Books

Where are the Smartest Kids in the World?

We all agree education is important; that our kids deserve the best learning; that our teachers should be the best at their job — then we have this tendency to walk away and let our government take the reigns. They roll out one “education program” after another — effectively experimenting on our children every few years — while spending loads of money.

Then we all get angry, argue and complain when we find out our children aren’t measuring up to other nations or aren’t prepared for life.

Amanda Ripley takes on this “twenty-first mystery” of why, in a country that spends untold millions on education, still falls short.  In her essential book, The Smartest Kids in the World (and how they got that way), she dives deep into American education as she follows three students as they attend schools overseas. What is one major difference Ripley finds?

Teaching is treated as a top-tier profession. Teachers are educated and expected to perform accordingly.
Continue reading

Advertisements
Categories: Critical Thinking, Books | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Fiction Becomes Fact

In Among the Shadows, many of the characters have learned to use the energy that burns inside them — for good and evil. There are those that can see into the minds of others, cross the barriers raised by time or manipulate matter. Fiction right?

Or is it?

Annie Jacobsen‘s latest book in her fascinating series on Cold War black projects, Phenomena, will make all but the most hardened skeptics think twice.

For decades, the U.S. Government spent millions in researching the practicality of using people who could remote view distant places or influence people with their mind. Note that I didn’t write that they were just determining if these things could be done — they employed people who proved they had unique abilities.

This isn’t a new revelation, but Jacobsen has interviewed dozens of those involved and uncovered newly declassified documentation. Thousands of papers still remain off-limits, so she’s probably only scratched the surface here. However, as with her previous books — Area 51, Operation Paperclip, and The Pentagon’s Brain — Jacobsen has weaved together another masterful narrative history of black box projects. These topics are often the favorite target of conspiratorial and fringe researchers, but this is the real deal.

Or, as a skeptic might ask, is this some elaborate psyop perpetuated by the government against its enemies? If it is, this is the most convincing one ever and the skeptics haven’t shown they are correct.

It’s easy to wave one’s hands and say, “It’s all a fraud!” Annie Jacobsen has laid out the detailed case of why this is all something very different from fakery. She isn’t taking sides, but is surprised at what she finds, and writes, “There is no question that man is extraordinary, each of us a phenomenon.”

Indeed, fact may very well trump fiction.

Categories: Books, History | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Ready to Choose a Side?

The War Among the Shadows has begun. Are you ready to enter the fray? Will you stand with the Watchers against the Darkness? Six will face the creatures lost to myth and legend. Will you join them? Among the Shadows Kindle edition is now $2.99 for a limited time. Step through the veil before it’s too late!

Categories: Books, fantasy, Fiction | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Find Life Before it’s Lost Forever

This extended excerpt from Among the Shadows is from a chapter that serves as an interlude in the story. In the midst of the dire situation Milena found herself in, this was an opportunity to see more into her mind and her husband’s, and explore deeper themes relevant to all of us. Enjoy…

Continue reading

Categories: Books, fantasy, Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Fiction Warns Us

A human darkness with a vast appetite for chaos and violence.

That is what simmers in the background, waiting to be released, which is exactly what unfolds in Steven Konkoly‘s The Perseid Collapse and William R. Forstchen‘s One Second After.

Unfortunately, what they write about in fiction is all too real a threat.

A Dangerous Situation

An aged power grid is becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks or natural or man-made EMPs. This really isn’t a secret to the powers that be. In fact, if they truly cared about people, they would have taken measures to shore up the grid years ago. They’re too busy figuring out how to buy votes and bail out their buddies. If this is all new to you, check out the latest threats to the grid here. A decade or so ago, the United States finally began deploying a missile defense system to protect us from human causes. Again, politics continues to threaten expansion and upgrades.

National Geographic aired the docudrama American Blackout which showed what could happen with the grid down for a few days. What would happen if this lasted weeks or months? Many people think (or hope) disasters like these won’t or cannot happen. Ask people who have lived through hurricanes and tornadoes or earthquakes. Fiction can remind us what is really important in life. It tells us action is better than hoping for the best.

Should protecting the country from nuclear holocaust or complete collapse really be a political issue? I’m thinking most would rather not be vaporized or watch their cities self-destruct. Sooner or later, disasters will come, whether natural or man-made.

Ignoring this is beneath human intelligence. Let’s do something about it.

EMP Missile Defense

Categories: Books, What You Can Do | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Join the War, Choose a Side on Facebook

I have relaunched my author page on Facebook. Originally, I had it set up under my book series name, but it makes more sense to be under my name as the series grows (which is how most authors set up their author FB — today’s free social media tip). You’ll see some shared posts from this site, but new content as well. More coming soon, so be sure to join the War Among the Shadows on Facebook right now. Are you ready?

Categories: Books, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Know your First Lines? Then win a copy of AtS!

Ready to choose your side in the War Among the Shadows? Answer who wrote the following first lines, and in what book or poem they are found, and you’ll win Among the Shadows for your Kindle!

1. April is the cruelest month.
2. Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…
3. Call me Ishmael.
4. It was a pleasure to burn.

Use the Contact form to send the answers, and I’ll be sending up to three winners their own Kindle copy of Among the Shadows. Good luck!

Update: Congrats to Julie D. for winning! Here are the answers:

1. April is the cruelest month.The Waste Land, T.S. Elliot
2. Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe
3. Call me Ishmael.Moby Dick, Herman Melville
4. It was a pleasure to burn.Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

100 Books Every Man Should Read

The Art of Manliness has created a list of 100 Books Every Man Should Read. Not that these books were written particularly for men — most were not — even though the majority were written by men about male characters. The point of such lists are to remind people of important and classic books and the impact they have had.

Many books are written, many more forgotten, and only a select few are remembered.

Categories: Books | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Why Does Every Story Have a Villain?

In Waking the Dead, John Eldredge writes:

Little Red Riding Hood is attacked by a wolf. Dorothy must face and bring down the Wicked Witch of the est…Frodo is hunted by the Black Riders…Beowulf kills the monster Grendel…Saint George kills the Dragon. The children who stumbled into Narnia are called upon by Aslan to battle the White Witch and her armies…

So why does every story have a villain?

“…Because yours does.”

What are the villains in your life, your Story? Addictions, vices, work, bad habits, crazy people… As Eldredge writes, we are “born into a world at war.” He is coming from the perspective of Evil that was long ago unleashed in the world and seeks to undermine all that is good.

Our stories have villains because our stories are inspired by life. Fiction is only fact in different clothes.

Categories: Books, Fiction, Writing | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Have you Abandoned your Story?

Every wonder why stories speak to people as they do? Is it, as Brent Curtis and John Eldredge write in The Sacred Romance, that it is written into our very beings?

Life is not a list of propositions, it is a series of dramatic scenes. As Eugene Peterson said, “We live in narrative, we live in story. Existence has a story shape to it. We have a beginning and an end, we have a plot, we have characters.” Story is the language of the heart. Our souls speak not in the naked facts of mathematics or the abstract propositions of systematic theology…Contrast your enthusiasm for studying a textbook with…read[ing] a novel, or listen[ing] to the stories of someone else’s life.

Is it any wonder why stories of people finding their purpose, their part of the Story, never go away? A little Hobbit defeats evil and saves Middle Earth…frail Steve Rogers becomes Captain America…Luke Skywalker doesn’t want to stand on the sidelines anymore… Perhaps it is because we too often abandon our story?

Children aren’t a bad place to look when we’re trying to get beyond the cynicism of adulthood…Before skepticism takes over (what we mistakenly call maturity), children intuit the true Story as a fairy tale…the best fairy tales aren’t romantic in the poor sense of the word. They are realistic, only more so. There are ogres and evil sorcerers and wicked stepmothers, to be sure. But they are neither the whole story or the heart of it. There are genuine heroes and heroines and a cause to live for that is worth dying for. There is a quest or a journey strewn with danger and the stakes could never be higher.

Choose to not ignore that you are part of something bigger than your day to day tasks and busyness. Find your place in the Story.

It is not too late.

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: