Archive for August, 2011

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips… by Mignon Fogarty

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better WritingGrammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first time I have been intimidated writing a book review. One would think that if I read the book this review would be 100% grammatically correct, that just isn’t going to happen (I suffer from grammar allergies). Whenever someone starts talking or I start reading about adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and modifiers all I hear is what sounds to me like Charlie Brown’s teacher (wah wah wah). I found myself having to reread paragraphs to get some of the information to sink in (phrasal verb). This book might actually be a cure for those, like me, who suffer from grammar allergies; if taken in enough doses.

Reading the book not only helped me learn if what I was doing was right or wrong but also explained what made it right or wrong. The “Quick and Dirty Tips” are great and easy to remember. If your memory isn’t the best, the tips are listed in the back of the book “Quick and Dirty Grammar at a Glance”. Knowing this could have saved me from reading the first 200+ pages (I kid). I recommend reading the entire book. I will have to reread this book several times and keep it on hand for reference. I’m not a professional or “serious” writer, I just post some book reviews and random thoughts on my Blog. I’m not too worried about my grammar. I just want my posts to not be horrendous.

I highly recommend this book to everyone and think it should be mandatory reading for students.

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Our Psychopathic Government

After reading The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronsom, which among other things, investigates whether psychopaths are running the world.

I decided to do my own “research” and see what score our government representatives (as a whole) would get on the Hare checklist.

First I’m not a doctor or qualified to give the test ( I just did it for entertainment). Second I didn’t rate each person individually. I just took congress as a whole and went through the checklist.

I ended up giving our elected politicians a scored 31 (to be diagnosed as a psychopath you need a score of 30 or more). I would be interested to see what score you ended up giving them.

After my 2 minutes of research I have concluded that if the most powerful country in the world is run by a psychopathic group then, as a whole, the world is run by psychopaths!

There are 20 traits on the checklist. To score you give either 0, 1, or 2 points for each item (0 for not at all, 1 for applies somewhat and 2 definitely fits).

The twenty traits assessed by the PCL-R score are:
glib and superficial charm
grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
need for stimulation
pathological lying
cunning and manipulativeness
lack of remorse or guilt
shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
callousness and lack of empathy
parasitic lifestyle
poor behavioral controls
sexual promiscuity
early behavior problems
lack of realistic long-term goals
impulsivity
irresponsibility
failure to accept responsibility for own actions
many short-term marital relationships
juvenile delinquency
revocation of conditional release
criminal versatility

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness IndustryThe Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw Jon Ronson on The Daily Show and his book sounded interesting. The book is multifaceted as he looks into the mental illness industry and he takes a look at the theory that psychopaths are running the world. Jon (Ronson) interviews scientologists (who believe that the doctors are manufacturing mental illnesses), doctors and psychopaths.

The theory that psychopaths are running the world comes from the fact that about 1% of the population are psychopaths, the lower or higher you go in society the percentage of psychopaths goes up. According to this book about 20% of inmates are psychopaths and about 4% of CEO’s are psychopaths.

(Scary thought: Next time you are at a sporting event or concert, stop and think, for every 1,000 people there, there are10 psychopaths).

Jon also looks at madness in the media. It seems that if you have the right kind of madness you’ll get attention from the news or end up on a reality TV show. Apparently the general population wants to see people that are crazier than they are so they can say “I’m not that bad”. After reading this part of the book I was thinking, “that explains a lot”.

The book contains the Bob Hare Checklist (it can also be found online). The checklist will help you spot psychopaths on your own. Doctors use it to rate someones responses and them give them points either 0, 1, or 2. There are 20 items on the checklist so the maximum score someone can get is 40.To be diagnosed as a psychopath someone would need to score at least 30.

Here is the checklist:

The twenty traits assessed by the PCL-R score are:

glib and superficial charm
grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
need for stimulation
pathological lying
cunning and manipulativeness
lack of remorse or guilt
shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
callousness and lack of empathy
parasitic lifestyle
poor behavioral controls
sexual promiscuity
early behavior problems
lack of realistic long-term goals
impulsivity
irresponsibility
failure to accept responsibility for own actions
many short-term marital relationships
juvenile delinquency
revocation of conditional release
criminal versatility

The book also takes a look at misdiagnosing, over labeling, over medicating and pharmaceutical companies pushing their drugs.

I have to say although I found many interesting things in this book and thought it was well done. I just didn’t think it was a really good of a read. I just can’t quite put my finger on why.

Bob Hare’s site: http://www.hare.org/

There are plenty of other sites if you are interested just search The Psychopath Test.

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Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis

Hard SpellHard Spell by Justin Gustainis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun and entertaining read from beginning to end. Imagine a world where civil rights are extended to all, no matter your sex, race, religion, or if you are living or one of the undead. Justin Gustainis has created a world where humans and the supernatural coexist. The main character is Stan Markowski, a cop on the supe (supernatural) squad. He handles cases that involve crimes committed by or committed against supernatural beings (Vampires, werewolves, witches, goblins etc).

For me this book had an old school crime novel feel to it, which I loved. Add the fact that it’s full of supernatural beings (some law abiding some not so much), and you end up with a familiar yet new take on crime novels and life in general. Written with humor and suspense, I found the plot action packed and fast paced but a little predictable. Even though some of the destinations were predictable, the journey getting there certainly wasn’t. As I was reading Hard Spell I found myself thinking this would make an interesting movie or, better yet, a weekly series*.

This book does contain strong language and violence, with that warning I would recommend it to anyone.

*Hint for the SyFy channel.

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A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana by Haven Kimmel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a memoir about a girl who was born in 1965 and grew up in a small Indiana town. At first I was thinking I would have little interest in or find anything I would relate to in her story. I was wrong. Haven Kimmel did a great job of telling her story in a way that was interesting and funny. I found myself relating to many aspects of the story. Being about the same age as Zippy helped me relate to the era she grew up in, but the story is about more than being born in the 60’s, growing up in a small town or being a girl, it’s about being a kid and being a kid is something we can all relate to.

As I was reading “A Girl Named Zippy” I found myself having fond memories of my own childhood and moments spent with my parents. What more could one ask for?

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