Reviewing The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Caleveras County

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Mark Twain is one of the most enjoyable writers to ever bless the art of literature. His unique wit and unmistakable style make some of the most fun reading. His use of language celebrates the everyman in a way that few other writers have been able to. Already being a fan, I knew I would enjoy this story. This is the story that put Mark Twain on the map. This is The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County.

The most relevant thing I can relay to any potential readers of this story is the substance is the least important part. This tale is all about the journey and far less about the destination. It follows the narrator, who is a western mining town for the first time. At the request of a friend, he meets a man named Leonidas W. Smiley. As opposed to giving the narrator the information he needs, Smiley weaves this overblown tale about a frog jumping contest.

The narrator suffers through the long winded tale of Smiley and interjects his opinions about it along the way. Presented in a clever way, Twain manages to capture the humor and suffering experienced when someone just won’t stop talking. Being a victim of your own courtesy can trap you in the wake of a windbag. The ending really makes this story and without ruining it, I must insist you take the time to read it. A short read, this provides a good escape and can easily be completed during a lunch break. I feel this is a great introduction to Mark Twain for new readers and a fantastic time killer for old fans. Enjoy this story here.

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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Sabres Of Infinity Review

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Do you want to play a game and read a book at the same time? Would you like to explore a fictional world that involves gunpowder and sorcery? Do you want something that is well written and original all at the same time? If so, Sabres of Infinity is the experience for you.

The creator, Paul Wong weaves a unique setting that has the player assume the role of a member of an aristocratic family who in deeply indebted. In order to relieve the debt, your family has sent the playable character to serve in the military. Through a series of options, you are allowed to chose the stats and characteristics of your character.

The story follows the character as they complete their training and interact with several of their peers. By selecting certain actions, your peers either become allies or rivals. After completing training and being assigned to active action you really get to see what an interesting setting the game provides.

The thing that really impressed me with this game was the writing. I found that I really began to care about the main character and his plight as he navigated the effects of battle. You find yourself dealing with hostile natives and questioning the motives of the war itself along with the manner in which your countrymen conduct themselves. It pushes the player to ask some deep questions whilst allowing you to immerse yourself in the character and the world presented.

I feel this game provides a great deal of replayability and I cannot wait to play it again and see what other options are available. I cannot wait to play the sequel Guns of Infinity and I feel that for the purchase price was well worth the price. All in all, this is worth the time and if you need a unique game with a great setting this is your choice. Check it out here.

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

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A Haunted House Review

“Nearer they come; cease at the doorway. The wind falls, the rain slides silver down the glass. Our eyes darken; we hear no steps beside us; we see no lady spread her ghostly cloak.”

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Virginia Woolf’s A Haunted House is the perfect holiday short story. Being the time of the year for warm fuzzies and loving family, this one will surprise you with the way the story flows. I believe that this work would fall into the realm of unconventional Christmas fiction. So if you are a Die Hard and A Nightmare Before Christmas as holiday material kind of person, I think this would be a good choice for you.

I thought this was an excellent jump off point to Virginia Woolf’s writing and if you find yourself enjoying this you will enjoy Mrs. Dalloway or The Waves. This work follows a narrator who resides in a haunted house in which two ghosts are searching for something. As the story progresses, the author discovers what the two spirits are looking for. The imagery used is both hauntingly playful and ends on an upbeat note.

Overall, this is a good way to spend thirty minutes. A quick paced, upbeat story that finds a way to both be eerie and uplifting. The author leaves the reader in an era of suspense throughout. In a world saturated by the same Christmas stories, I think this would be an excellent addition.  This is most certainly worth your time. Read it for free here.

“Death was the glass; death was between us;”

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

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Reviewing War Is a Racket

“Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket. 1) We must take the profit out of war. 2) We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war. 3) We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.”

 

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Major General Smedley Butler wrote this work in 1935 after retiring from the United States Marine Corps. It is an expansion of a speech of the same title. Butler, a career military officer served from 1898 until 1931. During his tenure, he received two Medals of Honor, A Marine Corps Brevet Star, an Order of the Black Star and twelve other awards or medals. He was highly praised during his career and upon retiring he became an outspoken critic of the military system.

I am so glad that I was turned onto this book. Having someone so decisively and drastically critique their entire profession is astounding. He examines the way in which the United States wages war and breaks it down into five easy to follow sections. His sarcastic demeanor really adds some personality to this work. His heart is truly in the pages of this book. He sees war as a crime that is paid for by innocents in lives lost and money taken, as the title suggests he compares the war system to organized crime. He is brutally critical of the ‘military-industrial complex’ in a enlightened and refreshing way.  These were some of the best fourteen pages I’ve ever set my eyes on.

This book should be read in every history class. While some of the solutions presented are not the most practical or realistic, it could open a dialogue that could lead to some true answers. I believe that Butler’s wit and candor would really push even the most staunch military supports to reexamine the way in which foreign entanglements are conducted. This work reached fame when published in the Reader’s Digest in the thirties. I would really like to see another major publication take a chance and reprint this. I hope that all my readers will take a minute to enjoy this, I’ve included a link to the PDF here.

 

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“In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn’t join the army.”

 

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

Reviewing The Communist Manifesto

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“The proletarians have nothing to loose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

 

Of everything I’ve read in the Adult Book Reports, this is probably the most notorious. Whether it is looked at as gospel or heresy,this is the book that inspired both revolution and McCarthyism. This is one of those banned books that I’m sure the purchase of puts me on a government watch list. This is Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels most well-known work. This is The Communist Manifesto.

This book was very difficult for me to read objectively.  I am diametrically opposed to almost every idea held within it. I do not believe that private property, free markets, and minimal government are the evils presented in the text. After I was able to disconnect my own personal views with what was presented within the manifesto, I partially understood its appeal. To throw off the oppressive overlords and have working class unite against them. To give the power back to those who sell their labor to merely scratch by. To get away from the oppressive hierarchy and have an equal share. Written in a persuasive and almost motivational manner, this book really pushes its points home through the writing. Marx and Engels obviously are true believers in their dogma and it reverberates throughout the text. They genuinely want everyone to have an equal shot at the surrounding and feel by uniting the downtrodden, this will be achieved.

When originally distributed this was a pamphlet. It is also presented in a way to appeal to the lowest common denominator. The target audience is obviously the poor and uneducated who will tear down the oppressive hierarchy. Those who are underfoot by tyranny will see this as a guiding light and begin to establish the ideas within. Divided into four parts, it can be easily recounted to others and broken down into small blurbs. It is an amazing piece of propaganda on par with something from the Civil Defense Corps or radical religious material. It is a powerful, persuasive and incredibly well-written text. It pushed me to think and examine my own politics, but never in any real way to convert me. If anything, whilst reading this I often found myself questioning the purpose of the state at all. This was an interesting read, if only for its historical significance.  If you feel the need to read this, take it with a grain of salt.

 

 

“WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!”

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

Hellboy: Makoma Review

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Typically these adult book reports revolve around a piece of classic literature. Typically they are a new author or long heralded book that I’ve never read. Typically they involve something with a reputation for literary greatness.  Other times, I just read a really good Hellboy storyline and feel the need to share it.

For those unfamiliar, Hellboy is a well-intentioned demon who works for the Burea of Paranormal Research and Defense and fights off dark forces. Written with the perfect mix of Lovecraftian horror, folklore, alternate history, and quick wit these stories are excellent. For the most part, each story arc is self-contained and very friendly to new readers. The creator, Mike Mignola has crafted a universe where anything is possible and will whisk you away at a moments notice.

Makoma, or A Tale Told By A Mummy In The New York Explorers’ Club On August 16, 1993. Is a two-part story in which Mike Mignola teams with comic legend Richard Corben. The artwork throughout this book is superb, but I feel that this particular arc shows everything Hellboy does well. It features a traditional fable and incorporates the humor and horror elements that are a staple of the series. The dueling elements of Hellboy’s destiny as a demonic tool in the apocalypse and his good intentions are prominently displayed in these comics.  The African folkloric theme was sublime and did an excellent job of immersing the reader into the narrative. An easy to follow and exciting story make this an extremely enjoyable read. I’ll admit that this is a bias review, I love Mignola’s work and Hellboy is one of my absolute characters in fiction. If you need a quick read or an introduction into the series I highly recommend this comic. I’ve included an Amazon Kindle link here where you can pick these up for a few dollars. This is money and time well spent, so I encourage you to give them a try.

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Carl Sagan Day with an Election

It is November 9th and that usually indicates the annual post of it being Carl Sagan Day. But in the light, or lack there of, of resent events and this years political landscape as a whole I am Canceling Carl Sagan Day do to a lack of critical thinking, rationality, and skepticism.

But here is a link to the first years, and here is a link to the second years

“I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudo-science and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us-then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls. The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.”

This is not just because of our new president elect but also because of all candidates that made it this far and, particularly, the way it was all handle by the public. Credulity abounded at all sides and when someone finally says the truth it is lost in the chants of rhetoric (which a great leader once said “judge a man by his action not his rhetoric”).

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

Setting aside all policies, Trump would make statement the would challenge the most skilled of contortionist by putting his foot in his mouth while his head was up his ass and gazing at his own navel, patting himself on the back and shrugging all at once. But were, you or I to do that it would be a failing of character but for him it is quote “him telling it like it is” even though the numbers don’t support that. PolitiFact, love or hate them, has evaluated 331 claims by Trump. 70% were found mostly false, false, or pants on fire. Compared to Clinton’s 293 with 26% being some level of false or Obama’s over the course of 8years 596 also at 26% false. This is not an endorsement of them being better choices it is more condemning the lack of accountability or more aptly the wanting there to be and willingness to accept accountability on the claims he made. Johnson and Sanders were nailed to the wall for not being able to back up there more outlandish claims.

“We’ve arranged a global civilization in which the most crucial elements — transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting, profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

Scientific American got a list of 20 “refined by a group of scientific institutions representing more than 10 million scientists and engineers” and graded the 4 major candidates with 5 being the most points that could be award (one question was not graded because it was on immigration and they felt if was outside the scope of the magazine to pass judgment on that topic) for a total of 95 points. The scores are as follows Trump 07; Clinton 64; Johnson 30; Stein 44. Now it is not a requirement for a leader to also be phd in the sciences but in a complicated world of climate change, vaccine denialism, and growing reliance on the STEM field it should be a requirement to understand the scientific processes and hold respect for it.

“Those who seek power at any price detect a societal weakness, a fear that they can ride into office. It could be ethnic differences, as it was then [Alien and Sedition Acts], perhaps different amounts of melanin in the skin; different philosophies or religions; or maybe it’s drug use, violent crime, economic crisis, school prayer, or ‘desecrating’ (literally, making unholy) the flag. Whatever the problem, the quick fix is to shave a little freedom off the Bill of Rights.”

Everyone was wiped into a state where the prevailing moods were fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. They all wanted this. Everyone of them. And we all felt it. Trump wanted you to fear and hate foreigners. Clinton wanted it to be Trump. Johnson wanted you to fear government. Sanders the wealthy. Stein…. um… well…. I don’t know want she want… I did not pay that much attention to her… Lets just say it was novelty welcome mats she wants us to fear. It became an election about negatives and differences. No one wanted to lead they wanted to win. So reason had to take a back seat.

“Education on the value of free speech and the other freedoms reserved by the Bill of Rights, about what happens when you don’t have them, and about how to exercise and protect them, should be an essential prerequisite for being an American citizen — or indeed a citizen of any nation, the more so to the degree that such rights remain unprotected. If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.”

Carl Sagan mainly stuck to science and skepticism in his writing and tried to inspire a sense of wonderment in the grand future we could have. But occasionally he would turn the themes of critical thinking towards politics and the best example I can think of is his book ‘Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark‘. (Which I have it on good authority if you google it followed by ‘pdf’ you can find it to read for free). Now, sadly I have not reread it recently so I can’t call this a full BS Adult Book Report but for this special purpose I should be fine. If you are going to read one book from Carl Sagan or on the topic of skepticism or science communication this is the one. In it he goes through how we know what we know in science and more importantly how to detect when someone is trying to deceive us with false science. It also talks about why people are willing to believe in weird things and how they get deceived and not in a negative way. A basic primer on skepticism. It, though prone to tangents at times, is not written for a science major or someone in the deep end of skeptic moment. It is for the beginner and has enough topics for you to find one of interest for you. But also, he takes the time to explain why all of it is important, not just personally, but to a nation and world as a whole and that is were the political and social studies comes from. In it he speaks highly of the Founding Fathers particularly Thomas Jefferson, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. He thinks leaders should be intelligent and the citizens should be even more so and I can’t disagree with that. He also thinks our freedom our constantly under the assault of be removed, either by those seeking power for powers sake or by those seeking to profit through tricking us, I also cant disagree with that. And his solution is simple and obvious after all of this: just be aware.

We have failed Carl Sagan. We are letting the candle burn out and the cold, unforgiving dark creep in. People are distrusting science and letting the comforting myths of old sink in. It is almost a joke but there are people in the first world that believe in a flat earth and there is no excuse for that. The “religion of nationalism” has taken holed were a political party is more important than political good. But there is time turn back. And we can’t predict the future. Maybe it is not as bad as it seems and we will have a great next 4 years. Only time will tell. Maybe it was all a ploy to shine a light on how easy it is to be deceived (please, please let it be that…..) I will leave with a few more quotes from Demon-Haunted World that I find appropriate but could not find a place for otherwise. 

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…”

“When we consider the founders of our nation: Jefferson, Washington, Samuel and John Adams, Madison and Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine and many others; we have before us a list of at least ten and maybe even dozens of great political leaders. They were well educated. Products of the European Enlightenment, they were students of history. They knew human fallibility and weakness and corruptibility. They were fluent in the English language. They wrote their own speeches. They were realistic and practical, and at the same time motivated by high principles. They were not checking the pollsters on what to think this week. They knew what to think. They were comfortable with long-term thinking, planning even further ahead than the next election. They were self-sufficient, not requiring careers as politicians or lobbyists to make a living. They were able to bring out the best in us. They were interested in and, at least two of them, fluent in science. They attempted to set a course for the United States into the far future — not so much by establishing laws as by setting limits on what kinds of laws could be passed. The Constitution and its Bill of Rights have done remarkably well, constituting, despite human weaknesses, a machine able, more often than not, to correct its own trajectory.”

Ryan S. Brewer is the co-host and editor of the Bored Shenanigans podcast (when he releases one) available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of Brewer’s Shitty Writing very sporadically here or as episode descriptions. Also he has nothing else to enjoy anywhere else, but you can find Cody’s poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or the Faceyspace.