Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Book Ideas

I have a book idea that I want to write at a rate of about one a week. Some of these come and go and some have some staying power. I want to keep a list of the these book ideas. I will post them on Facebook from time to time and take votes on what ones I should pursue. If you have a favorite, one you would like to see me write, one you want to start writing, or most importantly one you would be willing to actually purchase if I wrote it, let me know in the comment section. Also if you think I am an idiot on one of these ideas I would be happy to hear it. My thoughts are not conventional but it is how I feel and I am as passionate about hearing why I am wrong as I am about feeling I am right.

First Books I have actually written or have started on

Of Pigs and Priests- The story of a Priest in the 1500's who finds himself in love with the local pig farmers daughter. Being very committed to the priesthood he doesn't do anything about it, that is until Queen Elizabeth comes to the thrown, they all become part of the Church of England and by introducing the Common Book of Prayer, suddenly Priest's can marry. The problem becomes that given the position of clergy in the 1500 he went from off limits to the most eligible bachelor in town. Everyone and their mother wants to either marry him or have him join the family. Follow him as he tries to win his love, raise some pigs, fix the whole in his church and keep the local Duke from setting him up.

Marriage Counselor's Bride for Hire (Need a better name, so if you have any suggestions let me know) - I have been releasing this book a chapter at a time on my blog (For Chapter 1 Click Here). It follows, Dr. Byron Lewis, a marriage councilor devoted to his profession, so much so that between reading about, writing about and saving other peoples marriage he has never found time to get one himself. This begins to have negative impacts on his work and that is when he decides he needs a marriage, even if it's only on paper. Taking in ad out in the local paper he begins his very unusual journey into married life. And despite all he knows about marriage it's only a matter of time when he has to take some time to save his own.

Teton Dam, 50 Years Later (I hate this title, so please let me know if you have any ideas for this one also)- I have begun work on this book and plan to have it completed for the 50th anniversary of Teton Dam failure in 2026. I don't need to go into alot of detail but this goes over the history of the dam, some related dams and how they impacted Teton such as Ririe, and Fontenelle. Goes over many of the compelling story lines before the dam itself was completed and what happened after failure, both the deaths and how the community came together. I am very excited about this book and may tell some of the things I have learned in tidbits on the blog.

The stories never told- This would be a book of biographical sketches of homeless and what we can learn from them. I have done many short stories on the homeless (Here is a link to my Homeless page). It would go over these or others stories and also go over national statics and solutions on homeless. What different communities are trying, what is being successful and what is not.

So those are the ones I have written or started to write. Here is the very long list of the ones I have not started but would like to write at some point.

Rather than Rob a Bank- I came up with this book a long time ago and I would be lying if my desire to write this has not diminished. What inspired this was I heard several stories back to back about students at university's who robbed banks to pay for the high tuition costs (Here is an article of one of them).  I wanted to write a book that compared ways of making money and compare the likelihood of them actually working, for example, the lottery, other gambling opportunities, robbing a bank, robbing other stores, panhandling, stock market, writing and singing a smash hit, and the last one would be writing a book. I planned to donate a portion of the proceeds for the tuition of the guys who robbed the bank if they choose to finish college when they got out of jail, but they will probably be out long before I get to this one.

The Blessings of Poverty and How to Acquire them even when Cursed with Riches- I grew up in a home that was technically below the poverty line. I say technically because my Mother and Father were so good with money and surrounded by such wonderful family and friends that I have to admit we never felt poor or went without, as long as you don't count those cracked wheat tacos, that was a sacrifice.  But I am very convinced that many of the blessing my parents passed on to me were not in spite of being poor but rather because of it.

  • For example, the lesson that happiness and money are not dependent variables. 
  • Hard work, we were delivering papers at a very young age in order to help the family pay the bills (Some will argue that the pace at which I delivered papers doesn't qualify as hard work, but we can leave that part out.)
  • Learning that if you want something you can earn it or go without, when my friends got Nintendo's for Christmas I was getting clothes, (Don't get me wrong we had wonderful Christmas's but the big, cool ticket items were never a part of it for us) if I wanted a CD, movie or pack of baseball cards, I had to find a way to earn the money and buy it, there was no point in asking Dad or Mom to buy it. 
  • Education was valuable, but it was my responsibility to pay for it. Both my parents had Masters Degrees but when my Dad dropped me off at college he gave me a bag or oranges and essentially said, "If you are every hungry come by but that is all I can help you with." He said this with a bit of sorrow, you could tell he wanted to help me with tuition and books, he just couldn't. I count this as one of the greatest blessings in my life. I took college far more seriously than my friends who had parents footing the bill, I graduated in three years with an engineering degree. I went on to graduate with honors with a masters degree, all with no debt and all without asking my parents for funds. Something all my siblings did as well (My cousin wrote an article about it in the Desert News and you can read it here).
  • The Lord has more control on life than does your bank account. No lesson is more important to me than seeing over and over again in my parents and in my own life as I tried to find ways to pay tuition than having no idea how I was going to make it and the Lord opening up the windows of heaven as he promised (Malachi 3:8-11). 

I could go on but the point is that these are things my parents taught me in large part because they didn't have any other choice, necessity drove them to act the way they did. I believe the same lessons can be taught to those who have money, and lots of it, but it's not easy. It is easier to say no to your children when you don't have a choice, no matter how painful it may feel you can't say yes. The challenge is being able to say no when you have the ability to say yes.

Get Out- This is a book on the history of large evacuations and how they are run. I have to admit my interest in this has mostly been focused on dams but over time evacuations as a whole have had great interest to me. Why do some people evacuate and others not? What makes an evacuation notice effective or not? Does society hold leaders responsible for the lives of those who choose not to evacuate or fail to evacuate?

Killing Leo Ryan- This is essentially a biography on Leo Ryan. Who is Leo Ryan? You know, you just don't know you know. Leo Ryan was the congressman who was killed in Guyana by Jim Jones just before they all drank the cool aid. I first learned about Leo Ryan because he was an advocate for Dam Safety and chaired several of the hearings after Teton Dam failed. The more I learned the more I was impressed. He wanted to improve education so became a substitute teacher in the classroom to better understand the issue, he wanted to reform prisons so got himself in undercover as an inmate to see what prison life was like. When he saw in issue he jumped into it and tried to get first hand account and solve the problem. Ultimately it cost him his life trying to understand and free people from The People's Temple. He has become one of my hero's and there is no biography on his life and that is a crime that needs to be corrected.

Selfish Sex or Sex as Service- God's way of improving your love life. The target audience would be LDS couples and LDS young adults. I think there is no topic more poorly understood both in and out of the church than sexuality, and while there are several good and not so good books on the topic. I want to add my zero authority voice to the topic. Things I think need to cover:

  • Selfish sex versus service sex. Satan works so hard to convince everyone that sex is about self. The whole reason sex exists is to make you happy. God's path is the opposite, sex is all about service. It is all about making your spouse happy. You want to have a wonderful sex life then forget about your sex life. While it applies to many aspects in our life I think we would do well to apply Matt 16:25- For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever swill lose his life...shall find it. If you  are obsessed and work to save YOUR sex life, you will lose it. If you lose it, meaning sacrifice what you want for your spouse you will find it.
  • Sex is not easy for anyone. There is a fallacy that Satan continues to perpetrate that because sex is and is meant to be enjoyable that it should be easy. Sex isn't easy for anyone, sex isn't something that you avoid until married and then is all the sudden a magical part of life. It doesn't matter if you are not married and trying to live the law of chastity, struggle with same sex attraction and are trying to live the law of chastity, if you are married to someone who for physical or emotional reasons does not want to or cannot participate in intimacy the way you would like, or if you are happily married and trying to live the law of chastity. The natural man is an enemy to God  and will be forever and ever unless he yields to the enticing of the holy spirit...(Mosiah 3:19). What a perfect scripture this is for this principal. Satan wants us to assume everyone else has amazing sex lives, because than he can convince us of lies like: If only you had a spouse who shared your same preferences, your sex life would be good. If only the church would change its standards on who you can marry, your sex life would be good. If you can just make it to the alter of marriage then your sex life will be good.
  • The fallacy that Satan likes Sex and God does not. Satan has worked very hard to convince people that his political position is pro sex and that God's party is anti-sex. "Yeah, my opponent allows it in marriage with one person, but I will let you have unlimited sex, with whomever you want, whenever you want. I'm Satan and I approve of this message."  This is a lie. If the truth was to be out there, I am convinced that Satan is very anti-sex. He has no body, he does not want you or anyone else to enjoy anything let alone the type of joy true intimacy can bring. But if he is opposed to it, why does he promote it so much? Because he will promote it with the idea that if he can get you to abuse and mis-use sex then you  will lose it forever. Not just in the next life but this one as well. Extremes of this are obvious. If he can twist your mind so that the only joy in sex is with little children, you are not likely to have access and if you do gain access will likely go to jail. But this is true for what many would call mainstream relationships. Cohabitation leads to divorce at much higher rates, and single folks who are sexually active have far less sex than those who are married. And as they age the disparity increases. (While I will need to compile the data, here is just one such article showing this.) So, if your one goal in life was to maximize the amount of sex you  have, the best way to do this would be to have a healthy and happy marriage, which side promotes that?
  • Not sure if there is room for it and how I would do it but I would also want to do research related to sex workers. I live in Las Vegas area and as such see the many ill effects of sex work.It is sold as very glamorous. I would love to do, or find research that shows what it truly is? Where do most dancers, prostitutes, and other similar professions end up when age makes it difficult to earn money in their chosen profession. I honestly don't know, but would guess the statistics are not good, but need to find it out before I speak. At one time I thought I would make it, its own book but maybe just include it in this one.
Ghost Detective- This is a fiction book about a man that works as a detective on the other side. Basically he is dead and his job is to interview dead people try to solve murders and then influence the living to try to get the right person convicted. 

Unity Politics- This would be a book that focuses on the idea that if the only things politicians did was focus on things that the vast majority, 60-75% of Americans believed in they would still have plenty to do. The idea behind this is that the major political parties and voices that associate themselves with these parties, Shawn Hanity, Rachel Madow etc.. have a vested interest in keeping us divided. They focus on issues that are split 50-50 and really never go anywhere. If you re-frame the conversation I think there is vast agreement on a lot of issues and by focusing on those we could get a lot done.  Let me give a few examples:
  • Abortion- Both sides of the abortion debate are so dug into an all or nothing strategy that we have lost sight of the portions we agree on and could focus on and really get good things done. People who are pro-life would like to end all or most abortions and become blinded by the idea of making them illegal and overturning Roe vs. Wade, people who are pro-choice say they believe in abortions being rare, legal and safe, but have been so sold on making them legal have lost almost all sight of truly trying to make them rare. Why? because they don't trust the other side, they see any move to make abortions rare as one step in trying to take away what they feel is a legal right. So, what does unity politics look like? It means the right saying that until we can persuade 60-75% of the population to believe that abortion should be illegal we will stop trying to make it illegal or take away peoples access to it.  Rather we will work with the other side to truly make it rare. What if we took the baseline of how many abortions were performed in 2018 and reached across the isle and tried to bring that number down. How could this be done? Both Democrats and Republicans believe that adoption is good, and there are literally 1,000's of couples waiting to adopt babies and many more who would join them if we reduced red tape. What about starting a social movement praising mothers who chose to give their child a better chance with adoption to a good family?  How about we help mothers who choose not to abort their children with medical expenses and other things? Whatever they look like we could find common ground and find things that would reduce abortion that 60-75% of people believe in rather then hoping for certain justices to retire or kill over and just the right time so we can win in the courts. 
  • Transgender Bathrooms- Democrats cry that transgender are not equally respected, Republicans cry that it is not safe for their young daughters to have to go to the bathroom with a predator of a man who claims he is female. This debate has sprung over into school locker rooms. One I understand because I have children. The reality is that I see more common ground than not on this one. With the amount of risk today given the fact that we all carry video cameras everyday and can almost instantly stream that video for the world to see we simply need more secure, individually locked restroom and changing areas. Would this provide both sides what they need? I think so, but than why doesn't it move forward? Because if that is done no one side gets to declare victory. No one gets to feel like they won. But that is what Unity politics is all about, its about giving up winning to actually making our policy's better.
  • Last one- Immigration. Both sides love and honor legal immigration, so, why so much focus on what to do about illegal immigration, that is the side no one can agree on. Rather why don't politicians focus on the improving the legal system, something that could get bypartisan support? Democrats didn't do it when they were in the majority and Republicans aren't doing it now, in this particular case I think Democrats were fearful of energizing the fringe Republican vote and Republicans are worried about offending it. This is the part that makes unity politics so hard, both parties have 10-25% that are very active that want to win and be right more than they want to get something done and politicians feel forced to appease these groups to avoid losing their seats (Jeff Flake is a good example). But unity politics is about moving beyond those groups when a significant majority of Americans want to see movement. 
I could go on about almost all politically divisive issues but that is what the book is for.

Killing Professional Sports- This one wins as my most controversial book idea, and really idea in general. The book would focus on why we should stop supporting in every way professional sports. Many would assume that this is simply the rantings of a physically inferior man who simply finds himself unable to perform any physical feat beyond touching his toes. To this I have two comebacks, I was listed as an alternate for an athletic scholarship to Southern Utah University (true it was in cheerleading, but athletic none the less), second I can't touch my toes, so there. The reality is I love sports, I love playing them, I love watching them and I think they bring about many important qualities in our kids, teamwork, hard work ethic, over coming challenges, and always pushing yourself to do better. So, when I am writing promoting the end of professional sports it is not the end of sports but just the professionals. Why? 
  • Professional sports make professions wherein a few get very rich and the vast majority of people who pursue it do so in vain and at great expense. Freakonomics did a story on the upside of quitting where they followed people who try to break into the major leagues through the minors. The problem is most of these men take on very low paying jobs in baseball while they pass up moving along in other careers, what freakonomics showed is the longer they  stayed the less successful they were. I think this would be true in most major professional sports, there further someone gets towards becoming a professional the more likely they are to bank on it, but they are still far from likely to actually "make it". 
  • Even the vast majority of those that "make it" find that fame and money too much too early and it leads to poor life outcomes. Hence you get high bankruptcy and incarceration rates.
  • This is particularly of concerns in sports that have long term negative physical outcomes. These sports use "nobodys" to beat up their bodies in order to weed out the best of the best who they can use to make millions of dollars. I was in a restaurant one day and they had a TV show that was put on by UFC. They put a bunch of guys in a training program who then beat the brains out of each other for the chance to be a UFC fighter. So, what did most of them get? Nothing besides major health issues. While it is less direct in some ways the NFL is no different, they rely on high school kids who have had endless promotion about the sport to get beat up every friday in hopes of getting beat up on Saturdays, so the NFL can makes millions why we watch them get beat up on Sundays. I am not opposed to bruises and scrapes but if further studies find that long term brain damage is found in high school football players it should stop being offered in public schools.
  • Another alarming trend is the amount of tax payer dollars going to fund professional stadiums. Study after study has shown that this is not economically beneficial for the cities that do the heavy lifting. We just got the Raiders to come to Las Vegas and it will cost $550 million dollars in tax funds. It is sold by saying it will be money that is paid by visitors however, no matter how the money came in there are many things that money would be better spent on than promoting a billion dollar business. 
  • College sports are a problem as well, but notice it is only in the sports that have big professional followings. You don't get sports allowing swimmers who can't pass a third grade math test onto their teams. You don't get boosters paying off the players of the volleyball team. Many argue that the college football and basketball programs promote the college. I am not so sure that this promotion is not more of a distraction. The stakes of football have become so great that most colleges spend more on the program than they bring in. (Here is a great article on this). No doubt football and basketball are big business but for most schools it is more a big drain than a big money maker, not only that it is a drain of time a resources not to mention publicity. Pick any school and enter the name into google news. I just did it for BYU of the first 20+ stories that came up 1 was not a sports article. BYU is a major university with research coming out daily in physics, engineering, literature, math, family studies, religious studies, and many more topics. They hold weekly forums or devotionals with major addresses from great minds of the world but most of that goes uncovered, but if the head coach of the football team sneezes in the off season, you will hear about it.
  • The obsession with sports in wasteful and unhealthy. I am the first to admit that I was a victim of this. For years every week during football season I would read every article analyzing weather or not BYU would win or lose that week. Then I would watch the game, listen to the game, or even watch the internet update each play on ESPN if I couldn't get to the radio. If they won I was elated and read every article reliving over and over the glory of the win. If they lost I was devastated and walked around in a gloomy cloud for the next three days or so. In the off season I obsessed to think that this was our year and thought out in my mind the glory of them bringing a championship to Provo. Then one day I realized something. I was handing over my time and emotions to something I had 0, and I mean 0 control over. I was wasting excessive amount of time and energy on something I not only couldn't control but that meant nothing to my future and as such it should have nothing to do with my ability to enjoy life. I stopped watching BYU football that day. I might see a play now and again but I don't think I have watched a hole game since then. I am better off. Has my pride in BYU diminished? No, I love my school more than ever, in fact it's made me take off the blinders and realize the reason I love BYU has nothing to do with Basketball of Football. It's what I learned and what I hope millions of others will learn from that amazing University. The world is chuck full of sports commentators analyzing every breath of the players and even fuller of people wasting time listening to them. Sports obsessions are unhealthy and I only notice this in professional sports and college sports that are heavily tied to professional sports, mostly basketball and football.
  • What about city unity? Right now Las Vegas is enjoying the joy of having the Las Vegas Knights or first true professional team play for the Stanley cup. I'll admit it's fun to see so many people get excited about the team, there is a tremendous amount of shirts, hats, bumper stickers and other support. But what is really behind it? Do any of the players have any unity to this city? No, most aren't from hear and if they get paid more to play elsewhere next year they will be gone. Most owners have very little loyalty to a specific city. 
  • While sports can bring out the best in us it can also bring out the worst. Along with loyalty is often crude, rude and violent behavior done in the name of sports. This is true of all sports, even little league, but I think it most often shows up in the stadiums and bars in relation to professional sports.
So, what should be done. I am not supportive of making policy against professional sports rather people realizing they are consuming too much of our time and money and simply pulling back. I would love to see expansion of local amateur sports. These could be full of people who love the sport for the truly the love of the sport, not the money. We could be proud that they are from our local area and we could enjoy a good sport game that doesn't cost huge sums of money and is kept in proper balance. This is why if I take my sons to see a game it will likely be a high school track meet, or college volleyball game. I will support my kids playing sports, preferably sports that don't have big professional following, but if they want to play golf, or play basketball I will definitely not encourage them to go pro.

Well that is all for now. I will probably have another one next week.

It is now 7/26/2018 and I have three more to add

Southern California's New Homeless- This is and idea based on some of what I have learned from Austen. The book follows people in Southern California who make 100K plus and yet are homeless. The cost of living is so high they decide to live in their cars, on the streets, couch serf with friends etc... This follows interesting stories and asked the question that is a high octane economic machine, such as southern and central California has provided, that provides so much good but leaves housing and basic necessity costs so high that it leaves behind even some of the elite, worth it?

Foreign Brides- This follows the whole story and industry around foreign brides. What is the history that has gone from war bride, to mail order to internet? Why do men/women look for them? What countries are most commonly targeted? Can these marriages be successful and if so, how? What causes these marriages to fail? How many of these things are scams for the men/women who chase them? And how many women get involved from the foreign side and get taken advantage of?

Scam Lunches- I have always been intrigued by scams. I love the series American Greed that follows various scams and how they turn out. One of the ways you can often catch a scam is as we all know is promising something too good to be true. Another good way is free lunch. People have often said there is no free lunch. So, when they want to tell you  about your business by offering a free lunch/seminar, good chance it is a scam. I would love to attend these and write up a chapter on each of them, outlining what the scam is. I would also write about the free lunch scam related to insurance that has made me thousands of dollars.


1 comment:

  1. I find that I seem to like non-fiction and tend to feel that those are more likely to succeed but that's not necessarily true. I think the one fiction one you have up the chapters sounds great and then all of the non fiction ones sound interesting to me.

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