Monthly Archives: October 2013

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America’

  • Reviewed by Rene A. Henry 
BOOK REVIEW: 'The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America'

Reviewed by Rene A. Henry

In his new book, “The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America” (Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, 368 pages, sources [bibliography], index,  $25.99)  Gregg Easterbrook tells the reader everything anyone would want to know about football and more.  And I’m sure he also tells readers much more than many professional team owners and NFL and college coaches and administrators would want the public to know.  It is one of the best books I have read on the sport.

I first read Chapter Three of the book as an excerpt published in the October 2013 edition of The Atlantic.   It was an exposé on how the NFL pretends to be a non-profit organization and that the American taxpayer is essentially subsidizing professional football.  Easterbrook writes that “The NFL is about two things: producing high-quality sports entertainment, which it does very well, and exploiting taxpayers, which it also does very well.”

 Easterbook’s extensive research covers every aspect of the game from Pop Warner youth leagues through high school and college to the NFL.  He writes about the tremendous popularity of football and the positive and negative impact it has had on American society and how players at all levels are used up and thrown away.

In one chapter he profiles Virginia Tech and its coach, Frank Beamer, the winningest active coach in Division I.  The author writes that Beamer gave him unrestricted access for a year to practices, be in the locker room and on the sidelines, travel with the team and attend players’ and coaches’ meetings unannounced.

“I wanted to see what high-level college football looks like from the inside,” says Easterbrook.  By contrast, “The NFL cancelled my interview with Commissioner Roger Goodell when it learned I planned to ask about the health effects and financial structure of football.”

I applaud Easterbook’s conclusions and recommendations and so should the Knight Commission, the NCAA, and college and university presidents and governing boards.  Some include the following:

* Scholarships should be for six years so when an athlete exhausts his eligibility and the NFL does not call, he has two to three paid semesters to graduate.  Most colleges award scholarships on a year-to-year basis so if a player doesn’t perform to the coach’s expectations he can lose the scholarship.  He notes that the six-year rule would only cost colleges about $700,000 annually if all players stayed for six years.  “There are no words strong enough to express how little the NCAA cares about whether the football or men’s basketball players who generate economic returns also receive an education.”

* All colleges and universities should be required to present clear, prominent disclosures of the portion of tuition costs or “activity fees” that goes to the athletic department.  Publicly funded colleges should be required to disclose detailed athletic budgets and coaches’ pay and perks.  Tuition bills should itemize the amounts diverted to sports.  “Such disclosures might be required by the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” he notes, and “alternatively, the U.S. Department of Education could mandate this. Tying federal aid to public-interest reform has worked before.”

I believe there would be a revolt if graduate students and those in professional schools, including law and medicine, knew what they were being charged to support athletic programs.  My cousin’s son spent four years at the University of Kentucky, paying such a fee, but was never able to see a basketball game. Virginia Tech does it right by setting aside 19,000 seats  — one third of its football stadium — for its students, the most of any major college program.

* NCAA Sanctions and penalties should follow a head coach.  One reason coaches break rules is that the reward is great, leading to multimillion dollar contracts and endorsements and the risk is low.  If head coaches knew they couldn’t work for the number of years a former school is penalized they would have self-interest in running clean programs. “There are so few college-powerhouse programs that are not tainted,” he writes.  “When colleges break NCAA rules in rare cases the NCAA takes substantive action.  It delays as long as possible. The NCAA knows that the longer it drags its heels, the more money flows into the bank at big universities.”

* Coaches should receive bonuses only for academic results and not for victories, conference titles or bowl invitations.  Graduation rates should be factored into football rankings to determine playoffs and bowl invitations.  He believes there should be a one-year suspension of the head coach of any football program whose players graduate below the rate of the student body as a whole, adjusted for players who transfer or depart early for the NFL, and the suspension follows the coach.

* The NFL should lose its nonprofit status.  He notes that in 2010 the NFL shielded $35 million from taxes and donated $850,000 to charity.

* Advanced helmets and mouthguards should be mandatory from high school football up. Many NFL and NCAA teams already use only advanced helmets and mouthguards; all should.   Should a school system’s budget troubles ever justify exposing its students to brain damage?

*Year-round high school football should end and tackle football should not be played until age 13 or the eighth grade.  Throughout the book he cites case after case of high school stars that never made it in college or college stars that never made it in the NFL.

* Bowl committees, athletic-booster funds and stadium-construction funds should lose their nonprofit and tax-deductible status.  “A study by Bloomberg News found in 2010 that colleges and universities received $998 million in athletic donations and much for luxury boxes and insider privileges from high-income donors, a $300 million federal and state deduction subsidy to college sports already rolling in money,” says Easterbrook.  “Of major football programs only LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas and Texas A&M operate without subsidies from the general university funds.  Rutgers drew $29 million from the school’s general fund as it raised tuition and cut classes.”

Any parent who has a son playing football or who wants to play football should read this book.  The author writes that 67,000 or more concussions happen in high school every year and two or more can lead to long-term neurological problems.  Only in recent years has it come to light about what happens to former NFL players who have had concussions.

* * *

Rene A. Henry, a native of Charleston, WV, and a resident of Seattle,  has authored nine books — three of them on football.  His experience in sports spans five decades and at all levels from college and recreational sports to Olympic, international and professional sports.  Many of his opinion pieces and reviews are posted on his website at http://www.renehenry.com.


BOOK REVIEW: ‘Into the Crossfire’: Jack Haliday Returns in Debut Entry in ‘First Force’, Cindy McDonald’s New Series

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'Into the Crossfire': Jack Haliday Returns in Debut Entry in 'First Force', Cindy McDonald's New Series
When last we saw former Navy SEAL and current Rosemount, PA police officer Jack Haliday he was undercover in the criminal Nomads biker gang in Cindy McDonald’s third entry in the “Unbridled” series, “Dangerous Deception.” My review: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/51907

    Jack was successful, in a way, breaking up the Nomads and wounding the biker gang chief, Charles “Gunner” Rodriquez, who managed to escape.  

Four years have passed and Jack discovers that the escape of Gunner is very bad news in Cindy McDonald’s first entry in a new series, “First Force” titled “Into the Crossfire” (Acorn Book Services, 364 pages, paperback, available on Amazon.com, $13.99, also available in Kindle at $2.99)

Jack is married to the lovely Laura and they have an irrepressible four year old daughter, Lillian, called “Lil” by one and all. They have a nice home in a good section of Rosemount.

 Everything is perfect, including their relationship with their mysterious next-door neighbor Walt Wabash, called “Unca Walt” by Lil.

 Since just about everything is a spoiler in this gut-wrenching book, I’ll  avoid giving away plot points. Everything is not as it seems, including Jack’s fellow officer on the Rosemount force, Alicia, who’s assigned to desk duty after injuring her back in a motorcycle accident. Walt is a friendly but mysterious man, marvelously fit for a man of fifty. Nobody knows what he does.

 When Gunner rebuilds the Nomads and moves back to the area, everything turns upside down for Jack’s family — and for Walt Wabash and his equally mysterious associates.

 This is a very explicit novel with graphic scenes of sex and violence, unfortunately the norm for many small cities like the fictional Rosemount. Drugs, violence and sex trafficking are dealt with frankly by McDonald, so if you’re overly sensitive, consider this a warning!

 

About the Author

For twenty-six years Cindy’s life whirled around a song and a dance. She was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of her adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. She often notes: Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things that I have experienced with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack—greatly exaggerated upon of course—I’ve never been murdered. Viola! Cindy’s first book series, Unbridled, was born—there are four books to that series thus far. Cindy is a huge fan of romantic suspense series’, and although she isn’t one to make New Year’s resolutions, on New Year’s Day 2013 she made a commitment to write one, Into the Crossfire is the first book for her new series, First Force. People are always asking Cindy: Do you miss dance? With a bitter sweet smile on her lips she tells them: Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books, and I love sharing them with you. Cindy resides on her forty-five acre Thoroughbred farm with her husband near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For more information, book trailers, and excerpts for all of Cindy’s books please visit her website: www.cindymcwriter.com

 

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Under the Wire: Marie Colvin’s Final Assignment’: Brutally Explicit Account of Dangers Facing War Correspondents

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'Under the Wire: Marie Colvin's Final Assignment': Brutally Explicit Account of Dangers Facing War Correspondents
War correspondents are the firefighters of journalism: They rush into danger while others are rushing out. Correspondents — including photographers and TV reporters — face danger daily, as Paul Conroy graphically describes in “Under the Wire: Marie Colvin’s Final Assignment” (Weinstein Books, photo insert, 344 pages, index, $26.00).

Marie Colvin, a New Yorker working for The Sunday Times (of London, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire) was a veteran of conflicts from Chechnya to Sri Lanka (where she lost the sight of an eye) to Libya and finally covering the rebel side in the ongoing Syrian civil war.

The publisher’s blurb calls “Under the Wire” Zero Dark Thirty meets 127 Hours and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a perfect example of truth being stranger than fiction, a compelling war journal from photographer Paul Conroy, who accompanied Marie Colvin (called by her peers “the greatest war correspondent of her generation”) during her ill-fated final assignment in Syria.

Marie Colvin was an internationally recognized American foreign war correspondent who was killed in a rocket attack in 2012 while reporting on the suffering of civilians inside Syria. She was renowned for her iconic flair and her fearlessness: wearing the pearls that were a gift from Yasser Arafat and her black eye-patch, she reported from places so dangerous no other hard-core correspondent would dare to go. She was as tough as nails as the most hard-bitten male covering wars, a woman Hemingway would love as much as he did one of his wives, Martha Gellhorn. In fact, Conroy, a veteran of Britain’s Royal Artillery, called her the 21st Century’s answer to Gellhorn.

Conroy had forged a close bond with Colvin as they put their lives on the line time and time again to report from the world’s conflict zones and was with her when she died from a Syrian government rocket attack, along with correspondent Remi Ochlik, in February 2012, in Homs, Syria.

When Marie Colvin and Paul Conroy were smuggled into Syria by rebel forces, they found themselves trapped in one of the most hellish neighborhoods on earth. Fierce barrages of heavy artillery fire rained down on the buildings surrounding them, killing and maiming hundreds of civilians.

The dedication says 72,305 Syrians — women, children and men —  have been killed in the war that continues unabated, with the rest of the world standing by doing nothing about Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, assisted militarily by Russia and Iran. Saudi Arabia, among other Arab countries,  has protested about the genocide being committed by al-Assad — but has done nothing with its well trained army to stop the slaughter.

The rocket that killed Colvin and Ochlik tore a hole in Conroy’s thigh big enough to put his hand through. Bleeding profusely, short of food and water, and in excruciating pain, he then endured five days of intense bombardment before being evacuated in a daring escape in which he rode a Yamaha 250 cc motorcycle  through a tunnel, crawled through enemy terrain, and finally scaled a 12-foot-high wall.

Conroy manages to find humor in his experiences with Colvin and others. Colvin snored like the motorcycles employed in the insertion into Syria — and the evacuation of Conroy. She had given up smoking on her dentist’s warning, saying she would never die from smoking — a prediction that came horrifically true.

Conroy’s account toggles between his and Colvin’s experiences covering the civil war in Libya in 2011 and their terrifying experiences after being smuggled into Syria from Lebanon.

“Under the Wire”  is far more gripping than any fiction I’ve read in a long time — and it’s true, the best account I’ve seen of what it means to a be a war reporter in the 21st century. I’d like to see director Paul Greengrass, whose “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks, is a wonderful thriller, make a movie out of Conroy’s story of  two brave people drawn together by a shared compulsion to bear witness.

Here’s a video of Conroy discussing the battle of Homs — and Marie Colvin’s “Final Assignment:  http://5x15stories.com/presenter/paul-conroy/

 

About the Author 
Paul Conroy, born in Liverpool, is a former British soldier, serving in the Royal Artillery in the 1980s. As a photographer and filmmaker whose work spans 15 years, he has reported on the conflicts in Iraq, Congo, Kosovo, Libya, and Syria.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Onion Book of Known Knowledge’: Suddenly, Information is Entertaining

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'The Onion Book of Known Knowledge': Suddenly, Information is Entertaining

Published last year in hardback, and written and edited by the editors and writers of “The Onion,” under the direction of editor in chief Joe Randazzo,  “The Onion Book of Known Knowledge” (Little, Brown and Company, 256 pages, $20.00) is now available in a large format, lavishly illustrated paperback.

I direct your attention to Page 15 and the entry (in part) on “Baby Boomer”: “Due the demographic’s sheer size, baby boomers have had a profound influence on the overall political and economic direction of the United States, which is why all 76 million of them who set out to redefine traditional  values and then became exactly what they most despised can shrivel up and fuck off, ASAP.”  The entry only gets better!

Considering that most of the Onion founders are baby boomers — or from my pre-Boomer generation — the entire book demonstrates fairness and balancedness, to coin a phrase.

If your sense of humor is vestigial at best, stay away from this book! Don’t even pick it up! If you pick it up, that vestigial sense of humor might expand (and then again, it might shrivel even more).

And don’t believe everything you read on the cover: There are more than 2 copies left! Many more. Each entry has just enough truth in it to make the made-up parts seem reasonable. This is “truthiness,” in the words of the immortal Stephen Colbert. Sounds like journalism to me!

 

About the Author

In a history spanning 24 years, eight popular books, and numerous awards, The Onion has attracted legions of loyal fans drawn to its fearless reporting and scathing commentary on world events, human behavior, and journalistic convention. Its home offices are in Chicago. It was founded by a Prussian tuber farmer in 1756. How his descendants ended up in Chicago remains a mystery. Website:www.theonion.com.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Kennedy Half-Century’: JFK Is Still the Most Popular President 50 Years After Dallas; He Continues to Exert Influence on Leaders of All Political Persuasions

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'The Kennedy Half-Century': JFK Is Still the Most Popular President 50 Years After Dallas; He Continues to Exert Influence on Leaders of All Political Persuasions

 Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. — “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, 1962

* * *

Although he was president only two years and ten months, John F. Kennedy was the most highly rated president by a wide margin in a poll of 2,009 adults who rated presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton, according to Larry J. Sabato in his monumental “The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy” (Bloomsbury USA, 624 pages, 16-page color and b&w photo insert, notes, index, $30.00).

The runner-up in the poll, conducted by Peter Hart and Geoff Garin,  was Ronald Reagan, followed closely by Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bill Clinton (the poll results are in Chapter 21, “The People’s President”). Presidents Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson were pretty much even –and Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon brought up the rear.

Published on the eve of the 50th anniversary of events of Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas, “The Kennedy Half-Century” deals in considerable detail with the controversy over the assassination, with Sabato reporting that most people refuse to believe the conclusion of the Warren Commission, that one lone gunman on the 6th Floor of the Texas School Book Depository in downtown Dallas — Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old ex-Marine — acted alone using an Italian bolt-action rifle to kill Kennedy and wound Texas Gov. John Connally.

Sabato — born to a devout Roman Catholic family in Norfolk, VA in 1952  and inspired by JFK and his presidency—explores the fascinating and powerful influence he has had over five decades on the media, the general public, and especially on each of his nine presidential successors.

It may come as a surprise to many readers, but the runner up to JFK in the popularity poll, Ronald W. Reagan, drew upon the legend and the record of JFK to an extraordinary degree, Sabato writes, quoting a scholar (Page 348): “While Reagan quoted FDR 76 times between his 1981 inauguration and his 1984 reelection he cited John Kennedy on 133 occasions.”

Sabato notes on Page 349 that Reagan’s  “recurrent use of JFK was a carefully planned political strategy, on a par with Lyndon Johnson’s regular invocation of  President Kennedy.” This obsession with the martyred president led the Republican National  Committee to compile a “quote file” to show  how much Reagan was in sync with JFK on many issues, from tax cuts to national defense, Sabato writes.

A recent Gallup poll gave JFK the highest job approval rating of any of those successors, and millions remain captivated by his one thousand days in the White House.  Despite the revelations of JFK’s repeated womanizing and marital infidelity, he is still idolized by millions of people worldwide.

Sabato renews the plea of many writers — along with the vast army of Kennedy assassination writers  and buffs — for the federal government to release autopsy photos and other forensic evidence, something the government has refused to do. He argues — and I couldn’t agree more because I refuse to believe the conclusions of the Warren Commission — that the information belongs to the historians and the public because it’s a product of government work, including the puzzling choice of conducting the JFK autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital rather than in Dallas, as required by state law.

On pages 248-9, discussing the events of Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, Sabato says that a conspiracy cannot be proved, nor can it be dismissed out of hand. He also says that there is “no doubt” that Oswald, who received outstanding marksmanship results with an M1 rifle in the Marine Corps, was “at least one” of the shooters, if indeed there was a second or third gunman.

Sabato says there is also no doubt — based on the ballistic evidence of Oswald’s revolver — that he killed Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit in the weird aftermath of the horrific events at Dealey Plaza. He also discusses the mob connections of Jack Ruby, the transplanted Chicagoan who shot and killed Oswald in the nation’s first television murder.

Doubters of the Warren Commission report ‘s conclusions included the majority of people queried by writers, along with Lyndon Johnson and the Kennedy family, Sabato writes on Page 252.  He also discusses the role of the CIA and the unusual — to say the least — treatment of Oswald after he defected to the Soviet Union, married a Russian woman related to a KGB officer and then changed his mind and moved with Marina back to the States. All this at the height of the Cold War!

While Sabato trashes the Oliver Stone film “JFK” which presents the most far-fetched conspiracy theories, he acknowledges that many younger Americans accept Stone’s conclusions as gospel.

Like many of my pre-Boomer generation, I was influenced by Kennedy. He was the first president I voted for, after I turned 22 in the fall of 1960 as a senior at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. I remember exactly where I was when I learned of his assassination that fateful Friday in November 1963.

Sabato’s “The Kennedy Half-Century” will appeal to history buffs and political junkies alike. There probably will never be a satisfactory answer to who did what on Nov. 23, 1963, but Sabato’s book will answer many questions — as well as raise many more.

 

About the Author

Larry J. Sabato is the founder and director of the renowned Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. He has appeared on dozens of national television and radio programs, including “60 Minutes”, “Today”, “Hardball”, and “Nightline”. He has coanchored the BBCs coverage of U.S. presidential returns and inaugurations, and has authored or edited more than a dozen books on American politics, including the highly praised “A More Perfect Constitution.”  His other books include “Feeding Frenzy”, about press coverage of politicians; “The Rise of Political Consultants”; and “Barack Obama and the New America”. Sabato runs the acclaimed Crystal Ball website, which has the most comprehensive and accurate record of election analysis in the country. In 2001, the University of Virginia gave him its highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Larry J. Sabato’s  ubiquity as a source of quotes has caused some members of the news media to burst into rhyme, according to his Wikipedia entry:

“Need a quote/Do not tarry/Call U-Va./And ask for Larry.”

On a serious note: Enrollment is now open for a free JFK course online with Professor Sabato atwww.coursera.org/course/kennedy

BOOK REVIEW: ‘David and Goliath’: Malcolm Gladwell Upsets Conventional Wisdom on Learning Disabilities, Crime and Punishment, Tough Childhoods, Civil Rights in Birmingham, Good vs. Great Colleges

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'David and Goliath': Malcolm Gladwell Upsets Conventional Wisdom on Learning Disabilities, Crime and Punishment, Tough Childhoods, Civil Rights in Birmingham, Good vs. Great Colleges
Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, in his newest book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” (Little, Brown and Company, 320 pages, illustrations, notes, index, $29.00) Malcolm Gladwell follows the admonition of  the late great  “60 Minutes” producer, Don Hewitt: “Tell me a story.”

The stories he tells include the battle of David, the Israelite shepherd boy in the Valley of Elah confronting in his own way the “invincible” Philistine Goliath; accounts of people — Brian Grazer, Gary Cohn, David Boies —  who used their dyslexia to achieve success in their fields; civil rights “tricksters” in violent 1960s Birmingham, Ala., and a cancer researcher who fought to prove his theories.

With the wonderful storytelling  that is on display  in his  previous bestsellers —  “The Tipping Point”, “Blink”, “Outliers” and “What the Dog Saw” —  Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering ways of looking at what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a less than highly ranked university, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy 3,000 years ago. From there, “David and Goliath” examines Northern Ireland’s troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms — all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.

As in his previous books, Gladwell in “David and Goliath” draws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think of the world around us.

The powerful account of the battles fought by cancer researcher Dr. Jay Freireich reminded me of how Chicago, his hometown, is a graphic example of a city whose motto should be “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” (The real long-time  motto of the Windy City is “I Will” — just as good as my suggestion). Freireich grew up in the tough Humboldt Park neighborhood, not far from my mother’s Lawndale on the city’s West Side.

Challenging conventional wisdom is Gladwell’s strong point and he does it skillfully in “David and Goliath.” I’ve read other books by Gladwell, but this is the first one I’ve reviewed.

About the Author

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. Prior to that, he was a reporter at the Washington Post. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He lives in New York. His website: http://www.gladwell.com                                                                * * *

For other books that challenge conventional wisdom, see my review of “Embrace the Chaos” by Bob Miglani: www.huntingtonnews.net/75081

And my 2011 review of Alina Tugend’s “Better by Mistake”: www.huntingtonnews.net/3969

And my review of Peter Miller’s “The Smart Swarm”  http://archives.huntingtonnews.net/columns/100915-kinchen-columnsbookreview.html

 

A Dad’s Point-of-View: Men vs. Women: Cars

  • By Bruce Sallan
Bruce Sallan

Bruce Sallan

I can’t believe I haven’t taken on cars in this series on  HYPERLINK “http://www.brucesallan.com/category/random-writings/men-vs-women-series/” Men vs. Women! There are such gigantic differences in how we look at, buy, appreciate, and deal with the horseless carriage. In many ways, I think our respective attitude about cars is emblematic of our attitudes about most everything. Again, this is not a right or wrong, just a big difference.

The regular caveat for these columns is that I am making general observations. There are exceptions to any generality. I know. I’m also not concerned about being politically correct so for those feminists and others that think men and women are the same, except for our upbringing, I wish you well but skip reading any more since it will only aggravate you and me!

My wife is the quintessential example of a woman and cars, in my opinion. Her car choice begins with her perception of the value and impression of the brand. Hers is Mercedes-Benz. When I dare to suggest that some high-end Japanese luxury carmakers might have competitive models, the icy glare quickly shuts me up. After that, it’s the color that matters.

After that, nothing matters.

May I be so bold as to suggest that men might consider other things when choosing their next automobile?

Herewith my alternating extreme generalities about men and women and cars, explicitly designed to irritate Women’s Studies professors:

~~ Women choose brand and color first. For them it’s the location, location, location equivalent (from Real Estate) for a car.

~~ Men choose performance and looks first. Sort of like they choose their women. He didn’t really write that, did he?

~~ Women will do little or no research into their next car and rarely, if ever, open a car magazine.

~~ Men will often do extensive research about a multitude of cars before stepping into a showroom and most guys have at one time or another, had a subscription to at least one car magazine (mine was Road & Track).

~~ Women would much prefer buying a new car.

~~ Men will buy a used car over a new one if it means getting the higher performing model.

~~ Women don’t really pay much attention to the “specs” of a car other than, perhaps, its miles-per-gallon.

~~ Men like to compare the horsepower of their cars in much the way they compare parts of their anatomy, as if the amount (or size) really mattered versus how it is used and distributed (a lightweight car may go faster with less horsepower than a heavier car with substantially more…you can do the other analogy yourself).

~~ Women like new cars and don’t really notice or care about “classics.”

~~ Every guy has his fantasy car from his youth. For me, it’s the Shelby Cobra from the sixties – not the Mustang version but the original real Cobra. Today, you can buy a kit replica for something like $90,000. An original cost many times that and is out of range for most every guy. Other guys like the classic “muscle” cars such as original Mustangs, Camaros, etc. I also really have a thing for the Aston Martin that appeared in the third James Bond movie, “Goldfinger,” perhaps the first time a car was such a co-star in a film.

~~ Women will use words such as “cute” to describe a car.

~~ Men would NEVER use “cute” to describe any car – maybe an occupant but not the vehicle itself.

You should have noticed that the “men” observations are longer than the “women” ones precisely because men are more interested in cars than women. Men tend to like BIG toys while women tend to like smaller ones, like diamonds. There’s no right or wrong here and each gender can truly have very expensive taste in their luxury desires but the interest in jewelry for a man is probably equal to the interest in a Ferrari for a woman.

The only time a woman cares about a car is when it’s giving them an insight – right or wrong – into the financial wherewithal of a man they might be dating or interested in. Since financial security is high on most women’s lists of things they want in a man –- ideally -– the choice of his car is a potential signal of his success. The fact that he may be in hock for the car, simply leased it, and/or is in substantial debt because of his wheels, isn’t immediately clear when he drives up in his red Ferrari of black Porsche.

Because men know the differences between the higher quality cars more than women, an apparently expensive car may not in fact be that expensive whereas a classic that looks less flashy may indeed be extremely valuable so a woman’s takeaway from his car may be wrong, regardless of its looks. Ironic given that men often make their first judgments about a woman based on her “looks.”

On that potentially divisive note, I end this edition of Men vs. Women and welcome your comments!

What are you car thoughts?

* * *

Bruce Sallan’s second book is an e-book only –  HYPERLINK “http://www.brucesallan.com/the-empty-nest-road-trip-blues/” “The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues: An Interactive Journal from A Dad’s Point-of-View” – and costs a whopping $2.79 for PDF and $2.99 on  HYPERLINK “http://www.amazon.com/Empty-Nest-Blues-Point—View-ebook/dp/B00AB0XRCW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353605281&sr=1-1” Amazon/Kindle. It’s a travelogue, an emotional father-son story, and it contains 100 photos and 7 original videos. Bruce is also the author of HYPERLINK “http://brucesallan.com/index.php/store”“A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation” and radio host of HYPERLINK “http://www.brucesallan.com/index.php/radio”“The Bruce Sallan Show – A Dad’s Point-of-View.” He gave up a long-term showbiz career to become a stay-at-home-dad. He has dedicated his new career to becoming THE Dad advocate. He carries out his mission with not only his books and radio show, but also his column HYPERLINK “http://www.brucesallan.com/index.php/mycolumn”“A Dad’s Point-of-View”, syndicated in over 100 newspapers and websites worldwide, his “I’m NOT That Dad” vlogs, the “Because I Said So” comic strip, and his dedication to his community on HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/aDadsPointOfView”Facebook and HYPERLINK “http://twitter.com/BruceSallan”Twitter. Join Bruce and his extensive community each Thursday for  HYPERLINK “http://www.brucesallan.com/index.php/other/353-all-about-dadchat” #DadChat, from 6-7pm PST, the Tweet Chat that Bruce hosts.

 

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Embrace the Chaos’: Accepting Life’s Challenges with Minimum Stress

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen  
BOOK REVIEW: 'Embrace the Chaos': Accepting Life's Challenges with Minimum Stress

God grant me the serenity 

to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time –“The Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Niebuhr

                                  * * *

Que sera, sera

Whatever will be, will be

The future’s not ours to see

Que sera, sera

What will be, will be  —“Que sera, sera”, sung by Doris Day in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Man Who Knew Too Much”

* * *

I wasn’t too far into Bob Miglani’s “Embrace the Chaos: How India Taught Me to Stop Overthinking and Start Living” (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 168 pages, $16.95, index, foreword by Richard Leider; available from Amazon.com, Powell’s, and other online sources) when I had an “aha!” moment — realizing that I had been unconsciously — or not —  following the advice the author learned on visits to his native country, India.

Now in his 40s, Miglani was a child when his parents moved to New Jersey, and like many from his country, bought a business, a Dairy Queen, in the case of the Miglani family.

Like many of us — the reviewer included in spades — Bob Miglani felt overwhelmed and anxious. He worried constantly about his job in New York City, his finances, and his family’s future, including how to pay for the education of his two children.

Life seemed so uncertain and unpredictable, but the more he tried to control it, the more stress he felt. It was a chance invitation to India, the land of his birth, that finally freed him.

“The Serenity Prayer”  reminded me of the times I accompanied an alcoholic friend to AA meetings, lending support to a man, much as helping hands gave support to Bob Miglani on his trips to India. The Doris Day rendition (remember, she was the “Girl Singer” with big bands before she became an actress) of “Que Sera, Sera” encompassed many of the “embrace the chaos” messages of Miglani’s book.

We followed Doris’s advice when we left California in 1992  for West Virginia without job prospects in a state with a high unemployment rate. Everything worked out on a small circulation newspaper and I discovered I could live without the chaos and uncertainty of working for a big metropolitan newspaper. Stress melted away. Everything wasn’t always  hunky-dory, but we survived and even thrived. We’re doing fine in Texas, where we’ve lived since the summer of 2008.

“Embrace the Chaos” is an easy read: I finished it in about an hour, in one sitting, but the messages the author provides will stay with you for a lifetime.

One message that resonated with me was from Miglani’s dad (Page 105):

“Don’t you get it? You were born by chance. And you have been living in a world full of chance. Why are you so afraid of something that brought you into this world in the first place?”

India, Miglani writes, is “the capital of chaos”: 1.2 billion people living on one-third the space of the United States, a bewildering mix of different languages, religions, customs, cultures, and castes. And yet somehow things get done and people are generally happy.

India made Miglani realize that you simply have to accept “the unpredictable, uncertain, imperfect, and complicated nature of life.” Instead of fighting it, Miglani learned to use his energy on what he could control—his own actions, words, and thoughts. However, thinking too much is just another way of trying to control the chaos. Instead of endlessly pondering possibilities, Miglani found it was better to take action, even imperfectly—to move forward, make mistakes, trust his intuition, find his purpose.

Miglani tells funny and moving stories of his trips to India, the people he met there, and what each encounter taught him. The stories are funny, but they contain valuable messages.

Some examples:

> What happens when you find yourself in an Indian village with no money and a plane to catch?

> How can an educated urban woman choose the man she is going to marry based on one or two meetings?

> What keeps a rural Indian health worker motivated despite the enormous need and such limited ability to help?

> What does trying to catch an insanely overcrowded Indian bus teach you about perfection?

Embracing the chaos, Miglani writes, “is a wonderfully freeing experience that opens us up to new, fresh possibilities. It leads us down paths we never would have walked on, introducing us to new people, new opportunities, and some of the best experiences in our life. It brings out strengths we never knew existed inside of us.”

It sounds like a cliché, but a guru in India gave this advice (Page 114) to  Miglani:  “…the answer to all of your questions,  the answer to which path to take forward, is always inside of you. It is not with-out but with-in.”

Summing up: A wonderful advice book that I will keep next to me at all times.

About the Author

Bob Miglani is senior director at a Fortune 50 company in New York City, where he has been embracing the chaos for twenty years. He came to the United States from India in 1979 and grew up running his family’s Dairy Queen business, the subject of his first book, “Treat Your Customers”.  To download Miglani’s Chaos Manifesto, which is printed in the back of the book: www.embracethechaos.com

Foreword author Richard Leider is the founder and chairman of the Inventure Group. He is ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top 5” most respected executive coaches and by the Conference Board as a “legend in coaching.” He is the author or coauthor of eight books, including the bestselling “Repacking Your Bags”.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Murdoch’s World’: Engrossing Account of World’s Most Famous Media Baron, His Triumphs, Tribulations — and Now Trials

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'Murdoch's World': Engrossing Account of World's Most Famous Media Baron, His Triumphs, Tribulations -- and Now Trials

One man admits to another that he is a reporter, but pleads “Don’t tell my mother I’m a journalist. She thinks I play piano at the whorehouse.”  –Referenced in a 2011 book about journalism  by  Spanish journalist Juan Luis Cebrián  https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/the-piano-player-in-the-brothel/

* * *

Keith Rupert Murdoch is living proof that you can take the boy out of Australia, but you can’t take the Australia out of the boy.

David Folkenflik’s “Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires” (PublicAffairs, 384 pages, $27.99) is the engrossing tale of Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp empire of Fox News Channel, Fox Movies, TV stations and a string of newspapers in Australia, the U.S. and England that have been the flashpoint of more news stories than all the other newspaper chains combined. The book will appeal to journalists like the reviewer who thrive on inside baseball details, but should also be of interest to anyone wondering about the future of mass media.

Folkenflik makes the point that the culture of newspapering in England and Australia is not only different from the norms of the U.S., but that it contributed to the cellphone hacking and other crimes committed by the reporters and editors of Murdoch’s mass circulation London tabloid (a “Red Top” in Britspeak because of the red flag –the place at the top of the page  with the name of the publication in white letters on a red background, as on the book’s jacket) News of the World  that  led to arrests in the U.K. and threatened Murdoch’s entire news empire.

The book’s publication comes on the eve of the trial of Murdoch executive Rebekkah Brooks for her role in the hacking scandal, which produced a wealth of new information in the public domain which has allowed Folkenflik to present the fullest portrait of Murdoch’s media world and its consequences to date.

“Murdoch’s World”  is as well sourced as any work could be on the News Corp — with back-of-the-book notes providing the sources that Folkenflik could name. Of course, many sources didn’t want their names revealed. I wish the publishers had included a section of photos of the people discussed, but that would have driven up the price of the book.

There is no question that Rupert Murdoch,  born in Melbourne, Australia on March 11, 1931, is the most significant media tycoon the English-speaking world has ever known. No one before him has trafficked in media influence across those nations so effectively, nor has anyone else so singularly redefined the culture of news and the rules of journalism. Over six decades, he built News Corp from a small paper in Adelaide, Australia into a multimedia empire capable of challenging national broadcasters, rolling governments, and swatting aside commercial rivals. Then, over two years, a series of scandals threatened to unravel his entire creation.

Murdoch’s defenders questioned how much he could have known about the bribery and phone hacking undertaken by his journalists in London. But to an exceptional degree, News Corp — despite being a publicly traded corporation,  was an institution cast in the image of a single man — a hands on newspaperman. I can’t believe that he didn’t know at least the rough outline of the hacking going on in his empire. His hands-on spirit was combined with his Australian buccaneering spirit. News Corp also incorporates a brawling British populism, and an outsized American libertarian sensibility—at least when it suited Murdoch’s interests.

While much of the book is devoted to the hacking scandal that began to roil the Murdoch empire in 2005 and which led to  the demise of the News of The World,  Folkenflik deftly deals with many other aspects of Murdoch’s World, including the creation of Fox News Channel, expertly guided by  Roger Ailes.  Folkenflik fearlessly discusses the Juan Williams imbroglio and the turmoil within NPR — expertly in my view — giving me insights into both Fox News and NPR.There isn’t much discussion by Folkenflik of Murdoch’s ownership of the prestigious Times of London and the Sunday Times, but I have no doubt that Murdoch should be credited with keeping those relatively low circulation and money losing papers alive in an era of disappearing newspapers.

His purchase of the Dow Jones Co., with its “Jewel in the Crown”  (Folkenflik’s description) Wall Street Journal, finalized at the end of 2007, was the subject of much handwringing in the world of journalism. In considerable detail, in Chapter 17, Folkenflik  reveals the outcome at the WSJ, where the conservative editorial policies of the previous owners, the Bancroft family, were preserved, along with the paper’s independent news coverage. Murdoch at heart is a print news guy who knows what kind of changes should be made and when to leave the paper alone; that’s the policy he followed at the WSJ.

The turmoil within the Murdoch family rivals anything from TV dramas like “Dallas”  and Folkenflik provides the reader with details on the relationships of James, Lachlan and Elisabeth Murdoch with their father. Murdoch abruptly ended his marriage to his much younger third wife, Chinese-born Wendi Deng. Murdoch’s mother, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, lived to age 103, so the 82-year-old Rupert Murdoch could be around for many years to come. Whether you think that’s good news or bad, stay tuned.

About the Author

Award-winning journalist David Folkenflik has been NPR’s media correspondent since 2004. He previously covered media and politics for the Baltimore Sun and edited the 2011 bookPage One: Inside The New York Times and the Future of Journalism. (for my review, http://www.huntingtonnews.net/5864). He has covered Murdoch and News Corp extensively and has been a frequent commentator on the hacking scandal in both the US and the UK. Folkenflik lives with his wife, the radio producer Jesse Baker, and their daughter in New York City.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Hitler’s Furies’: The Twisted Face of Women’s Liberation in Male-Dominated Germany: Eight Women Seduced Into Active Participation in the Horrors in the Nazi Death Camps

  • Reviewed by Ken Weiler 
BOOK REVIEW: 'Hitler's Furies': The Twisted Face of Women's Liberation in Male-Dominated Germany: Eight Women Seduced Into Active Participation in the Horrors in the Nazi Death Camps

 

When one thinks about the Holocaust committed by the Nazis before and during World War II, what comes to mind of the perpetrators are images of thuggish jackbooted SS camp guards, immaculate SS officers of the Sicherheitsdienst (the SS security service) or the striped uniform-wearing inmates with their color-coded triangles used by the Nazis to identify and supervise the unfortunate inmates of the various camps.That has been the historical picture of the management of the Nazi gulag of concentration and extermination camps throughout the German Reich and the occupied nations, until now.

Wendy Lower’s diligent research in “Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 288 pages, $26.00)  has added new information, faces and occupations to the genocidal history of the war and what makes this history significant and different, as all of them are women.

Lower adds a new cast to the Aryan oppressors in the extermination of the Jews and other untermensch or subhuman “waste eaters” undesirables:  teachers, nurses, secretaries, wives and lovers of Nazi SS and Ordnungspolizei or Order Police that ran the camps and field extermination sites in the eastern occupied nations.Instead of recounting a laundry list of atrocities, places and numbers killed, the author selected eight women of different backgrounds; rural, urban, modest means and well off, socially respectable and politically savvy and introduces us to how they were seduced, selected and then indoctrinated by the National Socialist machinery into efficient, unquestioning and at times, unthinking instruments of Nazi national policy in aiding and abetting the state program of ridding Germany of its undesirable humans and to clear the lebensraum or living space in the east for their new owners: resettled German farmers, soldiers and industries.

In addition, the author adds texture and depth to the history of the war in the east by explaining the history and cultural allure that the German-occupied eastern regions had and the opportunities that beckoned those seeking escape from the strictures of German society,  families, and pasts they preferred to kept hidden and especially the new National Socialist attitudes of women’s roles that offered new opportunities for advancement, romance and the power of a new and exciting career in settling Germany’s wild west in the east.

Lower spends much time examining the emotional and psychological states of these women and attempts, successfully I might add, to explain how these mostly young (most under 30), naive, occasionally well educated women could participate in the mass murder; personally and actively participating in the execution of the helpless prisoners, even to the unthinkable shooting of children, by a few of these women who were themselves mothers.

The concluding chapters of “Hitler’s Furies” are a postwar follow-up on the fates of these eight women by the justice systems of the victorious Allies as well as that of the new nations of West and East Germany.  If one believes that justice is blind or fair, one will be disappointed in the outcomes of the trials of these women and their husbands and lovers, especially in the anti-communist confrontation nation of West Germany.

What is ironic to this sad tale of the dark side of human nature is the efforts of Eastern Germany were far more active in identifying, tracking down and prosecuting these murders with lengthy prison sentences compared to the far more lenient results of the West German courts and many of these women truly did get away with murder.

About the Author

Wendy Lower, Ph.D.,  is the John K. Roth Chair of History at Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA,  and research associate of the Ludwig Maximillians Universitat in Munich. A historical consultant for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, she has conducted archival research and field work on the Holocaust for twenty years. She earned her B.A. in 1987 from Hamilton College, Clinton, NY and her doctorate in 1999 from American University, Washington, DC.  
About the Reviewer

Ken Weiler, a former Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army with the Department of Engineering and Military Science at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia was also the Legislative liaison NCOIC with the Army’s SAFEGUARD anti-ballistic missile program at the Department of Defense at Arlington, Virginia. He has written several learned articles on historical preservation and identification, is a member of the Hanover Historical Society (PA) as well as Co-Chairman of its Museum Committee. He is also a Trustee of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Society in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as well as a volunteer curator at the Eisenhower National Historic Site, also in Gettysburg. He holds degrees from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He currently resides with his wife in Hanover, Pennsylvania. For David M. Kinchen’s 2012 review of his “Operation Bagration,” click: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/42160 For Kinchen’s review of his 2013 book,  “The European Theater Anthology of World War II,” click: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/73677