Friday, August 26, 2016

Signs the economy is bad: August 26, 2016 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.  





Here we are on another Friday. It has been a bit of while since the last installment of this series, and a lot of things have piling up on my feed reader that I've wanted to share, so let's get on with it.

  • The Big Fuckery This Week (a new category here at "Signs the Economy is Bad") has to be the company that makes the lifesaving epipens jacking up the price to astronomical levels in what is basically shameless gouging. Meanwhile, their CEO gave herself a nice juicy multi-million dollar raise. Once the company saw the serious backlash, they claimed they would lower the price a bit for some consumers, but that is still not enough. Basically a token gesture to try to appease the rage of the people who are rightly angry at this. However, the CEO basically doubled down in her pseudo-apology. If there is a hell, I hope there is a special room in it for her. Her punishment? To suffer an eternal series of severe and painful allergic reactions while the devil holds an epipen and refuses to give it to her since she will not be able to afford it. After all, you can't take your money with you to the afterlife. Stories via Truth Out, The New York Times, and AlterNet
  • However, epipen price gouging is not the only pharmaceutical fuckery this week. It turns out that insulin prices have been going up through the roof as well forcing patients, especially poor ones, to have to decide between food, rent, and insulin. Stories like this provide the evidence you need to implement a national health care system in the U.S. and to do some seriously tight regulation of the pharma industry, an industry that has clearly proven they could not care less about human lives because what they worship is money and profits. Story via Slate
  • The other big hoopla this past week or so were the Olympics. In my previous installment of "Signs the economy is bad" I mentioned a story of how many of the U.S. athletes had to crowdfund to make it to the Olympics. As if that was not bad enough, it turns out if they win medals, they have to pay taxes on them and any other monies they could receive as a result from, for example, the U.S. Olympic Committee.  So not only do they have to pay to go there because their nation does not have the decency to subsidize them (but they sure get all rah rah when they win), but they also get the IRS to hound them when they come back. Story via Counter Current News
  • One more Olympics story. I am sure folks are familiar with Ryan Lochte and  his lying. As a result he lost his major sponsors who do not want to be associated with his lying and vandalism. However, he has gotten an offer or two for work. For one, a sex company had offered him a deal to help advertise their male toy product. So far, he has not taken that offer. He did get another offer, and he did accept this one, from a cough drop company. I guess when you do petty crime, lie about it, and overall fuck up your reputation and value as a  role model, you can't be too picky about what work you get offered. Stories via AlterNet and The Daily Beast.
  • By the way, cities that host the Olympics often get a seriously raw economic deal. Story via AlterNet.
  • Credit card companies are getting worried. It turns out Millennials are not rushing any time soon to sign up for credit cards. I can't imagine why, but  good for them. Story via The New York Times
  • In higher education news, it turns out that colleges with high endowments, members of the so-called "$500 million club", tend to be the most stingy when it comes to aid to low income students. Why would they? These are basically the grooming grounds of the one percent, and no one really wants the riff raff coming in. Story via Truth Out
  • Across the pond they are finding out that university is not the be all, end all as it turns out that "a quarter of graduates are low earners 10 years after leaving university. . . ".  Story via The Guardian
  • Meanwhile, in election news, businesses are getting worried the crappy elections in the U.S. will hurt them. The two candidates that the two major oligarchic conglomerates political parties managed to puke out like bad hairballs are apparently causing a lot of uncertainty in the markets and the economy, including keeping people from spending. Story via The Washington  Post
  • As if things were not bad enough, there are worries about a restaurant recession. Story via The Washington Post
  • Once again, John Oliver does the job that so-called journalists long ago gave up on. This time he takes on the vultures of the subprime auto loan industry, "an industry that too often tricks vulnerable people into paying far more for a used car than it's actually worth." Story via Mother Jones, which features also the Oliver clip plus a link to more in-depth coverage on  the topic. 
  • In a quest to hopefully spark local economies in  terms of textiles, African nations are telling the West, "we don't want your crappy second hand clothes." Maybe they are also tired  of feeling like the little sibling  getting stuck with older sibling castoffs. Story via Sustainable Brands
  • Yes, phone sex and phone sex operators still exist. One of the traits of this work path is that "while many phone sex operators choose their profession out of personal preference, a picture emerged of an industry with particular appeal to individuals (mainly women) who can’t access the traditional job market." Think for instance, the disabled. An interesting article on a trade that  is often misunderstood or maligned. Story via Priceonomics
  • In education news that I am not sure if they are uplifting or depressing, Whirlpool is donating some washing machines to some public schools so poor children can get their laundry done. This is mostly in some urban schools for now. Read the story and learn more from AlterNet.
  • Turns out Walmart is not just bad for communities because it eliminates local small businesses, exploits its workers, and other reasons. It also turns out they are a crime magnet, and as a result tax local police departments and their resources. Story via Bloomberg
  • The bad economy has even hit the prison system, so bad it has changed the currency structure. Usually, the currency was based on cigarettes. Now, it's ramen noodles. Read the story and learn more.  

And this week, we do have a some news from the world of the uber rich, let's have a look: 

  •  The Playboy Mansion has been sold for $100 million dollars. The catch? Hugh Hefner gets to live in it as tenant pretty much  for the rest of his life. Awkward. Story via Reuters. 
  • Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley and upper California, the uber rich can have their $1000 dinners in the swankiest of restaurants. However, things are  not so  good for the  midlevel restaurants. What does midlevel mean? "Meanwhile, those so-called midlevel restaurants — by which I mean restaurants that cater to the merely loaded — exhibit all the innovative exuberance and anxiety of the tech-employee class for whom money would be abundant if not for the cost of local living." So yea, if you are not way loaded, but just merely loaded, a  night out could be out of your price range. And that  is not  all. The bad economy hits the workers of those restaurants worse given the pay and cost of living gaps. Story via The New York Times
  • And when you are done eating your swanky, $1000 or so meal, you can clean your teeth with a whisky-infused toothpick. Most people can buy a box of toothpicks for 55 cents or so. These toothpicks are 55 cents EACH. Story via Maclean's










Booknote: New Rules (audiobook edition)

Bill Maher, New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer. Beverly Hills, CA: Phoenix Books, 2005. ISBN: 1-59777-029-9.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: humor
Format: Audiobook on CD
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library


I read this book in print back in 2007, and I made a short note of it back then. Part of what I wrote then applies today to the audiobook edition. However, I rated it lower this time because the much of the political humor does not hold up as well. The book was written in the midst of George W. Bush's presidency. A lot has changed since then, some of the better, some not so much. This is also a very lightweight book, something that is highlighted more by the audio edition. There is not much deep substance here. However, the humor on general topics still holds pretty well, and in the end, I still like the book.

Bill Maher reads the book, which works well for me. I tend to prefer books, as much as possible, where the author reads their own work. If you've seen Maher's segment of "New Rules" on his show, that is pretty much what he does in reading the book. In a way, it is a long segment of new rules. In reading the book, he can be a bit more serious at times, but it is still a good read, and it was a good choice for him to read it.

3 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:





Friday, August 19, 2016

Booknote: 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente

Wilfred Santiago, 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. Seattle, WA; Fantagraphics Books, 2011.  ISBN: 978-1056097-892-3.

Genre: graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: biography, Puerto Rico, baseball, sports
Format: hardback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library.


I stayed up late to read this one, and it was definitely worth it. Roberto Clemente rose from poverty in Puerto Rico to play Major League Baseball. Despite facing racism and discrimination in the United States, he found fame and fortune, becoming one of the greatest to play the game. He was also a great philanthropist who used his fame and fortune to help others in need. He died on December 31, 1972 as he lived, serving others, when the plane he was in for a relief mission to Nicaragua crashed. In 1973, he became the first Latin American inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The comic tells the story in a concise yet very evocative way. Santiago not only tells the story, but he also catches the little details of growing up in Puerto Rico in the 1950s and onward, even the jingle of the local radio news station WKAQ. Granted, the jingle has been translated into English, but believe me that Puerto Ricans like me who grew up listening to it on the island can still hear it. Santiago goes on to take us from Clemente's childhood to his rise in baseball. It is a story of hard work and sacrifice, of athleticism and service to others.

The book is very easy to read. I got through it in one night as it is a captivating story. My only issue was the art. The art is very good; it captures the era and his life very well. But it is also very cramped at times, and some of the frames can be a bit busy because the author tries to pack so much into the story. Perhaps a larger book, or more pages could have solved some of that issue.

The library I borrowed this from has it as juvenile title, and it is definitely a good title for young people to read. Santiago presents Clemente as he was. He also does a good job of depicting Puerto Rico at the time in a pretty accurate way. In addition, this is a book that adults will enjoy as well, especially fans of baseball. While not a definitive work, it is a solid biographical graphic novel that educates and honors the great man. It is one that I am glad to recommend, and it will likely make my end of year best reads for 2016. Definitely a great addition to any library. This is one I would add to my personal collection.

5 out of 5 stars.


This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:












Monday, August 15, 2016

Booknote: Harley Quinn, Volume 4

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn, Volume 4: A Call to Arms. Burbank, CA: DC Comics, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-4012-6253-2.

Genre: comics and graphic novels
Subgenre: anti-heroes, humor
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley


Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti continue their contribution on this great series. This is a series I continue to enjoy for its lightness and humor. In a time when major DC titles are a mess, to put it mildly, this series is a nice change of pace and a breath of fresh air.

In this volume, Harley Quinn forms her own crime fighting force to clean up her neighborhood...for a fee, of course. This certainly has the potential to go wrong, but it also has potential to be a lot of fun. Sure enough, many hijinks ensue including finding a sailor doped up on some mystery algae. I am not sure if the sailor's passing resemblance to Popeye was intentional, but it did add to the silliness. But that is not all. Also, when her uncle passes away, she has to get his remains from California to New York. The result is a girls' road trip as her BFF's, Poison Ivy and Catwoman, come along for the ride.

This was a light, fun volume to read. It has a nice, quick pace, and a lot of humor, hijinks, and action. I smiled often as I read this one; the stories could get silly at times, but that is part of the fun in reading the series. Additionally, Harley's road trip ends on a positive and bittersweet note which made for a good way to end the volume. In addition, the art on the this volume is great. The women look great, well drawn, and a pleasure to look at. The art overall is a good reason to pick up this volume. Even Harley's dream sequences are fun. This is a series I recommend, and it is one I would add to my collection. The series continues to be in great shape, and it is one of the few pleasures to read from DC these days.

5 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:










Saturday, August 13, 2016

Signs the economy is bad: August 13, 2016 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.  




Welcome to a special Saturday edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad." I ran a bit behind this week, so we are doing the feature on a nice Saturday evening. Hope my four readers are doing well. A lot has been happening since my previous post of "Signs the economy is bad." So let's have a look at just how bad the economy is. Here are your signs, so don't say you were not warned.

  • This is a story I was not able to get to last week, but it caught my eye, and I wanted to share it. With future automation, it is very possibly that a lot of truckers could lose their jobs. Why is this significant?  Well, among other reasons, truck driving in the U.S. is one of the few jobs left that requires relatively minimal education (i.e. no college degree), and you can still make it to a comfortable middle class living. In addition, "according to the American Trucking Association, these vehicles carry 67 percent of the freight that moves within the US — some 9.2 billion tons a year." So if you do a lot of online shopping, for instance, your Amazon packages probably arrive by truck. Story via Vox.
  • Another big old time retailer is in the ropes as Macy's announced it is closing down 100 of its stores.  I have childhood memories of visiting their flagship store in New York City, and it was during Christmas season too. But the bad economy does not spare anyone. Story via The New York Times.
  • Once more, we have a story of hipsters ruining things for the rest of us. It seems that now hipsters are invading farmers' markets, not to buy food and produce, but to flirt, buy smoothies (maybe), and find dates. While doing that, they keep the souls who actually want to buy produce from being able to do so, and they end up going to the grocery store than dealing with them. Story via AlterNet
  • You know what is horrible in the bad economy? Chicken factories, and now you can read some of the horror stories of workers in  them. Story via AlterNet.
  • Now in the U.S., people love chanting "USA! USA!"  when their athletes win during the Olympics. You know what Americans hate to do that the rest of the world does?  Properly subsidize and support their athletes financially so they can compete. It's so bad that a lot of American athletes have to turn to crowdfunding to get to Rio or whatever the destination that year is. Because that is typical Americans: they love people to serve them and represent their country, but taking care of them and actually supporting them, not so much. Story via Mother Jones
  • Did you know that Black families are 228 years away from getting the same level of basic wealth as White families? Learn about this and more in this article. Story via The Root. By the way, it is about as bad for Latinos. 
  • Print newspapers have been suffering financially, a solid sign the economy is bad. Now, the oldest family run newspaper in the U.S. is suffering financial difficulties. Story via USA Today.
  • Debt collectors continue to affirm their reputation  as bottom scum feeders as they keep harassing people, including people who do NOT owe debts, and breaking the law in other ways to get their pounds of flesh. If the revolution ever comes, these vultures should be among the first to be lined up against the wall. We are talking outright evil here. Story via Common Dreams
  • And speaking of vultures, debtors' prisons are still alive and well, as exemplified in Ferguson and other places using policing as a revenue tool while harassing minorities. Story via Common Dreams
  • Meanwhile, in rural parts of the United States, there are severe shortages of psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health therapists? You would think the solution might be to try to entice more of them to move into the area, you know, a recruiting effort. Nope. The latest solution is to phone the therapy in. Yes, teletherapy is being touted as a solution to the shortage. Story via The Rural Blog
  • In other rural news, rural areas in the United States have been losing people as young people leave those areas to go to major cities in hopes of better opportunities. So, what is one solution to that? Ship in a few refugees. Now keep in mind some small towns are a bit more welcoming that others. Story via The Rural Blog
  • In the bad economy, many business go broke and close down because they cannot adapt. Maybe their systems or products fall out of date or just do not have demand. Companies able to retool, recalibrate, and move from one product to another are more likely to survive. Recently, a few states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana, and they have found new sources of revenue, which is good news for them. However, that is bad news for illegal marijuana traders. However, like the good entrepreneurs they are, pot dealers adapted, and now they are peddling heroin and making money. Good news for them, not so good for places now having big increases in illegal heroin use. Story via Esquire
  • Finally, the bad economy is also hitting anti-gay bigots, and they are not happy about it. Some bigots are going so far as to get mad at their own supporters for not sending enough money. Story via TheosWatch. Actually, this may be the one piece of good news in the bad economy. 
And this week, even the uber rich have felt the pinch of the bad economy, but not all of them. Some con men are doing pretty well in the bad economy preying on fear. Let's have a look:

  •  The companies that make Coach and Michael Kors handbags are miffed that "la chusma" is now able to buy their products at discounted prices. The horror! If every Jane, Mary, and Sue can buy their bags, they are no longer exclusive. So the companies are doing their best to cut back supplies from retailers and restrict pricing to keep the product exclusive. Story via The Washington Post.
  • You know shit is bad when a city official in a high end address has to resign her job and move out town because she cannot afford the rents. The place is Silicon Valley, and the city is Palo Alto, where you can work there, if you live 20 or more miles outside of it. Story via AlterNet.
  • With the bad economy, protests are bound to happen. If you are a college administrator, and you do not want to deal with the riff raff, oops students, on your campus rising up, you need an escape plan. This administrator in California spent $9,000 to do just that: he had an escape hatch installed in his office in case the masses rise. So tunnel builders for the privileged are doing well in the bad economy. Story via Fox News.
  • And finally for this week, peddling fears and arming people pays very well in the bad economy. We have talked about before how arms producers and dealers do better in the bad economy when people are afraid of any number of things. Well this guy is making a fortune doing just that: peddling fear and hoping you will arm yourself to the teeth, then take his classes to learn how to use your arsenal. Fear is indeed, a booming business in the bad economy. Story via The Nation.




Friday, August 12, 2016

Booknote: Aliens/Vampirella

Corinna Sara Bechko, Aliens/Vampirella. Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment, 2016. ISBN: 9781606909911.

Genre: comics
Subgenres: science fiction, horror, superheroes, crossover
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley


I admit that I was skeptical initially about this crossover comic, but it worked out a lot better than I thought. In the future, humans are colonizing Mars. They find out others have been there before: the Nosferatu. Vampirella gets called in to help investigate the vampire ruins only to discover what probably did the Nosferatu in: xenomorphs. Vampirella gets blamed when the xenomorphs threaten the human colony, even though she is trying to save them. A solution needs to be found because the next colonial ship is on its way. It's a race against time to save the colony, if it even can be saved.

Horror and adventure blend together quite well in this comic. If you've enjoyed Vampirella stories before, you will likely enjoy this one. If not, there is enough in the comic to get to know the character. Fans of the Aliens franchise will probably enjoy this one as well. The comic is fast paced, and it offers a good amount of action, suspense, and horror. The comic's art is also very good and enhances the dark horror elements of the story. I did enjoy this one from the start to finish. If you have enjoyed either franchise, this will be a good choice. If you are not a fan, but you do enjoy horror and action, this is a good comic to take a chance. I really liked, and I think many readers will too.

4 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for these 2016 Reading Challenges:




Booknote: Llewellyn's Complete Book of Tarot

Anthony Louis, Llewellyn's Complete Book of Tarot: a Comprehensive Resource. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2016. ISBN: 978-0-7387-4908-2.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: Tarot, divination, reference works
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley

If you wish to find it in a library near you, you can use WorldCat.
If you wish to purchase it, you can to go the publisher website, or you know, you can go to that other behemoth online retailer.

This is a very good reference source of Tarot for beginners as well as advanced folks who may want a good resource handy.

The book is organized into thirteen chapters plus a preface at the beginning and the following sections after the last chapter: an appendix, a recommended reading section organized by topics, a list containing some internet resources, and a bibliography. Some of the chapter topics include:

  • Why learn the Tarot
  • History and types of decks
  • Associations and correspondences
  • Chapters covering the Major Arcana, the Minor Arcana, and the Court Cards
I am just providing a small sample from the table of contents. The author does strive to include as much as possible in the book, though he admits the label "complete book" is ambitious. Having said that, Louis does pack a lot, and some of it is deep and substantial. Some of the topics can be a bit high level for beginners. If you are a beginner, like I am, some of the sections in the book you might skim initially, then as you develop a further interest in that topic and as you make progress in your learning, you can go back and read it more attentively. For example, the parts on the Golden Dawn may be a bit much for a beginner like me, but I know over time I may move to explore that topic, and when I am ready, I can study that section further. Since Louis also provides lists of additional resources, I can take my studies further. My point here is that this is a book that can grow with you as you grow in your Tarot practice. For intermediate and more advanced practitioners, if you want to expand your craft, for example, if you want to work in the Zodiac into your Tarot, this book can give you a good start for that.

Though some of the topics can be a bit too esoteric for some readers, at least initially, still the book makes an excellent reference source. This is a volume I would recommend for libraries if they need to add some reference items on Tarot and divination. Though I advocate for those libraries to make this book a circulating copy, I will understand if some libraries choose to keep it in the reference collection for in-house use only. Topics like Tarot and divination can be popular in libraries, and if you let this one circulate, it may not come back. It's that good. I can tell you this is one I would order for our library. Also, though I got to read it as an e-galley, this is a book I would buy and add to my personal collection.

5 out of 5 stars.

* * * * * 

Additional reading notes:

In the preface, the author outlines his guidelines in setting up the book. He presents eleven guidelines he followed to create the book, which give us a sense of the thought process in creating the book. I would like to cite a few:

  • "The book would cover the essential topics that someone new to tarot should know. The focus would be on a tarot 'core curriculum'-- a term that has become both popular and reviled in contemporary news about American education" (xvii).
  • "More obscure and esoteric aspects of tarot would be mentioned only in passing. Readers would be referred to other texts to pursue specialized topics in further detail" (xviii). 
    • Actually, some of those aspects he adds a bit more than "only in passing," but he always does provide additional resources for further exploration. 
  •  The book would avoid dogmatic pronouncements and instead serve as a tarot travelogue, much like a guidebook to a foreign country. In it, I would describe things I had seen and done in tarot land, but it would be up to readers to explore the territory, do their own experimentation, and come to their own conclusions" (xviii). 
    • I think the travelogue concept as he describes it is about right for this book. Unlike other Tarot books that can be fairly prescriptive and dogmatic, Louis lays out the land, tells you what he saw and experienced, then leaves it to you to explore this path or that as you wish. 

The author's hope for the book:

"My hope as an author is that I have succeeded in presenting a useful and comprehensive guide to tarot for the twenty-first century. It will be up to the reader to decide whether this book has lived up to those expectations" (xviii). 

As a reader, I can tell you that for the most part, yes, he has succeeded.

Louis  tells us a bit of how in younger days he came to be a skeptic. He was also sent to Catholic school. As a survivor of Catholic school, I could relate to this:

"The mismatch between the nun's teachings and the evidence of my senses only served to deepen my skepticism" (5). 

Additional influences Louis mentions when it comes to his work with Tarot:

"The reader will notice the influence of Freud and Jung as well as my background in psychiatry and psychology in the way I approach the cards" (6). 

Louis takes the time to dispel various myths about Tarot including the one about cards being evil or devil tools (they are not). He defines "myths" as follows:

"By 'myths' I mean assertions which are neither verifiable nor grounded in firm evidence" (9).

The next point is an interesting idea, though I think that often Protestantism can be just as dogmatic and uptight as Catholicism. If you need an example, just look at Evangelicals and Baptists in the U.S. today. However, I do see what the author is trying to aim at.

"Interestingly, the modern use of the tarot for self-exploration is more consistent with the ideas of the Protestant Reformation than with traditional Catholicism because tarot assumes that individuals can discover truth on their own without the intermediacy of a hierarchical religious organization" (10).

Three recommended books to enhance creativity using the Tarot:

To that list I would add Jessa Crispin's The Creative Tarot, which I recently read; I will be posting a review for Crispin's book soon.

Louis' book does take some time to explain the influence of Golden Dawn in light of the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot cards, which are the most commonly used. This is done in an accessible way, just enough to learn without being overwhelming.

Louis gives a full chapter to Tarot reversals and dignities. On reversals, he offers some common sense advice as he opens the chapter. If you decide to use reversals on your Tarot readings, Louis offers plenty to get you going. On reversals, he writes:

"Entire books have been written about how to interpret reversed or inverted cards. Mary K. Greer's Complete Book of Tarot Reversals is an excellent resource. Some readers simply ignore card reversals and read all cards upright. Others find inverted cards to be indispensable. This chapter presents some viewpoints about card reversals, and you will need to experiment to decide whether or not you want to use them" (55). 

Again, we see how the author uses the travelogue approach and encourages readers to experiment and find their path. At the moment, I am a Tarot learner who does not do reversals. In fact, I shuffle my deck so there are no reversals. Will I experiment with reversals down the road? Maybe, but I feel a need to keep things simple for now.

Oh, by the way, the definition of a Tarot dignity for those of us who did not know:

"When we speak of a card having dignity, we are referring to the card's rank or relative importance with respect to other cards in a spread" (57). 

Tarot today has evolved past being just a fortune telling tool:

"Tarot, on the other hand, has evolved to become a tool to tap into one's intuition, understand one's motivations, gain insight, and brainstorm. The modern focus on the use of the tarot has changed from fortune-telling to gaining perspective, clarifying issues, and taking responsibility for one's life. The older fortune-telling aspects of tarot do not fit well with the current approach of empowering clients to make informed decisions. In fact, the majority of modern tarot readers prefer not to be viewed as fortune-tellers" (65). 

This is pretty much what I use my Tarot cards for: insight, some intuition, and a little meditation.

On reading the Tarot cards and mastering that skill. I find interesting the idea of story making, since story making has a long tradition for people. This also appeals to the writer in me:

"Reading what is written in the cards is an art that can be mastered with a combination of sufficient study and practice. Divination with the tarot uses the card's images to tell a story that has relevance for the querent. Essentially, reading the tarot is a form of myth-making, which functions like the stories of antiquity, allowing access to thoughts, feelings, and images by which we can make sense of our experiences and lend meaning to our lives. Facilitating access to these archetypal images is the core of the process" (68). 

Another intriguing idea, perhaps a bit romantic or spiritual, is that Aleister Crowley (this other link has a list of his works, including some of his works in full text, via Hermetic Library) saw the cards as living entities and learning them as making new friends. On learning the Tarot, this is what Crowley believed as cited in the book:

"Crowley believed that newcomers to the tarot could truly appreciate the cards only if they observed closely how the tarot behaves over a substantial period of time. In other words, an understanding of the tarot comes only through extensive experience with the cards, treating them as if they were sentient beings. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice" (70). 

Do note that at various points, the book also features some learning exercises to help out Tarot learners. That I certainly appreciated.

A bottom line for learners:

"Ultimately, you need to develop your own understanding of each card, regardless of what so-called 'experts' think the card means" (210). 

This is another detail I found neat. Louis also writes, given his psychology background, how Tarot serves much the function as childhood imaginative play. This draws on the work of D.W. Winnicott, and I found this to be a nice upbeat and positive way to look at Tarot:

"What, then, is a tarot reading if not an excursion into the imaginative world of childhood play? By entering the transitional space of tarot reading, we create for ourselves a safe environment where we can play with our deepest fears and anxieties as well as our most cherished hopes and wishes. We then return to the 'real' world to make our dreams a reality. The playful myth-making that emerges as we read tarot links us to the mythic imagination of past generations and moves us forward in our search for self" (210). 

A note on Louis' list of the resources that he recommends:

"Included in this bibliography are but a handful of representative texts I have found particularly useful. The list is not intended to be exhaustive, and there are no doubt many excellent books that have not been mentioned due to lack of space or simple oversight on my part" (215). 

It is still a great list for further reading and learning. From the list, so far, I have read Ellershaw's Easy Tarot Handbook, which I have reviewed.


* * * * * 

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges: