Blogs:

Kenneth Doswell

 

BettyJean Couture owner Kenneth Doswell Photo: Oregonlive

Kenneth Doswell is the owner of Bettyjeancouture. He made personal history in 2014 when he received his first national fashion award, Designer of the Year at New York’s Full Figured Fashion week. He only designs for women.  Doswell’s designs are a fashion work of art combining nostalgia with contemporary elements.  He ignores trends and creates beautiful, longlasting fashion.  For most, he is a well kept secret.  If truth be told, Doswell entered the fashion scene at 8 years of age. He designs and creates clothing for leading women. The beauty of it all, his clothes are affordable and he’s right here in Portland!

 

Further Exploration: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/06/north_portlands_kenneth_doswel.html

Available at Multnomah County Library: Michelle Obama, First Lady of Fashion and Style by Swimmer, Susan

 

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

by Gretchen Rubin

From the author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Rubin now offers advice on how to structure our habits to pursue happiness and well being.

Girl in the Dark: A Memoir

by Anna Lyndsey

A young woman writes of her sensitivity to light which forced her to live in darkness with only audiobooks as companions. Her book was a sensation at the London Book Fair for beautiful writing.

Rust: The Longest War

by Jonathan Waldman

It destroys cars, fells bridges, sinks ships, and nearly brought down the Statue of Liberty. The Pentagon calls it "the pervasive menace". The author explores the effects of corrosion on all aspects of our lives and the engineering endeavors to keep it at bay.

The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction

by Matthew Crawford

From the bestselling author of Shop Craft as Soulcraft, the author now tackles the challenge on how to master our own minds and remain focused in a world full of distractions.

The Presidents and UFOs: A Secret History from FDR to Obama

by Larry Holcombe

The author uses declassified Freedom of Information documents along with eyewitness accounts to reveal the evidence of extraterrestrial activities on earth and the government's attempt to cover up the incidents.

Know Your Beholder

by Adam Rapp

A hilarious and heartbreaking novel about a "down on his luck" musician and how he manages to put his life back together with the help of some unusual characters.

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star book jacketIn my search for something to read last weekend, nothing seemed quite right.  Then I happened upon my small collection of Paul Theroux books and I knew he was (no pun intended) just the ticket.  I’m a big fan of Mr. Theroux and have been saving Ghost Train to the Eastern Star for the right moment.  Ghost Train traces one of his earlier journeys documented originally in The Great Railway Bazaar.  That trip, which took place in 1973, chronicled Theroux’s mostly train journey from London across Europe and Asia, visiting India and Japan and returning west via the Trans-Siberian Railway.  Writers often travel in the footsteps of others but Theroux follows his own path, visiting old and new countries in order to see what has changed and what has remained the same.  Along the way he applies those same standards to himself.  

In Ghost Train, readers learn early on that Theroux’s previous trip took place under trying circumstances on the home front.  As the father of two young children he embarked on a long and seemingly pointless journey against his wife’s wishes.  While the trip brought him a measure of fortune and fame, his marriage never recovered.  In Ghost Train we find an older, more settled Theroux.  Without the family troubles to plague him, he traveled a second time with a more solid sense of home.  Theroux follows his earlier trip as closely as possible.  Politics prevented him from visiting countries like Iran and Afghanistan but this time he traveled through Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan and visits Cambodia for the first time.  

Travel writing as a tale of adventure changed with the advent of air travel.  Travelers began to focus on the destination instead of the journey.  Theroux’s travel writing excels because it brings travel writing back to those earlier times.  For Theroux, the arrival, the departure and all that happens between the two are fodder for explanation.  He incorporates history without distracting from the narrative.  He frequently meets with local writers, in this case Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak in Istanbul, Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka and Haruki Murakami in Japan.  He observes the conflicting economies in India, finding sadness at the overwhelming poverty while every rickshaw driver he sees is using a cell phone.  

Ultimately Theroux is a keen observer with a novelist’s heart.  Ghost Train is classic Theroux, peopled with interesting characters that bring shape and form to each trip.  Like his other works, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star allows the reader to sit alongside Mr. Theroux, watch over his shoulder and share the journey.  As with his other travels, the journey is well worth it.

Deena Pierott

 

iUrban founder Deena Pierott Photo: nten\.org

In 2011, Deena Pierott starts iUrban Teen with a focus on introducing, supporting and propelling students in the vast areas of technology. Specifically, iUrban aims to increase technology participation in male Black, Latino and Native American teens. Through interactive summits, tours, trainings and a hands-on approach, iUrban garners national attention. In 2013, Pierott is recognized as a Champion of Change for Technology Inclusion at the White House. More good news: iUrban is right here in Portland!

Further Exploration: http://iurbanteen.org/

Available at Multnomah County Library: African American Firsts in Science and Technology by Webster, Raymond B.

The Golden Cage follows the journey of three Guatemalan teenagers as they attempt to illegally cross the dangerous Mexico-US border in pursuit of the American dream. This movie has a variety of elements that make it stand out. The film addresses a social reality with a vigorous narrative and a cinematographic freshness.

Crossing the Mexican border to the USA is a controversial topic and there have been books, documentaries and other art that portrays the narrative of this crude reality. The Golden Cage is different in that it presents documentary elements and uses real-life participants; at times you can feel a special connection and compassion for the protagonists. The director Diego Quemada-Diez, who also wrote the screenplay, never imagined that this production would earn him and his cast one of the most recognized awards in the world at the Cannes Film Festival in the category  of “Un Certain Regard”. Quemada-Diez spent 10 years compiling testimonials and creating the content of the story. He found three talented non-professional actors after casting around 3,000 people.  A girl disguising herself as a boy opens up the story, and short dialogues emerge in a neutral tone at times without expressions. The dialogues all have something in common -- “dreams of gold”.  Find more stories of border crossings and uncertain futures here.
 

D’wayne Edwards

 

Pensole Founder D'wayne Edwards Photo: bmeccommunity

When he's 17, he crushes the competition in a Reebok design competition. While attending college, he secures a job with L.A. Gear, an old-school footwear company. Every day he submits shoe drawings and a suggestion to hire him as a shoe designer. After submitting a total of 180 sketches, he’s offered a job as the youngest footwear designer in the industry at that time. Eventually, his hard work and determination land him a job at Nike as design director for brand Jordan. His designs sell more than $1 billion, he owns over 30 patents and designs shoes for some of the world’s top athletes, woosh! He decides to leave Nike and use his own money to start Pensole, a shoe design academy. And he’s right here in Portland!

Further Exploration: http://www.pensole.com/founder/

Available at Multnomah County Library: Footwear Design by Choklat, Aki

I am a philosophy professor and chair of the Philosophy Program at Southern Oregon University. Having been trained in both Indian and Western philosophy, my reading covers a wide spectrum. For the last several years I have become interested in issues in political philosophy, the role of scientific literacy in modern democracy, and issues at the interface between science and religion. I see reading as a walk I am taking with a friend while exploring a subject. Depending on the topic, the conversation can be calm or passionate. Either way, the dialogue almost always enriches my life. This has required me to buy a few more bookshelves.

Here are some reflections on a variety of books I have been reading. Please feel free to send me your questions and comments.

Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality by Danielle Allen

While there are thousands of volumes written about the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence from as many perspectives as one can imagine, the pages of Princeton philosopher Danielle Allen’s reading of the Declaration are filled with rigor and passion. Allen walks us through the document, helping us understand and appreciate the significance of various ideas and making a case the true freedom is not possible without equality. Each chapter is nicely organized in manageable lengths for easy reading.

I highly recommend reading the book, especially today as we are working through several social and political challenges.

What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel

In this book, Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, author of the New York Times bestseller Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?, takes up some of the moral dilemmas we are encountering more and more in our society -- fighting wars, selling admission to colleges, drug testing -- and subjects them to moral scrutiny. Sandel argues that in the end, to separate markets and economics from morality “is not good for democracy, nor is it a satisfying way to live.”

The book is an excellent resource to get us thinking about the issues we face today. It also illustrates how philosophers go about doing philosophy.

Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False by Thomas Nagel

Is everything, including mind/consciousness, ultimately reducible to material/physical substance and process alone? Or is there something more to it? Philosophers and theologians have been debating this question for centuries, if not longer. Ever since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859), the debate gained new life, especially with those who pushed to explain mental phenomena in terms of material processes.

In Mind and Cosmos, renowned philosopher Thomas Nagel, makes a provocative proposal that arguments to reduce mind/consciousness to a physical foundation is, as he puts it in the title, “…almost certainly false.” The book has given rise to some interesting and, in some circles, even acrimonious exchanges. In reviewing the book, the Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker wrote that Nagel’s thesis is the “…shoddy reasoning of a once-great thinker.”

Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene

Human beings may be unique in facing moral dilemmas. While historically there have been answers galore as to how one ought to behave, modern cognitive science and neuroscience are challenging and offering new insights into what constitutes morality and where we get it. In fascinating book, Harvard social scientist Joshua Greene explores how the human brain processes morality, shaped by evolution and cultural forces. In this very accessible book, he offers a moral framework, to help us examine and inform our moral quandaries.

The book will be of interest to all those who are interested learning about how new sciences can and are shaping our sense of morality.

Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to Brain Science by Sissela Bok

The Politics of Happiness: What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being by Derek Bok

The last few decades have seen increased interest, attention, and research focused on happiness, a fundamental human emotion. While philosophers have discussed the concept for centuries, new research is shedding fresh light on how happiness can enhance and shape our wellbeing in society. In Exploring Happiness, philosopher Sissela Bok offers a philosophical overview of happiness from Aristotle to what neuroscience is telling about this subject. In The Politics of Happiness, Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University, offers a broad survey of how new research on happiness can help us address some of our vexing social and economic problems. He touches on such challenges as income inequality, marriage and families, and quality of political leadership.

The Boks articulate a complex subject clearly and I recommend the books to anyone interested in understanding the present human condition, and perhaps why we need to rethink our approach to solving some of our personal, social, and political challenges.

Here are some other books on my bookshelf (outside of my professional reading):

Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life by Daniel Klein

The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O Wilson

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris

For more reading recommendations customized for you, try the My Librarian service.  My Librarian and our featured guest readers are made possible by a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to The Library Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to our library's leadership, innovation, and reach through private support.

It’s a new year - have you checked your credit reports lately? There are three nationwide consumer credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and together they maintain the official website AnnualCreditReport.com which lets you check your credit report (or “credit file disclosure”) for each of these agencies once every 12 months, for no cost.

For more information and motivation, take a look at this credit score action plan from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

(Keep in mind that your credit report is different from your credit score, which is a number assigned by a credit agency. The Federal Reserve has a webpage which explains the difference.)

Once you’ve figured out your credit situation, the library has books which can help you learn how to control and repair your credit and debt. There are also a number of nonprofit agencies who provide free debt counseling:

I have a degree in history and, admittedly, can be something of a snob about it. If the facts aren’t right, well, I mumble under my breath and toss the book aside. Unfortunately, that eliminates a lot of popular history; work written for a broad audience. While often dramatic and exciting, these books can often be overly simplified or simply historically wrong. That means I read mostly dry, academic works that may satisfy my intellect but fail to stimulate the senses. There are exceptions, however.

Perhaps my favorite author of exciting, accurate history is James D. Hornfischer. His three books about the naval war in the Pacific possess more action and drama than most Hollywood films. His works focus on those moments during WWII when the outcome was less than certain and the Japanese had the advantage. This allows him to imbue the story with real peril. Hornfischer is especially adept at bringing any historic figure to life, whether a gunner’s mate or fleet admiral.

Last Stand of the Tin Can Soldiers book jacketLast Stand of the Tin Can Sailors focuses on one element within the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944. It tells the story of a group of small US warships that successfully fought off a much more powerful Japanese naval force that threatened the American landings in the Philippines but at a terrible cost. Few works highlight the bravery and sacrifice of men in battle more than this book.

Ship of Ghosts tells the story of the USS Houston, an American heavy cruiser. Stationed in the eastern Pacific in December 1941, theShip of Ghosts book jacket ship joined a motley assortment of other Allied vessels in a futile attempt to halt the Japanese advance through the East Indies.  When the Houston sank, most of her crew became POWs and endured unimaginable hardships. Few works capture the POW experience better than this book.

Neptune's InfernoNeptune’s Inferno, Hornfischer’s most ambitious work, tells the story of the naval campaign surrounding Guadalcanal in 1942-43. The U.S. Navy, still reeling from the losses at Pearl Harbor, suffered some of its greatest defeats ever, but ultimately broke the Japanese Navy and paved the way for Allied victory.  Few works demonstrate the uncertainty of victory in the war's early stages as graphically as this book.

So, if you’re leery of reading history but like great adventure stories, give James Hornfischer a try. I’m confident you’ll like what you find.

Wikipedia logo.Wikipedia, is a free encyclopedia with over 4 million articles in multiple languages, created by users all over the world. Can you trust all of them? Probably not, although this website can be great for finding a quick answer when you don't need the information to be 100%-guaranteed accurate.

Your professor or teacher might say that you can't use Wikipedia when you're writing a research paper - but this doesn't mean that it's not useful to you in your research. Many of the articles in Wikipedia have citations indicated throughout them, and a list of references at the end where the authors are claiming to have found their information. This doesn't prove that everything in the Wikipedia article is true - but if you find a fact that you need, you can use the citations and the list of references in the article to find out which source might have that fact. 

And if you need help finding any of the sources listed in your Wikipedia article, just ask a librarian and we can help!

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