This is Unfair

In previous years McDonald’s has had campaigns to give away books in their Happy Meals. I think the campaigns usually last about a month. This year hadn’t been any different. Except that the books are only being distributed in Canada. The most American of companies is picking Canada over the US. Justin Trudeau over Donald Trump. The cold over the not as cold. Ugh.

Fix this, McDonalds! Now.

PS: I’m pretty sure the US campaign will be later this year. 

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Saturday Selects: No Better Time Than Now

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the ocassional Saturday to discuss topics outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today the topic is healthcare.

The House passed their healthcare bill to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act this week. Here’s some of what will change. Americans with preexisting conditions may not be able to afford coverage. Why not? Because the bill takes us back to the days in which insurers could discriminate against these people by charging them outrageous premiums. The bill allocates $8 billion dollars for these people in high risk pools. Every estimate by conservative, liberal, and non partisan groups agrees this number will fall short of what’s needed to keep these people covered. As in tens of billions of dollars short. Medicaid expansion will end. The individual mandate is gone. Essential services will no longer be included in every policy available. More people will die.

Except there’s one thing many don’t understand. Nothing is set in stone. The bill has been sent to the Senate where it will undergo change after change due to how it’s currently written. I believe that if Mitch McConnell were to call a vote on the bill as written with no changes that it would fail. The problem (again) is that the parties aren’t working together on this. I’ll admit I wasn’t happy with how the Affordable Care Act was originally passed, but there’s no denying the real positives that have come from it. And also the shortfalls. 

The American Healthcare Act just passed by the House is not the law of the land. And regardless of political affiliation, I hope you’ll join me in making sure it never reaches the president’s desk. Call your senators!

We deserve better. We deserve better from our elected officials. We deserve better when it comes to the healthcare in the supposed “greatest country on earth”.

Print may be Making a Comeback

Hm. I’ve long preferred print over digital versions of books. For several years e-books were rapidly gaining market share. That trend may be over for now. In both the US and UK e-book sales have fallen nearly 20% year over year. That’s significant.

The reasoning for this may simply be that people don’t want to pay for e-books. Those prices are still ridiculous, if you ask me.

But the outlier of this whole thing is China. They’re reading more e-books than ever before, mostly on smartphones. Perhaps China is a few years behind the greater trend. Or perhaps they just want their e-books. Either way, long live print! 😂

Saturday Selects: America Strikes Syria

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the ocassional Saturday to discuss topics outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today I’m talking Syria.

If you live under a pineapple under the sea, then you’re likely unaware of the significant escalation that took place this week in the Syrian civil war. Earlier in the week the Syrian government once again used chemical weapons against its own people. Killing dozens. Until this week the international community had spoken a lot louder than they’d acted. That changed Thursday night. The US launched a targeted airstrike against a Syrian airbase where the planes that carried out the chemical weapons attack were believed to have originated.

The US has been active in Syria for a couple of years now. But never once did American armed forces attack Syrian government forces. Some have called for the grounding of the Syrian air force. I think there’s only one country capable of carrying out such an operation. Not Russia. Not Iran. The US. First, there has to be a desire to act. Second, there has to be the capability. Third, there has to be a willingness to stand up to TWO dictators.

I’ve seen people criticize the hypocrisy of Donald Trump bombing Syrian targets in the name of the same people he’s trying to keep out. I understand the criticism. But I won’t pretend to understand the complexities of the presidency. Donald Trump may be a flawed human being. But so am I and so are you. Everyone can talk up their own views and beliefs all they want, but 45 men have known what it means to be POTUS. I’d argue the modern presidency is far more burdensome than those of previous eras. Donald Trump is not who I wanted to be president. But I won’t sit back and hope he drives MY country into the ground and our allies away for four years.

Donald Trump is wrong on several things, but I think he got it right on Syria. It’s long past the time for action. The Syrian people deserve better than what the international community has offered. I will criticize Trump every time he signs anything resembling a travel ban based on religion, but there’s more to the presidency than one issue. One of President Obama’s major weaknesses was Syria. Does that mean I can’t criticize him for his inaction while also praising him for signing the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell? No. It doesn’t.

Books Can’t Solve Everything

I’m pretty sure that if you have TV, then you know about something that happened in the US recently. In Baltimore people decided the best way to call for change in policing would be to riot and loot businesses. This was headline news for some time. And now James Patterson says he was inspired by those events and he wants to help them rebuild in some way. So he’s donating 25,000 copies of one of his children’s books.

I have no issue with Patterson. He’s one of my favorite authors. He does a lot more good for books and literacy than most people give him credit for, but he’s off base here. There are still many things that cities across America (including Baltimore) need to change. I’m talking law enforcement, but we all know it doesn’t start and stop there.  And sure books can fit somewhere into that equation, but right now this one book isn’t going to do anything. The people who have the ability to bring about significant change aren’t going to be pushed to action because of this book. And change isn’t going to happen because of this book.

James Patterson is going to donate many more books to many more causes in the future, but I think he could have done this donation a bit more quietly. Without talking about being inspired by recent events. Cause it doesn’t change anything. It isn’t up to me to tell him how to spend his money and donate his books, but he really could have helped by donating money to the police department earmarked for more advanced training. At least that would really address one of the major issues facing the city.

What do you think about Patterson being inspired by the unrest in Baltimore and deciding to donate books?


On this day in 2014 I published Why do you Read?.

 

What’s Veterans Day Mean to you?

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I wasn’t planning on writing this today. Partly because it has nothing to do with books and also because I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to say. But I don’t think there is a wrong answer to my question. Also, I think Veterans Day is known as Remembrance Day in other parts of the world? I think. Just so you know what I’m talking about. And I think it’s celebrated on November 11 in most places to coincide with the end of World War I.

Let me see if I can answer this without thinking too much about it and giving some calculated response. To me, Veterans Day reminds me that during the 365 days a year I spend going through my day-to-day routine, whatever it may be, there are American soldiers deployed somewhere else in the world. Some are in combat zones and others aren’t, but so many are away from their families and friends. And that these soldiers are tasked with a job that I could never do. They are protecting the freedom and interests of the United States. And every one of us should be grateful for every one of them. That’s what Veterans Day means to me.

See, I don’t have any close friends or family members currently in the military. I think one of my grandpas served during World War II? But I’m not sure. All I know is that military personnel were present at his funeral and someone was presented with an American flag. But that doesn’t diminish the meaning of this day to me. My university was extremely military friendly and I had classes with veterans every single semester. I never asked about their service and I didn’t become close friends with any of them. But those classes taught me something I hadn’t realized before then, they’re just regular people like you and me. I guess I used to have this thought that anyone in the Army or in the Marines had to have a certain look about them that gave off some aura that told you not to mess with them, but no. It put a face to our military. At least it did for me.

There are always going to be some really bad things going on in the world, and the United States military will always be there. At the ready. For whatever arises. To serve the country and protect all of us. They don’t care who we voted for or if we’re White or Black or rich or poor, we’re Americans and that’s all that matters.

So if you’re reading this and you’re a United States veteran, I thank you for your service and also for your sacrifice. I know you won’t agree, but you ARE a hero. And I’m not the only one who believes so.

ESPN did a great video a little while back on veterans returning home. It’s got a sports theme to it, but these are real families and it shows how the entire families of these men and women are affected by their service. Just look at their reactions. Here’s the video. I’ve watched it maybe a dozen times and I cry every single time.

If you know any veterans, then thank them. Today and every day that you can. And don’t forget about the countless others who never made it home.

I wrote this poem a couple days ago for today.

What’s Veterans Day mean to you?