Beauty, Ants and Laughter

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There is something beautiful about broken glass and the tiny visions it creates. For instance, the glass from that shattered beer bottle told me there was a twenty-dollar bill hidden in the center of an ant pile. I buried my arms elbow-deep in the ants but all I found was a note that said Some people will believe in anything. And I laughed.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Poverty Premium Research (Harvard Business Review)

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Multinationals that failed to take these realities into account saw their best-laid business plans go bust. P&G’s PUR sachets were envisioned as a low-priced competitor to bottled water; in reality, though, poor households are used to boiling their tap water or drinking it untreated. Grameen Danone’s real competition among rural populations wasn’t expensive store-bought yogurt—it was homemade yogurt that consumers produced for a fraction of the cost.

In places where poor consumers benefit from lower prices, they often incur other costs. For example, the informal economy fails to ensure safe working conditions and reasonable wages, product quality controls, or taxes for the state. The brunt of these externalities is borne by the poor, as workers, consumers, and beneficiaries of government funds. Such places may have a “poverty premium” that multinationals could help eliminate, but that premium does not take the form of higher prices.

The Problem with the “Poverty Premium,” Harvard Business Review, Ethan Kay and Woody Lewenstein, April 2013

Ethan Kay gave a Ted Talk about creating cookstoves for poverty survivors.

Rescuing the World from the Robotic Cookie Monster!

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“If we don’t stop him soon, Harry thought, there won’t be a single cookie left in the whole city – and it will be all my fault!”

“Horsie swooped down right in front of CookieBot. then he dropped the bait: an enormous rainbow sugar cookie.”

CookieBot! A Harry and Horsie Adventure, written by Katie Van Camp and illustrated by Lincoln Agnew

Losing Home and Letting Go

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Other items were so precious that the children clung to them even as they rowed. Fiona kept a pot of wormy garden dirt pressed between her knees. Millard had striped his face with a handful of bomb-pulverized brick dust, an odd gesture that seemed part mourning ritual. If what they kept and clung to seemed strange, part of me sympathized: it was all they had left of their home. Just because they knew it was lost didn’t mean they knew how to let it go.

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Better Options Mean Better Results

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Clearly a much better set of options could be provided to African Americans—and poor people of all colors—today. As historian Lerone Bennett Jr. eloquently reminds us, “a nation is a choice.” We could choose to be a nation that extends care, compassion, and concern to those who are locked up and locked out or headed for prison before they are old enough to vote. We could seek for them the same opportunities we seek for our own children; we could treat them like one of “us.” We could do that. Or we can choose to be a nation that shames and blames its most vulnerable, affixes badges of dishonor upon them at young ages, and then relegates them to a permanent second-class status for life. That is the path we have chosen, and it leads to a familiar place.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

 

We could choose to be a nation that extends care, compassion, and concern to those…locked out…before they are old enough to vote.

 

The Viking War Cry

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‘One… two… three…’ Four hundred Viking voices screamed as one: ‘GO AWAY!’ and added for good measure the Viking War Cry. The Viking War Cry was designed to chill the blood of Viking enemies at the commencement of battle. It is a horrifying, electrifying shriek that begins by mimicking the furious yell of a swooping predator, which then turns into the victim’s scream of pure terror, and ends with a horribly realistic imitation of the death-gurgles as he chokes on his own blood. It is a scary noise at the best of times, but shouted altogether by four hundred barbarians at eight o’clock in the morning it was enough to make the mighty Thor himself drop his hammer and blub like a little baby.

How To Train Your Dragon (Book 1) by Cressida Cowell

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Stillbirth Equals Prison Time

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Marsha wandered through her first days at Tutwiler in a state of disbelief. She met other women like herself who had been imprisoned after having given birth to stillborn babies. Efernia McClendon, a young black teenager from Opelika, Alabama, got pregnant in high school and didn’t tell her parents. She delivered at just over five months and left the stillborn baby’s remains in a drainage ditch. When they were discovered, she was interrogated by police until she acknowledged that she couldn’t be 100 percent sure the infant hadn’t moved before death, even though the premature delivery made viability extremely unlikely. Threatened with the death penalty, she joined a growing community of women imprisoned for having unplanned pregnancies and bad judgment.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Pre-Television Kids Lit

This book was published in 1928. The length of the story, the style of the artwork and the plot make an interesting contrast to children’s books published more recently.I found myself wondering how pre-television children reacted to the stories they were told. The portrayal of cats and feline behavior is also interesting. Well worth a look.

I’ve seen hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats – and not one was as pretty as this one.

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag

Health vs Pride

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“How are you feeling?” Xie asked.

“Ridiculous,” Long replied.

“I am asking about your health since you arrived five days ago,” Xie said. “Not your pride at this moment.”

The Five Ancestors Book 7: Dragon by Jeff Stone

The Little Things

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“Would you mind if I took this off?” she asked. Boy 412 shook his head. That’s what mothers were for. To fiddle about with your hat.

Septimus Heap, Book One: Magyk by Angie Sage

 

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