Do not let my colleagues fool you with their nay-saying about James Swain’s The King Tides (Lancaster & Daniels Book 1). It is an entirely adequate beach read with a chipper pacing and zombie-like kiddie predators. To my mind, the main drawback to this book is the sponsored content, or the weird brand name dropping plus generic non-affiliated copy material–depending on if the author was paid for this or just lazy and trying to meet a word-count. It was jarring to be reading about the author’s disappointment that a kiddie diddler had smashed his phone only to be rescued by Verizon!
“His phone was new, courtesy of his ex-girlfriend tossing the old one out of a moving car. Replacing it had been a snap. A quick trip to the Verizon store and forty-five minutes later he’d walked out with a new Droid, his contacts and apps restored. Kenny’s phone was also a Droid, and he wondered if Kenny had bought it from Verizon, which had more locations than a hamburger chain. If he had, then all his data was stored in the cloud and could be easily restored.”
Spoilers: he also upgrades his phone from a Droid to a Moto Z2 Force during this exchange for only $40! I’m not sure that I’d recommend this book on its merits, but there are now enough people who have frog-marched themselves through it that it’s part of the current Glibertarian cultural canon. Don’t be left out!
Have you ever read all the information that comes with penicillin prescriptions when the pharmacist fills them? Vomiting. Check! Mild skin rash. I wonder what “mild” means? Upset stomach. Check! Diarrhea. Uh-oh! I’ll be right ba….
As part of an experiment in group self-abuse, I read James Swain’s The King Tides (Lancaster & Daniels Book 1). This book is terrible. Random shit not at all relevant to the plot, rogue FBI agents distributing kiddie porn (actually the most realistic part of the story), super-fit former Navy SEALs with
beer guts congenital conditions that somehow didn’t disqualify them from that competitive system, kidnapping attempts of hot teen-aged white girls that the police don’t care about. I regretted reading this, even though it was free. Don’t buy it. Please do not encourage Mr. Swain to write any more books.
In my literature entry for the month, I read Without a Country, a Turkish work translated into English. It’s an interesting family history starting with German Jews fleeing Hitler to populate Ataturk’s new university system, where hope and religious tolerance flourish, and tracks the changes in Turkish culture from the Muslim secular hope of Ataturk to the more fundamental Muslim sympathies. It was a good book. I enjoyed the writing.
I also read Curious Tales from Chemistry: The Last Alchemist in Paris and Other Episodes by Lars Öhrström. As a chemistry geek, these are fun little tales about substances, some basic chemistry like orbitals, and history. Places, people, and things interesting to their history (like the guy tasked to steal British steel-making secrets for the Swedes).
Old Man With Candy
In Jewish tradition, the Torah is divided up into sedras, roughly analogous to chapters. Each Sabbath, a sedra is read, sequentially, until at the end of a year cycle, the last sedra is finished. We have a nice holiday to celebrate it, Simchas Torah, then the process is begun again. For years, I had a similar ritual, reading a chapter at a time out of The Feynman Lectures on Physics each week until I was done the three volume set, then I’d begin again. This kept my basic physics sharp and it was, for a geek, remarkably enjoyable. The Lectures were a series of notes from a one year freshman physics sequence taught by Richard Feynman (arguably the greatest physicist of the 20th century), and transcribed and edited by two other physicists, Robert Leighton and Matthew Sands. The collaborators did a wonderful job capturing Feynman’s voice and unique style, and this set of books might be among the greatest works in the English language. Anyway, for reasons of life, I stopped doing my ritual some years back, and recently, it occurred to me that my brain suffered from the absence of Feynman’s ghost. So I started again. And it’s every bit as delightful and wonderful as I imagined, the exact opposite of dry technical books. Even if you’re not mathematically inclined, there’s so much clear and common-sense explication of how the universe works that you’ll come out of the experience much smarter than when you went in.
I linked Volume 1 of the set because that’s the one that is likely to have the most appeal to non-physicists. It covers a sweeping range of topics; though focused on classical mechanics, Feynman talks about probability, thermodynamics, cosmology, biology, psychology, wine, and as a bonus, he offers his rather tart observations about philosophy. More so than anyone else writing about science, he is rigidly clear about what things are “this is the way it is, we can describe it, but we can’t say why it is this way” and what things are “here’s something about which we know why.”
Strange as it may seem, we understand the distribution of matter in the interior of the sun far better than we understand the interior of the earth. What goes on inside a star is better understood than one might guess from the difficulty of having to look at a little dot of light through a telescope, because we can calculate what the atoms in the stars should do in most circumstances.
One of the most impressive discoveries was the origin of the energy of the stars, that makes them continue to burn. One of the men who discovered this was out with his girlfriend the night after he realized that nuclear reactions must be going on in the stars in order to make them shine. She said “Look at how pretty the stars shine!” He said “Yes, and right now I am the only man in the world who knows why they shine.” She merely laughed at him. She was not impressed with being out with the only man who, at that moment, knew why stars shine. Well, it is sad to be alone, but that is the way it is in this world.
Here’s an example of Feynman’s presentation methods, talking about the incredibly important and almost universally misunderstood topic of entropy. If you like this and the lightbulb goes on, pick up Volume 1 of the Lectures and prepare for a wild and crazy ride through the way the universe works.
I also selected The King Tides (Lancaster & Daniels Book 1) for my free Kindle book this month since there was nothing else even remotely interesting. (How much do the authors pony up for this? I can think of no other reason for the choices.) However, being smarter than my dear Glib friends, I waited until they had all reported in, then quietly deleted it from my Kindle unopened.
In enjoyable reading, I am swiping through How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland. Things I’ve learned so far include: where Little Egypt is; what a frunchroom might be; where a gangway is located and for what it might be used; who Trixie is and what she’s up to with Chad.
I read the Joe Pitt series by Charlie Huston. Hard-boiled vampire private detective in a Manhatten ruled by vampire clans as bitchy and mean and petty as any 8th-grade clique of half-pretty girls. They are competently written. but mostly crib from various other, better detective novels for plot: the spoiled heiress with the monstrous father from The Big Sleep, the cynical operator playing all sides against each other of Red Harvest, Mike Hammer’s blase cruelty of those he has decided are guilty. The best book is the third, Half the Blood in Brooklyn, with Joe fighting off a thoroughly crazed sect of Hassidic vampires and their odd workaround for obtaining “kosher” blood. Overall, the series isn’t bad, it just also isn’t very good.
I read/watched Ira Levin’s The Boys From Brazil. Gregory Peck as Dr. Mengele is one of the more inspired casting decisions in movie history, constantly walking the line between terrifying and absurd. The biggest knock on the movie from a production standpoint is the blue contact lens they had to put on young Adolf–they are distracting in our 1080p world.
I also read/watched that old stand-by, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. Chock full of juicy Catholic guilt and atheist hate, the movie satisfies like no other. The Zodiac Killer said of the film “I saw and think ‘The Exorcist’ was the best saterical [sic] comidy [sic] that I have ever seen.”
I made it through two chapters of The King Tides. It was terrible.
I picked up a couple books this past week.
I have no interest in public speaking (or really doing anything that requires me showing up somewhere on someone else’s schedule), but I am into livestreaming and video marketing.
So far Originals is really interesting. Adam Grant is a great writer and he pulls in some compelling studies and references. I haven’t cracked open Talk Like TED yet.
ZARDOZ SPEAKS TO YOU, HIS CHOSEN READING ONES. BOOKS CAUSE NOTHING BUT TROUBLE! OH AND IXNAY ONYAY ETHAY IZARDWAY OFYAY OZYAY!
ZARDOZ HAS SPOKEN.
Upon recommendation (and loan) of a regular at my local, I read “The Last Days of Night” Edison vs Westinghouse (as in Thomas Alva vs George) and Nikola Tesla wanders into the picture. The story is from the point of view of Westinghouse’s young lawyer in the fight against Edison over the patent of the light bulb. Mostly based on actual events, it is a fairly interesting look into inventing, what drives/drove the inventor/inventors of the time. A little electricity learnin’ and some fancy laweryin’ too. Reads quickly, and has some very, very short little chapters…almost like the author was not sure where he was going at first. Probably would make a decent movie if cast right. Give it whirl if you have some time.
STEVE SMITH BUSY WITH CASCADIA INDEPENDENCE. HIM NOT HAVE MUCH TIME READ. JUST TREATIES AND FOREST LAW (HIM PROMINENT FOREST LAWYER!). READ MONTHLY QA REPORTS ON HIKER ENCOUNTERS TOO. BY ENCOUNTERS, MEAN RAPE.