September 16, 2010

Turn on, Tune in, Eat Something

Because Quitters can still be WinnersThe Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education

This book was written by: Grace Llewellyn, a former teacher. She writes in the book's opening thank-you pages that "that this book is not a personal attack on schoolteachers," which means they shouldn't get mad when she calls them "an arrogant profession which has preyed for a century on the nation's young"(p.99). Ms. Llewellyn is pro-teacher but anti-school because:
"Schools--and this society they represent--go beyond blocking your visionary tendencies. They further cripple you by making fun of you, as if you were not quite human, the new niggers. Why? Probably because every hierarchical society seems to need niggers to put down, and women and African-Americans won't take it anymore. When someone puts you down, you want to put somebody else down."(p.58, emphasis in original)
To further illustrate her point, Ms. Llewellyn cites the story of King Looie Katz, written by "Dr. Seuss, [a] reliable social commentator"(p.58).

Reliable social commentary from Dr. Seuss
What is in this book: Advice for dealing with your local school system when you want to withdraw from institutionalized education to learn at home. When communicating with school officials, "forget everything you ever learned about good writing being direct and simple; make it as long and flowery as you can"(p.97). If you have tried to work with local school administrators and find them difficult to deal with:
"Simply stop going. If you are part of a large, chaotic school district, nobody may ever have time to figure out you're missing. The same can hold if you've freshly moved to a new area--how does a school know it owns you unless you tell them? Many homeschooling families, particularly in rural areas, never register their children in schools to begin with, so the schools never realize they exist. If you never have to deal with school officials, well, you escape all the potential paperwork and nonsense they may ask you and your parents to complete."(p.101)

What is not in this book? An obsession with agonizingly specific roadmaps or overly detailed plans for learning. Children don't need schools because "Healthy kids can teach themselves what they need to know, through books, various people, thinking, and other means" (p.6). They also learn by observing role models, who "can be people you know--like your parents--or people in the news--like Sinead O'Connor or Sandra Day O'Connor"(p.124). In the book's section on "Unschooling the arts," Ms. Llewellyn lists some prominent actor role models who didn't care about high school:
"Eddie Murphy, according to Current Biography 1983, was an 'indifferent student,' and said school was 'a never-ending party, just a place to get laughs.'
Roseanne Barr, comedian and star of the TV series Roseanne, dropped out of high school at sixteen. She worked as a dishwasher and eventually started performing in comedy clubs.
And Mel Gibson told journalist Roy Sekoff, 'School bored me. I graduated, but just barely.'

Would you recommend this book to a fat kid? No. Ms. Llewellyn relies heavily on metaphors that link learning with eating, urging students to "read to feed your hungry head"(p.65), and warning that "being in school is like being incredibly hungry and sitting at Burger King eating too much, too fast to be satisfied, and then puking it up"(p.34). It's "food for thought"(p.58), but it might drive larger readers to the refrigerator instead of the library. And that's not even counting the fictional story about a planet where children are (incorrectly) taught to eat, which Ms. Llewellyn includes as an allegory about the dangers of institutionalizing a process that should come naturally, not to mention the book's food-based puns. "Learn to be a human bean [sic] and not instant mashed potatoes"(p.69).

Would you recommend this book to a burned-out druggie? That term is very disrespectful. After all:
"Drug abuse is a disease. Drug use, however, is often the sign of someone's intense spiritual quest. Hallucinogens can be an easy, though risky, way to tap into visionary experience"(p.57, emphasis in original)
Schools try to suppress this visionary experience because "People who are fully and permanently awakened to the wildness and beauty around them make lousy wage-slaves. On the other hand, people who are not distracted by a wellspring of spiritual and sexual yearnings can assemble clock radios or automobiles very quickly"(p.56, emphasis in original).

What was interesting about this book? The comprehensive range of high school experiences for which Ms. Llewellyn suggests alternatives, including things like graduation. "As an unschooler, don't neglect to find some way of celebrating your passage into adulthood"(p.260).
She also brings up some interesting ideas when discussing substitutes for gym class. "Unschool that body! What you can do with it in school is nothing compared to what you can with it on an icy hill or a surfboard or a green field or a horse or a bike or a dance floor"(p.239) or a stained patch of asphalt by the dumpster behind a Dairy Queen! Of course, the challenge in these activities lies in figuring out when you've gone from intramural to varsity all-star.

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn (Lowry House, 1991, ISBN: 0-9629591-0-3)

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August 10, 2010

It's Quantastic!

God Is Not Dead: What Quantum Physics Tells Us about Our Origins and How We Should Live

This book was written by: Amit Goswami, PhD, who shows that God has left his signature on the universe. Although "these quantum signatures are made of indelible ink; they cannot be erased or rationalized away by any materialist hocus-pocus"(p.11), they are also sloppy and almost entirely illegible.

What is in this book: The marriage of science and spirituality. According to Dr. Goswami, quantum science has proven that God exists in all of us. Every possible outcome for everything exists simultaneously, and we exercise godlike powers by selecting one specific way of viewing things. "We experience a quantum object, but only when we choose a particular facet of its possibility wave [...] And in that state from which we choose, we are all one, we are in God-consciousness"(p.23). To put it another way, when performing the Schrödinger's cat experiment, the act of opening the box and seeing the cat as either alive or dead is an exercise of godlike power. "The evidence is subtle, based on the concept of the primacy of consciousness from quantum physics, which remains Greek to many people, and so the message is very slow to penetrate both scientific and popular consciousness"(p.vii, emphasis in original). This difficulty with penetration is especially troublesome for men; it happens to lots of other men and no other men at the same time, so it's tough to tell whether you should feel bad about it. It's very quantum.

What is not in this book? Miscommunication. "I hope the question of creativity being a quantum leap is not evoking images of creative people such as Newton, Michelangelo, and Martha Graham effortlessly jumping over great physical barriers"(p.77). That would be silly. Instead, you should picture Scott Bakula, dressed like Isaac Newton, competing in the long jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. "Think quantum!"(p.58)

Would you recommend this book to an idiot? I enjoyed this book tremendously. It turns out that "people who are more sensitive to vital energy, people with open hearts, suffer more from pangs of conscience than people who are less sensitive to vital energy, people with primarily thinking minds"(p.180), and "oversensitive" has a much nicer sound to it than "unintelligent." Anyway, the book works to "introduce the nature of the quantum signatures of the divine in some detail and expound on the experimental verification of downward causation, quantum nonlocality, discontinuity, and tangled hierarchy in psychology and biology"(p.58), so it's pretty light reading. And quantum!

Would you recommend this book to a feminist? Yes. If they've been looking for something to do since feminism died, they may want to think about "quantum activism and what we can do to evolve ourselves and our society in accordance with the evolutionary agenda of consciousness"(p.59). Towards the end of the book, Dr. Goswami explains how "Quantum activism begins when we change our worldview from a matter-based one to one based on quantum physics and the primacy of consciousness. We have begun right thinking and we ask: now that we know how to think properly about our world, what should we do about it?"(p.255)
On the other end of the spectrum, "not only does the quantum activist explore love as charity and service to others, but also in intimate relationships, even carnal relationships"(p.258), so it's cool if you like hookers. You can try quantum multitasking to explore love in intimate, carnal, and business relationships all at once.

What was interesting about this book? In the prologue, Dr. Goswami imagines how a biologist, a philosopher, and a Christian theologian would find fault with his argument. The imaginary biologist "is a white American male, complete with coat and tie loosened at the neck"(p.1), the fictional philosopher is a "tall, white American male with a shaved head looking a lot like Ken Wliber"(p.5), and the pretend theologian "ends up as a woman"(p.8). Dr. Goswami debates these strawpersons so skillfully and dismantles their criticisms so thoroughly that it's like he knew what they were going to say before they did. In fact, one might call Goswami a master debater.

God Is Not Dead: What Quantum Physics Tells Us about Our Origins and How We Should Live, Amit Goswami, PhD (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2008, ISBN: 978-1-57174-563-7)

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July 1, 2010

Where Eagles Dare... to Spurt

Do you dare?

I Dare You, Tenth Edition

This book was written by: William H. Danforth, founder of the Ralston Purina company and self-made man of the old school. Mr. Danforth pulled himself up by his bootstraps and wants to show you how to do the same, pausing along the way to relate a few anecdotes about his work with the YMCA in Europe during "the World War," when the Kaiser was getting frisky and had to be put in his place.

What is in this book: A personal challenge for you to do better. Mr. Danforth believes that personal development should occur in four areas—physical, mental, social, and religious—that are like four sides of a square, "the symbol of the richer, fuller life, the emblem that you are to follow in your daring crusade"(p.22). When you accept Mr. Danforth's challenge and follow his developmental guidance, "the four-fold life is yours because underneath a body that is under control and a mind keen as a briar and a personality that sparkles at every contact, there is a religion with truth, honesty and purity at its base"(p.112).

What is not in this book: Advice for people who are afraid of accomplishment.
"True, moments of weakness and depression and laziness are going to assail you. But that is the time for battle. One forward step—one swift constructive action—will send these enemies scurrying for cover"(p.13).
The magic square Mr. Danforth uses to change his life
Do you need Mr. Danforth to suggest some constructive actions? "I Dare You, who think life is humdrum, to start a fight"(p.xi). Or you can try some petty vandalism. "Start something! Break a window, if necessary"(p.11). Plan a boat trip through Somali waters!
"Wars and emergencies discover many unopened doors in people's lives. Why not declare War? Why not put a bomb under your capacities? Why not force a crisis?"(p.15)

Would you recommend this book to Flabby Fingers? Yes. He needs to know that Mr. Danforth has his number, saying "I dare you, Flabby Fingers, to develop into a Warm Handclasp"(p.78).

Would you recommend this book to a porn star? Yes. This book outlines some of the questions that they may want to ask themselves before a job interview:
1) Have I a capacity for hard work?
2) Can I keep everlastingly at it?
3) Have I sustained 'Pep and Punch'?
4) Do I maintain a high batting average?
5) What is my ability to spurt?"
This book also offers practical advice for their careers, reminding them that "every time you take liberties with your physical strength, such as eating or drinking things that do not agree with you, or losing sleep, you will find that some day you will pay the price when you need the ability to spurt"(p.26).

Are you going to quote the author's use of controversial words, even when used in a completely harmless and era-appropriate context? Absolutely. Mr. Danforth describes the way a friend of his piled up his dreams to make a list of things to do. "Dreams that were wild he pulled out of the pile as he would pull a wet faggot out of the fire"(p.58), and there's no way I can stop myself from quoting that.

Yes he was chairman of THAT Ralston Purina and kind of had a thing for checkerboardsWhat was interesting about this book? There is a very real chance that you will be a failure. "Don't be tempted to Dare beyond your capacity. That may entail disappointment and discouragement"(p.117). In fact, "there are many pages that would tell that other story of those who have been dared to do the super thing, but in whose eyes the light of battle failed to gleam"(p.4), but we won't waste time talking about those losers. Instead, get to work and remember that "you'll have to adventure in No Man's Land and dig in many times before you reach your objective"(p.59). Try not to think about how you may just end up dead in a trench.

I Dare You, Tenth Edition, by William H. Danforth (I Dare You Committee, 1941, St. Louis, Missouri)

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June 18, 2010

Three, Two, One, Zero!

Yes I tapped that.
Tapping the Zero Point Energy

This book was written by: Moray B. King, an electrical engineer who speaks at energy conferences.

What is in this book: A collection of papers written by Mr. King discussing zero-point energy, "an all-pervading energy imbedded in the fabric of space consisting of fluctuations of electricity"(p.ii). This energy is often misunderstood and poorly researched because "the concepts are somewhat alien to classical physics, and difficult for many to understand since they invoke the existence of a physically real, higher dimensional space"(p.30). If it helps, you can just think that "zero-point energy[...] by some consideration is the modern term for the ether"(p.58). You know, the medium that surrounds our terrestrial sphere, not the chemical for huffing.

What is not in this book: Adherence to the status quo. King recommends performing some unpopular experiments, like examining "evidence that the zero-point energy is not a passive system but actually is a manifestation of an energy flux passing through our space orthogonally from other dimensions"(p.12). It seems worth examining when he asks "What governs physics--popularity or experimentation?"(p.30) until you realize that some subjects are unpopular because experimentation has proven that they don't work.

This diagram from the book needs no explanation.
Special Bitterly Books scientific advisor SolarTungsten says: Zero point energy isn't what most people think it is. Of course, most people think it's some kind of engine that runs off of your unrequited love for Tasha Yarr. King's work linking the vacuum fluctuations to cold fusion is an especially strange thing to do, but it's pretty common for science and medicine cranks to try and combine as many discarded ideas as they can under one roof. It's like a Katamari Damacy of retardation.

Would you recommend this book to a physicist? They have time to read? I thought they were too busy, spending all their time drinking expensive liquor with attractive women in in hot tubs, expensive cars, and nightclubs. Maybe I'm thinking of biochemists.

Would you recommend this book to horticulturalists? Yes, I would jump at the chance. First I'd tell them that T.H. Moray has made some revolutionary breakthroughs. Then I'd point out the passage that describes how "[T.H.] Moray powered his [solid state amplifying] valve by doping his Germanium with radioactive materials"(p.48). Then I'd closely watch their faces for that moment of disappointment when they spot the extra "m" and realize that he's talking about the element, not the plant. Good luck winning the spring flower show with that, suckers!

I really messed up the alt text on this image.
What was interesting about this book? Buried at the end of this book, King introduces the Prometheus game. You play by asking yourself, "If you were an angel who had the knowledge to seed the discovery of free energy on planet earth, would you love this planet and its beings enough to share your gift without any reward or recognition? If you can answer yes, then you are a master of the Prometheus game and you will find, as I have, that wonderful, synchronistic events and experiences accrue that yield inspiration and guidance"(p.172). Sadly, I have not mastered this game; if I had the knowledge he was talking about, I'd hold it ransom for a huge pile of money. That way I could spend the rest of my life living like a biochemist.

Tapping the Zero Point Energy by Moray B. King (Adventures Unlimited Press, 2002, ISBN: 978-1931882002)

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June 11, 2010

Dueserpenti Review: I Was Dreaming When I Wrote This, So Sue Me if I Go Too Fast

The following review was written by guest writer dueserpenti, freelance smartass.

Nostradamus 1999

This book was written by: Stephan Paulus, retired martial arts instructor, self-described Nostradamus hobbyist, and “the only author to explore the link between the prophesies and a battle-by-battle vision of World War III [, ...] connect Nostradamus' prophesies with Islamic end-time prophesies [, ...and] with prophesies from the Book of Revelation” (So sayeth the back flap). His other hobbies include organic gardening, aerobics, and home improvement.

What is in this book: Bad news. According to Nostradamus, a comet is going to hit the Earth in July of 1999. As if that wasn't bad enough, out of the ashes rises a pan-Islamic state led by the Madhi, The Antichrist, the Muslim Jesus, (yes, these are all separate people) and two Nostradamus bonus characters, the Man in the Blue Turban and the Man in the White Turban. Naturally, they're bent on world domination, but finally get defeated by a coalition of American, British, French, Russian, and Swiss forces after twenty-seven years of hard fighting. Having won the day for democracy, they appoint a Frenchman to be king of the world. At least Henry V ends up ruling the Earth with justice and wisdom for many years, establishing a dynasty that continues into the 22nd century and possibly beyond, although it's hard to be specific after that.

Mind you, it's no picnic before then, either. It's a good thing we have the expert guidance of Mr. Paulus to lead us through it. We probably could have guessed that “The year 1999, the seventh month,” (Century 10, Quatrain 72) in Nostradamus' work “should be interpreted [... as] the seventh month of the year 1999” (3). But when another quatrain refers to worldwide “plague, famine and death” (1:16) between the years 1994 and 1996, “That was close enough [...] that it may apply” (82).

Likewise, only Stephan Paulus knows how the Antichrist can simultaneously be from Russia (101), China (106), and Turkey (108). Nor is he afraid to challenge conventional wisdom in his field. While most Nostradamus scholars believe that mentions of “Libra” refer to the constellation of the same name, Paulus argues that “Libra can only be the United States. Libra is pictured [...] holding a scale [...] The same symbol is found [...] outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. Second, the Latin word for liberty is 'Libertas.' [...] Nostradamus uses the word 'Libra' here as an anagram [sic] of the Latin 'Libertas.' [....] the Statue of Liberty [...] was a gift from the French people” (217-18).

What is not in this book: Any confidence whatsoever in the prophesies of Nostradamus. Having spent 250 pages constructing a truly exhaustive history of the 21st century, the author includes an appendix in which he admits that, of those prophesies which have already passed their expiration date, “Nostradamus' final accuracy rate for his dated quatrains is one-and-a-half for seven, slightly over 21%” (256). Believe me, that number is more than generous. So is the conclusion he takes from it: “Nostradamus was wrong more often than he was right. Still, he was right at least part of the time [...] it probably will not occur, but what if it does? [...] There is simply too much to lose to assume he was wrong” (257).

Would you recommend this Book to Prince? No. He would be heartbroken to learn that in the future there is only one Prince. His name is Ogmios, son of Henry V, and he will ascend to the throne upon his father's death to rule with justice and wisdom (247).

Would you recommend this Book to a Meteorologist? Yes. Forecasting five centuries in advance is undoubtedly harder than five days, but that 21% success rate has still got to make the average weatherman feel pretty good about his own accuracy.

What is interesting about this book: The author's stoic resignation about the future, whatever it may hold. As he says in his final Author's Note, “Whether I am right or wrong, we are all going to die anyway, within a few short decades at most” (268). Now that's prophesy you can believe in.

Nostradamus 1999 by Stephan Paulus (Llewellyn Publications, 1996, ISBN: 978-1567185157)

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April 15, 2010

Have you chosen YOUR path?

Crossroads: The Teenage Girl's Guide to Emotional Wounds

This book was written by: Suzy Weibel, a youth minister, and Stephanie Smith, a Gotee recording artist. In case you were unaware that Ms. Smith was a Gotee recording artist, this information is provided on the front cover, the back cover, the title page, the introduction, and on pages 131-134, where she recounts how she met and signed a deal with TobyMac (the Christian hip-hop mogul, not the failed housing lender).

What is in this book: This 156-page book features almost 100 pages that Stephanie Smith may have written herself, or at least dictated to her co-author. Each chapter—or "track", as the book calls them—is titled after a track from Stephanie's debut album, following her struggles as she grows up without a father. Stephanie notes that "God has done a lot in my heart, but I still crave a daddy sometimes"(p.145).
In the "Choose Your Playlist" and "Your Song" sections of each chapter, Stephanie engages the reader directly with questions to think about and action steps to take before the "So You Want to Be a Rock Star?" sections "visit the stories of ordinary people who have found themselves at all kinds of crossroads"(p.10).

What is not in this book: The kind of shallow thinking one associates with young girls. Smith challenges her readers, giving them things to think about and not pulling any punches. "It is seriously tough out there in the world. I don't want to depress anybody right off the bat, but if you pay any attention at all, you know what I'm talking about"(p.12). That's right, "life usually doesn't work out as neatly as in our plans or dreams"(p.50). Smith also uses similes that her readers can relate to, like when "messages of rejection from my dad and from Chris affixed themselves to my brain like a stubborn piece of already-been-chewed gum to the underside of a school cafeteria table"(p.61), and she refrains from some of the angsty excesses of her contemporaries when describing emotionally loaded scenes, like when "the midnight hour found me crying an absolute river of brokenness, repentance, and confession on a spare bed at my mentor's house"(p.87). Most importantly, Smith is honest with herself and her readers. "I don't know that this is the most profound thought I've ever had, but I began to think, You know, it is only because I was born where I was that I've known the life I've known."(p.118)

Crossroads is a surprisingly popular title for a lot of things.
Would you recommend this book to a fan of Britney Spears? No, it would be my sad obligation to inform them that this is not, in fact, the novelization of Ms. Spears' breathtaking, cinematic coming-of-age story.

Would you recommend this book to someone about to meet with the Reverend Mother? Yes. Observe:
"Sometimes when hurt blindsides us, we react like wounded animals. Feeling cornered and taken by surprise, it is only natural to want to take out our claws and put a good scratch on our attacker. But wait a minute. That's not how animals think. That's how humans think.
When an animal is wounded, it doesn't strike out with the intent to harm. I know that sounds crazy, but animals don't possess cognitive reasoning skills. An animal strikes out to create an escape route and hopefully to save its own life—not for revenge or justice
Now you are ready to face her Gom Jabbar.

There are lots of other lovely states besides Pennsylvania. Why not try Iowa? Iowa is nice.Would you recommend this book to someone from outside of Pennsylvania? Never! This book reveals that Pennsylvania is not only the sanctuary that offers Smith's mother an escape from her abusive husband (p.30), but also the location of (cancer-curing) Hershey Medical Center (p.24), a Christian high school that saves a girl from "a messed-up future"(p.142), a church where a young mother on the wrong track manages to turn her life and marriage around (p.94), a bed and breakfast where a woman forgives her husband and gives their marriage another chance (p.108), and the Penn State Softball team (p.23). True, there's a farm in central Pennsylvania where some guy's dad is kind of a jerk (p.54), but the book illustrates how this magical state has spelled salvation for Stephanie and at least six others. Allowing this book to spread the word would be a disaster. We must protect our Shangri-la from the auslanders!

What was interesting about this book? Although you should see a counselor if you need serious mental help, "it is of utmost importance that counseling be based on the foundation of God's Word"(p.66) because secular counseling is inherently defective.
However, it may have been the choices offered by Ms. Smith that were most interesting, like the choice between "two coats I could put on as I stepped into this plan: God's 'better' or my own coat, the one named 'bitter.' Which coat are you going to wear?"(p.107) I know the answer to that one! Smith also asks "Are you willing to believe that God is who he says he is and that his promises of care and love and presence are true? Or are you going to believe you're stuck in a life that will never work out and that you have no choice but to be unhappy, bitter, and disconnected?"(p.10) I know how I'm going to answer that one, too!
So really this book—and God's love—is all about not being afraid to look within yourself to find the answers that God put there.

Crossroads: The Teenage Girl's Guide to Emotional Wounds by Gotee Recording Artist Stephane Smith & Suzy Weibel (Zondervan, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-310-28550-2)

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April 1, 2010

Mysterious but Superfun

This book is actually copyrighted by Mystery Method Corporation. I'm not kidding.
The Mystery Method: How to Get Beautiful Women into Bed

This book was written by: Erik von Markovik, a.k.a. "Mystery," and his good friend Chris Odom, two young men who love their mothers.

What is in this book: Tactics and strategy. Erik and Chris know that women are terrifying creatures capable of indescribable violence, which is why they are arming readers with techniques like the "shotgun", " sniper," and the "throw and go rule"(p.98-99) along with a host of acronyms and strategies to safely dehumanize the process of talking to other people (see diagram from page 144). These will help you subdue your quarry and prove your worth as a human being. After all, "if you can't attract a woman, you are, by dictionary definition, sterile"(p.xv), and your life's highest purpose is to survive and replicate ("S-and-R"). The good news is that "Just because it's a matter of life and death doesn't mean the process of attracting women can't be superfun!"(p.xiii)

What is not in this book: An unnecessarily restrictive view of women and the gifts they have to offer. You might not have realized that they have uses outside of the bedroom, but "A pivot is a female friend whom you bring into the field in order to build social proof, open sets, create jealousy, and distract obstacles. In return for her services, you show her a good time and help her to meet guys"(p.121). A pivot should not be confused with a pawn:
"With women of particular quality, it's often necessary to demonstrate preselection when gaming them. Before you open a set with a 10, for instance, you may first open an adjacent set with a 7 or 8, attract her, and put her on your arm. She is now your good natured pawn. With this demonstration of preselection firmly in place, open the set with the 10. It should open easily due to your high perceived value. Your approach is also much less threatening with another woman on your arm.
At some point when you are in A3 with the 10, where she is earning your affections, you will be able to 'choose' her over the 7. The 7 may then return to her friends, unharmed in any way.

Hee hee. He said "firmly." He also said "threatening" and "unharmed," but I wasn't paying attention to that part.

Page 144. Who knew that meeting other people was so complicated?
Would you recommend this book to someone suffering from narcolepsy? That's a tough question. On the one hand, they don't have to worry about having too high of an energy level when trying to pick up women. This is important because "if your energy is too high, sets will easily hook, but closing will be more difficult and girls will more often accuse you of being gay"(p.78). However, if they fall asleep during the early parts of the book, they'll be completely confused later on when it starts telling them to do things like "If she defies your compliance test, give her an IOD, followed by a DHV and then another compliance test"(p.143, and no, those are not other names for GHB—I checked!).

Would you recommend this book to that creepy dude who is always hanging out at the public library? Yes. I'm betting he's already familiar with the idea that "all humans possess a built-in motivation to stay away from people with low or negative social value"(p.17), but he would be interested to learn that "being bubbly and wanting to dance" is actually a shield that women use "to protect themselves from men with a low perceived S-and-R [Survival and Replication] value"(p.75). He would definitely agree with the passage about how "not holding her hands, smelling her neck, or kissing her during the comfort stage can trap you [in the sex-free "friend zone"]"(p.59) and its furtherance of a pro-neck-sniffing agenda.
Mostly, I think it will save him the trouble of checking out a copy of Eugenics for Sex Offenders. "Just as a superior basketball player limited by lousy teammates must escape and join a better team in order to win, so, too, must a superior gene escape from its inferior gene-mates and be given a chance to join a better genetic team for its continued survival. This method of escape is called crossbreeding"(p.11, emphasis in original).

Page 12. He seriously refers to picking up chicks as Venusian arts.
What was interesting about this book? Subtle nuances are essential for both the accomplished pickup artist and the reader of this book. On the one hand, "there is only one type of close, really: sex. Are you a closer?"(p.189, N.B., "sex" was in boldface in the original). However, slipping it to some skank in "a nearby bathroom stall [....] is a fool's mate fantasy and not solid game"(p.57-58). Similarly, if you decide to approach a woman because she is attractive, "we cannot let her know we're choosing her based on looks because it doesn't seem genuine and makes us appear like other typical men"(p.53).
It is also interesting how comprehensive the book's advice is, covering every aspect of meeting and breeding women up to and including overcoming their resistance to the idea of sleeping with you. "Last-minute resistance is a fear that women experience just prior to having sex, similar to the way that men experience approach anxiety. It is your responsibility to ease her through this"(p.206). Yeah, ease her through it all night long.

The Mystery Method: How to Get Beautiful Women into Bed by Mystery (Erik von Markovik) with Chris Odom (St. Martin's Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-312-36011-5)

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March 22, 2010

I told you this would happen.

Officer Bad Horse prepares to inform a suspect of his rights.
As promised/threatened/foretold, Bitterly Books contributed to the Guest Dare series over at the Book Smugglers Blog:

"For my dare, I read Scalped: Indian Country, a graphic novel set on an Indian reservation. I was excited to see how it differed from both Ralph Nader's depiction of Indians as lazy deadbeats waiting for their next welfare check and Louise Erdrich's portrayal of them as PTSD-suffering statutory rapists. According to Jason Aaron and R.M. Guéra, Indian reservations have just as much sex, drugs, and violence as some of the classier parts of New Jersey, but the unemployment rate is a little higher (80%!).

The story begins as young Dashiel Bad Horse arrives on the Prairie Rose Reservation and starts kicking ass unrepentantly. This soon... [click to read more]"

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March 17, 2010

Guest Review by Dueserpenti: Lord of the Force

In JarJar We Trust
The following review was written by guest writer dueserpenti, freelance smartass.

Praise the Lord (of the Force)!
Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters

This book was written by: Dick Staub, award-winning radio personality and Jedi Christian.

What is in this book: Dick Staub knows what kids today are in to: evangelical Christianity. Just like everyone else, young people “...long for...a faith that is intellectually credible, spiritually vibrant...good, true, and beautiful.”(pg. 12). Unfortunately, “Ours is a superficial age, a culture defined by diversionary entertainment, mindless amusements, and characterless celebrity.” (pg. 65). The solution to this shallow, entertainment-obsessed way of life? A book that explains how Christianity is just like Star Wars.

One of these photos is Michael Stipe...
What is not in this book: Explanations of how Christianity is just like Star Wars. Straight out of the gate, Staub runs into a problem: the two texts he plans to analogize have almost nothing in common. For instance, “[in] Jedi mythology the highest good is...balancing light and dark, whereas Christians believe the highest good is when darkness is defeated. In this Christian lore, the dark side unequal opponent of God, the Lord of the Force.” (pg. 5). Most writers would get discouraged at having disproved the central thesis of their book so early, but not Dick Staub. When he has a point to make that can't be supported by a Star Wars reference, which is most of the time, he looks to other credible sources. These sources run the gamut from Christian thinkers like Thomas Merton (pg. 33) and Kierkegaard (pg 39) to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (pg. 19), REM front man Michael Stipe (pg. 56), conquistador Hernán Cortés (pg. 25), and “the Clannad song featured in the film The Last of the Mohicans...” (pg 46). When Staub is able to make references to Star Wars, they are, to put it mildly, rather terse, as when we are asked to recall the time Luke Skywalker said “The Force?” (pg. 8). This is probably for the best, for as the tiny print on the front of Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters tells us, “This book has not been approved, licensed, or sponsored by any entity or persons involved in the creation or productions of the Star Wars films and products.

Would you recommend this book to a secret agent? Yes. The Jedi Christian has powers far beyond those of any regular cloak-and-dagger operative: “In the film The Bourne Identity, we learn that Jason Bourne has been trained to be aware of every detail as he enters a new situation. The [Jedi Christian] possesses these same powers of observation but is also sensitized to the underlying spiritual dynamics and nuance.” (pg 155).

Would you recommend this book to a wealthy hypochondriac? No. They would learn that they likely suffer from the dread disease known as “affluenza...a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition...resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.” (218), and be inconsolable until you tell them where they can buy the cure.

And the other is Lao Tzu, but I forgot which is which.
What is interesting about this book: Evangelical Christians aren't famous for their tolerance, but Dick Staub is an exception, eager to borrow words of wisdom from any source, be it James Baldwin or Bruce Springsteen. Still, it takes big, brassy midichlorians to claim Christ is the one true way and then attempt to justify it with a quote from the Bhagavad-Gita. It's just like that one scene in Return of the Jedi where...wait, I guess it's not like that at all.

Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters by Dick Staub (John Wiley and Sons, 2005, ISBN: 978-0787978945)

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March 15, 2010

Abort, Abort!

I wonder how Dr. Grant feels about abortion?
Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood
Bonus material available.

This book was written by: George Grant, an activist and pastor who previously worked for D. James Kennedy.

What is in this book: A startling exposé on "the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its sundry institutional cohorts in the abortion industry"(p.xxv), including those genocidal maniacs at the March of Dimes(p.174). It is bad enough that "the [Planned Parenthood] organization continually misrepresents the facts about its lucrative birth control, sex education, and abortion enterprises"(p.83), but they also stand for values that are identical to those espoused by heretical sects of the 13th century. "Virtually every major dogma of those heretical sects is a plank in the Planned Parenthood philosophical platform: promiscuity, greed, deception, revolution, socialism, abortion, sorcery, birth limitation, and materialism"(p.256). That's right, he said sorcery. He's on to you, Planned Parenthood, and he knows all about your secret plan to trick women into getting pregnant just so you can force them to have abortions. "In other words, the Planned Parenthood system virtually guarantees that women will get pregnant—and that they will then be 'forced' to fall back on the birth control lynch pin: abortion"(p.26).

Those rent-a-cops do NOT play around.
What is not in this book? Clinical detachment. Dr. Grant is an activist who is literally not afraid to get his hands dirty. He opens the book talking about the time he was in a car chase fleeing a hail of gunfire, pursued by a security guard trying to stop him from stealing a dead baby out of the dumpster behind an abortion clinic. And the guard looked like he meant business. "His crisp blue uniform played a stark contrast against the alley's cudulent clutter. The gleam of chrome and polished leather threw flitting reflections of sunlight on the ground, shattered triangles of morning brightness skipping across the discarded baubles and forgotten fascinations that composed the heaps of garbage between him and me"(p.11)

Would you recommend this book to a fan of pornography? No, I would recommend that they get their hands on some of Planned Parenthood's educational videos. Dr. Grant describes one of them:
"'I've never seen pornography before,' Catherine admitted. 'But this film was worse than what I could have ever imagined hard-core pornography to be.'
The film was extremely explicit. An unashamedly brash couple fondled each other in preparation for intercourse. At appropriately prurient moments of interest, the camera zoomed in for close-up shots—sweaty body parts rubbing, caressing, kissing, stroking, clasping, petting, and embracing. At the height of passion, the camera fixed on the woman's hands, trembling with ecstasy, as she tore open a condom package and began to slowly unroll its contents onto her partner.
Afterwards, several of the girls began quietly sobbing, another ran out of the room and threw up, still another fainted. Mercifully, the class ended just a moment later.
'I have never been more humiliated in all my life,' Catherine said. 'I felt dirty and defiled after seeing the film. [....] It was horrible. It was like I'd been raped. Raped in my mind. Raped by my school. Raped by Planned Parenthood.
I have seen pornography before, but clearly I have been wasting my time with the wrong stuff.

Would you recommend this book to someone about to have an abortion? Yes. It might give them an idea of what awaits them on the trip to the clinic:
"Every thirty minutes for the next two and a half hours, we watched as a fresh clutch of doe-eyed girls were whisked into the clinic by 'pro-choice escorts.' They met the girls at their cars and quickly aimed them up the sidewalk. They snarled at our offers of help and batted away our literature. If a girl displayed the least hint of hesitation, the 'escorts' would take her by the arm and rush her toward the door. So much for 'choice.'
When, despite their best efforts, a frightened and confused teen slipped their grasp and turned aside to talk to one of the protesters, to read a Gospel tract, the 'escorts' flew into a frenzied rage.
An artistic representation of the response from Planned Parenthood.Try comparing this to accounts from some of the escorts. One side of this face-off is clearly exaggerating for dramatic effect. However, the way that Dr. Grant observes a security guard at the event and notes that "his anger was hidden and subversive. It was tucked neatly into the dark folds of his uniform like a murderer's knife hidden inside an old coat on a closet shelf"(p.17) tells me that he's not normally given to creative embellishment.

What was interesting about this book? Dr. Grant has found Planned Parenthood's response to his book to be wholly unsatisfactory, especially the one that "purports to be a book review—despite the fact that it is less than five paragraphs and three hundred words long"(p.xxvii). According to Dr. Grant, an internal Planned Parenthood memo also issues a request, "please do not encourage Mr. Grant"(p.xxvii).

Special award: Because of his sense of cadence, his ear for aliteration, and his knack for vibrant descriptions, Bitterly Books is awarding Dr. Grant with the Nipsey Russell Commemorative Order of the Warrior Poet.
Did you notice Dr. Grant's use of the made-up word "cudulent" earlier? He also notes that the process of writing this book "surprised me with its fervid fervor,"(p.xxiii) as on his quest to save the unborn "I was confronted with the central anomaly of these modern times: a liberal lust for life, a lavish love of life, a luxuriant litany of life, and yet, simultaneously, a leaden loathing of life."(p.13)
His lyrical prose is capable of inciting readers to action, noting that "we need to battle the blazing concupiscence of Planned Parenthood's sex education programs [....and] rescue our own children from the flickering flames of promiscuity and perdition"(p.146). His work can also contain inscrutable wisdom, cryptically noting how "memory is a madman that hoards my colored rags and throws away my precious gems. Prescience is a school-marm that belabors what I ought to be and ignores what I thought to be"(p.18).
Bitterly Books is thrilled to induct Dr. Grant into the esteemed and august Nipsey Russell Commemorative Order of the Warrior Poet, but the occasion is perhaps best marked by some words from Dr. Grant himself:
"The city's gestalt of raw tension and hungry ambition calves its persona like an Arctic berg—splinters drifting away. The eclecticism is everywhere evident. It is a bright matrix of contradiction unfolding across a tantrum of logic and illogic, of antiquity and modernity, of substance and illusion, of objectivity and bias, of bondage and freedom, of honesty and deception"(p.184)
At least, I think that quotation is appropriate for the occasion. I'm not really sure what it means.

Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood (4th Ed.) by George Grant (Cumberland House, 2000, ISBN: 1-58182-057-7)

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March 10, 2010

Cross-Post Extravaganza!

Bitterly Books is all set to contribute to the Guest Dare series over at the Book Smugglers Blog.

The series asks reviewers to step outside their comfort zone and read something they would normally avoid, so check out The Book Smugglers on March 22 for a review of Scalped!

It's a graphic novel about Indians, organized crime, government corruption, and violent stalkers who follow drug-addled skanks around until somebody gets beaten so bad they end up in the hospital. Good times!

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March 1, 2010

Hey, Ladies! Fill Your Funnel!

Love is not a battlefield, it is a sales pitch.

You Lost Him at Hello: A Saleswoman's Secrets to Closing the Deal with Any Guy You Want

This book was written by: Jess McCann, dating consultant and reality television contestant.

What is in book: Ms. McCann's distilled sales expertise, as practiced in the meat market. For example, a skilled marketer finds success through volume. "Think about it, you can either date one man every six months and then in five years you will have dated ten guys. Or you can date ten guys in one year and in five years you will have dated fifty guys!"(p.85). It's also important to package yourself properly. "When you first start dating someone you want it to be pretty obvious that other men find you attractive,"(p.138) but be careful, because "telling a guy that you're a catch isn't going to convince him that you are one"(p.23). This business-oriented approach to dating may be off-putting to some readers, and "when I first began discussing the correlation between dating and sales, many of my friends had a hard time accepting the idea because of the stigma behind it"(p.17). However, you may not be aware of the fact that you're already selling things all the time. "From the moment you wake up and decide what outfit is most likely to impress your boss, until later that night when you convince your girlfriends where to eat dinner, you are constantly engaging in sales"(p.18). So get out there and sell your heart out, literally! (Just be sure that no money actually changes hands, because that would be illegal.)

What is not in this book: Dirty euphemisms. Oh sure, McCann talks about how "Anne should have been filling her funnel all along, instead of presuming that she and Charlie were a couple with a future,"(p.80) and "never let the funnel dry up. It's a cardinal rule,"(p.78) but it's about your funnel for sale prospects, so get your mind out of the gutter.

His life's work subverted for an off-color joke.Would you recommend this book to Emily Post? Yes. Despite urging you to date early and often, Ms. McCann is a model of restraint. "In dating, bullets are a woman's valuables, such as kissing, making out, and the biggest bullet of all, sex [....] If you throw out all your bullets right away, you have nothing left to keep a man's interest"(p.144). There are dire consequences for giving it all away too soon:
In the back of his head he will always think you sleep around. It won't matter if you tell him that you don't typically do that sort of thing and he's the only one you have ever done this with. All he will hear is the Charlie Brown schoolteacher: "Womp womp, womp womp."(p.151)
And that "womp womp, womp womp" will be the bedsprings! Am I right, fellas?

Would you recommend this book to women who do not enjoy playing games? Yes, because they had better learn to love it if they're serious about finding a man. Ms. McCann mentions that some women out there think that "doing what they feel like seems natural, and dating strategically sounds too orchestrated. What they want is to meet someone, be honest about their feelings, and have someone love them for who they are"(p.30, emphasis in original). These women are doomed.
The fact is that:
Girls that say they don't play games either:
1. Don't know how to play,
2. Are too lazy to play, or
3. Don’t have enough discipline to play.

FILL THE FUNNEL. Hopefully linking to the Seattle Weekly article that used this photo fulfills my attribution requirements.What was interesting about this book? Honesty is worthless. "You can never convince someone to date you, let alone love you, by telling them how much you need or love them"(p.21). So stay aloof, keep him interested, and never show your true colors. "Remember, as long as a guy is not 100 percent sure of how you feel about him, he will be afraid he could lose you at any moment, and that fear of loss will keep him begging for more"(p.197). Ms. McCann recognizes that this path may be difficult, and that you may be tempted just to lay it all on the line and be up front with him. "Unfortunately, you can't do that. Whether you like it or not, relationships just don't work that way, especially in the beginning"(p.30). And most importantly, DO NOT LET HIM FIND YOU READING THIS BOOK. "If you tell him you are doing all these things on purpose, with an agenda, he really will think you are playing a game"(p.126). Date as many men as you can, let them know you're attractive but don't directly tell them you're a catch, and get your head in the game even though he can't find out that you're playing a game. "Remember ladies, fill the funnel"(p.85).

You Lost Him at Hello: A Saleswoman's Secrets to Closing the Deal with Any Guy You Want by Jess McCann (Health Communications Inc., 2008, ISBN: 978-0-7573-0713-3)

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February 15, 2010

Knees and Toes Never Hurt Anybody

Thank god and Monsanto for the genetically modified foods that have made pesticides irrelevant.
The Pesticide Conspiracy: An alarming look at pest control and the people who keep us "hooked" on deadly chemicals

This book was written by: Robert Van Den Bosch, deceased, former professor of entomology at University of California, Berkeley, and "a man who is frankly angry"(p.viii).

What is in this book: Professor Van Den Bosch's criticism of agricultural practices where "the heavy use of pesticides has created an entomological nightmare, bringing in its wake economic ruin, human illness and death, and gross environmental pollution"(p.37), but some formidable opponents are arrayed against him. While trying to investigate pesticide usage among growers, for example:
"Heavy Watergate games were being played to frustrate our little investigation of cosmetic produce. We were obviously on the track of something very rotten. Of course, we knew this from what had already turned up in our investigation, but it was a shock to learn how dirty the game can get when powerful people have something to hide."(p.106)
These unnamed but powerful people have conspired to call the kettle black, dismissing Professor Van Den Bosch's criticism as "a conspiracy against scientific agriculture and agri-business by a coalition of hippies, eco-freaks, organic-food fanatics, and enemies of free enterprise."(p.28)

Wait, he might have been talking about ending up with toes in the OTHER Bloody Mary.What is not in this book: An obsession with hygiene. We are "very fussy about buggy bits that might get into canned, frozen, or bottled produce"(p.99). As a result, "a tremendous pesticide load goes into the environment to assure that we get our pretty produce or to minimize the off chance of an aphid knee or thrips toe surfacing in somebody's broccoli amandine or bloody mary"(p.101), but it's not like extra knees or toes ever hurt anybody. You heard me, Upton Sinclair: Go fuck yourself.

Would you recommend this book to either Buddhists or Catholics? Yes. I think both groups would approve of its pro-life message. Although to most growers, "the sight or even thought of a boll weevil, lygus bug, spider mite, or pink bollworm triggers an automatic reaction: kill it before it grubs a nickel out of your pocket or a crumb from your mouth, or before it milks the treasury of a single peso!"(p.38), Professor Van Den Bosch recommends a policy of integrated control. It is an agricultural equivalent to the rhythm method that is more tolerant of unwanted larvae.

Would you recommend this book to Pepé Le Pew? No, I would recommend that he make friends with a tussock moth willing to be his wingman. This recommendation is based on Professor Van Den Bosch's assertion that for chemical companies, "the tussock moth provided a golden opportunity to pull the DDT skunk out of the EPA garbage can"(p.83). Whatever that means, it sounds like it would be right up Pepé's alley.

This was going to be a picture of a pregnant lady with alt text about UNWANTED LARVAE, but there were concerns about it being in poor taste.
What was interesting about this book? Professor Van Den Bosch's recommendation to reform the business of pest control. "It is abundantly clear to me that the elimination of the pesticide salesman from pest-control advisement is absolutely necessary if we are to develop a better pest-control system. [....] In fact, the medical profession, which recognized this problem quite early in its evolution, does not allow the pharmaceutical industry to dominate diagnosis and prescription"(p.180). Thanks to the medical profession's constant vigilance, commercial concerns have been removed completely from the industry, with doctors focusing on the diagnosis and treatement of serious medical ailments like restless leg syndrome—and the ecosystem has never been safer.

The Pesticide Conspiracy: An alarming look at pest control and the people who keep us "hooked" on deadly chemicals by Robert Van Den Bosch (Doubleday & Company, 1978, ISBN: 0-385-13384-7)

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February 1, 2010

Not That Different

This is the Valentine-themed entry. The February 15 book will have advice on dealing with the morning after.

Six-Legged Sex: The Erotic Lives of Bugs

This book was written by: James K. Wangberg, who writes that "much of my early research focused on insect natural history, which entailed countless hours of observing insect behaviors, including their most intimate acts"(p.8). Although some readers may be put off by this insect voyeurism, "the study of insect genitalia is a significant and highly legitimate area of scientific research"(p.63).

What is in this book: Every fetish you can find on the internet, replicated in the insect kingdom. "Long before teenagers discovered favorite spots to park, overlooking romantic city lights, bot flies were congregating in similar locations for much the same purpose"(p.50), and other insects engage in necrophilia (the digger bee, p.126), S&M/Bondage (Chapter 18), orgies (Chapter 19), bukkake (the springtail, p.72), Prostitution (Chapter 20), cosplay (the velvet ant, p.59), vegetable fetishes (the tiphiid wasp, p.80), and even the Wolbachia bacterium can turn wood lice into the equivalent of Thai ladyboys. Insects also have their own equivalent of Axe body spray. "Some insect males may produce their own powerful scent, which they conveniently leave on the body of the female after mating with her. Tainted with the odor of a male, she is no longer recognizable as a sexy female, consequently other males seeking a sex partner bypass her on their mating quest"(p.13).

Illustration from p.74, two bedbugs.
What is not in this book: Concern about upsetting squeamish readers with graphic details. Dr. Wangberg's description of the male feather-winged beetle discusses how:
[Its] sperm are up to two-thirds the length of the beetle himself. The gigantic sperm are so large that they literally fill up the female's reproductive system, leaving no room for others. Mated females have been found with sperm tails protruding from their vaginas, the competing sperm unable to enter(p.70)
Although this might seem to make oral sex a daunting proposition, "with literally millions of insects still to be discovered, imagine the delicious opportunities awaiting biologists, entomologists, and insect voyeurs"(p.133).

Would you recommend this book to Robert Donner or Curt Johnson? No. I respect their work on Minesweeper, which is a solid game, but god help us if they had read about how a male springtail will tend to a sperm field, "eating older sperm droplets and replacing them with fresh ones, to ensure the highest quality sperm for the female that wanders upon his property"(p.72). The resulting game would not have been nearly as popular beyond certain specialized niches.

Illustration from p.112, transgender wood louse.
Would you recommend this book to a Pick-Up Artist? Yes. You know how people tend to read items in a way that will confirm their own biases? Well, after seeing that "virgin females are strongly attracted to sexy sounding males who own nice property,"(p.46) they are going to see what other strategies from this book can be applied to their own lives, and the results will be hilarious.

What was interesting about this book? "The anal hairs on a cockroach can detect the on-rushing tongue of a toad!"(p.19). Now you know.

Six-Legged Sex: The Erotic Lives of Bugs, by James K. Wangberg, with illustrations by Marjorie C. Leggitt (Fulcrum Publishing, 2001, ISBN:1-55591-292-3

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January 15, 2010

The Ungulate Menace

Outwitting Deer: 101 Truly Ingenious Methods and Proven Techniques to Prevent Deer from Devouring Your Garden and Destroying Your Yard

This book was written by: Bill Adler, Jr., a scarred veteran of countless battles of wits. He has shared his experiences through this and other books, including Outwitting Fish and How to Negotiate like a Child.

What is in this book: This book is a strategy guide for people willing to admit that Ungulates, including deer, moose, and elk, are their intellectual superiors and outmatched only by the diabolical cunning of the Ford F150 truck. Although "deer are very, very big squirrels"(p.4), their intelligence is not to be underestimated. Deer "may not be rocket scientists, [but] they are very, very good at doing what deer are supposed to do—find food. [....] To do it well, they need to overcome all obstacles that we humans put in their path—that is to say, outwit our cleverest schemes to outwit them"(p.165, emphasis from the author). Worse yet, deer are just as much of an eyesore as tramps and vagrants—and like the homeless, "they've even been caught eating fish in a lake, sleeping by the interstate, jumping off bridges, feasting on ornamental gardens, and sleeping under decks"(p.34).Definitive proof from the book that deer are just big squirrels. Click to read.
What is not in this book: Tips for beating deer at Mah Jong or Canasta. The book's advice ranges from appeasement, suggesting that you "use plants such as alfalfa on the outskirts of your yard to keep deer full and happy"(p.60), to scorched earth, telling you to "empty your vacuum-cleaner bag on your flower bed"(p.170) or "ask your city or town to build a highway through your backyard"(p.171), but they are all deer management techniques for gardeners. There is no advice for hunters, although readers interested in gratuitous animal cruelty will want to check out tip 66, "Attract deer to electric fencing by stringing it with peanut butter-smeared aluminum foil flags—one zap and they won't return"(p.170).

Would you recommend this book to Richard Connell? Yes. "Deer, after all, are enemies—enemies of those of us who garden for the joy of it, for relaxation, for food, for something fulfilling to do while our significant other watches sports on television"(p.51). Connell might want to rethink the plotting of "The Most Dangerous Game" since the unending struggle of man vs. deer makes Zaroff vs. Rainsford look like two kittens tussling over a bit of string.

Would you recommend this book to someone with a scat fetish? Maybe, maybe not. I think they're already following tip 10, "experiment with products like predator urine"(p.167), tip 64, "purchase predator urine and feces and place strategically throughout your garden"(p.169), tip 76, "get a hold of bear droppings and sprinkle throughout garden,"(p.170) and maybe even tip 78, "buy or beg coyote and/or wolf urine and leave sponges around your yard that are soaked in the stuff"(p.170). Like my crazy ex-gym teacher, I bet they're already following tip 81, "Urinate around the perimeter of your garden"(p.170).

Photo of witty deer by JACK MARSCHALL/CITY OF PARMAWhat was interesting about this book? This book is part of a series on outwitting various subjects. Bill Adler, Jr., and his wife have formed an agency to develop other titles in the series to help readers with topics including Outwitting Constipation and Outwitting Cats (although some may question the patriotism of their proposed book on Outwitting the Immigration Process). They are also looking for authors willing to write some of these books, and according to their website, Mr. Adler and his wife are very interested in help with Outwitting Sexual Problems.

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January 1, 2010

Working with or without Mayonnaise

Bringing out the best at work without bringing out the Hellmans.
Bringing out the Best in Yourself at Work: How to Use the ENNEAGRAM System for Success

This book was written by: Ginger Lapid-Bogda, PhD, a therapist who had been practicing for 20 years before discovering the power of the Enneagram in the 1990s. She has since become an advocate of the Enneagram system, taking her consulting career in a new direction. “While the Enneagram may be used solely as a psychological tool, many prefer to use the system with the psychological and spiritual elements intertwined”(p.xix).

From page xviii, note that 3, 6, and 9 are stuck in their own separate triangle. Losers.What is in this book: A discussion of ways to apply the Enneagram system in a business environment. “No one knows the precise origins of the Enneagram, though its roots appear to lie in Asia and the Middle East and date from several thousand years ago”(p.xvii). This ancient technique was not widely publicized until two mystics and a psychiatrist started teaching it in the early twentieth century, but we can rely on their archaeological and anthropological credentials to give the Enneagram the same unimpeachable authenticity as Calgon and pearl cream.
The Enneagram system arranges people around a nine-pointed figure, assigning a number and a corresponding “style” to each point. It then makes use of geometry and mathematical relationships to show clear, intuitive linkages, like the way 1 leads to 4 but 8 leads to 5 while 4 leads to 2 and 7 leads to 1. It’s perfect for people who want something a little more decorative than a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator but think that the Zodiac is too fancy.

Page 90. More pinches than kindergarten.What is not in this book: A cookie-cutter approach that treats all personalities the same. People experience different “pinches” and “crunches” depending on their Enneagram style, and deal with them in a number of ways. For example, one Two notes that “’at family functions, I offer each person a foot rub. If the person refuses, I get quite upset and wonder why they don’t like me!’”(p.14) “Eights may amuse themselves by making comments to themselves about the events or by engaging in conversation about what they are observing, sometimes using profanity or body-based humor”(p.48), while “people often do not realize that Twos want to be explicitly thanked”(p.99). Readers can make use of this information to put others at ease, trading dick jokes with Eights and thanking Twos with the help of explicit lyricists like 2 Live Crew.

Would you recommend this book to The Prisoner? Yes. If Number 6 is concerned about being a free man, “the Enneagram provides a great step forward in helping people to develop their humanity at work”(p.xx). What better way to do that than to assign yourself a number?

Would you recommend this book to Tim Allen? Yes. If there’s one thing I learned from Home Improvement, it’s that he loves tools, and “The Enneagram is the single most useful, profound, insightful, and practical tool available to help us grasp the depth and complexity of the human personality”(p.xvii, emphasized by the author). Better yet, because “the Enneagram is the single most powerful tool available to help you develop your emotional intelligence”(p.xvi, emphasized by the author), it’s also a power tool.

Page 150 is the reason why I avoid sports.What was interesting about this book? The book’s section on teams will help a wide variety of people, no matter how they prefer to work together. “Some prefer low interdependence, akin to that of a golf team; some prefer medium interdependence, as on a baseball team; and others prefer high interdependence, as on a basketball team”(p.149), although people who prefer to avoid sports metaphors are shit out of luck. Understanding and applying the Enneagram is important because “gaining a true understanding of your personality frees you from being constricted by certain aspects of it, allowing you to use all facets of yourself to become more of who you really are”(p.260). However, this may not be a good idea if you really are a jerk.

Bringing out the Best in Yourself at Work: How to Use the ENNEAGRAM System for Success, by Ginger Lapid-Bogda, PhD (McGraw Hill, 2004, ISBN 0-07-143960-9)

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