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Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
    ––     Oscar Wilde
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On This Day In:
2020 The Spirit Of A Fighter, The Heart Of A Saint
Corporate Cults
2019 Most Hire
Just The Three Of Us
2018 Sounds Like #45’s White House
2017 Have We Started Winning Yet?
2016 Still Springy
2015 Well Concealed
2014 The History Of Warriors
2013 A Cult Of Ignorance
2012 Counting Valor
Understanding Faith
2011 I Can Hear You Now
2010 Inception

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What counts, in the long run, is not what you read; it is what you sift through your own mind; it is the ideas and impressions that are aroused in you by your reading.  It is the ideas stirred in your own mind, the ideas which are a reflection of your own thinking, which make you an interesting person.
    —     Eleanor Roosevelt
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On This Day In:
2020 Role Reversal
Time To Defend The Constitution (Part I)
Time To Defend The Constitution (Part II)
2019 Right Or Wrong
2018 Open Doors
2017 When It Deserves It
2016 Expiation For Rest
2015 You’ll Get Through It
2014 A Special Kind Of Fall
2013 Very Rewarding
2012 MIB3 – The Team Is Closer Than Ever
Yet
2011 Little By Little

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I believe in the magic of books.  I believe that during certain periods in our lives we are drawn to particular books — whether it’s strolling down the aisles of a bookshop with no idea whatsoever of what it is that we want to read and suddenly finding the most perfect, most wonderfully suitable book staring us right in the face.  Unblinking.  Or a chance meeting with a stranger or friend who recommends a book we would never ordinarily reach for.  Books have the ability to find their own way into our lives.
    ―    Cecelia Ahern
[This quote is available at multiple locations on the web, but I originally found it as a post on one of the blogs I follow:  I didn’t have my glasses on….
The specific post is:  the magic of books.   Which can be found at:   https://ididnthavemyglasseson.com/2021/05/08/24719/
Please give the site a visit if you have some spare time.    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2020 The Magnitude Of The Challenge
2019 Still Tearing, Still Being Rewarded
2018 Nothing More, Nothing Less
2017 Memorial Day – 2017
No Wonder I’m Smiling
2016 Thinking Science Fictional
2015 Dawn Is Coming
2014 Back When I Was A Firebrand
2013 Pen In Hand
Word Up!
2012 Disturbing
Trying To Keep Up
2011 Unreliable And Selective
2010 Adult-Onset Athlete

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2034: A Novel of the Next World War”  (2021©)  —  book review
The book subject to today’s review was written by Elliot Ackerman, James Stavridis Admiral USN (ret.).  Ackerman is a former White House Fellow and decorated Marine veteran.  Stavridis is, of course, best known as a four-star Admiral and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.  Ackerman is a working journalist / opinion writer and both are authors of multiple books.  That’s pretty much their bonafides for writing a “future – history” about world war / combat.
This novel is set thirteen years in the future.  Putin is still in charge of Russia.  The U.S. has a female President from an Independent party.  And, we don’t really know much about anyone else in charge around the world.  We know China is pushing its claims in the northern Pacific, yet Taiwan remains an independent “nation” state.  India has somehow “resolved” the Pakistan issue in its favor, but we don’t know what that means for either India or Pakistan.  NATO is in disarray without strong U.S. leadership.  And, finally, Iran has had some success against Israel.  What isn’t exactly made clear, except Iran has somehow “freed” the Golan Heights.
Background:  The first third of this book was published as a special “full dedicated issue” recently in Wired magazine, which I subscribe to.  I have read EVERY issue of the magazine since inception back in 1993.  The company I worked for back in 2000 had all of the back issues on a shelf and I would “borrow” them one at a time, read cover to cover and then bring them back.  As far as I know, no one else EVER read any of them, as once I was hired, I kept the current ones on my desk and no one ever asked for them.  Shortly before leaving the company, I got a personal subscription and have continued reading them for the last 20 years.  Anyway, Wired‘s issue left you hanging with the promise of a future novel publication in March 2021.  My review is of the full publication.  This book was one of two I received as a birthday present from my wife.
And,…  This book is about a military conflict between China and the United States.  Supposedly, China is an ascending world power and the U.S. is a descending / failing world power.  China stages a confrontation in order to demonstrate its military superiority – and the world slips into war.
Is the book interesting?  Informative?  Entertaining?  Accurate – technologically, politically or militarily?  Is it worth the time to read it?  To be honest, the magazine promised more than the book delivered.  The answer to all five of those questions is mostly so-so…
It is a fast read at barely over 300 pages.  The problem is there isn’t much there – there.  I don’t know how much (if any) current military capability Ackerman has access to.  It is a given (to me) that Stavridis would have had nearly unlimited access (pre-retirement anyway).  The problem is, of course, the book would have had to be submitted to and cleared through State and DOD before it was published and neither agencies (nor the authors) would have been inclined to offer much useful information in a novel.
With nothing but the most general capabilities described we get a lot of implausible “magic” technology under the guise of “AI” (Artificial Intelligence) which seems to work perfectly and then not at all.  We get very poor strategic decisions / action by the U.S.; we get some oversimplification of other technologies (overseas internet cabling);  side tracks by Russia and Iran, which seem to have been added to make the conflict global rather than China vs. U.S.;  and then we get a couple of miracles at the end by India to conclude the novel / war.  That pretty much covers the “informative and accuracy” portion of this review.
What about interesting and entertaining?  Again, so-so…  There are five main characters: female American Admiral, male American fighter pilot, male American (Indian immigrant) NSC advisor, male Iranian officer (he ends up with various ranks), and the main Chinese (half-American) Admiral.  The story is told from each of their viewpoints.  (Yes, there are also another handful of secondary but important characters, but this is really about the big five.)
The problem I had was the number of characters made for a long, deep story which developed each character to the point where you cared about them without giving away too much plot / ending.  Unfortunately, this book is neither long nor deep, which meant you almost cared, but not quite.  And, again unfortunately, it was almost entirely predictable and therefore, while I finished feeling entertained, I didn’t feel satisfied – emotionally or intellectually.
Then is it worth your time, then?  Yes!  It raises the interesting question if military technology is useful if it is subject to (can be negated by) a less expensive counter-measure.  In this case, the apparent answer is that if the elephant is blinded, it is still an elephant and not easily overwhelmed.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  This is not Tom Clancy or Sir John Hackett level political, military or strategy writing, but I did find it entertaining even if not informative or militarily consistent.  I’m grateful to have received it as a present, because I’d have waited for the paperback or a very reduced price before buying it myself.  So I got to read something almost literally hot off the presses…
Final disclaimer:  I purchased this book at normal / sale price and no compensation has been provided to me by anyone for my opinions in this review.
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On This Day In:
2020 First Buds
To Fly
2019 What If Nobody Believes Them Either
2018 It’s About Heart Not Skill
2017 Winning So Much I’m Already Tired Of It (Not)
2016 Punishing Red Binge
2015 Bits In The Soup
2014 More Beef, Less Bull
2013 Where Are Your Mountains
2012 Spherical Knowledge Of Hamsters
2011 Taking Stock Over Time

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Many scientists deeply involved in the exploration of the solar system (myself among them) were first turned in that direction by science fiction.  And the fact that some of that science fiction was not of the highest quality is irrelevant.  Ten-year-olds do not read the scientific literature.
    —   Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2019 Happy Thanksgiving (2019)
2018 And Smiles…
2017 Or Savor A Little Longer…
2016 Sometimes I Just Want To Smell The Flowers
2015 One Truth – Done Well
2014 Now In Imagination, On The Other Hand…
2013 No Plan, No Map
2012 Singing About Love
2011 The Awesome Power Of Truth

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Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.
   ―     Socrates
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On This Day In:
2019 #45 Is The Inverse
2018 A Message To The White House Press Corps
2017 Eeny Meeny Miny Moe
Binge, Binge, Binge
2016 Feeling Warm Yet?
Four Documentaries
2015 Just Like All The Others
2014 In My Own Vanity
2013 Filled With Words
2012 Lectio Auget Existentiae Meae
2011 Lied Lately?
2010 Born To Work At Faux News
Lost Again (Uh, Make That Still)
Qui Genus Humanum Ingenio Superavit
They’re Back… (Part 1)

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The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.
    ––    W. Somerset Maugham
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On This Day In:
2019 Not Enough
2018 One Thing We Do Know
2017 Preservation
2016 Going Back
2015 Just For Today
2014 Reaching For Destiny
2013 Still Just Passing Through
2012 Live Or Die
2011 On Secession
2010 A Rocky Weekend

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You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture.  Just get people to stop reading them.
     ––    Ray Bradbury
[You don’t have to revoke FCC licenses to destroy the Fourth Estate (a free press).  Just get people to believe legitimate news organizations are “Fake News”.    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2019 A Defense Of Liberty
2018 And Blog To Word Up To The Universe
The Irony Of Greed
2017 Or Revisiting A Blog Site
2016 Alas, Too Often The Latter
2015 Either / Or
2014 Memorial Day – 2014
Perfection
2013 Memorial Day Video
Equal = Equal
2012 Congrats, Nephew!!
Doggie Vision Networks
The Flash: Omnibus
JLI: vol 1
Flash: Rebirth
Burning Images
What Do You Believe?
2011 Are We Still At War With The Poor?

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…The onus is always on us, we the oppressed, to challenge a system that wants to conserve its traditions and traditional values.  We come to understand that if we want to be included in the American conversation, we have to work twice as hard while being told that we’re lazy, or that the government gives us money, and then told that we’re angry if we bring up the problem of racism in public spaces or when it doesn’t feel like the right time.  So we keep putting off these conversations, or we’re having them on the Internet, where it’s too easy to be anonymous and therefore cruel and selfish.  It’s like car drivers behaving dangerously on the road, simply because they’re hidden behind metal, glass and distance.  In our more personal online spaces we fill our feeds exclusively with people we agree with.  If there is conflict below a post or tweet it never feels like a conversation – only like road rage.
So if we can’t seem to find ways to talk in person, or online, when and where and how do we talk?  I think a novel is a kind of conversation.  Both the writer and the reader bring their experience to the page.  The reader’s experiences and ideas can be reshaped, challenged, changed.  I know, I’m a writer, so of course I think the answer is books, but I think reading books is a good place to start thinking about and understanding people’s stories you aren’t familiar with, outside your comfort zone and experience.  A novel will ask you to walk in a character’s shoes, and this can build empathy.  Without empathy we are lost.  I tend to read mostly novels and have come to understand the world better through the lens of novels.  When someone else’s world is different from our own, we see how we are the same.  We not only become more empathetic to their experience but we see how we are equal.  We also see how much upper-middle-class white male writing has been the only thing taught in schools, the only experience for so long – most of the time anyway.  I think institutional change can come by teaching women, teaching writers of color.  We will all be better for it.  I like that novels ask us without seeming to ask us to think about other people, to understand the many-storied landscape of this country we live and die in – with or without truly knowing or understanding them.
  —  Tommy Orange
Excerpt from his editorial / opinion piece: “What Novels Can Teach Us
Appearing in: Time Magazine, dtd: 5 November 2018
Online at:  https://time.com/5434396/tommy-orange-novels-conversations/
Online the article is titled: “How to Talk To Each Other When There’s Little Common Ground
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On This Day In:
2018 And Pay In Full
2017 If Only
2016 Equal Justice
2015 Not Enough
2014 Are You Even Listening?
2013 Namaste
2012 Looking Up
2011 Et Tu Brute?

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The best students come from homes where education is revered: where there are books, and children see their parents reading them.
    —    Leo Buscaglia
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On This Day In:
2018 Is #45 STILL Losing America
2017 We Sleep To Remember And We Sleep To Forget
2016 Useful Gift
2015 Who’s The Boss?
2014 What Counts In The Future
2013 Improper Sequence?
2012 Two Gems
2011 A True Test

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A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end.  You live several lives while reading.
    ––    William Styron
[In life, a great partner / soulmate / spouse should share their life and deepen yours.    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 Dead Red
You Ain’t Done Yet
2017 Just Because
2016 As Close As They Can Get
2015 And So I Blog
2014 Take Flight
2013 Contributing Joy
2012 More Than A Race
2011 Institutionalized Leadership

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If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a state has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his house, what books he may read or what films he may watch.
    —    Thurgood Marshall
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On This Day In:
2018 Reflections
2017 Opposites Attract
2016 Completely Unreasonable
Starting To Be A Reacher
2015 Avengers Assemble II
But If I Had To Perish Twice…
2014 Turning Pages
2013 We Are All Accountable
2012 American Sign Language
2011 Happy Disproof
2010 Book Review – Managing Your Government Career

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The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.
    —    Mark Twain
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On This Day In:
2018 As I Recall
2017 Truly Generous
2016 Choose Your Destiny
2015 Fast And Firm
2014 Neither Head Nor Heart
2013 Lonely, Foolish, Love Songs
Batting 1.000
Coward, n.
2012 At Least A Little More Difficult
2011 Speaking Of Fear

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The true source of our suffering has been our timidity.  We have been afraid to think.   . . . .   Let us dare to read, think, speak and write.
  —  President John Adams
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On This Day In:
2017 Two Good To Be Real
Secrets
2016 Learning Subtle Differences
2015 Dog Eat Dog World?
2014 And Sometimes Blogs About It
2013 Outside-In
2012 They Are All Perfect
2011 Delegation – The “How-To’s”
2009 Diet Update and Other Bits & Bobs…

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A book is a map  ….  There will be times in your life when you will feel lost and confused.  The way back to yourself is through reading.  There is not a problem in existence that has not been eased, somewhere and at some time, by a book.  …  The answers have all been written.  And the more you read, the more you will know how to find your way through those difficult times.
  ―   Matt Haig
From his book:  “Echo Boy
Quote found on: mylittlebookblog.com
The specific post is located at: http://mylittlebookblog.com/2015/05/04/a-book-is-a-map-there-will-be-times-in-your-life-when-you-will-feel-lost-and-confused-the-way-back-to-yourself-is-through-reading-there-is-not-a-problem-in-existence-that-has-not-been/
[Another of the many blogs I follow.  It doesn’t seem to be updated as frequently as it used to be, but it still has some interesting posts and is worth a visit if you have some time.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2017 A True American Hero
Or Desserts
2016 What #AmnestyDon Is Really Afraid Of
2015 What Are You Doing?
2014 The Ideal Man
2013 Daring Ripples
2012 Evermore
2011 Unpredictable Opportunity
2010 Giants Fall In Game 2 (1 to 6) – Leave PA With 1-1 Split !!

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