Leave a comment

James Donaldson Book Review: Why Men Are the Way They Are by Warren Farrell

Why Men Are The Way They AreAs we all know, relationships are very dicey, fragile and very vulnerable.  Men for the most part, aren’t accustomed to showing their true feelings, and they feel obligated to perform certain roles within relationships.  Men feel obligations (to fulfill certain roles), whereas for the most part, women have choices.  There is no doubt men have different ideas and roles about relationships than women do, (and societal) expectations upon them as well.  Keeping them confined to certain spaces that they feel they need to be.

All hope is not lost though, as men are accumulating more and more information and knowledge about “what makes them who they are” they are now able to more readily apply to a relationship that he feels good about.  Of course, relationships that he does not feel so good about, he will continue to spiral downward and basically the relationship eventually coming to an end of both partners being very unhappy with relationship.

I highly recommend this book to women in particular (and men in general) in order to help both sexes better understand “why men are the way they are”.  It can be a very helpful and insightful opportunity to learn a few more things, and will go a long ways towards helping your relationship on both ends of the spectrum.

Leave a comment

James Donaldson’s Book Review – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari


I found this book, Sapiens to be truly fascinating, full of introspective thinking that caused me to think a lot about the origins of the human species, Homo sapiens. The book points out over history, that at least six human species inhabited the earth, and then goes about to try to explain how we, Homo sapiens, outlasted and out survived them all, even, sometimes, interbreeding at some point with especially the Neanderthals before they went extinct.

I like these kind of books, because are not overly scientific, and overly heavy on details, but they tell a story and a great narrative that is easy to follow, and easy to visualize.

I studied sociology when I was back at the University, with of course, a lot of courses pertaining to human behavior, and early human history. So I’ve always been fascinated by this kind of thing, and of course, scientists are always uncovering new aspects and new theories, but that’s the nature of science, as we continue to uncover lost civilizations, and lost settlements and encampments were humans once lived.

This book also goes into why we “behave the way we behave” and a lot of that is due to nature and nurture, our survival instincts, and as our brains developed along the way, we were able to start to envision a “higher being”, and started to develop religions, philosophies, morals and values as well.

A great book, you’ll really enjoy this one.

Leave a comment

James Donaldson’s Book Review – Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA by Joe Nocera

indenturedIndentured, tells the story of those who have been fighting the battle against the NCAA over the last couple of decades or so, trying to draw some attention to the fact that these collegiate athletes, with their lives, blood sweat and tears, underlying all throughout the school year, with practices, mandatory training sessions, games, and missing an abundant amount of class time, to enrich the coffers of the NCAA.

Fans have begun to realize that the athletes involved in the two biggest college sports, men’s basketball and football, are little more than indentured servants. Millions of teenagers accept scholarships to chase their dreams of fame and fortune – at the price of absolute submission to the whims of an organization that puts their interests dead last.

For about 5 percent of top-division players, college ends with a golden ticket to the NFL or the NBA. But what about the overwhelming majority who never turn pro? They don’t earn a dime from the estimated $13 billion generated annually by college sports – an ocean of cash that enriches schools, conferences, coaches, TV networks, and apparel companies…everyone except those who give their blood and sweat to entertain the fans.

I’ve always contended, that so many of our young student athletes, enter into the collegiate “sports factories” woefully underprepared, and then basically get a “pass” from coaches, professors, tutors and the institutions of higher learning themselves who basically give a “wink and a nod”, only to have the vast majority of these student athletes, especially in the big-money sports of basketball and football, exit from their collegiate athletic eligibility, with absolutely nothing to show for it, and even worse yet, many of them lacking a college degree.

When I speak to young student athletes, I tell them that sports itself is very “exploitive” system, and it will exploit you, so you have to position yourself to benefit yourself as much as you can from the system. And at the very least, that should mean walking away from your time as a collegiate athlete, with at least a diploma in hand.

This is been an ongoing conversation for quite a few years now, “should college athletes be paid?”, And I myself, feel that college athletes should at least be given a increased “compensation package”, of an increased monthly stipend, disability health insurance coverage (should they be injured), and also, an amount equal to the annual tuition, set aside in a trust fund for every year of eligibility completed. And then, upon graduation, with a diploma in hand, that amount that is set aside in a trust fund, is in awarded to the student athlete. In a way, giving him a nice little “nest egg” to get his “real life” career underway, and the ability to catch up with the rest of his “student peers” who he went to school with, but did not have nearly the amount of time to study, network, and position themselves for a career after college. And, it beats leaving college heavily and student debt. That’s how I see student athletes can be better compensated.

This is a great book though, it gives you the inside workings of all the folks who’ve been battling against the NCAA, and the NCAA’s overall mindset as well.

If you are the parents of a young student athlete, who is getting ready to go off to college, this is almost a “must-read” for you! And it would also be a great read for the young student athlete themselves.


Leave a comment

James Donaldson’s Book Review – Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin


This was a fascinating account, about the “King of Late Night”, Johnny Carson. I’m still a huge Johnny Carson fan, and watches reruns and syndication every evening, and just marvel at the way that he still is one of the best TV talkshow host, over 20 years since he retired from his own show. He had such a way with his guests, with the live studio audience, with his sidekicks, Ed McMahon and Doc Severinsen, and also the home of course, those who tuned in every evening after the 11 PM news to be entertained by the one and only, Johnny Carson.

But, this book sheds a light on the side of Johnny Carson that no one ever saw, by his trusted and longtime advisor and confident, Henry Bushkin. Bushkin tells the stories about the 18 years he and Johnny Carson spent together, that absolutely no one else would have privy to. He saw him through his three marriages and divorces, (he did get married fourth and final time towards the end), saw him through the death of his son, through his many business dealings in which he had almost as many enemies as he had friends, and also, as he tells in the book, helping to break into one of his former wives apartments, to gather incriminating evidence about her infidelity, with football great, Frank Gifford.

Such amazing stories, but it just goes to show, all of us are human, and have plenty of fragilities that we all have to deal with throughout our lives.

One of the amazing and sad facts towards the end of Johnny’s life, after marrying a fourth time to a much younger woman, is that he essentially died alone in his hospital bed (from emphysema and other respiratory illnesses due to him being a four pack a day smoker for most of his life), and he was also very detached from his sons, and had a very distant and dysfunctional relationship with his own mother (who he once crowed, “the old witch is dead”, when she died).

So, this handsome, debonair, funny and apparently “clean-cut All-American” gentlemen who used to make us laugh every evening, had another side to him, in which he was short tempered, and sometimes could be cruel and mean.

I don’t think Henry Bushkin had an “ax to grind” by any means, matter of fact, Johnny Carson once called him, “the best friend of ever had”, I think that he just felt sorry and sad for Johnny towards the end of their own friendship which endured through so many tremendous highs and tremendous lows.

A great book, and if you like entertainers from back in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, this would be a great book for you.

Leave a comment

James Donaldson’s Book Review – The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology by John Sweeney

the-church-of-fearThis was a very interesting book, about the Church of Scientology, and some of his famous members (Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Leah Remini, Ann Archer, and several others.

The author, John Sweeney, a reporter for BBC, really got under the skin of a lot of the leaders for the Church of Scientology, by persistently and doggedly pursuing reports that this church just may be a cult. It gets down to the age-old question, what is a cult?

Sweeney found himself intimidated, and spied upon, and followed on several occasions during the several years that he was trying to make his case.

He had several encounters with some of the famous actors and actresses, and of course with former members.

I don’t think I came away convinced that this is a cult, but it does have a lot of “cult-ish” attributes, but so do most churches and religions.

All in all, I learned a few things about the Church of Scientology, but is still a highly secretive organization, that promises a heightened and more fulfilled way of living, and prosperity, if you follow its doctrine.

Good book all in all, if you’re interested this kind of thing, go for it!


Leave a comment

James Donaldson’s Book Review – Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden

escape-from-camp-14This was a fascinating account of a young man to escape from Camp 14 in North Korea. North Korea, still has prisoner camps in which several hundred thousand people serve their time and do hard labor, and very gruesome conditions, and this young man, Shin Dong-hyuk, actually managed to escape from it, by going through some barb wire opening, that was actually an electrified fence that his colleague, fell across and electrocuted himself, and then Shin Dong-hyuk, actually crawled over him, using the body as insulation, and made his escape.

From there, he escaped in the North China, and eventually made his way down to the southern part of China and off to South Korea. Eventually made his way over to Los Angeles in the United States, and it was just a fascinating account told in a very riveting way, about an inside look of North Korea.

North Korea, invests the vast majority of its GDP into nuclear armament, and be in a military state. So many people there, are living in dire conditions, under an authoritarian rule, currently by Kim Jung Un. Keep an eye on North Korea, and let’s see how this all plays out over the next coming years.


Leave a comment

James Donaldson’s Book Review – Would You Kill the Fat Man? by David Edmonds


This was a very interesting book, they cause me to think a lot about various scenarios that come about in life, and how that we all are so different, and depending on our circumstances, time and place, and the value we put on such things, how we act and react, will tell us a great deal about right and wrong, and about ourselves as well.

In this book, “Would You Kill the Fat Man?”, The author presents us with the scenario, of where a train is racing down the track towards five men who are tied to the track. And unless the train is stopped, it will inevitably kill all five men. So, the question he asks us, is, if we saw one “fat Man” way and then about 400 pounds, whose bulk alone would stop the train, would we push the fat man onto the train, ahead of where the five men are waiting, knowing that we would be sacrificing one life, and saving the life of five others.

It’s a tough philosophical debate that goes around and around in our heads, trying to decide what we would do. Of course, there are many instances of sacrificing adults for children, old people for young people, one class of people for another class of people, so we do this kind of thing all the time.

So the author points out that answering this question, is far more complex, and important, and it first appears.

The book is humorous at times, deep at times, and very thought-provoking throughout.