All posts by Augustus

Am Intl: Top 10 Summer 2011 Books

This is an excerpt from Top 10 Summer Book List for Human Rights Advocates | Human Rights Now – Amnesty International USA Blog.

Here at Amnesty, our staffers have put together a list of books on our summer reading list for human rights. We invite you to read with us as we look to books, non-fiction and fiction alike, on issues in today’s world. Here are our top 10 summer must-reads!


1.) Anil’s Ghost by: Michael Ondaatje
Summary: With his first novel since the internationally acclaimed The English Patient, Booker Prize—winning author Michael Ondaatje gives us a work displaying all the richness of imagery and language and the piercing emotional truth that we have come to know as the hallmarks of his writing. Anil’s Ghost transports us to Sri Lanka, a country steeped in centuries of tradition, now forced into the late twentieth century by the ravages of civil war. Into this maelstrom steps Anil Tissera, a young woman born in Sri Lanka, educated in England and America, who returns to her homeland as a forensic anthropologist sent by an international human rights group to discover the source of the organized campaigns of murder engulfing the island. What follows is a story about love, about family, about identity, about the unknown enemy, about the quest to unlock the hidden past–a story propelled by a riveting mystery. Unfolding against the deeply evocative background of Sri Lanka’s landscape and ancient civilization, Anil’s Ghost is a literary spellbinder–Michael Ondaatje’s most powerful novel yet.*


2.) Chasing the Flame: One Man’s Fight to Save the World by: Samantha Power

The rest  of the AI post can be read at Top 10 Summer Book List for Human Rights Advocates | Human Rights Now – Amnesty International USA Blog.

Royal Song of the Day: Wednesday 7/27/11

"Get Together" in the Village
Image by Tony the Misfit via Flickr

Get Together by The Youngbloods is the Song of the Day.  This was a wedding song of the Duke and Duchess of Peace.  It was performed by their friends at a waterside ceremony.  All the killing and death in the world made me yearn for a life-affirming song about peace, unity and harmony.

[youtube=”>watch?v=WybIhLJjlTY] Continue reading Royal Song of the Day: Wednesday 7/27/11

Royal Song of the Day: July 25, 2011

The Animal Years by Josh RitterGirl in the War by Josh Ritter is the Royal Song of the Day.  The US media daily fails to report that the US is in five wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya) spanning the Middle East and northern Africa.  For instance, the cost of this war is trashing the US economy, yet in all the discussion of the potential default on US debt that is not mentioned.



The Duchess & I first became fans of Ritter’s 2003 break-out album Hello Starling.  The title of the album came from the breakout single, Snow is Gone.  The song Kathleen also garnered radio play.

It’s seems that Ritter has now become a crossover artist.  His first novel Bright’s Passage has been getting excellent reviews.  Former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky said it is

An adventure story with the penetrating emotional colors of a fable; a myth-like survival quest with the convincing texture of a movie; a good read that stays in the memory.


Royal Book of the Week: Monday 7/25/11

More info about this book at (new window)Book of the WeekNonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.  Duchess Susanna  and I have worked hard to improve our communication skills.  All of us are taught in school how to speak a language, but not how to communicate.  Our society often teaches that communication is not as important as power.  We are taught that the most important thing is make sure you are not the loser.  Nonviolent communication (NVC) provides tools to seek a win-win situation.

The ability to communicate better is important in relationships, whether they be personal or political.  Too often we waste a great deal of time talking around what we need because we can’t figure out how to get to what what both really need.  Even worse, we are most frustrated when we know we are reacting negatively to someone else’s emotional outburst, even though the voice in the back of our head wants to head us in a positive direction.  Too many times we find that both parties walk away unhappy, and neither feel they have communicated what they want to say. Nonviolent communication teaches skills to help us work together to get what everyone needs..

I want to share my view of some of the skills I have gained from NVC training. First is active listening.  That means stepping back from our emotional entanglement, and even our own need to feel we are solving someone else’s problem.  Active listening means we are trying hard to understand what the other person is saying. We have to dig down to get at their concerns, without judgment.  This allows us to understanding what their emotional state is, and what caused it.  This often requires repeating back what they said in our own language to check with them if we are understanding correctly. Continue reading Royal Book of the Week: Monday 7/25/11

Song of the Day: Saturday 7/23/11

Banks of Marbleis the Royal Song of the Day. This song was written by Les Rice. You can find this song on page 180 of Rise Up Singing. It’s still hot out. Just like yesterday. And entirely coincidentally we are on the next page of Rise Up Singing from yesterday.  My friend Linda introduced me to this song last week.

I spend a good part of my daylight hours helping people deal with their mortgage banks.  The mortgage industry is such a disaster because everything is broken up between different corporations so no one has any responsibility.  The simplest explanation of the mortgage industry is that it is broken up between two different entities: 1) the investor who owns the promissory note and 2) the servicer who is basically a bill collector.  You only get to deal with the front man, the servicer, rather than the investor who holds the real power.  If you try to contact the investor, they give you a Sgt. Shultz “I know nothing attitude.” The servicers are byzantine, disorganized, redundant, bureaucratic and sometimes arbitrary.  Occasionally, I will hop over to Linda’s office to express my frustration. Her response was to introduce me to this song which, like so many great songs, was popularized by Pete Seeger:

[youtube=]  Continue reading Song of the Day: Saturday 7/23/11

Song of the Day: Friday 7/22/11

Capitol Records 45rpm record label for USA rel...
Image via Wikipedia

“Yellow Submarine” is the Royal Song of the Day for today. You can find this song on page 179 of Rise Up Singing.  It’s hot! And we need something fun to sing that reminds of cool water. Close your eyes and dive deep into a technicolor cartoon ocean.  The blue meanies have taken the day off.  So sing-o along with Ringo as the credits roll by.



In a town
where I was born
lived a man
who sailed the sea


Book of the Week: Your Money or Your Life

we make a dying at work so we can live it up on the weekend

Duke Augustus writes: Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st Century by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez sparked the modern simplicity movement. It remains one of the pre-eminent sources for how to create financial freedom by separating your needs from your wants. This is not a get rich quick scheme. It is the progeny of Thoreau’s On Walden Pond. The Harvard-educated Thoreau freed himself from the business world by by taking the extraordinary measure of changing his life from pencil manufacturer to squatter. Dominguez and Robin suggest a less drastic change by helping you re-direct your prosperity from consumer driven wants to enough wealth to stop working.


The publisher describes the book as: Continue reading Book of the Week: Your Money or Your Life