Review: The Te of Piglet, by Benjamin Hoff

The Te Of Piglet (The Wisdom Of Pooh)The Te Of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After enjoying Benjamin Hoff’s Tao of Pooh, with its delightful introduction of Taoist ideas using the classic A.A. Milne characters, I approached the rather thicker Te of Piglet with gleeful anticipation. Alas, if only the book were thinner.

There are still the interactions, albeit somewhat less adorable, with the denizens of the Hundred-Acre Wood, but they are nearly suffocated by lengthy broadsides against all sorts of political targets, from anti-Environmental Business to Technology, from Scientists to Western Medicine. And while I am not at all opposed to the notion of screeding to one’s heart’s content, the avalanche of Haughty Thoughts seems entirely out of place given both the first book and the greater Poohniverse.

Of particular oddity was his railing against Grammar “Amazons” whose great crime against humanity — suggesting “he or she” or “they/them” constructions rather than “he” as the default — apparently results in the utter emasculation of Men and the Death of Civilization. For a school of thought like Taoism that has had some sort of inclusiveness for women in it from the beginning (centuries, now), it seems a really weird hill to die on.

I’ll confess, I nearly put the book down at that point. I was reminded of Dorothy Parker (as Constant Reader) reviewing The House at Pooh Corner — “And it is that word ‘hummy,’ my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up.” What the hell, Hoff?

I had a brief urge to edit an expurgated version of the Te of Piglet with the politics dialed back several notches (and a hundred pages or so) so that the lovely Taoist concepts can shine forth. But then I remembered this is but one tiny rock in the stream of Taoist literature and, in the spirit of such things, I should be like water and simply route around it.


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Review: Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel

Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in HalfBudget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half by Beth Moncel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been a huge fan of Beth Moncel’s Budget Bytes blog for years now, and she and her editors did an excellent job of translating her friendly, patient approach into a cookbook format. It’s a perfect gateway into the wider world of cooking, including a good range of recipes that slowly expand knowledge without overwhelming the neophyte. Definitely recommended for those just starting out and feeling lost in the kitchen, or those looking to eat well and not break the bank.

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Review: Tau Zero, by Poul Anderson

Tau ZeroTau Zero by Poul Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alas, this fantastical, relativistic journey through spacetime has squashed the humans in the book into two-dimensional simulacra with stilted dialogue, the emotional intelligence/range of turnips, and a protagonist who spends his time chewing scenery — and by scenery, I mean the other horribly stereotyped characters. It is sexist, borderline racist, and entirely too nautical.

However.

The journey is awesome, and the science very, very cool. Anderson manages to pack an entire universe into a slim book, no small feat compared to the massive SF tomes that say virtually nothing at all.

Your infinite mileage may vary.

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