Each quarter of the year, actually, has its delightful points as well as negative ones, so, as I've said, my favorite seems to be the really warm part of the year, and children, generally speaking, enjoy playing in Summer and their play equipment, aside from the pool, might be due to the strong sense of injustice, on the behalf of children by a man named Darell Hammond. In the book, "Kaboom: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play", by Darrell Hammond, he relates how, in 1995, he read an article about how two young children suffocated on a Summer day, in an abandoned car, because there was no playground for them to play in. So, Hammond founded KaBOOM! ,"a national nonprofit company that provides communities with tools, resources, and guidance to build and renovate playgrounds and playspaces"
A lot--repeat, a lot--of barren spaces have been transformed into inviting areas for children and this project has harnessed the enthusiasm and energy of over a million volunteers. This man believes that play is essential in a child's life and it is not a luxury but a necessity "and the conviction that access to a safe play environment is the fundamental right of all children." He steers groups who want to have a playground on organizing neighbors, contact contractors, set goals and this man deserves a large medal--he showed what could and should be done when someone sees a problem. Children will play somewhere--let's give them alternatives to harmful places, if it is needed. Great book!
If you stood on a sandy beach and asked the question--"What do you think of Sarah Palin?" followed by "Would you vote for her for president?"--stand well back, as my father used to say with controversial questions. The lady doesn't draw lukewarm answers! (Sandy beach because it's Summer and it's a metaphor for the sand's ability to shift and take different shapes i.e. answers to the question.) We have a book here--the "we" being you and I, dear Poppets,--about her, "Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin; A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years", by Frank Bailey, and I find it, first of all, disjointed and, from some of the material I read, alternating between defensiveness (on the author's part, that is) and overt criticism of Palin, which, I agree, he's entitled to but I've only got so much patience with that type of writing.
I do agree, and this is buttressed by others opinions who were close to Palin, that she remembers, broods over, and remains angry and defensive in the face of criticism, large or small, which hopefully she will learn to handle appropriately, for someone who's in the public eye. She apparently liked this author's opinion and his place on "her team" and threatened to leave if he did, which is a compliment to the author, I'm sure. The book might be interesting to some of you, so please do and let me know your opinion.
So, Ms. Couric is leaving CBS network to go to ABC and produce some daytime shows and do some hosting and I, personally, don't want her to oust anyone on the "Good Morning America" show. I'd give a pretty penny to know just where the ABC powers see her going, and I'm afraid it's to take over Diane Sawyer's spot on the evening news and while I can--reluctantly--agree with Himself that Diane doesn't have the "news presence or voice" of a Brian Williams or a Matt Lauer, she's such a class act!
Ah, well, to stick to books--this one is "Katie Couric: The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives". Her list of people who helped her set goals, deal with failure and the death of her husband, helped her decision to leave NBC and go to CBS--they gave wonderful advice--"how today's best and brightest got it right, got it wrong, and came out on top." She has covered, for the past 15 years, important events in our lives--from the Sept. 11 attack, to the tragedy at Columbine high school, from the Okla. City bombing to the funeral of Princess Diana--and she has done it with genuine feeling and a sense of "how to get people to open up and talk."
Listen to some of the advice given her and picture the person and the history they bring to their statement;
- Apolo Ohno--"It's not about the 40 seconds in the race, it's about the 4 years it took to get there"
- Madeline Albright (former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.--"Never play hide and seek with the truth
- Michael Bloomberg--"Eighty percent of success is showing up--early"
Back to Ms. Couric and her almost--I said "almost"--disastrous two years on CBS and she, along with others, wondered what on earth was going wrong. She was bright, courted by that network because she was successful, ambitious, and well respected by people--those with power and titles--whom she had interviewed. So, she went to a rival network and---after the first weeks of "the honeymoon period"--no living up to the hype and actually starting to puzzle the viewers. She says, "There had been a great deal of publicity before the first broadcast, and in the initial few weeks the ratings were high. But when they started to head south, it became open season for the critics.
Despite 15 years of covering major news events and countless hard-hitting interviews, they claimed that I didn't have the "gravitas" required to be at the helm of such a prestigious enterprise." So, she "pulled on my big-girl pants", tried harder and things got easier and better, in her words. So, as Katie says, that's all any of us can do--try your best. The advice from all her sources is worth the price of admission alone--most inspiring. We'll see how she does at her new job on ABC.
A very well-reviewed historical book is "The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War", by Andrew Roberts, and let me pass along an interesting fact to you that I did not know and I suspect that average person doesn't--to wit; "The Second World War lasted for 2,174 days, cost 1.5 trillion dollars, and claimed the lives of more than 50 million people.
This book tells what factors were involved in the war's outcome--why did the armies of the enemy lose? Roberts walked many of the battlefields in Russia, France, Italy, Germany, and the Far East and, this would interest those of you who were "in the war" and/or are students of battles--the author "drew on a number of never-before-published documents including the one explaining the reasoning behind Hitler's order to halt his famed Panzer division outside Dunkirk--a delay that enabled British forces to evacuate."
I remember hearing stories of the Brits getting anything that would float or had a motor mobilized to get the troops off that beach because it was "known" by military geniuses that Hitler was planning on coming right down to the sea and the troops were trapped. Terrible, grim situation--and for some reason, the Panzer divisions were halted. Stopped. They were not to go any further. And they didn't--after all, commanders do what their orders demand, from higher up.
An interesting part of his research was the stories of many little-known people of their experiences, "courage and self-sacrifice as well as the terrible depravity and cruelty, of the Second World War." Did you know that "Japan's journey to Pearl Harbor had been set as early as April 13 in 1941"? The torpedoes used were equipped with special fins and newly invented amour-piercing shells--all to be very effective because Pearl Harbor is a shallow harbor and no torpedo nets had been placed in front of the ships. Three waves of the Japanese fighter planes hit their targets "effectively wiping Pearl Harbor off the map as a functioning naval base and forcing the fleet back to California for the foreseeable future." It was all over by ten in the morning.
Another fact--"for every American who died, the Japanese lost 7, the Germans 11, and the Russians 92." The dispositions of the leaders in "our side" and their philosophy in how to run a war differed markedly from how Hitler and Stalin ran operations, and that difference (include Mussolini in that mix) made a great difference. Great book and surprisingly easy to read.
My last book is one I don't care to spend much time on, either reading or reporting--"Wicked Bugs; The Louse that Conquered Napoleon's Army and Other Diabolical Insects", by an Amy Stewart who wrote a book about plants--wicked and destructive--for the august New York Times--and it was a bestseller! In this book, one learns that earthworms are not always as much help to Nature as one imagines and there are bugs that eat corpses, facts about the Scorpion and the Brown Recluse. Complete with drawings, not pictures, and some "chattiness" to the descriptions. It is not my cup of tea but for those of you whom it strikes favorably to want to read and learn more, come and get it.
Thank you, as always, for being my faithful readers and I have next Sunday to tell you about Fiction titles, so, until then be careful in this heat, remember Dad on upcoming Father's Day, drink lots of water, and eat a piece of chocolate cake for me--I haven't had one in months and I'm thinking about it a lot! Bye!