Saturday, December 15, 2018

Kotkin, Stephen. Stalin, Vol. 1: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928. New York: Penguin Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-14-312786-4. In a Levada Center poll in 2017, Russians who responded named Joseph Stalin the “most outstanding person” in world history. Now, you can argue about the meaning of “outstanding”, but it's pretty remarkable that citizens of a country whose chief of government (albeit several regimes ago) presided over an entirely avoidable famine which killed millions of citizens of his country, ordered purges which executed more than 700,000 people, including senior military leadership, leaving his nation unprepared for the German attack in 1941, which would,...

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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Kluger, Jeffrey. Apollo 8. New York: Picador, 2017. ISBN 978-1-250-18251-7. As the tumultuous year 1968 drew to a close, NASA faced a serious problem with the Apollo project. The Apollo missions had been carefully planned to test the Saturn V booster rocket and spacecraft (Command/Service Module [CSM] and Lunar Module [LM]) in a series of increasingly ambitious missions, first in low Earth orbit (where an immediate return to Earth was possible in case of problems), then in an elliptical Earth orbit which would exercise the on-board guidance and navigation systems, followed by lunar orbit, and finally proceeding to the first...

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Schlichter, Kurt. People's Republic. Seattle: CreateSpace, 2016. ISBN 978-1-5390-1895-7. As the third decade of the twenty-first century progressed, the Cold Civil War which had been escalating in the United States since before the turn of the century turned hot when a Democrat administration decided to impose their full agenda—gun confiscation, amnesty for all illegal aliens, restrictions on fossil fuels—all at once by executive order. The heartland defied the power grab and militias of the left and right began to clash openly. Although the senior officer corps were largely converged to the leftist agenda, the military rank and file which hailed...

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Shoemaker, Martin L. Blue Collar Space. Seattle: CreateSpace [Old Town Press], 2018. ISBN 978-1-7170-5188-2. This book is a collection of short stories, set in three different locales. The first part, “Old Town Tales”, are set on the Moon and revolve around yarns told at the best bar on Luna. The second part, “The Planet Next Door”, are stories set on Mars, while the third, “The Pournelle Settlements”, take place in mining settlements in the Jupiter system. Most of the stories take place in established settlements; they are not tales of square-jawed pioneers opening up the frontier, but rather ordinary people...

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Mahon, Basil. The Forgotten Genius of Oliver Heaviside. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2017. ISBN 978-1-63388-331-4. At age eleven, in 1861, young Oliver Heaviside's family, supported by his father's irregular income as an engraver of woodblock illustrations for publications (an art beginning to be threatened by the advent of photography) and a day school for girls operated by his mother in the family's house, received a small legacy which allowed them to move to a better part of London and enroll Oliver in the prestigious Camden House School, where he ranked among the top of his class, taking thirteen subjects including...

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Friday, November 2, 2018

I have just posted version 1.5 of ISBNiser, a utility for validating ISBN publication numbers in the ISBN-13 and ISBN-10 formats, converting between the formats, and generating Amazon associate links to purchase items with credit to a specified account. Version 1.5 includes a feature added to support the new ISBNquest Web application. A new −d option selects “database” format output in which the result for every ISBN on the command line is a single-line comma-separated value record containing fields as follows. Fields which may contain non-alphanumeric characters are always enclosed in double quotes. Status: numeric status 200   Normal, ISBN-13...

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

If you work with books, you'll frequently need to deal with International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs), those 13 digit (or 10 character for older publications) codes which uniquely identify the precise edition of a work. (For example, a hardcover, paperback, and each electronic format of the same book will have its own ISBN.) ISBNs are central to the publishing industry and booksellers, both on-line and brick and mortar. As I read and review lots of books, I find myself frequently dealing with ISBNs, needing to interconvert the 13 and 10 digit forms, correct punctuation of the parts of ISBNs (some...

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Schantz, Hans G. The Brave and the Bold. Huntsville, AL: ÆtherCzar, 2018. ISBN 978-1-7287-2274-0. This the third novel in the author's Hidden Truth series. In the first book (December 2017) we met high schoolers and best friends Pete Burdell and Amit Patel who found, in dusty library books, knowledge apparently discovered by the pioneers of classical electromagnetism (many of whom died young), but which does not figure in modern works, even purported republications of the original sources they had consulted. In the second, A Rambling Wreck (May 2018), Pete and Amit, now freshmen at Georgia Tech, delve deeper into the suppressed mysteries...

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Churchill, Winston S. Savrola. Seattle: CreateSpace, [1898, 1900] 2018. ISBN 978-1-7271-2358-6. In 1897, the young (23 year old) Winston Churchill, on an ocean voyage from Britain to India to rejoin the army in the Malakand campaign of 1897, turned his pen to fiction and began this, his first and only novel. He set the work aside to write The Story of the Malakand Field Force, an account of the fighting and his first published work of non-fiction, then returned to the novel, completing it in 1898. It was serialised in Macmillan's Magazine in that year. (Churchill's working title, Affairs of...

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Monday, October 22, 2018

I have just posted version 1.4 of ISBNiser, a utility for validating ISBN publication numbers in the ISBN-13 and ISBN-10 formats, converting between the formats, and generating Amazon associate links to purchase items with credit to a specified account. In version 1.3, the ability to automatically parse ISBNs and insert delimiters among the elements (unique country code [ISBN-13 only], registration group, registrant, publication, and checksum) was added. This allows you, given an ISBN with no delimiters, for example “9781481487658”, to obtain an ISBN-13 or ISBN-10 with proper delimiters with: $ isbniser 9781481487658 ISBN-13: 978-1-4814-8765-8 9781481487658 ISBN-10: 1481487655 1-4814-8765-5 The rules...

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Mills, Kyle. Red War. New York: Atria Books, 2018. ISBN 978-1-5011-9059-9. This is the fourth novel in the Mitch Rapp saga written by Kyle Mills, who took over the franchise after the death of Vince Flynn, its creator. On the cover, Vince Flynn still gets top billing (he is now the “brand”, not the author), but Kyle Mills demonstrates here that he's a worthy successor who is taking Rapp and the series in new directions. In the previous novel, Enemy of the State (June 2018), Rapp went totally off the radar, resigning from the CIA, recruiting a band of blackguards, many...

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Day, Vox [Theodore Beale]. SJWs Always Double Down. Kouvola, Finland: Castalia House, 2017. ISBN 978-952-7065-19-8. In SJWs Always Lie (October 2015) Vox Day introduced a wide audience to the contemporary phenomenon of Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), collectivists and radical conformists burning with the fierce ardour of ignorance who, flowing out of the academic jackal bins where they are manufactured, are infiltrating the culture: science fiction and fantasy, comic books, video games; and industry: technology companies, open source software development, and more established and conventional firms whose managements have often already largely bought into the social justice agenda. The present volume updates...

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Gilder, George. Life after Google. Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2018. ISBN 978-1-62157-576-4. In his 1990 book Life after Television, George Gilder predicted that the personal computer, then mostly boxes that sat on desktops and worked in isolation from one another, would become more personal, mobile, and be used more to communicate than to compute. In the 1994 revised edition of the book, he wrote. “The most common personal computer of the next decade will be a digital cellular phone with an IP address … connecting to thousands of databases of all kinds.” In contemporary speeches he expanded on the idea, saying,...

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Carr, Jack. The Terminal List. New York: Atria Books, 2018. ISBN 978-1-5011-8081-1. A first-time author seeking to break into the thriller game can hardly hope for a better leg up than having his book appear in the hands of a character in a novel by a thriller grandmaster. That's how I came across this book: it was mentioned in Brad Thor's Spymaster (September 2018), where the character reading it, when asked if it's any good, responds, “Considering the author is a former SEAL and can even string his sentences together, it's amazing.” I agree: this is a promising debut for an...

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hertling, William. The Turing Exception. Portland, OR: Liquididea Press, 2015. ISBN 978-1-942097-01-3. This is the fourth and final volume in the author's Singularity Series which began with Avogadro Corp. (March 2014) and continued with A.I. Apocalypse (April 2015) and The Last Firewall (November 2016). Each novel in the series is set ten years after the previous, so this novel takes place in 2045. In The Last Firewall, humanity narrowly escaped extinction at the hands of an artificial intelligence (AI) that escaped from the reputation-based system of control by isolating itself from the global network. That was a close call, and the United States,...

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