasis on testing, testing, testing, is crowding out time that students formerly spent reading literature. Is it possible the increased emphasis on skills that can be readily measured by end-of-grade tests means less emphasis on reading and evaluating great literature? Without exposure to literature in school, young people are less likely to be aware of or to read literature outside class. Easy books based on popular culture are the literary equivalent of junk food, yet those are the books children are more likely to access without an educated adult to guide them toward more challenging titles. Here is an area where librarians can help to fill the gap, by actively encouraging young people to tackle great literature.

Another way in which modern education might be endangering reading is the great reliance on textbooks. Students read only excerpts from a literature book or history book rather than reading an entire novel or biography. This is the literary equivalent of a snack instead of a full meal. Good readers can be turned off by textbooks, since textbooks are written to be accessible to the hypothetical average student. A good reader wants to be challenged--to interact with a greater mind. Textbooks are designed to cover a state's standard course of study, not to serve as models of good literature. A better approach than textbooks is the "living books" approach (see Shafer) used by Charlotte Mason and adopted by many modern home schools and private schools. This approach uses great literature and biographies rather than textbooks, and encourages students to learn to write by copying examples of good literature for handwriting practice. For example, students could study American history by using a history textbook, memorizing Patrick Henry's "War Inevitable" speech, and reading great literature such as Johnny Tremain and Carry On, Mr. Bowditch.

Many simply blame the decline in recreational reading on the proliferation of electronics. Television time certainly displaces some reading time for many people. Recreational computer use can also be anti-reading if the internet is used only for watching video clips of silly pet tricks or looking up movie times at the local theater. However, I agree with the Electronic Literature Organization that our electronics are also a tool that can enhance literary reading (see Kirschenbaum 1-2). The computer can even provide quality new literature for our reading pleasure and enrichment. Seek out quality reading material for children online and they will read.

Reading is at risk, but it need not die. By harnessing the power of our electronic tools, there is no reason America should not see a new golden age of literacy. Our technology can be a tool for enhanced readingrather than an excuse for not reading. The traditional print book is also a viable technology and can still be appreciated by children when a respected adult guides them to the best books.

Works Cited:

Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. "A Response to Reading at Risk." letter on behalf of Electronic Literature Organization.

Shafer, Sonya. "What is the Charlotte Mason Method?" 21 August, 2009. http://simplycharlottemason.com 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Eugene Cho Book Giveaway: Overrated

Pastor Cho asks us to ask ourselves if we are really willing to do the work to change the world or if we just think changing the world is a nice idea.  Our culture of opportunity can lead us to a feeling of entitlement.  As Americans, we have the luxury of just sitting back on the blessings others have given us.  Will we get up anyway? Will we get uncomfortable for Jesus' sake and in His name?
Cho does a good job of sorting out the things we do to feel good versus the things we do that do good.  We need to be sure our good deeds are actually helping people with their real needs.  Furthermore, he dares to point out that just posting a #hashtag on Twitter or liking a Facebook page doesn't actually do anything.
Start challenging yourself by reading this book.  Then get up and actually change the world--even a little bit!  You can begin by signing up for the Overrated 5-day e-mail challenge.
Comment on this blog post to be entered in a drawing for a free copy of Overrated.  A winner will be chosen October 1.
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

Read an Inspiring and Interesting Astronaut Biography

Jerry Ross, a Purdue graduate and NASA frequent flyer, generously shares his story in this autobiography. Like many of us who went to school post-Sputnik, Jerry grew up idolizing astronauts and expecting to pursue a STEM career (it wasn't called STEM at the time) in order to keep America number one in science and technology.  He joined the Air Force, where he became a flight engineer and successfully applied to the astronaut program at NASA.  He logged over fifty-eight hours on spacewalks and is tied for first place for the number of times he was launched into space: seven!
As a Purdue graduate myself (BSIE '84) I enjoyed Jerry's account of his Purdue years and the time he spent with future astronauts (like himself!) In his accounts of the more mundane aspects of student life, I was interested to find that the Purdue I went to in the early eighties was not much different from the Purdue of the sixties: the engineering work ethic, Triple X burgers, married student housing on Nimitz Drive, etc.
Jerry was a college student when the Apollo 1 crew died on the launch pad. He was in the Space Shuttle program when Challenger exploded and on the team that recovered the remains of Columbia. When he gives his account of what went wrong, he knows what he's talking about.
Read this book for a look at a real astronaut. Not just a highly-trained technology beast, Jerry has family, friends, and strong Christian faith as well. He even gives detailed descriptions of what things look like from space: sunrise and sunset, the continents, a thunderstorm. You will feel like you were there.
This book is recommended reading for Purdue fans, space enthusiasts, and anyone from Indiana--as well as everyone else! 
I received a free electronic review copy of Spacewalker from NetGalley.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Save Money on College Classes

College has grown more expensive over the years, but there are also many new ways to save money. Your challenging high school classes, your life experiences, and your computer can help you get a college degree for much less than the "sticker price." Utilize several of these money-saving strategies, and you will be well on your way to meeting your educational and financial goals.

First, try to test out of as many classes as possible. Most people are familiar with the AP classes offered by many high schools, but there is another alternative. The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers exams in a wide range of subjects, including accounting and psychology in addition to the usual foreign languages, math, and English. Most colleges will give credit for acceptable scores on CLEP exams, but be sure to learn exactly which exams are accepted by the college you wish to attend. CLEP exams typically cost around $80, which is less than the cost of a textbook for most classes. Try to take the tests at the school to which you want the credits applied, otherwise you may have to pay fees to transfer credits.
Another money saving strategy is to take online classes. You will have to pay a "technology fee" at many schools, but you will save transportation costs and room and board if the college is some distance from home. Most schools have computer discount programs to help you get an adequate computer for online study. Online classes work well for students disciplined enough to work without much supervision. Schedule time for an online class just as you would for a regular class.
Consider a community college for all those introductory classes. Community college is not as prestigious, but does it really matter for Freshman Composition or College Algebra? You can save money by transferring to a four-year institution for those important upper level classes in your major. Be sure to plan with an advisor to be sure you are taking courses that will transfer to the four-year school of your choice.
When it comes to textbooks, try to contact your professors before making a purchase. Ask whether the books listed at the bookstore are all required texts. You may learn that one of the books is just for occasional reference, in which case you may be able to use a reserve copy at the library as needed. If a course is outside your major, meaning you probably won't want to keep the book, consider renting the textbook from Chegg.com

Finally, don't overlook the small things. For example, if you are covered by your parent's health insurance, you should be able to file a waiver form and avoid paying for the college health plan. Some schools give small discounts for registering early, so watch those deadlines. Plan ahead and enjoy the journey as you make yourself a more educated person.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bible Study Resource

The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible lives up to its title. Dr. Marty and Dr. Seevers offer the setting, summary, and significance of every book of the Bible in less than 300 paperback pages.

Use this as a reference for an Old or New Testament survey course or as a resource for Sunday School teachers.  This is also an excellent resource for high schoolers in the AWANA Journey program who are working on their required Bible readings and summaries.

This inexpensive book offers a big picture look at the Word of God for beginners or for those who teach.

I received a free review copy of The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible from Bethany House publishers.

Writing Inspiration for Every Day

Robert Benson: "Most of the time, writing a book more closely resembles digging a ditch than participating in some transcendent creative experience." (page 8)

Robert Benson offers his own insights to fellow writers.  He has done copy writing, written books, and even spent a year pretending to write a book.  This is not a how-to book with ten handy tips to overcome writer's block, but an account of one writer's experiences.

I enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, many from famous writers.  My favorite chapter concerned three hats.  What?!? Yes, Benson wisely tells us there is a time to wear the artist's hat, a time to put on work clothes and edit, and a time to be the business manager.  Wearing the wrong hat for the day's task can sidetrack a writing project.

If you sometimes feel nobody understands your life as a writer (or as one who want to be a writer) you need to sit down with this book.  You will feel like you met a new friends who "gets it."

I received a free review copy of  Dancing on the Head of a Pen from Waterbrook publishers.