DEXTER - In what turned out to be an emotionally stimulating but exhausting 3-hour session, 13 Abbott Book Club members summarized the book they had read the previous month.
SHOCK DOCTRINE, by Naomi Klein was first on the agenda, read by Rhea Smith of Dexter. The book discussed the rise of corporate capitalism's methods to liberate world markets to increase profit. The use of shock and awe is used to help large corporations achieve dominance in the US and other large world markets. Shocks ( storms, economic calamities, political upheavals, etc.) create situations whereby large corporations move in to where they can profit and have not been before. 9/11 and recent hurricanes are two examples. We now have many multinational corporations in Iraq profiting handsomely from the invasion. In Sri Lanka and residents along the gulf coast of America are experiencing corporate takeover of valuable shore land acreage for resort areas, pushing out the local residents. On Corporations looking to expand; Rhea: "It connected the dots."
BOTTLEMANIA, by Elizabeth Rayte was reviewed by Dusty Dowse of Cambridge. He began by explaining about water wars out west and how you don't own the water that falls on your land and buildings there. Here in Maine we are a full dominion state where we do own the water that falls on our property or is under it. Why do people buy water in plastic bottles when they can easily get it from a tap? Dusty: "People buy bottled water because it's hyped. This book is the rules of engagement." For anyone concerned about corporations draining your local aquifer this book explains what is going on and what you can do about it. Dusty brought samples of water for people to test that came from different sources. The results were that Dusty's tap water and Poland Spring bottled water were judged ok but the town of Orono's water was of inferior quality.
Sam Brown of Parkman reported on, OUT OF THE WOODS, by Wallace Kaufman. An idealistic, "back to the land" homesteader, Kaufman grappled with Thoreau's vision of wilderness and the communal values of the 1970s hippies' movement. His conclusion was that humans are manipulators and the only way to live in the woods alone is if you are subsidized by our capitalistic system. Sam: "Humans are not designed to go out in the world and live by themselves."
OUR NEIGHBORLY NEIGHBORS got a good read by Jim Greehy of Dexter. An aspiring farmer, Jim was amazed at the volume of work required to feed yourself and discovered in this book it was the matter of large family units working together that was the core of the culture that sustained it and made it work. Jim felt the children were treated like indentured servants until released by their parents. Jim: "How come I can't farm without all these carbon burning machines I have?"
Abbott Book Club newcomer Charles E. MacArthur of Sangerville presented his own work, a novel written in 2002. Titled, THE ADJUSTMENT: THE NEAR FUTURE, it concerns our energy supply problem as we use up more of the world's oil. The novel is based in New York City, the Manhattan Barrens, as he calls it. He feels we are in perilous times and with the increase in price of fuel oil as many as 3 families may have to move in together to survive this winter. Charles: "I printed 1000 books; I have 900 left to sell."
Parnell Hesketh of Garland choose a book of essays, CASE AGAINST THE GLOBAL ECONOMY AND A TURN TOWARD THE LOCAL. The theme of this book written in 1996 seems very pertinent today considering the financial crisis we are in. Discussions center around the results of deregulation and the casino economy we have created with the futures markets. Selling money that doesn't exist without real growth of goods cannot exist for long; and it hasn't as evidenced by what is happening daily. The essays covered a wide variety of topics ranging from conserving and rebuilding local communities, sustainable Vs continual growth, neighborhood work crews, and communities own energy supplies. Parnell: "It's gonna crash and we need to do something to survive."
Patti Dowse of Cambridge reported on, ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, by Barbara Kingsolver. Their family came east from Arizona and settled in Virginia with a desire to make some major changes in their lives. They decided to try and eat only local grown food and for a year and followed this regime faithfully. The book is how they figured out how to achieve this when so much of our food is shipped in from many miles away. The book s filled with recipes, canning hints and preserving methods.
WORLD MADE BY HAND, was reviewed by Carol Feurtado of Dexter. This novel portrays a small town in upstate New York when there is no oil is left in the world, no electricity, and no one knows if there is still a discernible government. All transportation is by animal, walking, or by boat.
Susan Gerretson of Abbot has used the book, RADICAL SIMPLICITY, written by Jim Merkel to make changes in her life to live more sustainable. Merkel, who lives in Vermont has organized his material to help guide you to figure out your "footprint" ecologically and reduce their consumption. He includes worksheets and quizzes to help you calculate your needs in a moderate way without excess.
HAPPINESS by Richard Layard was Librarian Liz's Breault's book report. New revelations are revealed now that science can test your brain for happiness. Research shows that people are no happier with larger amounts of money as their economic well being improves. The monetary minimum amount to live for the US seems to be 20K per capita per year. In the US, where people work more has the least happy people, Switzerland the most happy. Religious people seem to be happier and those that are happier tend to live longer.
Gerry Amelotte of Troy read, IMAGINE: WHAT AMERICA COULD BE IN THE 21ST CENTURY, by Marianne Williamson. Interviews with 40 people and written in 2000, Jerry thinks this is just the medicine we need to determine a course of action on how each of us best contribute to make America better. The book covers a broad range of ideas from some of the best intellects we have today. Topics include neighborhoods, politics, fulfilling work and play, health, and spirituality. Gerry: This is a positive book; Its the medicine for what Kunstler threw at us"
CONSILIENCE, THE UNITY OF KNOWLEDGE, by E. O. Wilson was dissected by Ed Hummel of Garland. Ed took a complicated subject and broke it down into a simple thesis; all our fields of knowledge in the world are interrelated and we have to have some awareness of the other disciplines we are not expert in to be fully knowledgeable. We need to be well-rounded and not just specialists in one field. Ed: "We have to understand everything to understand everything; we can't have tunnel vision in our specialty'"
THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF CAPITALISM, by John C. Boggle, was reviewed by Frank Spizuoco of Ripley. Bogle, who is founder and former CEO of Vanguard mutual funds, has been the canary in the coal mines for years about our current economic collapse, except no one heard him singing, or just ignored him. Written in 2005, Bogle pretty much outlined what has brought us to this financial crisis over many years as his dire warnings went unheeded. He feels capitalism has become a pathological mutation that is moving in the wrong direction; away from its proud traditional roots. Bogle states that not only are there a few bad apples, the barrel itself, the very structure that holds all those apples – is bad. After describing how we got to this crisis he discusses what we should do about it.
The Book club will meet October 29th and discuss Consumed, by John R. Barber.
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