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Governance, governance everywhere – why has the word “governance” become so common? One reason is that many people believe that the state no longer matters, or at least the state matters far less than it used to. Even politicians often tell us that the state can’t do much. They say they have no choice about many policies. The global economy compels them to introduce austerity programs. The need for competitiveness requires them to contract-out public services, including some prisons in the US.
If the state isn’t ruling through government institutions, then presumably there is a more diffuse form of governance involving various actors. So, “governance” is a broader term than “state” or “government”. Governance refers to all processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market, or network, whether over a family, corporation, or territory, and whether by laws, norms, power, or language. Governance focuses not only on the state and its institutions but also on the creation of rule and order in social practices.
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
The rise of the word “governance” as an alternative to “government” reflects some of the most important social and political trends of recent times. Social scientists sometimes talk of the hollowing-out of the state. The state has been weakened from above by the rise of regional blocs like the European Union and by the global economy. The state has been weakened from below by the use of contracts and partnerships that involve other organizations in the delivery of public services. Globalization and the transformation of the public sector mean that the state cannot dictate or coordinate public policy. The state depends in part on global, transnational, private, and voluntary sector organizations to implement many of its policies. Further, the state is rarely able to control or command these other actors. The state has to negotiate with them as best it can, and often it has little bargaining power.
But, although the role of the state has changed, these changes do not necessarily mean that the state is less important. An alternative perspective might suggest that the state has simply changed the way it acts. From this viewpoint, the state has adopted more indirect tools of governing but these are just as effective – perhaps even more so – than the ones they replaced. Whereas the state used to govern directly through bureaucratic agencies, today it governs indirectly through, for example, contracts, regulations, and targets. Perhaps, therefore, the state has not been hollowed-out so much as come to focus on meta-governance, that is, the governance of the other organizations in the markets and networks that now seem to govern us.
The hollow state and meta-governance appear to be competing descriptions of today’s politics. If we say the state has been hollowed out, we seem to imply it no longer matters. If we say the state is the key to meta-governance, we seem to imply it retains the central role in deciding public policy. Perhaps, however, the two descriptions are compatible with one another. The real lesson of the rise of the word “governance” might be that there is something wrong with our very concept of the state.
All too often people evoke the state as if it were some kind of monolithic entity. They say that “the state did something” or that “state power lay behind something”. However, the state is not a person capable of acting; rather, the state consists of various people who do not always not act in a manner consistent with one another. “The state” contains a vast range of different people in various agencies, with various relationships acting in various ways for various purposes and in accord with various beliefs. Far from being a monolithic entity that acts with one mind, the state contains within it all kinds of contests and misunderstandings.
Descriptions of a hollow state tell us that policymakers have actively tried to replace bureaucracies with markets and networks. They evoke complex policy environments in which central government departments are not necessarily the most important actors let alone the only ones. Descriptions of meta-governance tell us that policymakers introduced markets and networks as tools by which they hoped to get certain ends. They evoke the ways central government departments act in complex policy environments.
When we see the word “governance”, it should remind us that the state is an abstraction based on diverse and contested patterns of concrete activity. State action and state power do not fit one neat pattern – neither that of hollowing-out or meta-governance. Presidents, prime ministers, legislators, civil servants, and street level bureaucrats can all sometimes make a difference, but the state is stateless, for it has no essence.
Mark Bevir is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of several books including Governance: A Very Short Introduction (2012) and The State as Cultural Practice (2010). He is also the editor or co-editor of 10 books, including a two volume Encyclopaedia of Governance (2007). He founded the undergraduate course on ‘Theories of Governance’ at Berkeley and teaches a graduate course on ‘Strategies of Contemporary Governance’.
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Image Credit: Martin Schulz during the election camapign in 2009. Creative Commons Licence – Mettmann. (via Wikimedia Commons)
What is a state? We think we know but when we compare things that are (e.g. Monaco, Andorra, Liechtenstein) to things that are not (e.g. Scotland, Kosovo, Palestine) our understanding unravels. This is a core question of international law and the troubling thing is that the best experts in the subject wouldn’t give a consistent explanation for the differences between these examples.
The UN is the closest thing we have to a world government. It is founded on a legal document (The UN Charter), it has a Court to resolve disputes between members, it has a Parliament of states (the General Assembly), and crucially, unlike its predecessor the League of Nations, it can authorize collective enforcement of its will (via the Security Council). There are dozens of other international organizations getting on with regulating different aspects of the world’s behaviour, so how come in spite of this appearance of a legal order, international law seems incapable of addressing urgent problems of poverty, violence, and climate change? How come the powerful get away with breaking the law? Why does justice so often get trumped by expediency?
Maybe that’s not fair — our national governments suffer from these same failings too. They do some basic things well (international law does a great job co-ordinating postage and telecoms) but can’t seem to manage the big breakthroughs. Surely there is a difference though: we created the international system to improve on what our governments can achieve on their own. If it can’t do better, then what is the point?
Today more people than ever before are engaged with international law. Many are, as one would expect, learning and applying it, but an increasingly vocal proportion question its role, its effectiveness and even its very existence. If it is to fulfil its promise, international law needs to rise to the following challenges.
(1) Is it law or is it just about power?
International lawyers are tired of hearing this question but it isn’t addressed to them. It is addressed to the leaders who take part in a legal order yet subvert it at the same time. Every state sends and receives diplomats yet simultaneously carries out espionage. States choose to use law to enforce some obligations whilst insisting not to be bound by others. The late great Sir Ian Brownlie used to say “if you doubt the reality of international law, have a look at my bank balance”, i.e. his clients (states) were paying him so they must believe it in. But that is just the problem — the very actors that Brownlie cited as proof of the reality of the law are the ones who can also make it seem like an optional extra, not a source of obligation.
(2) Who does it apply to?
Nowadays many of the entities regulated by so-called international law are not nations: corporations, international organizations, indigenous peoples, individuals, armed resistance groups. Cases at the International Criminal Court pit its Prosecutor (an individual acting on behalf of an international organization) against an individual criminal defendant. Then a group comes along who certainly seem to merit the protection of international law, such as the Guantanamo detainees, and we find that they don’t fit into any accepted legal category. If states can insist that only those laws they consent to can bind them, what about all of these other entities? Do they get more of a say in the content and application of the law? Should there be gaps in protection from human rights abuses?
(3) Where does it reach?
This follows from the last question. International law claims to reach directly into domestic legal systems; treaties apply to situations and places that nobody ever expected when they were first agreed. Then we have the increased use of outer space and the virtual arena of cyber space to contend with. Will these develop as adaptations of international law and if so would that not begin to stretch “international law” to the point where it is so diverse as to be meaningless?
(4) Are we expecting too much from a legal system?
International law can only move forward when there is a political consensus that it should. In the absence of political will, it is impossible to subject new areas to international law or to increase its reach. It is hard to square this compromising approach with international law’s progressive and at times utopian spirit. The planned recognition of Palestine as a state is a good illustration of the pragmatic dilemma: the legal order is advanced (by recognizing a new state) whilst also undermined (by restricting what statehood means).
(5) How can we know the content of international law?
The two primary sources of international law are custom and treaties. Whilst nothing involving lawyers is ever clear cut, treaties are vastly easier to engage with than custom, the exact nature of which remains shrouded in mystery. How customary law is formed and who is bound by it are matters that are crying out for authoritative resolution. For international law to be taken more seriously it is vital that the processes and content of custom are clarified and made available to all those who might use it or be affected by it.
Scholarly legal publishing has its part to play. We cannot of course makes statesmen and women take their obligations more seriously nor put in place the economic prosperity in which ideas of justice and fairness have a better chance of taking root. We can however nurture scholarship which looks to clarify the nature, content, and scope of international law.
John Louth is editor-in-chief of academic law books, journals and online, and head of Oxford University Press’ US law office. Merel Alstein is commissioning editor for books in the area of international law.
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Just coming off a migraine again. But no headache today. Today I want to think again about the universe, about spiritually, about connectedness and what we really know. On June 15 I was musing about these things whilst in the throes of a migraine. I didn't come up with answers about why I believed in reincarnation, but not necessarily in a higher power. I haven't found the answers yet. I don't know whether I believe in karma, though I would like to. It would be satisfying to believe that somehow, somewhere people who perpetuate evil in this world will be repaid. But they might not. And if I believe that, does that mean that people who are now suffering horrible lives are paying for past or future deeds? Or is it all random? There are millions of people starving to death in another part of the world -- right now, this minute -- while grapes in my garden are falling to the ground and rotting. While people are throwing food away because they're too lazy to eat leftovers, because restaurants give out too large servings, because we buy too much and don't eat it. I can't ship those grapes anywhere, they aren't even "food grade" grapes. I eat some of them, the ones I can reach and pick over. I try not to waste food at my house, and I know I am in the minority. I also know that I do this because I am scraping by financially. There are millions of people starving to death and we knew the famines were coming, we know about it every day, we know we could end it, and we do nothing much. We could end the famines easily by cutting back on war. Just us, the US. We could. Imagine if all the nations worked together to end the famines. We could continue on with the wars and still end hunger. If nations worked together, we could end war. End hunger. End disease. End global warming. If we worked together, there is no end to the good we could create. Knowledge of that is more than power, it is heartbreak. Because for some reason, we don't want to work together. We don't want peace. We seem to prefer fighting, conflict, war. Where is the love, the peace, the understanding?
When I was in my late teens I thought I knew so much. I had already experienced quite a lot of life: love, marriage, childbirth and was living the life of a battered wife of an alcoholic. I was biding my time until I turned 21 and could escape (in Missouri you had to have your parent's permission to divorce if you were under 21 and I didn't have it). I hadn't graduated high school, but I was self educated. I read everything, carrying my paperback dictionary with me on the bus to work, looking up every word I didn't know as I read my way through Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. After the Greeks I moved on to other philosophers, other readings. At 21 I finally asked a librarian for a list of the classics and read authors by the armload. Complete works of Dickens, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and so on. Wish I had been pointed to women authors earlier, but picked those up in the 70s. When I went back to school, university at age 29, I tested out of the entire first year of college and all English requirements, all Fine Arts. 30 semester hours total. After I finally finished my university degree many years later, and wrote my master's thesis and had it accepted, I did think I knew quite a lot. Those words engraved over the side door of my high school "Knowledge is Power" stayed with me. I know that my vocabulary, my ability to learn quickly, my excellent memory in my younger years, my insatiable thirst for information -- all have combined to help in move ahead in the world. I was able to provide for my family because of those things. I could have been a factory worker like my mom with a tenth grade education, but I fought hard to move past that. I was kicked out of high school for being pregnant. My teenage husband was insanely jealous and when my (female) teacher at night school drove me home one night, he thought I hadn't gone because I didn't walk out the front door of the school(and he had come to check up on me.) So I was beaten and had to drop out. Now that I'm older and actually think about things, I find that I don't know as much as I thought I did. So much of what seemed so clear now seems so fluid. So amorphous. Yesterday I wrote about the meaning of love, and not being sure that I do understand the meaning of love. Lately I've been thinking about what I believe about life. All my life I have believed in reincarnation. I mean ALL my life. When I was a very young child I remembered, remembered clearly my past lives. I would tell my mom about "before." I would say to her, "don't you remember Mama, when I was the Mom and you were the little girl?" and so on. I got into trouble for this belief at Sunday School until finally Mom told me to stop talking about these things at Sunday School, stop telling these stories. She tried to convince me they were dreams. They were not dreams. They were memories. I also experienced deja vu ALL the effing time. It happened so often I couldn't believe other people weren't experiencing it too. It never happens to me any more. Why is that? And why did it happen so often when I was a child? What is that about? Why do I suddenly sound like Andy Rooney? Good lord. So, if I believe in reincarnation, what else does that mean? I thought that made me a Buddhist. I have told people for years that I believe in the Goddess. I have had dreams about the Goddess, in which she comes to me and tells me I will never be alone, and so on. But I don't actually believe there is some Goddess somewhere in the sky or outer space somewhere protecting me. It's more that I believe we are all one. Like all the same energy connected molecules, and we will all just come back and come back over and over. Like that. But is there a higher power? Will we always be people? Why would we be? When I say "we" are all connected, I mean that everything in the universe is connected, everything that is made of the same energy is connected. We could as easily be a cloud or a raindrop or a star or a piece of bugshit. Right? All the same. So why the memories?
Last year many of my students loved Graceling by Kristin Cashore. The sequel, which actually is a prequel, Fire comes out on October 5. Jen Robinson’s Book Page has an excellent in-depth book review for Fire which appears to be every bit as good as Graceling.
It is 1797 in London and a young girl has just been put out on the street. All of her family has died of the pestilence and she has nothing but the clothes on her back. Oh, wait! Soon she is robbed of even those by a gang of orphans in need of new clothes. The girl who has her new clothes looks back at her and says, “Well, come on then. And quit your sniveling.” The girl, who narrates this story, writes, “I snuffles and gets up.”
She weeps, she fears, she loses, but she keeps getting up throughout this highly entertaining story of a girl who disguises herself as a boy so she can become a ship’s boy, avoid being hung for thievery, and get enough to eat. I usually demand more than pure entertainment from the books I read–I want to be able to see the world in a new way or learn something thrilling–and I usually don’t like series books, but I finished this book with a single thought: I wanted the next book in the series.
The character of Mary who becomes Jacky leaps from the pages. The endless series of riotous adventurous never seem contrived. All resolutions feel perfectly apt. Danger never disappears, but evil always gets its satisfyingly just desserts.
Bloody Jack will be enjoyed by kids who liked The Unfortunate Series of Events in their younger years, middle school and younger experienced readers who will not be confused by the occasional “guttersnipe” dialect of the narrator (“prolly” for probably; me mum and me dad, etc), high school readers who need a break from fantasy, teen-age angst, and vampire genres, and adults who just like to have fun reading. Attitudes towards the innate differences between the genders are of course amply explored and the romance is tender and true and not excessively graphic. I recommend not trying to find out if the author is male or female until you have read at least one book in the series.
With yetmorestories in the press about banks, bailouts, recession, and the economy, I wondered what the new edition of The Little Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs had to say about money. Unsurprisingly, it’s something that has preoccupied people for a very, very long time. Here’s a selection of money-related proverbs from across the centuries.
Cash is king.
Modern saying, summarizing the position in a recession.
Bad money drives out good.
Money of lower intrinsic value tends to circulate more freely than money of higher intrinsic and equal nominal value, though what is recognized as money of higher value being hoarded; English proverb, early 20th century; known as ‘Gresham’s law’ from Thomas Gresham (d. 1579), English financier and founder of the Royal Exchange.
The best things in life are free.
English proverb, early 20th century, originally from the title of a song (1927) by Buddy De Sylva and Lew Brown.
Get the money honestly if you can.
American proverb, early 19th century; the idea is found in the classical world, in the poetry of Horace (65–8 BC), ‘If possible honestly, if not, somehow, make money.’
He that cannot pay, let him pray.
If you have no material resources, prayer is your only resort; English proverb, early 17th century.
Money can’t buy happiness.
English proverb, mid 19th century.
Money has no smell.
English proverb, early 20th century in this form, but originally deriving from a comment made by the Roman Emperor Vespasian (AD 9–79), in response to an objection to a tax on public lavatories; compare Where there’s muck there’s brass below.
Money is like sea water. The more you drink, the thirstier you become.
Possession of wealth creates an addiction to money; modern saying.
Money isn’t everything.
Often said in consolation or resignation; English proverb, early 20th century.
Money is power.
English proverb, mid 18th century.
Money is the root of all evil.
English proverb, mid 15th century, deriving from the Bible (I Timothy 6:10), ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’.
Money, like manure, does no good till it is spread.
English proverb, early 19th century; the idea is found earlier in the Essays of Francis Bacon (1561–1626), ‘Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.’
Money makes the mare to go.
Referring to money as a source of power; English proverb, late 15th century.
Money has influence; English proverb, mid 17th century.
A penny for the guy.
Traditional saying, used by children displaying a guy to ask for money towards celebrating Bonfire Night; a guy is an effigy representing Guy Fawkes, a leading conspirator in the Gunpowder Plot to blow up James I and his Parliament in 1605, which is traditionally burned on 5 November, the anniversary of the discovery of the plot.
After the Romans left the British Isles in the fifth century A. D., there were many centuries of pillaging and plunder by one tribe or clan upon another until it became a unified country. It must have been excruciatingly painful to try to raise crops and families. One legend gave them hope, and indeed continues to give hope to this day. That legend was of Arthur, the king who, with the help of a somewhat magical destiny, created a golden island of peace for a short period of time. The legend said it could be done once, so it could be done again.
Well, Philip Reeve has exposed that legend for what it was–a really good story. But no matter, it is the story that everybody needed anyway. Best not to go by the truth on the ground for historical inspiration–we humans are much better at story than we are at deeds. And Philip Reeve is an excellent writer who tells a really good story about an orphaned slave girl who was there and who may have been the only one with any common sense. So in this book, we get hope renewed by trading the ancient story of a legendary and peace-loving king for the modern story of a sensible and strong-willed girl.
Fans of Reeve’s Mortal Engines series will like this book as will upper middle school and high school readers who enjoy stories of historical fiction with strong girl characters.
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells was just one of those classics I felt I had to read. And I'm glad I did. It had me laughing the whole way! I'm not sure if this was Wells' intention, but that's surely what happened. I just couldn't stop imagining this man running around naked because he'd be seen if he were wearing clothes! I can't imagine how frustrating that must have been for Griffin, the invisible man. He thought up this great idea of how to turn himself invisible, but he can't be invisible completely unless it's a sunny day or pitch dark night....and he's naked.
Aside from the fact you have to live life naked, if you do put clothes on, your face is still not really visible and that's a problem for the average person. So, you're a person stuck between two worlds: never able to fully belong to either (at least not comfortably or without freaking people out).
And if that wasn't enough, he starts to go mad because of this inability to live his life. The rawness of this character opens insight into the psyche of humans. What would any of us have done in the same situation? Unable to show ourselves as we truly are and unable to live a life of secrecy. Running from the world that wants to destroy you because you created something no one else can even imagine. The readers are swept up into a whirlwind of emotions from the side of the invisible man himself and the people affected by his actions. A true tale of what could happen if too much power is put into anyone's hands.
Bernard Lewis is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Easter Studies Emeritus at Princeton University. His new book, Faith and Power: Religion and Politics in the Middle East, illuminates the role of religion in the Middle East, revealing how it has shaped society for good and for ill. In the excerpt below, which looks at Islamic government, we learn about the long history of religion intertwining with governmental authority.
Every civilization formulates its own idea of good government, and creates institutions through which it endeavors to put that idea into effect. Since classical antiquity these institutions in the West have usually included some form of council or assembly, through which qualified members of the polity participate in the formation, conduct, and, on occasion, replacement of the government. The polity may be variously defined; so, too, may be the qualifications that entitle a member of the polity to participate in its governance. Sometimes, as in the ancient Greek city, the participation of citizens may be direct. More often qualified participants will, by some agreed-upon and recurring procedure, choose some form among their own numbers to represent them. These assemblies are of many different kinds, with differently defined electorates and functions, often with some role in the making of decisions, the enactment of laws, and the levying of taxes.
The effective functioning of such bodies was made possible by the principle embodied in Roman law, and in systems derived from it, of the legal person – that is to say, a corporate entity that for legal purposes is treated as an individual, able to own, buy or sell property, enter into contracts and obligations, and appear as either plaintiff or defendant in both civil and criminal proceedings. There are signs that such bodies existed in a pre-Islamic Arabia. They disappeared with the advent of Islam, and from the time of the Prophet until the first introduction of Western institutions in the Islamic world there was no equivalent among the Muslim people of the Athenian boule, the Roman Senate, the Jewish Sanhedrin, the Icelandic Althing or the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot, or any of the innumerable parliaments, councils, synods, diets, chambers, and assemblies of every kind that flourished all over Christendom.
One obstacle to the emergence of such bodies was the absence of any legal recognition of corporate persons. There were some limited moves in the direction of recognition. Islamic commercial law recognizes various forms of partnership for limited business purposes. A waaf, a pious foundation, once settled is independent of its settlor and can in theory continue indefinitely, with the right to own, acquire, and alienate property. But these never developed beyond their original purposes, and at no point reached anything resembling the governmental, ecclesiastical, and private corporate entities of the West.
Thus almost all aspects of Muslim government have an intensely personal character. In principle, at least, there is no state, but only a ruler; no court, but only a judge. There is not even a city with defined powers, limits, and functions, but only an assemblage of neighborhoods, mostly defined by family, tribal, ethnic, or religious criteria, and governed by officials, usually military, appointed by the sovereign. Even the famous Ottoman imperial divan – the divan-i humayun – described by many Western visitors as a council, could more accurately be described as a meeting, on fixed days during the week, of high political, administrative, judicial, financial, and military officers, presided over in earlier times by the sultan, in later times by the grand vizier. Matters brought before the meeting were referred to the relevant member of the divan, who might make a recommendation. The final respon
This is Elizabeth Bunce’s second novel and the first in a new series. I loved her first book, A Curse Dark As Gold, an intriguing interpretation of the Rumplestiltskin folktale, and I eagerly looked forward to her next book. A genre, fantasy series, usually less favored by me, Star Crossed nevertheless delivers on many of the same levels: a strong, resourceful, true-hearted heroine; a diverse cast of interesting characters; vivid description; and the entertainment of life’s deeper questions.
Set in a fantasy world that atmospherically parallels eastern Europe in the late middle ages, this tale is narrated by a girl who has had to make her way into a hostile world at a very young age. She is on a singular mission—to stay alive. She becomes a very good thief, forger, and spy. But a near brush with death from a failed caper at the beginning of the story propels her into a mountain castle. Here she will sit out a snowbound winter with a cast of characters at the center of a budding rebellion.
Celyn, as she calls herself, is afraid of nothing. She uses her talents to find out everything there is to know about the castle and its inhabitants, slowly flushing all mysteries into the light. The reader comes along on her journey, flinching at her every daring move, as each of the characters slowly but inevitably reveals the clarity of their position in the central conflict.
Celyn is tough, resilient, and clever; she knows and protects good whenever she sees it. Readers of all ages who have enjoyed the Bloody Jack books will also like this book. The plot is tightly wovern and requires the reader to pay attention and work things out, but there is nothing inappropriate for the youngest of accomplished readers.
Dystopias typically exist in a future world where some kind of organizational force tries to control a population whose flaws nearly destroyed life in a previous time. That organization and that control, however, tend to painfully crimp the human spirit. In Matched, the first book in a trilogy, the Officials attempt to control every aspect of an individual’s life: what they eat, what they wear, who they marry, where they live, where they work. By doing this, they intend to eliminate disease, strife, and unhappiness.
But, of course, it doesn’t work. The individual’s desire for freedom is stronger than the desire for bland happiness, as it turns out, and as we all know too much power in the hands of the few tends to corrupt. In Matched, a seventeen-year-old girl has been officially “matched” with her intended husband, but there seems to be a catch–a second intended has somehow slipped into the picture which conspires to cause her to question the life the Officials have arranged for her. Once that question arises, the desire to make her own choices and pay her own dues can no longer be corraled.
For a dystopic novel, this story has an unusual sweetness. There is a lot of kindness and genuine caring among the characters. The depiction of two young people falling in love is very tender; the conniving of the Officials almost takes a background role. I think middle school girls who like books about relationships will want to read this book and the theme of independence and making your own choices is strongly appealing to young teens. It is not a challenging read by any means and may appeal even to reluctant girl readers.
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Not much to report today. The wife is down and out with back problems again. Things have slowed down a tiny bit as far as work goes, which has allowed me time to get some of my personal projects started...that, and lay around lazily. Nothing really changes around here.
I'm starting work on something new (that I can't really go into detail about just yet) and I decided to post one of my really early, really rough character sketches above.
It's 1969 Atlanta, and Bliss Inthemorningdew (yes that is her name) has just been dropped off by her hippie parents at her grandmother's place. Her folks have just left the commune and are heading to Canada, and Bliss' world is about to change.
Her grandmother is a true Southern lady, and quickly enrolls Bliss in the tony Crestview private school. Bliss is excited about actually going to a real school, but she is keeping her friend from the commune Flying V's warning about mean girls in the back of her mind. (Flying V has a gift of sight, and Bliss has a bit of it herself).
Bliss is thrown for a loop when her peer mentor Sarah Lynn ditches her. Luckily Thelma has decided to take Bliss under her wing and she and friends Jolene and Deedee school Bliss in the ways of not only Crestview, but life in Atlanta off the commune.
Unfortunately, when Flying V's warning seems to come into play, and Bliss witnesses some cruelty between classmates, Bliss ends up befriending Sandy. Sandy who the other kids make fun of because she's clumsy, she smells, and well, she's Sandy.
But Bliss feels good about being friends with Sandy. At first. They talk about conformity, power and the Manson Family murder trial. But Sandy is really needy, and it's draining spending time with her. Bliss would rather be with Thelma, Deedee and Jolene, not to mention super cute Mitchell.
What will happen when Sandy gets mixed up in a quest for power that involves the supernatural? Can Bliss disentangle herself from this girl who is set on revenge?
Lauren Myracle has written a thrilling page turner reminiscent of Nixon and Duncan. It's perfectly paced and will keep readers wanting more. Chapters are interspersed with journal pages which are border line terrifying when one thinks about the implications of animal torture and the dark arts.
Bliss is not only a scary thriller. The setting of late 1960s Atlanta allows for some frank discussions of race and the nature of racism. From the token black student at Crestview, to the Klan daddies, to teachers feeling free to use the "N" word in their classrooms, Bliss will have readers chewing on some big ideas as well.
Do you want to achieve more for your life? One simple step could be the power in the things you say.
It has been proven scientifically that words have energy and significant power. It can begin with our thoughts but the words we think create our actions. Are you disempowering yourself with negative language and the words around you? By replacing your negative language with positive language things can really change. We all must learn that not only what we think but also what we speak creates much of our outcomes in life.
Being conscious of our mind talk and making alterations can make a difference.
Watch the video below and see how words changed the composition of water. I found the video below after searching the Internet for a video that related to a book I have and found astounding. The book is called "The power of appreciation" by Dr Noelle C. Nelson and Dr Jeannine L Calaba. I highly recommend it. It is not a Christian book.
This video interviewing Dr Masary Emoto who did the studies on the video above is also enlightening. I was particularly surprised of the suggestion that the words on cigarette packets where more damaging than the actual cigarettes!
Elvin Lim is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and author of The Anti-intellectual Presidency, which draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents’ ability to communicate with the public. He also blogs at www.elvinlim.com. In the article below he reflects on Sarah Palin’s resignation. See his previous OUPblogs here.
People love to hate Sarah Palin. I thought she was trouble on the McCain ticket, trouble for feminism, and trouble for the future of the Republican party, but I am troubled at the feeding frenzy that has continued despite Palin’s express desire and efforts to bow out of the negative politics that has consumed her governorship.
The speculation about what exactly Palin is up to is itself revealing - for it comes attached to one of two possible postulations - neither of which are charitable. Either Palin is up to no good, or she is completely out of her mind. Even in surrender Palin is hounded. Either she is so despicable that post-political-humous hate is both valid and necessary or she is so dangerous that she must be defeated beyond defeat.
Even Governor Mark Sanford got a day or two of sympathy from his political opponents before he admitted to other extra-marital dalliances and referred to his Argentinian belle as his “soul-mate.” Sarah Palin was accorded no such reprieve. Yes, I think gender is entirely relevant here.
Feminist scholars have studied the double-bind of woman political leaders for a while now. Women leaders are faced with a dilemma a still-patriachical political world imposes on them: women must either trade their likeability in return for male respect; or they preserve their likeability but lose men’s respect for them in exchange. When it comes to women in positions of political power in the world that we know, they cannot be both likeable and respected. Unlike men, they cannot have their cake and eat it as well. This is not the world I like, but it is the world I see.
Let me draw an unlikely parallel to make the point. People love to hate another woman that we saw a lot of in 2008 - Hillary Clinton. Like Palin, she was to her detractors the she-devil to whom evil intentions were automatically assigned for every action. But unlike Palin, she was respected and feared - she was everything Sarah Palin was not. What Palin lacked in terms of likeability she possessed in terms of respect (or at least reverent fear). No one underestimated Hillary Clinton, no one doubted her ambition. And of course, as Barack Obama put it in one of their debates, she was only “likeable enough.” Clinton was respected as a force to be reckoned with, but she paid her dues in terms of likeability. Just like the Virgin Queen and the Iron Lady, she could only be respected if she surrendered her congeniality.
Palin stands at the other end of the double-bind. Where Palin was in need of respect she gained in terms of likeability. She was the pretty beauty queen loved and beloved by her base, unapologetically espousing a “lip-stick” feminism (in contrast to a grouchy liberal feminism). But what she enjoyed in terms of likeability she lost in terms of respect. If there was one thing her detractors have done consistently, it has been to mock her. She was the running joke on Saturday Night Life, and now, a laughing stock even amongst some Republicans who see her as a quitter and a thin-skinned political lightweight. Strangely enough, Sarah Palin is Hillary Clinton’s alter-ego. Where Clinton is perceived as strong, Palin is seen as weak; whereas Clinton turns off (a certain sort of) men, Palin titillates them.
If we lived in a post-feminist, gender-neutral world, the two most prominent women in American politics, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, would not so perfectly occupy the antipodal caricatures of women trapped in the double-bind of our patriachical politics. That they each face one cruel end of the double binds tells us that the two women on opposite ends of the political spectrum sit in the same patriachical boat. So the next time liberals mock Sarah Palin, they should remember that they are doing no more service to feminism than when some conservatives made fun of Hillary Clinton’s femininity allegedly subverted by her pant-suits.
As a teenager living in Penang, Malaya during the Japanese invasion of World War II, Phillip Hutton has to choose between several bad options. Born of a British adventurer/trader father and the daughter of a successful Chinese expatriate, Phillip is the student of a Japanese aikido master. The aikido becomes a metaphor for his choice, his ability to endure, and ultimately his survival–to deflect aggression, to roll, and to come up standing. But in life, it is a whole lot harder to carry off.
The combination of beautiful South Pacific imagery, the mystic presence of timelessness, the exploration of the depths of frienship and love, the inner struggles between conflicting loyalties, and the dance between inescapable fate and free will make this a richly enjoyable read for anyone who can read at or above a high school level. There is a load of information on the arrogance of British colonization, the last of the Chinese emperors, the psychology that drove the Japanese to war, the culture of Southeast Asia, Buddhism, the power system of Chinese Triads, the infancy of Asian communism and much more. Teen-age boys interested in Asian culture and history, as many seem to be, will love this adventure-filled book. Even though the protagonist is a boy, there are a few strong female characters too. A little thin on romance it may be, but I think teenage girls will like it too.
The Gift of Rain, published in 2008, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize. It is the kind of book you can’t wait to get back to and yet you hope you will never finish.