Kenneth Feucht

Between Babel and Beast

Between Babel and Beast, America and Empires in Biblical Perspective, by Peter Leithart ★★★★★
This is one of the better books I’ve read in a while, and so will spend more time than usual in offering a review. It is uncommon that I would order more copies of a book soon after completing it, in order to encourage others to read the book, but this book is an example of such a text. It is a must-read for Americans. I  enjoy reading Leithart, even though our denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) has occasionally attempted to label him a heretic for his stance on federal vision, an entity that I’ve yet to have a competent theologian adequately define for me.
I’ve been interested in the dynamics and politics and religion since it is an election year, and the politicians are out-selling themselves. Some theonomists would argue that there is no difference between politics and religion (such as Rushdooney), since the only legitimate government is a Christian government that follows the civil law of Moses. Such will be the case when the saints alone rule the earth in their original condition absent of original sin. Until then, we must always differentiate between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. Leithart asks a penetrating question as to how the kingdom(s) of man treats those of a Christian faith. Do the various nations of the world act against God’s kingdom or in support of it?
The introduction to the book first explains the purpose of Leithart writing the book. In a way, it is a sequel to another book he wrote titled “Constantine”. This book was reviewed by me previously. Before beginning the book, Leithart gently reminds the reader that he (assuming that the reader is an American Christian) is first and foremost a Christian, but also a reminder that America is a part of the city of man. He will elaborate on that much further in the book.
The first three chapters with their conclusion are a history of empires from a biblical perspective. Beginning with the first empire ever, Babel, Leithart outlines in the first chapter the evolution and children of Babel through the book of Genesis. Babel is not used in a particularly pejorative sense, but simply to define an institution that is the “city of man”, a political state or empire established on earth. Introduced in Genesis is also God’s imperium, God’s rule on earth, found in those faithful to Him. The promise to Abraham to build him into a great nation echoed that counter to the Babel that Abraham came out of. Chapter 2 continues with the children of God (Israel) being delivered from the Babel of Egypt. The allusions to the similarity of Abraham being called out of Ur were emphasized. Similarly, the call of the Jews out of Babylon/Persia back to the land of Israel was again likened to the exodus of Moses. Leithart spends much time in Daniel, first discussing how empires could be beasts (by mistreating God’s people) or not, such as Cyrus returning the Jews back to the homeland. Thus, the conclusion was that the Old Testament was not against empire, but against rival imperialisms, “rival visions for the political salvation of a human race”. The third chapter continues into the Roman empire, with both bad news (the execution of Christ and martyrdom of the saints) with good news, such as with Constantine and most of the emperors after him supporting the Christian church, and allowing it to behave freely. Good news included protections in the apostolic period, where Paul appealed frequently as a citizen of Rome, and Rome protected Paul, giving him free transport to Rome to build the church there.
Chapters 4 & 5 comprise a new section, titled “Americanism”. Chapter 4 (Heretic Nation) describes what it means to be American, holding “an assurance that the declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution establishes the best political order the world has ever seen, the last best hope of mankind… Our national self-consciousness is a “Messianic consciousness””. Chapter 4 is a lengthy chapter that I will inadequately summarize. Leithart discusses how with the rise of Constantine and eventually the fall of Rome, the struggle for identity of the roles of church and state have been prevailing themes. Church historians, including Eusebius, emphasized that Constantine was like another Moses, delivering the people of God. Thus a transformation occurred in how church and state regard each other. Such examples include Pope Gregory VII instituting the concept of a holy war. As national identities became more prominent in Europe,  the state played on this notion, leading to many religious wars. The puritans sought delivery from this, sailing to America to form a new hope for man, a new world order, a nation that could be religiously free and beacon to the world; essentially, it was the formation of a new “Israel”, and puritan reading of scripture had a strong nationalist bent. Leithart offers many examples throughout American history of politicians likening America to the new “Israel”. Leithart continues, “Americans are today biblically illiterate, but biblical cadences continue to echo in our political rhetoric, setting the terms of our nation’s purpose and mission. It was no accident that President Bush memorialized the first anniversary of 9/11 with a Statue of Liberty speech full of intertextual links with the opening verses of John’s Gospel… Bush, like many American Christians, has so instinctively and viscerally identified Jesus with the spread of American-style liberty that he can hardly distinguish them.” American wars were referenced to “Americanist typology…  “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the Coming of the Lord,” … fighting and dying like Christ not to make men holy but “to make men free””. Concluding, “Sacrifice American style can only go on and on. For in Americanism, this fourth great biblical religion, there is no final sacrifice, no end to bloodshed until we have rid the world of evil until the American creed becomes the creed of humanity. In this too, we are a heretic nation”. Chapter 5, summarized briefly, mixes quotes that adamantly state that we are not an empire and we do not interfere with the affairs of other nations, with examples that prove that we do everything but that. Starting with Benjamin Franklin, John Quincy Adams, Monroe’s doctrine, speeches from Washington, he shows the extreme political hypocrisy. Sadly the examples of history do NOT start with our involvement in WWI like we are typically taught, but rather from the inception of our empire, with the war against the Barbary Pirates in 1803, to our involvement in conflicts in the Philippines in 1813, our treatment of the Indians, and our development of manifest destiny, all show our early and aggressive entanglements around the globe.
Part III of the book, labeled between Babel and Beast, everything is attempted to be put into context of how Christians should view America. Chapter 6, American Babel, starts…”Europe’s secularization is its long retreat from Christendom, the disestablishment of the church, the decline of active Christianity, the migration of the holy from the church to the nation. Americanism is impervious to the secularization of the European variety because America was never part of Christendom to begin with”. The growing spirit of the importance of the American message in the world is then shown by Leithart in numerous historical examples, one example being that of John Foster Dulles, a very devout Christian, who helped form the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and felt it important for America to make the rules for how nations should behave with each other. In all points “American policy must establish, ensure, and maintain the dominance of America. Whether the dominance was of American ideals or America as a great power dictating the terms of a world made comparatively little difference”. Later, Leithart states “Anyone who thinks that apocalyptic political rhetoric is a thing of the past, or who thinks that Americans have given up thinking of ourselves as a messianic nation, … has not been listening carefully to the rhetoric of the war on terror. . . Americanism is a mythology that justifies American power and explains–sometimes explains away–American action… Scratch Americanist rhetoric and the reality beneath the skin is often un-American and undemocratic. These inconsistencies are perhaps inherent in Babelic imperialism: Babels call the nations to a glorious vision of a single tower and city and speak with a single lip, but the aim is finally to promote Babel’s interests and advance Babel’s power.” Many examples of America advancing their influence in the world contrary to the principles of our own state is given. Leithart offers a lengthy diatribe against our stated agreement from the 1923 Hague conference against using warfare, most notably aerial bombardment, as a means of inflicting injury on civilian populations. The offenses against warfare against civilians since 1923 are too numerous to mention, but perhaps one needs to be reminded of the true story of Kurt Vonnegut in Dresden at the end of WWII. It makes one want to weep. Chapter 7 finally asks whether America, as an empire (Babel), is a good empire, or an evil one (beast). He mentions how the US has done great good, mostly through our citizens (eg., Voice of the Martyrs, intervention on Afghan converts, etc.), something no other nation would have done. The tone quickly changes as to how much of our foreign aid has gone to nations who aggressively suppress Christianity. In effect, much of America’s actions seem to be detrimental to the kingdom of God (the church) on earth. He ends with sober admonitions, “we play with beasts, and our Americanist lenses do not allow us to see the danger. We fund our favorite beasts, then turn a blind eye when they devour the saints. It is a dangerous position, not only for the Christians who suffer at the hands of our allies but also for the United States. Those who consort with beasts might become bestial, and beasts do not long survive”. “As far as Christians are concerned the only appropriate response is to repent of being Americanists…”.
Unfortunately, most who read this book, or the summary that I offer, will either a) object vehemently to Leithart’s admonitions, feeling that he is unfair to the American experiment, or b) somehow feel that we are beyond or above this book. None of us are above the admonitions in this book. Americanism has pervaded us to the point of being beyond recognition. Leithart does not call us to leave the U.S. We cannot establish a haven elsewhere in the world as such an action is nothing more than repeating the error of our ancestors in coming to America. He is quite perceptive about identifying the political mis-thinking of much of the American church, and to that, we must give our undivided attention.
As a side note, Leithart does not hold to conspiracy theories, or a dark mind working behind everything. He would be the first to identify the crisis of Babel resulting from original sin, which is inescapable in this life. I would agree that Americanist ideology is the second tier above that, as Leithart identifies in this book. The corruption and influence of the trade and banking system is only subservient to the ideology of Americanism, whether it be to oppress poor nations by import tariffs or create wars to promote the military-industrial complex. Those who feel that the bankers control the world are naive to the ideologies that control the banking systems. Whatever your take on this book, the reader will find it thought provoking, and well organized. To Americanism, we must weep and repent.

Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul

Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul, by John Hale, through the Teaching Company ★★★★
John Hale is mostly an underwater archeologist and did much work in the Mediterranean Sea. This video course in 24 half-hour lectures, takes you on a “tour” of the mostly archeological aspects of Greece and Turkey, including the Greek Isles, showing where to go, what to see, and offering many tourist tips along the way. Hale is both entertaining as well as informative, and his teaching style is quite relaxed but never sloppy. Betsy and I both watched this series through, enjoying it totally. It provided motivation for someday going to Greece and Turkey.

Authority of Scripture

The Authority of Scripture, by Edward J. Young, as found on iTunes U, Westminster Seminary ★★★★★

This series is 12 lectures averaging an hour each. It was given during the mid-1970s, of moderate recording quality.  I found this lecture set to be totally awesome. I don’t understand why Dr. Young is only limited in his popularity, as he is a true theological giant. Young was a professor at Westminster Seminary, worked with JG Machen, and is best known for his lengthy commentary on Isaiah. Young gives some general lectures on Scriptural authority and infallibility, mostly in the context of discussing the attacks that have come upon denying the authority of Scripture. He spends a number of lectures on Genesis, discusses the issue of the authorship and authority of the Pentateuch, provides several lectures discussing the issue of the authorship of Isaiah, and then of Daniel. He speaks in a raised monotone voice, like an old-time preacher. Each sentence is thick. He has no trouble holding one’s attention. There are some particular aspects of this lecture series that I deeply appreciated.1. He doesn’t coddle with the documentary hypothesis. For those who are unaware, the documentary hypothesis claims that the Pentateuch is an assembly of writers, the Eloistic writer, the Jawistic writer, and the Priestly writer, with one other thrown in at times. The immediate way to spot a documentary hypothesis believer is when one speaks of two accounts of creation. Now, Young does a superlative work of demolishing the entire notion of the documentary hypothesis, showing how it is unnecessary, unScriptural, irrational, and inconsistent. Why so many conservative scholars give credence to the documentary hypothesis is beyond me. They should have had Prof. Young as their teacher.2. He doesn’t force a young earth/old earth distinction but completely destroyed the notion of theistic evolution. Young admits that when he gave the lecture series, theistic evolution was not yet been suggested, showing insight in Young’s ability to know what darling heresies might arise among conservative theologians. He was definitely ahead of his time. He absolutely demolishes the Francis Collins theistic evolution theory.4. His refutation of the Barthian notion of Historie vs. Geschichte is priceless. Young explains in detail Barth’s thinking, and it is best to just hear it from him.5. He is magisterial in his response to the 2 or 3 authorship theory of Isaiah, the other authors being a Deutero-Isaiah and a Tritero-Isaiah. Young makes clear that many of the so-called assaults on Scripture are simply nothing more than unbelief. Why so many conservative scholars have given in to these assaults, including professors at Westminster and Covenant Seminary, is beyond me. Young has every choice and humorous words for these folk. The series is a total must listen to series, and it is free. Just get into iTunesU and download it onto your iPod, and then enjoy some of the best teaching on Scripture available,  for the next 12 plus hours.

Republicrat

Republocrat, Confessions of a Liberal-Conservative, by Carl Trueman ★★
I read this book based on the recommendations of readers at Amazon.com and several of the reviewers. The book has a good deal of truth to it, in that Trueman refuses to take sides with either the Republicans or the Democrats. He successfully points out the hypocrisy of the Republican Party, showing that their antics and behavior tend to be as immoral as the Democrats, pointing out when the Republicans turn a blind eye on their own immorality. Specifically, Trueman spends an entire chapter attacking Fox News, which tends to be the darling child of the conservative right. Trueman is also honest enough to offer his own bias, including his love for socialized medicine and heavily restrictive gun laws. He comes from England and views our system in a very British manner. Trueman tends toward social conservatism and economic liberalism, though it would be unfair to say that as a blanket categorization of his position.
He strives hard to demand the use of words that are specific to their meaning. His pet misused word is “Marxist”, claiming that Marx’s system is simply that of the economic resolution of dialectic tensions throughout history. Actually, anybody that has read Das Kapital realizes that it is more than that, in that Marx prescribes an entire economic system and not just the philosophical basis for that system. Trueman fails in his own plea, in that even in the last paragraphs of the book, he speaks of Havel living in a “Marxist” state, suggesting that Marx offered more than a philosophical theory of economics. Trueman repeatedly uses the words “Capitalism” and “capitalist”, even though those are pejorative words coined by Marx himself, and tend toward the same meaningless statements as accusing somebody of being a Marxist.
Trueman’s greatest flaw is his inability to visualize anything beyond the political divides. As an example, he spends a great amount of time praising the British health care system and asks whether it is better to have health care controlled by politicians vs. Capitalist insurance companies. In reality, the British system is bankrupt and a very poor example of an ideal health care system. I need not belabor how euthanasia and extreme waits for care are now bedeviling the British system. Neither need I suggest that the American system that has insurance companies so heavily regulated that they are no longer capitalistic systems need to be mentioned. Trueman fails to mention that both systems are woefully broken and worthy of being completely dismantled. Third-party indemnification is the problem, not the solution, whether that third party is the government or the insurance company.
Truemans understanding of economics is a dismal lacuna. He fails entirely to see the problems of economics in the modern state, and the absence of morality of forced redistribution of wealth and artificial creation of “money” by the state. He praises the economic liberal pastor of Scotland ministering to Scottish miners living in poverty, yet becomes no different than American mega-church pastors that cater to the felt needs of their congregations.
I was extremely disappointed with this book. From the praise that so many conservative Reformed theologians gave to this book, it is clear to me that Reformed theologians should stay out of politics and stick to theology. This is seen clearly when JG Machen, a great Reformed theologian, lauded Woodrow Wilson, one of the worst presidents of all time. Trueman is caught in that same muddle. He argues for Scripture as a basis for viewing our politicians but immediately lapses into sentimentality. Perhaps the only author that has been able to force a biblical interpretation on economics and social issues of the state has been Gary North. Even though I don’t always agree with North, I always appreciate the fact that he refuses to tend toward sentimentality and forces his statements to maintain a biblical orientation.
In summary, Trueman does a muddled attempt in giving a Christian view of American politics. He is successful in showing that the Republican Party is not the moral or Christian party, but he fails entirely in offering a Christian alternative for thinking and action. Thus, I don’t consider the book worth reading.

TransAm Adventure

The Trans-America Bicycle trail adventure from Eugene, Oregon to Grangeville, Idaho, on 30AUG-08SEPT2012
The statistics for the trip were…
Calories Burnt: 36361 KCal
Kilometers (miles) ridden: 820.8 km (510 miles)
Ascent – meters (feet): 9065 m (29741 ft)
Day 0—On 30 August, a friend and I caught the Amtrak train in Tacoma at 3:00pm, and arrived in Eugene at 9 in the evening. We then rode about 2 miles to the Red Lion Inn.
Day 1—31Aug  This was the first day of riding. We went from Eugene to Alder Springs campground, a little over half the climb up McKenzie Pass 5959 cal, 1161 m ascent, 108.8 km, 6:19 riding time. The campground was quite sparse, and even no water, so we borrowed some from a car camper coming through.
Day 2—01Sept Alder Springs Camp to Prineville. Today, we had another 2300 ft of climbing until we reached the summit of McKenzie Pass. The scene was surrealistic with a lava landscape. We then descended to Sisters and Redmond before beginning our climb up to Prineville. The weather was cloudless, and about 80 F but not humid, so that it was quite tolerable. 4054 Cal, 894 meters climbing, 5:33 time, 104.3 km distance.
 
McKenzie Pass with the North and Middle Sister in the background
A close up of two of the Three Sisters
Mt. Washington from McKenzie Pass, the lava flows in the foreground
The Sisters are now in the distance as we head toward Prineville.
Day 3—02SEPT Prineville to Dayville—137.8 km, 7:32 time, 4810 cal, 1332 m ascent. After a long climb over Ochoco Pass, we quickly descended and then did a short ascent into Mitchell. The ride was beautiful, going by Lake Ochoco and up a Ponderosa pine forested pass. Mitchell was a little sparse, where we had lunch, changed a tube on my friend’s bike, and decided to head on. Another climb over Keye’s Pass was a bit more challenging, with a steady 6-8% grade. It was nearly a constant steady descent into Dayville, a beautiful green town on the John Day River, where we set up a tent in an RV park, had showers, and dinner at the local grocery store.
Yet another pass
The terrain in the John Day Fossil Beds Natl. Monument
Close to Dayville, the mighty John Day River
Day 4—Dayville to Prairie City, mostly a gradual uphill climb, 3:49 min, hot!!!, 71.93 km, 2373 cal, 485 m Ascent. This was beautiful country, mostly farming country in river valleys surrounded by mountains.  We stayed in a campground in Prairie City. Almost nothing was open in the town, where almost everything is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Day 5—04 SEPT Prairie City to Baker City. 109.1 km, 6:45 time, 3923 cal, 1302 m ascent total. This was a strenuous day, involving going over three major passes, before dropping down into Baker City. The weather was quite warm but not tortuous. The passes were most beautiful.
Summit of one of the passes
Day 6—Baker City to Oxbow. Super hot day, in the 90’s, one very steep difficult pass out of Richland, OR which had a persistent 7-8% grade. Travel time 6:11, 113.5 km, 954 m ascent, 3575 cal. Richland and Halfway were beautiful green valleys surrounded by mountains. Hell’s canyon is in the low 90’s, and moderately humid, so a bit uncomfortable.
Day 7—Oxbow to Council, 100 km, 6:20 time, 3872 cal, 1252 meters ascent. Today was a rough day, with lots of climbing, and sore muscles. I now know why they have rest days. But, my friend was in a hurry to get the ride over with, so, I persisted. The climb out of Hell’s Canyon was long and hard, going from sagebrush desert to heavily wooded hills. Cambridge to Council was farm country, somewhat hot and humid.
The start of the climb out of Hell’s Canyon
Day 8— Council to Riggins. 95km, 4:53 time, 592 meters elevation, 3295 cal.
Had a rear tire flat about 6 km from Riggins. Finished the ride about 2 pm, it was quite hot at the end, between 95 – 100 F. We ended up at a nice Best Western and went swimming in the hotel pool. One of the restaurants in town offered a superb steak dinner. It was a nice way to spend the last evening of the trip.
Day 9—Riggins to Grangeville, 80.4 km, time 5:39, elevation gain 1093 m, 3348 cal. Beautiful ride in the morning along the Salmon River, then a long persistent climb up Whitebird Hill in the heat of the day. Along the Salmon River, we saw firefighters preparing to stop blazes visible along the highway. There was the smell of burnt wood all along the route. My friend and I were separated when he decided to deviate off of our planned track on “old 95”. Eventually, we met each other in Grangeville. Based on a unilateral decision (not mine) the ride was aborted in Grangeville, and we went home.
Forest fires seen in the hills out of Riggins
The “real” summit of Whitebird Hill. over 2500 ft climb out of the valley of the Salmon River
It was a bit of a sad way to end an otherwise wonderful ride. There was no reason why we couldn’t have made it to Missoula. I did learn some lessons from the ride…

  1. Never go with somebody with expectations different from your own.
  2. Bring your own tent, as well as some survival basics, such as water purification.
  3. Stick with the plan. Don’t go with riding partners who make bizarre decisions on the spur of the moment.

Ride the Divide

Ride the Divide ★★★
While exploring the feasibility and practicality of doing the Continental Divide Mountain Bike Trail, I thought it best to see a documentary of this being done. This documentary actually details a race involving 17 people, 10 of who drop out, going from Banff to the Mexican Border. The film showed not only the beauty of this undertaking but also the challenges that the ride presents. Unfortunately, the ride was presented as a race, which in my mind is quite stupid. Why ruin a beautiful ride by forcing yourself to go as fast as possible? The sole girl in the race actually drops out twice, and whines continually, before actually completing the course. The only people who seemed to enjoy the trip were a group of four riders, several from Europe, who rode together, did not come in first and were not well documented in this film. I was able to grasp from this that it is feasible, that it should probably be ridden in the late year (August/Sept) rather than early year when there is much snow, that it should not be done as a race, that it should definitely be ridden with another person, and that one might expect some aches and pains on the way. Most of the path was quite clear, and it didn’t seem like there was much cycling on footpaths, though a modest amount appeared to be on gravel and dirt roads. I doubt if I could talk Russ into doing this one.

Everyday Guide to Wine, Spirits, and Cocktails

Everyday Guide to Wine ★★
Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails ★★★★★ – both by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan
These two courses are sold separately from the Teaching Company, but can be purchased as a single set. The two courses differ vastly in their style and character, leading to two divergent ratings, even though taught by the same person.
In the Everyday Guide to Wine Jennifer S-B introduces herself, and spends at least one lecture justifying her qualifications for teaching a wine course. She was superb at taking one through the necessary formalities of a wine tasting, and the basics for determining the quality of wines. She then marches from region to region, introducing and sampling the various wines. One is left with a reasonably good idea why certain wines from various regions tend to be more prized, and thus (often) more expensive. I disliked two things about the course. The first was Jennifer’s continual self-referential comments. I really didn’t care that JSB was classified as a master wine-taster, and could detect scents of olive or asphalt or burnt American Oak in her wine.  Secondly, I found it to be totally gross that she always spit out the wine. If wine appreciation means spitting out wine and not drinking it, then I’ll stick with beer. All in all, the course failed to enhance my appreciation for wine, and I instead gave most of my wine away, so that I could focus on gaining a better appreciation for beer.
The other course on spirits and cocktails was a much different course. JSB really didn’t talk much of herself, and she focused on the various spirits that are available, with good overviews of the nature and origin of the various spirits. She also had a number of expert bartenders demonstrate the preparation of various cocktails. All in all, this course was fun to watch, and enhanced the appreciation for the various distilled spirits that one might imbibe.

Honest Money

Honest Money, by Gary North ★★★★★
This book was read on my iPad in e-book format. Gary North offers very basic economics but does diligence in seeking a biblical answer to the creation, flow, and use of money in an economy. North was an advisor to Ron Paul, and I’m sure influenced Paul significantly. I appreciate North’s insights into the economic scene, as well as his desire to avoid labeling himself an Austrian or free-market economist. I dreaded the possibility that he would have a lengthy appeal for a return to a gold standard, which he does not. Instead, he suggests that the market itself can decide standards that determine value. Thus, the state would have no role in fixing the price of gold, silver, and other commodities. In addition, the state would be removed from its role in the manufacture of “money” or the operation of banks. While this is radically opposed to our banking system, it seems far more reasonable than the current system, which, like all historically similar systems, will lead to the collapse of the entire monetary system. North’s words will, unfortunately, be heeded by all too few people, and the government will continue to enslave us more and more. This is a book that can be obtained free from North’s website, can be read in a single evening or two, and should be on everybody’s must-read list.

Thinking with Type

Thinking with Type, by Ellen Lupton  ★★
This book had an initial very strong appeal to me, that quickly wore off. While the title of the book seems to suggest that the principal topic of the book is typography, it is not. Rather, it is a manual of modern design ideas. Ellen suggests that her goal is not to encourage readability but to encourage the reader not to read. I quote “Although many books define the purpose of typography as enhancing the readability of the written word, one of design’s most humane functions is, in actuality, to help readers avoid reading.” This thinking is quite consistent with the deconstructionist philosophical school that she tends to often quote, especially with Jacques Derrida. That is fine and dandy, except that the fact that Ellen is writing something suggests that she hopes that somebody will read what she writes. She is correct about one thing, that this book was not easy for the eyes to read. Her efforts to be different or unconventional made it very tense to get through her book. The book is laden with illustrations and the first impression of the plethora of examples of design that she provides is that they are cute. Subsequent impressions of her examples are less complementary, in that they are a tremendous strain on the reader (user, if you wish) to interpret the message being conveyed. Unfortunately, as she has received many favorable comments on Amazon.com, there will be many budding young graphic designers out there trying to establish their position in the world of graphic design and are spurred by this book to be bizarre rather than effective in communicating an idea. If one has no ideas or thoughts to communicate, then this book is excellent for you. Allow your imagination to run wild, defy any convention, and never think about whether your message (if you have one) has been sent to the “other user”, i.e., the reader. I can only presume that most “readers” of this book actually never read the book, but only looked at the “pretty” pictures. Her design style has much tension to it. It is crowded, busy, disorganized. The important readable type, such as the announcement of an event, is not immediately obvious or written quite small and at an obtuse angle, making it a challenge to identify a purpose for the illustration. Deviations from convention rarely are effective at conveying or symbolizing anything, such as when she decides to arbitrarily and occasionally defy the text box of the main text. Perhaps the only value of this book is to suggest that deviations from convention can occasionally improve the efficacy of communication of a message, and for that it received two stars.

Gobblers Knob Bike and Hike

Gobbler’s Knob Bike and Hike, 04AUG2012
The Westside Road in Mt. Rainier National Park has been closed for many years now, and so popular hikes have become less popular because of accessibility.  A few weeks ago I had ridden the Westside Road on my mountain bike, and now wanted to combine that with a hike up the Gobbler’s Knob trail to the summit of Gobbler’s Knob. I have no clue why it is called Gobbler’s Knob, but was a fire lookout built in the early 1930s within Mt Rainier Park, and giving an awesome view of Mt. Rainier.  The road was 6 km, and the hike (each way was 2.5 miles, with an approximately 1400 ft elevation gain for the hiking portion. I talked Russ and Pete into doing it, and we all loved the possibility of combining both biking and hiking. Here are some photos.
View of Mt. Rainier from Gobbler’s Knob
Pete making himself one with the Andesite of Gobbler’s Knob
Russ enjoying his lunch and keeping an eye on Pete and me
Avalanche Lily, found only in the Pacific Northwest, and my favorite flower
The day was beautiful but hot. It allowed us to discover the joy of combining two different activities into one, and surely will be repeated.