Editor: Mike O’Mary
Title:Be there now : travel stories from around the world
Publication Info: Dream of Things, 2012
This book collects very brief essays that capture a moment of a travel experience. It’s interesting idea but a lot of the stories come out vapid and are not at all transcendent. It’s a quick read, though, and a handful of stories stand out such as: volunteers helping sea turtles lay their eggs in Costa Rica ( A Trembling Voice by Frank Izaguirr), a blind man visiting mountain gorillas in Rwanda (In the Footsteps of Fossey by Irene Morse), and a writer exploring the world through Google Maps (Virtual Travel by Trendle Ellwood). The book kind of feels the first part of a contest in which the authors of the top stories should be awarded with a chance to publish longer stories of their experiences.
Recommended books: There’s No Toilet Paper on the Road Less Traveled: The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure by Doug Lansky
Narrator: Thomas Frank
Title: Pity the Billionaire
Publication Info: Macmillan Audio, 2012
Previous books read by the same author: What’s the Matter With Kansas?
Thomas Frank explores the ways in which the crash of 2008 and ensuing great recession failed to lead to a populist revolt against capitalists nor for greater government intervention into the economy, as it has in past recessions. In fact, we got the Tea Party instead where the government was blamed for over-regulating business and banking instead. Frank examines the common explanations for the rise of the Tea Party, dismisses them, and proposes the long growing movement that paints capitalists as victims of government overreach drawing from the works of neoliberal economists and Ayn Rand. It’s all very interesting, and well-composed, although nothing I’ve not read before. My favorite part of the book turned out to be the last chapter where Thomas Frank condemns the Democratic Party for failing to have any populist ideology to counter the right, nor drawing on what made them successful in past recessions, while at the same time maintaining cozy relations with Big Business. The Democrats failure to act on the historic principles of their party makes it somewhat plausible that they can be blamed for being affiliated with the banks that bankrupted the country while at the same time too strictly regulating those banks.
Recommended books: The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History by Jill Lepore, and Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) by David Cay Johnston.
Beer: Rare Vos
Brewer: Brewery Ommegang
Rating: *** (7.8 of 10)
Comments: A yummy beer enjoyed on draft at the Doubleday Cafe in Cooperstown, NY. A golden amber brew with a floral aroma, the beer has a bready, malt flavor with spices and hints of fruit, like apricot. A very well-crafted and quaffable beer with ineffable qualities.