It’s All About Luck


One of the biggest problems, says Shafir, is the message the poor receive from the system: You’re poor because you’re no good. “It’s very easy for the poor to swallow this idea,” he says. “The attitude that the poor are less successful is very common and very wrong. These days the survivor is the one with luck: Once in a blue moon someone pulls through. So the system isn’t ‘survival of the fittest’ at all.”

The Psychological Poverty Trap, Haaretz, 02/23/2012, Asher Schechter interviewing Eldar Shafir

The Power of Insults


When we sat down a week later to sweet teas at a local Starbucks, I asked Madonna what she loved about Limbaugh. “His criticism of ‘femi-nazis,’ you know, feminists, women who want to be equal to men.” I absorbed that for a moment. Then she asked what I thought, and after I answered, she remarked, “But you’re nice . . .” From there, we went through Limbaugh’s epithets (“commie libs,” “environmental wackos”). Finally, we came to Madonna’s basic feeling that Limbaugh was defending her against insults she felt liberals were lobbing at her: “Oh, liberals think that Bible-believing Southerners are ignorant, backward, rednecks, losers. They think we’re racist, sexist, homophobic, and maybe fat.” Her grandfather had struggled as a desperately poor Arkansas sharecropper. She was a gifted singer, beloved by a large congregation, a graduate of a two-year Bible college, and a caring mother of two. In this moment, I began to recognize the power of blue-state catcalls taunting red state residents. Limbaugh was a firewall against liberal insults thrown at her and her ancestors, she felt. Was the right-wing media making them up to stoke hatred, I wondered, or were there enough blue-state insults to go around? The next time I saw Madonna, she was interested to know if it had been hard for me to hear what she’d said. I told her it wasn’t. “I do that too sometimes,” she said, “try to get myself out of the way to see what another person feels.”

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

Beauty, Ants and Laughter


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

Staying Equals Love


A DEFINITION NOT FOUND IN THE DICTIONARY Not leaving: an act of trust and love, often deciphered by children.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Note: This book is narrated by Death. The plot occurs during WWII. It is a very good book, with both humorous and serious aspects.

Objectives and Perspectives


Barnes and Noble

One day Bear carved a picture of Little Bird on the pumpkin. As the pumpkin grew bigger and bigger, so did the picture of Little bird. Then one afternoon Bear said to Little Bird, “See how big you’ve grown?”

Moonbear’s Bargain by Frank Asch

Honest Lies


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“I don’t know.”
“But if you had to guess—?”
“What do you think?”
“I’m asking you.”
“Because you’re hoping I’ll say something different.”
“Yeah. Probably.”
“Then don’t tell me to be honest.”

The White Magic Five & Dime by Steve Hockensmith, Lisa Falco

Giggle Book Award: Contrasts Are Funny

dAs an adult, I can honestly say this is one of those books that are perplexingly popular. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cute. The story is nice (simple) and the illustrations are well done. It also sends the children in my life into complete giggling FITS! A fact which inspires me to generate an amused and confused why-are-you-laughing? face….which often results in even more laughter.

OK. The above statement probably says more about me and my household than it does about the book, so allow me to explain the story in a bit more detail.

You Are (Not) Small is a study in contrasts. Literally. One group of bears is smaller/bigger than another group. Therefore, a bear in the small group is not small when placed within his own group. A shouting match occurs between the two groups as they argue the definitions of the terms ‘big’ and ‘small.’

The argument is interrupted by an enormous pair of feet. Literally. Feet, attached to the legs of a creature so large it does not fit on the page, just BOOM into the middle of the argument. These feet are immediately followed by tiny little bears on parachutes floating down around the feet. Why? Where do they come from? What brought them here? No one knows. No one cares. They are there and they are proof that the big bears are not really big and the small bears are not really small because…see!…there is someone bigger, and someone smaller.

From an adult’s perspective, this is cute, yet rather incomplete. There’s a lot of unanswered questions (after all).

From a child’s perspective this is AWESOME! The feet are the first highlight. The first giggle. The little bears floating down are the next giggle. The following quotes generate exclamations of agreement:

“See? I am not small?”
“See? I am not big.”

The original bears leave. A tiny bear looks up at the giant feet and says “You are hairy.” At which point hilarity ensues and the giggles don’t stop for many minutes.

I love this book. I think it’s cute as can be and have neither complaints nor concerns about the story or the images. I also think it is a story that can only be fully understood by a child. Which is a high compliment for a children’s book (IMO).

You Are (Not) Small, written by Anna Kang and illustrates by Christopher Weyent

The Power of Maps


Barnes & Noble

“This could have been any makeshift bridge across any creek, and the forest on the other side was just the same: tall pines, earthy smell, calls of distant birds. The only difference was in her mind, knowing she had crossed the lines on the map. It was enough to make this another world.”

“He held back, looking at her with panic in his eyes. She hadn’t realized how much she’d taken crossing the border for granted. How deeply ingrained the rules had been until she’d met Artegal by accident.”

Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn


Why Study White


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“Postmodern multiculturalism may have genuinely opened up a space for the voices of the other, challenging the authority of the white West (cf Owens 1983), but it may also simultaneously function as a side-show for white people who look on with delight at all the differences that surround them. We may be on our way to genuine hybridity, multiplicity without (white) hegemony, and it may be where we want to get to – but we aren’t there yet, and we won’t get there until we see whiteness, see it’s power, it’s particularity and limitedness, put in it’s place and end its rule. This is why studying whiteness matters.”

“White power nonetheless reproduces itself regardless of intention, power differences and goodwill, and overwhelmingly because it is not seen as whiteness, but as normal. White people need to learn to see themselves as white, to see their particularity.”

The Matter of Whiteness by Richard Dyer, published in White Privilege, edited by Paula S. Rothenberg

Appearance of Respectability


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“He looked like every Kiwanis member you’ve ever met: a big, doughy pillar of the community. A lot of those pillars are rotten inside, though. Believe me. I’ve seen “respectable” people do things that would shock Genghis Khan.”

The White Magic Five & Dime by Steve Hockensmith, Lisa Falco