2016 Election Reading List


In 6 months Americans will go to the polls to vote for our next President as well as representatives, senators, and countless state and local officials.  I decided to put together a list of books on political and social topics that I find informative on various issues.  Of course, while I think these are important…

Book Review: The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein


Author: Naomi Klein Title: The Shock Doctrine Narrator: Jennifer Wiltsie Publication Info:  Macmillan Audio (2007) Summary/Review: This book exposes the ideology of neoliberalism, the idea that government should be limited to the bare bones and that corporations should be completely unregulated, a school of thought promoted by Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago.  The book begins with…

Book Review: Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank


Author: Thomas Frank Title: Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? Publication Info: Metropolitan Books (2016) Previously Read By Same Author:  What’s the Matter With Kansas and Pity the Billionaire Summary/Review: I received a free advanced reading copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. Thomas Frank asks…

Book Review: The new Jim Crow : mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness by Michelle Alexander


Author: Michelle Alexander Title:The new Jim Crow : mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness Publication Info: New York : [Jackson, Tenn.] : New Press ; Distributed by Perseus Distribution, 2010. Summary/Review: Alexander’s book demonstrates how mass incarceration  in the United States has succeeded slavery and Jim Crow segregation in creating inequality and an undercaste…

Podcast of the Week: “How Did the Flint Water Crisis Happen?” by ProPublica


How Did the Flint Water Crisis Happen? is an important podcast by the investigative journalism agency ProPublica about one of the greatest criminal acts performed by a government against its people in American history.  This is an important listen for gaining better understanding of this still under-reported humanitarian crisis in Michigan.

What is the Future for Public Schools in Boston?


Once again, Massachusetts public schools are ranked the the best in the nation. This may be surprising to many based on the constant political rhetoric that public schools in Massachusetts are a “disaster.”  One of the major issues is the great gap in achievement between low-income students and their more affluent peers.  For me and…

Book Review: Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado


Author: Linda Tirado Title: Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America Narrator: Linda Tirado Publication Info: New York : Penguin Audio, p2014. Summary/Review: Tirado writes and narrates this extended essay on the poor in United States, unflinchingly and wryly explaining why the poor do the things the do and how both right-wing and left-wing  stereotypes of…

Book Review: Pity the Billionaire by Thomas Frank


Author:Thomas Frank Narrator: Thomas Frank Title: Pity the Billionaire  Publication Info: Macmillan Audio, 2012 ISBN: 9781427223128 Previous books read by the same author: What’s the Matter With Kansas? Summary/Review: 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…

Book Review: Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools by Diane Ravitch


Author: Diane Ravitch Title: Reign of Error Publication Info: Knopf (2013) Summary/Review: This is the most important book I’ve read all year and one that I think every American should read.  Educational historian Diane Ravitch unravels the multi-pronged attack of the “school reform” movement on public education, teachers, and the core principles of democracy.  While school reformers…

Worst Night of the Year Won’t Go Away


Believe it or not it’s been three years since I posted how much I hate Daylight Saving Time, and particularly the night in which we must “spring forward” the clock 1 hour.  I’m not looking forward to waking up tomorrow and dragging myself through the day. I’ve nothing new to write, but here are my…

Movie Review: In The Loop


Title: In The Loop Release Date: 17 April 2009 Director: Armando Iannucci Production Co: IFC Films,  BBC Films Country: United Kingdom Language: English Genre: Comedy | Satire Rating: *** This satirical film depicts mid-level government officials in Britain and the US as they work towards declaring war against an unnamed Middle Eastern country (an obvious parody…

Book Review: The spirit level by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett


Author: Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett Title: The spirit level : why greater equality makes societies stronger by Publication Info: Tantor Media (2011) ISBN: 1452655057 Summary/Review: The thesis of this book is that greater equality creates a better society is a no-brainer for me.  But we live in an age where there are some who promote greater inequality and deny the…

Book Review: The Whites of Their Eyes by Jill Lepore


Author: Jill Lepore Title: The Whites of Their Eyes: the Tea Party’s revolution and the battle over American history Publication Info: Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2010. ISBN: 9780691150277 Summary/Review: Harvard historian Jill Lepore investigates the rhetoric of the Tea Party particularly the claim by many right-wing politicians to speak to the original intent of…

Retropost: Confessions of a St. Patrick’s Day Curmudgeon


In honor of this special day let’s revisit one of my favorite posts. While most kids look forward to Christmas, when I was a child, St. Patrick’s Day (along with Thanksgiving) was one of my favorite days of the year.  It was a big day in my family usually involving going to the parade in…

Worst Night of the Year Keeps Coming Back


A friend of mine called me “crankypants” yesterday because of it, but I still hate switching to Daylight Saving Time.  I’ve been congested and sleeping poorly the past week so I didn’t need to lose an hour of sleep on top of that. Anyhow, I like this quote attributed to some unnamed Native American (who…

Book Review: Pedal Power by J. Harry Wray


Author: J. Harry Wray Title: Pedal power : the quiet rise of the bicycle in American public life Publication Info: Boulder, Colo. : Paradigm Publishers, c2008. ISBN: 9781594514623 Summary/Review: Wray writes in a dry, professorial tone about bicycle culture in the United States through a political science approach.  While not the best written book it…

Worst Night of the Year…Redux


Daylight Savings Time begins today meaning that we will have a greater risk of on-the-job injuries according to Scientific American.  And The Christian Science Monitor reports that changing our clocks will cost us money.  The Monitor rightly asks why is that we spring forward again? Ugh!  Join me in hoping that this silly — and…