The Church of Mercy – Pope Francis

The Church of Mercy
Pope Francis
April 25, 2014
April 25, 2014
Audio Book
168

In the year since he was elected, Pope Francis’s simple message of mercy, service, and renewal has spread to every corner of the world. Through his gentle demeanor, selfless actions, and welcoming call for service to others, Pope Francis has captured the attention of a world longing for an authentic message of hope—we want to hear what he has to say.

Collected from Pope Francis’s speeches, homilies, and papers presented during the first year of his papacy, The Church of Mercy is the first Vatican-authorized book detailing his vision for the Catholic Church. From how to be citizens of the world to answering God’s call for evangelization, Pope Francis's deep wisdom reminds us that the Church must move beyond its own walls and joyfully bring God's mercy wherever suffering, division, or injustice exists.

Named TIME Magazine’s 2013 “Person of the Year,” Pope Francis is helping the Church continue toward an authentic Christianity that is faithful to the Gospel and resonant with the world’s greatest needs. The Church of Mercy encourages each of us to ignite the flame within to help share the light of Christ and revitalize the Church.

The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin – Masha Gessen

What you tolerate you perpetuate.

The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin
Masha Gessen
Riverhead Trade
March 5, 2013
AudioBook
336

In 1999, the “Family” surrounding Boris Yeltsin went looking for a successor to the ailing and increasingly unpopular president. Vladimir Putin, with very little governmental or administrative experience—he’d been deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, and briefly, director of the secret police—nevertheless seemed the perfect choice: a “faceless” creature whom Yeltsin and his cronies could mold in their own image. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see in him the progressive leader of their dreams—even as Putin, with ruthless efficiency, dismantled the country’s media, wrested control and wealth from the business class, and destroyed the fragile mechanisms of democracy. Within a few brief years, virtually every obstacle to his unbridled control was removed and every opposing voice silenced, with political rivals and critics driven into exile or to the grave.
Masha Gessen has experienced and reported this history firsthand, and brings it up to its present moment of unrest and uncertainty. Her spellbinding account of Putin’s rise and reign will stand as a classic of narrative nonfiction.

Dad is Fat – Jim Gaffigan

Wanting to take a break from the more serious natured audio books I’ve been listening to recently, I found Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat in my recommended reading list.  Since I’m a fan of his comedy and wanted something a bit lighter, I added my namJim Gaffigan - Dad is Fate to the hold list at the local library (using Overdrive of course) for the audio book.

Starting off, I immediately recognized the narrator as Jim Gaffigan himself, an added bonus.  In this book Jim offers short chapters about various portions of being a new dad, figuring out the new additions as they come, managing  as a dad, and juggling life’s responsibilities after becoming a dad for the fifth time.  While I can’t relate to that level of mastery he has seemingly acquired with five kids, I recognized many of his struggles and oddities as those that I’ve faced with just two kids.

The whole books comes across, intentionally or not, as an extended ode to his super-hero wife Jeannie.  Jim, like many of us dads, assumes that the more attractive partners in our relationships have had special instruction in child rearing, but throughout the chapters in this book you see a story of a dad who figures it out, and makes it work, documenting all the idiosyncrasies of fatherhood along the way.

Any parent who has balanced work / life responsibilities while raising their little ones will likely find this audio book an entertaining reminder of the joys that we have been through, and the joys that our kids bring us. For  any expecting parents, this is the book of things they don’t tell you in official parenting books, give it a read to know what you’re REALLY about to get into.

Dad is Fat
Jim Gaffigan
Parenting and Family
May 7, 2013
Audio Book
288

In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’sFatherhoodDad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.

Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution

Growing up with the desire to study law, but not the dedication nor drive to obtain a Juris Doctorate, I have replaced those desires with a strong interest in politics and law through all levels of government. I find my self reading more books, and in this case, listening to audio books, on the subject.

This book contains the words of retired Justice John Paul Stevens about the six issues which he proposes that we fix with amendments to the Constitution.  The audio book is a short 3:42 listen.  It is a good smooth listen, but can be fast tracked at times requiring me to re-listen to a few sections to ensure I got the references and their meanings correct.

The six issues are presented in a more concise well written method than I could provide over here.  I’ll simply add my thoughts to each below.

  1. “Anti-Commandeering Rule”   – I cannot agree with this suggestion as proposed as I feel that a locally elected official has a more direct relationship with those they serve, and ignoring a federally enacted rule or law can be an act of protest.  The current issues outlined in this book I believe are acceptable, and need no further assistance from the Constitution.
  2. Political Gerrymandering”  I fully support a law restricting this practice, as politicians will continue to be politicians who will continue to politic and do things that are both questionable and in their favor, this amendment could assist with those issues.
  3. Campaign Finance”  While I believe the proposed solution is decent, I could imagine where the dominant party in power could further restrict the speech (spending) of those not in power through rule making, which could make the situation just as bad as it is now.  Corporate money in politics is bad (epic proportions at this point) and must be regulated, but with due caution in mind.
  4. Sovereign Immunity” On its cover, I think I support this one.  There is no reason that agents of the state are protected from their actions of doing so.  The only thing I fear is the flow of tort actions this would result in.  I don’t like blank protections for any class of people, especially the state itself.  Should this be pushed on the federal government as well?  I’m not sure, but this is a start.
  5. Death Penalty” I don’t believe that the Death Penalty serves the purpose that it once did in the past. With the 20 year waits for executions, the deterrence factor of the death penalty is simply useless.  The excessive cost of holding death row prisoners over regular life prisoners is also not warranted either, I can agree with the addition of these five words.
  6. The Second Amendment” With the power the Department of Defense has over State’s National Guard units, I don’t see how stripping 2nd Amendment protections to individuals, and relegating those only to the ‘state militia’ is any less than fully revoking the 2nd amendment.  This is the most absurd recommendation I’ve seen yet.

Overall I enjoyed the book, not so much the message.  I am a fiscal conservative and social moderate, which is mostly where Justice Steven’s opinions floated towards the beginning of his career, but as we can see from his opinions over his later years, and in retirement, he has changed more towards a federalist leaning position.

Thanks for your service, and the book I guess.

Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution Book Cover Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution
John Paul Stevens
Hachette Audio
April 22, 2014
Audio Book

By the time of his retirement in June 2010, John Paul Stevens had become the second longest serving Justice in the history of the Supreme Court. Now he draws upon his more than three decades on the Court, during which he was involved with many of the defining decisions of the modern era, to offer a book like none other. SIX AMENDMENTS is an absolutely unprecedented call to arms, detailing six specific ways in which the Constitution should be amended in order to protect our democracy and the safety and wellbeing of American citizens. 

Written with the same precision and elegance that made Stevens's own Court opinions legendary for their clarity as well as logic, SIX AMENDMENTS is a remarkable work, both because of its unprecedented nature and, in an age of partisan ferocity, its inarguable common sense.

Tell Me How I’m Doing: A Fable About the Importance of Giving Feedback

I read a lot of blogs using BlogTrottr as my inbox delivery mechanism, but it has been quite a while since I’ve been cover to cover on a good book, or any book for that matter.  My wife calls me a reference reader, I know how to find information I need when I need it.   After reading a recommendation from a guy I quite admire in my profession, I picked up this book and gave it a read through.

This book is nothing more than a narrative of a management training sessions revolving around feedback.  Within the narration we learn about the varying methods of feedback, the good, the bad, and the ugly of what you might already be doing.   The training begins with the main character, ‘Scott’, on the pointy end of a training exercise which awakens him and makes him very receptive to the lessons being taught.

Over the course of the book we learn that behaviors at work can be translated to behaviors at home and improvement in one area can reflect in the other.  We also learn that there is nothing revolutionary in this book, simply ideas that you already know, but rarely think about, and more than likely, aren’t putting into practice.

This a quick read that any one could take something away from, a good start as my first in a long time.

Tell Me How I’m Doing: A Fable About the Importance of Giving Feedback Book Cover Tell Me How I’m Doing: A Fable About the Importance of Giving Feedback
Richard L. Williams Ph.D.
AMACOM
June 12, 2007
128