Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Three for the Road

I carry three books in my car. You never know when you might have to wait somewhere and need something to occupy your mind. I usually have a book with me that I am currently reading, but these are my "backup" books.

The first one is this "Pelican History of the World". It has given me many informative and enjoyable hours when I was waiting in line somewhere, or even in severe traffic when I have had to pull over on the shoulder to let time pass. It has taken me from a chapter called "Before History" to the last chapter, which is called "The Post European Age" and includes the Cold War and it's aftermath, as well as "The Asian Revolution". It has proven invaluable at times when fact checking the various radio talk show hosts for accuracy. They have fallen short of the mark several times. History is a good thing to know if you want to stay objective.

This book, although 4 years outdated, is still a valuable tool in judging trends and debunking myths. With a complete World Atlas it gives a unique perspective on the news. It helps to see that Iraq was a roadblock to unifying the Islamic World, Saddam Hussein notwithstanding. Somehow, when you view a map, along with the news, you see the strategies involved in some of the political decisions being made by our respective leaders. This may be the most dangerous book of all, as it can make you think.

Actually, this was one of the items originally listed in the Patriot Act as contraband on airplanes. I make it a point to carry one whenever I travel. With a copy of the Declaration of Independence, as well as a copy of the Constitution, it really seems to annoy certain people. It also has information and demographics on every state in the Union as well as all the countries of the world, making it an excellent traveling companion. Kind of like the ultimate guide book. With the sections on culture and art you have a very enjoyable and handy mini laptop at your disposal.

The last book in my threesome is the Bible. I employ this King James version (courtesy of the Gideons)as a means of defense against those who would misquote it in various efforts to force their views upon others. Genesis and Psalms are my favorite parts of the so called "Old Testament", while "Romans" is my favorite part of "The New Testament". This book is especially helpful when confronted by overzealous bigots masquerading as People of Faith. Sometimes you can actually educate them. But not often.

There's alot of history, and the story of our whole civilization, told in these three small books. And the best thing about them is that they invariably lead you to find other books, more detailed, on each subject. It becomes an ever lasting chain
of learning, until you learn enough to know that it is impossible for you to know everything. And I don't. But one thing I do know is that I love these books.

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