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Elizabeth Smart writes an open, honest and heartbreaking memoir of her capture and nine months captivity. Her strength and maturity at age 14 are remarkable as she details the daily abuse and severe physical hardships which she endured at the hands of her captors. A truly moving story of faith and courage, I recommend this highly.
You know it's Christmas (or some other break away from the grind of school) when I start reading and reviewing political screeds! The controversial conservative talking head Ann Coulter is someone I've wanted to read for a long time. I checked out a few of her relatively short articles on the Internet, but not enough to get a real feel for her sarcastic writing style. I passed on "Slander" and "Treason," choosing instead to peruse her latest work "How to Talk to a Liberal." I think reading this book was a good choice for an introduction to her worldview. It's a compilation of her articles on various topics dating back to the 1990s, touching on everything from the pernicious lying at the New York Times, the Clintons, gun control, drug legalization, activist judges, CBS news, the 2000 Election imbroglio, feminism, Teddy Kennedy, terrorism, Elian Gonzalez, the Confederate flag, race, John Kerry, and just about any other issue of concern to both liberals and conservatives over the last ten to fifteen years. If you've ever seen Ann Coulter tearing it up on the television talk shows, you know what you're in for with "How to Talk to a Liberal." Terms like "polemicist" apply in spades here.
And thank goodness someone like Coulter finally came along. For far too long we've had to sit by while kooks like James Carville, Paul Begala, the entire editorial staff at the New York Times, and dozens of other card carrying members of the American Left debase the public forums. Yes, I'm saying Coulter goes over the top, but I'm also saying, "Who cares?" I agree wholeheartedly with her assertion that conservatives unfortunately strive to earn the Left's approval no matter what the cost. Late stage democracy simply doesn't abide such quaint, antiquated concepts like personal integrity or public virtue--which explains why Clinton served two terms in the White House--so the conservatives might as well get down in the gutter and bellow with the best of them if republicans want the public to hear their opinions over the babble. Coulter says as much in the introduction to the book, a lengthy list of what one should do when confronted with a member of the leftist species: don't back down in a fight, don't give up before the argument even begins, make every effort to outrage liberals and leftists, don't be defensive, never apologize for anything, never compliment a Democrat or play nice with them, and do not allow liberals to bribe you into joining their cause.
The introduction is a smorgasbord of pithiness, sort of a rapid fire version of Ann Coulter whittled down to a few pages, but the real joy are the dozens and dozens of articles that follow. Never afraid of calling it like she sees it, the author blasts our lovable left-wingers every chance she gets. You want to talk about Ted Kennedy? Ann does, bringing up again and again his failure to open a car door for a lady at Chappaquiddick, his penchant for drinking, and his rapid removal from college for cheating on a Spanish test. Best Kennedy rebuke? Ann imagines herself at a confirmation hearing responding to an inquiry from the senator with, "We'll drive off the side of that bridge when we come to it, Senator Kennedy." Ouch! Of course, none of these comments would be necessary if the good senator from Massachusetts quit trying to set himself up as the irreproachable voice of the Democratic Party. To be fair, I think Coulter goes overboard with the frequent references to Kennedy's well-known love for liquor since he supposedly quit the sauce a few years ago, but that is really beside the point according to the author. Liberals refuse to play fair, so why should conservatives persistently take the high ground only to fall prey to the Left's scurrilous attacks? Call her what you will, but at least she's up front about where she stands.
Coulter's primary target of attacks is the New York Times. We all know how secondary and tertiary newspapers and television stations rely on the Times for their news leads. We also know the Times is so biased toward the left that it barely qualifies as journalism let alone as an independent news organization. Jayson Blair, anyone? You remember him: he was the Times reporter that sat in a bar somewhere in New York City all day inventing his stories. The newspaper, afraid to fire him because of his race, printed retraction after retraction while they shifted him around to different departments. When the story finally broke in the national news, the New York Times tried to shrug the whole thing off. Coulter reminds us how the Blair incident constitutes only one small part of a larger, more dangerous ethical quandary faced by a newspaper proclaiming to be an unbiased source of information. She exposes the left-wing partiality at the Times repeatedly, proving how the paper unswervingly supports radical social, political, and economic positions near and dear to lefty hearts. I wondered if it was a joke that a blurb from the New York Times on the back cover of the book said, "A great deal of research supports Ms. Coulter's wisecracks." Do you think the paper fired the employee who wrote that comment?
Every conservative or libertarian, and even political moderates for that matter, should enjoy the articles contained in this book. You definitely don't even need to be a diehard right-winger to giggle over Coulter's acerbic witticisms, just someone tired of listening to the same "progressive" drivel day after day. I think I may yet get around to reading "Slander" and "Treason" if they share in any way, shape, or form the keen insights and amusing quips found in this book.
David Platt takes a look at biblical Christianity thrown up beside the American Dream. This book will convict you of sin but more than that, it gives you a roadmap to being the Christian God has called you to be. David calls it Radical Christianity and taken in context of the American Dream it is but, as you read God's Word and seek His very presence in your life it is not so much radical as what God sees at normal. If you are a Christian and want to be the Christian God wants you to be, you would do well to read this book and put it into practice. Thank you for such a good book. I've personally read it three times and each time I enjoy it more.
This is our 4th Panasonic Micro 4/3 camera. It replaces my wife's original G1, and in this review I'll compare it to my GF1 and GH2 bodies.
The Panasonic G5 is the latest model in the G-series Micro 4/3 cameras. Panasonic also makes the GF, GX, and GH series of Micro 4/3 cameras, all with slightly different feature sets. The G-series is the original, and comes with a built-in electronic eye-level viewfinder and a beautiful articulating LCD display.
The G1 and GF1 were released several years ago and completely redefined the compact camera as a usable tool for quality image making. The GH1 followed and added amazing video quality. Several generations later we've arrived at the G5, but now there are many more manufacturers and models out there, so why upgrade from an older model, and why choose this one?
1. Image quality. The G5 is significantly improved over the G1 and GF1. Its 16 megapixel sensor makes excellent images up to ISO 3200, which is 3 stops better than the original model. (Note that I am shooting raw files and processing them appropriately in Lightroom 4.3. I neither know nor care anything about in-camera JPEG quality.) As we tend to shoot indoor candid photography under very low light, high ISO quality is important to us, and the G5 delivers that. The G5 is certainly the equal to if not slightly better than the GH2 under similar conditions. Even photos shot at ISO 6400 are usable and print well up to 11x14 inches. Other cameras with similar image quality are significantly more expensive at this time.
2. Design and user interface. The handgrip and the terrific EVF make this a comfortable camera to hold and shoot. The G5 has a toggle switch for the power-zoom lenses set just behind the shutter, and that switch may be used to change exposure compensation or manual exposure settings (if you're not using a power zoom lens.) Used with the thumb wheel, the photographer now has a two-dial system for manual or auto exposure shooting. Keeping the camera in Aperture Priority mode most of the time, the Aperture is set with the thumb wheel, and the exposure compensation is easily and quickly dialed in with the toggle.
3. Ability to customize. The extensive and fairly easy to use menu system allows the photographer to customize many areas of the camera. For example, if, like me, you're used to Thumb Button Focus on larger Canon and Nikon cameras, that's easy to enable on the G5 -- just turn Shutter AF to Off, and AF/AE Lock Hold to Off, and the AF thumb button now functions to engage autofocus completely separate from the shutter button, which now just fires the shutter. This is not possible on the G1 or GF1.
There are some losses from the G1 and the GH2 in external manual controls. The G5 doesn't have an external dial for focus modes (AFS, AFC, M) or drive modes (single, continuous, bracket, self timer) -- these are done by pressing one of the 4-way controller buttons and choosing from a menu. That is a little fussier, but these are not things that I do often enough to matter.
One major reason to choose Micro 4/3 over another system is the wide choice in lenses from Panasonic, Olympus, and now Sigma and others. Some competing mirrorless systems have great zoom lenses, and some have excellent primes, but as far as I can tell, none have the selection of both that is available in M4/3. From the trio of excellent Panasonic fixed-aperture zooms (7-14, 12-35, and 35-100) to the amazing Olympus 75/1.8 and the Panny/Leica 25/1.4, there is a set of lenses for everyone. So now that I've mentioned that, I'll recommend adding some lenses to this kit. The 14-42 lens that comes with it is perfectly fine, but the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 or the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 will take this camera to a whole new level of performance for a reasonable price.
Now I think I'll order another one as a second body to go with my GH2, and retire the GF1 completely.