Friday, March 21, 2008

A Book in Review – The Dangerous Book for Boys

Book Count: 23

The Dangerous Book for Boys By: Hal & Conn Iggulden
Non-fiction: sports, adventure, history, science, etc. 267 pages, 4th grade reading level, 2007

This is the type of book you would get for a 9-12 year old boy who you don’t really know much about. It has a lot of information on a lot of different topics but nothing really in-depth on anything. It says it’s “dangerous” but the most dangerous thing about it is its lack of information. For example, on the first aid part its information on CPR would only be slightly useful for someone that already knows CPR, and it goes on about how the King James Version of the bible is the greatest ever because it is sooo poetic and for an example gives the wording of the Ten Commandments in it. First, that isn’t even a very poetic part of the Bible. Second, people read the Bible mostly for spiritual reasons and there forth should care about things like accuracy and understandability two things that the King James Bible scores low on. After reading this book, I don’t understand why it was such a popular book. It is unlike most books for boys that had been written for some time. But it also was billed as a book to get kids outside doing things and teaching them classical knowledge, but includes a section on why you should play Dungeons and Dragons or a similar game.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gas Tax

We just found out that a Mich. Congressperson is trying to pass a bill that would cause a $.50 tax added to already high gas prices. The congressperson is Rep. John Dingell from Michigan’s 15th district, which is located mostly in the south east corner of Michigan. As we are in the state as are a number of our readers it is possible that he is your representative and if so we just thought you might like to tell him what you think of the idea. So far, as far as we can tell, it is not officially a bill yet and so there is no bill number that you could write other congresspersons about saying your thoughts on the bill, but one can always write your person about the subject in general.

To read about the proposed tax click here.
To contact your congressperson click here.

You will need your zip code and the 4-digit zip code extension as well as to answer a simple question used to stop spam mail. (You can find the extension by looking on your incoming bills that often include it.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Book in Review – Her Majesty’s Spymaster

Book Count: 22

Her Majesty’s Spymaster, By: Stephen Budiansky
Non-Fiction: history 222 pages 2005

This book on espionage during the life of Queen Elizabeth I reads more like a story then a non-fiction book. But it still provides interesting information on early spying methods and life during this time, both for commoners and the court. Over all a fun read.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Slow Going

If you have been paying attention to the book count reasontly you may have noticed that it is not getting much higher. This month is just not making it easy to read. But, that has not stopped us completely! And now you have the fun of seeing if we can ketch up in the following months. Also, if you have any ideas on book we may like to read, let us know. Part of the problem has been just finding books that look interesting knowing that we are aiming at reading them in 3-5 days.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Quotes on/by the Irish:

-Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy. – William Butler Yeats

-The English are not happy unless they are miserable, the Irish are not at peace unless they are at war, and the Scots are not at home unless they are abroad – George Orwell

-If this humor be the safety of our race, then it is due largely to the infusion into the American people of the Irish brain. – William Howard Taft

-The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scotts as a joke, but the Scotts haven't seen the joke yet. – Oliver Herford

-Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat. – Alex Levin

-Drink is the curse of the land. It makes you fight with your neighbor. It makes you shoot at your landlord and it makes you miss him. – Irish Proverb

-Here's to our wives and girlfriends: May they never meet! – Irish Drinking Toast

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happy St. Patrick’s Day (Observed)

Yes, St. Patrick’s Day is not really until Monday (March 17th), but due to the incredibly early Easter this year it lands during Holy Week (that week between Palm Sunday and Easter). And so its celebration is moved to not interfere with Holy Week activities. (There is a course a hierarchy for this, and Holy Week beats St. Patrick’s Day just like St. Patrick’s Day beats Lent; which is why when it lands on a Friday it overrides not eating meat. And besides, in America it’s always nice when it’s during the weekend as you can party more.) So we are writing on it both days. Enjoy!

Some Facts on St. Patrick

- St. Patrick wasn’t Irish and 1st came to Ireland as a slave.
- St. Patrick was from a Roman family living in Britain, possibly in an area now part of Scotland.
- He wasn’t the 1st person who was sent out as a missionary to Ireland, but the 1st guy quit.
- The 1st church in Ireland started out as a barn and was a gift to St. Patrick from a chieftain.
- St. Patrick spent much time in prayer and is said to have had visions of angels including one and which it is said that he was told that he would be allowed to judge the Irish race on Judgment Day and the seven years before that the sea would wipe out Ireland saving its people from the Antichrist.
- St. Patrick is thought to have died on March 17th 493.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day

As you may know today is Pi Day, a day dedicated to math and pastries. If not, HERE is a short but informative piece we wrote on it last year. Enjoy your pie!

And remember tomorrow is the Ides of March :( , but also St. Patrick’s Day observed :) ! So, if wear a little green you shouldn’t have to worry about the senate murdering you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It’s Later

We promised you earlier that we would tell you later why this year Easter is on the second earliest day it can be. First, as you may know Easter is a holiday that is connected with the holiday Passover, which is set using the Jewish calendar. This is a calendar that is a lunisolar calendar i.e. one that uses the moon and the sun unlike the Gregorian calendar that we use for day to day things that is only based on the sun. Because of this the date of Passover “moves” on our calendar. Now because of that the date of Easter moves; however, as Easter was decided to always be celebrated on a Sunday, and by the time the method for deciding the date was set up Christians were no longer a group within Judaism it wasn’t just set up to be during Passover. (Which, would make everything easier, but it’s not likely to be changed now.) So a different way of setting the day for Easter was used. Which evolved until the Middle Ages into what we use now. That is Easter is on Sunday. And after the first full moon that takes place on or after the ecclesiastical vernal equinox. (With the ecclesiastical vernal equinox being set as the 21st of March, unlike the real one that moves back and forth between the 20th and 21st.) So the earliest Easter can be is March 22nd. Also, due to the Eastern Church using the Julian calendar their dates are sometimes different. For example this year their Easter is April 27th. So, that is why Easter is so early this year.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Note to Self: The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody

Book Count: 21

The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody: Great Figures of History Hilariously Humbled By: Will Cuppy
Non-fiction, history 230 pages 1950

This book is not hilarious, it is more on the life of people of various degrees of fame then their down falls. It is not a book I would recommend as it’s just not all that great.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Book in Review – The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Wine, Whiskey & Song

Book Count: 20

The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Wine, Whiskey & Song: A Spirited Look at Catholic Life & Lore from Apocalypse to Zinfandel By: Zmirak & Matychowiak
Non-Fiction: Theology, Food & Drink, Music, History etc. 401 pages 2007

First, who wouldn’t be intrigued by a book with cover art of the Pope with a pilsner? (Ok, he was only a cardinal when the picture was taken and it’s a lager [besides pilsner] in a pilsner style glass, but that just messes with the sound of saying it.) Add to that that it is indorsed by Catholic theologians, famous chiefs and a rabbi and not only do you have a great set up for a “walked into a bar” joke but a book were had to read. And once we saw the dedication on the book, we knew that we would enjoy it. (So few books thank Weird Al for his inspiration and enlightenment of the authors.)
As you can now tell, we loved the book. It was full of fun information on drinks, foods, drinking songs, religious history, pop culture and dozens of other things. It was such a complex book, it actually took us the whole time we were on vacation, sitting most every day in a ski lodge doing nothing but reading to get threw it. We had to keep stopping to reread some funny or deep bit. (Some that were both; we can now never think about Deism without thinking about Homer Simpson “working” at the nuclear power plant.) Each main entry was about both a drinking related subject and a religious one. Often these were put together in a most interesting and thought provoking way. Some were just funny. For example, “Grapes, God, and the Vines of Sodom” is about how wine is shown in the Bible, in both the positive and negative, which ends with the authors’ believe that the evil wine made from the vines of Sodom (Deuteronomy 32:32) was white Zinfandel. They also have sections spaced threw out the book entitled, “ Loopholes in the Ten Commandments” where they break down what the commandments are really saying to do or not do, and “loopholes” in them. For example in the one on the 8th commandment (Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor, and we know you may have it listed as a different number as Jews and Protestants number them differently, but still you get the idea.) Anyway it is the one on lying, they point out that according to St. Thomas Aquinas if your wife asks you if she looks fat in something, you can tell her no even if she looks like a bus in it as you are obviously joking. However, according to St. Augustine if you were hiding an innocent man in your house and a band of murders knocked on the door asking where he was, you couldn’t lie to them, but you could kill them. (Note: saying St. Augustine told me to do it will not work in court, unless you are going for an insanity plead. Also, although officially the wording is still being worked on, modern theologians tend to agree that saving a life trumps the sinfulness of lying. ) There was only one thing that we disliked about this book. Althought, it is clear that the authors are Orthodox Catholics, (I.e. they actually believe all the teachings of the religion and not only the ones they like or inversely think that Vatican II was from the devil and the “real” Pope is some guy living in his parents’ basement learning Latin.) They go on about how crappy church services have been since Vatican II, and as some one that is under 50, I don’t really care having never known different or had to live threw the time when people were trying all sorts of crazy stuff because that’s what they thought the council meant. But even then there was some interesting information. For example, when talking about how much church music today stinks they point out the humor of the song “Hosea”, which is loosely based on the story of the Old Testament prophet who was told be God to marry a Prostitute. And includes the phrase “Long have I waited for your coming. . .” Which no song about a prostitute sung in church should include. And now:
I must not laugh when ever I hear that song.
I must not laugh when ever I hear that song.
I must not laugh when ever I hear that song.
I must not laugh when ever I hear that song.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Book in Review – The Book of the Dead

Book Count: 19

The Book of the Dead By: Preston and Child
Fiction: mystery, adventure, fantasy 452 pages 2006

First, after reading the whole book at the end there is a section on the authors’ books and what order to read them in. It is only there that it points out that this book is the third in a trilogy and one should at least read the book before in order to understand this book. I didn’t have a problem during reading it having not read the book before, as like many books it was clear that these characters appeared in other books and had back stories that one would have read about in earlier books, but didn’t need to in order to understand the current story. That being said the book also has about a dozen major characters and already knowing them would make it a bit easier to read.
The stories themselves were quite interesting and centered around a family where one brother was an evil genius and the other was a F.B.I. agent. The main story is also about an ancient Egyptian tomb display in a museum, which is cursed. And includes strange otherworldly happenings and murder.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Holidays in March

1 St. David’s Day
3 Hina Matsuri
Read Across America Day
6 Maha Shivaratri
7 Employee Appreciation Day
World Day of Prayer
8 International Women’s Day
9 Daylight Savings Time
10 Harriet Tubman Day
12 Alfred Hitchcock Day
13 Uranus Day
14 Pi Day
Genius Day
15 Ides of March
St. Patrick’s Day (observed)
16 Palm Sunday
St. Urho’s Day
17 St. Patrick’s Day
19 St. Joseph’s Day
20 Purim starts
Holy Thursday
Spring Equinox
Mawlid al-Nabi
21 Good Friday
Baha’I New Year
Single Parents Day
22 Holi
23 Easter Sunday
24 Houdini Day
31 Bunsen Burner Day