Patrick's Rants



11/23/2006

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 11:28 am


Ok, so I’m not going to be the first to review “Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life & Times” since it was published back in 1994, but give me a break, I only just now got around to reading it all. James Flinn Garner redoes the classics, making them politically correct, concise and funny. This book was actually a gift from my mom a few years ago who sent it to me when I mentioned that I hadn’t read much “for fun” in a while. At only 79 pages it can be read in an afternoon or pick it up to read the two to three page tales when you have a minute before bed.

10/27/2006

The Greatest Story Ever Sold

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 12:54 pm

The Decline And Fall of Truth

Frank Rich’s book, “The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina” looks at the man behind the curtain in the White House. In a scathing review of a public relations machine run amock Rich details just how poorly Bush has done and how nearly perfectly the PR machine covered up his ineptitude.

In absolute clarity Rich examines the Bush administration, tying George & Co. directly to the bald faced lying Swift Boat Veterans who perfectly unseated John Kerry without having to depend in any way on truth. He exposes the chasing of imaginary WMDs in Iraq. A feat that was accomplished not just by ignoring the intelligence that we had, but by falsifying and creating new evidence that suppported the agenda of the administration in “taking out” Saddam. The idea that Republicans were making us safer by capturing terrorists and foiling plots against the United States was much in play in the 2004 election year. Increased terror alerts were a constant, fear the great motivator. This while the administration artfully claimed that Democrats are somehow weaker.

While the White House brought out larger and larger banners to proclaim and enforce the Bush message of the day the peek behind the curtain tells a far more sinister tale. It is a tale of deceit, artfully played by a man whom Rich proclaims only purchased his ranch to give him the air of a blue collar man.

This book is a brilliant exposé, sure to anger even the mellowist of centrists. The press should take notice. While not as “sexy” as Clinton’s escapades, this should end in impeachment and jail time for the entire Administration. Deliberately misleading the public and the world to exact revenge is not what real leaders do.

10/24/2006

How Would a Patriot Act?

Filed under: Books,Politics,Reviews — site admin @ 12:09 pm


As we come to the brink of another election cycle, you have to ask yourself, “Am I a Patriot?” But before you answer that question remember, “you’re either with us or against us”.

Glenn Greenwald, was a self-proclaimed political “indifferent”. He did not vote. As he puts it in his Preface:

“I never voted for George W. Bush–or for any of his political opponents.
I believed that voting was not particularly important. …I firmly believed that our democratic system of government was sufficiently insulated from any real abuse, by our Constitution and by the checks and balances afforded by having three separate but equal branches of government”

Enter George W. Bush. As a constitutional attorney, Greenwald is well versed in matters of law, specifically the cornerstone of our entire society. He details the eroding of our Constitutional rights under this president, from illegal wire-taps to holding suspects for years without letting their families know where they are, without charging them with crimes and without letting them talk to their attorneys, to outright physical torture. This isn’t the “land of the free and the home of the brave” anymore. It’s the land of Big Brother whose citizens are billy-clubbed constantly by this president and his ultimate power through intimidation, fear-mongering and outright lies. Fear is Bush’s ultimate weapon against our rights and Greenwald rips back the bandage to poke at our sensitivities with a sharp stick.

I’m sure that I’ve written it before, dissent is patriotic. Rebellion against a tyranical ruler is what this country was founded on. There is a quotation that I see on the community site, Slashdot:

“There are four boxes used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order.”

We have exhausted the soap box, the ballot box has been stolen, and the President declares that he is the supreme ruler not subject to the law or the courts. We may very well only be left with one option, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Just remember, “None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead” – Sen John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Read How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. Then ask yourself, “Is this President doing his sworn duty?”

10/13/2006

Letter To A Christian Nation

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 9:59 am

Sam Harris responds to his critics in Letter to a Christian Nation. The book is written as a letter to a Christian, but could apply to any religion. At at little over 90 pages, it is readable in a single day. From the keeping of slaves to stoning a woman to death on her father’s doorstep on her wedding night if she isn’t a virgin, Harris looks deep into the “morality” of religion with a skeptical mind. He finds that the bible (and other religious works) is full of self contradiction and questions whether an omniscient, omnipotent being could have contributed to the writing in any manner.

Harris turns 90 pages into a religious smackdown of biblical proportions. Anyone who has questions of their own religiousness should read this. Anyone who has complete faith in their own religiousness should too, but they won’t. There are just too many questions raised that cannot be answered properly by a zealot no matter the level of zealotry.

www.samharris.org

10/2/2006

The Last Templar

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 8:55 pm

When I picked up the The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury, I expected that it would follow a path first walked by Dan Brown in Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. In that I wasn’t disappointed. Novels that take their own imagined glimpse of the man behind the curtain of the Catholic church of late have followed the rumors and conspiracies regarding the teachings and writings that the entire church is based upon. Tales of the Knights Templar and the Masons as both protectors and victims of the church intrigue the mind and invite historical research to find the threads of truth that make up the story woven through the pages.

Khoury’s storytelling jump us backward and forward through time in an attempt to explain the novel to the reader. Likewise, there are matter-of-fact conversations that border on history lessons rather than fast paced prose, which I had hoped to find. Khoury is unable to maintain the sprint like speed that is set by Dan Brown, instead allowing the reader to breath and even consider putting the book aside for a while.

Templar is set primarily in post-9/11 New York where, allowed by artistic license, the intelligence agencies actually share information and work together. In chapter one a fantastic robbery takes place at the Met drawing in our protaganist archealogist Tess who ends up working with the FBI all the while attempting to make the find that puts her in the history books. The Vatican is victim of the robbery and less than innocent in the subsequent cover up – a cover up that has gone on for thousands of years. Templar does not attempt to find the holy grail as Da Vinci does, instead we are hurtled down a path of intrigue and frames religion more as what was excluded from the bible rather what was included.

12/31/2005

The Art of Deception

Filed under: Books,Geek News and Stuff,Reviews — site admin @ 1:55 pm

Kevin D. Mitnick and William L. Simon. (2002)
Kevin Mitnick notoriously spent time in prison for “computer crimes”. He has been called the most notorious hacker and gave rise to the “Free Kevin” movement which sported a web site and links around the web showing how much longer he had to spend behind bars. Although he has been called a hacker, Kevin calls himself a “social engineer” essentially a con-artist. In this collaborative work, he writes of adventures that he and others have had, talking their way past security and into the innermost workings of the computer networks that we all rely on. From suggestions as simple as firewalling “public” ethernet ports at businesses to requiring that visitors (and employees) always wear an identity badge, we are walked through an array of interesting scenarios that that underline the need for even simple security measures. He also shows us how even the most trivial information can be used to leverage more and more important and valuable data out an unsuspecting – and unprepared – victim.
If you are in security of any kind – whether you work for someone else or just have your own little company – this book will help you make sure your information is secure.

Additional history

12/28/2005

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 5:39 pm

The book is unassuming in its yellow cover, a small photo in the top right corner of the book’s front. It is written by the protaganist “Charlie”, for whom we know no last name. Charlie recounts his freshman year in school through a series of letters to someone he merely calls “friend”. It has been compared to “Catcher in the Rye”, but truthfully I don’t remember the Catcher. I do however remember what school was like at 15. And this book replays those years in its sincerity and style. It has caused a minor ruckus in the public schools here due to the superintendent calling for its removal from school libraries due to sexual content and accounts of illicit drug use. Apparently, Tom Horne thinks kids never experiment on their own and must get the idea from expressions of the First Amendment. While I might not allow my oldest to read it right now (she’s 13), it’s not something that will be banned in this house. It’s not a drunken, drugged orgy from cover to cover – it’s an honest, sometimes heartbreaking story of one young man’s journey through the mentally scary halls of high school.
Since this is Stephen Chbosky’s first novel I can only hope that he turns out many more quality pieces that can fascinate and educate our kids in a way that reminds them they are not alone.

8/29/2005

Freakanomics

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 5:28 pm

Funny name, interesting book. From comparing cheating in Sumo wrestling to cheating on standardized tests (by teachers no less) to asking the questions, “why do drug dealers live with their mom?” and “which is more dangerous to your child, a gun or a swimming pool?” Steven D. Levitt takes economics to a strange place; the study of reality. From developing algorithms that find cheating teachers to figuring out how much your real estate agent cheated you when you sold your last home to postulating about where all the criminals have gone Levitt takes a view of reality that some may not want to see and explains it so clearly that even skeptics have to take a second look. The 207 pages were too short and left me wanting more. Luckily, the book contains copious end notes and Freakanomics continues online with studies, stories and – naturally – a blog.

The book is not neatly tied together in the end, indeed we are warned in advance this will not be the case.
This was a great – and fast – read. 😎 😎

8/20/2005

New Rules

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 8:04 am

New Rule
George Bush must stop saying he owes all his success to Laura. George Bush owes all his success to his daddy, his daddy’s friends, trust funds, legacy admissions, the National Guard, the Supreme Court, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and AA.

New Rule
Gay marriage won’t lead to dog marriage. It is not a slippery slope to rampant interspecies coupling. When women got the right to vote, it didn’t lead to hamsters voting. No court has extended the equal protection clause to salmon. And for the record, all mariages are “same sex” marriages. You get married, and every night, it’s the same sex.

Just a couple of the new rules written by comedian, Bill Maher in his new book by the same name. Bill doesn’t let the Democrats off the hook either saying they need stem cell research to grow a new spine for the party. He wittingly jabs at Paris Hilton, reality TV (you can’t call it Wife Swap if you can’t do the other guy’s wife), politicians and Disney.
The book is written like a good many coffee table books, small snippets that can be read in any order without losing context. Bill has organized the book from A to Z, with each letter getting a few rules listed under it. He also writes a one to two page essay at the end of each chapter to give a little more insight into those rules that cannot be summarized in a single sentence. In some cases the rules themselves require a photo, that photo being worth a thousand words. I read the book in two evenings and plan on passing it around to family members who I think will appreciate it. In the end it will be secure on the shelf with my other books (I don’t currently own a coffee table)
New Rules has a decidedly PG-13 age range.
😎

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