Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How We Got To Now

For Oct. 30th 2017

By Sam and Steven Johnson

Over The Edge

For August 28th

Ang's book. Slow to start but picks up speed.  A well written text book about a surprisingly unknown adventurer. We know the name be cause of references elsewhere to the "Magellan Straits". Beyond that most of us know very little about Magellan. This book correct that.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Scott Martelle

The author plans to visit on June 26th

Flags of Our Fathers by Bradley

Planned for August 28th

Changed to Sept. 18th

it's even worse by Ornstein

Planned for July 31st discussion

A extremely biased liberal book.

I tried and failed. After a couple dozen pages I threw the thing in the trash..

It's sometimes difficult to be the only more or less Republican Conservative now in the club. I'm okay with reasonable liberals as they are often correct (in my mind) in their assessment of problems or situations, etc. But when these liberals go over the top and become unwilling to consider another point of view, that's it for me.

Today our entire country is besieged  by rabidly ridiculous people. Not just rabid ultra-liberal
die-hards, but other tag along groups also.  We have every sort of divisive idiot in the streets proclaiming his or her teeny-tiny stupidity. 

Neo-Nazi's, impossibly ignorant armed thugs, people that simply like to destroy someone else's property,  and various one issue folks who think they are being overlooked. Like the LGBT bunch, the idiotic "black is better" group, the anti-Semites, the abortion promoters, the one worlders, and the borderless nations group. This list goes on and on. 

Even the Catholic Pope openly opposes capitalism and free market economies, but offers no superior substitutes.

Yesterday a few Trump supporters on the U.C.Berkeley campus tried to peacefully call attention to the "conservative" side of economics and politics, etc. They were met in the streets by other students clad in horrific black masked and shrouded uniforms, armed with sticks. guns, knives, baseball bats,  stones, and pepper sprays. The conservative faction was beaten into silence. 

The rapidly liberal, poorly educated, elite students of Berkeley had done it again.

Enough. My point is that this book is written by one of these stupidly intolerant and closed minded authors and I refuse to read this kind of nonsense.

1776 by McCulloch

Panned for meeting May 1st.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Member List December 30, 2016

Ang Vassos

Larry Robinow
Hospital Administrator

David Saperstein
Medical Doctor

Ken Bell
Medical Doctor

Joe Robbins

Ed Rosen
Design Enginer

Mike Sultan
Medical Doctor

Dixon Webb
Medical Sales

Gene Goldman

Murder in the Supreme Court

Not a selection - yet.
I am to review and report.
Borrowed copy from Ed.
Kept the copy. Will finish. Due at meeting June 26th.

The Genius Factory

By Plotz

Shockley story
For April 2017
Date changed to March 27th
Read it.  Not one of my favorites.  A reporters view of eugenics.
Gave book to Ed.

Dead Wake

For March 2017

A Man Called Ove


For Feb. Meeting

Was discussed at length. Excellent book. Geriatrics on steroids. Funny and realistic tale of an old guy who recently lost his wife to cancer and rebuilt his own with neighbors - all the while trying to figure
out how to hang himself from the ceiling in his living room - and failing big time.

Before The Fall

By Noah Hawley

For January 30, 2017 Meeting

The March

By E.L. Doctorow

Civil War

Sherman's March to the sea.

For Meeting Dec. 19, 2016

Unreasonable Force

By Brent Marks

Legal Thriller

For Meeting Nov. 28, 2016

Missed this one.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Plum Island - Nelson DeMill

The author manages several plots and does it well. A work injured cop goes to recuperate at the rural home of an absent relative. He meets a young couple who then get murdered. With the aide of the local chief of police, he gets assigned to find the culprits.

During his investigation he meets an assortment of characters and each helps him work the case. There is a little romancing but this quickly becomes a story about chemical-biological weapons.

Off the coast of rural Long Island, not too far from Block Island, is another lesser known place called Plum Island, It's owned and operated by the American government and considered a "Top Secret" area. The island is approachable only by boat, and the channel between it and the mainland can often be so rough as to be dangerous, hard to cross in bad weather.

Plum Island is the site of an official laboratory charged to explore and control all kinds of biological and chemical weapons. The work is done by scientists, chemists, and physicists. The two young scientists killed worked at Plum Island.

While on the island they discovered a pirate's treasure. To avoid taxation and notoriety they endeavored to move the treasure to the mainland and rebury it, only to slowly re-discover it later. Their intent was to publicize the find, say the treasure was really quite small, pay the taxes, and then keep the bulk of it for themselves.

The rural area on the nearby mainland was small. Everyone knew everyone else. The investigation was finally narrowed to someone in the local population. As it proceeded many dangerous situations faced the intrepid "injured cop' hero of the story. From the first page to the last, our hero was portrayed as tough, wise cracking, and attractive to a few ladies on the island. Each one of the ladies was in a position to help him with the investigation. Each was also a romantic element of the plot.

The case was inevitably solved. The villain was predictable. The overall story stretched the imagination but maintained a convoluted mystery.

The side story promoted interest in weapons potentially more dangerous than any other. It asked the reader to think about the political implications, terrorist control, and every  nations vulnerability.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Schedule as of August 1st

Aug. 29th       When Breath Becomes Air   by Mark Kal . . . . .

Sept. 26th       All The Light We Can Not See   by

Oct. 24th         Plum Island    by  Nelson Demille

Nov. 28th        Unreasonable Force     by  Brent Marks

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Rosie Project August 1, 2016

If I could write ((I can't) I wish I was clever enough to write one like this. With tongue firmly in cheek, this author Gives us a combination  of the Big Bang Theory and Auntie Mame. It's clever and devious and a delight to read.

I started it with a chip on my shoulder. I don't like romance novels as a rule and the title "Rosie" put me off. Within two pages I was hooked. It's much more than a romance novel.

The primary character is Don, a hard to believe over educated and  brilliant  mis-fit in society. Rosie turns out to be his sad sack Lucille Ball homeless type who works in a gay bar at odd hours and pursues he unidentified father during regular hours. To dd a twinkle, the author has given Rosie and unusually high IQ and a Masters Degree, and she is working on her phd as we speak.

Complicating the flow is Don's similar quest for the unknown. A nerd and a twerp since birth, he was subjected to ridicule from the start  in school so he became an expert in marital arts and handle any bully.

With an extremely high intelligence and ridiculous clothing,  he went through the world without truly seeing anyone else. They flew under his notice. Completely inept in any social situation leads to a disturbingly focused lifestyle. That is, before he met Rosie.

So we have a set of parallel stories that intertwine just a little and essentially make the book into a mystery rather than a romance. The Father Project (hers) and The Wife Project (his) are both hilarious.

There is a deeper side to the book involving Autism and other mental conditions.  I wouldn't say that the book answers questions about them. but it does present an engaging picture of personalities so afflicted.

A good book.


The Devils Chessboard - Jun 27 2016 ?

This is a fairly well written book about the C.I.A., Allen Dulles, and the assassination of President Kennedy.  Hidden throughout the pages is a sub-story about government corruption, the lack of oversight of the C.I.A., and the manipulation of our government by the unscrupulous power elite in Washington.  In the end it is heavy on opinion and light on facts. 

About midway in the book the author says: "Nixon took the leading Republican role as hatchet man so that Eisenhower could assume a more dignified posture." That, for example, was the author's opinion. He also added that "when a situation would not yield to diplomatic pressure, Allen Dulles' boys (C.I.A.) would take care of it." He characterized Nixon as "an aggrieved outsider in the Ivy League/Wall Street world of the power elite." This all occurred after a somewhat slow first part of the book, but from Eisenhower years forward it became obsessed as it dealt mostly with the disposition of Nazi officers and German political figures after World War II. 

Then, beginning with J.F.K.,  the book commented on the perils facing the new President,  and then began to address his assassination. The author builds a solid (but largely circumstantial) case that the much studied assassination and subsequent Warren Report were fixed from the start. And in the end, worthless. There are many alternate explanations and theories  advanced. The author suggests that the evil and secret world inhabited by Allen and Foster Dulles, the Central Intelligence Agency, the power elite in Washington, and involving politicians then in office, all contributed to the murder of President Kennedy.  

Nearer to the end of the book the author discusses (at length) similar theories about the Bobby Kennedy assassination. He claims that; Sirhan Sirhan (the assassin) just after the assassination, appeared to be in some sort of hypnotic or narcotic state - and this fits directly with Allen Dulles previous meetings with Dr. Stephan Crowe (brainwashing and mind control expert), Dr. Sidney Gottlieb (C.I.A. pharmaceutical expert and consultant to the C.I.A.'s MKULTRA project). Clearly asking for the reader to form his own conclusions.   

The Devils Chessboard gets a C-.


The Admiral and The Ambassador - Scott Martelle Jun 16 2016 ?

Mr. Smith Goes To Prison June 1, 2016

The author is a bit of a shady (but smart) character. The first part of the book establishes the reality of St. Louis politics and the underworld of black versus white. He uses the street language which seems accurate - but overdone. Street gangs, niggers, motherfuckers, drug dealing trash talkers, and etc., all mumbling unintelligible one word sentences like the black rappers.

The second part of the book the author tones down the rhetoric slightly, and he displays a genuine talent for describing a modern minimum security prison. The picture he presents is not good. He contends that the politicians that control the money to operate the prisons are defunct, and our prisons have been deteriorating for years. The author's experience takes him into great detail about the day to day requirements for an inmates survival. It's pretty grim.

He presents worrisome statistics that proving his point; that our prisons teach the inmates how to be better criminals instead of teaching them how to take steps toward rehabilitation. The number of inmates that serve their sentences and are released not prepared in any way to rejoin society huge. Frustrated and adrift they soon  commit another crime and are returned to prison. Our prisons have become a revolving door!

Years ago American prisons had become really bad,  dirty, and vastly overcrowded places. Then rising crime rates and overcrowding made them worse. So, we built new, more secure, and improved facilities. Actually, we overdid it . We created a greater division between white collar crimes and violent crimes. It became a white folks vs black folks conflict. 

If sentenced as a white collar criminal the inmate was sometimes housed in near luxury. 

If sentenced as a violent criminal the inmate was housed in considerably worse conditions.

For example: This resulted in the 1970's with the convicted savings and loan executives living in prison "country clubs" complete with TV in their cells, computers,  golf courses, swimming pools and other luxuries. It is said that this program no longer exists? Hmmm.

America's population is now increasing even faster.  The level (and viciousness) of of crime is rising so quickly that our prisons face disaster. The overcrowding (mostly with drug offenders), and more released prisoners -  are returning again as inmates. The  politicians say they have no more money for prison improvements. The judicial people say they must follow the  huge number of new laws.  The overall result is soon to be much greater threat to our society.  


The 100 Year Old Man Apr 25 2016

Being Mortal Mar 28 2016 ?

Call The Doctor Feb 29 2016 ?

Polk Feb 27 2016

Embers of War Jan 27 2015 ?

Dead Wake Jan 25 2016 ?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Praque Cemetery - Umberto Eco NBC

This one took me by surprise. The book is like no other. If it wasn't so interesting I'd trash it and move on. I certainly wouldn't review it or recommend it to anyone. I'd heard of  The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in an offhand way, and understood it to be an old anti-Masonic text. There are many. This one is most often refferred to as  a hoax not worthy of attention. The Praque Cemetery is a book written about how and why The Protocols were written. The author, Umbeto Eco, is a respected intellectual. The book has  just one fictional character; Simonini. The author created this character as the most dishonest, conscience free, and  disturbing character in all of fiction. All of the other names in The Praque Cemetery refer to real people. The story takes place during a little known politically and socially unsettled period from 1850 to 1900 in and around Italy.  

Caution: This book is a historical novel where the author has unbalanced a few facts with  overriding and dominating fictions.

The Praque Cemetery recreates a fictional meeting of unlikable men linked to plans that would eliminate other groups and clear a path to power. They work in and around governments attempting to influence (or murder) people in positions of power. In no particuilar order these are a few of their standard lies:

Jesuits are evil Jesuits hate Jews
French Revolution was planned by the Knights Templar, Illuminati, and Jacobins
Freemasons and Jews are plotting world dominion.
Goyim are mentally inferior to Jews.
Freemasonic Lodges with evil intentions attract public officials
Replace Religion with materialism and science.
Destroy Freemasonry.
Keep the masses in poverty and perpetual labor.
Take possession of all wealth, property, and especially gold.
Cause a progressive tax on wealth.
Follow the Protocols of the Elders of Zion


On the first page of The Praque Cemetery the reader is immersed in every kind of evil, prejudice, absesnce of ethics, jealousy, anti-Semitism, hatred of Freemasons, lack of morals, the bloody and rich Catholic Church, devil worship, advantages of murder, and the end always justifies the means.

1.  According to the author Umberto Eco: 


2.   Umberto Eco has written a dangerous satanic novel meant only to be read by the most discerning, least gullible,  and intellectually open minded reader. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar

I looked at the book cover art and figured it wasn't my kind of book, but since it came recommended by the O.C. Book Club I began to read it despite preconceived notions. I'm very glad I did. It begins as a quiet story involving an upper middle class family living in a new and large house on a beautiful hillside with a western view to the ocean. These folks represent the modern hectic lives of most of their neighbors. Their lives have become more dependent than they realize on an illegal immigrant housekeeper. 

The housekeeper quickly becomes the focus of the novel. She is Mexican, young, big boned, anxious to please, and a very hard worker. In almost every way she is a satisfactory (slave) employee. She lives in one somewhat messy room, and she is underpaid, but she is quite loyal to the family.

The book is a story meant to describe the life (lives) of illegal Mexican immigrants. Millions of them. How they live. Their struggles and attitudes. Their often overlooked contributions to Californias society. The barriers erected to keep them at the edge of poverty.

The first half of the book sets the stage. The last half presents most of the difficulties a non-documented Mexican faces in California. The last half is a "page turner." that keeps a reader involved and curious.  This is a good book, well written, and an excellent read.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Revenge of Geography by Robert Kaplan

The author believes that natural borders, ie. rivers,oceans, mountains, influence  a nations history. Kaplan thinks the lack of natural borders has a similar influence. At first, for me, this theory was a bit of a stretch.  Mr. Kaplan suggests that study of a relief map will help a person  understand the time and events of history.

In the first half of the book the scholarship appears accurate, the references and quotations seem appropriate, but the overall presentation is terminally boring. The first half may be skipped completely. The last half, beginning withTHE GEOGRAPHY OF CHINESE POWER, was fascinating. It is as if the book was written bt two different people. All of a sudden the book becomes less of an incomprehensible and badly assorted text of academic non-sense, and  it becomes immediately an excellent book.

Quotes from the book: 
  • Saddam launched a full scale assault on Iraqi Kurdistan - the infamous Al Anfal campaign - that killed an estimated 100,000 civilians. 
  • Yes, atrocities happen, it is the way of the world. But it doesn't have to be accepted thus. Because man is rational, he ultimately has the ability to struggle against suffering and injustice.
  •  From Croatia's borderlands with Serbia, the war would spread to Bosnia, where hundreds of thousands would perish in grisly fashion. 
  • We have learned that human nature has not changed. That Europe at the end of the twentieth century is quite as capable of barbarism as it was in the Holocaust of mid-century. 
  • For the purpose of stopping genocide, the use of force is not a last resort: it is a first resort. 
  • Clinton's hesitant way of waging war was complicit in large-scale suffering. The work of idealism has been reduced to relief and rescue, to the aftermath of catastrophe. We should have rushed bullets. Instead we rushed blankets. 
  • Clinton discovered a new kind of warfare in which Americans do not die, a cowardly war with precision technology that leaves polls and consciences unperturbed. 
  • Segments of the elite, awestruck at the American military might. became infused with a sense of moral indignation against George H. W. Bush and Clinton's administrations for not using the military might in time to save a quarter of a million people from genocide in the Balkans (not to mention the million in Rwanda). 
  • Vietnam is domestic in spirit It is about taking care iof one's own, following the 58,000 dead from that war.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Good Scent From A Strange Mouintain by Robert Butler

Another pleasent surprise. I was told that this little book of short stories would help me understand the people of Vietnam. It turned out to be a delightful read and at the end of the book I did indeed have a better appreciation of the gentle Vietnamese. It touches on their delicate manners, reverence and respect for family members, quiet acceptance of male dominance, and the relatively slow pace of life in the jungle garden that is the Vietnamese landscape.

A great read. Highly recommended.