April 9th 2018

The Doomsday Machine. Daniel Ellsberg.


English: Daniel Ellsberg

The Doomsday Machine. Daniel Ellsberg. 2017. ISBN 9781608196746.  This may be the most terrifying non fiction book you may read.  Ellesberg ( He of the Pentagon Papers) was a long time RAND  nuclear war analyst. Along with the Pentagon papers, exposing the lying to the American public around the Vietnam War, he also retained  papers he worked on for many presidents about the lies and misrepresentations about the nuclear build up.  Japan was willing to surrender before Hiroshima due to the heavy firebombing the cities were being subjected to. Truman did not have to use the A bomb.  There was never a missile gap between US and Russia . The US had 100’s of missiles when the Russians had 4.  Once a missile, airplane or subs are sent out with a nuclear mission, it can not be recalled, as a deliberate military decision, since politicians may second guess.  Between Eisenhower and Kennedy the military industrial complex spent unneeded billions on nuclear buildups.  This continues today so that the overkill is still mind boggling. Worse yet is that in the unnecessarily manufactured race, both Russia and US have put in place Doomsday machines such that if one missile/bomb strikes Moscow or Washington it will trigger end of the world flash launches. Estimates of 500 million dead immediately, the Northern hemisphere is bombed and burning while the rest of the world dies off in 3- 6 months as nuclear winter kills all food and animal life. The smoke and ash from fires etc is driven high into the atmosphere and cuts off all sunlight rendering the earth uninhabitable for eons. So one madman can kill us all.  There can be no limited nuclear engagement.  It renders sleep difficult to consider this.

April 2nd 2018

Stieg Larsson, My Friend. Kurdo Baksi


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson, My Friend. Kurdo Baksi  2010. ISBN 9780670065363.  A biography and reflection on Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy) by his friend for many years as well as the publisher of Stiegs magazine. Expo. Stieg was a tireless worker for human rights and toiled relentlessly against ultra rightwing groups espousing racism, Neo- Nazism and anti-immigration.  He shunned the spotlight as well as having his picture taken, preferring to be in the background. His success as a fiction writer came after he died suddenly from a heart attack.  It seems Larsson worked non stop to the detriment of his health and well being, living on endless coffee and cigarettes.He said that there were ten books in his head for the series on Lisbeth and her life. Apparently he was a writer who worked on the book series in parallel.  He was also tireless in “getting it right”, evidently  destroying numerous early novels once the trilogy was accepted.  One wonders what he would have written had he lived.

March 27th 2018

Obsessive Genius. The inner world of Marie Curie. Barbara Goldsmith.

Obsessive Genius. The inner world of Marie Curie. Barbara Goldsmith.2005. ISBN 9780393051377. I continue my reading on strong women scientists.  Marie Curie was treated as badly or worse than Ada Lovelace by the scientific male dominated community. She and her husband toiled in poverty  and relative obscurity and discovered radioactivity, radium , polonium. The spent many years of both their lives in finding medical and industrial usages of their discoveries, while paving the way for many many other scientists.  This book does a very good job of illustrating the tight circle of scientists that the Curies moved among.  All this in the build up to two great wars.  The writing is clear and concise and you get to identify with the whole Curie family. Tragically it was their dedication and selflessness that led to their own radioactive poisoning.

March 20th 2018

Enchantress of Numbers. A novel of Ada Lovelace. Jennifer Chiaverini.

Ada Lovelace, 19th century British mathematici...

Enchantress of Numbers. A novel of Ada Lovelace Jennifer Chiaverini.  2017.  ISBN 9781101985205. A historical fiction novel the author has tried to use as much historical records as possible.  Ada Lovelace is still considered the first computer programmer as she was aclose friend of Charles Babbage – who is credited with designing ( albeit not building) the first computer – his Analytical Engine.  Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron the libetine poet – who it seems was a pretty awful  husband and father.  Lady Annabella Byron ( nee Noel) is a well to do noble women who leaves Lord Byron and raises Ada Byron on her own. Ada’s childhood seems quite draconian as her mother is terrified that Ada will inherit her fathers bad Byron blood – so the child grows up quite alone, most often in the care of caring and uncaring nannies, guardians and governesses. She is denied many of the joys of childhood. She develops a very keen mind early on, especially with maths and sciences.  Her mother  believed  that women are capable of anything and let Ava develop her skills.  The novel follows Avas trials and growth through to her marriage to Lord Lovelace, her three children and her role in London society up until her death from cancer at 34.  She was living in a golden age in England and was friends with Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Mary Shelly and many notable lords and ladies of the time.  This was despite the misogamy endemic to the time and age.  The author writes a clear concise prose and it holds your interest.

March 5th 2018

Travels. Michael Crichton.

English: American author and speaker Michael C...

Travels. Michael Crichton. 1988. The author of many famous science related thrillers and movies like Jurassic Park, Crichton pens a concise story behind his life. He  covers his time as a medicals student and why he quite after getting his degree.  It certainly seems that he  was a very efficient writer, publishing The Andromeda Strain while still in med school ! He  details his background  and physical and mental journeys through many different experiences.  I was surprised at his dedication to research, his eclectic interests and playful nature toward everything ( Ie a very open mind) .  A real bonus is the appended speech he was to give at Cal Tech on Science and Mysticism. It is a very coherent analysis which presents the material in an open fashion and is well worth the read.

February 19th 2018

Elon Musk. Biography of a Self-Made Visionary, Entrepreneur, and Billionaire. B. Storm

Elon Musk. Biography of a Self-Made Visionary, Entrepreneur, and Billionaire. B. Storm. 2014.   I label this book disappointing. It is more a larger Wikipedia article than an insightful book on Elon Musk. It does not appear that th eauthor evere interviewed Musk or his employees, but rather put together public material in one place. If you want a quick synopsis of what Musk has done- yes you will get it. What is missing is a deep dive into who and what Musk is as a person. So we will need to wait.

February 12th 2018

The Power of Moments. Why certain moments have extraordinary impact. Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

The Power of Moments. Why certain moments have extraordinary impact. Chip Heath and Dan Heath. 2017. ISBN 1501147760.  An extraordinary book. The authors have crystallized in quite a short book how to make a major leadership impact though using certain moments in everyday life.  Using four imaging ares of Elevation, Insight, Pride and Connection this book will help you in all parts of your life.  I can see where this would have helped my elevate my teaching times, management roles and personal life.  I recommend this book for all managers as well as individuals. There is a wealth of resources that go with the book at www.heathbrothers.com/moments

February 5th 2018

The Woman Who Smashed Codes. The true story of love, spies, and the unlikely heroine who outwitted america’s enemies. Jason Fagone.


Shakespeare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Woman Who Smashed Codes. The true story of love, spies, and the unlikely heroine who outwitted america’s enemies. Jason Fagone. 2017. ISBN 9780062430489. This is the story of Elizebeth Smith and William Friedman who married and together built the American tools and teams for  cryptography (code breaking)  prior to WW2 , which eventually became the NSA. There are many smaller stories  in the larger one. A wife who always let her husband shine ( yet history shows that she was the absolutely brilliant one) . How society (and the military)  ruthlessly and cavalierly ignored her true value in position and salary.  They worked on unscrambling puzzles from crooks, spies,  informants, and the enemy military.  They wrote the definitive earliest books on code breaking.  Their work was routinely used and seized by the always publicity seeking Hoover who always ignored their contributions. Toward the end, the US governments paranoia about secrecy ended up in the seizure of much of the Friedman’s personal papers and rare books collection.   They got their start through an eccentric millionaire,  George Fabyan ( who wanted to prove that Francis Bacon wrote all of Shakespeare’s work) on his estate called Riverbank.  It is highly readable, almost improbable (until you remember the context), and the authors text flows well along.  This would make an exceptional movie.

January 22nd 2018

What the Dog Saw. And other adventures. Malcolm Gladwell.

English: Malcolm Gladwell speaks at PopTech! 2...

What the Dog Saw. And other adventures. Malcolm Gladwell.   2009. ISBN 9780316086134.  I have had this boom on my Kindle for a long time.  Its about time I read it. It is a series of articles that Gladwell published in the New Yorker . As befits such an lofty tome, the writing is clear, erudite and does not sway from the nub of the story. I found them highly interesting and always entertaining.  Gladwell has the gift to ask the unasked question from an unique point of view. This each story has the ability to educate and uplift the reader.  Good book for a lengthy air flight.

January 15th 2018

Uncommon Type. Some stories. Tom Hanks.

kristin.eonline.com - HBO Post-Emmys Party, Pa...

Uncommon Type. Some stories. Tom Hanks. 2017. ISBN 9780735273832.  Who knew?  Tom Hanks can write and quite well too.  This is a motley collection of fictional stories, about writing, acting, New York living, and some fantasy.  The author maintains a clear concise , descriptive style.   I look forward to more from him.