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John P. Jones III RSS Feed (Albuquerque, NM, USA)

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Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court's History and the Nation's Constitutional Dialogue
Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court's History and the Nation's Constitutional Dialogue
by Melvin I. Urofsky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.92

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars " the intelligence of a future day.", June 29, 2015
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The subject fragment of a quote is from Charles Evans Hughes, who served as the 11th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, from 1930 to 1941. He was one of the very few, if only justice on the Supreme Court to have served, as he did from 1910 to 1916, then resign (to run for President), and then be reappointed. The quote affirms the value of dissents to Supreme Court decisions. If well-reasoned, it might be appropriate and valuable, and even lead to changes and reversals in that proverbial future day. To say the least, the subject is very topical, as the rainbow flag illuminates the White House in honor of a 6-3 opinion which declared same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states. It was a long hard road to achieve that verdict, paved with, yes, dissents.

Melvin I. Urofsky has written a remarkable, valuable, and dense book on the history of the Supreme Court in the United States, with a particular focus on dissent. Should a non-lawyer read this book? I have that "non-lawyer" credential, and as my fellow Amazon reviewer and lawyer friend quips, in his self-deprecating way: "And that might be a good thing." And so I'll provide a non-lawyerly unequivocal "YES," coupled with a caveat or two... er, ah, I guess even a non-lawyer can play that game, and it seems that I do. The caveats: take it at only 20 pages at a time, and savor the new-found knowledge about American history. As a final matter of at least partial disclosure: although I got the answer right about the Dred Scott decision on my high school history test, `lo those many years ago, I couldn't remember today what it really concerned. Thus, at least in terms of Supreme Court history, and its function in our society, I was starting from a very low baseline, only informed by, or as some will have it, misinformed by Woodward and Armstrong's The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court.

Urofsky sweep is broad, and he provides cogent explanations of the interplay of numerous forces as well as personalities in American history, as it evolved from its agrarian East Coast roots, and developed a legal framework for (theoretically, sometimes) peacefully regulating and resolving our differences. I learned what "seriatim" is (each judge had to state their own opinion), how the Supreme Court was the poor "stepchild" among the three branches of government until John Marshall became Chief Justice in 1801, and in the next 34 years developed it into an equal branch, by emphasizing, ironically, given the focus of the book: no dissents.

The book is rich in case law, with lucid explanations from the author. For example, Roskia Schwimmer was a Hungarian-born pacifist, feminist and suffragist. After five years of residency, she applied to become a citizen, was denied it because she would not defend the United States by force of arms, and the Supreme Court upheld this. Oliver Wendell Holmes dissented, pointing out that as a 50-year old woman, she would not be allowed in the American Armed Forces anyhow. Roy Olmstead was "the king of the bootleggers" in the Seattle area during Prohibition. He was convicted on wiretap evidence. The wiretap was placed outside his home; is that unreasonable search and seizure? Yamashita was the commanding general of the Japanese forces in the Philippines. Could he be executed for "not controlling his troops" at the end of the war? This decision was key to formulating and litigating current American actions at Guantanamo Bay.

The Supreme Court evolved from hearing claims primarily about property rights (including slaves!) to privacy and civil rights, and Urosky projects that technological issues will be the next important phase of concern. The author does state definite opinions from time to time, but I found it impossible to determine if his perspective is "liberal" or "conservative." He notes that most justices favor restraint in judgment, and deference to legislative authority, preserving stability through deference to precedents, while adapting rulings to contemporary societal norms, as it just did with the same-sex marriage ruling. It is a "tightrope" that they must walk.

I found myself marking passages on virtually every other page. I even realized that I have a few 14th Amendment rights to due process, a key buzz phrase, and found some sections worth quoting, in a "jail house" sort of way. So, on the various levels by which I evaluate the value of a book, from informing me of so much that I did not know, cogent and clear presentation of the issues, to resonating with personal concerns, the book hit on all cylinders, and thus I give it my special rating of: 6-stars.

Sin, Sex, Scandal and Doctoring
Sin, Sex, Scandal and Doctoring
Price: $5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More from Doctor Lark, on the benefits, et al., none too salacious..., June 26, 2015
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I read Bill Larkworthy's first book, the more or less eponymously named Doctor Lark over four years ago. It was a charming collection of anecdotes from his life, with the particular perspective granted by his medical education and experience. Not his, the "trodden path." Rather his, the one of Robert Frost's inspiration. Starting off life "down Plymouth way" as they might say in London, he would take his first job as a medical doctor in the cockney East End, and then later, compliments of a lengthy hitch in the RAF, he would go on to Germany and Butterworth, Malaysia, to watch the sun set, in more ways than one. Discharge papers in hand, he was off to King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, where I first met him, all too fleetingly, regrettably, and then to Dubai for a couple of decades, where he was able to observe the remarkable transition of that city, before finally nesting, as it were, in a lovely corner of Provence. I most remember a famous eight hour "lunch," there, and a mean game of croquet, where he sported a cap I am still envious of.

In the preface to his latest work Larkworthy says that he felt after "Doctor Lark" it was "all said and done." There was nothing more to say. After four more years, he realized he had a lot of solid material left, and I'm glad he decided to share it with the rest of us. In addition to more personal anecdotes, he provides one of those charming and "alt" versions to history, some of which was familiar territory, most of which was not. The title to his book indicates a lot of the material. For example, the first chapter described the evolution of religious ideas on sex, with, sure enough, `let's blame the women' prominently featured, and I picked up the factoid that in 1978 the Archbishop of Canterbury wanted the 200 bishops attending the Lambeth Conference to house their wives separately for three weeks... no doubt making the heart grow fonder, while they fully concentrated on ecclesiastical issues.

He uses his medical experience to provide informed speculation on whether or not Queen Elizabeth (the first one, often with "an age" associated with her name) had Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. He is a good doctor, and explains all his terms to the "lay person" as he also provides full English translations for the numerous French phrases sprinkled throughout. He quotes Philip Larkin who said that "sexual intercourse began in 1963" (with the pill). And I now know that Spanish fly is called canthraridin, why it "works," and why it is dangerous. And there was an inspirational chapter entitled "Mon Dieu, j'ai soixante-dix ans!" which I would prefer to translate, as his own doctor does, "Ah, still young." Likewise, "Historical Mammaries" was a fascinating chapter, which included the numerous legends of human babies being suckled by animals... all grounded in some truth. And praise be to Kabbazah, as Sir Richard Burton explained.

But all of the stories that resonated, the following one hit home the most, since I have been very much in the same situation, even sans the aforementioned medical education. I put the entire anecdote in a Court filing today, since it was so appropriate (with full attribution), and the following is an abbreviated version:

"The barrister was dressed in a smart three piece Savile Row black suit... Conscious of speaking to an audience of inferior mortals and aware that we all had blighted intellects he spoke slowly with pomposity and an affected upper-crust accent: "Why do you think she suffered brain damage?'

`Because her heart had stopped and that resulted in cerebrovascular insufficiency.' I replied. `Just what do you mean?... what in heaven's name is cere-bro-vas-cu-lar insufficiency?'

(an eminent Harley Street physician intervened): `What the Wing Commander says is very simple; he is using English words with which we are all familiar.' He paused. `Cerebro,' to do with the brain, `vascular,' to do with the blood supply, `insufficiency,' not enough.' He looked the pompous learned counsel in the eye and repeated, `Not enough blood was getting to the child's brain - there, do you get it now?'"

There are a lot more informative stories and tales, which would fill an eight hour lunch and more. 5-stars.

SOG Specialty Knives & Tools BladeLight Folder Mini Folding Knife with 3-inch, Satin Polished Blade and 4 LEDs for 53 Lumens - BLT60-CP
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools BladeLight Folder Mini Folding Knife with 3-inch, Satin Polished Blade and 4 LEDs for 53 Lumens - BLT60-CP
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good concept, with a serious design flaw..., June 24, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This might not have been high on my “must have” list, but when the Vine program offered it to me, I knew it had my son’s “name” all over it (age 29). Handy at the campsite, with a unique high-tech flourish. Much of the following is his evaluation of the product.

However, first my thoughts: when reading the product description, was to recall an incident from (way) back in my college days, when I was in the sailing club. The faculty member who was the “sponsor” was a physical education coach. He had a most unusual vehicle. It was BOTH a car and a boat (yes, driving down the road, the propellers to the boat were clearly visible). His assessment: “half car, half boat, all nothing.” Which may be why you don’t seem to see many on the interstates of today.

A combo flashlight and a knife? Unlike the boat/car of yore, it works quite well. One can easily use the knife or the flashlight, independently, with no loss of functionality. And they also work very well together. Overall, a compact arrangement that is handy in numerous emergency or semi-emergency situations.

My son felt the construction might be a bit flimsy, compared to other SOG products he has. The knife is sharp, and deploys easily. The side clip is well-designed so that the knife fits completely in a pocket. The flashlight is BRIGHT, and is rated at four hours usage before the batteries must be changed.

Which leads to the SERIOUS design flaw. To change the batteries, the removal of five hex nuts is required. The manufacturer even included a very small hex pointed screw driver to remove the nuts (the smallest one I have ever seen). You KNOW that the screw driver will be lost, long before three changes of batteries ever occur. And that’s the rub, so most people will soon have only a handy knife, unless they use the knife only around the house, and never travel. Overall, 4-stars.

Den of Thieves
Den of Thieves
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient history... and not..., June 22, 2015
This review is from: Den of Thieves (Kindle Edition)
I read this book not long after it was published in 1991. James B. Stewart, a Wall Street Journal editor, with the insights that such a position can yield, and a rarer moral outlook, produced this excellent account of some of the principle characters of what was once known as "the decade of greed," as in, "greed is good," the 1980's. Four of those individuals were once (almost) household names, at least in the households of those with a member in the corporate boardroom. They are: Martin Siegel, Ivan F. Boesky, Michael R. Milken and Dennis B. Levine. By any reasonable definition of the word, including legal definitions, they are all thieves, hence the title to the book. Stewart says: "The magnitude of the illegal gains was so large as to be incomprehensible to most laymen." What Stewart did not know at the time, nor did any of the rest of us: "We ain't seen nothing yet."

The first portion of the book, entitled "Above the Law" is an incisive look into the business and social culture of a sliver of American society: the high-rollers on Wall Street. To convey that one is "successful" is paramount; the gullible will want to ease-drop on your every whisper, as a famous ad on the now defunct E. F. Hutton proclaimed. Michael Milken saw "opportunity" in a dark corner of Wall Street, which traded in "junk bonds." Let's come up with a better, more attractive name, like "high-yield bonds" and do an "academic study" which "proved" that the risk of these bonds was overstated. Add in an all-important "government guarantee" of the "investment" by taking over the Savings and Loan Industry, while at the same time arguing against government regulation of the S&L's, in the familiar refrain of: "Keep government out of the "free market," and voila, a few years later, it is the taxpayer who loses big time, and a few others are immensely richer. Not much ink is spilt over the demise of the S&L's, but I still fondly remember my old "passbook savings account," and the principle of, neatly expressed "5-9-2." The S&L would pay 5% interest to the saver; charge the mortgage holder 9% for a home that was in the community, and it was all so simple the banker's chief "fringe benefit" was to be on the golf course by 2 pm. Society also enjoyed a much more stable and rational housing market.

The second part of the book is entitled "The Chase." It is how these individuals were - "sorta"- brought to justice. The main problem, as Stewart says: "Wall Street closed ranks around its own." Or in further elaboration: "Like organized crime, the Wall Street suspects prized silence and loyalty over any duty to tell the truth and root out corruption. He assumed that a Goldman, Sachs partner, for example, would go to jail rather than implicate another partner at the firm." Stewart praises Judge Kimball Woods for sentencing Milken to 10 years in prison, a sentence which was later reduced drastically, and Milken spent less time in a country club prison than those who were drafted into the Army for two years.

Most fittingly, Stewart commences his epilogue with the question: "Could it happen again?" Rhetorical at the time, now we all know the affirmative answer, which occurred in 2008. The sums of money in the latter were magnitudes larger, in the trillions, and the losses were all handled quietly when the Federal Reserve "expanded its balance sheet" in bond purchases whose value was once known as "junk." And the guilty? None, absolutely none were brought to justice. As for Milken today? Wikipedia quotes Forbes as saying that he is the 485th richest person in the world. Not bad for trading in "junk," and passing the bill on to the taxpayer. So crime does pay. But is he happy?

Stewart's account is even more valid today, of how the real world works. 5-stars.

Ministry of Bombs
Ministry of Bombs
Price: $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading outside my normal genres..., June 19, 2015
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This review is from: Ministry of Bombs (Kindle Edition)
A "terrorist thriller"? Admittedly not my normal "cup of tea." In fact, the whole "action" genre, the cowboys with the white hats and black hats, well, I gave up on that a number of decades ago. However, I had been quite impressed with Nelson Lowhim's The Struggle Trilogy. Lowhim was an American soldier in the Iraq War (well, one of them), and what impressed me was his thinking and depiction of those who opposed American efforts. Instead of the all-too-often abstract distillation of pure evil, the author presented many "gray hats," on both sides - just like in real life. And thus when this work came to my attention, I decided to step outside my usual "genre box," and see what he had to say.

And in many ways I was not disappointed. Lowhim stays true to his "gray hat" world-view, even in a genre not known for it. There was also the additional pull that much of the action takes place in a country I once visited as a tourist, and know I never will be able to again: the Yemen, or what the Romans once called "Arabia Felix," the happy part of Arabia because it was so green and fertile. One of the three principle characters, Ali, is a Yemeni. Lowhim depicts him as so very many of them are: fierce and proud, even though poor, and willing to die to defend his honor. Ali represents a people who were never (really) colonized, despite a few in-roads at Aden. The second principle character is the ironically named Justice, a CIA operative on the way up, he hopes, if his own reservations about what his Agency does - does not get in the way. And the third principle character is Dr. Noklar, not just any Pakistani, but the "father" of their atomic bomb.

Lowhim puts the three principles, and a reasonable supporting cast of characters of a collision course. The central issue is a hauntingly real one, certainly one that I am concerned about. With the "war on terror" seemingly endless, and with all too many American actions designed to create two new terrorists for every one America kills, sooner or later, some terrorist will have the motivation and wherewithal to set off an atomic bomb in an American city.

The author does nuance, and divided loyalties. Ali is concerned that all too many "on his team" are not trying to build something, anything, but only destroy. Justice is justly, as it were, motivated that there should never be another 9-11, yet has qualms that his Agency's actions are bound to ensure another one does. Haunting is Lowhim's portrayal of the Yemen today, where death can so arbitrarily fall from the sky, via drones, and there are no consequences or accountability. And the author depicts the American Ambassador to the Yemen as another "Ugly American," brash, bold, and on the make, just using the "war on terror" to promote his own personal agenda.

Still, I had some problems with the plausibility of the plot, at several junctures. Even in "action thrillers," do people really perform in that manner? A few too many implausible jumps in the action, and twists in motivation, coupled with an improbable geography. It was one of the most unlikely journeys to Nice, where an equally unlikely denouement occurs. Overall, 4-stars.

Price: $0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Topical... which is why Shakespeare endures..., June 17, 2015
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This review is from: Othello (Kindle Edition)
Admittedly, perhaps like most people, I have not read Shakespeare since high school, lo' those many decades ago. I've recently decided to remediate this major deficiency in my reading, and have re-read some of the classics from school, such as Hamlet (Signet Classic Shakespeare) and Macbeth. And it is so much more a pleasure now that a "grade" is not hanging in the balance, with the principle concentration being on figuring out what the teacher wants. For "Othello," this read was for the first time, and I was impressed how many of the issues which were raised then, reverberate today.

True, Venice is no longer a major world power. But the principle geo-political concern in Othello is the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, an event which reoccurred since my high school days. The political leadership in Venice recruited Othello, a dark-skinned Muslim, to defend their interests in Cyprus, and defeat the Turks. Nature proves to be the best ally of Venice, and a Mediterranean storm sinks most of the Turkish fleet. Thus, there are no scenes of combat. The real combat is much closer to home - as it so often is - and involves those who portray themselves as your friend.

Religion, per se, is not an issue. So, there is no Christian-Muslim conflict portrayed. But skin color is very much an issue. As topical as today's headlines concerning a white woman passing for black, and being an official in a predominately black organization. Othello marries Desdemona, a white woman. The father, Brabantio, feels betrayed, in part because he did not know his daughter's plans. He plants a seed in Othello's mind, that another will nurture, and it will bear awful fruit. Brabantio says: "Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see; She has deceiv'd her father, and may thee." Further, he issues an admonishment: "Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds."

The nurturer of this seed is Iago. He is the master villain and manipulator. He is a key component in almost all large organizations. He is the individual who connives to gain your trust, in order to bury the knife in your back. His motivation, in part, as he says: "Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe." I consider Shakespeare's portrayal of Iago absolutely brilliant. The "dropped handkerchief" is a key tool that Iago deliberately uses to turn Othello first against his lieutenant, Cassio, and then against his wife, the actually faithful, Desdemona.

As in much of Shakespeare, there are the side currents, and the development of subsidiary themes. Certainly there is another key one, the relationship between men and women, and Emilia, wife of Iago, is the spokesperson for some remarkably modern views on the subject; in ways she is a Hedda Gabler, centuries earlier. In her own words: "'Tis not a year or two shows us a man; They are all but stomachs and we all but food; They eat us hungrily, and when they are full; They belch us." Later, Emilia delivers a classic soliloquy of the relationship of husbands and wives, in part saying: "Let husbands know Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell and have their palates both for sweet and sour, as husbands have. What is it that they do When they change us for others? Is it sport?... And have not we affections, Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?"

As in all of Shakespeare, there are numerous other worthwhile quotes, for example from Roderigo: "...for your words and performances are no kin together." And the master villain himself proclaims: "Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit and lost without deserving; you have lost no reputation at all, unless you repute yourself such a loser." 5-stars.

Tokyo's Mystery Deepens: Essays on Tokyo
Tokyo's Mystery Deepens: Essays on Tokyo
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do you turn Tokyo into words?..., June 15, 2015
Ah, there is the "rub." It is a rhetorical question that Michael Pronko asks in his afterword. If there is one person who has mastered the answer to that question, it is the author. He has lived in Tokyo - and most importantly for the reader - has had a keen and curious eye for all that is around him, over a 15 year period. His day job is Professor of American literature at Meiji Gakuin University. He rarely writes about the job itself; rather he writes of a vibrant, and at times for a Westerner, difficult to understand city. I first became acquainted with his writing through his first work, Beauty and Chaos: Slices and Morsels of Tokyo Life, which I read last month. The title of that work illuminates Pronko's style: take only bite-size pieces to obtain better enlightenment. The current work is essentially a continuation of his observations, and was published a month after his first work.

Pronko's diverse range of topics amazes. What will he find interesting next? That was foremost in my mind in commencing each of these 48 essays. He introduces just enough Japanese words to educate, but not overwhelm. Often it is only one word that is the theme of the entire essay. For example, "Sumimasen" is a word of apology uttered countless times a day, and is the small `excuse me' that is the oil of Tokyo's social machinery. "Shoji" are the little white masks so often worn, nominally for health reasons, but also as a socially-approved way of withdrawing from the hurly-burly, so as to maintain one's sanity. "Oshibori" are those delightfully warm little white hand towels used to wipe away the city while denoting the time to relax. "Hanko" are little red individualized stamps that are used instead of signatures. "Sei-no" is the pause for synchronization, used by teachers and students alike, and is akin to: "A one, and a two and a three..."

Aside from the vocabulary lessons, there are the many other facets of life, all-too-often lived at high "rev." One essay concerns the brain navigator; how people program themselves to get from A to B, on "auto-pilot." As the author says: "Millions of people pass by millions of people every day in Tokyo, and almost no one bumps into each other. Why? Tokyo side-vision!" In another essay on the motion in the city, Pronko says: "Train stations, I realized, filtered the Brownian flow of people into discrete channels of directed motion." And: "Tokyo should be a verb, not a noun."

The author also observes the eddies, the unlikely corners left behind for whatever reason. In his essay "A Different Pace" he says: "Just as `slow food' has become a buzzword in gourmet circles, these places could be called `slow shops.'... "These stores are like punctuation in the incessant babbling conversation of Tokyo, serving as commas or periods to make people stop and slow down, take a breath, stretch and meditate. They remind us that unhurried calm and human-size quality are as much a part of Tokyo values as all the others." In another essay, he proclaims his "discovery" of a bonsai lake.

Pronko remains an excellent guide for Tokyo, and all things Japanese. He concludes with a verse from Walt Whitman, that he says he now finally understands since it fits Tokyo so precisely: "Do I contradict myself?/ Very well then I contradict myself,/I am large, I contain multitudes." 6-stars.

The Spirit of the Waynes
The Spirit of the Waynes
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Coming of Age..., June 12, 2015
"Of all realities, old age is perhaps that of which we retain a purely abstract notion the longest in our lives." The previous quote is from Simone de Beauvoir's masterpiece on aging, with the subject title The Coming of Age. I first read her work some 40 years ago, when yes, it was rather abstract, though I confronted it every day at work. And I reviewed the book at Amazon some six years ago.

There is nothing "abstract" about this poignant tale of the aging process as told by Ethan Cooper. Admittedly I am an unabashed fan of Cooper's writing, having read (and reviewed) his other four books In Control, Smooth in Meetings, Trip at the Top and Tom's Job. These four are tales of corporate intrigue, so often involving the "Brownian motion" of bloated egos bouncing off of each other. Time and again, I found myself laughing out loud (or, as we say nowadays, LOL) at Cooper's dark insights into how "the game" is actually played. Cooper has irrefutably been there, and taken some very perceptive mental notes before escaping. The current work is a bit different, yet a continuation of the story. There is no corporate intrigue, and very little to LOL about. It is the sad and often heart-breaking story of the diminution of an individual's strength and horizons, coupled with the shifting familial relationships and responsibilities. Cooper's insights are both wry and incisive.

There is some good news, at least for those of us still at a certain age. Wriston Wayne is reaching "the end of the line" at the age of 93, and Cooper says that he was still going strong at 90. Readers of In Control will recognize the high-powered CEO of a prominent Minneapolis bank, Harry Kramer, some 40 years on. And for those of us who have always found the "epilogue" portion of the book an essential read, this is it for Kramer. The principal familial "axis" is along the line of Wriston's relationship with his 59 year old son, Charlie, now an unemployed banker living in NYC. Strong supporting roles are played by Wriston's second wife, Cindy, who he married after his first wife, and Charlie's mother, died. And Charlie's wife, Jane is also there, mainly in the background. The setting is a retirement center, the home of Wriston and Cindy, in Naples, Florida.

It's the car keys. That is the critical issue. Those same keys of a much earlier vintage that you so longed for at 16, not just a symbol, but the actual mechanism that provided independence, and that marvelous freedom to go wherever, whenever. The author does an excellent job detailing that wider world narrowing upon Wriston. Having to give up tennis. Then having to give up golf, the essential sport for CEO's. The hand trembling. The end of the bridge group. The medication. The more circumscribed social group. So, it should be no surprise that the car keys are the "line in the sand," and "denial" will be the operative mechanism for Wriston.

There is much else. I loved Cooper's technique in illuminating Cindy's life. It is dominated by her physical therapist, and the exercises she must do. In the background there is the TV, the talk show exploring - as it were - the "G-spot," and she hears none of this, a fitting metaphor for her own retreat from the wider world. Furthermore, she has serious vision problems, and has seen her own life become more circumscribed, giving up her piano playing. Son Charlie, even at 59, is aware of his own aging, and the steps he must take to "stay in the game" of the corporate world. And has a tendency to have one too many drinks. Is he also in "denial," as father Wriston asks?

My brother and I had to take the car keys away from our mother. Much as Cooper depicts, there was no ultimatum, no cruel grab. Rather, it was all the maneuvering to make it be "her" decision. And still today, I painfully remember the expression on her face as I drove the car away for the last time, and she knew she was reversing that sense of exhilaration one can feel at 16, as she moved from independence to dependence. Of course, it only gets worse, and Cooper relates a poignant scene at the country club, where Wriston tries for the last time to swing a golf club.

There is nothing "abstract" about the author's heart-rending and at times depressing novel. It is a "sucker-punch" from real life, on the downside, one that most of us will experience, first with our parents, and then with ourselves. It provides at least as much understanding of the aging process as de Beauvoir's classic, and did provide an additional catalyst to live each day to the fullest. 6-stars for Cooper's insights and writing style.

Impressions Percale 300 Thread Count 100% Cotton, Deep Pocket, 4-Piece Queen Bed Sheet Set, Solid, White
Impressions Percale 300 Thread Count 100% Cotton, Deep Pocket, 4-Piece Queen Bed Sheet Set, Solid, White
Price: $54.75
3 used & new from $52.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheets are just sheets... NOT, June 10, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Admittedly I haven’t thought too much about sheets in my life; just something to keep clean, and the main focus of my bedding concerns was on the top side... something light which would ensure a warm and comfortable night. But when these sheets popped up in my Vine account, I decided to give them a try. I don’t want to pretend that these sheets will solve all the world’s problems, but 100% cotton sheets are a marked improvement over the synthetic blends, enough so that each evening I notice the distinction.

Vine has switched over to “red” to remind me how few days I have left to post the review. This means I’ve had them for almost a month, and am most pleased in that period. They’ve gone through numerous wash cycles, and the deep pockets make for easier bed making. The set includes two pillow cases. The price, at least currently, at $50 plus is quite reasonable. A solid 5-star recommendation for improving the quality of your night life.

The Way Of The Kings (Print on Demand Copy)
The Way Of The Kings (Print on Demand Copy)
by Andre Malraux
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flapping butterfly wings..., June 8, 2015
... have now become a standard metaphor for the linkage and causality of distant events to a current and dramatic one, like a tornado in Kansas, to complete the metaphor. Un papillon en France lead me to Patrick Deville's excellent book on Alexandre Yersin Peste et Cholera, which led to Deville's Kampuchea (French Edition). In the latter work Deville writes, in part, of Andre Malraux's theft of ancient temple artifacts in Cambodia, which resulted in a three-year prison sentence (subsequently reduced due to the efforts of his literary friends). A week later, and I am in a used book store in Santa Fe, and prominently displayed was this book...

... and those butterfly wings also flapped on a different vector, from once being in a place where you associated Cambodia with the place where the people came that might harm you, to being in Musee Guimet in Paris, in 1971, looking at all the stone Khmer heads, and having my companion tell me how she had walked along the "way of the kings" at Angkor Wat, and observed all the headless statues, which I would finally be able to do 22 years later. And the nexus of those two vectors made the book leap off the table into my hands.

This was one of Malraux's earlier works, published in 1930. More than half the novel is largely autobiographical, and involves a young Frenchman, Claude Vannec, literally shipping out for the Far East in the early 1920's, in order to make his fortune, by stealing archeological artifacts and selling them for profit (as opposed to hauling them back for "conservation" purposes and storing them at a national museum.) On the ship out, he meets Perken, a Danish/German (depending on where the border had been moved) who was an "old Asian hand," as the British would say. The initial meeting occurred in a brothel in Djibouti. Malraux works in the story of Mayrena, a French historical figure who attempted to set up his own Kingdom in the highlands of Indochina. Perken seemed to largely be modeled on him.

And Perken is on a duel mission. In addition to the artifact heist, he is also searching for Grabot, another "old Asian hand," who, rumors has it, may have "gone native." As Howard Curtis says in the 2005 introduction to this work, it is impossible not to think of Marlow's search for Kurtz in Heart of Darkness. I concur, and am nagged with how "derivative" Malraux's book is, since it is known how much he admired Conrad's work. "The Horror, The Horror" was not actually articulated, but it sure was implicit.

Both introductions (the other is by Rachael Seiffert) can be quite critical, rightly so in my opinion, of this work. For example, Curtis mentions Malraux's "...woolly philosophizing about life and death, and the modern reader may be made uncomfortable by its macho posturing, it glorification of the heroic white adventurer in his fight against the `subhuman natives.'" ("The only good Indian is..."?) All too true, and I can hope that some "non-modern" readers would also object. Curtis urges the reader to "look beyond" these flaws, and that can be difficult. Particularly when such accurate depictions of the hill tribes people of Indochina are available, for example, in Georges Condominas' We have eaten the forest: The story of a Montagnard village in the central highlands of Vietnam.. On the other hand, sometimes Malraux can spin some lovely nested and not-so-nested subordinate clauses into lovely Proustian sentences. Many of those involve "the jungle," before it become upgraded to a "rain forest." Overall, I'll give the novel 4-stars, notched up a bit because, for me, it is in a "special interest" category.

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