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Craig Matteson (Saline, MI)

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Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient, and Rewarding for All
Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient, and Rewarding for All
by Robert Egger
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An earnest and passionate urging for change in non-profits, April 2 2004
This is a heartfelt book by a man who has worked hard to do what he thinks is right to help those in the bottom strata of our wealthy society. His goal is to try and offer a framework to modernize the work charities do. He wants to rename charities into community corporations and recognize that there are more efficient ways to use these resources.
I think he is right that we can always do better. That we can always do better does away with the notion that there is a one best way to do things, doesn't it? He is far more enamored of United Way than I am. I think Mr. Egger's proposals take too much power away from those who do the giving. I know he thinks he is a professional and knows better, but organizations such as United Way become very political and I don't want to be co-opted by them to move my money to those whose values and goals I support. He especially bemoans the high percentage of directed funds in the DC chapter of the United Way.
I also think he is wrong in his denigration of the kind of charity work Carnegie and Rockefeller did. He supposes they used improper means to gather their millions out of society making it poorer and then gave it back. In fact, they made society immeasurable richer by getting them better and cheaper steel and light (Rockefeller's kerosene was cheaper and cleaner than whale oil) than they previously had.
But that isn't really the point here and I don't want to distract from the author's goals. He writes in an earnest way. He uses lots of stories. Don't expect scholarly writing or research. He is writing from his own experience and his heart. He has learned a lot from his work. I learned some things from him as well.
If you want to get a current view of non-profits, community corporations, charities, or whatever you want to call them, this is a pretty good place to begin.

Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life
Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life
by Barbara Stanny
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from CDN$ 3.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strategies for using ALL your strengths to move ahead, March 31 2004
This book is written in a very casual style and very liberally sprinkled with quotes from a fairly large selection of the hundreds of women interviewed. It is easy to read and very thought provoking. While many of the ideas and strategies seem like common sense, a few of the strategies are ideas that women (and mean) can benefit from employing no matter what their career and salary level. I enjoyed this book and gained a lot of insight.
One of the strategies that especially caught my eye, called "The Trap", was given the motto "bite off more than you can chew, but not so much you choke." This idea involved stretching yourself but not too thin and also emphasized that some women can be too hard on themselves, extremely impatient or overly meticulous. This dealt with taking some risk and possibly get in over your head and not realizing you need to cut yourself some slack and instead pushing even harder until you snap. The author used many interviewees comments and experiences as well as her known to clearly illustrate both the danger and the handling of "The Trap".
The bottom line of these strategies is that it is not what type of career you pick (all different fields from musicians and artists to CEO were represented), what company you work for (or not), what your education or your background is, but how you use your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual strengths and improve them by following the laid out strategies that will determine whether you can be a "six-figure woman" or man.

School Of Rock (Special Collector's Edition)
School Of Rock (Special Collector's Edition)
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 40.17
25 used & new from CDN$ 1.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Just a fun movie that we enjoyed as a family, March 28 2004
We enjoyed watching this as a family. The kids enjoyed watching the kids stepping out of the roles of being just kids and having a lot of fun. Jack Black is who he is and we find that pretty funny, but we can see how others might not. And I think Joan Cusack makes everything she is in even better.
The kids in the class Jack Black is subbing for are all charming and do a fine job being transformed from a bunch of preppy uniforms into a rock band (of sorts). Of course the premise is implausible and every objection you can raise about the reality of this film is probably true. But I would reply that you might benefit from lightening up and just having fun. I know we did. We laughed and we enjoyed saying, "Yeah, RIGHT!" at the more ridiculous plot points. This isn't supposed to be a serious movie. It was just a fun time and you will likely enjoy it if you can get in the same mindset.

Booknotes: Life Stories: Notable Biographers on the People Who Shaped America
Booknotes: Life Stories: Notable Biographers on the People Who Shaped America
by Brian Lamb
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 2.71

5.0 out of 5 stars What a great teaching tool - nice biographical vignettes, March 25 2004
I am one of those who loves Booknotes and Book-TV and feel a real loss when my schedule keeps me away from them (yes, I can pick them up on the C-SPAN websites, but it just isn't quite the same). These books are just one of the additional reasons some of us refer to Brian Lamb as Saint Brian. The chapters are digests of the information gleaned during the actual Booknotes broadcasts. Each one is from an individual author and in this case, it is on the lives of famous Americans.
There are something like 80 to 85 of these biographical vignettes. Some of them are autobiographical when the author being interviewed about their book was also a notable American in their own right. We all know Mr. Lamb's unique style of quantum interviewing (one can never predict the precise location of his next question). These edited and assembled pieces have a somewhat more organized and focused feel, but there is still a bit of the Cooks Tour approach to each subject.
Having watched many of the shows from which these articles were made and also having read several of the books by these authors, I can still say that even when the material here is familiar it is still fun to dash through because it is so concisely presented and decently edited. When the material is unfamiliar it is very delightful and an invitation to more study and investigation.
I am not only happy to have this dandy book, I am actually grateful for it. It is a marvelous tool for introducing children to biographical subjects!
The book also has an index and a list of all the Booknotes programs through the publishing date of the book.

Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes
Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes
by Gordon B. Hinckley
Edition: Paperback
Offered by BWBCANADA
Price: CDN$ 9.08
59 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Focusing on what what is important in a complex world, March 23 2004
This book makes its points clearly and concisely. Mr. Hinckley illustrates his points with many stories from his own experience and some borrowed anecdotes. He has organized the chapters into two parts. Each of the 10 virtues he discusses is given its own chapter in the first part. The second part has two essays: one on marriage and the other on the family. He has an epilogue that discusses the lonely position of moral leadership.
It is in this epilogue that the seemingly simple virtues discussed in the book are revealed for the difficult principles they actually are. People who say this book is simplistic or naïve can make that point somewhat persuasively untilthey understand that the author is fully aware of the massive difficulties we frail humans have in living up to these ideals in a complex and constantly changing world. We are so easily dissuaded from persisting in virtue and adopting an easier go-with-the-flow approach to life. We need the kind of reminder this book offers and I am glad to have read it and to refer to it in order to clear my vision and to refocus myself on doing what I should rather than what is easy.
The book has some notes that supply references for some of the information in the book and a helpful index.

Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes 1963 1964
Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes 1963 1964
by Michael R. Beschloss
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 33.09
49 used & new from CDN$ 2.52

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating history before the spin masters filter it, March 23 2004
The transcripts included here are fascinating. Especially those related to the Kennedy Assassination and the Gulf of Tonkin. They give strong evidence for what Johnson knew and believed at the time rather than the much later revisions of what he is supposed to have believed. Mr. Beschloss have provided a great service to us so we can get to the reality of things rather than the thrice-spun revisions too many books, movies, and TV shows spew out in order to advance some cockamamie view of the world.
It is also interesting to read his conversations with folks on a personal basis. The chitchat is quite helpful in seeing Johnson as a person. His private opinions of the Warren Commission and of Oswald's role in the assassination are also fascinating.
Mr. Beschloss also supplies helpful footnotes to provide context and clarify so of the statements that would otherwise be opaque. There is also an appendix telling us why we have access to the tapes now rather than in 2023 or later as was Johnson's intention (short answer: Oliver Stone's film "JFK" led congress to open up virtually all records on the assassination to help quell the paranoia of conspiracy theorists). There is also a list of the people included in the book with a line about who they are and their birth and death dates. There is also an appendix including a few conversations specifically on the Warren Commission Report.
I bought my copy as a first edition with the attached audiotape of a few selections. It would be nice to get these tapes in a complete version on DVD.

The Number: How the Drive for Quarterly Earnings Corrupted Wall Street and Corporate America
The Number: How the Drive for Quarterly Earnings Corrupted Wall Street and Corporate America
by Alex Berenson
Edition: Hardcover
Offered by Your Online Bookstore
Price: CDN$ 26.29
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Equity investors out to know this material (and then some), March 22 2004
Mr. Berenson takes a very interesting approach to explaining the rise of the 90s bubble economy. The book opens with a wonderfully apt quote from Upton Sinclair: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." The drive for Earnings Per Share (EPS) by analysts and investors guided by them, according to the author, leads them astray because the number is inherently imprecise. Earnings are stated by the company as an exact figure and EPS is simply that number divided by the number of outstanding shares of common stock.
However, earnings depend a great deal on the methods of accounting used by the firm. In the 90s we saw a rise in very aggressive accounting. Any system of rules that is intended to be applied generally over a wide range differing conditions is going to have gaps and unintended effects that distort the intention of the rules. General rules rely upon the good will and integrity of the participants to keep the intention or spirit of the rules in tact in order for the rules to have any real meaning in application. In sports we also have referees to keep the game fair, but both teams still have to intend to follow the rules completely. No game could be played if the participants tried to push every rule to an extreme interpretation. Aggressive accounting uses extreme interpretations of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to present as favorable earnings number as possible. This results in a higher (and therefore more pleasing) EPS number.
Analysts started giving forecasts of coming EPS reports for firms and those that met or slightly exceeded that forecast were rewarded with higher share prices because investors competed for their shares. Those that missed the forecast by even a penny per share were punished as investors abandoned their stock. Mr. Berenson demonstrates that many companies had reserves and other accounting tricks to make sure their EPS forecasts were always met. However, as companies grow this becomes harder to do. And for companies such as Tyco, Enron, Adelphia, and even the mighty General Electric, it finally became impossible. The most aggressive companies had presented such a distorted picture of reality that they collapsed. Those that were still within shouting distance of reality remained solvent, but still suffered a significant depression in their stock price.
Since the EPS is inherently inexact it seems strange that the markets would react so strongly to that single measure. Mr. Berenson calls the number a lie. I think he does that for rhetorical effect and one time he does admit it is a white lie. I think he has a very strong point for those companies using aggressive interpretations of GAAP. The author also provides a history of the SEC and calls for stronger enforcement powers and the staff to provide that enforcement. While there is certainly a good case to have an effective SEC with sufficient resources (there will be a debate on what this level is), Mr. Berenson has more faith in regulation than I do.
Even if I fully concede his point and support an SEC of enormous size, it still could not provide the necessary enforcement to keep companies in line if the market keeps rewarding companies for fudging the numbers. The market will provide what people want to buy even if they want to buy lies. I agree with Mr. Berenson that INVESTORS need to become better educated and make more demands of the management of the companies in which they invest. Investors, by NOT investing in companies who use very aggressive accounting, could affect the way finances are reported than any regulatory body.
Not every company can be a growth company. Heck, even Microsoft isn't a Microsoft anymore. Investors have to demand that financial statements actually present a real picture of the financial state of the firm rather then providing a manufactured dream of ever expanding growth. One of the strengths of this book is the compelling evidence Mr. Berenson provides of management spinning these euphoric visions just long enough to cash out and then let the bad news (read reality) come to light on someone else's watch.
This is a fine book. I think that anyone who has investments in public companies ought to read it and better educated themselves on the realities of the equities marketplace. I think Mr. Berenson's recommendations for public policy are measured and good for debate even if I don't personally agree with all of them. There are a few minor quibbles I have with some of his explanations, but they don't affect my recommendation.
The book has a couple of short appendices to help the reader understand the accounting issues involved. There are helpful notes for sources and an index.

The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt
The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt
by Ian Shaw
Edition: Paperback
38 used & new from CDN$ 3.49

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine overview of various aspects of Egypt throughout time, March 22 2004
If you are a general reader interested in getting an overview of the history of Egypt from pre-historic through Roman times, you would be hard pressed to do better than this book. It has fifteen chapters. Each is devoted to a range of history or change in culture. This segmentation is quite useful in keeping aspects of the history straight in one's mind.
While I knew that Egypt wasn't a single culture through time, I never had a clear sense of who was doing what where and when. This book provides a wonderful cure for that problem. Obviously, there are lifetimes to be spent by specialists in the endless aspects of these cultures. However, there is a lot to be gained by having a better overview and some understanding of these things by generalists. I am glad to have this book on my shelf.
Each chapter is loaded with interesting pictures, drawings, color plates, and maps. Each chapter has a section for further reading in the back of the book. There is also a glossary, a chronology, a list of sources for the illustrations, and an index.

Mozarts Letters Mozarts Life
Mozarts Letters Mozarts Life
by Robert Spaethling
Edition: Hardcover
6 used & new from CDN$ 21.37

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This lively book will deepen your appreciation of Mozart, March 18 2004
What a fine accomplishment! According to the introduction, this book contains about 2/3 of Mozart's surviving correspondence. It has letters from and to Mozart and the translations are very lively and bring the personality of the composer to life. In older translations it seems that care was taken to make him sound like the monumental cultural force that he has become. But in this book, Mozart is a boy, a young man, a young husband, a fiery genius, and at times lost, grieving, and even confused.
The book is organized chronologically and provides biographical information that gives each letter some context. There are many useful footnotes as well as a couple of maps and list of Mozart's travels. The author has even included some notes about the various currencies in order to help the reader understand the discussions of money in the letters.
I can't emphasize enough what a lively read this book is. I found that I simply didn't get bogged down and enjoyed reading it. Yes, there are some portions of some letters I skipped, but that is one of the beauties of the book. You don't get lost simply because you skipped some mundane portions of one letter or another.
Mr. Spaethling is to be congratulated on this fine achievement. If you are interested in Mozart in any way, this book will deepen your appreciation of the living breathing person who wrote all that music. It didn't come from some alien dimension. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, this wonderful and complex human being did it all and we are much richer for it.

Proof through the Night: Music and the Great War
Proof through the Night: Music and the Great War
by Glenn Watkins
Edition: Hardcover
7 used & new from CDN$ 102.17

5.0 out of 5 stars A Six Star (******) Triumph of Cultural History, March 16 2004
There was a period a few years ago when bestseller lists contained more than an occasional book on the First World War. For example, the John Keegan book was a concise military history recounting the politics and battlefield actions of the war. Niall Ferguson's "The Pity of War" set out to explain WWI and offers an iconoclastic view that attempts to show how it was not inevitable. What these and the others really do lack is a sense of the cultures that were torn apart, reshaped and died.
As I was reading "Proof Through The Night" I was shocked how vividly Professor Watkins evokes the cultural issues of the times leading up to the War, the convulsions during the War, and the cultural memory and recounting of these events that echo even today. Most of us know little of that time and we don't understand the roots of present issues. We see the surfaces and strange interactions. We see artifacts from the past, but do not understand their context and react all too anachronistically to them. While we are entitled to reinterpret the past and use what we will and how we wish to use it, there is so much to be gained by at least making an attempt to come to terms with what those who lived meant to say to each other and to us by inheritance. We cheat ourselves of our patrimony by only shallowly understanding the culture of a time.
Professor Watkins surveys cultural issues that were active in Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany - Austria, and the U. S. neighboring to the war years. He does this by demonstrating what was happening in painting, sculpture, drama, popular culture, and above all, music. He takes us deep inside a few pieces such as Ravel's "Tombeau de Couperin"(particularly the Toccata), certain paintings of Otto Dix and the music of Hindemith to the work of Matthias Gruenewald, and Britten's "War Requiem" to the resolution and memory of the Great War even in 1961.
There is so much in this wonderful book that I cannot even begin to list more than a few incidental points. I really do want you to get a copy and immerse yourself in it. Professor Watkins has provided us with so much that I found I had to take my time and read other things to get more background to get full enjoyment from this treasure.
There is a CD that contains 17 tracks of some of the most important pieces he refers to in the book. They are chosen well and you will never hear them the same after reading the deep context this book provides. There are also many wonderful pictures and illustrations in the book. The only wish I have is that at least some of them could have been in color. But you know how it is with "academic" books.
There are also many pages of footnotes (endnotes). Nowadays most footnotes are simply citations of references. Not here. There is a great deal of valuable and enlightening information on these pages and I encourage you to read them.
This book should not be ignored. I believe reading about the culture and the wrenching changes during and after the War will actually tell you more about your life today and its connection to that time than a shelf full of books on battlefield struggles, troop movements, and weapons development. It isn't the usual way to read about War, but it is terrific.
Everyone - at least everyone who cares about WWI- should read this book.

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