Monday, May 2, 2016

Bibliovile: T&A- Tacky and Awful

Don't forget, we have a podcast about these same books up on Soundcloud! Listen now, because I'm pretty sure we'll have to find somewhere else after we use up our three hours!

Think Like a Billionaire, by Donald J. Trump and Meredith McIver

              What is there left to say about Donald Trump? He’s all over the news, for awful or worse, and everyone has an opinion on him. As a white man who is free from increased hostility and violence wrought by his summoning from the Third Hell, it’s not too awful for me to watch our entire system begin to eat itself. As if the Body Politic has an autoimmune disorder.
              However, I read a book by Donald J. Trump, Think Like a Billionaire. (Think Like a Billionaire has been the GOP’s call to all poor people concerning tax cuts for the wealthy). The crazy thing is that this book was written in 2004, after his go at the Presidency as a member of the Reform Party, in 2000.
              That is not brought up in the book once.
Me getting ready to read this book
              Instead, this book focuses on life advice in the realm of buying things and hiring people, something that Donald Trump has done a lot of. Lots of the advice is not so awful-- Don’t compromise on a cheaper house if you don’t like it, the percentage of your wealth left in cash should be the same as your age, get a prenup, marry supermodels—all of this makes sense, I suppose. The biggest things that stand out during the advice sequences are his examples of income and wealth usually start around $100,000. For instance, if you are 25, you should only keep $25,000 of your very-possible-for-a-25-year-old wealth in liquid forms. The rest of your $75,000 that most 25 year olds keep around should be in stocks, bonds, and other portfolios. Donald Trump sees no problem with starting assumptions at $100,000.
              Coming from 2004, there are a couple odd reminders of how far back that year was. That’s 12 years ago now, folks. Things have changed. Weird things. Bottled water is described as a new, exciting market. You might say it’s just being “tapped”! Heyo. The first season of The Apprentice is mentioned about forty times per section, and even hold its own entire section that I declined to read, never having seen or cared about it before. Now, of course, that show doesn’t exist anymore, thanks to its figurehead being a racist bigot running for president who very obviously hates his own supporters.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bibliovile: Obama's America and A Very Merry Christmas

              Exciting news! We’ve started a podcast, it’s on Soundcloud, here. We use a $30 microphone to record it in our walk-in closet, so take it all with a grain of salt. We’ve also never done anything like this before, so also take that with a grain of salt. Just, a whole heaping bowl of salt.

Sue: Obama’s America, by Dinesh D’Souza

              The Anti-Colonial Argument
              It took a long time for me to actually get into this book, because instead of getting fired up or defensive about the points that Dinesh D’Souza makes in Obama’s America, my main reaction was, “I agree with your thesis, but instead of being outraged, I think it’s a good thing.” So basically I’m not the target audience for this shit-show. In Obama’s America, D’Souza’s main thesis is that President Obama operates from an anti-colonial lens, and that he no longer wants America to dominate and control other countries. I agree with this. D’Souza is furious about this, because in his opinion, America needs to retain its place at the top through economic and military control. I do not agree with this. D’Souza is convinced that Obama’s anti-colonial beliefs will lead him to purposely bring America into decline, lower the standard of living for all American citizens and making us vulnerable to attack. I think this is insane. Again, not the target audience.
It's on the right side of the screen, too

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Squared Oval (Office)

You guys know what's really sad? Baseball, the longest and saddest season of any sport, is set to have its opening day within the next couple days. Then, they play all the way until November. Too long of a season. 

Except that the presidential election is still on the OTHER side of that finish line, and we've been dealing with it for nigh-on a year now. This presidential process has been a sight to see as a white man who is safe from judgement. The commercials and sound bites coming from the campaigns seem more like professional wrestling than political discourse. I mean, why not, since Donald Trump has been there and done that, MAGNIFICENTLY AND OPULENTLY, of course.

It got me to thinking. What would other political discourse look like, if presidents were more like professional wrestlers?

Here's a refresher video on how professional wrestlers give their promos from one of the greats:


There's quite a few historical jokes hidden inside these bonafide wrestleman speeches, so I've handily created a second post, here, to reference. The presidents are in chronological order, and any text in italics is a real and true quote from the President in question.

James Madison
“He’s a small man, Jeem, out there in the ring. Physically outclassed by nearly every opponent he comes across. But I’ll be DAMNED if he doesn’t wrestle with the best!”
“That’s right, he’s the architect of the best alliances and teams this wrestling confederation has ever seen. In fact, it’s not a wrestling confederation anymore, thanks to him, but a wrestling republic1!”

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. But men aren’t angels, and I’m CERTAINLY no angel. I’m a DEMON, ooh, and I’M coming from Hell for you, Samuel Adams. You smell a rat at my convention2? Well you’ll be smelling lots when you’re down in the sewers after I THROW YOU DOWN THE DRAIN THIS SUNDAY. YOU BETTER STAY IN BOSTON. COME TO VIRGINIA AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.”

The Squared Oval (Office) Cheat Sheet

Hey howdy this is the post that explains that other post. If you got here without finding the last one, man are you confused.
  1. James Madison wrote the large majority of the Constitution which replaced the Articles of Confederation as the United States’ ruling document, changing the structure of the American government from a loose confederation of states to a federalist republic. Believe me, this reference is hilarious.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bibliovile: YA and Why Me?

               Hi. It’s time for Terrible Book Exchange volume three. This one finally saw Sue best me in picking out the worse book. You know the deal. There’s sex and children, and thankfully they never meet. Sue will go first, because I got a little heated.

               The Roar, by Emma Clayton

               I knew life was about to get interesting when Mick and I walked into the library to pick out books for round three of the Terrible Book Exchange, and instead of walking upstairs with me to the adult section of the library, he took a sharp left toward the young adult section. He returned after about thirty seconds with Emma Clayton’s The Roar, a dystopian young adult novel about twelve-year-olds who are special. The basic synopsis of The Roar is that the entire population of the world is living in the northern third of the planet. They were pushed up there by The Animal Plague, in which all of the animals went crazy and tried to kill people. Humans basically poisoned everything to kill off the animals, and then fled up north and built The Wall. Our main character lives here. His sister disappeared a year ago, and he insists that she is still alive. (Spoiler alert, she is). Mika has an adventure to find his sister, discover The Secret, and probably save the world or something like that. This book also has fifty-four chapters, which is insane. So instead of summarizing, I decided to just provide my train of thought as I went through each chapter. Here it all is. All fifty-four chapters of it.
               Ch 1: This seems like a wannabe crossover between The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and His Dark Materials, except all three of those series are good.
               Ch 2: If you have twins, why would you name one of them something normal like Ellie and the other something awkwardly spelled like Mika? Also, the author keeps emphasizing that the twins are half-Italian and half-Indian. Indian like subcontinental or Indian like Native American? Why is their heritage so important?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ich Ben Ein Berlin-Air

               At the risk of diluting my #brand, I’m gonna step back from our popular feature Terrible Book Exchange, and instead talk about something that I actually enjoy. Also, I need time for my brain to get back into shape where I can read capitalized words without cringing. So, instead, I’m going to talk about the Berlin Airlift.
               Nearing the end of World War Two, the Allies were closing in on Axis Germany from two different fronts, East and West. Germany pretty much knew it had lost, and was surrendering in droves, just about as fast as American, British, and French soldiers could reach them from the West, and the Soviets from the East. In spring of 1945, the Allies were practically racing to Berlin, just to be known as the country who did it- competition abounded during this phase of the war about who could capture which beautiful town and steal the most silverware or whatever. It was practically a geopolitical Black Friday.
               Well, the capital of Germany, Berlin, is much closer to the eastern border than the west, and the western Allies decide they’ll just let the Soviets have it; they’re closer, anyway, and let’s face it, earned it more. What with the double the casualty rate and size of the fighting force, and everything. Never forget, most of World War Two happened on the Eastern Front, although that’s a discussion for another time.

               Eisenhower and Truman and Montgomery and the rest decide to let Soviets capture Berlin, so they do. Much ransacking and burning and let’s-not-really-go-into-it-in-this-lighthearted-blog commence, but things settle down after a bit. Now, Russians are in charge of Germany’s capital, and as decided early in the war, Germany will be split in half to prevent another militant powerhouse from rising. Western Germany is split into thirds between American, British, and French influences, while the USSR gets all of Eastern Germany to themselves. Berlin, likewise, is split into these sections. American, British, and French thirds in the West, an entire half given to the Soviets in the East. It goes great for everyone forever!
               Oh, wait, this is Soviet Russia and Stalin we’re talking about. It goes great for no one never. The first couple years after the war, the borders between East and West are relatively open, but Stalin clamps the border shut in June of 1948. In addition to keeping citizens inside his borders, which is never a good fight to get into, Stalin also wants to parade about the global bar, slapping his biceps and challenging people to take it outside, which is an even worse one. He’s mad about a new type of money in Western Germany, but that’s super technical and finance history so I don’t want to get into it.
               The border isn’t just for family trips out of the Iron Curtain, it’s also how the Allies have been getting supplies and information to their people and citizens in Western Berlin, which remember, is WAY inside quasi-enemy territory. Stalin would never do something as stupid as invade the city, but he’ll sure as heck starve it until they give in, and, um, not introduce a form of currency? (I said I didn’t want to get into it!)
               The supplies the West -- jeans, rock music, miscellaneous shiny rocks -- has been shipping to Berlin have been going by truck convoy, but now the road is closed. However, like that Firefly theme song said “Something something you can’t close the sky or whatever”.
               The Allies have a lot of experience in flying huge flights of planes to Berlin, you know, explodey-wise. They immediately begin loading the same supplies they’ve always shipped onto massive cargo planes, sending them up and over the blockade to land and unload in Berlin. It’s very easy to close borders on the highway without retaliation, but to shoot down a supply plane on a peaceful mission would straight up start World War Three. Not even Stalin thinks his mustache is THAT intimidating.
               For almost a full year, from June 1948 to April of 1949, the Allied nations fly 24/7 supply missions from dozens of airports in the West. It didn’t start great. When military documents base feasibility of supply plans on minimum calorie counts, they’re either in that movie The Martian, or in serious trouble. They estimated they needed about 5,000 tons a day of food and industrial supplies. The first week, they flew out 90.
               However, as more planes arrived and crews got better and grew more dedicated to the supply missions, the tonnage improves. The second week, they improved to nearly 1,000 tons a day. The improvement continued week by week.
               The Communist press laughs at the Airlift, like “Just admit it, man, you’re beat. Planes can’t work that well for as long as we’re willing to hold out!” And as we all know, when you tell an American you think they won’t be able to sell as much stuff as they want to, we only try harder. God bless capitalism!
               The airlift continues. A flight lands in Berlin every three minutes. In essence, there isn’t a time a plane isn’t flying over West Berlin. A plane could land, unload, refuel, and take off on the return trip in under 30 minutes. The Berliners took the rate of landings and applied German industriousness to it. Crews competed to see who could unload the heaviest planes in the shortest time, and winners received extra rations.
               One American pilot, Gail Halvorsen, started a mail-in campaign to have Westerners donate candy and gum. He flew over Berlin (East and West) and would drop the donated goods with teency little cute parachutes, just as a sign of, like, “We’re kicking so much Soviet butt, here’s straight up candy. Fo’ free.” The kids, and let’s face it, probably some weird adults, knew to look for Halvorsen’s plane as he flew over – he would wiggle his wings as a sign for kids to get out in the streets, like an ice cream truck thousands of feet in the air.
THEY CALLED HIM "UNCLE WIGGLY-WINGS"
               By April, the Allies were shipping more tons of freight through the air than they had been on the ground. The blockade not only didn’t work, but the US and other Western nations had such a hard-on for proving the Communists wrong that they went above and beyond to over-supply Berlin. Quietly, the USSR cancelled the blockade for road-based shipping in late April of 1949, and the Berlin Airlift came to an end.
               The reason the Berlin Airlift RULES SO HARD is because it’s a great example of the power of humanitarianism. This airlift cost Western governments insane amounts of money to fuel and load that many cargo planes, but they did it, because the people of Berlin needed it. And also, you know, to prove that they were better than the USSR, but whatever floats your boat. The planes were unarmed, unarmored, and not shot at. They carried food and coal (and sometimes candy), not weapons. No shot was fired, and although I’m willing to bet someone got punched or something, no violence ensued. Citizens came together to work their collective capitalist asses off because they weren’t going to allow their countrymen to starve.
               The Berlin Airlift is a reminder what can be accomplished through actions that benefit people who need it, that motivate people who do it, and what an immense need can bring out of people. The industriousness and organizational insanity that the Berlin Airlift harnessed is one of our greatest collective efforts that, once again, cost SO MUCH MONEY TO DO.


               What I’m saying is that maybe we just need to compete for who can cut the most carbon.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Bibliovile: Sonnets and Skins

            We’re back, folks. There was a pretty good response to our last post of this nature, mostly from Sue’s friends that exist in a state of pure support. You know the frame; we pick books for each other, and then review them. I picked Sonnet to a Dead Contessa, by Gilbert Morris, based on back jacket alone. Sue picked for me Skin of the Wolf (I had to look up the title), by Sam Cabot, a nom de plume for two authors. Let’s just hop in, shall we? Sue went second last time, so she’ll get to start now. Street rules.


Sonnet to a Dead Contessa, by Gilbert Morris
            The book Mick chose for round two of the Terrible Book Exchange is Sonnet to a Dead Contessa, by Gilbert Morris. It is, of course, the third book in a series, because Mick hates me and wants me to be unhappy. He chose this book based on the description on the back, which is too good not to share. Pay extra attention to the penultimate line: