Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review of "In His Own Home," a documentary by Unbeliever Productions

Review of
In His Own Home, a documentary by Unbeliever Productions

Five out of five stars
 One night on the campus of the University of Florida, the apartment of Ghanian doctoral student Kofi Adu-Brempong was forcibly entered by police. There are conflicting accounts as to what took place, but the end result was that a white officer shot Adu-Brempong twice with an assault rifle. Although he was seriously injured and could no long teach, he was able to recover enough to complete his doctoral degree.
 Adu-Brempong contracted polio when he was younger and was unable to walk without a cane. The police were there in response to a 911 call from a tenant in a neighboring apartment that reported shouting emanating from Adu-Brempong’s apartment. The shooting was considered justified by the police and their reviewing agencies, yet was widely viewed as unjustified by the majority of the residents of the campus. There were widespread protests by students and faculty over the issue.
 As is clear from this video, the case is ambiguous, because only the police that entered the apartment and Adu-Brempong know what really happened. A bystander filmed the police actions outside the building and they clearly went in with guns drawn shortly after they arrived. As would be expected, the police claimed that he resisted, even to the point where his being tasered had no effect on him.
 The video is fairly neutral in that it reports both sides of the dispute and based on that there is still reasonable doubt that the shooting was justified. However, two points outside the incident raise questions about the officer that pulled the trigger. Some time before this incident, that officer was disciplined with others for driving through a prominently black neighborhood and throwing eggs at the citizens. Some time after the shooting incident that same officer was dismissed from the force after he roughed up a white man driving a Mercedes. A third point is that the University of Florida paid out a significant settlement to Adu-Brempong. 


Monday, October 30, 2017

Review of "Fat Maxine," by Anne Toole

Review of
Fat Maxine, by Anne Toole ISBN 9781478787761

Five out of five stars
 This book shares the basic plot of the classic and very educational story “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen. Maxine is a heavy child that is made fun of by the other children. They laugh at her weight and she would much rather be someone else. Few of the other children will play with her and they consider her a liability if they are forced to play with her.
 When Coach Hall selects baseball teams at school where all children are on a team, Maxine is a reluctant participant and relegated to the end of the bench with no prospect of playing. Which is the way she likes it. However, several of the players on her team are injured, so despite her protestations and the groans of her teammates, Maxine is forced to grab a bat and go to the plate.
 Everyone learns that her size is not all due to fat, there is some real muscle underneath and she blasts a home run over the wall that wins the game. Suddenly, all of the other children want her to play with them as she consistently hits the ball over the wall. All aspects of her size are now forgotten and she is one of the coolest kids in the school.
 The structure of the book is verse in groups of two or three sentences that rhyme. While the poetry is not that great, it is above the standards that one needs in a book for children. What is important here is the lesson for children, one that is old, but cannot be mentioned enough. For as Andersen put it, you never know what a person is capable of or will grow up to be.

Review of "Watching the Prairie Bloom," by Sonja Van Dusseldorp and Alan Fox

Review of
Watching the Prairie Bloom, by Sonja Van Dusseldorp and Alan Fox

Five out of five stars
 This collection of images with explanatory text describes a 50 acre century farm in New Sharon, Iowa that has been taken out of row crop production and returned to native prairie and timber. Alan Fox is a retired veterinarian and like every other vet that I have encountered in Iowa, is known by all as “Doc.”
 Over 10,000 trees were planted on the property and there is a pond that is 28 feet deep and covers over an acre. A tiny creek also flows through the land. There are houses specifically constructed for different types of birds and accommodations for other creatures living in this ecologically diverse land.
 The book consists of a series of high quality colored images with a short segment of explanatory text. Most of the images are of the beautiful flowers that bloom out over the course of the growing season, although a few creatures manage to be included in some of the images. This is a description of natural Iowa, before it was all row crops and carefully tended lawn grass. My family owns a 100 acre piece of real estate that has not been farmed or pastured in roughly 50 years. Many of the images in this book are similar to what I can see when I walk through our land.