one THOUSAND wells (sic)

[Please note: The word “Featured” on the left side above was NOT inserted by this blogger, but apparently was inserted by WordPress, and it cannot be removed. NO post in this blog is sponsored.]

The Book of the Week is “one THOUSAND wells (sic), How an Audacious Goal Taught Me to Love the World Instead of Save It” by Jena Lee Nardella, published in 2015.

Born in the early 1980’s, the American author– raised in a strict Christian household– became an idealist, passionate about helping the downtrodden. By her teens, she was volunteering at a Colorado Springs homeless shelter. She worked at an orphanage in Tijuana. In college, she got to meet and work with the Christian music-band, Jars of Clay.

Together with other groups over the course of a decade, the do-gooders who formed a humanitarian organization in 2005 called Blood: Water Mission, would bring uncontaminated blood (for medical purposes) and water (for basic drinking and cleaning) to various underprivileged communities in Kenya, Rwanda, Central African Republic, Uganda, and other African countries. They would help them with the three major components of improving Africans’ health: clean water, hygiene and sanitation.

One of the first of many, many things the author learned in her quest to save lives, was that most Americans’ first impulse is to throw money at a complex problem to solve it. They mean well, but their white-savior-complex is a wrong-headed approach. As she gained experience in providing international aid to poverty-stricken, poorly-educated rural communities, the author saw how villagers were initially skeptical about aid workers’ promises; in the past, so many aid workers had failed to follow up or do anything.

The author’s group eventually elicited a grateful, cooperative response because an educator involved the villagers in raising their own standards of living. A few different aid groups who handled various aspects of a water project, did what they said they would do.

If their projects succeeded, women and children (before school– if they were lucky enough to attend) wouldn’t have to spend hours every day trekking on foot to a water-well or river (which might be used by hundreds of households, and was usually polluted with germs and who knows what else) located many kilometers from their living areas. Blood: Water completed one specific project in Rwanda that allowed eighteen hundred villagers to partake of clean water. Such a basic victory produced a great ripple effect in the community. School attendance soared because:

  • kids were neither fatigued by water-fetching nor plagued by water-borne illnesses (and all the people by other illnesses, for that matter) anymore;
  • villagers were neither sickened by, nor dying from the water they used; and
  • villagers had more time on their hands.

However, the author had rude awakenings on various fronts– a water project that failed, fund-raising struggles, and an episode of corruption by a local male aid-coordinator. She was also forced to do some soul-searching on her religious beliefs. She finally had to accept that it is better to have unanswered questions than unquestioned answers.

Read the book to learn a wealth of additional details about all of the above.

Settle For More

[Please note: The word “Featured” on the left side above was NOT inserted by this blogger, but apparently was inserted by WordPress, and it cannot be removed. NO post in this blog is sponsored.]

The Book of the Week is “Settle For More” by Megyn Kelly, published in 2016.

Born in November 1970, Kelly was raised Catholic in the suburbs of Syracuse and Albany in New York State. She conveyed a few simple principles on life. One is, “The only place ‘success’ comes before ‘work’ is in the dictionary.”

The late, great college basketball coach John Wooden said one should be worried about one’s character, not one’s reputation. The true test of one’s character is: how you treat people who can do nothing for you. Like so many others, Kelly got caught up in worrying about her reputation when Trump and his followers smeared and lied about her.

Anyway, Kelly wrote that there occurred an egregious breach of journalistic ethics during 2016, leading up to election day. It was this: some idiot-box interviewers of Donald Trump told him prior to airtime, the critical things they would be saying about him, so they would appear to be “fair and balanced” in their reporting. Trump knew to behave himself and didn’t react with hostility to those questions or comments. Scripting and rehearsals are the new unethical normal in “journalism” nowadays.

Unsurprisingly, Kelly was the victim of a misogynistic Tweet by Trump. He knew this Tweet would become the subject of a 2015 post-debate news story, rather than her debate questions and his non-answers. He is, after all, the master manipulator of distracting messaging. His distractions are analogous to the scene shown during the closing credits of the movie Animal House: While a parade is passing through the college town, a frat boy says to a guy, “Look at my thumb.” The guy does and the frat boy sucker-punches him and says, “Gee, you’re dumb!” the same way Trump makes outrageously offensive comments for shock value, and then watches the fireworks.

In 2016, Kelly was forced to confront an ethical dilemma in connection with sexual harassment in her workplace– Fox News. Having succeeded in two male-dominated fields, she advised her female readers to get some advice on how they sound, and the clothing and makeup they wear so that they will be taken seriously by their male coworkers and bosses.

That said, it is unclear whether Kelly had the authority to choose the photo (in which she is wearing skimpy clothing) appearing on the front cover of the hardcover version of her book. The question is, would a male TV-news-show host wear a sexy shirt in the cover-photo of his book? Resounding no.

Kelly’s choice in that photo could have been an act of rebellion, or an act of naivete and poor self-awareness, on her part. With it, she hurt her cause of telling female readers to behave in ways that even the playing field with their male counterparts. If Kelly couldn’t control the photo on the cover, one might suspect her publisher was engaging in political retaliation.

Nevertheless, read the book to learn about how Kelly became super-successful as an attorney and as a TV “news” anchor, and how she was also able to have a family life in her time and place in the United States, despite the fact that her society gives males advantages over females.

Nice Guys Finish Last

[Please note: The word “Featured” on the left side above was NOT inserted by this blogger, but apparently was inserted by WordPress, and it cannot be removed. NO post in this blog is sponsored.]

The Book of the Week is “Nice Guys Finish Last” by Leo Durocher with Ed Linn, published in 1975.

Durocher was born in 1906 in West Springfield, Massachusetts. He began his baseball career playing utility infielder for the New York Yankees in 1925. He developed a reputation as a contentious alpha male. Branch Rickey, one of his bosses through the decades, said he was a “… man with infinite capacity for immediately making a bad situation worse.”

Durocher squandered his initial $5,000 annual salary on clothing, food and nightclubs in New York City. Always in debt, he was a pool-hall hustler, too. But everyone wanted to be seen with him, as his social set consisted of celebrities who lived life in the fast lane.

According to the book (which appeared to be credible although it lacked Notes, Sources, References, and Bibliography) professional baseball culture for most of the twentieth century was mean-of-spirit, with alcohol-fueled violence. Team personnel such as Durocher were always thinking of new dirty tricks to win games.

Durocher admitted to trash-talking to batters to psych them out so his team’s pitcher would strike them out. Players suffered injuries galore due to lack of protective gear that would minimize or prevent injuries; batters especially suffered, as team-managers told their pitchers to deliberately hit batters with their pitching.

If hit, the batter was awarded the equivalent of a single as compensation. Durocher wrote, “I once saw Diz [pitcher Dizzy Dean] hit seven straight Giants [the baseball team players] in Miami early in the exhibition season, because the Giants had the nerve to score seven runs off him in one inning.” Finally, in 1940 (!), team-executive Larry MacPhail of the Brooklyn Dodgers ordered his players to wear plastic batting-helmets. This, after batter Joe Medwick was knocked out by a pitch by Bob Bowman of the Saint Louis Cardinals.

Durocher claimed that during the time he managed the Dodgers, MacPhail “fired” him zillions of times in the mid-1930’s, but most of the time, didn’t really mean it, until a tipping point was reached. As is well known, from the 1970’s into the 1980’s, the “You’re fired” situation became a running joke between Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and team manager Billy Martin, in order to entertain baseball fans.

Read the book to learn of other similar episodes, and trials and tribulations Durocher faced in his career (hint– major issues included his own newspaper column; the ongoing hostilities between the Yankees and the Dodgers; the media’s anti-Durocher lies and smears in its baseball reporting; punishments imposed by a few baseball commissioners over the years for alleged libel committed by, and gambling among, members of the ball clubs managed by Durocher; and a few of the colorful characters whom Durocher recruited and managed) and more. Curiously, Durocher failed to mention performance-enhancing drugs.

Anyway, speaking of contentious alpha males, here’s some advice for voters in this ditty concerning the 2024 candidates.

SHOW, NOT TELL

sung to the tune of “Express Yourself” (Official Video) with apologies to Madonna.

[spoken] C’mon America, do you want to see substance and quality in 2024? Of course you have something to SAY about it. That is how we roll.

Ignore the candidates’ bragfest, people.
Feel FREE to put them to the test.
You know, you know you’ve got to make them disPENSE with their spiel.
We want to KNOW their positions for REAL.

Politicians PULL the strings and THEY reap all the gold.

Their eight-year plan is way too vast.

You know, that never lasts, no, no.

What we need is a maTURE public-servant whose policies are smart and sound.
What we usually GET is a king on a throne, who’s abOVE the law and brings us down.

Ignore the candidates’ bragfest, people.
Feel FREE to put them to the test.
You know, you know you’ve got to make them disPENSE with their spiel.
We want to KNOW their positions for REAL.

Deep tax cuts are the way to your heart, but they treat you like an airHEAD. No, budget plans are NOT romantic. We’re hypoCRITically in the red.

Well, there’s no FREE lunch in life, it is TIME for the nation to move ON. Govern-ment should give you chances, but you’ve got to CRE-ate wealth on-your-OWN.

Ignore the candidates’ bragfest, people.
Feel FREE to put them to the test.
You know, you know you’ve got to make them disPENSE with their spiel.
We want to KNOW their positions for REAL.

De-STRESS yourselves. You’ve got to make them SHOW, not tell. Hey, hey, hey, hey.
To distinguish the greats, make them have the debates.
Show what they’ve GOT. We’ll see the best of the lot.

After all, you won’t reGRET it. Think about how much support they deserve.
If they don’t deserve it, they shouldn’t get it.
It’s YOU they should serve. So please

Show themselves. Show themselves. Hey, hey.

What we need is a maTURE public servant whose policies are smart and sound.
What we usually GET is a king on a throne, who’s above the law and brings us down.

After all, you won’t reGRET it. Think about how much support they deserve.
If they don’t deserve it, they shouldn’t get it.
It’s YOU they should serve. So please

Ignore the candidates’ bragfest, people.
Feel FREE to put them to the test.
You know, you know you’ve got to make them disPENSE with their spiel.
We want to KNOW their positions for REAL.

De-STRESS yourselves. You’ve got to make them SHOW, not tell. Hey, hey, hey, hey.
To distinguish the greats, make them have the debates.
Show what they’ve GOT. We’ll see the best of the lot.

SHOW themselves. SHOW themselves. Hey, hey.

To distinguish the greats, make them have the debates.
Show what they’ve GOT. We’ll see the best of the lot.

De-STRESS yourselves. ReSPECT yourselves…