Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review: Land of the Painted Caves

I have thoroughly enjoyed each installment of Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series, and The Land of the Painted Caves was no exception. My chief complaint has been having to wait so long for each new installment as the novels follow Ayla and Jondalar on their journeys of growth and self-discovery. The detail with which Auel describes the environment, tools and ways of living bring the settings to life. The downside of the detail is that Painted Caves is a big book (physically), but that is justified because it is also a big book from the point of view of the sweeping, intoxicating story woven by Auel.

Painted Caves picks up where Shelters of Stone left off, with Ayla and Jondalar as new parents to Jonayla, and Ayla struggling to balance time commitments between her new daughter and her duties as an acolyte to the First among those who serve the Mother. Each step along Ayla's journey has highlighted one or more advances in human society and human understanding of the world around us, and Painted Caves is no exception. From the domestication of animals to the discovery of pottery, each step in the process has seemed like a novelization of discovering a new fundamental technology in one of the Civilization games. The upheaval caused by the revelation in Painted Caves has the potential to shatter the largely matriarchal society which has thus far existed among the Others.

My recommendation: Pre-order this book. Put a hold on it now if it is already in your local library's catalog. For the folks who have been waiting with bated breath for the next installment in the Earth's Children series, this book is everything that the previous installments have led Auel's dedicated fans to expect. March 29th can't get here fast enough.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Darrell Issa's priorities

While his official website still contains a broken contact form, preventing him from receiving communications from his constituents, my Congressman (Darrell Issa) was tweeting about making videos of construction in the hearing room he is taking over. Of course, having a newly-refurbished room to hold hearings in is more important than having the people that elected you be able to contact you.

Where is the code for me to enter???

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The giant Cross on Mt. Soledad

A local Tea Party group in San Diego will be holding a rally to protest the ordered removal of the giant Cross that sits atop Mt. Soledad this coming Saturday (Jan 15, 2010). How can a group which claims to defend the US Constitution have become so turned around? The First Amendment has been interpreted to mean that the Government cannot endorse any religion. That means that religious displays on government property cannot be permitted. It protects everyone from having a religion forced upon them by the government. It protects me from being forced to be Christian just as it protects the Tea Partiers from being forced to follow Sharia law.

The group is painting this as an issue of respect for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation, but they are determined to run roughshod over the very freedoms that many of those servicemen and women gave their lives protecting. I doubt very much that the Tea Party would rise to the defense of a symbol from another religious tradition if it were atop Mt Soledad instead of a cross. By championing this cause, the Tea Party is once again showing that they are not about defending freedom, but rather that they champion the establishment of a pseudo-theocracy, where only the "right" religion is allowed to be endorsed. The US is not a Christian nation any more than it is an Islamic nation, Jewish nation, or Hindu nation. It is a nation where all are free to believe as they choose. If the Tea Party wants to defend freedoms, it needs to start by defending the freedoms it doesn't like rather than trying to invent a freedom to impose their religious beliefs on others. Of course, living in a free country means that the Tea Party is free to be hypocrites, too.