Category Archives: Books

The Implosion Conspiracy – Louis Nizer – How the USSR got the Atomic Bomb

Old Jules:

I noticed someone found the blog about the conspiracy to sell the atomic bomb to the Rooskies by Louis Nizer. Caused me to read it over again, then to decide I’d enjoy actually checking it out of a library for another time through it. What I said about it in the February 2012 blog entry surprised me. I remember almost none of it. Jack

Originally posted on So Far From Heaven:

When Louis Nizer penned The Implosion Conspiracyit might be said enough time had passed to provide perspective.  Two decades had passed since the trial and execution of the Rosenbergs rocked the nation.  Nizer disliked Communists, asserted he’d refuse to defend one in his profession as a defense attorney.  However, he wrote a lengthy analysis of the trial, the transcripts, testimonies, the individuals involved in an even-handed manner that wouldn’t have been possible during the Commie craze days of the events.

Basic events leading to the trial:  The US was developing the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, New Mexico during the late stages of WWII.  The information was being shared with the US Ally, Britain, but kept secret from the US Ally, the USSR.  Elaborate security measures were in place to assure the developments remained the exclusive property of the US and British governments.  Elaborate almost beyond description, devised by the US military…

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Ship of Theseus by VM Straka aka S by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst

Hi readers.  Maybe you’ve been hearing about a book, S, by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst.

Jeanne tossed it aside last night with a frustrated sigh.  Which was okay by me.  When she brought S home from the library a couple of weeks ago I had a look, examined the acompanying envelope full of notes, whiz wheels, maps, you name it.  I thumbed through the pages of Ship of Theseus enough to think someone had abused a book unmercifully and unforgiveably.  And when she and another library lady claimed Ship of Theseus isn’t a real book I didn’t believe them.

A quick web search proved me right.  I immediately found a site where VM Straka, his life, and his other books were being discussed in depth.

Sheeze, it required another search after I’d proved myself an idiot to discover it’s all a fake.  A book, Ship of Theseus, as a centerpoint for two imaginary people studying the imaginary author and leaving notes in the margins to one another, following an imaginary mystery about the author and the book.

Well, hell.  I’m the guy who’s read Umberto Eco’s Focault’s Pendulum haf-dozen times and loved it.  I’m almost unique on the planet Earth in that regard.  And I’m the guy who chased the Lost Adams Diggings through half the archives and dusty old books and microfilms pertaining to the 19th Century.

I smiled secretly to myself, knowing I’ve read The Eyre Affair and that entire Tuesday Next series by Jasper Fforde and would read more in an eyeblink, if I couldn’t find a heartbeat to read them in.  And I’ve read all, I think, of the Terry Pratchett Discworld novels and loved them without exception.  Read Filip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series and loved it.  S wasn’t going to throw me any curves.

So I earmarked S in my mind as something I’d do when Jeanne finished it.  And last night when she declared it’s not her bag I smiled to myself and prepared to chase some devils and ghosts through the nights of the living dead I’ve noticed myself having of late.

This morning I picked it up, deciding to start by reading Ship of Theseus and ignoring the notes for a starter.  Tried, but I was continually distracted by the notes.  Because the notes in the margins are one hell of a lot more interesting and better written than the crappy novel they’re written in the margins of.

Probably Doug Doirst and JJ Abrams need to send their ideas off to Umberto Eco if they ever want to try this again.  Eco knows how to write a book.

Old Jules

2010 Space Odyssey Two – Arthur C. Clarke

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

2014 is a good year to read 2010 Space Odyssey Two so’s to help get a better perspective when you read 2061 Odyssey Three.  I’ve got 2001 Space Odyssey sitting over there asking itself why I haven’t re-read it, prior to launching into 2010.  I haven’t confided to it that it’s just too damned far off the mark and leaves me pondering whether it was pure BS.  I was a bit distracted in 2001 because of Y2K, but I’m inclined to think 2001 Space Odyssey and 1984 by George Orwell might have shared some chronological disorders.

Anyway, Clarke’s 2010, published in 1982, at least has briefcase computers.  That’s an encouraging sign.  And although men haven’t ventured beyond the moon, nor even as far as the moon in a longish while, they’re back to discussing the possibility of going to Mars, or maybe an asteroid or comet.  Humanity decided somewhere back in the late-1970s that the moon wasn’t worth the price of admission.  They’ve shot a lot of rocketships at it, set of a bomb trying to find water, but the moon has proved to be more profitable as an abstraction than a reality.  Heck, people have made more money off the moon singing, recording, writing songs about it than they’ve managed to do sending rocketships to it.  Even movies.  There’s been more money made from movies about the moon and about people going to the moon, than from people actually doing it.

So while 2010 Odyssey Two is a fun, interesting and imaginative read by a fine author, it doesn’t recommend itself well under comparisons to reality as we mostly believe we’ve experienced it, or know of other humans experiencing it.

Planet of the Apes is a lot more accurate in that regard.  I don’t know how the hell Planet of the Apes managed to happen right here under our noses without me noticing it before.  But hell, there it is.  Spang spread out all over the planet.  Russian apes killing wossname, Ukraine apes, Syrian apes killing other Syrian apes, Iraq apes, Israel apes killing Palestine apes, Chinese apes killing India Indian apes, African apes killing other African apes, and US apes indiscriminately killing all but Israeli ones.  Which establishes who the real Chosen apes are.

Arthur C. Clarke should have anticipated Planet of the Apes and written about it.  Then he wouldn’t have to be consigned to the Nostradamus and George Orwell stream of close-but-no-cigar prognostications.

Old Jules

 

Jasper Fforde – The Fourth Bear

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read, despite the fact none of you ever take my advice about authors and books.  I’d be disappointed in you if I didn’t know you probably wouldn’t have liked them anyway.

For instance, Balzac’s Droll Stories, you’ll probably recall, I told you was the funniest book I’ve ever read.  Told you where you can download it free on wossname, gutenberg.org website.  And I’ll go to my grave confident not a damned one of you bothered to have a look.

So when I tell you about Jasper Fforde I can do it with a high level of confidence I could say anything and not get caught in a lie.

I first told you about The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde, along with The Well of Lost Plots, and maybe some others in that series.  I’ve managed to actually get a few people to try some of those and nobody liked them.  Gave some the books free.  Poof!  Not a, “Hey!  Funny, intriguing book.”  Nothing.

Jeanne likes Jasper Fforde.  Might well be she introduced me to his works.  Shows how the coincidence coordinators are always at work.  Two people, the only two in Christiandom who’d enjoy Jasper Fforde, happen to be close friends.  I love those guys, the CCs.

Anyway, The Fourth Bear is a good book I think you’d enjoy if you were ever stuck in a prison cell the way Steve McQueen was in Pappilon and not allowed to talk to anyone for several years, do anything but read the book.  Fforde explains the deep mystery, for instance, of why three bowls of porridge all poured at the same time, are vastly different temperatures.

 Fforde, for the purposes of this book, lands the reader in a world where talking bears are fighting for their rights, trying to become civilized the way Native American tribes tried to become civilized to keep from being slaughtered by whites.  But the bears come at a later time in history, when a larger or more vocal part of sympatric humanity carries some weight. 

Not to say they’re able to pass legislation, THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND ARM BEARS, to allow bears to defend themselves from hunters.  But the do put them on reservations where it’s more difficult to shoot them.

 Fforde’s main character, Detective Jack Spratt, heads the Nursery Crimes Division of a city police department.  Constantly he’s chasing down criminals out of nursery rhymes.  Persons Of Questionable Reality.

But he’s one himself, and from the time his wife died from overeating fat, he’s able to overcome certain behaviors considered compulsive.

This  plot contains a fast moving set of  plot devices involving the Gingerbread Man, various bears, Goldilox, and giant cucumbers responsible for cuclear detonations threatening the bears, the humans, and possibly world peace.

Read it if you’re ever in prison.

Old Jules

Pondering the dearth of cumulative human wisdom

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read. 

I’m still muddling along with God Knows, by Joseph Heller, but he’s got me thinking about a lot of things somewhat unrelated to his own theme.  So what’s below inevitably has roots, both in the OT, and in Heller’s recreation of Hebrew history and the Bible through the eyes of King David.

So this is going to be me, Old Jules aka wossname, Jack, mulling this over.  Not King David, not Heller, not even God in the sense you’re most likely to define the concept.

I’ll get into this thing about cumulative human wisdom, but first I’d just like to confide to you how much better I’d feel if God weren’t so sneaky and cagey about his real name in his dealings with those old time Hebrews.  What the hell is that all about?  Who is He afraid they’ll find out he really is?

I'm not pushing the idea He was Roy Rogers, mainly because Roy was a fairly consistent, courteous human being, though daft.

I’m not pushing the idea He was Roy Rogers, mainly because Roy was a fairly consistent, courteous human being, though daft.

And if they did know who God really is, how’s He scared they’d think less of Him in the knowing of it?  After all, it ain’t as though God was putting on any airs in his dealings with them.  Never makes any attempt to explain himself, elevate himself in the eyes of his Chosen People. 

Just go back and read the OT.  How he treats Moses, sheeze, Job,  King David, Adam and Eve, even Cain and Abel.  And inconsistent, uneven-handed so consistently as to assure nobody’s going to acquire any wisdom from any of it.

Call me paranoid, but I think there’s more to this side stepping and dodging the true identity with a name stamped into the dogtags than those ancient Hebrews imagined, that anyone since has explained sufficiently to argue He might have been Anyone, but particularly some located in the vicinity of Greece and Rome before too much more time passed.

So you end up with an ancient religion and storybook to accompany it preserved from a language with a vocabulary of 88 words, 17 of which are pseudonyms for the name of God, and not one of those 17 believed by those using them in spoken words to be the actual name of the party of the first part.

But I’ve digressed. 

I was going to muse on why human beings are unable to acquire cumulative wisdom similarly to the way technical knowledge assimilates.  About how it happens all these centuries have sneaked by and the King Davids are still capable of becoming so captured by passion as to compromise, destroy themselves.  About how Adonijahs then until now, rhetorically next in line for their thrones, their power, their wealth, still rape their sister Tamars and [at least] risk destroying themselves in the doing of it.  About how the Joabs all these centuries have coldly murdered in the name of governmental authority anyone standing in the way of their ambitions, always maintaining the moral high ground.

But I’ll have to save all that for another time, I reckons.

Old Jules aka Frank C. Riley

Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear? The Catch 22 Timewarp Conspiracy

This might be the most important text you’ve ever read.

It’s certainly more important than Dick and Jane and their dog named Spot whatever they might be up to these days in Centerville, Ohio.  And anything else you might have read since then probably wasn’t all that important.  Instruction manuals written by English-as-a-second-language tech writers in Malaisia, labels on boxes of muffin-mix, even novels by Stephen King aren’t as important as this.

If you are like me you have to think hard to remember characters and dialogues in books you haven’t read in half-century.  But I’ve been waiting that long for Joseph Hellers prophetic novel, Catch 22, to get caught up with by events.

Yossarian to the mental ward physician:  “Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?

Pages later, to Orr:  “Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”

Yossarian to Major Major Major Major, pages later:   “Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”

To Milo Minderbinder, a chapter or so later:  “Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”

Today all the spy-vs-spies in the world are asking themselves the same question.  Armed cruise missile operators are whispering those words into their microphones, “Give me the coordinates!”

low volume static, hissing, grumbling.

Moscow airport?  Am I allowed to target the Moscow International Airport?”

low volume static, hissing, grumbling.

“Well of course you need deniability.  It has to look like an accident.  Rogue drone kind of thing.”

low volume static, hissing, grumbling.

“World War III?  Hell, we haven’t even finished WWII yet.  Snowden was WWII.  We’re all caught in a time warp.

low volume static, hissing, grumbling.

“Yeah, we need to watch for anyone named Yossarian.  And Joseph Heller, if he’s still alive, needs to answer a few questions.  If we see someone trying to corner the Egyptian cotton market we’ll know where to look.”

Old Jules

Shooting 50,000 unsolicited words at the Universe

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Jeanne tells me November’s going to have several thousand people grinding out first drafts of immortal prose again.  Poor old Universe will be ducking and dodging new characters, events, plots, subplots, trying to keep track of what’s really happening, and what someone dredged up from the imagination and stuffed into 50,000 words packed into the month of November.

I’ve wondered about this phenomenon for a longish time, several years, and honestly can’t quite figure it.  Probably tens of thousands of November novels written in past years nobody but the authors ever laid an eye to all the way through.  Pages, electrons on the screen, characters floating around in the ether wondering what the hell happened, why their pent-up events just ground to a halt.

All I can figure is those people doing that are trying to shoot down the Universe and know it’s going to take a lot of ammunition.

If a person were looking for a worthy project that would be less likely to damage the Universe he might consider taking the JRR Tolkein Lord of Rings trilogy and working it up into a second draft, which wossname, Tolkein failed to do.  At least not the part about say, cutting about 2/3 of the extraneous immortal prose, working it around so it’s tight, a pleasure on the tongue of the Universe, rather than just something out of some fast food joint.

Maybe someone everyone does what he says will think of this sometime and tell them they ought to do that instead of picking out targets of opportunity trying to shoot down the Universe.

Old Jules