Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review – Decision Points by George W. Bush

You can tell my life has been busy. It took me 3+ months to finish a book I got for Christmas! However, that should not reflect on the quality of the book. Decision Points by former US president George W. Bush is considered his memoirs. The book recounts President Bush’s early political career, but focuses on the major decisions (i.e. decision points) throughout his eight years in the White House.

Regardless of how you feel politically about George W. Bush (and he was certainly an unpopular president at the end of his second term), Decision Points gives a fascinating look into how decisions are made by a US president. It seems every presidency is somewhat of an adventure. No 4-year span can pass in American history without significant incidents that must be addressed by the President. Decision Points was especially insightful because of the magnitude of events that occurred during the two-term presidency of George W. Bush. Decision Points gives the most inside view of the disputed election with Al Gore, 9-11-2001, Katrina, the fiscal crisis, and several other key happenings during President Bush’s presidency. It also recounts President Bush’s pre-presidential life. I found it refreshing that President Bush was able to discuss his now-famous early life issues (drinking, partying, etc.). Throughout the book Bush was also able to point out mistakes made during his time in office. One common criticism that the left through at President Bush while in office was that he never admitted mistakes. In this book he admits them, as well as explains why he would never admit mistakes while in office!

Even though I may not have agreed with every decision that President Bush made, while reading I found myself respecting the thought process he went through to come to his decisions. The book clears up some of his decisions by providing inside information that was not available to the public at the time.

President Bush will be a president that will have to be judged by history. I believe time will vindicate many of the actions President Bush took as president. Note that as I write this Syria is in the middle of a public uprising in the name of liberty. Libya is involved in a fight for freedom from a despot. Egypt similarly erupted before that. Don’t think it’s a coincidence that these events occurred next door to a free Iraq. The story is yet to be written, but history may shine upon the liberation of Iraq as a turning point in the quest for freedom and stability in the Middle East. Time will tell, but I have to believe that the conviction of George W. Bush had a hand in the current events in the Middle East.

I’ve read President Obama’s books. I will read his 3rd book which he will certainly write at the conclusion of his presidency. People with an open mind will likely find the memoirs of both men worthwhile. My only hope is that President Obama’s memoirs are released in 2013 rather than 2017.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review: Developing Executive Skills by John R. Hook

Developing Executive Skills: Managing Yourself, Others and Organizations. (Agile Manager Gold)

Occasionally I stray from the political theme are read books on other subjects. I have often thought that if I spent as much time reading books about my actual profession as I do books about political philosophy I might be much better off. Liberty Alert is generally devoted to ideas regarding liberty. However, I also use Liberty Alert as a chronicle of books I have read, even if they are not political in nature. Since it’s my blog, I have that prerogative! Additionally, discussing books on different subjects changes it up a bit; helps to keep things interesting.

With that in mind, I have recently completed reading the book Developing Executive Skills: Managing Yourself, Others, and Organizations by John R. Hook. As the title suggests, this is a business management book. I decided to read this book after meeting the author. He happens to be the grandfather of someone who works in my office.

As a management book, I thought it was a little on the simplistic side. At 191 pages, the book provides mostly an overview of upper-level management topics. It does provide a good starting point to lead an interested researcher in the right direction for further study. I’m not sure how much of the book I will retain. Many of the concepts seemed to make sense, but were not particularly unique or memorable. There was one particularly thought-provoking section in the book. The most memorable discussion had to do with leadership. I dog-eared this page and later made a photocopy so I could hang it in my office. The author quotes the military historian S. L. A. Marshall regarding leadership:

“Quiet resolution. The hardihood to accept risk. A willingness to share rewards with subordinates. An equal willingness to take full blame when things go wrong. The nerve to survive storm and disappointment and to face each new day with the score sheet whipped clean, neither dwelling on one’s success, nor accepting discouragement from one’s failures. This is the essence of leadership. For these are the things that have enabled one man to draw others to him in any age.”

I thought this was a good, simple, straight-forward list of good leadership traits.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Review: A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen

A Patriot's History of the United States tells the true story of the USA.  The book tells the story of the USA without the modern bias or political correctness that ravages most modern American history books.  This book should be required reading for every high school student in the USA!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, but be forewarned...this book is long.  It's not for the faint of heart.  It will take some dedication to get through the 829 pages.  However, the chapters are short, so it's the kind of book that can be easily picked up and put down frequently.  Several long plane trips, including one from New York to Singapore gave me my best opportunity to make a big dent in this one, and I was glad I did it.

I recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in American history.  I especially recommend parents to try to steer their young adult children to this book.  It would certainly help them in their American history and world history understanding.  The book does an especially fine job of making connections to events in history that seemed unrelated.  Once you read the book, you come to realize that hardly anything of significance in world history happens in a vacuum.  You will learn a lot and enjoy the story.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blog Status

I've determined that there's too much redundant opinion out there.  Therefore, this bog will only include opinions that provide a unique perspective.  Therefore, the number of posts will be controlled by this hurdle.

Reading and reviewing books is one way to provide a unique perspective.  Many of the posts on this blog have been book reviews.  Right now I am in the middle of reading a 900 page book.  Therefore, posts have been few these days.  Once I'm through this book, posts should resume more regularly.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Book Review: Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford

Shop Class as Soulcraft is an essay-style book that highlights the virtues of physical craftsman work (or work in “the trades”) while discussing some of the shortcomings of work in the “intelligence professions”, i.e. cubicle office work, utilizing philosophies from historical thinkers to bolster the author’s conclusions.

The book is humorous, entertaining, intellectual, and interesting. The author has quite a unique background. He is a former communist. Not to say he is a member of the party, but he was brought up on a commune. He is a classically trained philosopher, boasting a PhD. Yet he is also a licensed electrician. But more importantly, he is also a gear head. He spent his adolescence around speed shops, later transitioning from cars to motorcycles. I have no census data, but I think I can say with some certainty that he is one of the few motorcycle mechanics out there holding a PhD. The wide variety of experiences in the author’s background adds color to the stories throughout the book.

Although I enjoyed reading the book, and found the theories presented compelling, it is difficult to make a decision on how I feel about the author's conclusions. The subtitle of the book is “An Inquiry Into the Value of Work”. I agreed with many points made in the book. I agree with the author’s theories that so-called white-collar work can lack the satisfaction of seeing the direct results of labor that is offered by the so-called blue-collar professions. I also agree that people in the “thinking professions” underestimate the problem solving and mental skill required to skillfully complete trade work. Where the author falls short is in his discussion of the macroeconomics. Although the author shows no serious love for the left as it is defined today in American politics, it seems his communist upbringing comes through a bit when he discusses his view of unfairness of the money supply (the haves and have nots). In these arguments, the author strays from his core competency of understanding, and delves into areas that perhaps were not necessary to complete his book. In short, I liked everything in the book except the final chapter. It was a bit like a great movie with a bad ending.

I recommend Shop Class as Soulcraft. The author's writing style, unique thinking, and whit make it worth while, even if I did not agree with all the conclusions.  Even still, it will make you think in new ways.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

President Obama is Wrong to Characterize Our Choices as One or The Other

President Obama and the Democrats are in political trouble, and they know it.  They are projecting to November and anticipating the difficulties their party will likely have, as they are at great risk of losing control of the House of Representatives, as well as lose significant seats in the Senate.

So the President is doing what he can to change perceptions.  He continues to use the unpopularity of the Bush presidency as a crutch.  He uses it to paint our choices as voters as a black and white choice between his policies, and "going back" to the Bush policies.  The President presents this as if there are no other policy choices out there.  This is not the case.
Nothing is static, especially in politics.  The Republican party is not the same.  The mistakes of the Bush administation, the tea party movement, and the aggressively radical policies of the left (lead by President Obama) are factors that have influenced the Republican party today.  The party today is no longer the party it was when Bush was in office.  Change is unavoidable for both parties.  Despite how the President sets the scene, nobody can go back, even if one wanted to go back.

The President is wrong.  The choices for direction of the country is not a straight line, either A or B.  It's an array of choices in infinite directions.  The President wants us to believe we have to either support his policies or support the old Bush policies, a kind of either-with-me-or-against-me credo.  This is not so.  Americans are wiser.  Republicans are wiser.  Conservatives are wiser.  We have all learned from the failings of the previous big government administrations, whether they were Republican or Democrat.  My fear is that it's too late.  We've gone too far down the Big Government road to reel it in.  Perhaps.  One thing of which I am certain; the Obama-left-big government direction of the country can not be sustained, and the direction will eventually change.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Review – Conservative Victory by Sean Hannity

National TV and radio host Sean Hannity has released a timely book chronicling the deficiencies of the Obama administration and suggestions for conservative leadership to repair the tyranny that Obama and the Democrats have ushered into America.

Hannity is donating all profits for the book to charity.

As opposed to some other conservative books recently reviewed on this blog, Conservative Victory is not intended to change any minds. A liberal reader of this book will likely not be swayed. The subtitle of the book is “Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda”. Hannity is obviously targeting the conservative majority in the United States with this book. Hannity is an unabashed conservative, so this book is targeting people that politically agree with Hannity’s philosophies.

The book does a find job of summarizing the failures, un-Americanism, and danger of the Obama administration. Hannity then gives some suggestions for Republican conservative leadership.

Most of Hannity’s suggestions are reasonable, yet somewhat unimaginative. Hannity focuses mostly on re-tread ideas like the renewing a Contract with America. Such ideas may be valid, but they are hardly novel.

The book was generally an interesting read, but as an instruction manual for the average person to “defeat Obama’s radical agenda” it came up short. The book was more of a suggestion manual for conservative political leaders rather than an action plan for individual conservative citizens.

Conservative Victory is worth a quick read. Expect a good summary of the issues, but don’t expect Conservative Victory to be life-changing.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Consider Good Holster with Any Handgun Purchase

I recently purchased a Ruger SP101 revolver in .357 magnum. 

I like the gun, but I'm having a heck of a time finding a practical holster for it. 

Yesterday, I went to Hoffman's Gun Center in Newington, Connecticut to try to find a suitable holster.  I was looking for something that offers maximum concealment with a good fit.  Hoffman's had plenty of holsters, but none for the Ruger SP101.
Cabelas in East Hartford had a good selection of holsters (not as many as Hoffman's, but still a large selection), but still nothing specifically made for the Ruger SP101.

I bought a generic belt holster, and it works OK, but is far too bulky for normal carry.

I wanted to avoid ordering something without first being able to see it, but I think at this point, the internet is my only option.  I found the following websites to have a good selection of holsters: 

Of course, there are others, but I found that these two have a good selection and reasonable prices.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Visit to Wolf’s Indoor Range and Shooting Center – Bristol, CT USA

Where: 597 Middle Street (Route 229), Bristol, CT 06010

Phone: 860-585-0447
Hours: Monday 2 PM – 9 PM, Tuesday – Friday 10 AM – 9 PM, Saturday 9:30 AM – 9 PM, Sunday 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Cost: It cost me $19 and change for ½ hour and 5 targets
Details: 15 bays, 50+ feet indoor facility. Small shop.

I’ve never visited a shooting range before, so I was not totally sure what to expect when I visited Wolf’s Indoor Range and Shooting Center in Bristol, CT. The experience was stress free. The staff at Wolf’s was no-nonsense, but still friendly. They explained all the range etiquette and rules, and most importantly, welcomed any questions.
Wolf’s has 15 bays available. The range goes beyond 50 feet, which is plenty far for handgun shooting. They have a small store that sells targets, ammo, and various accessories.

If you are visiting a range for the first time, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you have them, bring ear and eye protection. If not, Wolf’s has some available to borrow.
  • DO NOT “expose” your firearm in the office. It needs to be kept in a case until you get out to the range.
  • If you don’t have targets, you can buy them at the range. The targets I purchased were $.30 each.
I will definitely visit Wolf’s again.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Equipment Review: Gunvault Minivault Standard Gun Safe

The Gunvault minivault gun safe is a small size safe intended to hold one or two handguns. The safe is small enough to fit under a bed or in a drawer. It is made of heavy gage steel, and lined with foam. The foam protects the internal contents of the safe. The safe features a spring assisted latch door. When the safe is opened, the door springs open unassisted. The safe features two unlocking methods. One is a standard key entry, and the other is a keypad made to mimic the position of fingers. The keypad runs on AA batteries, which are installed inside the safe. The safe has a low battery indicator light. The safe also includes mounting hardware and a template to allow the user to secure the safe to a floor or other solid surface.

The safe has an optional security cable available. It does not come standard with the safe. It must be purchased separately.
The deluxe version of the safe includes an internal light, an audible warning signal, and an AC connection for power. There is also a more advanced version that includes a biometric (fingerprint) reader to open the safe. This version is significantly more expensive than the standard and deluxe version.
The safe is large enough to fit 2 small guns. I was able to fit one revolver, plus two boxes of ammo in the safe.

I purchased the standard version. The safe appears to be a good option for firearm security in the home. The keypad is quick and easy to use, yet provides strong security. There is a key entry to back up the keypad, so even if batteries run out, the safe can be entered using the key. Additionally, the battery indicator light should remind the user to change the batteries. The spring-loaded door allows for only 1-step opening. As soon as the key is turned or the code is entered, the door springs open. No latches or hinges to operate.

I bought the Gunvault safe at Cabela’s for about $100. I am happy with the purchase.