The Shift is a new movie from Angel Studios, the folks who brought us Sound of Freedom. I thought the latter so worthwhile I wanted to support the studio and give The Shift a chance.

First, the good:

  • I cannot imagine making a movie out of the Book of Job, which consists almost entirely of Job and his friends making long speeches to one another. This is a creditable effort.
  • Neal McDonough plays a very convincing Satan.

But here's why it was not a good experience:

  • I'm an old-fashioned science fiction fan, and like my stories rational, logical, and scientific, with more thought than action (think Isaac Asimov). I'm not at all fond of multiverse stories, nor of confusing story lines and rapid transistions, which pretty much describes most of the movie.
  • I'm tempted to say the movie is too short—except that at times it felt too long. We need to get to know the characters better. Granted, the Book of Job doesn't go in for much character development, either.
  • It's not the film's fault, but the volume in the theater was so extreme that even my earplugs—which I take everywhere I go—couldn't do the job of making the experience pain-free. The bass, for example, was not just loud, but physically painful, the sound waves literally pummeling my body for 90% of the movie.

If you stay to the end of the credits, you will be assured more than once that the very best way to view a film is in a theater. Nope. Not even close. I'll take my small-screen TV with controllable volume and my own popcorn any day.

But that's me; your mileage may vary.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 at 3:47 pm | Edit
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EReaderIQ is my good friend, and it ought to be Amazon's, given how much of my business they've sent the company's way. I partially understand that Amazon might be annoyed that I'm buying these Kindle books because eReaderIQ informed me that they were on special sale, but the reality is that I've spent a whole lot more money on amazon.com than I would have otherwise, even if most of my purchases have been in the $1 to $4 range.

One of the things I've been having fun with is accumulating books that I particularly enjoyed in my childhood. There are those I can't remember well enough to find again, even though I know I found them special at the time. And there are those that aren't available as e-books, or inexpensive second-hand books. But I've been finding enough books to keep enriching someone's coffers, though quite often the authors themselves are dead.

One such author is Walter Farley, with his Black Stallion series. A friend and neighbor of mine had her own pony, and induced me to vary my science fiction reading with some horse stories. This was one series I fell in love with, and I've so far picked up three of the first four for $3 each.

Sometimes rereading old favorites reminds me of why I loved them; sometimes the pleasure is marred by things I didn't notice sixty years ago. Rereading the Black Stallion books has done both.

As a child, I loved adventure stories with young people as the heroes. I still do. The Rick Brant books and Robert Heinlein's "juveniles" were another two series that I loved. (Heinlein's adult books were a mixed bag, some good, some awful—but I loved the ones with youthful protagonists.) Looking back, I'm a little surprised it didn't bother me that it was mostly boys who had all the fun in these stories; females tended to be overly-protective mothers or weak, silly girls. But it didn't bother me; I strongly identified with the boys and ignored the girls. (And no, that doesn't mean I had any gender confusion in real life, any more than I thought I lived on Mars or could leap tall buildings in a single bound.)

On rereading the Black Stallion books, I can see clearly both gender and cultural stereotypes that were common during the 1940's, which is when the first five books in the series were written. But I don't find it objectionable; it all seems pretty reasonable for the time. If I read a book set in a particular time and place, I want it to reflect the culture and values of that location. There is little more annoying in a book than finding 21st century American values in the mouths of characters who are supposedly from a very different time and culture.

The Black Stallion Returns, for example, is primarily set in Arabia, and perhaps someone who really knows the culture of that time would find inaccuracies, but to my knowledge it is close enough, perhaps even with educational value. Certainly the culture and people, while acknowledged as different, are treated with respect.

And the culture back home? That's accurate, too. There really was a time in this country when children grew up with loving, supportive parents, where men and women married "till death us do part," and where children—boy children, at least—were given a lot more opportunities for adventure than they are now. Even if not quite to the extent that the characters in these adventure stories experience. That last part is where "suspension of disbelief" is required, but not the setting. That's the world I grew up in. Even if I hadn't, I think I'd rather read books like these than the depressing books that are marketed as "realistic fiction" today.

I'm curious to see how many of the Black Stallion books make it to the "can't pass this up" price range. I know I missed many of them as a child, being limited by a very small village library. Even the nearest "big library" wasn't all that large, and we didn't get there very often. There was no Inter-Library Loan, and buying books was rarely within the budget. I'm hoping I may have the opportunity to read some new-to-me stories.

Culturally, it may have been a more satisfactory time when I was young, but having such access to books as we have now is to me almost immeasurable wealth.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 at 6:21 am | Edit
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Twice now I have published my review of Andrew Scott Cooper's The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran, the original review in 2017 and a reprise in 2020. You can read either of those to see why you should read this book.

To see why you should buy (and read) this book now, I'm telling you that the Kindle version is currently available for $1.99 on Amazon. That's the price of three postage stamps, or a small order of waffle fries at Chick-fil-a.

If you're concerned about the current cultural and political situation in the United States, you owe it to yourself to see what was going on in Iran 45 years ago. It may be even more important to read if you're not concerned about our situation.  If you're intimidated by the length of the book, or the subject, I strongly recommend reading at least the first few pages: the People, the Events, and the Introduction. That's only 25 pages. By then, you may be hooked, as I was; if not you will at least have been given a good overview of what is fleshed out in the remainder of the book.

And this is a good time to remind you of how helpful the eReaderIQ service can be, which will alert you when the Kindle versions of books or authors you are interested in have special sales. The last time I bought this book it cost $13.

WARNING:  These sales can come and go quickly, so if you have any interest, I'd recommend grabbing the book now.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 at 11:07 am | Edit
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It's not often we go to a movie theater. Seriously. I may have forgotten something, but I believe the last time we did so was in 2016, to see "Sully." But yesterday I couldn't resist venturing out for "Sound of Freedom."

Why? Well, for one thing, the subject—modern-day slavery and human trafficking—sounded important and serious and worth spending time on.  I look at the ads for so many movies these days and they sound boring at best. For another, I unexpectedly caught an interview with Tim Ballard, the real-life hero upon whom the film is based, and then later another with Jim Caviezel, the actor who portrays him. Ballard was a Homeland Security agent who quit his job of bringing down paedophiles in order to focus on rescuing their victims. I'm generally leery of movies that are "based on a true story," because they are so often inaccurate, but over and over again, Ballard would say, "yes, that really happened," or "that's actually understated," and he obviously approves of the film. Caviezel's interview was inspiring as well.

Perhaps the largest factor driving my desire to see "Sound of Freedom" was the surprising, even virulent opposition to the movie from sources I would have expected to cheer any effort to bring light into the deep darkness of slavery, kidnapping, human trafficking, and the exploitation of children. Unfortunately, that seemed to fit into a pattern I've been observing recently, that of downplaying the very existence of modern-day slavery, and pushing the idea that sex workers especially, even children, are voluntary participants in the business. Since no sane observer of human nature and human history could possibly really believe that, I had to see what it was that had generated such fierce opposition.

The only conclusion I can come to is that either (1) evil is now, if not worse than at any point in human history, at least more generally accepted by ordinary people as normal, or (2) there are a lot of rich and powerful people who have a great interest in the sex-slave trade. Probably both.

Even suggesting that is likely to get you labelled as a "conspiracy theorist"; as the makers of "Sound of Freedom" have learned. My opinion has always been that there's no need to call conspiracy anything that can be explained by mere human stupidity, but these days I'm seriously considering making myself a t-shirt that proclaims, "The Conspiracy Theorists Were Right."

Anyway, "Sound of Freedom" has my highest recommendation. Those who are accustomed to the ultra-fast-paced movies of today might find a few scenes a bit slow, but that didn't trouble me at all. The film is rated PG-13, which is pretty mild considering the subject matter. It's a story about a very dark and evil subject, but is nonetheless filled with goodness and hope. That's hard to beat.

Go ahead, do yourself a favor. See "Sound of Freedom." I'm not sure how young an age group should see it. Definitely our three oldest grandchildren could, but for younger than that it might be too intense. Probably PG-13 isn't a bad guideline.

It's not an easy film to watch, especially for parents and grandparents, but it's a good one.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, July 22, 2023 at 8:23 pm | Edit
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Over the years, Porter has ordered all sorts of movies from Netflix (the old-fashioned, DVD-in-the-mail way), and every once in a while one will catch my attention, too. I wasn't planning to watch Bridge of Spies, but I wandered into the room at the wrong time, and was soon hooked. Probably because it's based on true events, maybe because it stars Tom Hanks. Anyway, it's a worthwhile movie. Here's one of the trailers (under two minutes).

What has stayed with me clearest and longest from the movie is a single quote. Actually, it's one quote but used multiple times. You can see three in this 2.5-minute video.

"Would it help?" We find ourselves asking each other that question a lot these days, when we all have so many things to worry about. It makes us smile, and maybe let go of a little anxiety.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 9:05 pm | Edit
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 The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler (47North, 2016)
 The Thief's Daughter by Jeff Wheeler (47North, 2016)

 The King's Traitor by Jeff Wheeler (47North, 2016)

Jeff Wheeler is a prolific author with enough books to keep me going for a very long time. Due to the length of my current reading list, it will be a while before I get to any of his other fantasy worlds—unless our grandchildren start reading them. But these three were a delight. I'm very grateful to the friend who recommended Jeff Wheeler to me. Here's what she wrote about his books:

As for Fantasy, Jeff Wheeler is at the top of my search list. Though I am long past the age of the readers his books are aimed at, I thoroughly enjoy the worlds he has created, borrowing liberally from the Arthurian Legend, Shakespeare, and the Bible! Sometimes his allusions are obvious; others, I have a belated OMG moment when I realize a certain character is actually a well-known figure from our own legends of the past. I should add that through thick and thin Wheeler emphasizes the honorable behavior of his young protagonists, including chastity.

You certainly don't need to catch all his allusions (or even any of them) to enjoy the books, but they are delightful, like finding hidden Mickeys at Disney World, or Easter eggs in a computer game.

The Queen's Poisoner, the first in the Kingfountain series, was a true joy to read, probably because the protagonist is young. The second, The Thief's Daughter, was not so hard to put down because the character has grown enough to make romance—one of my least favorite genres—a significant element, but there was enough action to get me through it. Plus, the romantic element has an interesting twist. And in the final book, The King's Traitor, you get all three: interesting children, romance with surprises (but not too much), and satisfying action.

All in a world where good is good, evil is evil, and both degradation and redemption are real.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 8, 2023 at 5:22 am | Edit
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Is It Always Fun to Travel Abroad? by Antonio Evaristo Morales-Pita (Austin-Macauley, 2021)

I wasn't happy to discover that Porter had bought this book.

We were in Chicago, worshipping at the wonderful church of our former rector. After the service, the author approached Porter, engaged him in conversation (normal for after a church service) and pressured him to buy his new book (not normal).

Having bought it, I figured we ought to read it, but I was not looking forward to the experience. Much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it—enough that I figure it's worth a review.

The author was born in Cuba, lived there through Castro's revolution and long afterwards, and eventually ended up an American citizen. Whenever and wherever he was, he travelled as much as he could. He speaks several languages and if he didn't come anywhere near visiting every country in the world it wasn't for lack of trying. In this book he briefly describes some of the major events of his life, and the places he visited, including his recommendations of what to see and do.

Is the book well-written? Frankly, no. The author's English isn't as good as it might be—what works really well for speaking does not always translate well to writing. I also found it too egotistical for my taste. In short, the book is a walking testimony to the importance of editors in the world of publishing. More than anything else, the book sounds to me like a personal blog.

But I like reading blogs. I write a blog. I like the writing of ordinary people telling their own stories, and I don't hold them to the highest publishing standards.

You can get your own copy of Is It Always Fun to Travel Abroad? on amazon.com for less than $4. Let me just say that we vastly overpaid for our copy. On the other hand, we do have an autographed edition. :) And it is fun to read about the author's travels abroad and to get his perspective on places and events.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at 5:55 am | Edit
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The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation by Rod Dreher (Sentinel, 2017)

I read Live Not By Lies first. The Benedict Option was written three years earlier, and the two make good companion pieces for asking vitally important questions about our lives, our priorities, and our actions. In Live Not by Lies I preferred the first half of the book to the second; with The Benedict Option my reaction was the opposite. I find myself quarrelling with Dreher in a number of places, but nonetheless highly recommend both books, because he is observant, and he is asking the important questions. Dreher predicts very hard times coming for Christians—and others—as our society diverges more and more radically from its classical Western and Christian roots and values.

In my review of Live Not by Lies I mentioned that despite being specifically written for Christians, it's an important book for a much wider audience. The Benedict Option is less comprehensive in scope, especially the first part, but still useful. In Kindle form, it's currently $10, but if you use eReaderIQ and are patient, you can get it for quite a bit less. And don't forget your public library!

You know I'm not in the business of summarizing books. I don't do it well, for one thing. When one of our grandsons was very young, if you asked him what a book was about, he would instead rattle off the whole thing, word for word from memory. I'm like that, minus the superb memory. But secondarily, I don't think summaries do a good book any favors. The author has put together his arguments, or his plot and characters, in the way he thinks best, and trying to pull it apart and reduce it seems to me rude and unfair. Or maybe I'm just trying to justify my weakness, I don't know.

But if I were forced to write my simplest take-away from The Benedict Option, it would be this: Riding along with the current of mainstream culture may have worked all right for us when American culture was solidly rooted in Judeo-Christian and Western ideals, but that time is long gone. Doing the right thing—whatever that might be in a given situation—might never have been easy, but it's harder than when I was young, and it's on track to get much worse.

With that cheerful thought, here are a few quotes. Bold emphasis is my own.

Rather than wasting energy and resources fighting unwinnable political battles, we should instead work on building communities, institutions, and networks of resistance that can outwit, outlast, and eventually overcome the occupation. (p. 12). 

I agree wholeheartedly about building communities, institutions, and networks. However, I don't think we should abandon political work. After all, for half a century, Roe v. Wade looked absolutely unassailable, and now there's at least a small crack. Prudence would say to do both: attend to politics (a civic duty, anyway), without putting our faith in political solutions, and at the same time prioritize the building of helpful communities, institutions, networks—and especially families.

The 1960s were the decade in which Psychological Man came fully into his own. In that decade, the freedom of the individual to fulfill his own desires became our cultural lodestar, and the rapid falling away of American morality from its Christian ideal began as a result. Despite a conservative backlash in the 1980s, Psychological Man won decisively and now owns the culture—including most churches—as surely as the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, and other conquering peoples owned the remains of the Western Roman Empire. (pp. 41-42).

People today who are nostalgic for the 1960's are mostly those who didn't live through them, I think. It was not a nice time.

Legend has it that in an argument with a cardinal, Napoleon pointed out that he had the power to destroy the church. “Your majesty,” the cardinal replied, “we, the clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last eighteen hundred years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.”
 (p. 49).

You can achieve the peace and order you seek only by making a place within your heart and within your daily life for the grace of God to take root. Divine grace is freely given, but God will not force us to receive it. It takes constant effort on our part to get out of God’s way and let His grace heal us and change us. To this end, what we think does not matter as much as what we do—and how faithfully we do it. (p. 52).

[T]he day is coming when the kind of thing that has happened to Christian bakers, florists, and wedding photographers will be much more widespread. And many of us are not prepared to suffer deprivation for our faith. This is why asceticism—taking on physical rigors for the sake of a spiritual goal—is such an important part of the ordinary Christian life. ... [A]scetical practices train body and soul to put God above self. ... To rediscover Christian asceticism is urgent for believers who want to train their hearts, and the hearts of their children, to resist the hedonism and consumerism at the core of contemporary culture. (pp. 63-64).

For most of my life ... I moved from job to job, climbing the career ladder. In only twenty years of my adult life, I changed cities five times and denominations twice. My younger sister Ruthie, by contrast, remained in the small Louisiana town in which we were raised. She married her high school sweetheart, taught in the same school we attended as children, and brought up her kids in the same country church.

When she was stricken with terminal cancer in 2010, I saw the immense value of the stability she had chosen. Ruthie had a wide and deep network of friends and family to care for her and her husband and kids during her nineteen-month ordeal. The love Ruthie’s community showered on her and her family made the struggle bearable, both in her life and after her death. The witness to the power of stability in the life of my sister moved my heart so profoundly that my wife and I decided to leave Philadelphia and move to south Louisiana to be near them all. (pp. 66-67)

Dreher wrote about his sister's struggle and the effect it had on him in The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, which I have also read, and may eventually review. As with all of his books, I have mixed feelings about that one. He idolizes his sister and her choices in a way I find uncomfortable, and reduces almost to a footnote the damage those choices did, to him and to others.

Saint Benedict commands his monks to be open to the outside world—to a point. Hospitality must be dispensed according to prudence, so that visitors are not allowed to do things that disrupt the monastery’s way of life. For example, at table, silence is kept by visitors and monks alike. As Brother Augustine put it, “If we let visitors upset the rhythm of our life too much, then we can’t really welcome anyone.” The monastery receives visitors constantly who have all kinds of problems and are seeking advice, help, or just someone to listen to them, and it’s important that the monks maintain the order needed to allow them to offer this kind of hospitality. (p. 73).

Father Benedict believes Christians should be as open to the world as they can be without compromise. “I think too many Christians have decided that the world is bad and should be avoided as much as possible. Well, it’s hard to convert people if that’s your stance,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to help people to see their own goodness and then bring them in than to point out how bad they are and bring them in.” (p. 73).

Though orthodox Christians have to embrace localism because they can no longer expect to influence Washington politics as they once could, there is one cause that should receive all the attention they have left for national politics: religious liberty. Religious liberty is critically important to the Benedict Option. Without a robust and successful defense of First Amendment protections, Christians will not be able to build the communal institutions that are vital to maintaining our identity and values. What’s more, Christians who don’t act decisively within the embattled zone of freedom we have now are wasting precious time—time that may run out faster than we think. (p. 84).

I know the book was written for Christians, but I wish Dreher had also emphasized how important this is for everyone. No one can afford to ignore the trampling of someone's Constitutional rights, even if they don't affect us personally. If Christians lose their First Amendment protections, no person, no group, no idea is safe.

Lance Kinzer is living at the edge of the political transition Christian conservatives must make. A ten-year Republican veteran of the Kansas legislature, Kinzer left his seat in 2014 and now travels the nation as an advocate for religious liberty legislation in statehouses. “I was a very normal Evangelical Christian Republican, and everything that comes with that—particularly a belief that this is ‘our’ country, in a way that was probably not healthy,” he says. That all fell apart in 2014, when Kansas Republicans, anticipating court-imposed gay marriage, tried to expand religious liberty protections to cover wedding vendors, wedding cake makers, and others. Like many other Republican lawmakers in this deep-red state, Kinzer expected that the legislation would pass the House and Senate easily and make it to conservative Governor Sam Brownback’s desk for signature. It didn’t work out that way at all. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce came out strongly against the bill. State and national media exploded with their customary indignation. Kinzer, who was a pro-life leader in the House, was used to tough press coverage, but the firestorm over religious liberty was like nothing he had ever seen. The bill passed the Kansas House but was killed in the Republican-controlled Senate. The result left Kinzer reeling. “It became very clear to me that the social conservative–Big Business coalition politics was frayed to the breaking point and indicated such a fundamental difference in priorities, in what was important,” he recalls. “It was disorienting. I had conversations with people I felt I had carried a lot of water for and considered friends at a deep political level, who, in very public, very aggressive ways, were trying to undermine some fairly benign religious liberty protections.”

...

Over and over he sees ... legislators who are inclined to support religious liberty taking a terrible pounding from the business lobby. (p. 84-86).

Nothing matters more than guarding the freedom of Christian institutions to nurture future generations in the faith. (p. 87).

Agreed—except that I would put "Christian parents" or just "parents" ahead of "institutions." Dreher is a strong advocate for Christian schools at every level, especially the so-called Classical Christian schools with their emphasis on rigorous academics. However, he gives short shrift to home education, an option that is at least as important and in need of support.

Because Christians need all the friends we can get, form partnerships with leaders across denominations and from non-Christian religions. And extend a hand of friendship to gays and lesbians who disagree with us but will stand up for our First Amendment right to be wrong. (p. 87). 

Over and over again I have seen the importance of these partnerships. In all the "fringe" movements I've been a part of, from home education to home birth to small and sustainable agriculture, this collaboration with others with whom we had next to nothing else in common made progress for the movements, and—which was perhaps even more valuable—forced us to work beside and learn to appreciate those who were in other ways our political opponents.

Most American Christians have no sense of how urgent this issue is and how critical it is for individuals and churches to rise from their slumber and defend themselves while there is still time. We do not have the luxury of continuing to fight the last war. (pp. 87-88).

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at 6:10 am | Edit
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It's that time again: Here's my annual compilation of books read during the past year.

  • Total books: 83
  • Fiction: 65 (78.3%)
  • Non-fiction: 16 (19.3%)
  • Other: 2 (2.4%)
  • Months with most books: February (27)
  • Month with fewest books: A tie between April and October (2 each)
  • Most frequent authors: Brandon Sanderson (24), Randall Garrett (23), Brian Jacques (9). As with last year, Randall Garrett is an anomaly; he makes such a strong showing because he was the subject of a particular focus and—thanks to the way I've accounted for them—his books are generally quite short. Actually, each of the runaway leaders was part of a special focus.  Both Jacques (with his Redwall series) and Sanderson (with his seemingly infinite collection) combine very interesting stories with books that my grandchildren are currently reading, which makes them especially attractive.  These two authors made up 40% of this year's total reading.  That's by number of books; if you count pages, Sanderson is immeasurably ahead.  (That's "immeasurably" as in "I am not going to bother to do the calculations.")

Here's the list, grouped by title; links are to reviews. The different colors in the titles only reflect whether or not you've followed a hyperlink. The ratings (★) and warnings (☢) are on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest/mildest. Warnings, like the ratings,  are highly subjective and reflect context, perceived intended audience, and my own biases. Nor are they completely consistent. They may be for sexual content, language, violence, worldview, or anything else that I find objectionable. Your mileage may vary.  Ratings in red indicate books I found particularly recommendable this year.

Title Author Category Rating/Warning Notes
...After a Few Words Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
Anchorite Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
The Asses of Balaam Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
Belly Laugh Randall Garrett fiction ★ ☢  
The Benedict Option Rod Dreher non-fiction ★★★★  
The Bible: Apocrypha Revised Standard Version non-fiction ★★★★  
The Bible: New Testament Revised Standard Version non-fiction ★★★★★  
The Bible: New Testament King James Version non-fiction ★★★★★  
The Bible: Psalter King James Version non-fiction ★★★★★  
The Bible: Tanakh Old Testament, Jewish version non-fiction ★★★★★  
The Black Stallion Walter Farley fiction ★★★★★  
The Black Star of Kingston S. D. Smith fiction ★★★★★  
The Blue Book of Tales J. A. Sommer fiction ★★★★  
Dead Giveaway Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
The Destroyers Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
Elantris 1 Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★★ On Sanderson in general: Excellent writing combined with wanting to read what my grandchildren like makes an irresistible combination. Elantris is one of his early books.
Elantris 1.2: The Emperor's Soul Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★★  
Elantris 1.3: The Hope of Elantris Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★  
Everything Sad is Untrue Daniel Nayeri non-fiction ★★★★ It's classed as fiction, and the style is fiction, but except for a little literary tweaking, it's non-fiction.
Fifty Per Cent Prophet Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
Frazz: Cogito, Ergo Caulfield Jef Mallett other ★★★ Short Kindle book with commentary, not nearly as good as the regular Frazz books.
Hanging by a Thread Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
Heist Job on Thizar Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
Here Shall I Die Ashore Caleb Johnson non-fiction ★★★★★ Excellent history of Porter's ancestor Stephen Hopkins (who turns up in Colonial Jamestown, the Mayflower, and Shakespeare's The Tempest)
A Hunter-Gatherer's Guide to the 21st Century Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein non-fiction ★★★★ 90% fascinating, 10% weird, 5% dangerous
I Am Not a Serial Killer Dan Wells fiction ★★ Well-written, but disturbing and definitely does not belong on the YA shelves where I found it.
I Am Not a Serial Killer Dan Wells fiction ★★ Yes, I read it twice for purposes of discussion.
In Case of Fire Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
Inheritance Sharon Moalem non-fiction ★★★  
Instant of Decision Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
Librarians 1: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★  
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming Rod Dreher non-fiction ★★★★  
Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents Rod Dreher non-fiction ★★★★ Important warnings from those who have escaped totalitarian societies.
The Man in the Queue Josephine Tey fiction ★★★★★  
The Man Who Hated Mars Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
The Measure of a Man Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
Mistborn 1: The Final Empire Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★ This year I re-read the first Mistborn trilogy, and found it to make much more sense on the second reading, so I raised its rating.
Mistborn 2: The Well of Ascension Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★  
Mistborn 3: The Hero of Ages Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★  
Mistborn 3.3: The Eleventh Metal Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★  
Mistborn 3.7: Secret History Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★  
Mistborn 3.7: Secret History Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★  
Mistborn 3.7: Secret History Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★ Yes, I read it three times this year, as I was figuring out the Mistborn world.
Mistborn 4: The Alloy of Law Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★★  
Mistborn 4.5: Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, Episodes Twenty-Eight Through Thirty Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★  
Mistborn 5: Shadows of Self Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★  
Mistborn 6: The Bands of Mourning Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★  
New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional Paul David Tripp other ★★ I know people who will find this exactly to their taste, but I’m not a fan of devotionals, and this was generally too depressing for my current needs.
Or Your Money Back Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
Prince Lander and the Dragon War S. D. Smith fiction ★★★★★  
Psichopath Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
The Real Anthony Fauci Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. non-fiction ★★★★★ Whatever your politics, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to read this book.
Reckoners 1: Steelheart Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★  
Reckoners 1.5: Mitosis Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★  
Reckoners 2: Firefight Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★  
Reckoners 3: Calamity Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★  
Redwall 1: Redwall Brian Jacques fiction ★★★★★ Technically a “juvenile” series, this one, like the Green Ember books, ought to be read by anyone who needs encouragement, i.e. everyone.
Redwall 2: Mossflower Brian Jacques fiction ★★★★★  
Redwall 3: Mattimeo Brian Jacques fiction ★★★★  
Redwall 4: Mariel of Redwall Brian Jacques fiction ★★★★  
Redwall 5: Salamandastron Brian Jacques fiction ★★★★  
Redwall 6: Martin the Warrior Brian Jacques fiction ★★★  
Redwall 7: The Bellmaker Brian Jacques fiction ★★★★★  
Redwall 8: Outcast of Redwall Brian Jacques fiction ★★★★★  
The Redwall Cookbook Brian Jacques non-fiction ★★★  
The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle Blair Bancroft fiction ★★★ Blair Bancroft’s books have this in common with Brandon Sanderson’s: The excellence of the writing keeps me coming back, even though there are parts I dislike.
Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★  
Sixth of the Dusk Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★  
Stormlight 2.5: Edgedancer Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★★  
Stormlight 3: Oathbringer Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★★★  
Suite Mentale Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
Thin Edge Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
Time Fuze Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
The Unnecessary Man Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
Unoffendable Brant Hansen non-fiction ★★★  
Viewpoint Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
What the Left Hand Was Doing Randall Garrett fiction ★★  
White Sand (prose excerpt) Brandon Sanderson fiction ★★★ White Sand is a three-volume graphic novel. What I read is the prose story on which it was based. Somewhat interesting, but not enough to induce me to read a graphic novel.
With No Strings Attached Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
A World by the Tale Randall Garrett fiction ★★★  
A World Without Email Cal Newport non-fiction ★★★★ As with most of Newport's books, this is too business-oriented for my taste, but he always has an interesting perspective.
The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner S. D. Smith fiction ★★★★★  
Zao's Tales J. A. Sommer fiction ★★★  
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, January 3, 2023 at 6:54 am | Edit
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Everything Sad Is Untrue: (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri (Levine Querido, 2020)

Sometimes the AI—which Porter, seeing with eyes clearer than most, insists stands not for Artificial Intelligence but for Automated Idiots—sometimes the AI gets it right when it recommends a book for me. Usually it's 'way off base, nowhere near the skill of, say, my sister-in-law or my son-in-law in discerning what I might enjoy. But sometimes it makes a surprising score.

I was searching for a book for the above-mentioned son-in-law when Everything Sad Is Untrue popped up on Amazon. Nayeri's book caught my eye because the title echoes Sam's words near the end of The Lord of the Rings:

“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?"

That was just enough to get me to click on the link. Which just goes to show how misleading titles can be. Still, it's not unfitting.

Everything Sad Is Untrue ticks off an awful lot of my "avoid-this-book" checkboxes:

  • Modern fiction (published in 2020; anything less than 50 years old is modern to me and I find the signal-to-noise ratio very poor in that group)
  • Young Adult fiction (what I said about poor signal-to-noise ratio goes a hundred-fold for YA fiction; I find most YA books insipid, narcissistic, and rarely appropriate for young people)
  • Won "Best Book of the Year" from a whole slew of entities like NPR, the New York Times, Today, and Amazon (not organizations that inspire my confidence, rather the opposite)
  • Has reviews that include accolades such as, "implementing a distinct literary style and challenging western narrative structures" and "urges readers to speak their truth" (phrases guaranteed to turn me off)

Despite all this, I clicked on Amazon's "Look Inside" and read the first few pages of the book. That actually made things worse, as the literary style is clearly "middle school Young Adult fiction," which, as you can guess, normally makes me run away, fast. And yet ... the story was intriguing enough, even in that small sample, to make me check it out of the library. I wouldn't have bought it, but this is one of the things libraries are good for.

And here's the thing: I don't care what the reviewers say, what the putative grade level is for the book, or how many middle school teachers assign it to their classes, this is not a Young Adult book. It's an adult semi-autobiography, written in the style of books aimed at middle-grade children. I say "semi-autobiography" because it's not written in a style normally associated with biographies, and it's classed as fiction. Here's what the author has to say about that:

I figure you want to know which parts are true. The short answer is all of it is true. I have changed the names of some people ... combined others ... and played a tiny bit with the timeline. But the elements are all—to my recollection—true.... Perhaps I misunderstood a great deal, in the way that a child misunderstands, but those are the myths I believed at the time. This was my life, as I experienced it, and it is both fiction and nonfiction at the same time.

Like poetry.

Daniel Nayeri, whose name was Khosrou until his mother got tired of Americans mispronouncing it, was born Persian, and if that makes you think of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and of Scheherazade I'm sure the author would be pleased. The son of a dentist and a doctor, he lived six years of a good life in Iran, until 1988 when his mother was forced to leave behind her husband and a thriving medical practice to flee with her two young children, a single suitcase, and a death-sentence fatwa on her head for the crime of having become a Christian.

Khosrou's tale is told through his childish memories, interwoven with tales of Persian folklore and Iranian culture. It's probably worth reading the book for that alone, because it doesn't assume much knowledge on the part of the reader. Those of us whose knowledge of modern Iran is largely limited to the tumultous and tragic times into which Khosrou was born can benefit from this more personal, if limited, glimpse. Anyone can benefit from this view of refugee life from a child's point of view. It's especially moving for me, because I know three people who fled Iran during that time, whose stories give credibility to Everything Sad Is Untrue.

Here's a 10-minute video with Daniel and his mother. It's well worth watching, whether you read the book or not.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, December 22, 2022 at 10:02 am | Edit
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Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives—and Our Lives Change Our Genes by Sharon Moalem (Grand Central Publishing, 2014)

I've read 75 books so far in 2022, but my "to read" list just keeps getting longer. Not that I'm complaining. This one was a gift from my sister-in-law, who despite our literary tastes being very different, is very good at recognizing a book I'll probably enjoy. In this case, it helps that we are both genealogists.

Is this a critically important book to read? Probably not—at least not immediately. But it's fascinating to learn that while our inherited genes may be fixed, the expression of those genes is not, and what happens to us in life can indeed affect the genetic inheritance we pass on to our children. And with personal genome sequencing (far beyond what 23andMe has to offer) becoming more common and less expensive, I look forward—despite some privacy concerns—to the day when doctors will be able to be much more accurate in drug and dosage prescriptions, based on a patient's specific genes. It turns out that prescribed dosages tend to be based on averages, and thus sort of work, most of the time, for most people—while ranging from useless to fatal for others. Knowing a patient's specific DNA can turn that from a flashlight beam to a laser.

Inheritance will also give you even more appreciation for how "fearfully and wonderfully made" we are, how remarkable the human body is put together—and how the tiniest genetic changes can have effects ranging from unnoticeable to the hurricane that arises because of the flapping of a butterfly's wings.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, December 2, 2022 at 9:50 pm | Edit
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I'll admit I'm astonished that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s shocking book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health has not generated more interest, especially since at the time I first wrote about it, the Kindle version was only $3. It's $15 now, and the hardcover close to $20, but I'd say it's still worth it at that price, especially if you can't get it from your local library. Or you can do what I do: put it on a watch list at eReaderIQ; for a brief time yesterday it was only 99 cents. At that price I would have bought copies for a few friends—if I hadn't been away from home for the whole day. I find the eReaderIQ service worth supporting, by the way: it really helps with playing Amazon's little games.

I understand that people might be skeptical, whether, as in my case, from distrust of the Kennedys in general, or from a reluctance to question authority—especially when questioning authority can get you shoved into a "right-wing extremist conspiracy theorist" bucket. If you have the courage to look around outside of your comfort zone, however, I predict you will find this book worth your while.

Here are two short (about 5 minute) videos from my current favorite Left Coast liberal academic scientists, whose genuinely liberal credentials I don't doubt, albeit they also sometimes find themselves flung into the above-mentioned bucket when their search for truth leads them in certain directions. Both videos contain Bret's and Heather's evaluations of the book, and more importantly, their evaluation of its documentation. The videos do well at double speed if you want to save time. Spoiler alert: Bret and Heather are even more concerned than I am, with better reason and authority.

This one is just over five and a half minutes long.

And this one four minutes.

As I said in my review of the book, if what Kennedy claims, with such extensive documentation, is true, why are Dr. Fauci and a whole lot of other people not in jail? If it's not true, why isn't Fauci suing Kennedy for libel? I expected outrage on all sides, refutation, corroboration, investigation.

I did not expect ... silence. That silence on the part of investigative journalists, academic researchers, and medical professionals almost scares me more than the book.

I understand that people's lives are too busy for them to want to tackle a long, dense non-fiction book, so I don't urge you lightly to read The Real Anthony Fauci. But for your own health, and especially for your children, if you can make time to read this book, or listen to it in audiobook format, it has my strongest recommendation. The story is as riveting as it is frightening, and I was surprised at how quickly I finished it. I do recommend the Kindle version; the primary reason I also bought the hardcover was the knowledge that Amazon can make a Kindle book "disappear" at any moment, even from my physical e-reader. Most of the time I'm more comfortable with physical books, but in this case I actually find the digital version friendlier to the eyes. Don't be put off by the fact that the e-book format appears to double the page count (934 vs. 480).

Those who know me know that I do not like horror stories. Even during my Girl Scout days I was not a fan of ghost stories around the campfire. The Real Anthony Fauci is a horror story par excellence, because most of the others are about situations we are very unlikely to experience, and this one has already happened to us—we just didn't recognize it. Nonetheless, I am, as Bret suggests, hopeful: Information is power, and this book has answered questions that have troubled me for decades.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 21, 2022 at 11:28 am | Edit
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It's time for another in my series of YouTube channel discoveries. I resent the amount of time it takes to get information out of the video/podcast format, but it's so popular these days that it has become a major source for interesting and helpful information. So I'm unapologetically recommending another video channel: Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying's DarkHorse Podcast. That link is to their podcast website, but I usually watch it via their two YouTube channels: Full Podcasts, and Clips. Full podcasts are long. Very long. They would be great on a car journey, not so much in everyday life, unless you have a lot of work to do that doesn't require much thinking. I can fix dinner while listening to a podcast, but I sure can't write a blog post. Clips, on the other hand, are much shorter (maybe five to twenty minutes). Focussing on clips means I miss good insights, but giving in to Fear of Missing Out is a pathway to madness.

I've mentioned Bret and Heather before, in my Independence Hall Speech post, so it's about time I gave them their due. I must also give due credit to the good friend who introduced me to DarkHorse, as well as to Viva Frei, and remained patient with me even though it was at least a year later before I finally got around to checking them out.  Thank you, wise friend.  (There's but an infinitesimal chance he'll actually see that, but still, credit where credit is due.)

By way of introduction, the following quotes are from their DarkHorse Podcast website:

In weekly livestreams of the DarkHorse podcast, Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying explore a wide range of topics, all investigated with an evolutionary lens. From the evolution of consciousness to the evolution of disease, from cultural critique to the virtues of spending time outside, we have open-ended conversations that reveal not just how to think scientifically, but how to disagree with respect and love.

We are scientists who hope to bring scientific thinking, and its insights, to everyone. Too often, the trappings of science are used to exclude those without credentials, degrees, or authority. But science belongs to us all, and its tools should be shared as widely as possible. DarkHorse is a place where scientific concepts, and a scientific way of thinking, are made accessible, without diminishing their power.

We are politically liberal, former college professors, and evolutionary biologists. Among our audience are conservatives, people without college educations, and religious folk. We treat everyone with respect, and do not look down on those with whom we disagree.

Needless to say, I often disagree with them—sometimes strongly—but more often I find their insights at least reasonable. And it is always interesting to listen in on their conversations. I take great pleasure in hearing smart people interact with each other—assuming they're polite, which Bret and Heather always are. It's also particularly satisfying in the rare circumstances when I find I know something that these highly intelligent people, with much greater knowledge than I, don't. I love living in Florida, at least in its current free-state situation, but I've never gotten over the loss of the intellectual stimulation that came with having the University of Rochester within walking distance.

I find DarkHorse so diverse and absorbing that it's really hard to limit myself to three examples here. But you can always check it out for yourself. Here are a couple of hints: Bret and Heather's speech is measured enough that I can hear it at 1.5x speed, and Porter can manage 2x. I prefer not to speed it up, but it is a time saver. An ever greater help with the full podcasts is that, once the livestream is over and the video is set on YouTube, you can hover your mouse over places along the progress bar and see where a particular subject begins and ends. I sure wish more long videos would provide that information.

Warning: Objectionable language occurs, though rarely, in the DarkHorse Podcasts.

Multi-age education (11 minutes)

 

When science is not science (9 minutes) 

 

Wikipedia redefines recession (19 minutes)

 

I'll close with some advice from their website, which makes me smile every time I read it.

Be good to the ones you love,
Eat good food, and
Get outside.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at 5:32 am | Edit
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It takes a lot to get me to watch a 2+ hour movie I'm pretty sure I will not like. One thing I can say about watching V for Vendetta—it was almost as negative an experience as I expected it to be. I put myself through the agony because Brett and Heather, among others, have made the connection between the movie and President Biden's recent Independence Hall speech.

I think we need to take very seriously the fact that not only is there the evidence that these people have fascist inclinations ... but they are now actively playing with the symbolism ... that blood-red background ... the ranting demagogue. What does it allude to? It alludes to V for Vendetta, which is a movie adored by the Left.

I thought it might be worth checking out.

Was it worth two hours of my time? I'm not sure. I'll say flatly: It was an awful movie. As a film, I see nothing to commend it. On the other hand, to know that it was made in 2005 and see the parallels to recent years (including the deadly virus and government—pharmaceutical business—media collusion) does make it somewhat interesting. As dystopias go, however, I think Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was also an unpleasant experience, is more important.

What I find most confusing, however, is why the president's speech writers and stage designers would want his audience to make a connection between the speech and the movie. V for Vendetta can only be "adored by the Left" if you see the demagoge and the tyrannical government as being of the Right—those President Biden insists on calling "MAGA Republicans." Coming to the movie only after having seen the speech, however, I had an entirely different view.

The invocation of V for Vendetta is not accidental, of that I am sure. It's manipulative, certainly. It may also be brilliant. Whether one sees the speech as hateful or hopeful, diabolical or innocent, President Biden's supporters, reminded of the movie, will of course see themselves in the heroic role, and—this is the brilliant part—so will his stated enemies. This is a movie that might have been designed to foment anger, hatred, insurrection, chaos, and above all self-righteousness.

Qui bono? Who profits from anger and fear? Who benefits from chaos and division irrespective of party, partisanship, values, and goals? Do you ever feel that someone is pulling our strings and doesn't care a bit whether it's Black Lives Matter or the Ku Klux Klan, as long as hatred and violence reign? What are the odds that this is unrelated to the design of the setting and text of Biden's speech?

Qui bono?

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 at 4:30 pm | Edit
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The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (Skyhorse Publishing, 2021)

As a teenager, I flirted with the Kennedy adulation so common among my peers. I was too young to know much about John F. Kennedy, though I vivdly remember proudly carrying a note from my mother explaining that I was late coming back to school from lunch because I had been watching Kennedy's inauguration on television. (We walked home from school for lunch every day; to some people, that probably makes me seem old enough for it to have been George Washington's inauguration—were it not for the television reference.) I barely even remember JFK's assassination, since I was at the eye doctor's at the time and thus missed the reactions of my classmates. However, I spent hours glued to the television during Robert F. Kennedy's funeral in 1968, and genuinely grieved. But that was then; the subsequent years gradually took the shine off both the Democratic Party and the Kennedy family for me. Our two years of living in the Boston area and hearing from the common people their stories of oppression at the hands of Kennedys sealed the deal.

So why would I choose to read a book by Robert F. Kennedy's own son and namesake? Why would I wade through a book that castigates Republicans and has nothing but admiration for his famous family? Why would I spend my two weeks at the beach reading a book of nearly 1000 pages without even the excuse of it being a Brandon Sanderson novel? (There's a confusing difference in number of pages between the Kindle version and the hardcover, with the former being nearly twice the latter. Whatever—it's long.)

Two reasons, maybe. It was recommended by someone whose opinions I respect, and although the book costs $20 in hardcover, it is only $2.99 in Kindle form.

I'll state upfront that the book is controversial. My first reaction was, "If this is true, why is Dr. Fauci not in jail? If it's not true, why isn't he suing Kennedy for libel?" Speaking of libel, feel free to read Kennedy's Wikipedia entry, which is a pretty good example of the way controversial topics are handled these days. You don't like what someone says? Why bother to refute his arguments when you can brand him a conspiracy theorist, a purveyor of false information, and shut him down? But go ahead, read the accusations. Then read the book.

Despite the seriousness of the subject, it is somewhat amusing and even encouraging to find a die-hard Democrat who is willing to skewer not just Republicans but much of his own party as well (though not the Kennedys themselves), while admitting that the hated Republicans have sometimes been closer to the truth, and revealing that presidents of both parties have been helpless in the hands of the bureaucrats whom they have been forced to trust.

Don't let the number of pages in this book dissuade you. Reading it went surprisingly quickly, not only because it is interesting, but because so much of it is pages and pages and pages of footnotes. If it's misinformation, it's certainly well-documented misinformation.

It did take me a while to get into the book. The first section, which is about COVID-19, is over-long and harder to read than the rest of the book. Perhaps because this problem is new and ongoing, Kennedy is not at his best, sometimes overly polemic. He's still angry in the rest of the book, but handles it better. Maybe I just got used to it. Or maybe I got angry, myself.

This is not a book to take my word for. Much of its value comes in its extensive documentation, its references and endnotes—not that you need to read them all, even if you could, but that you need to know the documentation is there. Kennedy is not just some politician spouting off his baseless opinions. In addition, he makes an effort to update both information and references online.

I will not provide here my usual selection of quotations. (That's not to say I won't produce a few in subsequent posts.) Instead you get my own very brief and inadequate summary, the table of contents, and a subset of the questions swirling in my mind—some I have been asking for decades, others generated through reading The Real Anthony Fauci.

The Précis

The health and safety of America's people, along with that of much of the rest of the world, has for decades been held hostage by the iron grip of an unholy alliance among the federal agencies charged with that responsibility, the pharmaceutical industry, our research universities, a few quasi-charitable organizations (such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and—come late to the table but enormously powerful—the gate-keepers of information (from CNN to Google). There's no reason to call it a conspiracy; "cartel" and "oligarchy" are the words that spring more readily to mind. The combination of good intentions (to put the best face on it), a great deal of hubris, and the power to acquire and control unimaginably vast sums of money qualifies as a man-made disaster of the highest magnitude. During my five-year tenure as a researcher at a major university medical center, I saw only the tiniest slice of the world of government grants and the network that controls academic publishing, but it was quite enough to make Kennedy's revelations believable.

The Contents

  1. Mismanaging a Pandemic
    • Arbitrary Decrees: Science-Free Medicine
    • Killing Hydroxychloroquine
    • Ivermectin
    • Remdesivir
    • Final Solution: Vaccines or Bust
  2. Pharma Profits over Public Health
  3. The HIV Pandemic Template for Pharma Profiteering
  4. The Pandemic Template: AIDS and AZT
  5. The HIV Heresies
  6. Burning the HIV Heretics
  7. Dr. Fauci, Mr. Hyde: NIAID's Barbaric and Illegal Experiments on Children
  8. White Mischief: Dr. Fauci's African Atrocities
  9. The White Man's Burden
  10. More Harm Than Good
  11. Hyping Phony Epidemics: "Crying Wolf"
  12. Germ Games

The Questions

  • Why has there been so little attention given to discerning why disorders such as autism, ADHD, asthma and other autoimmune diseases, allergies, and a variety of mental health issues have become so rampant? 
  • Why are we more concerned with selling highly profitable drug treatments and permanent surgical alterations instead of asking ourselves what might be in our water, our air, our food, our medical treatments, or our society that has caused so many boys to decide they need to be girls, and vice versa?
  • Why do we quietly accept the marked deterioration in the health of our people after over a century of astonishing improvement?
  • Why are those in our federal government who hold the solemn duty of safeguarding the nation's health allowed to reap huge personal profits (or any profit at all, for that matter) from vaccines and other products of the pharmaceutical industry? How is it not an infernal conflict of interest that the authorities responsible for declaring a new drug "safe and effective" stand to make a great deal of money if they give it their stamp of approval?
  • Why was so much effort—and an unimaginable amount of money and other resources—put into developing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines, while the most obvious and most important question was ignored: How do we treat this disease?
  • In the early months of the pandemic, boots-on-the-ground physicians successfully treated COVID-19 patients by repurposing inexpensive, already-approved drugs. Why were these doctors first ignored, then demonized, and their remedies (legal, with a long record of safety) pulled off the market by underhanded means?
  • Why did we repeat with COVID-19 so many of the mistakes we made when struggling with AIDS in the 1980's?
  • Why was the AIDS picture so different between America and Africa?
  • Why are pharmaceutical companies, and charities such as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, allowed to dump on Africa, at significant profit, drugs and vaccines that have been deemed too dangerous for Americans?
  • Why does much of our drug and vaccine testing take place in Africa, where the rules of proper research, record keeping, and informed consent can be ignored, and adverse events conveniently buried?
  • Malaria used to be prevalent in the United States. Why has so much effort been spent on developing a still-mostly-ineffective malaria vaccine and so little on simple public health measures that might help eradicate it in Africa?
  • Why has the United States government been sponsoring the development of biological warfare agents, through a loophole in international treaties?
  • Why is our government outsourcing this biological warfare work to China, where regulations are lax and procedures known to be sloppy? Not to mention that China is known for industrial espionage and theft of intellectual property. Whoever imagined that it might be a good thing to avoid America's rules of legitimate research procedures while in all likelihood handing deadly technology over to a powerful country with whom our relations are uncertain at best?
  • Why have we allowed our medical institutions and research universities to become so completely dependent on federal and industrial funding that their work is controlled and compromised?
  • Why and when did we give up on the practice of scientific inquiry that has served so well in the past, and enshrine Science as a religion, wherein disagreement and debate, once necessary to the process, have become unspeakable heresy?
  • Why did our COVID response appear to be so experimental and bumbling at the start—I remember saying, "Give them a break; they are doing the best they can with too little data"—when the strategies the government employed had actually been designed, simulated, planned for, and practiced for years, through multiple presidencies?
  • And perhaps the most important question of all: Qui bono? How did the COVID-19 pandemic become the vehicle for a record transfer of wealth to the super-rich? Follow the money. Power corrupts; power over money corrupts exponentially.

There's more. Much more. Considering what Kennedy has discovered, the book turns out to be far more logical, documented, and measured than one has a right to expect. It's not everyone who can report rationally on something so shocking. This would be me:

 

Whatever your party affiliation or lack thereof, you owe it to yourself (and if you have children, especially to them) to invest $2.99 and a few hours in The Real Anthony Fauci. I'm at a loss as to how to confront the problems it reveals, but shedding some ignorance and blind trust is a start.

Turns out I'm admiring a Kennedy again. It only took me half a century.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, August 27, 2022 at 6:29 am | Edit
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