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Sunday, November 27, 2011


I’ve usually been somewhat of an omnivorous reader. Though, for fun, I used to read mostly fiction... from classical to best sellers on into the 70's. Fantasy and science fiction & thrillers were read but only rarely. At some point, I decided that the best American writers were doing history and biography. The following book doesn’t follow my usual reading habits....
Imagine a world, our world, where every person on the planet is dead and doesn’t know it. Not zombies according to the current literary fad, but rather a planet populated by people who are but shells of what they were created to be. A people devoid of all emotion with the exception of one fear.
Bestselling author Ted Dekker and co-author Tosca Lee conjure up just such a world in Forbidden, a dystopian novel which will appeal to some and horrify others. .. Dekker’s vivid imagination and at times almost maniacal focus on darkness and light coupled with Tosca Lee’s eloquence of prose is captivating Using interesting characters, the plot slowly builds to a riveting ending. The king where even if you favorite football team is on the tube it’s impossible to put the book down in the last hundred pages.
The book begins with
"In the year 2005, geneticists discovered the human gene that controlled both innate and learned forms of fear. It was called Stathmin, or Oncoprotein 18. Within 15 years, genetic influencers for all primary emotions were similarly identified.
Nearly a decade later, in the wake of catastrophic war that destroyed much of civilization, humanity vowed to forsake all that had conspired to destroy it. Out of the ashes rose a new world in which both the advanced technologies and the passionate emotions that led to its ruin were eliminated. A world without hatred, without malice, without sorrow, without anger. The only emotion genetically allowed to survive was fear. For 480 years, perfect peace reigned. Until now."
For some reason, I can’t quite fathom, Dekkers books have been wildly popular with some of those readers who favor "Christian" books. Other in the same category roundly condemn his writing. It may have something to do with ones take on current politics. Is it really about the dangers of "big government" or even worse "world government". Perhaps. But I’ve already read Orwells 1984. I suspect the devotees of Ayn Rand will find it fulfilling. For me, it's the dangers of science and technology used in defiance of humanity that is quite enough.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lincoln And The Border States

Lincoln And The Border States - Preserving The Union by William C. Harris
Lincoln has often been quoted (whether true or not) as saying while he hoped to have God on his side in the Civil War, he must have Kentucky. And, no doubt, Missouri & Maryland as well. This book by Professor Harris (Univ. Of Kansas) is the story of how Lincoln accomplished the amazingly difficult and complex task.
Keeping the slave holding border states within the Union was the task for a great leader and in this case a masterful politician. Although that term has fallen into some disdain today, I use it in the best sense of the world now. Democracy rests, in part , on political leadership that is moral, wise, practical and inclusive above all. Lincoln had those qualities, perhaps, more than any President in the history of our country.
This book is not a history of the broader problems and events of the war. It requires some background to be fully appreciated. If political leadership is you interest though, the book is perfect. As a lesson in "how to do it" in the worst of times. That makes it well worth reading.
It’s not that much of politics today is lowbrow or even dirty. It was a bad then or even worse. Catering to the lowest common denominator and the politics of fear. Lincoln made the tough decisions, the moral decision but tempered it all with the possible and always an eye on the consequences for the future. We certainly could use a few more people like that in politics today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


It's the story of 17 million people living in a nation not of their own choosing. A few wanting it, some accepting it, many adapting to it and other stumbling into being it's "enemies" oten without intent. Many hunkered down, more than a few tried to flee often being killed in the effort. It was an all encomposing police state. The "stasi" were the enforcers. Equality was the idea. A communist totalitarian failure was the result. Stasiland: Stories From Behind The Berlin Wall by Australin author Anna Funder reads like a novel but actually is based on investigative reporting and the author personal experiences. What is actually revealed is a brutal world of indifference to humanity. A world of people caught in a nightmare. How sad..... Funder’s careful portraits of the people she meets from “Stasiland” shine a dazzling light on one of the world’s most paranoid and secretive regimes, and its effects on contemporary German society.