READING WITH XIPHOS 4
This is the episode wherein the befuddled writer reviews some books that defy easy categorization.
OK boys and girls, this one is a drive by. I had a much longer, more in-depth post about books on Skepticism but then my old lap top committed a very messy suicide and I lost that one. Now I’m just too lazy at the moment to try to recreate that one so I’m just going to zip by with this post. It’s a few books in different areas that defy easy categorization (except for one that is).
The Hunt For Zero Point: Inside The Classified World of Antigravity Technology (Nick Cook, 2002) This book out of all the ones I’m reviewing is the hardest one to figure out where it goes. The writer, Nick Cook, was, at the time he was researching and writing the book, a senior writer for Jane’s Defense Weekly. Jane’s is a rather old school, stuffy publication that covers air, ground and seaborne weapons and intelligence (for purposes of full disclosure, I subscribe to many of their services) and is not known to engage in flights of fancy about subjects like anti-gravity. For years Cook covered the aviation world for Jane’s, both the white and black (covert), so he was well acquainted with all the major players and had a thorough grounding in that rather Byzantium world.
Here are the basics of the book and believe me I’m just hitting the highest of the highlights. One day Cook steps away from his desk and when he comes back he finds a copy of an article published in 1956 from some aviation journal touting the coming of the “G” engines. The G stands for gravity and the article quoted some of the giants in the aeronautical field of the time as saying gravity engines are almost here and they would revolutionize the world. Of course thirty years later there aren’t any G engines. From that old article Cook launched a decade long search for the “truth” of the matter and that quest led him to the United States, Germany, The Royal Archives, Poland and Austria.
Along the way he learns about anti-gravity, zero point energy, Nazi secret weapons programs of WW2, including the alleged Nazi “UFO” program, the smuggling of Nazi scientists into the United States, the black world of aviation and he got a crash course in quantum physics and history.
The Good: It’s well written and engaging. It’s well documented and you can look up the sources that Cook cites for yourself and for me the ‘alternate’ history that Cook puts forth about connections to WW2 Nazi weapons programs is interesting. Also there is no garbage about “alien” technology, dumb fuck conspiracy theories and very little blowhard “Rusty Shackleford/Dale Gribble” moments that puff up the author as the exclusive fount of conspiratard dis-information.
The Bad: Cook makes a bunch of illogical leaps to push the story forward which is par for the course for this type of book. His understanding of physics is not good. He sees things in old documents that are, well, hard for me to see and sometimes I think he gets the cart way before the horse. Cook also gets vital quantum physics info from a person named Harold E. Puthoff who, for years, ruined the good name of the Stanford Research Institute in the 1970’s. There’s an encyclopedia size book of egregious things and ideas Putthoff championed at the SRI and here is some of the low lights. Under Puthoff’s “leadership” SRI endorsed “parapsychology” as a legitimate avenue of research, all manner of woo woo things like telekinesis and ESP as real, created the dumb as fuck “remote” viewing BS and the absolute worst thing, claiming Uri fucking Gellar is a “real” psychic. Fuck you Puthoff. In my opinion you and your shitbird insane running mate Russell Targ are who the character of Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters was based on.
The final analysis: Here’s why I’m not sure where to stick this book. Is it history? No, not really. Is it a straight up book about technology? Technically, it is a little I guess. Is it a conspiratard laden asshole of a book? Nope. So where do you file it? I don’t know. I just know it’s well written and interesting, that is, if you like books that pose a lot of questions but no real answers. If you enjoy books that have shadowy, powerful Nazis that fall off the face of the earth because they have very valuable tech info and science way out on the fringe then The Hunt For Zero Point might be a book to check out.
Day By Day Armageddon (J.L. Bourne, 2004) This is a book about zombies so I can settle the classification up front. The reason it lands on this list is because zombie fiction is not a genre I’ve read much in. I’ve only read one other author in this field, Brian Keene I believe, and was not impressed. This book is a little different for two reasons. The first is the way the book is set up. The narration is primarily by journal entries made by the unnamed author, a Navy pilot that works on an EP3 aircraft. (EP3 is a Signal intelligence prop driven aircraft flown by the US Navy. Hey look! It’s a link to a picture for reference: tinyurl.com/yfrr6qr)
The other difference is that in real life the author is allegedly a Squid pilot that flies the EP3. I don’t know if that is true or not but the character in the book has that vaguely self-important but entirely useless stench of a lame Navy officer about him so maybe? Also, the goofy author pulled a 28 Days Later with the main character. He morphs from a squid prop pilot into a Naval Special Warfare operator which is a massively gigantic stretch. Now if the pilot was a Marine I could kind of, sort of, maybe buy into that stretch since every Marine from the Commandant down to the kid who graduated boot yesterday is a rifleman. It doesn’t matter if you are in personnel, logistics, a pilot or a member of Force Recon, everyone is a rifleman, chick Marines included.
The book is reasonably entertaining if you can believe the premise that a Navy Officer is capable of doing anything at all, even at barest level of adequate. It does drag in parts and the journal entry trick wears thin fast. Still, if you like zombies or apocalyptic literature, it’s not that bad of an entry into those genres. Another plus, it’s relatively short. You could get through it in a day or two if you are motivated.
The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading (Ian Rowland, 1999) Have you ever wondered how dip shit “psychics” and cocksuckers that “talk to the dead” seemingly get right answers? I mean without obviously consulting Google? Well friends, wonder no more. If you read The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading, all your questions will be answered. Rowland is an English performer and debunker and his vastly entertaining and useful book shows how you can make the tricks of “psychic” grifters work for you.
That’s the best part of the book, it can help you manipulate your boss or manager. I use different parts of the book everyday on dumb as a box of hair officers. For all you folks that live in the veal fattening pens, this book can come in very handy for getting over on your manager, section leader or whatever the title the useless git ahead of you has. I’m pretty sure the USA Network TV show “Psych” owns dozens of copies of this book and check it hourly when writing scripts for episodes of the show. P.S. “Psych” is a goofy, very entertaining show that week after week exposes “psychics” to ridicule and abuse. (Frank, get on this show ASAP, you might like it. Burn Notice might be right up your alley also. Both are on USA Network which at the moment has the most entertaining line up of shows on American TV.)
That’s it for this time. I told you it would short and relatively painless and as always