Pretty good introduction to and overview of important Linux commands, shell scripting (especially bash), the vi (or vim) editor, regular expressions,Pretty good introduction to and overview of important Linux commands, shell scripting (especially bash), the vi (or vim) editor, regular expressions, text processing, and a host of other related stuff. Small chapter size is a definite plus. The book provides a nice gateway to other advanced Linux topics. Highly recommend it to the (absolute) beginner. ...more
A pretty good introduction to the history of the rise and fall of Puritanism in England and New England. To the uninitiated, the book provides a decenA pretty good introduction to the history of the rise and fall of Puritanism in England and New England. To the uninitiated, the book provides a decent overview of the principle forces, both political and religious, in the shaping of the Puritan movement of the early 1600s. It also seeks to disabuse the public of common misperceptions about the "puritanical" character, such as the widely-held belief that puritans were killjoys. It is hard to discuss at too great a length about all aspects of Puritanism in a little under 125 pages, but Bremer has done a fairly well job of presenting the most important aspects of the Puritan movement and its legacy and influence in the history of England and the US since the early 17th century. Bremer's introduction provides a good starting point for delving further into Puritanism. Highly recommended. ...more
The Book of Mormon (BoM) occupies a unique place as a piece of sacred scripture in the American religious milieu since it was published in 1830. To itThe Book of Mormon (BoM) occupies a unique place as a piece of sacred scripture in the American religious milieu since it was published in 1830. To its critics and detractors, it is at best a piece of dull fiction ("chloroform in print", according to Mark Twain), and at worst, a blasphemous religious text that guarantees to put anyone believing in it on the sure road to perdition. But, to those that staunchly affirm the biblical truths contained and expounded in it, it contains the inspired Word of God. As such, to provide an introduction - "a very short introduction", as a matter of fact - and a fair synopsis to such a piece of religious text is a daunting task, to say the least.
Givens has done an admirable job in summarizing the essentials of the BoM to both its believers and non-believers. His book contains in all ten chapters, the last one being the conclusion, that introduce the reader to themes, narratives, contexts, authors, as well as a few of the central characters responsible for bringing the BoM to its inception. For instance, chapter 2 titled 'Themes', contains brief expositions of five core themes around which the the BoM is structured, thus providing the reader with a useful map for navigating through the text. These five themes, viz. personal revelation, focus on Christ, varieties of Zion, new configurations of scripture, and the centrality of family, "constitute the backbone of five distinct narratives that comprise the sacred record" (p20). This is a quite valuable bird's eye view for anyone reading the BoM. In other chapters, we briefly meet some of the characters responsible for getting the BoM to print. It is hard not to mention Joseph Smith when writing about the BoM, but Givens also introduces other personalities, such as Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer, that played significant roles in the book's publication.
Then, there is a chapter on the BoM's many family stories and the characters contained therein that bring to light some of the profound theological doctrines of the LDS Church, along with their far-reaching ramifications, which highlight both the commonalities and the dissimilarities of Mormon doctrines with those of other current-day mainstream Christian churches.
Another chapter on BoM teachings highlights, among other things, how surprisingly similar most of the BoM doctrines are to those of the Holy Bible. For instance, faith, repentance, baptism, Christ and the Holy Ghost are recurring salvifying themes that pervade the BoM and the Holy Bible, even more so in the former. At the same time, some novel doctrines, such as "The Fortunate Fall", wherein "the Fall [of Adam and Eve] is not a catastrophe to be fixed and rectified, [but]... the necessary and glorious pathway to humanity's eternal advancement" (p76), are quite dissimilar to those of other Christian churches. This sentiment is perhaps best described in Nephi 2, chapter 2, verse 25: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."
There are plenty of other passages in Givens' book that bring out the essentials of the BoM, providing any non-LDS person with the necessary tools to understand not only the sacred text but also provide a window to the minds and religious aspirations of the text's adherents.
In conclusion, Givens' introduction to the Book of Mormon is a well-written book that I would highly recommend to anyone with even a modicum of interest in the Book of Mormon or in Mormonism in general. ...more
I have never ever read a novel/thriller that made me want to finish reading it as soon as I could until I started reading 'Wired'. Right from the get-I have never ever read a novel/thriller that made me want to finish reading it as soon as I could until I started reading 'Wired'. Right from the get-go, I was completely immersed in the story, so much so that I felt all my other daily mundane activities were getting in the way of my reading. My girlfriend read the novel before I did, and she said it was a real page-turner. Later, when I read it, I understood what she exactly meant. There is a bit of everything in the book that makes it so enthralling. I especially enjoyed the bits on philosophy very much. Of course, there is a little bit of romance, some action, some espionage, lots of twists, science fiction, and a great deal of suspense, too. But, the best part is that all these ingredients, if you will, were blended into a whole that was just so spellbinding. Kudos to the author for coming up with such a fantastic thriller! I eagerly look forward to reading his other books. (Written Sep 10, 2011)...more
My wife and I became huge fans of Richards when we fell in love with 'Wired', having read it last year. We waited eagerly for the sequel to come out,My wife and I became huge fans of Richards when we fell in love with 'Wired', having read it last year. We waited eagerly for the sequel to come out, and now, after having just finished reading it, I can say that it was a great read! 'Amped', like 'Wired', belongs to the genre of Sci-Fi, but to me it is the kind that's a touch different from the mainstream variety. One that is rooted in humanity's pressing conditions. It deals with matters that are at the heart of serious planetary issues that we have just begun to acknowledge now - barely, actually.
There is, of course, Kira Miller (the protagonist, in a manner of speaking) and her group that, in the story, must overcome insurmountable resistance from various forces. She, along with her carefully chosen group, are discoverers and inventors of some truly amazing facts and things, but there is a price for each of their discovery/invention, and if those discoveries and inventions fall in the wrong hands, then even God can't save the planet. With great power comes great responsibility, as they say, and Kira with her astounding intelligence and depth and breath of perception is all too aware of that adage. She must help her group navigate some very dangerous waters before she can put her discoveries to good use for humanity. Whether she is successful in this, you must read the novel to find out.
But, of course, there is more to 'Amped' than the above. In many ways, the author uses the story of Kira Miller and her remarkable group of scientists/individuals to invite the reader to ponder on many of the deeper philosophical, ethical, religious, moral and scientific issues concerning our modern lives and the direction we as a species are headed toward. For me, some of the most memorable passages from the novel were the ones that engaged me as a thinker. Many of the stances held and expressed by the different characters, I agreed with, but there were others that made me think harder about my own positions apropos several aspects of my existence as a member of my species. Some of the debates in the novel were highly engaging, intellectually that is. But they also touch you in a visceral manner. Visceral and intellectual engagement, if you will!
I loved reading the enlightening conversations among/between some of the very smart individuals in the novel. Some of the cases for self-deception were truly astounding. As also the habit for self-destructive behavior. This was aptly highlighted by Matt Griffin, the computer genius, who narrates the story of the scorpion and the frog toward the end of the novel. Well, if you wish to engage your mind in some fun, exciting and thrilling read for a few hours, then by all means get a copy of 'Amped' and start reading. I would of course highly recommend 'Wired' as well!
My feeling is that there is much more that Richards will offer in the future. There should be another novel in the future to make this series into a wonderful trilogy....more