Monday, July 14, 2014

Mid Summer Reading

I went to El Salvador with my husband and four month old baby.  El Salvador is a third world country. (I believe the phrase third world country is not Political Correct, its now developing nation, but honestly that phrase doesn't make a lot of sense, it every day conversation.) Anyway, third world country, they recommend having an MMR before you go.  A four month old is too young, was I worried about my infant getting measles, not really.  I was petrified that I had nothing to read on my flight.  Then my husband said Shadow of the Hegemon.  My stress level dropped, life would be fine, I had a book interesting enough to read, long enough I wouldn't finish, and small enough I had room on my carry on. (By the way I researched the MMR more, and as my husband said, our baby would be more likely getting measles in California than in El Salvador.  Which by my limited research is correct. Especially since Washington State had an outbreak recently. Anyway back to mid summer reading.
Shadow of the Hegemon (Ender's Shadow, #2)Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my favorite Ender book.  I read all the Ender's Game series, then Ender's Shadow and now this one.  This is my favorite.  I like the politics, I like the lack of battle tactics, and lack of space talk.  I like Bean.  I like him a whole lot more in this one that in Ender's Shadow. I also like Petra a whole lot more in this book.  It was intriguing to hear a different side of Peter in this series.  My favorite part of the book was when Bean talked with Mrs. Wiggins.  Something always seemed off about the parents, and this cleared up the loose ends.

View all my reviews
And then I read a book, that has probably resulted in the longest good reads review, I've ever written.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed reading this book, it was quite interesting.  My one complaint is if you don't have conservative leanings or a large family you would take this book as utter nonsense.  The author is almost too pop culture in his writing, he puts too many parenthetically opinions into the text. If it wasn't so opinion based I think it would be a much better argument.  Then again it might have not sold as well, as the reading would have been drier.
One of the interesting thing that the book brings up is how many people are still concerned about overpopulation of the Earth.  When almost all developed nations have declining birth rates, and the developing nations are expected to have declining birth rates sooner than their standard of living reaches first world standards.  Economically speaking declining birth rates is terrible for a nation.
In explaining about declining birth rates, the author brings up "Youth Bulges" which I found fascinating so I'm going to focus my review around this topic.  A google search will tell you, "a youth bulge is a common phenomenon in many developing countries... It is often due to a stage of development where a country achieves success in reducing infant mortality but mothers still have a high fertility rate. The result is that a large share of the population is comprised of children and young adults." The phrase was coined by Gunnar Heinsohn. "Heinsohn's theory goes something like this: A surplus of young adults-- particularly adult males-- leads to rampant competition for jobs. This in turn leads to higher levels of unemployment, downward pressure on wages, and poverty. All of which leads to social failure-- specifically the inability to marry. Throughout history, unemployed and unmarried young men have always been trouble. If there are a handful of them, they turn to crime. When they comprise a giant cohort, they resort to revolution. One study shows that between 1970 and 1999, 80 percent of civil conflicts occurred in countries where 60 percent of more of the population was under the age of 30." The author then goes on to specifically talk about about Iran.  He says, "After all, with economic ruin on the horizon, and a demographic catastrophe in progress, they have nothing to lose in a conflict, other than several million military-aged men who, left to their own devices, might become revolutionaries instead of soldiers. Iran must either use its youth bulge to conquer a neighbor, or use war with a neighbor to thin out its youth bulge.(133)" Which is why according to the author you always hear about Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities.  Its the only way to stop the US from interfering with Iran's attempt at establishing regional hegemony. Which Iran's government has to attempt unless they want their youth bulge to cause rebellion. The author then moves on to show how sub-replacement populations in China will be disastrous in the coming years. Statically there are usually 105 male births to 100 females. China is 123:100. "...a skewed sex ratio has often preceded intense violence and instability.(135) Not to mention with China's sub-replacement population they will have a huge aging population which will cause their economy to contract. The author suggests, "...America needs to prepare for in the coming decades is not a shoot war with an expansionist China, but a declining superpower with a rapidly contracting economic base and an unstable political structure." Just for the record a contracting economic base almost always results in unstable politics.
The author then goes one to list all the fail attempts by countries to increase birth rates which have failed. The only thing keeping many countries afloat when it comes to population numbers is immigration.  Which creates problems since mostly likely the decreasing birth rates developing nations will cause immigration to dry up. He uses Puerto Rican immigration to the US as an example.
He finishes the book telling about the only country that has successfully reversed replacement numbers. Georgia which is a former Soviet Union satellite, hit their lowest birth rate of 1.39 in 2003, by 2009 it had raised to 1.86. Georgia has a state religion and the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church is Patriarch Ilia II and in 2007 he promised that he would personally baptize any couple's child who already had two or more kids. The year after this announcement the birth rate increased by 20%.
The author then says, this is the exception that proves the rule that there isn't really anything a country can to do, to stop sub-replacement birth rates, because so many factors cause it. But there are things they can to do, to stop it from getting worse. Then he goes on to explain specific things the US could to improve the birth rate, because according to him Social Security and College are the two things that suppress the birth rate, that could actually be changed.  Like changing tax law to not hurt married couples with children under 18.  He claims the only reason college is so important, is because the Supreme Court ruled that an employer can not force an employee to take an IQ, so instead employers use colleges to weed out intelligence since they are allowed to use test score. He also uses BYU as an example that colleges don't have to hinder birth rates.
Anyway, it was interesting read. I would recommend it. The quote that rang the truest for me says, "After all, there are many perfectly good reasons to have a baby. But at the end of the day, there's only one good reason to go through the trouble a second time: Because you believe, in some sense that God wants you to."  Although I slightly disagree I think to go through it a second time is to give your child a sibling. My sister in law says, you have your first child for you, and your second child for your first child.  The only reason to have a third is because God wants you to.  Although I'm not sure this is always true, I'm sure someone that doesn't go to church has had three planned kids in the last twenty years.
The other quote that I found extremely interesting is, "Religion makes a difference once people tie the knot, too, because couples who go to church enjoy their marriages more than couples who don't. If you attend church regularly when you're married, you're more likely to be happier both with your relationship and your spouse. Married couples get happier the more often they go to church and happier still if they share the same faith and pray together outside church. [...] It follows that something which causes people to get married more quickly, to stay married and to be happy while married, also results in more babies. (85)"


  1. That birth rate book sounds interesting, and I appreciate your review of it. There was a quote that made me raise an eyebrow a little bit.

    "Religion makes a difference once people tie the knot, too, because couples who go to church enjoy their marriages more than couples who don't."

    I have to disagree with this specific sentence, as it is a pretty broad blanket statement and from personal experience, my marriage has grown stronger and closer after the traumatic life experience of deciding church was not for us. We've been through a lot of difficulties together, and the bond created by our shared journey out of church attendance is strong and has made us really close.

    We spend a lot of time together, and while our Sundays aren't spent in the pew, they are spent having conversations with each other, and spending time with our kids.

    I think that the thing about church is that it creates a shared experience for couples to grow and connect. And while that does help many marriages, I believe shared experiences and similar ethics and philosophy can be found outside a religious setting. Especially for people like me. I dealt with a lot of depression, emotional constipation, and communication issues with my spouse because of what I had come to believe was the ideal ideal wife from my religious education.

    Shared experience is important in marriage, I think, but I don't think it necessarily requires a traditional religious element.

    1. My guess is you are the outlier not the rule. But I do not know, because I didn't do the study. The citation is from a paper published by people at the University of Utah, but I don't think they did any of the research I think they just complied multiple different studies. I started to read the paper and the paper actually talks about it might not be marriage and religion. It might just be religion and intimate relationships. It says there is a huge lack of studies about religious people who co-habitat, and how this is a disservice to the Urban population. But this is the exact opposite of what you are talking about. The link to the paper is,