Two More Books off the List… Oh, look there’s still a Library here…

Yesterday I finished reading The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy by Two Guys. I didn’t finish the book but I am done with reading it. I should have just picked up the original article these two wrote. I don’t need a 400 page, immaculately researched, and backed up book to tell me that Israel gets a free pass here in the United States. Turn the news on and you see it does. As do all our other brutal but anti-terrorist friends in the world.  Is this going to change anytime soon? Probably not, the book quotes innumerable politicaians and organizations that all say the same thing, “The Israel Lobby is the most powerful in Washington”, and “They control the public discourse relating to Israel and the Middle-East in this country”. That is a depressing thought, it is also depressing to think that even bringing up the topic of a bias in American discourse towards Israel gets you immediately labeled a new anti-Semite. So I guess that is what I’m going to be looking forward to, when I say that Carter is right and what is going on in Israel and along the West Bank is Apartheid and there is no excuse for it in a democratic country. There is also no excuse for anyone who thinks that it is okay to do so, regardless of the reasoning behind it. Racism is Racism, Hate is Hate. You don’t get rid of it by building walls around it, or killing it.

Enough of the depressing, soul wrenching dump we call the Middle East.

I also just finished Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner. I liked the book, but then Buddhism appeals to me Zen in particular because there is no religiousness about it. It’s a practice and it’s solely concerned with the here and now, this existence. If more people were doing that instead of getting weepy eyed and hopeful about what might happen after were dead, the world would be a better place. I didn’t need all the talk about the punk scene in the 80’s but that’s Warner’s life and this is his book… So he can do what he wants. Stripping all the bull out of practice though, I liked that. Also the talk about Godzilla rocks, he needed more of that and less of Ultraman, who likes Ultraman?

In conclusion, if you’re interested in learning about Zen Buddhism without all the ritual and formula and tricky words, without all the baggage you should pick up a copy of the Hardcore Zen.  If you need all the references to back up what you already knew about American foreign policy towards Israel pick up the first book and flip to the back, there is pages of it. Oh, and pointing out the truth doesn’t make you a bigot. Some people just don’t like the truth… Screw them.

Reviewing Cradle to Cradle

I just finished reading Cradle to Cradle by W. McDonough & M. Braungart.  It’s an interesting book, big on ideas sadly short on details. The book is about changing how things are designed in our world today. Most designers approach their project as a cradle to grave affair. Create a product that will breakdown after X years and then have the consumer throw it away. They advocate a paradigm shift of creating products that when disposed of can be upcycled instead of downcycled (recycled) or when thrown away give something back to environment. They list a couple of projects that they’ve worked on that did just that or at least started down that road.  They don’t acknowledge though the enormous difficulty in restructuring an entire economic system, especially one in which billions of people and trillions of dollars are heavily invested.

There’s nothing to disagree with in the book because of its abstraction.  There isn’t anything here to attack because everything is only intellectual. The only complaint that can be leveled against them is their lack of concrete details. There isn’t any plan here to get done what they want to get done. It’s easily to build castles in the clouds, it doesn’t take anything to do so. The difficulties arise when you start devising a plan, a plan that not everyone is going to agree with. A plan that some are goingto vehemently oppose. No one, no one wants to destroy the planet. Everyone agrees it should be cherished and protected. Say when you say that you’re preaching to the choir. When it comes to the “how” that is where the trouble starts. McDonough and Braungart don’t offer any hows though so their book ultimately goes no-where and does nothing…

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