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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

We're All Clones and My Clone Sleeps Alone

Stargate SG-1: Half LifeStargate SG-1: Half Life by James Swallow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vala and Daniel return from a mission and Daniel shoots Jack O'Neil. But, would Daniel ever do such a thing? No! So, where is the real Daniel Jackson? Will Daniel Jackson die again? If he does, will he come back to life like the cheater he is? Will Daniel and Vala do the deed like we all know they should? And what about Ba'al? Could he be behind this? Of course, he could! But how? Will the Jafa kree, or will they just spend their time doing kelno'reem?
With Michael Shanks, Claudia Black and Cliff Simon voicing the appropriate characters, lots of action and the overwhelming sound of zat'ni'katel fire, a dastardly plot unfurls and tension mounts as you listen - sometimes forgetting to breathe - to this entertaining audio drama.
Good luck finding it

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Friday, September 25, 2020

Narf!

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the CosmosThe Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brian Greene is a patient teacher. He is a stickler for details. He does not dumb things down. He expects his readers to work for their understanding, but he makes that work as easy as possible for them. Brian Greene is a working physicist in the field he writes about and he's a passionate science communicator. For all these things, I really love to read just about anything that Brian writes. If you're already knowledgeable about what he's writing, you'll find that his chapters are way too long, but he's writing for an audience that he assumes needs thorough explanations. If you have an aversion to broad speculation into the frontiers of physics because you like your science with a solid foundation of theory and experimental/observational evidence, you'll be thoroughly irritated, but to be fair to Brian, he makes it clear where he is speculating and where the ideas presented have not even a shred of evidence to support them. So, does he answer the question, "Are there parallel universes?" You tell me after you've read the book. Narf!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Laugh With Me!

I Think, Therefore I Laugh: The Flip Side of PhilosophyI Think, Therefore I Laugh: The Flip Side of Philosophy by John Allen Paulos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fascinating and truly humorous book. If you think that mathematics and philosophy can tell you nothing about humor, you're just wrong and to correct your faulty view, you need to read this. Hey, I was skeptical that I could learn something about humor through mathematical and philosophical principles, but I was wrong, so I corrected my faulty thinking and now, I'm better informed and thoroughly amused. Let this anecdotal "evidence" be a factor in changing your prior beliefs regarding my truth claim and thus provide you with a reliable basis on which to perform a Bayesian analysis of the truth claim. In the end, you will laugh.

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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Maul Vs. The Padawan

Star Wars: Darth Maul (2017) #4Star Wars: Darth Maul (2017) #4 by Cullen Bunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Maiu versus the padawan. Hate fuels his anger. Vengeance might quench the fire that burns in what passes for a sith soul. Will these star wars ever end? Not likely. We're OK with that.

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Smallville is Actually Party Town

Smallville: Guardian, Part 11 (Season 11 #11)Smallville: Guardian, Part 11 by Bryan Q. Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, the cyborg drama, Kryptonian bravado and parallel universe shenanigans! I love it! More Smallville please!

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Go On, Scare Me!

The ShiningThe Shining by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first Stephen King novel I ever read. It was in the spring of 1978. I was a sophomore in college living in a dorm room. My roommate, from The Valley (extreme South Texas) was home for the weekend and I was alone. I started on a Friday night and slept with the lights on that night and the next. I finished the book on Sunday and was hungry for more. Despite his awful writing in later years, I'm a fan.

One of the good things that King does in this novel is not even trying to make the supernatural world with its rules agree with the real world with its rules. It's something he sadly quits doing in his later novels where he shows how scientifically illiterate, he is. The characters in this novel or memorable and I am excited about (not for) meeting them in Doctor Sleep.

Like his other early works, this novel will terrify you, charm you, make you laugh and make you cry. I guess it's true what they say about hungry artists doing their best work. Stephen King was never a literary genius, but he used to be a damn good storyteller who could make you care about his characters. That may not make his the "Great American Novelist" in the snooty drawing rooms of the literary elite, but it does mean that he was, at his best, able to move the human heart. That's good enough to favor the hallowed shelves of my library.

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

An Oldie, But A Goodie

Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of ScienceBroca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science by Carl Sagan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Classic Sagan!

Although seriously outdated in many areas and fraught with amusing speculation, this collection of essays has immense value in demonstrating Sagan's unique and thoughtful writing style and his perspectives. These essays are often innocently honest and demonstrate the lengths Sagan would go to in understanding opposing points of view. While he thoroughly debunks Velikovsky's shenanigans, he isn't at all rude about it. You could learn a few things from these essays, for the facts that aren't outdated are fascinating. However, I think that you are most likely to be charmed by what Sagan has to say.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2020

You're Something That Never Should Have Happened

Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock 'n' Roller's 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf AddictAlice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock 'n' Roller's 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict by Alice Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I discovered Alice Cooper in 1973. The first album I got was Welcome To My Nightmare. I was a fan. Being so even got me some girl attention. Debbie used to listen to Alice with me. Good times! I lost interest in Alice after From The Inside. I briefly reacquired interest about 5 years ago; picking up some of his later work. Alice Cooper was definitely a musical influence in my life.

This story is told in Alice's own words. It's very entertaining. It's also informative in terms of both rock music history and golf (Not that I even know anything about golf. It's just a matter of fact that his explanations are clear and concise.). I am skeptical that his historical accounts contain no bovine excrement of any kind, but maybe it happened just the way he says it did. I wasn't there. I will say that if Shep is really as good a friend as portrayed here, Alice is a lucky man. I found his accounting of his Christianity disappointing in that it doesn't seem to be thoughtful. If being a Christian keeps him from engaging in self-destructive behavior, I'm all for it, but his description of it seems to be without depth. Just a method of behavior avoidance.






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Thursday, September 03, 2020

Everyone Should Read This Important Book

Race and reality : what everyone should know about our biological diversityRace and reality : what everyone should know about our biological diversity by Guy P. Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let's first get the issue of the formatting of the Kindle edition of this book. The edition that I'm reading was published by Prometheus Books - a publisher that specializes on books featuring progressive secular thinking. I have been a fan of their publications for years. However, the did a horrible job with the formatting. I advise you to get the paper edition.

Racism is an ugly thing. So are jealously, envy, greed, lust, hate and sadism. However, whereas the latter have some biological basis, the idea of race does not. If we humans can manage to put a lid on our harmful emotions, we should be able to do so for an attitude that has its basis entirely in our culture. Guy P. Harrison (one of my favorite authors) makes a strong case for the scientific claim that race has no basis in biology. He then pleads his case that we should dump the idea and work racism out of our cultural "norms." There is no shortage of evidence presented as well as reliable sources cited. This is a hallmark of Prometheus Books publications. In addition, a far more than adequate number of first person accounts of victims and perpetrators of racism are presented. Mr. Harrison is a seasoned journalist with more courage than most in putting himself in considerable danger to get at the information he needed to make his case. So, if you just can't abide by people who reflect photons differently than you do, at least give him the respect he deserves for his hazardous efforts. Then think about how stupid you are for judging people on how they reflect photons. In my humble opinion, this book should be required reading for all high school and college students. It's important and should be in every reader's top shelf.

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Monday, August 31, 2020

Monster | Pomplamoose & dodie





This is easily the best song I've heard in at least a year.

Naughty Children!

Children of the CornChildren of the Corn by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Morbid

This is quite the morbid tale, but religion tends to bring out the morbid in humanity what with all the talk of blood, sacrifice, sin, damnation, hell fire and an angry vengeful god. Morbid, I tell you!

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Book That Popped My Physics Cherry

The First Three Minutes: A Modern View Of The Origin Of The UniverseThe First Three Minutes: A Modern View Of The Origin Of The Universe by Steven Weinberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bloody Marvelous!

While this treatment of cosmology is seriously outdated - even the 1993 afterward doesn't address many of the recent developments in the field - it is a wonderful romp through the mind of one of the greatest physicisits of the 20th century. This is the book that turned me on to physics when I read it in 1985. If you want a more mmodern treatment of cosmology, there are much better books, but this was groundbreaking writing for the general public in its day. Sadly, the kindle version is lacking in proper formatting and takes little advantage of the many awesome features that kindle publishing offers. Clearly, this is a minimal effort on the part of the pbulisher to make a profit at the expense of disapointing the consumer. Surprise!

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Sunday, August 23, 2020

So....... Pleasant

The Most Wonderful Tales of the Year: Holiday Memories Written and Performed by Our Favorite NarratorsThe Most Wonderful Tales of the Year: Holiday Memories Written and Performed by Our Favorite Narrators by Jonathan Davis


These first person accounts of Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations by Audible narrators is very pleasant. Their stories were very well narrated, because ... well.... you know - narrators. None of the stories reminded me of my own Thanksgiving and Christmas experiences at any time in my life, but they were so well narrated and so ..... pleasant. If you're looking for an opportunity to mellow out or have your ears massaged with remembrance and even a bit of drama, you will surely enjoy this production. And as we all know, Scott Brick is the man with the master plan. If he can't read it nobody can.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Such Criminal Minds

Star Wars: Darth Maul (2017) #3Star Wars: Darth Maul (2017) #3 by Cullen Bunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So much hate and anger in our gnarly sith, Darth Maul. The gang sets out to acquire the padawan. Is there honor among thieves? What do you think? On to #4!

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Monday, August 17, 2020

Lex Is So Irresponsible!

Smallville: Guardian, Part 10 (Season 11 #10)Smallville: Guardian, Part 10 by Bryan Q. Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, it would seem that Lex is feeling the unforeseen consequences of his actions and Superman, of course, is left to clean up the mess and deal with the new threat unleased on the world. Why doesn't Lex just retire? He got a second chance at life and he should just kick back and be tortured by the ghost of Tess Mercer. Yeah. That's it! That's the ticket!

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Saturday, August 08, 2020

Muah ha ha ha!

Smallville: Guardian, Part 9 (Season 11 #9)Smallville: Guardian, Part 9 by Bryan Q. Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love everything Smallville. So good! The Comixology version of this series is exellently formatted. You'll enjoy it if you enjoy Smallville. Lex is up to his tricks and while he doesn't have a conscience, there is ..... something .... or .... somone ..... in his head. Muah ha ha ha!

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Friday, August 07, 2020

You Can Do That????

The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without GodThe Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God by Dan Barker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This isn't so much a book about how to be a good atheist as it is a collection of examples of people of some note being good atheists. By being "good," I mean doing things and living in such a way that results in positive contributions to the betterment of mankind. "Huh?" you ask. "You can't be good if you don't believe in God/Allah/Krishna/Thor/Marduk/FSM!" I think you might see the beginnings of the problem there. Which god has the followers that are good? His god? Her god? Your god? How about no god? I've heard it said that integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking. If that's true, then theists (meaning Christians mostly) can never have true integrity, because their god is always looking. Stalker god. If you can be readily forgiven by a god for your wrongdoings, how can you ever really take personal responsibility for those actions? Dan Barker makes these kinds of points in the book's introduction, but the rest of it is the aforementioned collection. It's skimmable. I have it in my reference collection so that when I need an example of a good atheist, I can easily look one up. They're listed by category and Barker supplies ready references as evidence of his examples, because, you know - atheists must be liars - they don't believe in a god. As if theism ever stopped anyone from lying - ha! Check it out if you need convincing that there are many nontheists who make great contributions to the betterment of real, live people. The lives of people matter. The lives of the gods - not so much.

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He Can Taste His Anger

Star Wars: Darth Maul (2017) #2Star Wars: Darth Maul (2017) #2 by Cullen Bunn


Darth Maul has anger issues. I read this via Comixology. The formatting is excellent. Easy to read and very nice artwork. Anyway, Darth Maul, coaxed by his master, Darth Sidious, more deeply embraces the dark side. He has his eye on a padawan and his thirst for revenge against the jedi is messing with his rationality.

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Thursday, August 06, 2020

Holy Cow!

The PlanetsThe Planets by Brian Cox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy cow! This book was bloody marvelous! It's a fairly up to date exposition of our solar system lavished with gorgeous photographs and narrated with Brian Cox's soulful prose. If you get the digital version, be sure to read it on a large screen tablet (at least 10 inches), because the photos are simply beautiful. If you read it on a regular Kindle e-reader, you'll just be sad and we don't need any crying at this time.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

John's Thought For The Day 120200729

In social gatherings, do you boast without embarrassment about how poor your mastery of science and math are?  Would you be so quick to do the same about reading if you couldn't read very well? If not, ask yourself why.