Archive for the ‘Informational’ Category

Review: The Violinists Thumb – Sam Kean

Thursday, August 9th, 2012
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 17, 2012)
English
ISBN-10: 0316182311
ISBN-13: 978-0316182317
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Review

DNA and how we’ve come to be. Sounds like one of the driest topics you could possible imagine. But in The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean he takes the reader on an entertaing and informative ride through the history and discovery of DNA.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I discovered a lot about myself, genetics, evolution, and just the overall mystery of being part of the universe around us.

If you are interested in science, biology, genetics, or just love learning new things, then you should definitely pick this up. I think like I did, you’ll find many of the stories within it to be fascinating and informative.

About the Author

Sam Kean spent years collecting mercury from broken thermometers as a kid, and now he’s a writer in in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Mental Floss, Slate, and Science, and has been featured on NPR’s “Radiolab” and “All Things Considered.” The Disappearing Spoon, his first book, was a New York Times national bestseller. Read excerpts at http://www.samkean.com.

(un)Official bio: Sam Kean gets called Sean once a month. He grew up in South Dakota, which means more to him than it probably should. He’s a fast reader but a very slow eater. He went to college in Minnesota and studied physics and English. He taught for a few years at an experimental charter school in St. Paul, where the kids showed up at night. After that, he tried to move to Spain (it didn’t take) and ended up in Washington, D.C. He has a master’s degree in library science he will probably never use. He wishes he had a sports team he was passionate about, but doesn’t, though he does love track & field.

See our Giveway here for your chance to win one of 2 copies. This giveaway is courtesy of Hachette Book Group.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to at Anna at Hachette Book Group for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: No Snowflake in an Avalanche – Mikey Weinstein

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Roundtree Press (January 16, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983925534
ISBN-13: 978-0983925538
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Review

Mikey Weinstein is in a battle. His battle is to protect one of the constitutional freedoms that we as Americans hold dear. That freedom is the freedom to worship as we choose, or to not worship. In our constitution, we are told that congress shall make no laws respecting religion. In fact, Thomas Jefferson himself said that the constitution created a wall of separation between church and state. Now there are forces out there threatening to breach that wall. Mikey Weinstein through his efforts with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is standing guard over that wall.

In his book, No Snowflake in an Avalanche, Mr. Weinstein gives the reader a narrative on the struggles he and his family have gone through in their efforts. We start off seeing he and his daughter at home on fathers day, when they are interrupted. The interruption is that of someone painting a swastika and cross in their front yard. But that’s just the beginning.

Throughout the book there are various stories of our soldiers being forced into a specific ideology of “Christianity.” They are also attacked verbally and punished at times if they have a different religion particularly Judaism and Islam. The book includes sample letters from some of the soldiers seeking help or that they have helped. The letters are quite shocking in the tales they have to tell. In addition, there is some of the hate mail that his organization has received, and it is hateful. The tone of those letters varies between anti-islamic, anti-semitic to outright wishing death on him, his family and anyone connected to him.

I found the book very interesting, and very hard to put down. I also found the information it provided to be truly frightening. I’m certain there are those who will dismiss this book as just liberal propaganda or an attack on Christianity, but if you read it with an open mind, you’ll find the events to be truly terrifying. The threat is nothing short of an Americanized version of Al-Qaeda and to prepare against that, you need knowledge and proof. This book provides that proof and you’ll know what to look for.

Now I’m not here to speak on the truthfulness or accuracy of the information in this book the data he provides will do that. Only you can decide whether you believe it or not, and whether you want to further investigate the information provided, but I can recommend the book for its writing and for the information provided.

If you are concerned about the religious freedoms you have or don’t have being taken away. If you are concerned with living under a theocratic government, or just want to see some of the darker acts going on within our military and government, then pick up this book, read it, and get involved. Our freedoms need to be protected, or we lose them, and no one wants to live in the world shown possible in this book.

There is some strong language, and the subject matter is definitely not for young readers. I’d say it’s geared towards older teens and adults. Pick it up if you get the chance, give it a read, and drop back by here and let us know what you think about it.

About the Author

Mikey Weinstein is the undisputed leader of the national movement to restore the obliterated wall separating church and state in the most technologically lethal organization ever created by humankind: the United States armed forces. Described by Harper’s magazine as the constitutional conscience of the U.S. military, a man determined to force accountability, Mikey’s family has a long and distinguished U.S. military history spanning three consecutive generations of military academy graduates and over 130 years of combined active duty military service in every major combat engagement our country has been in from World War I to the current Global War on Terror.

Mikey is a 1977 Honor Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. Mikey has been married for over 35 years to his wife, Bonnie. He is the proud parent of two sons and one daughter. His oldest son and daughter-in-law are 2004 Graduates, and Mikey’s youngest son graduated in the Class of 2007 from the Air Force Academy and is the sixth member of Mikey’s family to attend the Academy. His father is a distinguished graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Mikey spent 10 years in the Air force as a “JAG” or military attorney serving as both a Federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.

A registered Republican, he also spent over three years in the West Wing of the Reagan Administration as legal counsel in the White House. In his final position there, Mikey was named the Committee Management Officer of the much-publicized Iran-Contra Investigation in his capacity as Assistant General Counsel of The White House Office of Administration, Executive Office of the President of the United States. Mikey has held numerous positions in corporate America as a senior executive businessman and attorney.

After stints at prominent law firms in both New York City and Washington D.C., Mikey served as the first General Counsel to Texas billionaire and two-time Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. He left Mr. Perot’s employ in 2006 to focus his fulltime attention on the nonprofit charitable foundation he founded to directly battle the far-right militant radical evangelical religious fundamentalists: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation. (http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org)

Mikey has appeared innumerable times on all of the major cable and terrestrial TV news networks and is a frequent guest on national radio networks as well. His constitutional activism has been covered and profiled extensively in the print media including the Associated Press, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, the Denver Post, The Guardian and many other national and international newspapers and periodicals including Time magazine.

St. Martins Press in New York released Mikey’s book, “With God On Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military” in October 2006. The paperback version was released in February 2008 with the Foreword being written by Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV. The book is an expose on the systemic problem of religious intolerance throughout the United States armed forces. Mikey recently made his international film debut in the Hollywood adaptation of James Carroll’s New York Times best selling book detailing the 2,000 year bloody history between the Church and the Jews, entitled “Constantine’s Sword”, and directed by Oscar nominee Oren Jacoby.

Mikey was named one of the 50 most influential Jews in America by the Forward, one of the nation’s preeminent Jewish publications. He also has received a nomination for the JFK’s Profile in Courage Award and received the Buzzflash Wings of Justice Award. In addition Mikey was honored by a distinguished civil rights organization Jews for Racial and Economic Justice with the Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk-Taker Award, for those who have taken extraordinary risks in the pursuit of justice.

Reviled by the militant radical evangelical fundamentalist Christian far-right, Mikey has been given many names by his enemies including Satan, Satan’s lawyer, the Antichrist, That Godless, Secular Leftist, The Antagonizer of All Christians, The Most Dangerous Man in America and, most recently and perhaps most colorfully, The Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan.

On October 11, 2011, for the third consecutive year, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was officially nominated again for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize (its fourth total nomination).

On November 7, 2011, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State presented Mikey Weinstein with AU’s first ever Person of the Year Award. In their press release, AU describes MRFF as “the leading voice protecting church-state separation in the military.”

AUTHOR SITES:

Military Religious Freedom Foundation”

Seattle Community Media Interview.

Be sure and enter our Giveaway for Mr. Weinstein’s book by going here and see our interview with Mr. Weinstein here.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Cornell for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Interview: Mikey Weinstein – No Snowflake in an Avalanche

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Today we’re pleased to welcome with us, Mr. Mikey Weinstein, author off the book No Snowflake in an Avalanche.

Mikey Weinstein: We’re very greatful that you’re taking the time to take a look and give us your thoughts and want to thank you for making the effort.

Rhodes Review: A lot of people would say you and the book are anti-Christian, and that it’s just a liberal attack on religion. How would you address that?

Mikey Weinstein: Well, I would say they’re full of shit. Let me explain why. That is a canard. That’s like saying that if you fight back against bullying in schools, you know that new movie Is out bullies, that you’re against bullying. In our situation we have just between 80 and 90 people that work in our foundation around the country. Most of our folks are full time volunteers. The vast majority of our staff are Roman Catholic and Protestant. We had 27,385 clients as of a few hours ago. It is just like a universal constant. It stays right around 96% of our clients are Christians. About 3/4s are Protestants of pretty much every denomination alone. We have 21 different varieties of Baptists alone. The other ¼ of the 96% are Roman Catholic. Only 4% of our clients are non Christians. Ironically some of our best donors are very conservative Republicans but don’t want people to know what their names are.

Our largest organization supporter is none other then the California Council of Churches IMPACT Organization. They interviewed and followed us for many years then made the decision to endorse us. Get this, there are 5,500 individual protestant churches in the state of California, 21 Different protestant denominations, and it’s 1.5 Million California Protestants. So if we are anti-Christian, that’s news to our staff, our donors, our endorsers, our clients. If you saw the video (link) I tried to explain we are absolutely at war with the American Christian Fascistic Taliban and that’s what the book is focused on and those are Fundamentalist or Dominionist Christians, they follow the great Commission

Mark 16:15 – And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Matthew 28:19 – Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

They feel they have the right to scream Jesus in a crowded theater. They feel there is no time, and there is no place, and there is no manner that can restrict them from proselytizing. That’s why one of our largest growth areas is Evangelical Christians. We now have them on our advisory board, as clients and donors. Of the 368 Clients we have from the Air Force Academy, the only one that is out is a Conservative

Evangelical Christian Republican. Even the Evangelicals follow the great commission, but they refuse to proselytize in a manner that is constitutionally noxious. So to say that is like saying we’re against all of Islam because we’re also against the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, etc. Of course we’re against Fundamentalist Islam. 10% of every Muslim American in the U.S. Military is our clients, and we never have any of them saying you’re anti-Muslim because we’re fighting the Fundamentalists in Islam. We don’t hate anybody’s God, we don’t favor or oppose anyone’s faith, we support our Constitution. It allows everyone to celebrate what faith they have or no faith. The rules are since we have a social contract in this country, you need to follow the rules of the law. And we have a Constitution that represents that social contract that there is a place, time and manner you can proselytize to your hearts content, but we also have the rules when you can’t do that, and if you want to violate it, then we’ll see you in that court.

Rhodes Review: I liked where you mentioned you even had a few Jedi clients.
Mikey Weinstein: I’d never heard of the Jedi Faith before, I think it’s a lot like Bahai. It’s not our position to sit there and say “What a ridiculous faith”, that is more than a slippery slope, one of our most well known clients, a highly decorated combat Medic, told us when he was told he had to stand in formation and bow his head to a Jesus prayer, mandatory, military, U.S. Army Formation, he told his first sergeant he didn’t want to do it. The sergeant told him he could follow his own religion when he wanted to, but when the Army tells you you’re going to do this. He told the first sergeant “My religion requires me to absent myself from people attempting telepathic contact with imaginary beings.”

Rhodes Review: You and your family face a lot of hatred and hostility as well as anti-semitism. How do you cope with that on a day to day basis?

Mikey Weinstein: That’s a tough question. I’ve told people that we’re not activists. We’re actually civil rights fighters. It’s like I’m talking to you with a gun stuck in my face. This is not like riding a unicorn through a cotton candy forest handing out lollipops to little forest animals who are singing in English in unison. This is a bloodsport. This is very, very hard. It’s dangerous, lonely, and expensive. The book was to try to make people understand. It’s like what Gandhi said was right: There are four phases of fighting, the first stage they ignore you. In stage two, they ridicule you. In stage 3, they fight you. In stage 4, you win. We’re well beyond ignore, we’re well beyond ignoring and ridiculing, we’re into fighting and winning. This comes at a cost. You know the quote from Voltaire where the title of the book comes from “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible”. Here’s another that explains this “It is very dangerous to be right in manners, upon which the established authorities are wrong.” . He also said “Courage cannot see around a corner but goes around it anyway. “ It’s something we realize we have to do. We’re not going to stop. We’re not going to be cowed. We do our best to protect ourselves with our weapons, our security, our firearms, whatever we’ve got. We’re trained to drive home in different ways, sit in restaurants in certain ways. I’m not asking everybody to be fighting this everyday, I’m just asking for one day of the lion. Give me just one day. Help us fight. It’s not like I don’t care about the starvation and violence in Darfur, or the HIV Crisis in Subsahara Africa, or global warming, or how to save the whales. I do. But the people we’re fighting want to use nuclear weapons to bring Jesus back. Dealing with this type of oppression and marginalizaton, we’ve had our windows shot out of our house, animals slaughtered, swastikas and crucifixes painted on our house, and we get it, you don’t like us being here. We also understand it’s important. The bill of rights which includes the first amendment where the Separation of Church and State exists, even though the Christian right says we don’t see those words there, they were put in to protect the minority. Frederick Douglas said “Power concedes nothing with a demand” so me, my family, and my foundation are the demanders of the commanders. The others out there are afraid to speak, to deal with the tyranny of the majority. The book is intended to be a primal scream to get people to understand, to make a call to action.

Rhodes Review: Tell us about the Chaplaincy of full Gospel and the Imprecatory Prayer. I remember similar prayers for the President?

Mikey Weinstein: About 12 days ago, the judge granted a summary judgement motion. He couldn’t see causation. We thought the judge was going to let it go to a jury, and let the jury decide. Yet the judge did not grant summary judgement.. The judge said how can you see a correlation between someone praying for someone to die and anything that happens to you.

[For the Readers: An Imprecatory prayer is a prayer wishing harm on others. In Obama’s case, it was for his days in office to be few and his children to be left orphans. In Mr. Weinstein’s case, it tends to be prayers for violence and death upon his family.]

Mikey Weinstein: Where are you going to post this review?

Rhodes Review: My own website, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Mikey Weinstein: How many of these have you done in the past, you ask good questions.

Rhodes Review: Probably about 30 or 40.

Mikey Weinstein: Wow, I don’t’ want to take up your whole night, please continue with your excellent questions.

Rhodes Review: Is this just a problem in the airforce, or is it all branches?

Mikey Weinstein: Do you have a pen. Hold your pen up six inches over your desk. What made the pen drop?

Rhodes Review: Gravity.

Mikey Weinstein: Correct. That is exactly how systemic and ubiquitous and out of control Fundamentalist Dominionist Christianity is, in the technologically most lethal organization ever created by human kind which is our U.S. Military. We have roughly 1,000 military installations scattered around the world, in 150 countrys, as we garrison the globe. This is a national security threat to our Country. It’s inextricably entwined into the very DNA of the Pentagon or as we call it the Pentecostalgon. One of President Eisenhower’s most famous speeches was where he warned about the rise of the Military Industrial Complex. We’re facing this enormous Fundamentalist Christian Parachurch Military Corporate Congressional Complex. It is the very particulate of the department of Defense.

Rhodes Review: Can you tell us about the 68 Nuclear Missile Launch officers? The Jesus Rifles?

Mikey Weinstein:  The 68 Nuclear Missile Launch Officers were part of the Jesus Loves Nukes situation, I believe that’s chapter 14 of my book. The Jesus Nukes occurred late July/August last year, the Jesus Rifles were around January 2010.

We’ve had a lot of our stories go viral. The Nazi SS flag being used by the Marine Scout Snipers had over 16 Million News Hits alone. Nature Abhors a vacuum. If you’re being persecuted in the military because of your religious faith, you can’t go to the EO people, you can’t go to the inspect general, you can’t go to the Chaplain, You can’t go to the Lawyers, you can’t go to your chain of command, they’re the biggest perpetrators.

We think somewhere between 28 and 32 percent of the senior enlisted and officers are Fundamentalist Christians. People say what’s the big deal, but here’s the problem. The problem is they’ll come out and outrank 80% of the military. These other organizations such as the ACLU doesn’t speak military, we do. In every conceivable way, this is a template ofFundamentalist Christian Facism. We’re our own worst enemies in regards to Afghanistan, etc.

Rhodes Review: Are there any political leaders that we can depend on who are unaffected by this? It seems we’re in trouble either way sometimes.

Mikey Weinstein: No. In an election year they won’t touch us. I spent a lot of money with a very well appointed lobbying interest in Washington D.C. until they came and told us to stop paying them. I’m a registered Republican myself. Under Republicans it’s man exploits man. Under Democrats it’s just the opposite. It’s not a left or right issue, it’s a right or wrong issue. Martin Luther King Jr. said “In the end we remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” And there comes a time where silence becomes betrayal.

We live in an America where most people don’t speak truth to power. They don’t have the guts to do it, especially If it’s a spouse, teacher, particularly a boss, they’re too terrified. Most Americans are too docile to tell others to “shut the fuck up” if they’re talking in a movie theater, so how do you expect them to stand up and fight if they’re being told there is one approved solution for religion. It’s not a small matter. It’s well beyond racial, gender, sexual orientation. None of those have an ideological book telling you what to do. Of course the people we’re fighting, the Fundamentalists, have that stench, they are anti-semitic, islamophobic, misogynyistic, and homophobic.  They also have a virulent hatred of the constitution.

Rhodes Review: There are those who might think this was just another conspiracy theory such as birtherism. What would you say to such critics?

Mikey Weinstein:  Well I would tell people there were 300 spartans at the battle of Themopoly. In honor of those 300 brave men, give me two seconds of your time, give me six hundred seconds, that’s 10 minutes and go to Military Religious Freedom.org and look at the video, listen to the audio, read the text particularly the part that says you ought to read the book. Read the Book. There’s a reason Harper’s Magazine referred to me as the Constitutional Conscience of the Military, and I’m proud of that.

This isn’t about self-grandizement. I’m 57 years old, I don’t care if anyone likes me. Trust the message whether you like the message or not. I wrote the book because I knew I wouldn’t be happy until people were unhappy. Until people face some level of discomfiture, they won’t do anything.

Have you ever gone on a picnic? You and your wife go on a picnic and are surrounded by flies, no big deal, but if there’s suddenly hornets and wasps, that’s going to scare the shit out of you, you’re going to do something about that. So we had to make ourselves into hornets and wasps, because people won’t pay attention to anything else. Remember power pays attention only to demands.

The Department of Defense’s only weaknesss is bad press or being hauled to the federal or state court. There’s two things I want to say here. When you tell somebody they lack integrity, character, courage, intelligence, trustworthiness, honorability, and honor, because of their chosen religious faith, or lack thereof, there’s no difference between that and telling them they’re stupid because of the color of their skin or because they were born with a vagina.

What we’re dealing with here is a Fanatical religiosity. Not the enemy we’re fighting, not jihadist Islam, but Fundamentalist or Dominionist Christianity. You have one of it’s biggest leaders, Rob Parsley of World’s Harvest Church. He’s very fond on Sunday, and I’ve seen him on the videos, he’ll sit there and promise them a 200 mile long river, 4 ½ feet deep filled with nothing but human blood. Then he’ll say “Therefore my brothers and sisters, rejoice, rejoice because the worst is yet to come.”

So we’re dealing with a fundamentalist, fanatical religiosity tied in with a putrescent disgusting version of patriotism, and an unfettered access due to this draconian specter of vertically entrusted military command influence. What you have is a metastasizing cancer, a fundamentalist Christian, unconstitutional cancer that is of such magnitude that it’s almost impossible to believe unless you are complicit.

If you have a little tickle in your throat, your wife gives you hot tea. If that doesn’t work you see the doctor. The doctor gives you antibiotics. That doesn’t work they give you a shot. But ultimately at some point you need those adenoids and tonsils to come out. And we’re way beyond the stage of hot tea. It’s in our public schools, it’s in our sanitation departments, it’s in our cops. But they don’t have laser guided and nuclear weapons. If I can increase the level of trust and communication 1000 fold between the dark forces of Christianity then and only then can I fairly describe the relationship between them and us as two ships passing in the night.

Someone asked my wife how much do you owe? What did you have to give up, probably a lot huh? She was crying when she made the statement, “No, we didn’t have to give up a lot, we had to give up everything.” There is no retirement fund. There is no retirement home. There is no sense of security. But we’ve made the decision that someone has to do something. If you rescue a child who crawled into the street are you called a hero. No you are doing the right thing. I know the people we fight consider me at best to be an asshole, but to the people who we represent most of whom are protestants and catholics, and all of whom wear the uniform of this country, or have worn it, we are badasses, and we work hard to be hornets and wasps and bees.

Sorry if that’s too long winded.

That’s why this review is so important. We’re hope merchants. We’re supposed to give our clients AARP. Anonymity, Action, Results, and Protection. We have to give people hope. At any one time, we have a dozen clients on the cusp of suicide. It’s a horrible feeling of marginalization and people can only take it so long. I’ve had clients who were Muslim whose commanders told them the only good Muslims were dead Muslims, and they fantasized about killing themselves with a note saying “Am I a good Muslim now.”

There’s a saying “One often finds their destiny on the road one takes to avoid it.” I didn’t ask for this to happen. I was at point A in my life in 2004 when I was faced with anti-semitism and I didn’t care if I lived or died, someone was going to get a beating, and I was going to do it. Now I’m at point B, whenever I see unconstitutional religious tyranny of any type from any client, I don’t care if I live or die, someone is going to get a fucking beating, and I’m going to be the one to do it.

For those on the religious right, those fundamentalist Christians who say separation of church and state isn’t in the constitution. I’ll ask them if they were arrested and taken to jail, would they have the right to a fair trial? They’ll always say yes, but it’s not. You have the constitutional right to a speedy trial and a public trial, but not a fair trial. That right is given by something called legal precedent case law just like Miranda rights.

Remember we’re dealing with an American populace more focused on Dancing with the Stars, and the book is intended to be a wakeup call.

Rhodes Review: What advice would you give to those wanting to get involved?
Well, I would say read the book, buy the book, get the book to as many people as you can. Donate to us. We’re the tip of the spear. It is a way to reach out to politicians, they will not touch us. And finally give me that one day as a lion.

We’d like to thank Mr. Weinstein for joining us here at Rhodes Review and for taking the time to talk to you about this issue, and about his book.  As part of this, We’ve been given permission to offer two signed and personalized copies of his book, “No Snowflake in an Avalanche” to our readers.  To Enter the contest go here.  And be sure and read our review of No Snowflake in an Avalanche here.

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Article: Larry D. Rosen – Author: iDisorder

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

It’s Not Only Beeps and Vibrations: Learn How to Focus From
Within

By Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D,
Author of iDisorder: Understanding
Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us

Recently my research team observed nearly 300 middle school, high school and university students studying something important for a mere 15 minutes in their natural environments. We were interested in whether they could maintain focus and, if not, what might be distracting them. Every minute we noted exactly what they were doing, whether they were studying, if they were texting or listening to music or watching television in the background, and if they had a computer screen in front of them and what websites were being visited.

The results were startling. First, these students were only able to focus and stay on task for an average of three minutes at a time and nearly all of their distractions came from technology. [By the way, other researchers have found similar attention spans with computer programmers and medical students.] The major culprit: their smartphone and their laptop were providing constant interruptions. We also looked at whether these distractors might predict who was a better student. Not surprisingly those who stayed on task longer and had study strategies were better students. The worst students were those who consumed more media each day and had a preference for working on several tasks at the same time and switching back and forth between them. One additional result stunned us: If they checked Facebook just once during the 15-minute study period they were worse students. It didn’t matter how many times they looked at Facebook; once was enough.

So, what was going on with these students? We have asked thousands of students this exact question and what we hear is that when alerted by a beep, a vibration or a flashing image they feel compelled or drawn to attend to that distraction. However, they also tell us that even without the sensory reminder they are constantly thinking internally, “I wonder if anyone commented on my Facebook post” or “I wonder if anyone responded to my text message I sent 5 minutes ago” or even “I wonder what interesting new YouTube videos my friends have liked.”

Neuroscience is just now starting to emerge as a means of studying the impact of technology on the brain. Consider these recent study results:

  • Video game players show more volume in brain areas where risk and reward are processed but also less activity in areas dealing with emotional regulation and aggression PLUS more dopamine, which parallels what happens in an addict’s brain.
  • Distracted brains show specific regions that are activated in the brain and more distractions tends to parallel more activity.
  • Chinese youth who were addicted to the Internet showed more white matter in the areas of emotion, attention and control but also showed disrupted nerve cell connections in other areas of the brain.

I am convinced that learning to live with both internal and external distractions is all about teaching the concept of focus. In psychology we refer to the ability to understand when you need to focus and when it is not necessary to do so as “metacognition” or knowing how your brain functions. In one recent study we found a perfect demonstration of metacognition, albeit totally by accident. In this study we showed a video in several psychology courses, which was followed by a graded test. Students were told that we may be texting them during the videotape and to answer our text messages. In fact, one-third did not get a text message from us, one-third got four texts during the 30-minute video and the other third got eight texts, enough, we guessed, to make them not be able to concentrate on the video. Oh yes, one other wrinkle was that we timed the text messages to occur when important material was being shown on the videotape that was going to be tested later. We were right that the group who got eight texts did worse but the group with four texts did not. HOWEVER, here is where a mistake in our instructions told us more about what was going on inside the students’ heads when the text arrived. Those students who answered our texts immediately did worse than those who opted to wait a minute or two or even three or four to respond. Those students were using their metacognitive skills to decide when was a good time to be distracted.

How do we teach focus in a world that is constantly drawing our focus elsewhere? One idea is to use “technology breaks” where you check your phone, the web, whatever, for a minute or two and then turn the phone to silent, the computer screen off and “focus” on work or conversation or any non-technological activity for, say 15 minutes, and then take a 1-2 minute tech break followed by more focus times and more tech breaks. The trick is to gradually lengthen the focus time to teach yourself (and your kids) how to focus for longer periods of time without being distracted. I have teachers using this in classrooms, parents using it during dinner and bosses using tech breaks during meetings with great success. So far, though, the best we can get is about 30 minutes of focus. Thanks to Steve Jobs (and others) for making such alluring, distracting technologies.

© 2012 Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D, author of iDisorder: Understanding Our
Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us

Author Bio
Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D.,
author of iDisorder:
Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us
, is past Chair and Professor of Psychology at California State University,  Dominguez Hills. He is a research psychologist and computer educator, and is  recognized as an international expert in the “Psychology of Technology.” Over  the past 25 years, Dr. Rosen and his colleagues have examined reactions to  technology among more than 30,000 children, teens, college students, and adults  in the United States and in 23 other countries. He has been quoted in numerous  media outlets, including The New York Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune,  CNN, and Good Morning America and writes a regular blog  for Psychology Today.

For more information please visit http://us.macmillan.com

Review: Safe Text: Protecting Your Teen – Diane Griffin

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Ebook: 54 pages
Publisher: Smashwords, Amazon, B&N
Language: English
Order book here:

amazon

Review

Do you have a teenager?  Do they own a cell phone?  If the answer to both of these questions is Yes, then this book is for you.

Some statistics from the book:

1 in 5 teens have sent a nude or semi nude photo of themselves via their cell phone.

24% of all fatal car accidents of teens were due to cell phone usage.

42% of teens have been bullied while online, and 58% of those have not told their parents.

Not only this you can be held legally liable for your teens actions regarding texting. For example, if you know your teen is sexting, and don’t do anything to stop it, you could be charged with contributing to delinquency of a minor, negligent supervision, and be sued for monetary damages. Forwarding such images can result in child pornography charges, jail time, and registry as a sex offender.

Sexting is not the only area covered, it also covers bullying, and texting while driving.

Ms. Griffin gives a lot of internet links for more information, actual legal examples, some of the laws for your state, and advice to parents. There is also a family cell phoen use agreement for you and your teens to fill out and sign, and a long list of resources.

I’ve seen a lot on the dangers of these different aspects, and to have it all in a nice concise format I think is a great thing. All the information is useful, and for that I’d recommend it to any parents out there.

About the Author

Diane Griffin is the founder and President of Security First and Associates. Ms. Griffin works with a variety of clients throughout government and industry. Ms. Griffin has also worked in a wide array of fields to include training, facilitation, communications, human resources and industrial security management.

Diane is the author of Everything You Wanted to Know About the Security Clearance Process… but are afraid to ask, Get a Security Clearnace Job, How a Security Clearance Can Change Your Life, and Safe Texting.

Safe Texting is the first in a series of books about Internet and Technology safety for parents, teachers, and teens. Each book will have a hands on Internet Project to go with it for students both in the classroom and home schooled to explore these important topics. The projects will be based on the Webquest model and will include standards based, best practices in education. The projects are being developed by Janis Friesler, an educator with many national award winning projects under her belt. The launch of the project, Safe Texting will be announced by May, 2011 on Diane’s Facebook Page, Technology Safety for Teens.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Brandi at BK Walker books for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: What are you afraid of? – Kiki Howell

Monday, January 2nd, 2012
Paperback: 26 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (October 8, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1466394609
ISBN-13: 978-1466394605
Order book here:

amazon

Characters

Drake – The big Dog
Zoe – The Old Dog

Synopsis:

Drake is a dog afraid of Halloween. Zoe introduces him to a game, telling him that when something scares him to turn it into something funny.
Review

This book was a fun story. Much of it was told in a rhyming prose. I could see the ideas it presented a being helpful to children in coping with their fears, or even adults. The advice is pretty simple. For those with children, I’m sure fears of everything from the monster under the bed to the boogeyman in the closet are a struggle to deal with. But the idea in this book is to turn them into something funny. Have the child imagine that boogeyman in spiderman underwear. While banishing their fear, this book also enhances their creativity, which according to the author was one of the main objectives of the book.

I would recommend this for all parents who struggle with their child and fear.

Please see our interview with Ms. Howell here.

Ms. Howell is on a virtual tour for BK Walker Books. Here is her tour schedule.

Schedule

December 22 – Kick Off at VBT Cafe’ Blog
December 27 – Review at Loves To Read
December 29 – Guest Blogging at AZ Publishing Services
December 29 – Interviewed at KWOD Radio 7:30pm EST
January 2 – Review & Interviewed at Rhodes Review
January 4 – Reviewed at Sacred Legacy Reviews
January 7 – Reviewed at From The TBR Pile
January 9 – Guest Blogging at BK Walker Books Etc
January 11 – Interviewed at Reviews & Interviews
January 17 – Interviewed at BK Media Entertainment
January 19 – Interviewed at Writing Innovations
January 24 – Guest Blogging with Louise James
January 26 – Review & Guest Blogging at Mad Moose Mama

About the Author

Ever since she was young, Kiki Howell loved to listen to a well-woven tale with real characters, inspired plots, and delightful resolutions. Kiki could spend hours lost in a book, and soon she knew that creating lives, loves, and losses with just words had to be the greatest thing that she could do. To that end, she pursued her study of literature and writing, earning a bachelor’s degree in English. She then followed in a Master’s program in Creative Writing.

“After a long break having my boys, I finally just had to write again. And, as soon as I gave the stories the space, they entered it. It’s both awesome and humbling to find the words in my mind become characters on a page and create their lives.”

Kiki resides in the Midwest with her incredibly handsome and talented, singer/songwriter husband and two children. When she is not writing, she is spending time with her family, reading, baking or knitting.

Her biggest dream is to have a novel she writes be made into a movie that her husband creates the soundtrack for, and then cruise to Alaska with her family on the money they make.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Brandi at BK Walker books for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Review: I Used to Know That: Geography – Will Williams

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Readers Digest (June 9, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606522450
ISBN-13: 978-1606522455
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Review

This is another in the Reader’s Digest Blackboard Series of books.  Like all the other, I really enjoyed this and managed to learn a lot from it.  This one concentrated on Geography.  The contents went from continent to continent detailing the enviroment, weather patterns, layouts, and the countries lying within each continent.

For the things you might not remember from school, or just as a reference book on specific subjects, I find these books very worthwhile.  Like the rest in the series, this one is no exception, and I’d recommend it for either your own knowledge or as a gift.  With the Christmas season coming up, it would also make a great stocking stuffer. 

About the Author

Born twenty-five yards from the Marston Brewery in Burton upon Trent, Will Williams always knew that places would be important in his life. After a good state school education at King Edward’s, Lichfield, he went on to Hertford College, Oxford, where he read Geography. Though secretly harboring a desire to be a stuntman, he is currently entrenched as the Head of Geography at St Paul’s School, London. The place he calls home, though, is near the banks of the Garonne in South West France, with his wife Christelle and daughter Fleuve.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: When Cancer Hits – Britta Aragon

Thursday, November 10th, 2011
 
 Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Cinco Vidas Press (September 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982917503
ISBN-13: 978-0982917503
Order book here:

amazon

Review

I think everyone at some point has lost a loved one to cancer. I lost my mom over 10 years ago. She never had to undergo chemotherapy though. If she had, I would have wished I had this book. In When Cancer Hits, Britta Aragon, herself a cancer survivor gives a ton of information on how to help people cope with chemotherapy.

I never knew prior to reading this, that just simple products such as lotions, over the counter shampoos, etc. should for the most part be avoided. Many contain chemicals and carcinogens, and can actually do more damage. She talks about her father’s skin would blister after using some store bought care products.

I also had never thought about all the poisons we pump into ourselves on a daily basis through our shaving cream, makeup, toothpaste, etc. Just about every product we can buy is full of poisons. She recommended though some products such as organic products. She covers the wide range of things made to make a person undergoing chemotherapy feel good about themselves. The book covers makeup, hair products, skin products, wigs, spa’s. Anything that can be done to help the person feel better about their appearance is included in this book.

If you are undergoing chemo, or know someone who is, I would definitely recommend this book. It would also be a good gift guide. Even for those not undergoing chemo though, I think it would be valuable, in the information it contains on how to cut down your toxic levels.

Definitely pick it up, you never know when it might come in handy.

About the Author

Britta Aragon, natural beauty expert, author and entrepreneur, discovered her passion for promoting safe self-care through her experience as a caregiver during her father’s eight-year battle with cancer. A survivor herself of Hodgkin’s Disease at the age of 16, she sought solutions for the difficult side effects her father suffered on his hair, skin and nails, but was disheartened by the lack of straightforward information or effective products. Even when she tried products specifically touted for “sensitive skin,” they were often laden with potentially harmful chemicals that actually irritated her father’s fragile skin. For the first time, she became acutely aware of how devastating the side effects from drugs and medical treatments could be. Inspired and determined to help others, she founded Cinco Vidas in 2008, and dedicated her work to her father’s legacy.

A lifestyle brand of products and services, Cinco Vidas provides expert resources and safe solutions to those experiencing side effects from chemotherapy, radiation or medication, or who experience skin conditions like eczema, sensitivity and chronic dryness. With the goal of fostering prevention and encouraging change, Cinco Vidas also works to increase awareness of potential carcinogens in food, personal care products, and the environment.

As a result of years spent working as a makeup artist and skincare expert, Britta lectures on Safe Self-Care for Compromised Skin in the New York area. Her blog, Cinco Vidas, is a popular resource and community support center for those dealing with medical treatment side effects and difficult skin conditions. She is also the author of

WHEN CANCER HITS, a hand-holding guide for the newly diagnosed, and the creator of CV Skin Labs, a safe, non-toxic range of products to soothe and repair damaged skin without harmful chemicals. Visit her website at www.cincovidas.com.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Rebecca at Cadence Group for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Article: Solidarity Politics – Ange-Marie Hancock

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Rotary Dial Politics in an iPhone World
By Ange-Marie Hancock,
Author of Solidarity Politics for Millennials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics

So we’ve occupied Wall Street. Millennial generation protesters have joined forces with an unlikely assemblage of the older generation: Nobel laureate Joseph Stieglitz, Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon. The protests united folks concerned about a variety of different issues around the idea that “Wall Street causes inequality.”

Now that the media attention is focused on the Occupy Wall Street protests, how do we fundamentally resolve such inequality?

It has been difficult to resolve inequalities in the United States because our politics has not kept up with the advances that have emerged in the past 20 years. It’s as if the scholars who have developed new models of politics all have iPhones, while the media, average citizens and policy makers are still using politics that works like a rotary dial phone.

Today’s political discourse does not fully consider the linkages between the public needs of multiple generations — whether it’s strong public schools or college affordability on the Millennial side or having sustainable Medicare and Social Security on the Baby Boomer side. There is, in other words, a cultural generation gap that prevents us from connecting the dots to resolve persistent inequality in a comprehensive way.

The cultural generation gap is considered the product of two demographic trends that are causing anxieties in times of economic hardship:

  • the aging of Baby Boomers, who have spent their entire lives in a United States that is a white majority nation, and have no intention of withdrawing from the public arena, and

 

  • the ascent of Millennials (and increasingly their children), who are not simply the most racially diverse generation in U.S. history but also have the largest percentage of foreign-born individuals. By 2015 Millennials will be the second largest adult generation and are transforming the workplace.

Demographic trends are a lot like tectonic plates — they are very difficult to stop once they are set in motion. But the cultural generation gap isn’t a predetermined outcome. It because we have failed to eradicate the persistent overlapping disparities along the axes of race/ethnicity, gender, national status, and economic class.

Now resolving these overlapping layers of inequality would be challenging and complex in times of peace and prosperity. Throw in a global economic recession alongside two wars and the cultural generation gap grows ever bigger.

What are we to make of these compounding trends? Although cross-generational protesting is an important step forward to resolving overlapping patterns of economic inequality, we cannot simply protest in the same 20th century way, which most Americans are socialized to tune out.

First, eradicating inequality must go beyond generational spokesmen stating the talking points of the other generation. 68 year-old Stieglitz linked the slogan, “Wall Street Causes Inequality” to the case of young people who face prospects of spending the next few years underemployed or with no job at all. However, media coverage of the speech and interviews by Stieglitz himself failed to connect the impact of such underemployment and other issues facing Millennials to the needs of his own generation, which would move the conversation in a 21st century direction. Today’s Boomers aren’t going anywhere, but they will increasingly need healthcare and other forms of services that will be provided by Millennials. Who doesn’t want their own healthcare worker to have the proper training, education and employment opportunities in order to receive quality care? Shifting the narrative reveals the interdependence between needs across the generations.

Second, we ignore the racial, ethnic, gender, and national status aspects of college access at our peril. Stieglitz’s comments referred to a specific subset of the Millennial generation who have had access to college, who, most statistics show, are also more likely to be members of the majority class, race and national status groups in the U.S. But the challenges facing young people in terms of employment go beyond not being able to pay off student loans.

It is clear to me that recent college graduates face unemployment rates that are patently unacceptable. But increasing the coverage to all Millennials allows us to talk about the youth Stieglitz missed in his comments: the youth who were tracked away from college and into a host of dead-end opportunities, the youth products of a failed K-12 public education system in many low-income communities of color, and those who lost hope and left us too soon as a result of homophobic bullying. The longer they remain outside the employment sector, the less money is funneled into current benefits for Medicare and Social Security, programs that help keep Boomers and their older counterparts out of poverty in their older years. When AARP only organizes its members to protest government cuts — a rotary dial, defensive approach — they ignore the 21st century reality that support for policies that increase employment for younger folks is one of the best forms of insurance against future cuts — an iPhone approach that puts them back on offense.

Linking intergenerational values and interests helps us leave our rotary dial phones behind in favor of iPhone politics that can enable us to cultivate civic relationships across demographic groups, foster cross-generational dialogues and create 21st century solutions.

© 2011 Ange-Marie Hancock, author of Solidarity Politics for Millenials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics

Author Bio
Ange-Marie Hancock, 
author of Solidarity Politics for Millennials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics, joined the Department of Political Science at USC Dana and David Dornsife College in 2008 after five years as Assistant Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Yale University. Prior to graduate school at the University of North Carolina, Hancock worked for the National Basketball Association, where she conducted the preliminary research and wrote the original business plan for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She has served as an international expert in American Politics for the U.S. Department of State and during the 2008 presidential election. She has been quoted in the New York Times, Forbes, on National Public Radio, KNBC, and she regularly supports USC’s Annenberg TV News by serving as an expert. She currently serves as the associate director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) in the Dornsife College and as one of the inaugural Dornsife College Faculty Fellows.

Over the past eight years Professor Hancock has authored two books and 11 articles. She is a globally recognized scholar of the study of intersectionality — the study of the intersections of race, gender, class and sexuality politics and their impact on public policy. Her first book, The Politics of Disgust and the Public Identity of the “Welfare Queen,”(2004, New York University Press) won two national awards.

For more information please visit http://www.ange-mariehancock.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Review: Creatively Ever After – Alicia Arnold

Thursday, October 6th, 2011
 
 Paperback: 182 pages
Publisher: Alder Hill Press (August 14, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983440514
ISBN-13: 978-0983440512
Order book here:

amazon

Order e-book here:
amazon

Review

We all know the story, from childhood, about Jack and Jill. A brother and sister perpetually destined, like Sysyphus, to continually go up a hill to fetch a pail of water, only to come tumbling back down losing their water. But the story doesn’t end there. In fact, in Alicia Arnold’s book Creatively Ever After, the siblings set out to change their story. This is when they are introduced to The Creative Problem Solving Process, which is the main intent of the book.

Through this process, they are taught to define a problem, break it down into sections, look for new ways to approach the problem, and many other tasks.

Each chapter ends with a sidebar summary of the major points of that lesson. It’s a nice way to learn a new process, and Ms. Arnold does so in a matter that keeps the subject from getting dry. I found it quite entertaining actually to read and wonder how Jack and Jill was going to solve their problem.

If you are in management, especially in working with teams, I think this would be a beneficial book for you. For that I recommend it.

About the Author

Alicia Arnold holds a Master of Science degree in Creative Studies from the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College and an M.B.A in Marketing from Bentley University. Alicia is a certified facilitator of the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving process and an invited speaker at the annual Creative Problem Solving Institute. She is published on the topic of creativity with Bloomberg Businessweek, The National Association of Gifted Children, iMedia Connection and blogs about creativity and innovation.

By day, she is an award-winning, digital marketer and uses her passion for creativity and innovation to train teams on creativity techniques, develop breakthrough digital experiences and facilitate innovation workshops. Alicia is also a mom to two wonderful boys, a lifelong learner and someone who loves ideas and making them happen.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Rebecca at Cadence Marketing for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.