29 November 2011

81. Hostile Fire

Hostile Fire - Dick Stivers

Utterly unbelievable, but it sure was fun.

The Vietnam War is over. The troops are all home. That doesn't mean they are "over it". This book uses the PTSD and life changing events for many soldiers as a part of the story line.

The Vietnamese refugees are now settled in America. The section of Los Angeles where many settled is now called "Gook Town". There are constant references to the smells and cultural icons that bring soldiers right back to the war.

Anyway, it just so happens that there is a "friendly" General who is pretty important in the community in LA. Trouble is he is now seeking fortune at all costs. He is a staunch anti-communist, but only until the communists can make him money. So, some renegade CIA agents from "back in the shit", the communists and General Trang start smuggling heroine into the good ole USA. Uh ohhhhh.

Since the CIA is involved the Presidents hands are tied (bullshit) so he calls in an elite team of war veterans (Able Team) to do something about the problem (bullshit). They find out that there is another person involved and spearheading the operation. The "White Bitch" (aptly named because she always wears white...representing death in Vietnamese culture.) is a female NVA operative that has tortured and killed numerous POWs in Hanoi. Now she is in LA.

Able Team busts up the drug ring and pisses this killer lady off, but she does get to torture a girl who informed the cops of the pending drug drop. It was pretty nasty. So, she and the rich General run to a secret hideout they built in Oregon that is built just like the tunnels in Vietnam. They also have a bunch of NVA regular forces with them. Now the war is NOT over. It is on our soil. The NVA are taking the war to America.

Able Team is only three guys and an LA policeman who is helping them out on the case. They need more troops to fight this "war", but the government must be able to maintain deniability and all that crap. So, they start recruiting all the guys the "White Bitch" tortured. They have all these dudes come promising them a shot at revenge...if they live.

So, there is a big battle in the Oregon woods...the good guys win...the bad guys die...the girl gets saved...lots of old wounds are healed...lots of super-heroic efforts always succeed...blah blah.

Outrageous!...but fun.

23 November 2011

80. The Book Of Fate

The Book Of Fate - Brad Meltzer

This was a pretty decent suspense thriller. Nothing magical.
The character of Wes Holloway was a big time sissy pants.

The title of the book is stupid. There is no "book of fate". It is some crap the crazy killer dude uses as reasoning for all kinds of things that happen to people.

The use of the Masonic symbols would lead one to believe that there was much more to that being tied into the plot than there really is. Once again, it is all tied in through the mental gymnastics of the lunatic character.

Still, it is an exciting book and would make a pretty decent movie. They may have to do some editing of the part where Lisbeth is getting whooped on by the bad secret service dude. That was not very nice.

The CIA guy seemed kind of clueless and had a lack of intuition at times. I would not think he would be in the position he supposedly held if he was nowhere near as bright as even Wes' lawyer friend.

Overall, I enjoyed it.

20 November 2011

79. Rally Round The Flag, Boys!

Rally Round The Flag, Boys! - Max Shulman

I found this humorous book printed in 1958 and it jumped to the top of the to-be-read stack.

I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a different time. The same book written today could never be pulled off and still be funny.

Imagine it is 1958. We are in a small Connecticut coastal town where the old blue blood Yankee Mayflower descendants and the professional New York City commuters live in the same community, but they are pitted against each other at town meetings for control of everything. The commuters are all lawyers, accountants and Broadway moguls. Now throw in a plan to build a US Army Nike missile base that will defend Bridgeport airspace in that town.

Some of the funniest parts were discussions about how to protect their daughters from the incoming Army soldiers. It was hilarious.

14 November 2011

78. God's Politics

God's Politics : Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It

"Since when did believing in God and having moral values make you pro-war, pro-rich, and solely pro-Republican? And since when did promoting and pursuing a progressive social agenda with a concern for economic security, health care, and educational opportunity mean you had to put faith in God aside?

God's Politics offers a clarion call to make both our religious communities and our government more accountable to key values of the prophetic religious tradition -- that is, make them pro-justice, pro-peace, pro-environment, pro-equality, and pro-family (without making scapegoats of single mothers or gays). Our biblical faith and religious traditions simply do not allow us as a nation to continue to ignore the poor and marginalized, deny racial justice, tolerate the ravages of war, or turn away from the human rights of those made in the image of God. These are the values of love and justice, reconciliation, and community that Jesus taught and that are at the core of what many of us believe, Christian or not. Jim Wallis inspires us to hold our political leaders and policies accountable by integrating our deepest moral convictions into our nation's public life."

The author of this book is self-proclaimed as a "progressive" and "prophetic". He discusses many subjects in this book that make total sense. He also falls into many stereotypical fallacies that perpetuate the rhetoric that makes the left-right divide deeper with every passing election.

This book was written after the 2004 Presidential election. Bush just defeated John Kerry. Needless to say, the author was definitely not a Bush fan. This book is a Bush basher from the very start. It bashes him for wars, for neglecting the poor, for trying to kill women, etc etc. Don't get me wrong, I am not a Bush fan. I voted for Kerry in the 2004 election. I just think that the piling on from all leftist fronts was ridiculous, just as the righties did to Clinton in the 90s.

So, despite my agreeing with some of Mr Wallis' suggestions and on how to find bipartisan common ground, I think this book is just a tool. I think Mr. Wallis is a tool. I think both fall into the "useful idiot" category.

Why do I think that? In a 2004 context I would be able to buy into his arguments. In a 2011 context we have seen much more from the "progressives". 2008 was a game changer. The 111th Congress and the Obama administration could have pursed any course of action they wished. They could have checked all the boxes on the progressive wish list. They could have been the progressive fairy godmother. But, they chose not to even address many of the issues discussed by Mr. Wallis in this book. Poverty, racism, and a long list of those holy grail leftist issues could have been addressed...but they were ignored. They were not truly the goals of progressives despite all the smoke blowing rhetoric they love to spew about being so caring. It was and continues to be lies...just like the right is lying.

Next thing...if Mr. Wallis is looking to include faith into the political conversation coming from the left...as he says numerous times (prophetic politics)...then why is the left making efforts at every possible opportunity to eliminate all references to religion, faith, or God from anything public? This contradiction is blatant. Don't tell me. Show me! The progressives do show me, despite what this book is touting as truth.

The next issue...Mr. Wallis likes to say things like the right-GOP-conservatives (whatever) do not care about the poor. I hear this kind of BS a lot. It is stupid. The reason they say this is because the right does not support government programs to care for every aspect of people's lives. That does not mean they want to starve everyones grandmothers. Government is not the solution to everything. Especially when this book is trying to say that Jesus himself would want us to make government programs that care for everyone...and we should do that by following a party of progressives that are openly hostile toward Jesus? Do what Jesus would do, but don't do it BECAUSE Jesus would do it? Do it because it is right, but don't give God the glory...or even a mention. That makes no sense and is nothing more than manipulation.

So, for those reasons, despite my agreement with some of the writer's goals, I think this book SUCKED. It is just more political pandering and manipulation from a different angle. I would not have known that in 2005. Today it is glaringly obvious. Have a nice day.

77. The Resolution For Men

The Resolution For men - Stephen Kendrick

If you want to know what this book was about you should see the movie "Courageous". This is a companion to that movie.

If you want to know what it meant to me personally while reading, well, you will have to be ready for a long and meaningful discussion. There is no way to blog about such stuff. Not for me anyway.

12 November 2011

76. Infected

Infected - Scott Sigler

Extra-terrestrial parasites grow in human hosts until they hatch to build a portal to bring millions of aliens to Earth for some unknown reason.

The graphic descriptions of the parasitic growth, the crime scenes of the "victims", and the war waged within the body of one "Scary" Perry Dawsey, ex-football linebacker superstar, are outstanding.

I really enjoyed this one and will be looking for the sequel to finish the story.

75. The Ethical Engineer

The Ethical Engineer - Harry Harrison

Another old sci-fi novel.

As a science fiction book it was pretty good. A couple of space travelers end up stranded on a primitive planet. These guys are light years ahead of the natives as far as knowledge and scientific discoveries go.

The two progress through parts of the primitive civilization beginning with a slave camp that forages for food all day, to a group that inefficiently pumps crude oil from the ground, to a group that is capable of manufacturing very basic steam engines, to a group is capable of generating electricity and using radio communication in Morse code. Eventually they are rescued by the spacemen in orbit awaiting their signal.

Anyway...that was all interesting and a good story.

The problem for me with this book is it wasn't just a science fiction story. It was a propaganda piece. It was riddled with moral relativism being far superior in every possible way to Judeo-Christian morality. The "ethical" engineer was constantly pointing out how different situations called for different actions. The other guy with him had morals based in his religious faith.

First of all...the religious moralist was WAY over the top. Nobody goes as far as this guy. The author took some serious liberties with this character to make his case against faith based morality.

Second...the moral relativist was always shown to be absolutely right in every single instance...but he really wasn't. That was ignored in the book. For instance...he has always said that  we are innocent until proven guilty. We, as human beings, should not condemn others for their actions until we understand the entire situation. But, he himself justifies his condemnation of a man based on his own perceptions of what is right and correct within that man's own society. He says that since the dude could be expected to kill because that is what his culture would normally do then he is justified in preemptively killing the man himself. So, what was his proof that the man would be expected to kill? He asked a third party what they thought the man might do...they said he might kill...therefore he is guilty!  That is total crap and can be used in a thousand other situations where someone wishes to make their own actions "morally relevant".

One line I did like very much. The two space travelers, Micah and Jason, are arguing about what to do in their current situation. They have become slaves. Micah yells "Live free or die!", or something to that effect. He is prepared to go fight the slave master for his freedom right away. Jason tells him to "shut up!" He says they should wait. They should be slaves until they can make a plan to escape or kill the slave master. He says it is "better to be alive-free than dead-free!" That made a ton of sense and I agree. I liked the quote, but once again, it was an example of the moral Micah taking a ridiculous false position based on morality so Jason could argue it into stupidity.

The book was good if you can look past all the moral relativist argument garbage.

09 November 2011

74. Why We Suck

Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid - Dr. Denis Leary

What a pissa! This dude cracks me up.

This book reminds me of conversations with Billy and Brian Skidmore or many other friends from Long Island.

It is what it is.

07 November 2011

73. Long Time Leaving

Long Time Leaving: Dispatches From Up South - Roy Blount Jr.

A liberal southern democrat who has lived in Massachusetts and New York compares where he came from with where he is. It is kind of funny at times. It rambles on and on at others.

I loved the comparisons of people's viewpoints and ways of life.

Blount lost me about half way through when he started these long dialogue discussions between William Faulkner, Shakespeare and Mark Twain. He didn't get me back when he spoke of Ray Charles or other singers. I totally lost interest for that whole section of the book. It was probably about half.

But, overall he had me chuckling.

I have heard Roy Blount Jr somewhere before. I did this one on audio and read by the author. I know that voice. I wonder from where.

02 November 2011

72. L.A. Outlaws

L.A. Outlaws - T. Jefferson Parker

This is a fun crime novel. Exciting and action packed. An LA County Sheriff with unwavering integrity. A beautiful dark and mysterious modern day Robin Hood type outlaw running around LA. She just happens to really be an award winning history teacher in the LA Unified school district, a single mom, and the last person anyone would suspect...except of course the super duper copper.

The book is no big thrill. The bad guys are bad. There are crooked cops to help them be even badder. There are ties to MS13 which gives things a more vicious feel. The "real" bad guy likes to hack people up with a machete that shoots shotgun shells. Yeah, whatever.

One of the best parts of this book was the cars. Allison Murietta, the "outlaw" bad ass, just happens to love boosting awesome rides. She not only steals them, but is a real car enthusiast. I liked some of her descriptions of the cars.

The ending was terrible. Talk about the worlds longest feel-good do-good wrap up. Everything ended happily. The cops relationship with his dad. The cops traumatic experiences from his Iraq war experiences. The family history. The kids are all cared for. blah blah blah blah... come on... and the option for a sequel was left glaringly open.

Like I said, it is just another crime story. In fact, there is probably nothing new here at all. I still enjoyed it. It required no thought at all. That was nice for a change.