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Friday, April 28, 2017

The Sociopath Next Door - Martha Stout

When a news segment comes on speaking of an extreme case of abuse or of a serial killer, most people immediately think sociopath or psychopath. What most of us don't realize is that sociopaths with much less detectable behaviors live among us in our daily lives and most of us are unable to identify them. In fact, it's estimated that 4% of the United States' population are sociopaths.

So what are sociopaths really like? How do they act? What motivates them to do the cruel things they do. Stout hopes to shed light on this with the insight she's gained from her practice. She uses real cases to reveal the inner workings to the layman, but protects her clients' confidentiality by creating three composites from clients with the same M.O. and additionally changing names and locations when need be.

Stout provides an accessible analysis for readers who are unfamiliar with the topic. She explains what sociopathy is and perhaps why some people are sociopathic. With the three composite cases, readers are given insight into their thoughts, motivations, and behaviors. She also provides some ideas on how to identify those who may be sociopathic and how to deal with their behavior. She also concludes why having a conscience is better than not having one.

Since I've already read on the topic, I didn't find anything new in this piece; however, it was an easily digestible read with little technical jargon. For those who are unfamiliar with the topic and want to learn more, I would recommend this piece for insight and understanding. For those already familiar, I would say look elsewhere.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Age of Ra - James Lovegrove

In an alternative timeline it is the Egyptain pantheon who has lived over all others. Powered by the devotions and prayers of their followers, they spread their blessings on their own the areas that provide the most worship. Of course, this means many areas have been left abandoned due to the hardships the people experience. Seeing his opportunity a man known only as Lightbringer begins the rebellion against the Gods.

David, a soldier, is one of the many who has reached the end of his patience with the gods, especially after his captivity in a foreign land leading to the deaths of many of his fellow soldiers and innocent strangers. After witnessing so many abuses, David and many others join with the Lightbringer to cause havoc that even echoes in the very heavens themselves.

While I have mixed feelings about the story itself, I loved Lovergrove's style. Lovegrove's ability to create tension and maintain a steady stream of ups-and-downs for the reader is the best part of this book. The alternating point of view between David on earth and how the events effected the heavens reminded me of the Greco-Roman mythology retellings in film. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Readers should be warned of scenes involving torture, child abuse, and survival before deciding to read this work.

Books in the Series:
Age of Zeus
Age of Odin
Age of Aztec

Friday, April 14, 2017

Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus - Joseph Atwill

There is an ongoing argument as to whether or not Jesus of the Bible is a historical figure. Some believe this historicity is of the utmost importance, while others argue the power of myth makes this point moot. Atwill contends that the truth is of the utmost importance and presents his theory that Jesus was not real, but a figure created by the Roman Empire.

While many point to Josephus's works as proof that Jesus existed, Atwill argues the opposite. He finds parallels between The War of the Jews and The New Testament to be proof of a larger satire when read side-by-side.

Like many scholars, Atwill agrees that when put in order the gospels tell a full story; however, he also states that the narrative of this story sometimes reveals some unbelievable circumstances.

With visual charts, lists, and a large section of citations readers will find it easy to follow Atwill's train of thought as they read. Perhaps one of the best parts of this book is that Atwill does not reference texts that are outside of the reach of the layman, as many authors who approach this subject do. He references out-of-copyright texts that any person can get a hold of to check his work.

I found Atwill's theory interesting, but with all of the references it took me a while to wade through the entire book. For those who are willing to put in a little bit of work themselves, I think this is a fascinating read. And while it may not convince readers, it is certainly an idea worth entertaining.

More by the Author:
Updated Edition

References:
The War of the Jews
The New Testament (KJV)

Related Reading:
Cleopatra to Christ - Ralph Ellis
Jesus Never Existed Kenneth Humphries
Pagan Christianity

Friday, April 7, 2017

My Neighbor Totoro (Novel) - Tsugiko Kubo, Hayao Miyazaki

After their mother falls ill and has to stay in a hospital, Satuski and Mei move with their father from Tokyo to a small village. Without relatives or servants to help and in an older house, the three have to learn new ways to care for both themselves and the house. There's one more peculiar aspect of their house: it's haunted. While Tatsuo their father is excited about this, the two girls aren't so sure how they feel about it.

Despite being in a brand new place, they soon find they are not alone. There are friendly neighbors, including the old housekeeper, who are willing to help them get used to their new life. There are also more curious neighbors, the spirit kind, who are looking out for the girls in their new hometown.

While this novelization largely follows the film when it comes to its story line, there is an added episode where the two sisters go back to visit their relatives in Tokyo, which demonstrates how much the girls have changed because of their new lifestyle. Some of the events unfold a little differently, such as Mei's discovery of Totoro and when Satuski seeks out Mei at the end.

There are some things that aren't explained in the Disney dub of the film, the version I am familiar with, that are explained in the book. Such as why the dustbunnies/soot sprites leave after the bathtub scene. Or how both Satuski and Mei are both associated with the month of May.

Those familiar with the film may find this novelization charming, but I didn't feel the novelization conveyed the same amount of magic as the film version.

More in the media:
My Neighbor Totoro Blu-Ray
Art of My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbor Totoro Picture Book