Celebrated finishing this book today by a serving of French toast with genuine maple syrup. But I do plan to (and already do) use it's better ideas. I...moreCelebrated finishing this book today by a serving of French toast with genuine maple syrup. But I do plan to (and already do) use it's better ideas. I suspect the authors are still too anti-fat in diet, but they make strides.(less)
I wanted to give this five stars because it is Richard Matheson and I definitely recommend it. But, to be honest, these are cute short stories--some f...moreI wanted to give this five stars because it is Richard Matheson and I definitely recommend it. But, to be honest, these are cute short stories--some fun, some tragic--that don't represent his best and most enduring work. So while I greatly enjoyed them, I think it would be dishonest to give it the same ranking as I Am Legend.
Still great stuff. I'm glad the release of that (much different!) movie allowed this material to be republished.(less)
I don't know how to rate this because I don't like hit men as protagonists. I got into this (since retitled as "A Clean Kill In Tokyo" because I saw t...moreI don't know how to rate this because I don't like hit men as protagonists. I got into this (since retitled as "A Clean Kill In Tokyo" because I saw the author listed as a popular contemporary thriller writer and I wanted to read some popular fiction.
If we can put aside the hit man as protagonist bit I'd give this between four and five stars. It was a well developed story with combat and mystery and the fornication, while sentimentalized, of course, was in not graphic or described in a gratuitous way. The politics/corruption/conspiracy in the story seemed quite believable.
Stephen King says that in order to be an author you need to write a lot and read a lot. If you are always looking for a new novel to read, I think this will be better than a lot of other books you could pick up.
On my hit-man-as-protagonist aversion, I'll confess it didn't bother me much while I was in the midst of reading. But at the end when our hero extracted mortal revenge on a person who richly deserved it. That brought back to the front why I can't like such people. All the dweebs with real jobs who get herded and taxed by the people who hire these killers have to suffer and pray for God to be the avenger, but just because someone makes a living killing people he also has the right to execute personal grudges? There were other flaws, but if John Rain had let this guy go, I would have thought more highly of him.(less)
Why I love Lawrence Block's PI Matt Scudder will have to be its own essay somewhere some time. But I've been wishing for a new book for a long time. B...moreWhy I love Lawrence Block's PI Matt Scudder will have to be its own essay somewhere some time. But I've been wishing for a new book for a long time. Block did better. He produced a new story set years back in Scudder's past so that it recalled the earlier more edgy and boozy life of New York City. Some time in the eighties the Scudder stories morphed from mysteries to thrillers. I kept reading and kept enjoying (despite some horrific details I wish he'd left out some times) but I really like going back.
I think this may be my second favorite Scudder novel. Oddly, my favorite, When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes, was also a flashback story.
By the way, Scudder is not remotely Christian. Block has an AA, and somewhat New Age philosophy of life. In some ways he is the opposite of an action hero since he seems to be more acted upon than acting. This book had more discussion of God then I was expecting. And it also dissed an aspect of Buddhism, which, now that I think about it, is shocking.
But I could ramble about likes and dislikes all day. It was a great read. (less)
I wanted to like this book more, but I couldn't. The first half contains a great deal of moralization about America's wanting too much. But that is a...moreI wanted to like this book more, but I couldn't. The first half contains a great deal of moralization about America's wanting too much. But that is a function of economic policy and politics that applies to Greece as much as the US. Bacevich seems confused here. At one point he mentions plunging savings rates, but never mentions intentional monetary policies that have discouraged saving and encouraged debt. How these are related to war is unclear.
One probable link in Bacevich's mind is "energy independence." Bacevich seems like an unreconstructed Carterite at some points in this book (though at other times perhaps critical... I couldn't tell what he thought in any consistent sense). America's want too much oil. But why should any nation be able to produce everything it needs? I see mutual interdependence as a good thing and don't understand how Bacevich's "economic nationalism" (my term; and, again, I'm guessing as best I can) can possibly encourage peace.
In many places I felt like Bacevich flipflopped between a "bad people" analysis and a "structural provlems" analysis (again, my terms). I don't know if he really knows which. Trying to make sense of everything, I think the issue might be that we have embarked on a "national security tradition" that involves recruiting the wrong people to do the wrong thing. Since the positions are somewhat self-selecting, only people who have stupid and nationally degrading ideas about national security want or are allowed into those positions in the national [in]security apparatus.
But as far as I remember I just wrote a much clearer sentence than any you will find in The Limits of Power.
Also, Bacevich will make statements without evidence or argument. I especially remember him saying that our quality of generals is very low compared to ones we have had in the past. But he never proved this point or seemed to think he needed to. In making the comparison he claimed that Grant and Sherman were great generals. I find this hard to believe.
There was a lot of good information and food for thought. So I don't feel the book was a waste. But I remember his Washington Rules being a lot more cogent.
Also, he dismisses re-instituting national service, because it is politically unfeasible. But nothing is really feasible about any of his "solutions." So why limit himself? What does he think he is accomplishing in this book.
And then he ends with a call for saving the planet from climate change. Stealing the internal combustion engine from the developing world will make all our bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan seem like nothing. Anthropogenic global warming is a fraud that will be a eugenic genocide if seriously implemented. Which it never will be because India, China, and other nations are never going to allow us to do that to them.
I have no idea what drives Bacevich's world view. His critique of "pre-emptive war" is quite good, and his analysis of Wolfowitz, and other killer utopians who should never be given responsibility at any level of government, is chilling. But I am no longer going to recommend him. Associating peace with a bunch of pop-moralisms about the environment and energy is not going to be a productive way to wake people up.(less)
Calvin may not have been a bishop, but he didn't operate as a Presbyterian either. His "ruling elders" were state-appointed officers and his consistory was neither precisely a Presbytery nor a Session. It ssemed to function much more like a Family Services department in some ways.
Calvin was never "in power" the way we tend to think, though perhaps after 1555 he got close. When you can get killed and need to worry about being killed in a riot, you are not really in power.
Geneva itself was too small a city to matter as a "power." Rather, Calvin and Geneva were constantly trying to make their friends happy (for protection) while still trying to save some independence.
"Nationalism" or immigration was an issue I had never realized affected Calvin's ministry. Calvin found local pastors mainly inadequate, so he brought in talent from France (arguably, I should write "France" in scare quotes). So Genevans found their personal lives being run by foreigners. Not a welcome situation.
Calvin came to repudiate Bucer's ecumenical attempts of the early 1540s. I had no idea.
Calvin spent much of his time trying to convince French Evangelicals to totally break from the Roman Catholic Church in France and suffer the consequences. Again, Calvin the divider.
Calvin later spent much of his time trying to convince French Protestants to willingly suffer rather than resort to violence and revolution. Weird since he owed his place in a city created by revolution. But it shows that any relationship between Calvin and political resistance is not the result of his own teaching on the matter.
France seemed at first like it would be open to Evangelicals (when Calvin still lived there). But with the break in Germany, French royalty came down on the side of the Roman Catholic establishment. Why? Because the same impulse that led the king to appreciate Evangelicals had led him to win concessions from the Pope that gave him control over the Church in his lands. Opposing the Papacy would make these concessions worthless.
Bullinger thought Calvin's writings on predestination were over-the-top and could imply that God was the author of sin.
For a time Calvin's writings were publicly burned in the Protestant city of Berne.
Calvin actively opposed an ecumenical movement in France in the 1550s because it was trying to use the Augsburg Confession. Though earlier in his ministry he had offended Bullinger by agreeing with it, now he saw it as a tool of Lutheran extremists who would try to hurt the swiss churches and disturb the French Protestants who were not Lutherans.
Held back one star because of certain left-wing distortions. But they by no means really hurt the value of this book. In fact, I think it is a true "m...moreHeld back one star because of certain left-wing distortions. But they by no means really hurt the value of this book. In fact, I think it is a true "must-read" to understand how our government really works.
Or, worse, who our government really is. Welcome to the kleptocracy.(less)
According to the Amazon 1-star reviews, the authors of this book lost libel suits and had to make apologies. This doesn't mean that everything they sa...moreAccording to the Amazon 1-star reviews, the authors of this book lost libel suits and had to make apologies. This doesn't mean that everything they say is wrong, but I can't trust the book and wish now I hadn't read it, since I have no idea what I "know" and what I don't.
Here's my older review when I gave it five stars:
--Us Gov supported the Taliban during the 90s because of desire in Gov/Corp (!) for a stable power to provide for a pipeline through Afghanistan.
##So the whole idea that we *ONLY* went into Afghanistan to punish Taliban and find Al Qaeda is suspect. And it shows why nation-building was the only option considered, rather than a punitive expedition.
--Taliban eventually got hard to handle because they resisted giving up Osama bin Laden. Plus they were embarrassing.
--In the 90s one State department official seems to has mentioned "carpet bombing" to the Taliban as the only option to cooperation with US interests (offering "a carpet of gold" as the carrot to go with the stick). When questioned, claimed he was just joking and drunk and can't be sure if he said that or not.
--bin Laden family enmeshed in Saudi kingdom as a major Corp.
--OBL enmeshed in bin Laden family businesses. "Black Sheep" of the family may be an exaggeration or even a lie. Saudi "rejection" of OBL may be more appearance than reality.
--Qaddafi was the first (and only?) regime to seriously pursue OBL via InterPol, etc because he was a target of Al Qaeda enmity. This was a minor sidenote in the book used to compare Libya's reaction to the lethargic Western reaction (or contrary reactionS within the West). But in light of recent events it stood out. Qaddafi was a modernizer and relative secularist. His story shows how the term "Islamofascism" is misleading since the Islamic Fundamentalist forces tend to be at odds with the secular, Western-influenced leaders like Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein.
--Huge part of the book is dedicated to showing the immense connections/entanglements between Saudi-Western-and Terrorist banking. BCCI is only an extreme example of many related institutions. The Bush family and co. is especially invested (literally!) in these groups.
I started this book assuming I would find confirmation of my dislike of James Polk for "getting us into" war with Mexico. It had the opposite effect....moreI started this book assuming I would find confirmation of my dislike of James Polk for "getting us into" war with Mexico. It had the opposite effect. While I differ with Polk on what would have been a vision for the American people, and the reasons one should go to war, it is pretty obvious that Polk was in office precisely because the American people wanted that vision. Polk's faults seem to lie in the faults of the American people of the time.
Polk promised to serve only one term and he kept his promise willingly. He accomplished all his objectives (amazingly) and got very little to no appreciation for doing so. And he got to see how his vision was going to be pulled apart by the slavery/anti-slavery divide.
He ended well. His term in office seems to have killed him and he died very soon after leaving office. But Polk did have time to decide to follow Christ, get baptized, and "die in the Lord." Look forward to meeting him.
By the way, if you have some vision of America once being led by "statemen" instead of politicians, that vision will die in this book.(less)
I'm rating this book on the assumption of a stipulated umpteen-billion-year history of the universe. That is not my current belief, but I have virtual...moreI'm rating this book on the assumption of a stipulated umpteen-billion-year history of the universe. That is not my current belief, but I have virtually no knowledge of the science of dating so I have nothing to say about it at this point.
I recently read Coyne's much more recent Why Evolution is True. Seems that Darwinists have not been able to improve their presentation, because Darwin on Trial pretty much destroys Coyne as if he were responding to him, rather than writing a book twenty years ago.
This covers the issues really well. Given the fossil evidence, paleontology presents us with a picture of sudden appearances of intact species rather than any kind of gradual evolution. The "survival of the fittest" is a tautology rather than a testable hypothesis. And any theory looks good if you disregard all counter evidence.
What I learned from Johnson that I didn't know before was how scientists are having to police other evolutionary scientists to punish them when they don't sound dogmatic enough about the evidence for Darwinian evolution. It also seems that evolutionary biology is a "closed system" from biology in any other field even when the scientists are convinced Darwinists. An ape expert who bothers to look at the fossils and say that the idea that the creature walked upright is wishful thinking, will be marginalized and rejected. It is an insular field that expects to be accepted on faith.(less)
This was an excellent shoot-em-up crime novel set in the fifties with blonde protagonist Kristin Van Dijk. I found the first book, Baby Shark, to be a...moreThis was an excellent shoot-em-up crime novel set in the fifties with blonde protagonist Kristin Van Dijk. I found the first book, Baby Shark, to be an immense but guilty pleasure. Probably the best retro hardboiled story I had read in a decade. However, the guilt kept me from reading the sequel for awhile.
It shouldn't have. Beaumont Blues is superior to the prequel in several ways. First: it is not a straight revenge tale, so I don't have as much moral dissonance with the story. (I had no problems with the death of the villains, just not the way my heroine brought it about as her quest.)
Second, the Korean does not figure in the story. In the first book I just didn't feel convinced he was a real character. Seemed embarrassing in a way akin to Charlie Chan.
Third (related to first but distinct), this was more a straight PI story with a case that "goes bad." I liked this better. It showed Kristin and her partner were loyal to others rather than seeking their own justice.(less)
Darwinism still seems absurd. Some points are made for evolution but those are obviated by the completely unconvincing case for speciation. Changes wi...moreDarwinism still seems absurd. Some points are made for evolution but those are obviated by the completely unconvincing case for speciation. Changes within species do not prove anything beyond that. And the evidence for natural selection is simply missing (without any admission). New flash: lots of people believed in evolution before Darwinism. Coyne operates on the principle that since science must only rely on naturalistic explanations, that science must affirm natural selection and only natural selection. But this is a question-begging activity from the beginning.
Coyne is so full of confidence in his own heroism and that of his tribe, and in the idiocy and backwardness of everyone who disagrees with him, that the book is a testimony to confirmation bias. These are the people we are going to trust to confirm their own theories? You might as well trust Krugman on economics.(less)
Classic excellence (except for one melodramatic story about a father and son...). Surpassed Knowing God in my "Favorite Calvinist devotional" category...moreClassic excellence (except for one melodramatic story about a father and son...). Surpassed Knowing God in my "Favorite Calvinist devotional" category.(less)