Interesting News - 1/10/2021

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Posted on : 1/16/2022 08:00:00 PM | By : Dann | In :

Hookay...so I haven't done one of these in a while.  Here we go.

Apparently, California is going to levy the highest tax in the nation on solar power generated by homeowners and other small entities.  This is just another example of why climate change isn't as much of an issue as some suggest.  Solar power in California, unlike in other states, is cheap and reasonably reliable.  And the state government is making it more expensive to install and operate your own system to "save the planet".

Leftists have a continuing case of the vapors over the 1/6/2021 riot at the Capitol building in Washington D.C.  Yet they very little about the many other instances where federal facilities were assaulted by rioters.  Oh...that's right...those were Chekas doing the assaulting.  Leftists never criticize anyone to their left.

While we are talking about rampaging American Chekas, let us recall the disparate treatment being given to rioters by prosecutors.  American Chekas are rarely punished, any punishments are light, and they are tried in a prompt manner as befits their rights as American citizens.  Most of the right-wing 1/6 rioters, also American citizens, are still sitting in jail awaiting trial one year after their event and those that pled guilty were given quite stiff sentences.  Equality before the law matters if one is intent on preserving our great Republic.  Leftist prosecutors apparently aren't interested in that objective.

James O'Keefe's Project Veritas has another bombshell.  It turns out that the proposal to fund gain of function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology was first submitted to DARPA.  DARPA is the research wing of America's military agencies.  DARPA noped right out of that proposal and pointed out the many flaws.  Those flaws have been eerily appropriate since January of 2020.  The project proposal was then submitted to the NAIAD.  It was approved.  Our esteemed Dr. Fauci is/was the head of the NAIAD at the time.

Courtesy of our outstanding private pharmaceutical companies, we have a couple of new anti-virals that are effective in limiting the impact of Covid.  True to form, the federal government is micromanaging doctors by placing questionable restrictions on when these effective treatments may be prescribed.  It's like Covid isn't a threat or something.

The hits keep on coming.  Even the EU isn't serious about CO2 emissions.  They appear poised to exempt CO2 emissions from private planes and yachts.  I'll take the issue far more seriously when the rich and powerful are being inconvenienced more than the common person.


Review: A Bright Shore

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Posted on : 12/22/2021 05:32:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

A Bright Shore (The Eden Chronicles #1)A Bright Shore by S.M. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a 4-star review.

I'm only reviewing the first book as the rest of the series (total 4 books as of this moment) but the rest are just fantastic. They continue the story that begins here.

Scientists have discovered the existence of alternate Earths via something akin to string theory. They can only access adjacent "Earths" on the string. But from each successive "Earth" they think they can access ever further iterations of Earth.

The one they can access immediately is like our Earth except humanity never evolved on the new Earth. Some of the animals are a little different. Geographically there are some modest differences as well.

Coincidentally, the governments of our Earth are driving civilization into the ground. Rather than acknowledging reality, they pursue an ever-spiraling round of regulation and taxes to create opportunities to give away "free" stuff.

The authorial motivation to retell Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" renders the narrative paper-thin - excuse the pun. This is one of two weaknesses of the book. You can read the lines of "Atlas Shrugged" through the pages of "A Bright Shore".

People that value liberty gather like-minded people to their cause. They intend a mass exodus to the new Earth that will leave those that support ever-expanding government behind. Naturally, a few ne'er-do-wells make it through. More on that later.

The settlers expand out across North America. They eventually come in contact with an armed force from the next "Earth" along the string. These humans are not quite as technologically advanced, but they are ruthless in battle. Their means of traveling to this new Earth is more based on understanding where the versions of Earth almost touch so they can (more or less) just walk from one to the other.

They want this New Earth as much as our band of intrepid settlers. War ensues. Elements of the warrior band eventually learn a bit about what makes our settler tick; philosophically speaking. They flip to our side based on our promise of freedom. It seems that the political structure of the warrior band is inherently violent and authoritarian.

At the end of the book, our settlers and their new allies win the day.

Back at the new seat of government, one of those ne'er-do-wells has acquired control of the government and is using it to re-insert some of the collectivist ideas that ruined the Old Earth. The settlers, now an expanded group of military veterans, remove the government's access to the more valuable resources that allow it to control people and issue a threat to the ne'er-do-well that they do not enjoy the "consent of the governed" to introduce a large level of government control.

Yet, apparently, the ne'er-do-well did have "consent of the governed". They acquired it via deceptive politics and other acts of demagoguery, but they did get people to support them.

The idea that the endorsement of the military is needed to confirm the "consent of the governed" is the first step down a perilous road.

That step down that road and the tissue-thin cover over the ideas expressed in "Atlas Shrugged" are the only weak points in this book. Neither is an issue in the later books.

The other books will all get 5-stars from me without any additional review. Go read the entire series. It is well worth your money and your time.

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Review: Forgotten Ruin

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Posted on : 12/21/2021 05:12:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , , ,

Forgotten Ruin (Forgotten Ruin #1)Forgotten Ruin by Jason Anspach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a 4-star review. It is not a strong 4-star review. This book is definitely better than 3-stars, but not by a lot.

The premise of this book is that some sort of nano-virus has been released into the world. The virus causes technology to break down and humans to experience unexplained mutations. The news reports of the spreading virus are sparse, cryptic, and a bit scary.

The response is to use some technology located at the US military Area 51 to send teams into the future to restart civilization after the nano-virus has passed. Each team includes various flavors of US special forces along with a 3D replicator that has been hardened against the nano-virus. Our specific team of heroes has a couple of civilians along for the ride. One is to run the 3D replicator. One is a vaguely defined scientist. One is a politician/administrator who is just as demonstrably useful as one might expect.

It turns out that the time travel technology isn't very precise and the teams "land" anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand years in the future.

Our heroes are about 10,000 years downstream from their departure point. They discover a world that has transformed into some flavor of Tolkien-esque/Dungeons and Dragons reality that includes orcs, trolls, dragons, elves, and magic.

Conceptually, this is an interesting book. The characters and action certainly held my attention all the way to the end.

But....

The setting is largely derivative of Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons with a smattering of Stephen King tossed in for good measure. The setting doesn't seek to carve any new genre paths and instead overlays the narrative onto the existing understanding of the fantasy genre.

The narrative includes a fair amount of gun porn - rhetorically stroking the barrel, so to speak. Most of this is done early on and the later sections of the book are better once the fondling of various gun calibers has been concluded. As this is MilSF, one expects a bit of focus on guns, but perhaps a little less would leave more room for the story and characters.

The narrative includes a bit of Ranger porn - stroking the Ranger ego with Rangers doing Ranger stuff while Rangering. Eventually, the Ranger porn gets out of the way and we develop a relationship with the individual Rangers which improves the story in the later sections.

The narrative doesn't really reach for much in terms of plot or character development. I am a fan of Nick Cole's earlier solo works where he did reach for something extra. This new series seems to be coming from the Anspach/Cole MilSF Amalagamated Factory, Inc. - entertaining fiction cranked out for you!

It is a fine book that is reasonably entertaining. Worth the money you will spend. But it isn't really much more than utilitarian entertainment. I might return to the series, later on, to see how things shake out.

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Review: 11,000 Years

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Posted on : 12/20/2021 10:06:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

11,000 Years11,000 Years by Mark Roth-Whitworth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a 2-star review. It would have been a 1-star review but for the dearth of spelling and grammar errors.

This book was sold to me by the author under the premise that it contained all of the elements that made golden-age speculative fiction great. It does not include those elements.

Instead, the book leaves the reader with the feeling that a fan gets when going to see their favorite author/singer/actor live and gets stuck looking at a cardboard cutout displaying the author/singer/actor's likeness.

The early sections of the book are indeed populated by cardboard characters. They are flying on the Spaceship Cardboard. Their leader is Captain Cardboard. One of the crew is Frenchie Cardboard (no relation to the captain). Frenchie is French. She is the only character that speaks in an accent to let you know that she is French. Just in case you missed it, she wears a beret later in the book.

The Captain is a stoic and heroic figure who everyone admires even after he purposefully avoids dealing with events that will drive his ship close to a black hole in a maneuver that throws his ship a titular 11,000 years in the future. All he had to do was point the ship in a different direction a couple of days early and the rest of the story need not happen.

There are religious people on the ship. A few. The only overtly Christian character ends up sodomizing his gay roommate to death and then killing himself.

Ah, the nuance. That's probably the only word this author cannot spell.

We learn that even though the ship is in the middle of a crisis, the crew has a union that must be consulted before the captain can do anything. All great explorations involved union labor or something.

After the ship is heading off to discover what has happened to humanity in the intervening millennia, we switch to one of the main human multi-system civilizations. Essentially, all of humanity's major religions have been homogenized and combined to create a massive theocracy that oppresses everyone in service to no particular diety whatsoever.

At this point, the book cribs notes from the vastly superior work of Robert A. Heinlein. In particular, the book picks up some plot points from Revolt in 2100; where a young man of faith seeks to save a young woman of faith and then ends up finding out that their religion is a sham. Except, in this case, they keep believing in the religion and work to make it better.

The author seems to think that the sole purpose of religion is to engage in hypocrisy.

We return to the SS Cardboard which manages to fight off an attack from the pseudo-religious civilization. They run for the shelter provided by a second civilization.

With those two civilizations in conflict, a diplomatic meeting is arranged. The crew from the SS Cardboard is brought in to help observe and moderate.

A crew that is missing 11,000 years worth of knowledge, understanding, and context about the development of current human civilizations is deemed to be appropriate moderators for a diplomatic meeting.

Dorothy Parker's ghost had been impatiently tapping her foot for some time. This book was heaved across the room with great relish.

Run away from this book and go find something good to read. Like a grocery store coupon circular.

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Review: The Postman

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Posted on : 12/20/2021 05:06:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

The PostmanThe Postman by David Brin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a 5-star review.

The primary problem with reading this book after seeing the movie is that the movie has altered your perception of how the story should unfold. It took a little while to undo that influence.

The Postman is an outstanding rumination on the application of personal morals; particularly absent a larger framework that encourages us to be better citizens. The book also provides some interesting opportunities to think about how technology can be used, how it can be abused, and how it influences our lives.

Well worth the read.

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Review: Son of a Liche

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Posted on : 12/17/2021 06:03:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Son of a Liche (The Dark Profit Saga, #2)Son of a Liche by J. Zachary Pike
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a 5-star review.

The book continues The Dark Profit Saga with our heroes now outcasts. Their actions in Book 1 have now made them villains as far as the government is concerned. The government is inept as there is a genuine threat coming on the horizon; the Liche in the book's title. The government does nothing, but our heroes do.

Layered onto the story is a recounting of the chicanery associated with the derivative financial investments that ultimately caused the recession of 2008/2009. There is a werebear named "Sterns" for Pete's sake! The criticism being levied towards the financial industry are on point.

If you don't want to read about the actual disaster, read this book instead!

Can our heroes save the world and salvage their own reputation at the same time? You have to finish the book to find out.

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Review: Outcast: Mountain Warriors Book 1

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Posted on : 12/17/2021 05:54:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

Outcast: Mountain Warriors Book 1Outcast: Mountain Warriors Book 1 by R.J. Burle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a 3-star review. That is an accurate estimate of my experience with this book.

The premise of this book is that our protagonist lives in a world where zombies have taken over. There is a narrow area on the east coast where "civilization" survives. The area is fenced off and the zombies are monitored via drones.

The protagonist irritates the wrong people and gets shuffled outside of the fenceline with a mission to contact a non-infected group that is living out in the wild areas of the country. There is a bit of intrigue as there hints of groups/people back in the civilized area working with individuals out in the wild. Also...vampires.

The book suffers from one primary issue.

The fighters in the wild are martial arts students. All of them. Survival living doesn't lend itself to martial arts studios.

Also, all of the fighters are near martial arts masters.

The lack of differentiation routinely took me out of the story.

The bones of the book were pretty good. The concept was interesting. The execution was a bit lacking.

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Review: The Forever King

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Posted on : 12/17/2021 05:42:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

The Forever King (The Scalussen Chronicles #1)The Forever King by Ben Galley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a 3-star review. That is an accurate estimate of my experience with this book.

The writing and general story structure were pretty good. However, the book had two significant flaws that were hard to overlook.

- there really wasn't much effort put into creating an emotional connection with any of the characters. The protagonists get victimized early on in the book with only a middling amount of character development to form the basis for an emotional connection.

- there is an inconsistent representation of power. On a related note, the balance of power is also inconsistent.

The magic users have lots of power, but they still work with ordinary fighters. Towards the end of the book, the fighters seem to be largely irrelevant to the ongoing fight while the magic users do all the heavy lifting. Equally, the protagonists have dragons that are quite powerful. There really doesn't seem to be that much of a need for normal infantry.

The first half of the book was really good, but the back half was a bit of a chore to finish. I don't have any plans to continue this series.

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Justice - Ahmaud Arbery

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Posted on : 11/26/2021 03:59:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

While others are crowing about the convictions for Ahmaus Arbery's murderers, you won't find me among them.  The case went through two local prosecutors before the state took over.  Arguably, the first prosecutor actively tampered with the case to prevent these men from standing trial.

For my friends on the right that are using this case to suggest that racism doesn't exist - please stop.  This trial might never have happened if the video had not been leaked.

For my friends on the left that maintain that America is a racist nation - please stop.  When given a chance, a jury of mostly white jurors convicted these men based on the evidence at hand  This is not the exception, it is the rule.

Settled Science?

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Posted on : 11/24/2021 05:30:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

 Found...and shared...