David Beat Goliath – the Reason Why is Not What You Think #review #bookreview #history

Surprise - moral of the story not what you thinkDavid and Goliath teaches a lesson, but not the lesson you expect. Modern readers misunderstand the story and have the original message wrong. That is so cool, I’m reviewing this non-fiction book for my news post.

We think of David as a hopeless underdog facing an unbeatable foe, saved only by divine intervention. “No one in ancient times would have doubted David’s tactical advantage once it was known he was an expert in slinging.”

Ancient soldiers using slingshots were as formidable as archers. Goliath was a sitting duck, a heavily armored infantry warrior. There was no way he could chase down and engage David.

What we commonly think of as strengths and weaknesses can be very different in reality, and the underdog wins more often than we expect. This book covers varying subjects such as children of wealthy parents, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, primary school class sizes, deterring crime, and girls’ basketball. Gladwell offers individual stories and adds research to generalize his points. What you think you know ain’t so – delightful.

Advantages may make someone stronger for a while, until getting “more” becomes a disadvantage. The once-stronger side focuses on what worked in the past and how things “should” be done, blind to the challenge that confronts them.

Consider “wars over the last two hundred years – how often do you think the [more powerful] side wins? Most of us would put that number at close to 100 percent… [but] just under a third of the time, the weaker country wins.”

Children of wealthy parents can be less self-sufficient than their peers.

There is an optimum class size for elementary school but Americans obsess over reducing class sizes: “77 percent of Americans think that it makes more sense to… lower class sizes than to raise [good] teachers’ salaries. Do you know how few things 77 percent of Americans agree on?”

“Cracking down” on criminals and insurgents often makes the problem worse. Before people obey an authority, they must feel they have a voice, that laws are predictable, and that the authority is fair. “What matters in deterrence is what matters to offenders.” When legitimacy is lost, offenders become willing to bear extreme forms of punishment. For examplem “a reasonable assessment of the research to date is that [extreme] sentence severity has no effect on the level of crime in society.”

Personally, I believe that what really happens in the world is more important than what should happen. We could be wasting time and money while defeating our own goals.

This short book offers an important argument: the upside Surprise - the story's moral not what you thinkdown “U” of strength and weakness. Advantages that strengthen you for a while can top out, and at some point become liabilities.

Before you double-down on an action, think about this and consider what the evidence tells you.

BTW, Goliath may have suffered acromegaly: speculation on the diseases of historical figures is always intriguing. I found this part of the book surprisingly interesting and fun; much better than the “favorite Bible stories for children” sort of idea I had before.

PS: I read a digital version of Gladwell’s book. After the cover and title pages is a “welcome” with links to “Begin Reading.” The table of contents, and copyright page come after the text. Since on-line retailers offer previews starting at page one, this arrangement gives the reader the maximum preview of text, and placing typical front-matter at the end is no inconvenience in an ebook. Ebooks are evolving and I enjoy the format.


Abandoned School #haiku #poetry #autumn #autumnleaves

family cemetary

Knight family cemetery

Soft with autumn leaves
Play yard from old one-room school
Breeze stirs laughing ghosts

by Kate Rauner

I’m vacationing in New York and Pennsylvania, and walking their extensive woodland trails. Many go past old stonewalls and remnants of our forbearers.


Story on Mars Continues #Mars #book #sciencefiction #series #amwriting #scifi

Join colony on Mars - Kate Rauner

Coming soon!

The Mars colony has survived for generations, settling into a comfortable existence that depends on an Artificial Intelligence and its many robots. Life is good enough, though Zeker discovers a dark and dangerous corner of the colony. He came to the Tower guilds to pursue his dream, but that seems farther out of reach than ever. Maybe his neuroplasticity treatments failed him.

I’ve been distracted from blogging as I scramble to

Join Mars Colony - Kate Rauner

People didn’t like the helmet – how’s this?

finish my latest On Mars novel, but I’m receiving beta readers’ comments now and plan to swing into a final edit shortly. Subscribe now and I’ll let you know when Storm on Mars is available and send a coupon for a free download of the ebook edition. BTW – what do you think of the draft cover and title? Please let me know in the comments below.

In the meantime, catch up with the Mars colony. The books are available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and your favorite online store:

Glory on Mars – Emma joins the first twelve settlers in a struggle to Join Mars colony - Kate Raunersurvive.
Born on Mars – Jake’s born into a failing colony, but new arrivals bring hope and danger.
Hermit on Mars – Sig’s life is falling apart, but maybe he can save his mother and the breakaway prospectors she’s joined.
Water on Mars – Bliss thinks it’s the best time to be Marsborn, even if her new boss is crazy and threats from Mars and Earth surround her.

Let’s keep in touch. Subscribe today and you’ll receive an occasional short story along with book offers.

Shoes, Being a Woman, and Modern World #lasvegas #shooting #shoes

a plea for sensible shoesI’m sitting in a motel room – ready to catch a flight in the morning at Oh-Dark-Hundred. I’m also watching the horror of the Las Vegas shooting on cable TV.

I’m a woman and I’ve always thought feet were pretty weird. I wish I had a nice hoof down there – I could polish it each morning to match my outfit. Maybe my dislike is because I have big feet for a woman. Cutsie shoes don’t fit me, so I’ve tended towards boots. Some were pretty cool, but lately, I tend towards work-out shoes (trainers, sneakers) and hiking boots.

I’m about to get on a plane, and I always leave my shoes on for take-off and lace them up tight for landing. I want to be ready to run! I favor comfort during the days, and – yes – I’m usually ready to run (unless my shoes and socks are tossed into a corner. I guess I feel safe at home.)

Listening to the cable news, I heard stories of women in the Las Vegas shooting who couldn’t get over fences or across fields because of their SHOES.

The chance of me – or anyone – being involved in a disaster is small – but I can’t help thinking about it. Feet are vital, even if they are weird looking. We live in an uncertain world – I just can’t see hobbling myself.

This is my plea for sensible shoes. At least be kind to those of us who choose sensible shoes.

Take care, everyone. Be aware but don’t OD on coverage of mass shootings. You’re safer than you think – but should also be ready to take care of yourself. Be ready to run.

Volunteer Weekend – do something for others and yourself #volunteers #volunteering #community

Southwest Fsetival of the Written WordI volunteered at my town’s Festival of the Written Word. It may not be as important as helping hurricane  victims, but not everything has to be life or death to be useful. I’m also a volunteer firefighter (volunteer departments need non-firefighter help too) and pack boxes at our local food bank.

Help others – help myself. This weekend I got a lead on a holiday book sale I may be able to sell my stories at, and the web address of a quartely that might publish a story or poem from me.

I volunteered for all three days – so, sure, the event messes up the weekend – this is the only post from me this week. But it’s time well spent. Find something in your own community that calls to you. Meet people outside your usual work-to-home-to-school-to shopping world. You’ll be glad you did.

Now I’m going to make a cup of tea and put my feet up đŸ™‚

Armageddon and Catastrophe to Blow Your Mind Unless No Questions Asked #doomsday #end #poetry #history

end of the world coming - or not


Doomsday always interests,
Fascinates, attracts.
People from across the globe
Just gotta click on that.

A preacher on the radio
Foresees apocalypse.
Or ancient Mayan calendars,
Our future’s bleak from this.

You’ll view a post on YouTube
That says the end began,
And now we all just have to watch
Unfurling of god’s plan.

Planet X is hiding
On the far side of the sun,
To pop out when the prophet says
Disaster has begun.

Really, people, really?
So often said, a bore
When someone warns the end is here.
We’ve heard it all before.

Earthquakes and every comet
Lead to such predictions.
Storms will ravage, plagues do kill,
Through natural conditions.

Always keep an open mind
But don’t let your brains fall out.
Be skeptical and think it through,
Belief comes after doubt.

by Kate Rauner

I don’t understand why people seem weirdly delighted at the end of the world – maybe the same reason they watch horror movies. Relax with space.com, and check some history on rationalwiki.

Breathtaking Goodbye to an Amazing Mission #Cassini #Saturn

Cassini's Grand Finale - artist's conceptionCassini’s last transmission arrived on Earth at 1146 GMT on September 15 as it plunged to a fiery end in Saturn’s atmosphere. The spacecraft had run out of fuel, but only after orbiting the ringed planet for an incredible 13 years. NASA sent it to burn up in Saturn’s atmosphere rather than risk contaminating any of the moons – which may harbor life.

We know more about Saturn than ever before – its storms, hexagonal jet streams, rings, and a seemingly endless supply of moons. We also know that an American agency can cooperate with the European Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency, and astronomers around the world for two decades on a single mission (more if the design phase is included.)

Cassini’s mission lasted over twice as long as expected. The Huygen probe that piggybacked along made the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System and the first landing on a moon other than our own.

Along the way, Cassini confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity, measured the length of Saturn’s day, studied its fantastic rings, and discovered the amazing variety of its moons – including water geysers from warm water oceans and lakes of liquid methane. It showed scientist and citizen alike that the Saturn system is beautiful – a beautiful pinpoint in a beautiful universe.

If you think the money could have been better spent – tell me, do you believe humanity’s problems come from a lack of money? More likely, they arise from a lack of heart – or maybe from a lack of soul. Cassini gives us wonder, joy, and beauty. It feeds our souls. If you don’t feel that, if you don’t look up in wonder, I’m sorry for you.

One of the greatest legacies of the mission is not just the scientific discoveries it makes, and what you learn about, but the fact that you make discoveries so compelling, you have to go back. space.com

Read more at wikipedia, watch for ongoing discoveries as scientists study Cassini’s data, and hold your metaphorical breath until we return.