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).

huntzero 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.

11-3 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.

coldreading 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

Mahalo,

Xiphos

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About Xiphos0311

Sporadic genius but mostly IDGAF.

31 responses to “READING WITH XIPHOS 4”

  1. xiphos0311 says :

    Frank,

    That last part was written before the discussion broke out about Psych and Burn Notice we had the other day. I’m not intentionally trying to be a dink.

  2. xiphos0311 says :

    Frank glad you liked it, I figured you would.

    Here’s a few things to help enhance your Psych watching experience.

    1. Play the spot the Pineapple game. In every episode they either have a Pineapple, a pineapple inspired dish or something to with pineapples. Its became a sort of game now.

    2. Try and keep count of all the references to movies, TV shows, Actors and pop culture. There’s about a million per episode. I can’t ever catch all of them on first viewing.

    3. I think later on in the first season they started this running gag of introducing Gus with weird names like “Jazz Hands” or “Donut Holstein” some of the names are hilarious.

    ENJOY!

  3. Jarv says :

    I’ve now read the first four true blood books- and they’re pretty shit, to be honest, Xi. Does it get better?

    • xiphos0311 says :

      If you haven’t bought into the premise by book 4 you’re probably not going to. Book 4 is where I began enjoying the series, I almost didn’t start it because I didn’t really like the first three books all that much. 1 and 2 were bland and i don’t remember much about and 3 was just OK in my opinion. book 4 with it’s switch in emphasis to Eric, the best character in the series, is where the books got better.

      I will stipulate for the record that being stuck on a boat for 12 days probably influenced my opinion of the series. Would I have read them if I wasn’t stuck? probably not but overall I found them entertaining for what they are; not great books or particularly well written, but decent time fillers.

      • Jarv says :

        Book 3 was such awful tripe. I’ve got fuck all else to read though, so I think I may do a whole saga review of it

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Is book 3 the one where Bill gets kidnapped by his old girl friend? yeah that on was kinda weak but I did like the werewolves intro into the story line. They play a big part in upcoming books. Also they aren’t pussy’s like in other series the vampires also kick a lot of ass as you will learn going forward.

      • Jarv says :

        Werewolves, Were tigers, Were collies, manaeds, fuck knows what. Book 1 introduced shapeshifters, and they feature quite a lot in book 2.

        My problem is that she’s dull as all hell, Bill is dull and a nob, Eric is at least amusing, but there’s only so many times you can hear “My body wanted him” or whatever it is before you groan and put the book down.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        I agree she is dull as dirt. I like the supporting way more then Sooki, characters like Eric, Pam and some others that come up in future books carry the story much better then her. Also Bubba, I thought that was a funny idea for a vampire.

      • Jarv says :

        Eric, and Bubba are both much more interesting than Sooki.

        And of the 3 books, she clearly couldn’t think of how to conclude them, so just had an almost totally random character be the murderer.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Did book 3 have that part in the trunk? That was not handled well at all.

        Agreed Bubba and Eric are much more interesting then Sooki. For the most part every other character is more interesting then Sooki.

      • Jarv says :

        Yeah it did. I’ve now finished book 4 and it was dramatically better- however it loses big points for having a character commit suicide on a knife/ stake Sookie holds which is exactly the same thing as in the third one.

        I don’t know why she didn’t just have Sookie kill and blame it on being consumed by bloodlust from having ingested too much Vampire blood.

        I’m persisting out of a stupid sense of masochism with the last four.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        From this point on the body count rises book to book and a lot of the Eric/Sookie issues in book 4 actually have a point and cause all sorts of problems later on for the both of them. Getting rid of Bill was the best idea Harris had.

        I completely understand about finishing series you don’t like, I have a same problem. Of course when I read the series I was on a tub in the middle of the Pacific and not in Ye Olde London Towne, which, from what I remember, has plenty of things to do even in the dark depths of winter.
        Who am I say anything though? I’m in the Caribbean and not having fun. Fuck I lost that argument badly.

        Travel tip: If your planning on doing any diving in the Caribbean don’t do in the harbor of a country that had a major earthquake and everything slid into the ocean, especially if you’re a dumb fuck like I am. You will end up with a nice infected hole in your hip.

      • Jarv says :

        Ouch

        Sounds nasty.Is this you laid up and off duty then?

        Agree about getting rid of Bill. He’s boring as fuck and a bit of a nobhead and I didn’t really want to read anything else he had done or was doing.

        There is plenty of stuff to do, but I’ve got a weird compulsion when it comes to finishing series, especially when the weather’s shit.

        I’m the mug that read BOTH adventures of a call girl books.

        You think I’d have learned my lesson after the first one…

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Yeah I’m sitting around right now bored out of my skin, but it’s my own fault for being a stupid.

        I hear you I share the same completist fetish. In the case of TB it does get better so it’s not as bitter of a pill to swallow.

        One thing about Bill, when he comes back into the story line, later on, he becomes a better character especially in the latest book.

  4. xiphos0311 says :

    The first book is actually very interesting even if I don’t agree with a lot of it. The Nazi info especially about SS General Hans Kammler is the most interesting part. The Nazi info is about 40% of the book. Interesting even if unproven.

    The Zombie book is OK even if it had a Navy Officer as the lead(fucking making me puke writing that). It’s OK if you’re on a plane or stuck in an airport type of book.

    I found out about Rowland’s book from Randi’s website in the book section over there so it’s funny you mentioned him.

  5. MORBIUS says :

    Xi, Ever read ‘The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay?” It was recommended by someone at aicn, comments? Worth a look?

    I’ve seen a few episodes of Psych, was quite good actually. My niece is a fan, will try to borrow her DVD vox sets in the near future. Didn’t know about the pineapple thing, have to watch out for it next time. I think a new season just started.

  6. xiphos0311 says :

    Morbius,

    Yes I have read Kavalier and Clay and enjoyed the hell out of it. It’s a very ambitious book and covers a bunch of different themes and ideas and pulls it off. I would recommend it.

    The pineapple gag started out as a one or two episode joke that caught on. The show is very entertaining because it never ever takes itself seriously and is fun for the sake of just having fun. It also helps that both leads have a ton of charisma.

  7. xiphos0311 says :

    that Pork thing does not sound good right now.

  8. Tom_Bando says :

    Xiphos-question. I just dug out and watched my old VHS of Hamburger Hill, from ’87. Never noticed that Don Cheadle was in it(!) only guys I remembered were Courtney Vance (Doc) and that guy from Wings. No the other one. Anyways-what did you think of this? it reminded me strikingly of ‘Sands of Iwo Jima’ more than anything else-march up the deadly hill-save w/ more guts being shot out and less goofy 40’s comedy inserts….you ever get a chance to watch it?

  9. xiphos0311 says :

    Tom,

    I’ve seen that movie once when it came out and I really don’t remember much about it except the actors using the quote “ain’t nothing but thing and chicken on a string” which I shamelessly hijacked for personal use for a while back in the day.

    I’ll check it out when I get a chance and get back to you on it, fair enough?

  10. Tom_Bando says :

    Sounds good! it’s pretty dated-hey there’s the guy from the Practice (Dylan McDermott!) -but they did a fair job on it. Shot it in the Filthipines it turns out.

  11. Lord Bronco says :

    Great to see a new post Xi–I’m still catching up on the tough guy list-I saved Pressfield for the last figuring I’m going to like that best.

    I just finished dead and gone-sookie book 10. I enjoyed the series alot-so i will not do spoilers–but the series definitely does pick up after book 3-crescendoing in Book 7. i believe Harris was going to do some pretty drastic, finalistic stuff-but then decided either by herself or with publisher input to extend the series.

    There are very interesting reasons why sookie seems a bit more blessed than a lot of people–and book 10 was actually quite brutal about what those blessings can be construed as curses. (the series is by no means over as of book 10).

    The series is at times a bit cheesy/girlish-but it’s quite gruesome and entertaining from my perspective as a fellow.

    For the last month and a half-i too have been having computer problems/massive upgrade issues…to the point of not even having MS word…I feel like i owe you Xi for the great book recommendations-my list eventually will hopefully make up for this at some point. typing on this GODDAMNED LAPTOP may give me cirrhosis of the liver before then…Goddamn Bill gates and his fucking windows vista–2, 3 years of my life trying to get this fucking OS to work-and that fuckstick is giving 10 billion dollars to fucking vaccinations-FUCK

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Bronco,

      Glad to hear you like my suggestions thank you. Pressfiels is great you will enjoy him. He will pop up agian when I do a post about fictionlized, but based on real military history, books.

      About True blood. Yeah I think you are right, Harris seemed to be building up to a hugh character blood bath but then decied to pull back and change/spread the destruction out over more books. I think Sooki’s family element was a good addition to series but since the events in the last book, it seems like that story line is done, which is to bad I liked her new family member.

      I’ve been reading about your computer odyssey over on Bale, although I don’t understand most of it, my computer knowledge starts and stops with being able to turn a computer on.

      • lordbronco says :

        No Worries-The computer stuff is my cross to bear-which I keep strapping on and on again…

        Quick pick-get any book by Lee Child-the character is Jack Reacher-and he’s a doozy. Can be read out of sequence.

        best wishes,

      • xiphos0311 says :

        The Reacher books are on my list to read. With series I have a weird tic where I have to start at the beginning.

      • Jarv says :

        I’ve only read Killing Floor, but it was mint.

        Total plane reading. I’ve got some book tokens (what sort of asshat gives them out nowadays) so am going to be getting some more of them when I finish the White trash fucks the undead books.

  12. Continentalop says :

    Yeah, I own that book on Cold Reading as well. Good read.

    Good companion piece to that is Malcolm Gladwell’s book, What the Dog Dragged In. He has a chapter comparing FBI Profilers to Psychics in terms of how much BS they are full of.

  13. xiphos0311 says :

    Gladwell wrote the Tipping Point correct? I remember liking that book and told myself to keep an eye out for work by him, so of course I didn’t

    Profiling as practiced by the Feebles is nonsense. Its crime statistics dressed up as some sort of insightful powerful tool, which it’s not. Have you ever read Mind Hunter by John Douglas? The “father” of psych profiling, at least if you believe him, it’s 300 pages of self promoting BS.

    Conti have you ever heard of Geographical Profiling? It’s a math based application used to actually find offenders, it’s numbers and not based on weak ass psychological questions. It was developed by a mathematician/policemen up in Vancouver I believe. It was almost immediately adopted by the RCMP because it works and works well

    See that’s what happens when you get real cops involved and not “federal agents” which are just a bunch of arrogant, loud mouth, paper pushers that are entirely useless. I’ll stop before I get into my FBI rant I really have no use for those people.

    • Continentalop says :

      I think I heard of Geographical Profiling under a different name. You ever read Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer by Robert Keppel? If I remember right, there is a section where Keppel talks about how computer programs were used to eliminate many of the suspects in the “Ted” murders, and it was do to process of elimination and databases that led to his capture (and of course, a lot of fucking luck when he was pulled over).

      As for profiling, I believe in profiling. But cops have been doing it for decades. It is caused “common sense” and intuition. Read any book about a good cop and he will be able to decipher things about the crook based on the crime scene – it didn’t take an FBI profiler to tell cops (including the Super-Cops invited into Atlanta) that the Atlanta Child Murderer had to be a black man. Years of experience told them that.

      Plus has an FBI profiler ever caught a serial killer? No, but a cop looking at parking tickets did catch the Son of Sam.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        I have not read read the Green River Killer book I’ll check it out.

        I agree, street experience + shoe leather+luck=Bad guy getting popped.

  14. xiphos0311 says :

    I thought the antigravity book would gin up some discussion then it did, I guess I was wrong on that. I might have to retool my book selection criteria in the future.

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