Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The 5000 Year Discussion

"The happy union of these states is a wonder; their Constitution is a miracle; their example of the hope and liberty throughout the world. Woe to the ambition that would meditate the destruction of either." - James Madison
What a great quote to start a book! I thought of National Treasure when Nicolas Cage says, "People don't talk like that anymore." I loved reading this book! It was interesting, fun, and relatively easy and quick (it would have been much quicker if I weren't in school). I think there was a plethora of good quotes and historical insights that every good American should know. I can't say anything better than how the scholars have said it so I thought I'd just go through and list my favorite quotes and the feelings I got. The only principle I did not agree with was the 23rd. My feelings on education are...complicated. So we'll just skip it for now.
Part 1: The Founder's Monumental Task
Great Thomas Jefferson quote: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." That's why everyone should read this book and other classics.
Part 2: The Founder's Basic Principles
1 - The Genius of Natural Law: I liked this line by the author in reference to natural law by God, "It cannot be abandoned by legislators or the people themselves, even though they may pretend to do so." Sometimes I feel enslaved by the acts of legislators and found this quote inspiring.
3 - Virtuous and Moral Leaders: That almost seems a laughable phrase. I thought of the Kennedy's when the author mentioned getting where you are on your own merit and not the wealth and reputation of your family. Above all I loved this Samuel Adams statement. "But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." Congress anyone?
4 - The Role of Religion: "And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion... Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle." - George Washington. "America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." - Alexis de Tocqueville.
6 - All Men Are Created Equal: Nothing sums up the definition of "equity before the law" more than this quote from Clarence Carson, "This means every man's case is tried by the same law governing any particular case...The definition of premeditated murder is the same for the millionaire as for the tramp."
7 - Equal Rights, Not Equal Things: So many great quotes in this chapter I wish I could write them all! I liked that the author pointed out that we cannot give the state power to do anything we cannot ourselves do. Just as I cannot take Jesse's Tahoe and give it to Cali since her car died, so the government cannot either.
8 - Man's Unalienable Rights: "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws..." - Frederic Bastiat.
12 - Advantages of a Republic: A must read for every citizen. The author clearly, and effectively, spells out a democracy vs. a republic.
13 - Protection Against Human Failty: Anyone else think of what's going on today on Capital Hill when they read this, "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations..." - James Madison.
14 - Property Rights Essential to Liberty: "To give him his liberty but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave." - George Sutherland. Read the Abraham Lincoln quote on that same page!
15 - Free Market Economics: FREEDOM TO FAIL! That's important. I also enjoyed Jefferson's use of the word "fictitious" when describing money and capital.
17 - Checks and Balances: "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." - James Madison.
22 - Government by Law, Not by Man: "Even the best of men in authority are liable to be corrupted by passion. We may conclude then that the law is reason without passion, and it is therefore preferable to any individual." - Aristotle.
24 - Peace Through Strength: "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." - George Washington. AMEN. Washington's warning against being "lured" into complacency reminded me of the college campuses I've been on. They scream complacency.
25 - Avoid Entangling Alliances: I appreciated this chapter very much because even at BYU-I my professor taught that the founding fathers were "isolationists", here the author tells in specific detail why they were "separatists" and not "isolationists".
27 -Avoiding the Burden of Debt: I could write an entire book just on this principle so I'll just let it go.

Friday, November 20, 2009


(If I had stars on my computer, I would give this 3 1/2 out of 5)
Having met G.G. Vandagriff had a greater influence on me wanting to read her book than the actual title of the book. I guess I am not "that into" suspense novels. But I will admit, the synopsis did grab my attention: Here it is:

"A Celtic Scholar is brutally murdered when she discovers a clue to a priceless fifth-century manuscript that could prove the identity of King Arthur. Determined to find the ancient relic and avenge her sister's death, Maren Southcott begins a quest that immediately puts her own life in danger.
"In the modern tradition of Mary Higgins Clark, The Arthurian Omen weaves a tale of mystery and suspense as pursuit of the manuscript winds through the medieval castles and monasteries of Wales. Stalked by a psychopath with delusions of a Welsh revolution, Maren is shaken to the core when a new crisis threatens to destroy the one person she loves most.
"Can she find the manuscript before the murderer strikes again? Or is the manuscript-and the legend-better left in the past?"
I will do a very simple "Mom Review".
Q. Was it worth reading.
A. Yes, especially if you like a good mystery with lots of red-herrings. Granted, she is no Agatha Christie, but then who is. And since I have never read a Mary Higgins Clark, I can't make a comparison. But your dad and I agree she is trying to write in the style of Agatha Christie and was pretty successful. It was an enjoyable read.
Q. Was it worth the price you paid for the book? ($16.95)
A. Maybe for some of you, but for me, a person who is not "that into" suspense or fantasy type of fiction, it was not worth the price. But then, Hillary would probably say it was. Of course Hillary would not want to fork over $18.95 to pay for a book by Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter or Thomas Sowell and I would. If you really want to read this book, pick it up used at or at a used book store, borrow mine or check it out at your Library.
Q. What did you like best about the characters?
A. There were a lot of interesting characters, most of them suspicious, of course, and she gave several of them all the attributes they needed to be considered guilty of 'evil' things, which of course fooled me as I was always picking the wrong bad guy. Except for 1. I had him pegged about half-way through the book. The leading man (the Real one I should say) completely threw me for a loop. WOW!!! The heroine should get a "Hey Stupid" award for a couple of things she does, but I believe all heroines in modern liturature have that same tendancy. (It's midnight, she's alone and unarmed, she hears a noise and thinks she should investigate without letting anyone know where she is going or even asking someone to assist her type of thing.)
Q. Was it realistic?
A. Almost. There was one loose end that I wish would have been wrapped up better, it made the revelation at the end a little hard to believe, but the descriptions of the Welsh Countryside were so real I could almost smell and feel the lush green! It makes me want to visit the British Isles.

G.G. has some great insites and very interesing experiences about her writing this novel on the official website check it out and let me know when you want my book.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Meet the Author: G. G. Vandagriff

Back in August, mom and I went to Deseret Book to get some last minutes essentials for Elder Cunningham and it just happened to be the same day as an author signing. Mom and I had a nice chat with G.G. Vandagriff and each ended up purchasing a novel. I have not yet read mine (The Last Waltz), but I believe mom has read hers (The Arthurian Omen), perhaps she can write a review (hint). One thing that really impressed me was that she has actually been to all of the places she writes about. Some authors I have read (unfortunately mostly LDS authors) write about exotic places in such a way that you get the feeling that they have either never been there, or it was not a memorable time. For example, I read a novel when I was in high school in which the main characters are in Hawaii. The only Hawaiian word used was 'Aloha' and the only specific place mentioned was Honolulu. All it described was beaches and palm trees, beaches and palm trees. I had never been to Hawaii at that time and even I could have described it better than that. At least googled something to make it sound like I'd been there. Anyway...
G.G. Vandagriff is an LDS author and has written several novels and some nonfiction. The Last Waltz was inspired by the time she speant in the Alps studying Austrian music, art, politics, and history from Austrian professors. Returning to Stanford to finish her BA, she majored in an interdepartmental study of Central Europe's politics, history, and economics. Upon graduation, she worked for the Hoover Institution at Stanford as a researcher and editor for the Yearbook of International Communist Affairs.
Following a two year stint in the world of finance, she attended graduate school at George Washington University, where she received her Master's Degree from distinguished émigrés of Central Europe. Once again, she studied politics, history, and economics of the region. Her master's thesis, Comecon: Asset or Liability, foretold the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc nearly two decades before the Wall fell.
Eventually, she became the author of a book on genealogy, Voices in Your Blood, and an off-beat genealogical mystery series: Cankered Roost, Of Deadly Descent, Tangled Roots, Poisoned Pedigree, and The Hidden Branch (coming in Fall, 09). She also indulged her love of King Arthur and Wales in a novel of suspense, The Arthurian Omen. She has recently co-authored a book on depression, which she suffered from for many years.

For more information and to see pictures of locations mentioned in the books, visit G. G. Vandagriff's website at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Still Standing

For those of you who are interested, Carrie Prajean has released her first book called "Still Standing" in which she defends herself against the personal attacks made against her by such garbage as Perez Hilton, Michael Musto, Keith Olbermann, and the rabid left.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November Selection

By Jesse:

Our book for November is The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I know that it sounds boring, and not very much fun, but trust me. This book will totally change your outlook on money. It is not just a book about money but it is also a motivational book about being happy with what you have and trying to be a better person. A little bit about the author, he was a millionare by 26 and then went completely bankrupt. He had no concept of how to handle his money, so he went on quest to figure it out. This book is about what he has figured out over the last couple of decades. He is a financial counsler, has a very succesful radio talk show and has written 3 books. I know some of you are thinking that you have already read books like this before, but trust me you haven't. It is not about getting rich fast or buying as much realestate as possible and trying to flip it. It is about learning how to manage the money that you do have. It doesn't matter if it is $500 or $500,000. That way you can have money for a rainy day or you can save for vacations instead of constantly feeling like you are out of money. It reads more like a novel, it's not just a bunch of statistics thrown together, you actually want to keep reading. You all know that I am not a big reader, I have read this book twice. There are alot of testimonials, especially towards the end, so if you get behind you can skip them and finish the book. Just promise you will go back and read them. I have actually highlighted my book, some of the quotes and statistics that I like. When I am feeling discouraged I will go back and read some of the things I highlighted. Anyway enough about the book, just read it I know you will love it. For the few of you who have already read it, you can read it again(it never hurts to read something twice), or you can read his book Financial Peace University that is what I will be reading. Love you all, can't wait to hear the feedback.

Monday, November 2, 2009

October Discussion

Skye asked me to relay the following message:

Due to the large number of participants who haven't quite finished October's selection yet, we're going to postpone discussion until the end of this week. At which time Skye will post her review to open the discussion.

In the meantime, Jesse can assign the selection for November as soon as possible so everyone can begin working on that one as well.