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From the Notebook

Happy New Year! I’ve been really busy the last six weeks or so, thanks to the job at Walmart. Since retail gets really crazy this time of year, I’ve had to put in a lot of hours. Which is good, since I’m temping. As such, I didn’t get a lot of anything else done. I discovered just how hard it is to do continuing education while working full time at a tough, labor-intensive job. [My temp period has ended, btw.] I’m still trying to get the novel done and into Amazon.com for everyone. I’m currently waiting on some reviewers and there’s always an endless stream of proofreading to do. I’m hoping to get everything done in January. Quick overviews of the books I read this month and my self-directed coursework is below…

- Audio Course from the Teaching Company: History of the Supreme Court by Professor Peter Irons. This comprehensive course surveys the entire history of the US Supreme Court, focusing on the major personalities that dominated the court and the important cases that defined the Bill of Rights. The course is taught by a very knowledgable professor who admits a left-wing bias (he’s an ACLU guy). Personally, I really enjoyed the course, a lot of emphasis was put on the civil rights movement in the latter half of the twentieth century. I would not recommend this course as an audio course for use in the car, the details are too technical and numerous to be absorbed during drive time. But I would recommend the course for people interested in law, but smart enough not to go to law school.

- “Marco Polo, If You Can” by William F. Buckley. This spy novel starring Blackford Oakes deals with events around the downing of an American U2 spy plane in Russia. (The 1960 U2 incident). This book includes some interesting theories regarding the historical flight, as well as fascinating portraits of Ike, Hoover and Kruschev. But I found it less enjoyable than the first Oakes novel, Saving the Queen. But I’m not giving up the series, which I will continue to read through until I’m finished.

- Audio course from the Teaching Company: Explaining Social Deviance by Professor Paul Wolpe. This short, ten-lecture course on sociological theories of deviance was very interesting. As someone who studied psychology, I think most of sociology is bunk. This course didn’t really shake me of this attitude, but being introduced to the methods of sociologists is invaluable to understanding how some of these intellectual ideas mold political thought. But, if you’re looking to find out why people do bad things, go somewhere else.

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