Category Archives: Books

Origins of self delusion

My Buddy sent me this interesting article from the New York Sunday Book Review. If its a warning to me I appreciate getting it.

Fooling others yields obvious benefits, but why do we so often fool ourselves? Trivers provides a couple of answers. First, believing that we’re smarter, sexier and more righteous than we really are — or than others consider us to be — can help us seduce and persuade others and even improve our health, via the placebo effect, for example. And the more we believe our own lies, the more sincerely, and hence effectively, we can lie to others. “We hide reality from our conscious minds the better to hide it from onlookers,” Trivers explains. But our illusions can have devastating consequences, from the dissolution of a marriage to stock-market collapses and world wars.

Oh yeah, about that Congressional run

I think I’ve said before that this Book writing of mine may not just be book writing. It may serve as the beginning of a campaign for Congress. I suppose rather than look too much like Herman “buy my book” Cain I ought to mix it up a bit with the potential candidates I could face in a primary.

I haven’t put much thought into the other candidates but I do know a bit about one potentially formidable challenger so I’ll play a little offense to keep all the others on their guard. Their turn could come next.

The fellow I know sits on the Duluth City Council. He’s been there for some years and I swear I have no strong impression of anything he’s done on the council. That’s not a big deal. Tons of Congressmen don’t get a chance to do anything of consequence until they’ve served for a decade or longer. That’s a lot longer than Rick Nolan served. But this salvo is directed at Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson not Rick.

Jeff was paralyzed when facing an issue he chose to believe was not part of his “turf.” It was something I knew would affect all of Duluth even if it was the School District’s mess. In 2006 the school board hogged $450 million precious tax dollars to rebuild most of its schools. It did it without a very compelling case that such a massive project was necessary. It did this without asking for the voter’s approval. Very few City Councilors could muster the courage to criticize something that both the Chamber of Commerce and the local Unions had endorsed. Jeff Anderson sure couldn’t.

I did. I was early. I didn’t give up. I raised hell. I was right and today the School District has lost the trust of the citizens of Duluth who Jeff represents. As a result of taking five million classroom dollars each year to pay off building bonds for a plan that keeps leaping past its promised cost the school district will be faced with draconian cuts on top of draconion cuts already in force.

As a City Councilor Jeff Anderson saw first hand the unwillingness of the School administration to treat with them honestly and today the City Council is faced with unpleasant facts like the District’s failure to account for the logistics of parking students attending a huge new school in a residential neighborhood.

If cowardice and biting one’s fingernails is what the voters of northern Minnesota want for their new Congressman they will surely get such a representative in Jeff Anderson.

If they want someone brave enough to speak out and smart enough to call a train wreck long before impact… Well, I have another candidate in mind for them. Oh yeah, he’s busy writing a book.

Ending a drought

I’ve just added a new book to my personal reading list. Its a wonderful book that I found in Alice Springs in bookstore devoted to Aboriginal Australians. The book The Original Australians by Josephine Flood is the best single treatment of the subject ever written. That’s my guess anyway.

Fighting the Red Plan for three years was so all consuming I didn’t read a single book from cover to cover for two years. I’m so over that.

2010

Sunburnt Country…………………………………. Bill Bryson
Thunderbolt Kid ……………………………………….Bill Bryson
Lincoln, The biography of a writer ………………… Fred Kaplan
1776…………………………………………………………David McCullough
The Diary of Anne Frank (Definitive edition)……… Anne Frank
Nature’s Building Blocks A-Z guide to Elements……. John Emsley
In Tasmania …………………………………………… Nicholas Shakespeare
The Fatal Shore……………………………………….. Robert Hughes

2011

Searching for Aboriginal Languages………………. R.M.W. Dixon
A History of New Zealand …………………………. Keith Sinclair
Carnivorous Nights (Trail of Taz Tiger)…………….Mittelbach & Crewdson
New Zealand Wildlife BRADT……………………….. Julian Fitter
Australian Wildlife BRADT …………………………..Stella Martin
The Last of the Nomads……………………………. W J Peasley
The Original Australians……………………………. Josephine Flood

My Reading List

In 1999 after timidly following my daughter into AOL Chat rooms I began exploring the Internet. I was soon building my own website www.snowbizz.com now largely neglected and mutilated. I transferred most of my energies into a fight for my right to vote which led me to create and work on other websites and this blog. I also abandoned book reading for better than two years. Last year I tried to do a little catching up. Here is the list of books I read (or that I can recall reading) last year:

2010

Sunburnt Country by Bill Bryson
Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
Lincoln, The biography of a writer by Fred Kaplan
1776 by David McCullough
The Diary of Anne Frank (Definitive edition) by Anne Frank
Nature’s Building Blocks A-Z guide to Elements by
John Emsley
In Tasmania by Nicholas Shakespeare
The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes

I just added one to the list that I’d forgotten until this morning and posted it on one of the webpages for my original website – “My Reading List.” I’m just learning to master some new software that has made working on my old websites a bear. I may yet get back into the groove again. There are some things this blog just isn’t good at communicating.

Old Chestnuts

My posts have been few and far between recently. Its not for want of topics but rather my inclination to practice grandfathering and read books again.

My eight loyal readers know that I’ve been reading the recently published full diary of Anne Frank out loud to my wife this summer. (I obviously haven’t read it every night or we would have finished it long ago)

Keeping Anne on my mind has been an antidote to too much self absorption. A couple days ago there was a news story about the chestnut tree that Anne could see from her hiding place falling over. By coincidence that night when I resumed reading the first diary entry I read mentioned the chestnut.

Anne hasn’t been far from my thoughts. Last week NPR had a story about Adolph Hitler’s signature being found on the Nuremberg laws which made Jews second class German Citizens and which were a precursor to the Holocaust.

Also a short time ago I ran across a Christian rock music video which was a peaen to Anne Frank that brought me to tears with a succession of photos of Anne and her family.

Last night I finally finished the diary and finally ran across Anne’s famous quote about still having faith in humanity despite everything. She was just a year younger than my Mother.