Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Two books that don’t exist for the NYT

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Sins of omission: Two books that don’t exist for the NYT.

Read my article here.

Argentina: “Silence is health”

Sunday, May 17th, 2015


Reader Gringo, commenting on Side-by-side #Nisman, recommended The Real Odessa: How Peron Brought the Nazi War Criminals to Argentina. I bought the Kindle edition and can’t put it down.

In it, author Uki Goñi describes the following,

During these long walks, I came across a disturbing sign of the times that I should perhaps have heeded better. On the broad Nueve de Julio Avenue that divides Buenos Aires in half – ‘the widest avenue on the world’, according to some Argentines – stands a giant white obelisk that is the city’s most conspicuous landmark. In 1974, the landmark lost its virginity in the strangest of ways. A revolving billboard was suspended around the Obelisco, snugly encircling the huge white phallus. Round and round the ring turned, inscribed with an Orwellian message in bold blue letters on a plain white background: ‘Silence Is Health.’

I found a YouTube via the Plaza de Mayo blog,

Forty-one years ago. Has anything changed?

Book review: Carly Fiorina’s Rising to the Challenge

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Please read my Book review: Carly Fiorina’s Rising to the Challenge

Recommended reading for Easter: The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Good literature is when it goes beyond the printed word to exalt the better parts of our human souls. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is great literature.

Read my review at Da Tech Guy Blog.

The New Yorker on Vargas Llosa

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

The Discreet Hero is now translated into English by Edith Grossman, and The New Yorker has an article by Thomas Mallon,
Restless Realism
Mario Vargas Llosa’s imagined lives.

“The Discreet Hero,” an energetic book with a more straightforward narrative method than almost any other Vargas Llosa novel, centers on an extortion plot against the self-made owner of a local transport company, a good man who refuses to pay, and whose son and mistress may be in on the crime. It also brings the return of Don Rigoberto, the irresponsible aesthete through whom Vargas Llosa mentally dodged some of the worst of the Peruvian eighties. Still bemoaning the “barbarism” of the country beneath his window, Rigoberto is now sixty-two and ready to retire from the insurance company. His son, Fonchito, however, is maturing with the same magic-realist slowness as Lituma: he should be easily past thirty but is still no more than fifteen, driving Don Rigoberto and Doña Lucrecia to distraction with tales of an older man who keeps mysteriously appearing to him. The parents finally put their doubts about his story into the hands of a private eye and a shrink; the possibility is even raised that this precocious sexual manipulator may have had a spiritual experience and become an angel.

I haven’t read the translation, but I greatly enjoyed “The Discreet Hero” when it first came out in Spanish. I hope you do, too.

50 Shades of meh

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
  • Now that the Superbowl’s done and over with, the latest media blitz involves the upcoming film version of the dreadful 50 Shades of Grey.

    Back in my much younger and stupider days, I had to finish every book I started. Then I wised up and realized life’s too short to waste on crap. All along, I’ve been a compulsive omnivorous reader.

    So when my sister came to visit raving about 50 Shades (which she picked up at the airport, after realizing she hadn’t packed her Kindle), I thought I should take a look.

    Oy vey.

    Opening sentence: “I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror.”

    50(!) pages later, when pervy Mr. Grey hands the idiot girl a binding contract (all puns intended), I had enough of the crappy plot – if you want to call that a plot – and the execrable writing and returned the book to my sister, who by then was working her way through the second volume.

    OF COURSE, 50 Shades is a huge hit and they made a movie out of it. The previews hit theaters six months ago.

    The movie opens on Valentine’s Day. I truly can not understand why anyone would want to watch that on Valentine’s Day, of all times, but then bondage’s not my idea of a good time, let alone romance.

    Last week I was feeding my addiction to British murder mysteries as I watched The Fall, wondering where I had seen the guy before, something that happens often since British actors constantly pop up on murder mysteries: IMDB,
    The Fall,
    Jamie Dornan.

    So he’s Mr. Grey.

    I wonder if he got that part from having played the creep in The Fall.

    To get an whiff of the full 50 Shades aroma you must read Katrina Passick‘s review:

    Now I’ll be totally honest, the biggest issue I have with Fifty Shades of Shit is neither the sex nor the horrible writing. It’s the plot. Thin as it is, it’s still there, its core message being that, given enough time, you can change someone. While I don’t have any problem with this if all you’re trying to do is help them to lose weight or quit smoking, when you’re talking about an emotionally and (dangerously close to) physically abusive relationship, sending that kind of message is ridiculous and irresponsible. Christian is controlling, possessive, condescending, and cruel. He doesn’t allow Ana to behave as she normally would, and Ana just puts up with it, insistent that if she can give him what he wants, when he wants, as often as he wants, she can eventually begin to pull his strings. Will it work? In the books, probably. In real life? No. Almost never. How many misguided women are going to waste their lives on some emotionally retarded prick because they’ve read shit like this and think this kind of fucked-up fairytale will come true for them? I’ve known women with this mentality. “Oh, he’s so dark and dangerous and threatening, but he’s got a sad, lonely side, and if I could just figure out what’s wrong, I could change him!”

    Two restraining orders later, the lucky ones may figure out guys like that will never change – the others get a nice funeral, if any. My initial reaction from the book was, “Grey gets carried away, the girl’s dead, he dumps her on Puget Sound from his helicopter, end of story.”

    As you can see from the links above, I’m not above making a buck, so if you still want to join the buyers of the 100 million copies, knock yourself out and please buy through my links.

    Blogging on more serious matters shall continue shortly.

    Oh! And I almost forgot –
    Since I didn’t read the book I didn’t know that E.L. James crapped all over Tallis by using his masterpiece Spem In Alium (THE masterpiece of choral music) as Grey’s background music of choice for inflicting pain on sick idiots.

    **ck James and the beaten-up horse she rode in on.

  • Last-minute shopping: The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

    Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

    It’s Christmas eve, you hate, hate, going to the mall, and you have readers on your list who don’t like fiction. I strongly recommend you buy them The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels on Kindle edition, which they can also read on line and in their tablets and cell phone apps.

    Epstein created the Center for Industrial Progress (emphasis added),

    Center for Industrial Progress (CIP) is a for-profit think-tank seeking to bring about a new industrial revolution. We believe that human beings have the untapped potential to radically improve our lives by using technology to improve the planet across a multitude of industries: mining, manufacturing, agriculture, chemistry, and energy. Every individual has the potential for a longer, happier, healthier, safer, more comfortable, more meaningful, more opportunity-filled life.

    The keys to a new industrial revolution are a new industrial philosophy, a new industrial policy, and a new approach to communication.

    The emphasis on using technology for an anti-pollution but pro-development approach to improve our lives is key to The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

    Read my review at Da Tech Guy Blog.

    Eichmann’s true nature: 2 reviews of “Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer”

    Thursday, October 16th, 2014

    Bettina Stangneth shows that Adolf Eichmann acted out of genocidal anti-Semitism, and challenges Hannah Arendt’s claim that he was “terribly and terrifyingly normal.”

    Gerald Steinacher at the WSJ: Adolf Eichmann’s Extraordinary Evil
    Hannah Arendt saw Adolf Eichmann as an unthinking bureaucrat. She never read the transcripts of his conversations after the war.

    Ms. Stangneth, drawing on documents and research that Arendt never had access to, reaches a different conclusion: He was a master manipulator. “Whether he was in the Third Reich, Argentina, or Israel, Eichmann gave detailed and well-informed accounts of the murder of millions. He simply adjusted the account of his own role, and his attitude toward the murders, to his changing circumstances,” she writes.

    Argentina was instrumental in his escape, and of others:

    Ms. Stangneth, drawing on research by the Argentinian author Uki Goñi and others, also reminds us how openly the networks of former Nazis operated and how far they reached. Like thousands of other Nazis and collaborators, Eichmann escaped to Argentina with the help of Italian Catholic priests and Argentinian officials while carrying Red Cross travel papers. Ms. Stangneth emphasizes the lack of interest Allied authorities showed in bringing former Nazis to justice after the war. This is consistent with my own research, which shows that the Nazis’ escape networks were well-known by many governments and institutions, including the U.S. State Department, as early as 1947. But with the increasing tensions between the West and the Soviet Union, denazification efforts became less and less important. After the Korean War broke out in 1950, attention almost completely shifted to the new enemy: communism. It now appears that the German intelligence service was aware of Eichmann’s whereabouts as early as 1952 but showed little effort to apprehend him. Only Israel was willing to take justice into its own hands.

    Richard Wolin at the Jewish Review of Books (emphasis added): Arendt, Banality, and Benhabib: A Final Rejoinder

    Nor have I ever claimed that Eichmann was “demonic,” “perverted,” or diabolical. This is a willful misattribution and, more importantly, an attempt to avoid dealing with what Eichmann in fact was: a believer in genocidal anti-Semitism.

    Thoughtlessness comes in a variety of guises. One of them is academic hero-worship: reverence for an intellectual icon in the face of a burgeoning mass of evidence indicating that she may have grievously erred. Perhaps Kant said it best in his famous essay “What is Enlightenment?” when he observed that, “Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another . . . Dogmas and formulas . . . are the ball and chain of his permanent immaturity.”

    Available at Amazon in Kindle and hardcover editions.

    Could capitalism save the Arabs?

    Sunday, October 12th, 2014

    I am very skeptical, but Peruvian economist explains his thesis in The Capitalist Cure for Terrorism
    Military might alone won’t defeat Islamic State and its ilk. The U.S. needs to promote economic empowerment

    De Soto has a lot of experience in developing economies, but not in societies where the will of the individual is subjugated to a cult of violence. I hope he is right.

    Taxes, and a book

    Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

    Don’t miss these:

    First, taxes:
    My latest article, I’m a tax exile, and proud of it, is up at Da Tech Guy Blog.

    Then, the book:
    In tonight’s podcast at 8PM Eastern, Silvio Canto and I will talk to Alina García-Lapuerta, author of La Belle Créole: The Cuban Countess Who Captivated Havana, Madrid, and Paris, a biography of Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, a fascinating character.