Tag Archives: nonfiction

“I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.”

Going Clear coverDue to secretive, controversial beliefs and high-profile celebrity members (and the whacked-out behavior of said celebrity members), the Church of Scientology has been a source of fascination for several decades now. However, because of its reputation for aggressive harassment and lawsuits, few journalists or academics have investigated or researched the mysterious religion. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, Lawrence Wright, interviewed over 200 hundred current and former members and studied archival research to uncover the inner workings of Scientology in Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief (Alfred A. Knopf 2013). He details the origins, beliefs, policies, and clergy of the religion, plus the histories of mythic founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and current leader, David Miscavige. The books also examines the church’s relationship with Hollywood and the psychological hold it has over its members. Plus, it has a LOT of juicy stories.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve always considered Scientology to be a crazypants cult. It’s not because of the out-there beliefs that defy logic and science, although that whole Xenu thing is really weird. After all, most religions are based on stories or beliefs that can’t be definitively proven, though. I don’t particularly care what you believe, as long as it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else and you don’t try to push your religious beliefs onto me, particularly in a legislative capacity. HOWEVER, I don’t think a true religion makes you pay for enlightenment. The only way to move up and learn the secrets of Scientology is to pay for auditing and classes that costs THOUSANDS of dollars. Scientologists who work their way up the bridge, will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the church in their lifetime. That screams cult to me. And though I thought the members and probably most of the clergy were sincere in there beliefs, the people at the top were knowingly and cynically bilking people out of their fortunes. A couple of years ago though, a resignation letter from the church by Oscar winning writer Paul Haggis leaked online and all sorts of crazy allegations of abuse, treachery, and slave-like working conditions made by many high-ranking former members of the Sea Org (the clergy) emerged. The church denied all allegations, but my feeling is that when there’s that much smoke, there has to be fire somewhere and even if only 10% of the accusations were true, then they were beyond horrible and corrupt. So  needless to say, I was NOT an unbiased reader going in. Just a heads up and thanks for indulging me since you probably don’t care about MY feelings.

Anyway, THE BOOK. Lawrence Wright takes a very measured, even-handed approach to the material. He tries to show both sides of the story–though the church doesn’t give him much access beyond blanket denials of abuse–but he doesn’t let the church off the hook. The book is thoroughly researched and detailed, which is probably necessary when writing about a group that’s as notoriously litigious as this one. The writing is simple and straightforward, and the tone is very matter-of-fact, which keeps the reader from feeling like they’re reading US Weekly. Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional US Weekly, but the celebrity stories and out-there tales are a part of the Scientology story as a whole, and not just there for some salacious gossip. Although it’s some really good gossip. I found his extensive research into the life of L. Ron Hubbard particularly interesting because I’d not heard much about him and the official church biography is understandably skewed. It turns out he was ALLEGEDLY a pathological liar, bigamist, abuser, narcissist, and also a bit brilliant. He had some keen insights into human behavior, which have been obscured by the more outlandish elements of his teachings.

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief ultimately didn’t really alter my views about Scientology. In fact, I already knew a lot of the material from recent articles and online sources. However, I found it extremely insightful in answering two questions about Scientology that I was always curious about: why would a person join and why would a person stay. If you’re looking for a comprehensive view on Scientology, this book is and excellent place to start.

*The post title is a quote by Paul Haggis on page 362 of the book.


The Right Stuff

Packing CoverI don’t like science. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in science (and I don’t think you get to pick and choose which science you believe in based on what’s convenient for you) and am grateful that others have devoted their lives to studying the subject as I would hate to live in a world without penicillin or DVRs. But on the whole, I don’t really get science or find it interesting, so I discovered something surprising a few years ago when I was watching the BEA author’s breakfast on CSPAN. For those of those of you who don’t know (or care), BEA is the major publishing trade show for the retail market and the author’s breakfast always features some high profile writers there to hawk their newest release. I had tuned in because Jon Stewart (one of my long-standing TV boyfriends) was the emcee, but science writer Mary Roach was there plugging her new book, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (W.W. Norton 2010). Normally I would probably have fast-forwarded past her to get back to my boyfriend, but she starting about space toilets and was so funny and charming that I watched her whole speech. Even stranger, I actually wanted to read the book. Three years later, I finally got around to it and long story short (not really), I really liked it!

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void is all about the kind of people, preparation, and stuff you need to go to space. What kind of person can handle the pressures of space the best? What does that kind of confinement do to a person? How does someone maintain personal hygiene without gravity or the ability to go outside? Or go to the bathroom? Or have sex (should the opportunity arise, so to speak)? What kind of food will provide the nutrition astronauts need while not being SO awful that it makes them want to kill themselves? And how does NASA (or any other space agency) get the answers to those questions? By testing, and retesting, and testing again any possible solution. Mary Roach interviews hundreds of astronauts and scientists who tackle those questions every day and gets behind the scenes in a world that very few people know about.

Though thoroughly researched and sourced, Roach’s almost conversational writing style makes the material very accessible. She has a knack for explaining sciencey things to the layperson in a way that’s understandable, entertaining, and really funny. Though my eyes did glaze over in a few spots, I put the blame on my severe science deficiency, not her. Roach also exhibits palpable excitement and enthusiasm towards her subjects, which makes the book even more fun. I mean, any writer that puts THAT much time into researching a topic has to be at least somewhat interested in the subject, but Roach seems to delight in the absurd, ridiculous, and downright gross aspects of space travel. Did you know there was such a thing called fecal popcorn? Well now I do as it was described in gleefully exhaustive detail.

I wasn’t inspired to run off and join the space program (if anything, science aptitude aside, it confirmed how ill-suited to the profession I would be) or even read more about the astronauts, but I was satisfied to learn more about a subject that I didn’t normally care for and be entertained at the same time. Well done, Ms. Roach. That is no easy feat.

This PSA has been stuck in my head for days since reading this book. Everybody sing along! “Astronomy, biology, chemistry, zoology. Science and technology … it’s fun, you’ll see!” Nice try, PSA.

Master of Disguise

Master of DisguiseThough I LOVE the Oscars (pretty dresses, montages, earnest acceptance speeches. What’s not to like?) I don’t often see the big award contenders before the ceremony. Shockingly enough, most of the Oscar-bait movies tend to be really depressing and do not contain big song and dance numbers or stuff blowing up. This year however, I managed to catch eventual Best Picture winner, Argo, just in time for the show. I left the theater thoroughly entertained and wanting to know more about the main man played by Ben Affleck and his rocking ’70s beard. I knew that the real-life Antonio J. Mendez had published a book solely about the Argo mission to coincide with the release of the movie, but I decided to check out his earlier memoir originally published in 1999 instead. Written with journalist Malcolm McConnell, The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA (William Morrow) details Tony Mendez’s 25 year career with the CIA’s Office of Technical Service division. It’s a fascinating look into a secretive world that’s often glamorized, but rarely shown accurately.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Let’s just get the less interesting stuff out of the way. The book is competently written, but has a lot of the problems that you’d expect from one that’s written by someone who’s not a professional writer. The transitions are often awkward or sloppy and the recreated dialogue doesn’t always resemble how people actually speak. Mendez also starts each chapter in media res, but the device gets repetitive and unnecessarily dramatic, especially when the subject is so inherently dramatic anyway. There’s also a lot of jargon involved, you know acronyms and code names and such. Mendez does a good job explaining them (when he can, some of the stuff is still classified) and there’s a glossary in the back, but it was still confusing to follow at times. Given the subject though, I’m not sure if that could have been avoided. For me though, I’m fine with the writing being merely adequate in nonfiction as long as the subject is interesting enough to compensate.
  • Though Mendez goes into great details about his successful operations over the years, he tends to gloss over the CIA failures and dirty deeds. So if you’re looking for a real expose, this isn’t it. Mendez is very much a company man.
  • Ok, now onto the more fun stuff.  I got the impression after watching the movie and by the title of the book, that Mendez was a full-on field agent like James Bond or Sydney Bristow. As it turns out, Mendex was much more of a Q type, albeit one who spent a lot of time out in the field. He started out in the graphics department forging travel documents and designing propaganda materials before eventually earning his way out into the field. He wasn’t planting bugs or tailing terrorists, but his job was to provide all of the “stuff”, whether that be passports, clothing, or props to make an agent’s cover believable. There have been lots of spy stories about the James Bond types, but I’ve never read or seen anything that delves into the Q side of the world and it’s fascinating. In stories it’s like, here are some random gadgets that will magically be relevant to the plot. I mean you don’t give someone a passenger ejector seat, if the bad guy is not going to be sitting in it in Act III. In real life, every prop or technique they developed was in response to a real life problem and Tony goes into the whys and hows of the various things they came up with.
  • Though he started out in the CIA as a graphic artist and forger, Mendez’s biggest contribution was how he revolutionized disguises. He worked with legendary Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers (who he calls Jerome Calloway in the book since his identity was still a secret when it was originally published) in adapting make-up techniques that could completely change someone’s appearance to be used in the field. He also developed ways that agents could quickly don and get rid of disguises in order to escape the omnipresence of the KGB in Moscow in order to meet with their assets undetected. These methods are still used today, so Mendez is understandably vague about the details, but it’s very impressive. Plus, it’s a little mind-blowing to learn that the ridiculous Mission Impossible-style mask is not so far off from reality.
  • The CIA has the best job titles. At one point, Tony is named Chief of Disguises and there’s also a Chief of the Questioned Documents Laboratory. How awesome would it be to have either of those titles on your business cards? You know, if CIA agents could actually have business cards.
  • I’ve become obsessed with the new show The Americans on FX, which is about two Russian spies who have been posing as a suburban Washington DC married couple for YEARS and all the emotional baggage that comes with it. It’s awesome and Keri Russell gets to have fabulous hair and kick a lot of ass. ANYWAY, one of the things that struck me about the show AND this book (see, there had to be a connection eventually) is how low tech the spy business was back then. No cell phones, no facial recognition, no scanning of any kind. There were listening devices, and cameras, and microdots, and radios, for crying out loud. Electronics were really only starting to be more prominent at the end of Mendez’s tenure in the late 80s and there was apparently some resistance and skepticism at first. The advances in technology have to have changed the intelligence business drastically, but I wonder if it’s made it easier or more difficult.

I’ve been thinking recently about why I’m so fascinated by spy stories. Sure, there tends to be heroes, villains, action, adventure, danger, and the appeal of doing something bad or shifty for the greater good. But I think the biggest draw is peeking into a world that, by necessity, is so secretive and unknown. Tony Mendez pulls back the curtain a bit and it’s a fascinating glimpse into a very real man involved in some extraordinary circumstances.

Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution

Revolution was Televised coverThe thesis behind The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever (2012) is not terribly hard to suss out. Many TV and cultural critics have stated that we’re living in the “Golden Age of TV” after all. However, in this book, Hitfix.com’s Alan Sepinwall discusses the 12 dramas he considers most responsible for this golden age: Oz, The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, The Shield, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. Sepinwall interviews creators, writers, and network executives to get the skinny on how these groundbreaking dramas came about and analyzes the impact that they made on careers, networks, and the television landscape as a whole.

Alan Sepinwall is one of my favorite TV critics, so I was excited to hear that he had written a book. He’s insightful without being didactic or pretentious, funny without being mean, enthusiastic without being too fanboyish, and has good taste without being all snobby about it. I don’t always agree with what he has to say, but I always want to read his perspective. The book has the same quality that is present in his other work. It’s well-written and organized, and offers a fresh take on a subject that a TV nerd like myself has already read a lot about. The version I read was self-published (though I believe the book has since been picked up by a traditional publisher), but I could tell that he had hired a good editor even before he thanked her in the acknowledgments section. Self-published books are rarely this clean or focused, mainly because I think those authors usually only hire a copy editor, if they hire an editor at all. And this is not a slam on Sepinwall because EVERY author of a long-form narrative needs an outside perspective on their work.

The shows that Sepinwall chooses to dissect are heavy on the white, middle-aged male antiheroes. To his credit, Sepinwall acknowledges this and while I don’t necessarily disagree with his choices of shows, I wish there was more diversity in the selections.  Whether that is because of a lack of female and minority representation in positions of power or because society places more importance on stories about middle-aged white men than everyone else, but I think it’s an interesting topic to explore and I wish he had delved into it a bit more.

All in all though, The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever is a strong book. I love reading about the creative process and I love discussions about the impact of pop culture, so this book was right up my alley. Now I hope he does a book about comedy.  I’d love to read about that.

The Killer Jungle Book

lost city coverIn 1925, famed British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured deep into the Amazon jungle with his 21 year-old son and his son’s best friend in the hopes of finding the remnants of an ancient civilization that he called Z.  Though the world breathlessly waited for word of his discoveries, Fawcett and his party were never seen again. Their disappearance is the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th century and hundreds lost their lives trying to find out what happened to the missing party. In The Lost City of Z (Doubleday 2009), journalist David Grann delves into Fawcett’s life and career to discover what drove him into the jungle that final time. Interspersed with the main narrative, Grann chronicles his own increasingly fervent quest to find out what happened to Fawcett and company.

First of all, this book is very well written. It takes a lot of skill to make 100 year-old scientific journals interesting, at least for the average, non-sciency reader (aka: me). It’s impeccably researched and Grann even managed to get access to family papers that had never been made public before. I also think it was smart of Grann to alternate Fawcett’s story with his own quest.  First of all, Grann’s self-deprecating humor is a nice break from the horrors of the jungle, but mostly it helps make the reader a part of the search for Fawcett much more than a traditional biography would.

It also helps that Fawcett himself is a fascinating, though unlikeable, subject. He was the first to travel to unexplored regions of this world and he did so with little more than a machete. He was unbelievably brave and a brilliant strategist.  He was also a huge prick. He had no qualms about abandoning his family for months and years at a time and wasn’t that great to be around when he was home. Not to mention the fact that his family was pretty much always broke because it’s not like traipsing around the jungle pays a whole lot. He had very little patience for people who did not have his superhuman fortitude and stamina, and though some of his ideas were pretty radical at the time, he was still very much mired in the Eurocentric, racist ideology of the day. There were times when I was awed by his courage and others when I wanted to punch him in the throat.

The Lost City of Z is a very good book and I enjoyed reading it, yet something kept me from being completely sucked into the story.  I think it’s because I think that anyone who travels to such hostile environments is fucking nuts. I admire the drive, but Mother Nature has about 876,532 ways to kill you and if you willing enter the wilderness, then you deserve what you get. And the descriptions of killer piranhas, flesh-eating diseases, and maggots burrowing under skin certainly didn’t change my mind. Umm, gross. Not to mention the hostile native tribes, which considering outsiders have brought forced cultural assimilation, horrible disease, and genocide, I wouldn’t blame them for killing any intruders!

Ultimately though, The Lost City of Z is really a story about obsession: Fawcett’s obsession with Z and Grann’s obsession with Fawcett.  Even if I can’t get behind these particular obsessions, I do relate to the concept in general as I’ve had a few obsessions in my day. I won’t spoil what Grann finds out about Fawcett, or even IF he finds out anything, but what I got out of his search is that it’s important for scientists and anthropologists to keep asking questions and redefining what we know about our history, ourselves, and our world. Especially if I’m not the one roughing it in the middle of nowhere to get those answers.

Band of Misfits

You know, one can not live on YA, chick-lit, and stories about people with magical powers alone.  Sometimes you have to mix it up a bit and cleanse your literary palate.  Sometimes you have to read …  a grown-up book.  About history. I know, I know, it’s a radical concept, but stay with me for a moment.  This book has adventure!  Intrigue!  And SPIES! I can’t venture too far out of my comfort zone after all. There have been many, many books about World War II and D-Day, but  Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Crown 2012) by Ben Macintyre tells the story of the British intelligence division that specialized in turning German spies into double agents.  Employing some of the last people that you’d want the fate of the free world to depend on — a shady Serbian playboy, a bisexual Peruvian party girl, a fanatical Polish patriot, an eccentric Spaniard with a degree in chicken farming, and a petty Frenchwoman who almost ruined the whole thing because of her stupid dog — the Double Cross spies and their handlers were at the heart of the massive deception that sought to keep as many German troops from the Normandy coast for as long as possible, thus saving thousands of Allied soldiers lives.

Macintyre writes in an appealing style that is perfect for the average layperson (someone who is not the biggest history buff, but who does have an interest and a certain amount of knowledge about a particular subject, in this case, World War II), but backs up his story with exhaustive research through MI5’s recently declassified wartime intelligence files and other sources.  It helps that the subject is so inherently intriguing and that the characters, both the spies themselves and their handlers, are so colorful, but I think it takes skill to marry all that raw data into a cohesive and engaging narrative. The thing I was most impressed with though is that Macintyre manages to weave actual tension and suspense into the story considering WE KNOW HOW D-DAY TURNS OUT.  Spoiler alert: it worked.  And yet I found myself really anxious if so-an-so was going to get caught or if the Germans were suspecting anything.  Well played, sir.

A few more observations and/or favorite bits:

  • Though I think Macintyre hits this point too hard occasionally, the most amazing thing about this whole double agent enterprise was how fragile it was.  If just one spy was caught in a lie or discovered then the Germans would suspect that ALL spies could be compromised.  And if they knew that the intel they were being fed was faulty, then the Germans would be able to guess the real plans more easily.  Plus, with one exception, it’s not like these double agents were of sterling moral character. Their unpredictability gave their handlers a lot of sleepless nights.
  • On a related note, we’re really lucky that the Germans were so gullible and in some cases corrupt! They believed some ridiculous whoppers.  And several of the German handlers were taking cuts of the money that the Nazis were paying the spies, so even if they suspected anything, they had a financial incentive not to turn the spies in.
  • My favorite spy featured in the story is Juan Pujol Garcia, the Spanish chicken farmer, because he decided that he wanted to spy for the British but at first they were all, “hmm, we’re good,” so he just started pretending to spy for the Germans and made stuff up.  Only he didn’t really know much about England and some of the stuff he came up with made no sense but the Germans still bought it (see the above bullet point), so MI-5 ended up recruiting him anyway so at the very least he didn’t accidentally reveal real military plans.  And the entire rest of the war Pujol sat in a room in England and made shit up. He invented an entire fake spy ring with a cast of hundreds of pretend spies who each had their own fake occupations and fake motivations.  I mean, he was essentially writing his own spy soap opera.  At one point they worried that the Germans would realize that it was physically impossible for one person to be gathering all that info, but no, the Nazis LOVED him.  They awarded him the Iron Cross for extraordinary merits!
  • On a critical note, I feel like the two female double agents get the short shrift in this book.  I’m not sure if it’s because their stories were less showy than their male counterparts or if, due to the sexism of the time, there were just less records about them, but I would have liked to have delved into their stories more.

I’m not a big history buff or a big non-fiction reader, but I really enjoyed Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies.  It takes a subject that’s been discussed to death and tells it in a new and interesting way. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of spy stories, but to read details about how real people accomplished amazing things not using crazy disguise or fancy martial arts, but through sheer balls is inspiring.  If you are into World War II or spies at all, I’d recommend checking it out.

Science for English Majors

Part of the reason that I majored in English is so that I could avoid taking more science classes. I don’t like science class. I don’t really care how cellular mitosis works, I’m uninterested in memorizing the periodic table, and physics problems about rowing a canoe across a fast-moving river, while probably the most applicable to everyday life, bore me. Science itself is interesting, though. I like learning what we know about the universe and the world around us – I just don’t want to know the details of how we came to that conclusion. The world is round? Awesome. Do I want to do the math to prove it? Not even a little bit.

These days I get my science from trade books instead of textbooks, and it’s definitely the way to go since trade authors seem to make more of an effort to be interesting than some textbook authors. They also don‘t have to meet any curriculum standards or provide vocabulary words. I recently read Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith’s Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution (Norton 2004)and Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything (Broadway Books 2003) to beef up my knowledge of science history, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about other people’s accomplishments without having to attempt to recreate them with my own spectrometer/microscope/etc.

Origins is exactly what the subtitle says: an explanation of cosmic evolution. Don’t put your head down on the desk and take a nap. (I mean, if you’re tired, go ahead. Goodness knows that I never turn down a nice zizz. I’m saying don’t zone out because you think that this is boring. I‘m not going to steer you wrong.) These guys dumb it down enough so that it’s very readable for those of us without doctorates in astrophysics. There are amusing examples about figuring collision cross-sections of cement mixers to keep you entertained. Plus, there are two signatures of photographs, and you know that I like a book with pictures. Once you’ve read Origins you can spout interesting facts about how the fusion of elements inside stars eventually leads to a supernova (you’re all good until you make iron, which selfishly absorbs energy instead of releasing it) or argue whether you think we’re alone in the universe right now or ever (you don‘t have to do the math! They take care of that for you). Next time you run across Dr. Tyson’s cameo on The Big Bang Theory reruns or see him discussing favorite elements with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, you’ll know who he is and feel like a smarty-pants because you’re so informed about the universe (it’s expanding!) and all of the bits and bobs that make it what it is.  Apparently there’s also a Nova special that I’m going to have to watch because I LOVED this book.

Now that we’re all up to date on the cosmos, we can turn our attention to Earth and A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bryson also covers the Big Bang and the solar system, but he soon focuses his attention on the history of our planet specifically. If you’d like to know which scientists figured out what and when, it’s here. Unsurprisingly, the wrong people have been credited with major discoveries throughout history on a fairly regular basis, either because the first guy didn’t want to share his findings or he couldn’t get anyone to publish them or he lived in a country that no one paid any attention to. You’ll also discover that some of the pillars of modern-day science made a few missteps along the way. Albert Einstein, for instance, once wrote a forward to a book that discounted plate tectonics as a foolish notion. This doesn’t negate his groundbreaking E=mc2 work, of course, but it‘s nice to be reminded that even geniuses make poor choices from time to time. Textbooks don’t provide these kinds of fun facts.

My favorite part of this book is the bit about the rise of man, which I knew nothing about until I took an anthropology class in college because no one can teach evolution in public school. Thanks to that class, I could once identify the skulls of homo erectus and homo habilis, a skill that has not come in handy in my professional life and thus has fallen out of my head, more’s the pity. If I ever run across a fossilized hominid in my back yard, I won‘t know what I‘m looking at and will have to call in professionals to identify my find. Anyway, it was nice to be reminded of the details of this branch of science, and to learn things like how early man had a kind of factory for making seemingly useless axe-heads that they’d travel hundreds of miles to get because they were only made in this one place. It was also interesting to note how little we actually know about early hominids, a fact that was not covered in Anthropology 101. According to Bryson, scientists are constantly squabbling about which fossils belong to which species, not to mention how many species there actually are. No one seems to have a handle on who died out and who evolved into something new. This is unsurprising since we have so few fossils to work with, but it sounds like there is new DNA research that may help to solve some of these problems. I need to find a book that’s been updated since 2003 to see what kind of advances have been made in the past 9 years. I’d google it for you, but my internet is down and I’m writing this post in wordpad while I wait for the cable guy to show up and fix it, so you’ll have to do your own googling. Think of it as a lesson in self-sufficiency, much as early hominids had to learn to take care of themselves to ensure the propagation of the species.

My one gripe with Bryson’s book is the tone. He can get a little didactic. Understandably so, since it’s usually about how humans are destroying things that we don’t understand, and you and I both know that this is how we roll. Be that as it may, I found the guilt trips tiresome after a while. Yes, it’s alarming how quickly and indiscriminately we killed off the dodos and how stupid the museum curator was who threw away and burned the last stuffed example. However, I wasn‘t there to stop it, and I don’t like feeling like I personally set the bird on fire. I suppose I’m supposed to take that guilt and put it to good use by saving animals that are endangered now, but my contrary streak does not take direction very well. Plus, he spent a good long time talking about how species went extinct on a regular basis long before humans were here to ruin everything, so he’s undermining his argument a bit there. Preachiness aside, I did like this, and I do recommend it. Just be aware that you’ll find yourself regretting things that you had nothing to do with. Redirect that sadness for good if your contrariness allows for it.

This concludes our educational detour for today. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled Boxcar Children programming as soon as my internet is back up and running again.