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The Road To Sparta” (2016©) — book review
Today’s book review is for “The Road To Sparta” written by Dean Karnazes.  Karnazes may not be the “Dean” of ultramarathon runners, but he is certainly one of the sports most famous names and faces. Karnazes lives in the San Francisco Bay Area (where I also was raised and currently live), and, from his writing, appears to have totally adopted the ethos of being from Northern California.  Clean air, physical fitness, sometimes single minded pursuit of one’s goals, etc.
The book is another semi-autobiographical book about Karnazes.  His other book (which is reviewed here) is titled: “Ultramarathon Man“, and deals more with his various runs – particularly the Western States One-Hundred.  This book is about his being descended from Greek immigrants and him getting back in touch with his roots in his native country via participation in an ultra-run called “The Spartathlon.”  This run recreates the run which Pheidippides made from Athens to Sparta to ask the Spartans to help the Athenians resist the Persian invasion of Greece at the beach of Marathon.  Not to spoil the story (as it is ancient history), Pheidippides ran about 150 miles to carry the message (request).  He then ran a similar distance to carry the reply (“Yeah, we’ll come, but not for a few days”).  And then, … wait for it… he ran from the battlefield (Marathon) to Athens (about 26 miles) to carry news of the victory.  And then he died.
The race isn’t so spectacular.  Karnazes “only” has to run the initial portion (Athens to Sparta).  Oh, yeah.  You have to run the race in a “similar” time span to that of Pheidippides – 36 hours.
If you are a serious distance runner, much of the book will seem self-affirming as you will probably relate to the action and feelings of a ultra-distance runner.  If you are not a “serious” runner (or athlete), you may still relate, but you’ll probably also find Karnazes’ descriptions of the Greek countryside a bit flowery.  Make that extremely flowery.  Almost (but not quite) off-puttingly so.  Almost…  On the other hand, if you are just an average reader, you may really like all the verbiage.  I was kind of in the middle.  Parts of the book made we want to strap on some shoes and go out for a jog.  Others left me feeling like he had been assigned a set number of words to get the book published and he was going to reach that number with the same determination it takes to run an ultra.
Final recommendation: strong.  I enjoyed the history.  I enjoyed most of the descriptions, particularly when he was talking about the people out in the Greek countryside.  And I enjoyed the re-telling of the actual Spartathlon he ran in.  Ultimately, a good running book should make you want to lace up and hit the pavement.  As mentioned above, this book did that for me.  I picked the book up at Half-Price Books off the $3 rack.  A steal at that price.  I’ve already used a couple of quotes on my blog and I’ve got about another dozen or so hi-lighted for use in the future.
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On This Day In:
2017 Today Is Not Lost
Day 8
2016 Paying Attention
2015 An Awful Ordeal
2014 What Are You Doing?
2013 Lives > 1
2012 Strange To All The World
2011 Unnecessary Stagefright
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Image of Trump hugging Russian flag

Decisions, Decisions… Choice

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
  ―  Upton Sinclair
When President Trump chose to openly side with President Putin and Russia over the UNANIMOUS opinion of our combined intelligence agencies, we finally had proof of where his true loyalties reside.  The only questions now are whether or not Republicans (voters and elected officials) agree with Trump and what they will do about it if they don’t agree with him.  —  KMAB
[This image is a modified (cropped and shortened by me) version of an image copied from Axios.com with original attribution of: “Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios”.  Please google the original image and / or visit the Axios site if you want to see the original.  I am not claiming ownership to the original (or any rights to my modified version), nor am I seeking any profit from its use.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2017 Some Good
2016 Edges
Sums
2015 I Hope Not
2014 Study The Means Of Expressing Yourself
2013 That Stubborn Thing
2012 Like Mike
2011 Flawless Or Candid
2010 Browning…

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In honor of the Fourth of July holiday celebration, I would like to offer up the first Amendment to the United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This Amendment “guarantees” five basic freedoms to the people of the United States, which the Federal Government should pass no law to abridge (reduce or restrict).  They are:
Freedom of Religion.
Freedom of Speech.
Freedom of the Press.
Freedom to Assemble Peaceably.
Freedom to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.
The first ten Amendments to the Constitution are commonly known as the “Bill of Rights”.  Generally speaking, their intent is to restrict the government and formally guarantee rights to “people” or to “persons”.
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On This Day In:
2017 Happy 4th of July 2017!!
2016 Red, White And Blue BBQ
Happy 4th of July 2016
IMF’d (Marathon / Binge)
2015 Happy 4th of July 2015!!
2014 Happy 4th of July 2014!!
2013 Patriot Act, Anyone?
2012 Five Lost Wars
2011 Worth Fighting For
2010 Still Learnin’ Hard…
4th of July 2010

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History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.
   ―  Thomas Jefferson
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On This Day In:
2017 The Best?
2016 Timely Opinions On “The Donald”
Even Allowing For Coincidence
2015 First Things First
2014 Without The Other
2013 Earn This
Seeking A View
2012 Stumblin’ Along My Way
We’re Proud Of You, Jr!
Union Card
Two Philosophies
2011 Simply Unpredictable

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The Power of Myth”  1988©
Today’s review is for “The Power of Myth“, which is a book based on interviews of Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers that were the basis for the PBS television series of the same name and the same year.  The book was timed for concurrent release and follows the interview format with editing provided by Betty Sue Flowers.  In fact, the book chapters follow the episode breakdown of the series.
The interviews deal with the universality and evolution of myths in human history and how myths fit (or don’t fit) in the modern day social structure.  Campbell mixes personal experience with stories from many epochs, cultures and civilizations to offer up a thesis that modern society is moving from old mythologies and traditions unique to their times and locations to a new global (and possibly unified) mythology.
Campbell believes myths are the stories / legends / fables which make up their culture.  Campbell believes there are universal “truths” which mankind tries to describe using these myths and this explains why the myths are common around the globe.  To him a “myth” is a way of defining the rituals and oral histories we pass from parents to child.
Because the “myths” of any prior generation were limited by location and technologies of communication, Campbell believes we are in a transition period which is trying to integrate all of the “great” traditions (religions, beliefs and myths) of the past with the rapidly changing technologies of a modern life supported by increasing amounts of technology without concurrent social and moral reinforcement.
Basically, modern culture specifically lacks a social structure to transition males from childhood to adulthood – the traditional “rites of passage”.  Campbell feels this problem is significantly less for females because their rite of passage to adulthood is observationally physical.  On this point, I disagree with Campbell as I don’t believe the completion of puberty is the actual rite of passage from childhood to adulthood except in the most biologically literal sense for males or females.
I found the book fascinating but difficult to read. I find it curious that myths (creation, death, heaven, hell, reincarnation, resurrection and ascension) are common across epochs and continents. I am less convinced that all individuals seek to be “heroes” and to find their “bliss”.  It is my observation that the vast majority of folks (male and female) just want to get on with life and enjoy it (life) and their families with as little hassle as possible.
Final recommendation: highly recommended.  I feel the book is very deep and full of insight – both in word and ideas.  I will be including quotes from it periodically.  My own copy is now high-lighted through large passages of the book. (LOL)
One final note: this book took me almost two years to read, even though, at barely 230 pages, it’s not very long.  This is because it is (was) intellectually challenging (to me) and I felt the need to pause periodically.  The result was start, stop, weeks pass, start, stop, etc.  In the end, I moved on to other books and then (after 90+ pages), when I finally got back to it, I felt I’d lost the train of discussion and started over from the intro.  So, reader be warned…  Well worth your time, but you’ll need to be better disciplined than I am.
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On This Day In:
2017 Happy Meeting Day 33 (And Counting)
2016 Picture Perfect
2015 Life Showed Compassion
2014 And Then I Met Her
2013 Defining Maleness
The Run Continues
2012 All Set
2011 Not Always

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Here is what I have learned about race:  You can’t go over it.  You can’t go under it.  You can’t go around it.  You have to go through it.
When we testify in court, we swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  This is important, because anything but the whole truth and nothing but the truth will lead us astray.  Yet that is the story of American history that most of us know, particularly as it relates to race.  To move forward, we must commit to tell the whole truth about our past.  To move forward, we must find that new space on race here; a zone of belief that holds promise for a nation committed to justice for all of our people, making right what we have failed to do and insisting that we will do what it takes to reach the next threshold for humankind.
   —  Mitch Landrieu
Mayor of New Orleans, LA
From his editorial: “Repairing the story of race in the South
Appearing in Time Magazine, dtd: 2 April 2018
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On This Day In:
2017 Streaking Tales
2016 Singular Reality
2015 He Says It’s Hard To Get There From Here
2014 Question From A Founding Father
2013 Make Heroes
2012 See And Hold
2011 Am Not, Are So

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I see how my work inspired millions of young people around the Middle East to make their own contributions.  With every video, vine, and meme, I see the youth using the Internet to challenge the hideous propaganda machine.  They are finding ways to make fun of these brutal dictatorships, and in a small way I feel that my show is still going on.  A revolution is not just an event, it is a long process.  And the process might start with those young people losing respect for the establishments that controlled and brainwashed their parents through religion and fake nationalism. Those young people are questioning everything.  Nothing is off limits and nothing is taboo anymore.  Questioning in itself is a prequel to a revolution.  The fall of the social, religious, and military idols that controlled the Middle East is already happening.  Those idols are losing their most important asset, being respected and being revered.  The young generation is not taking the bullshit again.  They may rule for a while with fear and brutality but the respect is long gone.  It is just a matter of time.
   —  Bassem Youssef
From his book: “Revolution For Dummies
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On This Day In:
2017 Dream Of Dreamers
2016 Dear Automakers
2015 And Some Not So Brave Too
2014 In My Lifetime…
2013 Democracy
2012 Borrowed Expectations
2011 Not Necessarily True

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