How to Read: Very Good Lives

Rowling, J.K. – Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination





Rowling gave the commencement speech to the 2008 graduates of Harvard. This is the book bound format so her message can reach further because anyone can use this message. According to her speech, everyone needs to hear this message: “we have the power to imagine better.”




4/5 stars

It’s a little self-deprecating (which is funny, ask any comedian) but that just sets the tone for the rest of the speech because her life is filled with life deprecating on her (which is hopeful, ask any successful (in any area) person).



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I read a book called “The Genius Factory” and there’s a chapter on the eugenics movement. It details how the wealthy and intelligent needed their population to have as many babies as possible to outweigh those of the stupid and poor. The movement was so successful that the government conducted forced sterilizations for years. They herded families that had a recent history of defective brains into their own colonies.
What also entered my thoughts was Elon Musk’s thoughts on eugenics. He has 5 sons and said it was his duty to bring children into the world as he was so successful and his success could beget their successes.
It should be noted that at the time of writing, the population of developed countries has be stagnant. More and more couples are deciding to forgo having children, or delaying them to pursue careers or whatever else. In Japan, the classroom has shrunk, in some parts, to one child a classroom. It’s an inverted triangle.
Meanwhile, families in developing countries are exploding with children, so much so that they can’t be supported. Each person and more so is covered by the birthrate while here families will produce one or two children, so max that will displace each parent. The population is level. There is no growth or shrinkage, but overall, counting for gay couples, sterile, or those who just choose not to have children, the population is getting smaller.
I had a discussion on the topic of the immigration and refugees being allowed into developed countries. Canada allowed 100,000 Syrian refugees about two years ago. He said we have no place to put them and so the economy and they are suffering for it. The families of refugees are supported financially for the first year and nothing afterwards. The homeless situation is growing grave. Our resources is dwindling.
As far as I see it, immigration and awarding refugees asylum is the answer to underpopulation.
We live in a rich countries with many opportunities for everyone. In Canada, education is free, healthcare and the newly legislated pharmacare is available for most people. We are not so advanced that there are not jobs out there for the layperson. I could hire them if I wanted, but I don’t know any.
And then I heard of established refugees looked around and claimed that the country needed to stop letting more in. I was confused. My family and theirs came to Canada as refugees.
Look at us now. Each of us make a 6 figure income and pay 5 figures in taxes.
Taxes. That’s the payout. That’s why countries let in foreigners.
As a solution to the declining population, we let in people who have less of a chance solely because they live in poor countries. They take advantage of the freedom, yes, but also of the resources so that they too can become successful like us. So that they can live the way we do and benefit from it because in ten years the government can tax the hell out of them as they become productive civilians.
They are the solution to a much greater problem. If people really do have a problem with this population taking over, then these xenophobes should have a bunch of babies. Make sure they go to school and don’t do drugs and don’t commit crimes. Then Canada’s doors will narrow.
Sure it does not look good right now. Refugees are living below the poverty line, relative to other Canadians. But I don’t think it looked any better in the 80s when my parents arrived with my siblings. Four small children and two adults lived in a two bedroom apartment in a complex filled with similar family dynamics. Now we all have our own houses. We live in the West side. We are building new homes. It took us 25 years, but it happened.
To that extent, we should also consider adoption more seriously. If people can’t have babies to replace us when we pass, we can try to mentor those locally and give them a better advantage in life. Don’t want foreigners? Do your own chores and help around the house, figuratively. If we adopt, we don’t promote immigration and we build a better future for everyone.
But a growing population is the answer for countries who are finding their numbers dwindling. Whether we reproduce (and build a good platform for them) or outsource is up to us.

How to Read: The Genius Factory

Rating: 3.75/5

This is the book bound research of the offspring of Nobel Prize sperm, the conception of the eugenics movement, which became the quasi-answer to the question: which is more important in raising good children, nature or nuture?
Plotz makes a plea to mothers who went to the Repository for Germinal Choice or any children with a little piece of Nobel DNA in them and he takes their stories and runs with them. In no way doing a disservice. The Genius Factory is well researched, but interrupted with opinions and stories of the resulting children. Plotz has a background in journalism with Slate so the book weaves dry facts with thoughtful personals.
How cute is that cover, though?
For instance, it all began with a racist — well, in the end that status was undefined he was fine with the company of black people, but didn’t want their genes proliferated because his data set found their lifestyle subpar — millionaire who wanted to create a generation of super smart people. Sperm from Nobel Prize winners (which turned out to be false) to be deposited into women in Mensa (again, false).
Which is intriguing on its own, but with people come with emotions and parents hold emotions at a constant high. While artificial insemination is more accepted these days, back in the 80s the procedure was much more cloaked and spoken in hushed tones. So these prospective mothers were married to infertile men, were impregnated by strangers, had a miracle baby, their husbands soon became the strangers in the marriage and fatherhood, and the babies are raised primarily by strong women.
And then we come to the children and how they feel. Suddenly their known dads are not their real dads and these kids are promoted to demi-gods. The expectations are shot along straight up to Olympia.
Each section is obviously developed further and written in a way that makes you want to run through the chapter quicker. This is different from a page turner. Page turners are books you find yourself reading at 2 o’clock in the morning because it’s so thrilling. This book was packed with research, but together in a digestive way. It’s funny too.
But the chapters are their own section and going from one to the next was less fluid. Plotz attempted to give prose to hard research so the chapters ended in cliffhangers that weren’t as successful as he likely hoped. Read, become intrigued, end chapter, close book, think over information. Repeat later.
It took some time to finish Genius. I’m a better woman for it. If I ever do have children, I know I can make mistakes, the father could be a dumb-dumb, but as long as I’m loving and consistent and supportive, the kid has a good chance of a stellar future. Nature only provides so much, like how your kids will look like. Nuture seems to be the prevailer of the two in most areas.
Ha, this thing morphed into a parenting manual for me. Anyways, it’s a chunky book, divided by pictures (no lie), so read it in a chunky way.
Chunky. Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before.

Love Life with Matthew Hussey – The Ultimate Secret to Overcome Weakness

I listened to this episode of the podcast on my way home from work. It revolutionized my thought process about How to Read posts for Pen to Public.
Hussey did a first. He read “Catcher in the Rye” and gave a life lesson at the end. He started with a summary of the novel and finished with his takeaway that can be applied to life.
Typically his podcast episodes run as ‘here is a problem (from a woman) and I have the perspective from a man so I have some relationship advice for you!’ I enjoyed them, and I’m sure they’ve gone in one ear and out the other, it was always sound advice and if they applied to me, I would have subconsciously used them.
His titles range from “These three text messages will improve your love life!” and “Here’s what to do if your boyfriend has a close female friend.”
But this episode was so insightful and came out of left field. Why had I not thought of doing a takeaway? I’m reading for the sole reason to know about the book so I can pretentiously say “Oh, I’ve read that classic” and be condescending. I feel hoity toity that I had seen the true value of books: they are life lessons in black and white.
I knew there was something missing from my analysis of Tess which is why I haven’t published it yet. I recall mentally going over the one I made for Christmas Carol and I kept straying back to my point of “tithing is important.” I assumed it was because I used “tithing” correctly and therefore sounded intelligent. How pretentious of me.
Now I know it is due to the fact that I gave a personal interpretation. I gave my perspective, which from what I’ve read from articles, is the secret ingredient to successful blogs. Like, hello, connecting dots.
And Hussey’s takeaway was incredible as well: if you are feeling low and want to give up (life, love, work, etc), finding someone else who is also in need and coaching them through life, developing a mentor-mentee relationship, finding a reason to keep going because someone else depends on you will give you the strength to persevere. Holden Caufield had his younger sister. The plot was about this young man wanting to run away but had to say goodbye to his sibling and she desired the same thing, but he stayed for her. He decided to brave the world again for her.
I immediately thought of my friend Savannah. She has more issues than I. She’s a compulsive liar. Like, every time I meet up with her there’s an astounding story that’s happening in her life. At first, it ticked me off. When she said she enrolled into a masters program when I knew she hadn’t even completed her certification program, how do I not roll my eyes? I was like she was spitting in the face of all the hard work that goes into completing a degree and going onto graduate school. then I realized that she was using her lies as a security blanket. Something else, something fancy was going on behind the scenes. She could use a helping hand. Whether or not she was in denial about them or if she was even willing to accept help was another matter.
The thing is, there is a fine line between joining a fellow depressed person to hobble each other’s way to recovery and finding misery in company and depending on the other as a crutch.  Savannah has a friend named Alfred who, without going into specifics, I don’t see moving beyond his place in life because he doesn’t have ambition.
They’ve both become pathetic and feed on each other. I suppose they didn’t go into the friendship with the strict objective of lifting lifestyles. They wanted company. They were lonely. They found a kindred spirit.
So the line is the purpose. I want to use her plight as plot inspiration. I don’t know how yet, but one day, as I’ve laid out a literal plan, it’ll give me courage to hold my hand out to her and ask if she needs help.
But for now, I can read books, be inspired and become a better person. Find the gentle lessons in them and apply to life.

How to Read: Take the Stairs

Rory Vaden – Take the Stairs


This is a non-fictional book, categorized under self-help. Vaden interned at over his college summers for a company that sold children’s encyclopedias door-to-door, which taught him many skills, including perseverance, optimism, and how to take action. Since then he co-founded a consulting firm and teaches us his ways to build a better now for a great 80 years.

Rating 3.5/5

Each chapter is titled after a principle which build up to action vs inaction (taking the stairs vs the escalator). He goes over the pitfalls of not assuming action right now, gives a charming example for the principle and interviews a successful person in the form of a ‘case study’.

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How to Read: A Christmas Carol

01d702157cee05035dab2ee590ec2f2caa53a21494     Finally took the plunge and read Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, during the week leading up to Christmas no less. Not a coincidence. Well, what took me so long is the fact that I was intimidated. I know his other novel “Great Expectations” is a huge stack of papers and when I first picked up Carol, I thought I got the annotated edition. Like, for children. It’s a small piece, novella; it has 122 pages if you don’t include the introduction and back blurb. But after a few Wiki searches, I found that this edition is the real deal.

It’s my first Dicken’s piece and it was delightful. It’s funnily written, moving and poignant, and his use of examples upon examples upon examples and a few more for good measure never feel winded. His writing style (in Carol) is a breeze.


Our least favourite miser Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by his dead business partner’s ghost to show him the misery of the afterlife of those who live a life of greed and self-centredness. Three Spirits come throughout the night to show him his past, present and future in an effort to change his, and his loved ones, ways.

Rating: 3.7/5



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(Not) My Lost Ring


I lost my ring. This ring was so special to me. It wasn’t valuable, or even given to me by a loved one. I actually found it under a chair as I was cleaning at one of my night job locations and immediately knew that this was precious. The most beautiful ring I had ever seen and it was mine now.

Of course I didn’t claim it instantly on the chance that the rightful owner came to claim it. A few days went by before I brought it home on the ring finger of my right hand. I almost felt whole.

The ring had a delicate yellow gold band with a pearl at its centre, surrounded by eight small sapphire gems. I received so many compliments. The pearl fell out months ago and I couldn’t wear it in public anymore, but that didn’t change my feelings about it. In fact, they only strengthened, because instead of just a pretty ring, it was a pretty ring with potential.

I locked my ring away safely to be used for a later date, that day being when my lover decided to make me his wife. He’d secretly take the ring and outfit it with the diamond he could best afford. I’d get the dream guy with the dream ring.

All that came to an end and it all started the week prior. I saw a psychic. I didn’t wear any jewelry because I didn’t believe in her ability to read my future but figured she could extrapolate from my past with the hints my personal items could give. In their trade, they pass their subtle perusal of clients for clairvoyance.

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