i bought into the mythology or what Dr. King said

SSlavery_by_Another_Name_(book_cover)lavery by Another Name, The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon; 2008; $29.99; 466 pages; Doubleday, New York, NY; 978-0-385-50625-0; checked out from Multnomah County Library, North Portland;8/11/15-8/18/15

With the passage and ratification of the 13th Amendment, slavery as it existed was outlawed but it left a large loophole for anyone who wanted to exploit it.  From 1865 to the mid 1940’s many corrupt sheriffs, justice of the peace, judges and company owners found a way to continue slavery.  This book covers the Deep South, specifically Alabama, but I doubt it was limited to that region.  An African-American was arrested on some trumped up misdemeanor charge and fined an amount that they couldn’t pay.  There were also service charges often added to the amount, such as boarding, transportation and food, which someone would pay and the African American would be obligated to work for that person until the debt was paid.  However additional charges would be added again for housing, transportation, clothing, food and medical care.  The debt kept increasing and there was very little hope of ever working off the debt.  The companies and bosses had less incentive to care for the workers, because they didn’t the investment in them that they did into slaves.  This system of slavery continued until 1945 and in “1951 Congress passed even more explicit statutes making any form of slavery in the United States indisputably a crime.”*.


Did I learn anything from it?  The basic lesson is that humans can be extremely inhumane to their fellow.  Also if there is a loophole someone will find it and a way to profit from it. Also that our schools do a terrible job of teaching us the real history of what has gone on in our country.

What is with the title of the review?   I bought into the mythology that slavery ended in 1865 with the end of the Civil War and that it just didn’t continue in any form in the United States, which this book proves extremely wrong.  Dr. Martin Luther King is quoted in the book that after reading a book by Charles Silberman titled Crisis in Black and White, he wrote “The South deluded itself with the illusion the Negro was happy in his place, The North deluded itself with the illusion that it had freed the Negro.  The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slave, a legal entity, but it failed to free the Negro, a person.”

* quoting the author


YES & Hell No

yesYes, My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of Wrestlemania by Daniel Bryan with Craig Tello; 2015; $25.99; 307 pages; St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY; 978-1-250-06788-3; checked out from Multnomah County Library; Gresham; 8/7/15-8/11/15

How Bryan Danielson (Daniels’ real name)* went from Aberdeen, Washington to main eventing at the grandest stage of all in sports entertainment, Wrestlemania.  A single minded focus on being a professional wrestler and learning as many different styles as possible was partly responsible.  His charisma and connection with the masses pushed his bosses to elevate him, since he doesn’t fit the prototype for a sports entertainment champion.

Grade B

Did I enjoy it?  Yes mostly.  I was interested in how he felt at various places in his career and what he had to do to get where he is.  I would have liked to know more about how the matches came together, hopefully someday Vince McMahon, Triple H or Stephanie will write a book about that.  And he left Connor out completely.

What is with the title of the review?  Yes is a catchphrase that came out with Daniel Bryan, and went viral.  Hell No is the name of his tag team with Glenn Jacobs.


I don’t care how you vote, get off your ass and vote*

Off Center, The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson; 2005;$25.00; 261 pages; Yale University Press, New Haven, CT; 0-300-10870-2; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Midland; 7/31/15-8/7/15

The authors show that the polarization of the two major parties in the United States is not the result of equal movement away from the center but by the Republicans sprinting as far to the right as they can.  The authors walk us through that sprint at a pace that allows us to see how often and how far the right will go to pander to the wealthy.  They point out how they use the rules to sell us on things that good for us in the moment but will bite us in the rear a few years down the road.  Wait until you hear some of the ways they have taken the rules and warped them to fit their own special wants.

Grade A

Did I learn something?  Yes that the poor & middle classes have to rise up and stand up for themselves.  There are many more of us than there are the wealthy.  One place we can make our voices heard is in elections, urge people who think you to run for office.  Campaign for people who stand what you stand for, not just on one issue, but across a broad spectrum of issues.  Inform yourself, seek out information, the mainstream media is controlled by corporations and will not give you the truth, it will be tilted one way or another.

What is with the title of the review?  For too many years we have let money talk.  We need to make our voices heard and we can do that by voting for the candidate of your choice.  *Some states like Oregon (where I live) make it so you don’t even have to get dressed or go anywhere to vote.  Fill out your ballot and drop in the mail and you’re good to go.

hours not wasted

Armada by Ernest Cline; 2015; $26.00; 355 pages; Crown Publishers, New York, NY; 978-0-8041-3725-6; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Fairview; 7/28/15-7/31/15

Hey you gamers, have no regrets about playing video games, you are being trained to defend the earth against an upcoming alien invasion which all of our governments have known about for decades.  We have already made contact and boy are they pissed.

A gamer in Beaverton, Oregon (which is portrayed as a boring backwater) sees what he believes is a UFO that looks exactly like the ones he has been fighting in his video game.  He goes and finds his late fathers diaries and notes an amazing conspiracy theory that seems to be coming true.  He is yanked out of school to defend the earth, he finds love, a cool base on the dark side of the moon (cue pink floyd) and another surprise that about blasts him out of his shoes.  Hey working with others finds out that there is more to the invasion than the hawks in command realize.  The story is filled with geeky nerd trivia from gaming to music and movies.  The Last Starfighter is to this what Top Gun was to Naval Aviation.

Grade A

Did I enjoy?  Boy Howdy did I.  This is filled with so much geeky goodness that I yearn for the Spielberg adaptation of Clines’ first book, Ready Player One which is not due out until December of 2017.  If you love trivia, movies and 80’s music you should ready both of these.

What is with the title of the review?  Two meanings, one, the time reading this was not wasted as it was very enjoyable and two, maybe those hours spent playing video games will be put to good use in the future.



Engage Transporter

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough; 2015; $17.99; 329 pages; Arthur A. Levine Books, New York, NY;978-0-545-66834-7; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gresham; 7/21/15-7/28/15

Not since The Book Thief  has an emotion or concept been so effectively channeled as a character.  Through the ages Love and Death have played a game to see which is stronger.  This game starts in Seattle in 1920 with two players from disparate backgrounds who will have to face immeasurable odds just on their own, but death keeps complicating things, as if  an African American and a Caucasian didn’t face enough odds in the USA in the 30’s and 40’s.  Baseball, jazz, aviation all provide the background for a moving love story of two people fighting almost impossible odds.


Did I enjoy it?  Yes, there were parts of this that I left this world and inhabited the world of the book.  Everything that was around me dissolved when Martha talked about baseball in an early chapter and later when Henry interacted with Jazz music and when Flora flew.  Martha I was moved deeply.  Thank you.

What is with the title of the review?  The were parts of the story that transported me to another place and time and I felt that I was not on the bus reading but inhabiting the story.


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