Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Still Life With Rice

Still Life With Rice
by Helie Lee

In this radiant memoir of her grandmother's life, Helie Lee probes a history and a culture that are both seductively exotic and strangely familiar. And with wit and verve she claims her own Korean identity, illuminating the intricate experiences of Asian-American women.

Born in 1912 - "the year of the rat" - to aristocratic parents, Hongyong Baek came of age in a unified but socially repressive Korea, where she learned the roles that had been prescribed for her: obedient daughter, demure wife, efficient household manager. Ripped from her home first during the Japanese occupation and again during the bloody civil war that divided her country, Hongyong fought to save her family by drawing from her own talents and values. Over the years she provided for her husband and children by running a successful restaurant, building a profitable opium business, and eventually becoming adept at the healing art of Chiryo.

When she was pressured to leave her country, she moved with her family to California, where she reestablished her Chiryo practice. Writing in her grandmother's voice, Helie Lee depicts the concerns and conflicts that shaped one family's search for home. Evocative and keenly felt, Still Life with Rice interprets issues that touch all of us: the complex nature of family relations, the impact of social upheaval on an individual, and the rapidly changing lives of women in this century.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Losing Ground

Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980 
by Charles Murray

 "Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980", by Charles Murray proposes that in the 1960s there was a paradigm shift in people's thinking about what caused poverty. It was thought that the underclass, largely inhabited by blacks was the result of white prejudice. This perspective led to a complete change in the way the government dealt with poverty.

President Johnson proposed his "Great Society" and his "war on poverty" which was designed to spend poverty into oblivion. Far from banishing poverty from the face of America it broke out like a bad case of acne into perpetual poverty, rising crime, lower education standards, rising illegitimacy and a glass ceiling beyond which the poor seemed unable to rise.

Charles Murray wrote "Losing Ground" in 1984. His book seemed like a bolt of lightening in the middle of the night revealing what should have been plain as the light of day. The welfare state so carefully built up in the 1960s and 1970s created a system of disincentives for people to better their own lives. By paying welfare mothers to have children out of wedlock into a poor home, more of these births were encouraged. By doling out dollars at a rate that could not be matched by the economy, the system encouraged the poor to stay home. By lowering the value of learning, it was discouraged. By lowering the punishment for criminal activity (which was deemed to be society's fault and not the perpetrator - who was seen as a victim) it encouraged more criminal activity and longer criminal records.

 By pointing all this out in convincing fashion with graphs, statistics and well-reasoned argument Charles Murray spawned a movement that would ultimately result in welfare reform in 1996. The results of the reform were manifest in the economy and in society almost immediately. Charles Murray since then has had the opportunity to bask in the glow of being proven right.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Managerial Accounting

Managerial Accounting
by Ray H. Garrison, Eric W. Noreen, Peter C. Brewer

Managerial accounting is concerned with the provisions and use of accounting information to managers within organizations, to provide them with the basis to make informed business decisions that will allow them to be better equipped in their management and control functions. In contrast to financial accountancy information, management accounting information is:
  • primarily forward-looking, instead of historical
  • model based with a degree of abstraction to support decision making generically, instead of case based
  • designed and intended for use by managers within the organization, instead of being intended for use by shareholders, creditors, and public regulators
  • usually confidential and used by management, instead of publicly reported
  • computed by reference to the needs of managers, often using management information systems, instead of by reference to general financial accounting standards.

The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom
by Wilbur H. Siebert

Siebert was a professor at the Ohio State University from 1891-1935. His research material on the Underground Railroad, collected over a period of fifty years, includes survey responses, interviews, and copies and notes from books, diaries, letters, photographs, newspapers, biographies, memoirs, speeches, annual reports, trial records, census records, and legislation. He organized his research by state and county, eventually binding his notes in volumes by location.

His classic work, The Underground Railroad from Freedom to Slavery, published in 1898, still is the subject’s most comprehensive study. His version of the story portrayed a loosely organized network of individuals who through various means aided tens of thousands of slaves obtain their freedom, with most being sent to Canada. This story conformed closely with the personal narratives of former participants like Levi Coffin, William Still, and Eber Pettit, as well as Robert Smedley, whose book was based on participants’ accounts.