hankrules2011

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Book Review: Dot.Con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet Era

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 23, 2020

Dot.Con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet EraDot.Con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet Era by John Cassidy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a relatively interesting book and not poorly written. Indeed, for those who don’t remember or didn’t live through this period, I would likely be recommending it and giving it a higher rating. So my rating might be viewed as both subjective and somewhat unfair. However I feel I have a different take on the subject that gives me a different and possibly more comprehensive understanding with greater overall context that I have neither the time or energy to delve deeply into, which makes this content a little…basic and lacking a more complete historical insider perspective that I feel I posses.

I don’t want to write my own book here, but a little personal background info. I acquired my first computer in 1982, took my first programming class in 1984 and “got on the (pre-Web) Internet” in 1985 when beginning to send and receive personal email. I quickly migrated to BBS’s and used other Internet protocols (email is one, actually) such as ftp, telnet (especially), the primary search tool, Gopher, and what kind of served as a pre-Web before the Web was invented by TBL — Usenet. I also got on the legendary and influential WELL, where I resided and interacted with many movers and shakers for close to 15 years. (One of my biggest regrets is giving up my longtime WELL email address.) With the introduction of the Web, I quickly learned HTML, opened my own consulting company in Beverly Hills and created small basic websites for companies using HTML 1.0 (and VRML, as well as other forgotten markup languages and scripts) with the text-only Lynx browser, charging $350 per web PAGE because with 100 international web servers then, back then there was no one to provide such services and you could just name your price. When the GUI Mosaic browser soon came out, things just exploded. I was already doing work with many ISPs and other Internet companies and got involved with the IETF to help create Internet protocols. I turned down awesome offers from companies like Oracle, Sun, Nike, Adobe, Apple and more to take much less to join a growing ISP I was betting would go big time, which turned out to be a good bet. During my time there, I helped grow the company into the 2nd largest ISP in the world, built my own Engineering department, worked in the largest data center on the west coast, traveled the country as the company’s sole rep for RFP bidder meetings and much more, as well as collaborating with NASA, Cal Tech and various national research labs (LBL was one) on several major projects and again, much more. Early on, we were idealistically (and naively) scaling the Internet, investing in massive redundancy, educating consumers and businesses, and trying to theoretically even the playing field by providing free access to education, information, technology, and social improvement efforts and opportunities for everyone in the world. I also spent a lot of time researching new technologies, such as the then-unnamed cloud technology that a decade later would become all the rage, as well as researching competitors and potentially interesting new tech/Internet companies to (personally) invest in.

Yet before the end of the century, many of we “old timers” were starting to feel nervous about the future and where things could lead, especially as the Web became more commercial with tons of new companies having IPOs, creating tons of overnight millionaires with companies that Wall Street had decided were somehow valued at many millions while virtually none were making ANY revenue, let alone profits, and while “experts” assumed there would somehow be ways to make big money, only the porn industry (and offshore gambling) were successful in doing so while people in the industry had no concrete ideas of their own on what to sell (everything had been free) and how to make real money. As the government gave up domain management (to begin with) and commercial entities moved in, I started to develop a queasy feeling in my stomach over what *could* happen in the future.

Soon many of we “veterans” starting worrying the public valuations were insane, it would take awhile as well as major changes for anyone to actually succeed, and concerns about things possibly getting “darker” as our ideals faded. Of course there had always been hackers, but old school hackers did it to 1) learn (and “free” information) and 2) for bragging rights. Even though the government threw the book at infamous hackers like Poulson and Mitnick, none were *truly* criminals in the sense that “hackers/crackers” would later become. Security became a major headache since TCP/IP packet switching had not been invented to support major financial transactions securely. As the number of viruses being created and released daily started to beat Moore’s Law exponentially, as more commercial companies got online, as more tech companies started up with nothing to sell, financial analysts, shareholders, and certain geeks in the tech/Internet industry started saying “No” and “I told you so” while VC money started drying up – the bust became predictably inevitable. Many of us in the industry unloaded our stock options while they still had value and started bailing on companies (I left less than a year before the Bust started demolishing the industry) and then it happened and everyone who had invested heavily in Internet stocks (like my parents years before on my advice) lost entire fortunes while company after company became forgotten historical footnotes.

A final observation. None of the original inventors of the ARPANET (like at Xerox PARC) and my 2nd generation who made this happen ever imagined in their/our worst nightmares what would become of their idealistically great inventions and efforts. Back in early Web days, spam was the outrage of the tech world and considered by some to act as viruses. Today, identity theft, kiddie porn, human trafficking, cyber warfare??? No. For several years I’ve become more and more concerned and regretful of what became of my efforts and when talking with other old friends and colleagues around the world, many share the same disappointment, disillusionment and regrets as me and I’ve spent much of the past three years trying to get myself and my digital footprints offline as much as possible. I’ve closed hundreds of online accounts and closed virtually all of my social network accounts and I hope to soon be almost entirely off the Net, aside from an email address and a couple of other things – and now here I went and wrote way too much, so I apologize. I could actually write infinitely more. But as for this Dot.Con book, like I said, it’s not bad and addresses a short but major part of our recent history. I should give it a higher rating. It’s just that I know this stuff, predicted this stuff, could go far further in depth if I had the time and energy, and feel like this offered me, personally, little. However, as I previously implied, if you didn’t live through this or don’t know the history, it’s probably a valuable book and worth 4 stars. Thus recommended for people who don’t know this (but if you do, I wouldn’t recommend it)…

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Book Review: Leningrad: State of Siege

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 20, 2020

Leningrad: State of SiegeLeningrad: State of Siege by Michael Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Westerners tend to think of their losses, sacrifices, etc., when thinking about WWII, and Americans in particular like to “brag” on how not only did they save the world twice in less than 35 years, but “won” WWII. I’m an American with family who fought in that horrible war, who went in on D-Day and suffered terrible wounds and casualties, so I’m not trying to make light of this situation, nor am I a Russian “fan,” commie supporter, etc., as some might accuse me upon reading this. But if you study WWII, the US certainly played a big role, and really carried the war in the far east, but as for Europe, well, we didn’t come close to suffering the horrible atrocities, suffering and losses the Russians did. Not even close. The US, in total, lost slightly over 400,000 people in the war, a horrible figure to be sure. But Russia, or the Soviet Union, suffered roughly 10 Million military deaths and combined with civilian deaths, the total was closer to 25 MILLION, which basically makes all of the other countries fighting in that theater look like they were going to a high school dance, because if you want to read about some true atrocities (aside from the Holocaust itself, of course), study the Leningrad and Stalingrad campaigns. We love to laud Patton as an ass kicker, and he was a charismatic leader, but he had nothing on the Soviets, whose Field Marshal Zhukov beat the shit out of the Germans while driving them back to Berlin where the Germans surrendered to him personally. I don’t write this to mock my own country, nor to disrespect our losses and sacrifices. But I’ve basically had it with “patriots” who love to talk about how America kicked everyone’s ass in WWII while saving the world when we barely partook of the majority of the years, battles and campaigns other countries did, and while our civilians at home had nothing to worry about as opposed to nearly all European countries, as well as many in the Pacific theater. If you are unaware of these facts, I advise you to read this book, read another on Stalingrad I have listed in my bookshelves here, and anything else educational, because it really opens the eyes and makes one appreciate just how horrible things were on the eastern front, and how many people in other countries might be justified in arguing that it was the Soviets and not the Americans who won the war… Recommended.

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Book Review: The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 16, 2020

The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st CenturyThe Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century by Parag Khanna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn’t a bad book. In fact, it’s pretty good. But I’m torn on what to rate it. On one hand, it could potentially deserve 5 stars for accuracy, a good overview, it being topical. On the other hand, I feel inclined to give it only 3 stars because it’s really rather late to the party, so to speak. It’s not like there’s much that’s new here, and tons of things have been written and published on this very topic for over the past decade. Indeed, some may argue it’s SO late to the party, the author may have missed some important signs. The CFR’s noted Director of Asia Studies, Liz Economy (whose own potentially more topical book, “The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State,” was released last year) has been writing and publishing articles in most of the major foreign policy journals that China is actually on its way down — and fast! I don’t know that I agree with her, but others do and it’s no secret that China’s economy is in the midst of a serious slowdown — there was no feasible way China could sustain that GDP growth. Indeed, it appears India is poised to leap into that position as China fights a huge aging population crisis combined with the additional population crisis prompted by its one child rule, so its workforce will be radically impacted over the next 20+ years. Thus, those who adhere to Economy’s viewpoint — and there are quite a few — might give this book only 2 stars. I’m giving it 4 because I think it’s still currently relevant and probably will be for the next decade to come with much up in the air over that time as India strives to attain regional hegemony status, and while people are making noise over Indonesia’s possibilities in the region — Australian leaders are already discussing forming defense treaties with that country should the PLAN push further into international waters to its south… The ECS problem could turn into a nightmare should the CCP decide to do more than test Japan over the The Senkaku Islands dispute while South Korea is busy trying to match the PLAN with carrier strength buildouts while continuing to watch its northern neighbors. So, yes, the future IS Asian, but it’s faulty to assume it’s solely Chinese or will remain so because yes, it’s no longer a unipolar world, but then when people refer to a multipolar world, they’re no longer necessarily referring to the US, China and Russia. In addition to India, Brazil is trying to ambitiously strive for southern hemisphere regional hegemony status, and Britain has just sent a new carrier to the SCS while committing to invest more in such ships. The CFR’s Sheila Smith published a book last year on Japan mobilizing militarily for potential offensive purposes for the first time since WWII, largely contrary to the constitution we wrote for them since our current US administration is apparently leaving its longtime allies in the East to fend for themselves. Can we say powder keg? I think we can. Geopolitical observation and analysis have become all the more “fun” again, just as it’s becoming all the more frightening. This book is good but I doubt it stands out from a crowded field very much, but for those watching the eastward shift, it’s another good resource to invest in and thus, recommended.

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Some More Book Reviews

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 8, 2020

Being ThereBeing There by Jerzy Kosiński
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Postmodern brilliance. Stunning in what is says in what it doesn’t say. I actually prefer Kosinki’s The Painted Bird, which is a little more brutal, but I honestly think Being There is the author’s best truly “postmodern” work, translated well to the screen, and perfectly holds a mirror up to society. Will they even glance at it? I did. Kicked my ass. Couldn’t be more recommended, but for those of you don’t like minimalist postmodern, you may find yourself bored, possibly not picking up on some subtleties, or simply unimpressed. Or you may actually walk away feeling more and more impressed the more you think about it. (In fact, I was so impressed with it that I wrote a short paper on it from a Reader Response position and it was published in a peer-reviewed, MLA-indexed journal: The Arkansas Review. It’s titled “The Dialectics of Getting There: Kosinski’s Being There and the Existential Anti-Hero.” It’s actually online somewhere, but I don’t know what the policy here for giving our URLs is, so if you’re interested at all, you can either do a search or go to my blog listed on my profile (hankrules2011), with hyperlink, and find it listed among a few publications.) Feel free to leave comments re your own observations, if you’ve read it. It’s definitely not a universally admired or appreciated text. Which makes it all the more delicious for me. 😉

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MashMash by Richard Hooker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always loved this book! I think it was a unique and special book for its time, a lightweight counter to the heavy stuff going on around it, such as Catch 22, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A Clockwork Orange and the like, all of which are great, but are a reflection of their times, as well as what was going on socially, culturally and politically in the US, particularly with Vietnam — and Hooker using Korea as an obvious substitute in his commentary on such things couched in humor. The beauty of this novel is, it DOES allude to and address some really serious issues and things, similarly to the other books mentioned, but again, differently so that one didn’t feel so threatened, to use an odd description of possible/probable reader response to others of that time. Brilliant, IMO. And of course, the TV show that came out of the movie that came out of this book was one of the best loved TV shows of all time, including by me as a major fan, so the book set off a chain of awesome (cinematic) events that impacted millions of people, largely in a good way. So while most people probably wouldn’t consider this novel as more than a cheap comedy, I tend to see much more value in it and I’ll stand behind that as long as I’m alive. Definitely recommended!

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The Late Great Planet EarthThe Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Utter trash! I still can’t believe how this POS swept over America during the 1970s, resulting in millions, I’m sure, for Lindsey, that asshole, as well as a horrible POS wildly fantastic, mythological horror show of a movie that was traumatic as shit to kids like me and others I knew whose fundie parents forced them to go see it. In retrospect, it was a total joke, a hoax, and Lindsey was and remains an utter fraud. Personally, I think those of us who are “fundie survivors” from the 1970s — and there are a LOT of us: read Seth Andrews — should file class action lawsuits against Hal and his publisher, as well as those assholes responsible for that shitty movie, A Thief In The Night, which traumatized me and tons of people and kids like me, not only at that time, but to this day, resulting in decades of therapy which has never been effective, scarring me for life. Another target of a wished for class action lawsuit would be the publisher of those damn Chick tracts, which also scared the shit out of me and most of the other people I knew. All those awesome cartoons and drawings of demons, the flames of Hell, drugged out ’70s hippies destined for Hell, etc. All of these and much more contributed to fucking ruining my life and tens of thousands like me, of driving us away from fundie/evangelicals forever, of feeling nothing but disgust and disdain, if not outright hatred for the hypocritical, lying fire and brimstone manipulators trying to use prehistoric rubbish to scare everyone possible into doing their damn will (and filling their pockets at the same time). I’ll never forgive them and I’ll never forgive Lindsey for this wretched joke of a piece of total shit book that did so much permanent damage to untold legions of people. If you wonder why people are leaving the churches in the US in droves these days and why over 20% of the American population are called the “Nones,” as in no church, no mythological supernatural tooth fairy in the sky, etc., you can thank Lindsey, those responsible for the other atrocities mentioned here, and the assholes who carry on their tradition, like Tim Lehay , who field a softer brand, but still put through the same apocalyptic message (while raking in millions on the side). If it were possible, I wouldn’t give this book a “0” – I would give it a “-1,000” or onward to infinity. If you value reason, logic, sanity, human decency, facts, etc., and if you frown upon or even despise those theistic religionists (particularly conservative Christians in the western world) who use terms like “love,” “morals,” “peace,” “family values,” etc., when they’re too lazy and stupid to read their own holy book and discover the atrocities committed by the god of the old testament while claiming their Jesus was a holy man of peace and love, while he stated he came with a sword to split up families and turn parents against children, etc., bragged that he spoke in parables so his idiot disciples literally wouldn’t be able to understand anything he said, and left no writings or proof of his existence, and none from any witnesses were ever written down so much could be said about the gospels, etc., aside from the millions of literal lies, discrepancies, untruths, fraud, etc., in their holy book and especially the new testament, then by all means, avoid this idiocy. I couldn’t recommend it any less than I am doing now. Truly one of the most despicable books in history by one of the most despicable humans in history… If there were an actual hell their mythology describes, he and his ilk would be destined for it.

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Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Not remotely impressed. For two primary reasons, among others. One, this just seems like a lot of fluffy filler. I have no idea how Godin made this into a full length book because I just got the feeling a decent, well thought out and written magazine article would have sufficed and even been more successful, perhaps. More importantly, I disagree with the title, premise and some possible conclusions that may be drawn from the book’s thesis.

OBVIOUSLY there are typically “linchpins” in most companies and certainly most successful companies. That should be so transparently understood that I fail to see the necessity in even writing a book about it at all. However, I learned early in my business career, initially from advisors and mentors, later from employers and bosses, and sadly, from personal experience as well as witnessing such with various colleagues in many companies and businesses — the thing that was drilled into my head from the beginning both verbally and through observation and experience — is that NO ONE is EVER indispensable! To think someone is, is utterly foolish, totally naive, completely wrong, and places too much value on “linchpins,” whom while no matter how valuable, can ALWAYS be replaced — I’ve seen it dozens of times at companies throughout the country from the lowest on the rungs to the very highest, at Founder, President and CEO, etc.

So, I have well over 30 years of business experience and I’ve seen this play out too many times to count. I’ve seen teachers with experience, great success and tenure get sacked. I’ve seen founders of startups that quickly grew into multimillion dollar public companies get dumped by the board. No One is Indispensable! I literally have only seen one person at one company who very likely may have been and was treated as such and who basically calls the shots as VP Engineering — after her former boss, the VP of Engineering with multiple degrees from Georgia Tech — was let go to move her up. Bizarre world… Book? Not recommended.

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Strange Attraction: The Best Of Ten Years Of ZyzzyvaStrange Attraction: The Best Of Ten Years Of Zyzzyva by Howard Junker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to confess that during my decades of writing several hours a day, 362 days a year, and submitting work to hundreds, thousands of zines, journals, magazines, publications around the world and during my decades of prolific success, while I had a very good acceptance percentage and was fortunate enough to be published in many high quality literary journals as well as newspapers, commercial magazines and more, there were really very few “major” ones I actually liked to read. I know that sounds nuts, but I was never a big fan of the New Yorker or the Paris Review, nor the Southern Humanities Review, Ploughshares, etc. Too damn mainstream, too much a party of the only “acceptable” literary canon, as defined by those who thought and think they are the official arbiters of such. Most of whom are idiots with no talent.

However, there were some journals, as well as many zines, magazines and the like, that I DID look forward to, often because they weren’t so freaking obsessed with calm ponds, chirping robins, lovely deer in the forest, calm lake waters and all that bullshit. At a minimum, they’d publish a diverse selection of material and writers, typically mixing the totally unknown with the most famous around. And on more topics of interest, relatable to me and others who weren’t Black Mountain fans, and Zyzzyva was one of them. Some others included Exquisite Corpse, New York Quarterly, Long Shot, Wormwood Review, Chiron Review, Caffeine, ONTHEBUS, Rattle, Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review, Main Street Rag and several others. The interesting thing about Zyzzyva was it centered largely on West Coast writers, and that intrigued me even before I became a West Coast writer!

Zyzzyva was a large, beautiful perfect bound book-sized journal and Junker, as editor, picked some great stuff, a nice fairly diverse selection of works, with a great mix of writers, and it was one of the few I read through cover to cover. I must admit though that one of my great publishing disappointments was I could never get Howard to accept ANY of my stuff, and I submitted annually for years! And I couldn’t figure out why because he published a ton of writers I was often published with in other magazines. It didn’t make any sense. But every editor is different and frankly it’s often subjective. Sometimes you like a person’s work and never another’s, no matter how qualified or whatever. I was an editor and publisher myself for some years, so I know what I’m talking about. There were two sides to this. On one hand, if various literary journals rejected me a couple of times, I usually crossed them off my list and moved on, but there were – for reasons I still don’t know – some others out there that I continued to submit to every damn year for YEARS, both hoping and convinced they’d eventually accept some of my work, only to be rejected annually by 98% of them. It was disheartening. It’s been a long time and I forget virtually all of them, but I do recall one was Arizona State’s Haydens Ferry Review, the annual issue of ONTHEBUS – and Jack Grapes, the editor, was a freaking friend of mine! – the Sierra Nevada Review (seriously???) and a few others. One that finally accepted my work after over a decade of submissions was Emory University’s Lullwater Review. Funny, that… And so Zyzzyva was one of these journals.

Conversely, there were some high quality writers, editors, magazines, journals and zines that liked me personally, liked what and how I wrote, liked my work and in some cases, loved to publish me constantly. As in the opposite of the example I just gave in the previous paragraph. Some of the writers and editors who seemed to like me included the great Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gerald Locklin (author of over 125 books, as well as editor), Michael Bugeja at Writer’s Digest, who liked to quote me as an SME in the annual Poet’s Market they published, the incredible Charles Bukowski, the longtime editor of the esteemed Poetry Magazine, Joseph Parisi (who amusingly secretly confided in me that he loved my work but worried that some might be “too much” for the traditional Poetry Magazine reader, which I thought was funny and it made me happy to see people like myself and the most openly anti-establishment poet around – Bukowski – start to appear in Poetry and other high quality literary journals, in some cases with the editors gritting their teeth, I’m sure), Black Flag’s Henry Rollins, who was publisher of his own press, and many others. And as stated, there were some journals and magazines that seemed to like to publish my work regularly to constantly in virtually every issue. Some of these included Chiron Review, Caffeine (where I regularly appeared alongside Bukowski), Hawaii Review, Pearl, Long Shot, Finland’s Sivullinen (and many other Finnish magazines, where they often shockingly put me on their covers alongside Bukowski – I mean photos and everything!), Belgium’s De Nar, Poetry Ireland Review (with Seamus Heaney, and they paid very well!), the infamous longtime punk magazine, Flipside, whose poetry editor loved my stuff, the famous horro magazine, Wicked Mystic (they paid well), L.A.’s big Saturday Afternoon Journal, music magazine Industrialnation, and a number of others.

The point? The point is that while I was very successful, pretty well known around the world in those kinds of literary circles, appeared regularly in publications featuring Ginsberg, Bukowski, Amiri Baraka, Ted Berrigan, William Burroughs, and other heavyweights, I felt I *should* have been good enough to have my work appear in most publications I submitted to — because I did so strategically, avoiding those I knew wouldn’t like my style or my stuff — and so Zyzzyva remained a constant disappointment for me as a writer because I could not understand at all why Junker wouldn’t publish me when he published so many others in my various circles. But I never let that disappointment ruin my appreciation for and love of that journal, and while I’ve not seen it in a long time, I’ll always remember it fondly and with great respect. If you missed out on it, I recommend looking up old issues, or perhaps … of course, getting this book because Howard picked an assortment of quality writers and material to appear in these pages, so I strongly recommend it.

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Welcome to the Space Force LinkedIn Outer Space Warfare Discussion Group

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 31, 2020

I received a very interesting and unique email last week regarding a LinkedIn group of which I’m a member. There are several things that make it fairly unique. For one thing, while this is not necessarily the first time, it still is very rare to receive a message of this nature via email sent specifically to me at one of my email addresses that is not in use or listed in or on my LinkedIn account/profile. Indeed, if any such message were to be sent out to an entire group or even, as in this case, just to “select” members of a group, it would almost always be done via LinkedIn’s messaging system. The fact that this was sent to me at a personal address not listed on my LinkedIn profile indicates it would likely be or in fact is a more pointed, personal and selective message to be sent only to certain “qualifying” entities and thus not to the entire group or even necessarily many in the LinkedIn group’s listed membership figures and members, as the group on LinkedIn doesn’t list a membership size anywhere close to the size mentioned in this email, nor does studying the listing of the members in the group on its LI page give an indication that many would be likely to receive a message of this nature. So, that’s fairly odd.

Another somewhat unique thing about this is during my 14 years on LinkedIn, I have been a member or am currently a member of a hell of a lot of groups — in a very diverse number of fields. Many of these have been at the invitation of members or group owners, while I also actually have not become a member of many groups I have been invited to join for one reason or another, often because I don’t feel it’s either a group I’m particularly interested in or perhaps necessarily qualified for. That being said, I have spent my entire life getting education, reading, studying, researching, discussing, engaging, writing about a TON of different things such that one might be inclined to say it’s simply nuts. Moreover, over the course of my lifetime, I have been or am currently a member of dozens of professional organizations, again with a wide disparity of professional specialties. If interested, I have listed on a Page tabbed at the top of this blog a fairly accurate list of Professional Organizations to which I belong. You can find it here. I don’t want to get too bogged down in this area because it isn’t the focus of this blog post, but you have to possess some measure of qualification to belong to most of them. Usually that entails one, two or more degrees in certain academic fields applicable to that organization as well as often 5-10 or even more years of experience in the field. And while some are fairly generous in defining their accepted qualifications, many of them are actually quite difficult to get into and some are what one might consider even “elite” and hence virtually impossible to get into for the majority of people, while many of them also are very narrowly focused and so the requirements are very narrowly defined, such as an organization for military special forces or electronic warfare experts or Foreign Service professionals (State Department), or physicists, etc. Some will basically take your word for it in listing specific degrees in specific subjects at specific named universities as well as specific job titles in specific companies or divisions of companies or federal agencies, etc. Many are tougher and will require evidence in the form of transcripts, proof of expertise or seniority within the industry they represent, and some require sponsorship from members or even actually multiple senior members. As such, one must go through a vetting process for many of these organizations, some of which are so thorough as to simulate or even be like a variation of a security clearance vetting, taking anywhere from 1-2 days to two weeks to 1-2 months, etc. Like I said, some are extremely selective. And like the LinkedIn groups, I didn’t necessarily request or apply to join and become a member of them all — I was invited. However, I often HAVE applied for membership with many, and to be perfectly candid, I have applied to quite a few where one might assume I wouldn’t meet the criteria at all and would thus be rejected. That makes sense. Common sense. After all, I’ve never officially been a Foreign Service Officer or worked for the State Department nor have I been a certified counselor and I’ve never been a professional scientist or physicist, or Air Force general, etc. Yet at the same time, I’ve never applied to an organization I felt I couldn’t prove I wasn’t practically or pragmatically qualified for. Just because I don’t officially have an Electrical Engineering degree doesn’t mean I didn’t spend four years at UCLA studying the material and pursuing a diploma only to not be able to finish and get the diploma because of unfortunately timed necessary geographical relocation, as well as having spent years working in that field. See? Qualified. Nor have I ever had a job where I had the official title of “Systems Engineer,” yet I’ve served in that function and filled that role one way or another in so many of my jobs at so many companies that I am actually a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE)! And therefore to my shock at times, I’ve never been rejected when applying to any professional organization for which I felt I was qualified, despite a lack of a formal degree in the field or specific job title, etc., because my combination of education, work experience, research, publishing, knowledge, expertise in a large number of areas has apparently made up for the “deficiencies” one might presume regarding the more formal requirements. Still, I’ve been shocked plenty of times when admitted to organizations such as American Physical Society (APS Physics), Espionage Research Institute International (ERII) and the American Counseling Association (ACA) among others.

The purpose of the overly long preceding paragraph is meant to provide some context for the email message (or part of it) that I recently received from the group owner of one of the aforementioned LinkedIn groups of which I am currently a member. (At last glance, I’m currently a member in 96 LI groups, but have been leaving some because that’s just too many, so I’ve left probably 20+ more over the past year alone.) And so finally, one of the LI groups of which I’m a member is the Military Space Warfare Discussion Group (because, yes, that’s been one of my research and engagement areas for some time). The group, as listed on LI, doesn’t consist of too many members, so when I received the following email, I found it surprising, not only for what I’ve already shared, but because it literally gives a demographic/statistical breakdown of the 13,952 “hand-picked” members “with experience in Space Control and Space Domain Awareness (SDA).” I’ve literally never seen such a thing before, for any of these groups. Sure, you could stroll through the various member listings to see what, if listed, they do and in what capacity and for which entity (rarely listed in many of these groups), but who has the time for that? But as a person who has always loved stats, demographics, stuff like that, I got a real kick out of the data enclosed in the email. After the main body in the email there follows listings of various space warfare documents, files, doctrine, escalation ladders, etc., with links to numerous repositories of such. I won’t include that part of the email since it’s not intended for public viewing, but I’ll now post what seems like one of the more unique group/org emails I’ve ever received…

 

 

– Welcome to the Space Force LinkedIn Outer Space Warfare Discussion Group
1 message
Space Strategies Center <Paul.Szymanski@satellitewar.com> Sat, Jan 18, 2020 at 2:02 PM
Reply-To: Space Strategies Center <Paul.Szymanski@satellitewar.com>

To: scottholstad@gmail.com

 

LinkedIn Space Warfare Discussion Group:

Welcome to the newly re-launched Outer Space Warfare Discussion Group on LinkedIn! You are a member of this Group by your own request, or because you linked up with me due to my extensive space warfare experience over the past 46 years. This Group is for people who have an interest in warfare in the space environment, and I welcome experts and non-experts alike. I am particularly interested in people with military backgrounds, even if not space related, because I believe military principles honed over many years of history are also applicable to future space combat.

With the establishment of the United States Space Force, it is now critical to better understand outer space warfare theory, principles, policy, doctrine, strategies and tactics, along with the political implications of space attacks, and how these attacks may challenge allied relationships. Setting the correct foundational principles can launch the Space Force on the right path to fight and win the next space wars. All topics for discussion are for general doctrine concepts only, which is always considered unclassified and not sensitive since these foundational concepts must be employed in educating all personnel of the new Space Force.

The Space Warfare Discussion Group on LinkedIn is probably the most extensive collection of senior decision-makers in the United States, if not the World, who have an interest in space warfare. The general membership statistics of this Group are given below. In addition, links to documents used in previous Group discussions are listed towards the end of this email.

As a first topic of discussion for the new year I give a link below for a briefing by one of our long-term Group members, Dr. Mir Sadat (LinkedIn profile), who is a director at the White House National Security Council for space policy.

You may view Dr. Sadat’s talk at the below link:

Space Cooperation in an Age of Great Power Competition

 

Thank-you for your time,

Paul Szymanski

President

Space Strategies Center

National@Policy.Space

 

LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/PaulSzymanski

Professional Websites: http://Policy.Space  or  http://Wars.Space

 

Space Warfare Group Membership Statistics: The Space Warfare discussion group on LinkedIn that I developed is probably the most senior discussion group in the country with an interest in space control critical topics. It consists of 13,952 hand-picked members on LinkedIn with experience in Space Control and Space Domain Awareness (SDA), or at least have expressed an interest in these topics, and includes: 367 members from military colleges (including the former Superintendent of the Air Force Academy), 825 from private and Government think tanks, 293 from public universities, 103 from government intelligence agencies (including the NASIC Chief Scientist and the former NRO Chief Scientist), 184 from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 283 from NATO, 96 from NORAD-USSTRATCOM, 1,262 General officers, Admirals or equivalents (one to four stars, including former: Secretary of the Army, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (3), Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, NATO Assistant Secretary General, Commander of US Army in Europe, Commander of U.S. Air Force in Europe, Commander & Deputy Commander of Special Operations Command in Europe, Commander of US Army Forces Africa, Commander of US Army Pacific, Commanders (2) of U.S. Forces in Japan, Commander of US Central Command, Commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command, Commanders of Air Combat Command (2), NATO Commanders (2), Commander of NORAD-USNORTHCOM, Commanding Generals of the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division (2), 1st US Army, US Army South (2), US Army Special Operations Command, Director of the National Security Space Office, Commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Commander of Navy Installations Command; Commander of Naval Air Systems Command, also current: Commanders of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (3), Commander of AFMC, Director of DISA, Superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Marine Corps Commandant and now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also one former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), 293 from the Secretary of Defense office (including one former Secretary of Defense and 56 current and former Under/Assistant Secretaries of Defense), 2 former Secretaries of the Air Force, 14 Under/Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force, 1 former Secretary of the Army, 13 Under/Assistant Secretaries of the Army, 2 Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, 6 Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, past and current Commanders of the 3rd, 4th, 5th (2 commanders), 6th (2 commanders), Pacific (2 commanders) and Korea Naval fleets, and 7th and 8th Air Forces, 2 Assistant Secretaries of DOE, 2 Assistant Secretaries of the Treasury, 2 Under Secretary of Commerce, 2 from the National Military Command Center, 421 Congressional House & Senate staffers, 1,132 from specific military space agencies, 716 from various other military services, 126 diplomats & ambassadors, 92 from the State Department (including 9 Assistant Secretaries of State), 3,558 from various space-related defense contractors, 205 from the White House and National Security Council staffs, 103 from NASA (including their Chief Scientist), 27 astronauts, and 27 from The Vatican, among others.

 

Wow! Wild, huh? And here’s something else that’s crazy: I actually have quite a few of the listed individuals as personal connections, in some cases for many years. And by a few, I mean a lot, from the bottom ranks to the very top (not only Joint Staff, but Joint Chiefs), Commander of US Army in Europe, Commander of US Army Pacific, Commander of NORAD, various Assistant Secretaries of Defense, many Assistant Secretaries of States and so on. Life is just surreal sometimes. I really have little more to say except that I think I’ll actually post a list of the LI groups to which I currently belong, in arbitrary order, just to show you how diverse and frankly wacky my professional interests are…

 

The LinkedIn Groups I’m A Member Of And The Number of Members They Have At The Time I Am Admitted To The Group The Present (1/20/2020):

 

  1. EarthLink Alumni – 1,989
  2. CSULB Alumni Association – 10,159
  3. U of Tennessee Alumni Group-Official – 14,629
  4. Queens University of Charlotte – 1,273
  5. University of Tennessee, Knoxville – 23,024
  6. Project Manager Network – 854,417
  7. Society for Technical Communication – 11,738
  8. NetworkTN – 9,613
  9. Information Security Community – 398,124
  10. Technical Writing & Content Management – 13,628
  11. Entrepreneur’s Network – 60,675
  12. Consultants Network – 462,708
  13. IT & Software – 1,479
  14. Information Systems Security Association– 55,539
  15. IT Professionals – 224,675
  16. Cyber Security Forum Initiative (CSFI) – 110,311
  17. USENIX Association – 3,145
  18. Association of Old Crows – 10,920
  19. Telecom & Wireless World – 7,643
  20. Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) & Cyber Security – 61,354
  21. COO Executive Group – 5,621
  22. ISACA – 48,492
  23. AFCEA International – 6,663
  24. ASIS International – 100,050
  25. US Nuclear Energy Foundation (USNEF) – 22
  26. Cyber Intelligence Network – 31,403
  27. Military Intelligence Group: China Region – 2,578
  28. International Relations (IR) & Affairs Group – 100,479
  29. China Studies Group – 4,731
  30. The Intelligence Community – 71,801
  31. Cyber Law & Information Security – 13,229
  32. Quantum Computing – 6,838
  33. Chief Executives | CEO, COO, CFO, CTO & CXO – 81,788
  34. Cool Hand Nuke – 17,700
  35. Foreign Policy Discussion Group – 4,282
  36. Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Machine Learning – 280,931
  37. Quantum Mechanics/Physics/Theory/Leap/Computing Information Science! – 2,990
  38. Executive Suite – 342,854
  39. Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Saas & Virtualization – 493,061
  40. IACD – Integrated Adaptive Cyber Defense – 1,040
  41. Nuclear Security – 1,922
  42. ACM Members – 14,763
  43. Information Technology, FinTech, Blockchain and Bitcoin Innovation – 343,064
  44. Chronic Pain Management Support – 10,042
  45. Traumatic Brain Injury Support Group – 720
  46. Nuclear Power – the next generation – 46,719
  47. Asia Pacific Analysts, Consultants & Researchers Association – 2,144
  48. IETF – The Internet Engineering Task Force – 8,630
  49. Pittsburgh Penguins Fans – 2,487
  50. Artificial Intelligence – 53,917
  51. Cloud Security Alliance – 97,829
  52. Strategic Planning Society (SPS) – 55,865
  53. Big Data & Analytics – 378,331
  54. HISTORY – Practical History – 14,000
  55. Future Trends – 558,535
  56. Data Science Central – 303,965
  57. Nuclear Energy – 5,715
  58. Machine Learning & Data Science – 103,342
  59. Cloud Storage – 45,648
  60. EW, Countermeasures – 2,206
  61. European Commission – “External relations and foreign affairs” – 882
  62. Defense & Aerospace – 138,691
  63. The Virtualization & Cloud Computing Group – 97,535
  64. Science, Technology & Innovation Policy – 27,423
  65. Irregular Warfare Center of Excellence – 1,429
  66. Robotics and Machine Intelligence – 6,934
  67. Special Operations Research Association (SORA) – 345
  68. Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) – 6,724
  69. Business Intelligence Professionals (BI, Big Data, Analytics) – 244,491
  70. Private Military & Security Contractors – 11,984
  71. Digital & IT Strategy – 15,259
  72. Business Analysis – 13,773
  73. Neural Networks Club – 638
  74. Global SOF Foundation – 3,800
  75. APS Physics – 1,948
  76. The Business Technology Forum – 44,185
  77. INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY – 42,918
  78. CHINA Debate – 1,233
  79. IOSI: Counter-Terrorism & Geopolitical Security – 19,760
  80. NeuroScience Network – 6,528
  81. Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE) – 78,248
  82. IEEE Systems, Man, & Cybernetics Society (SMCS) – 62
  83. IEEE Robotics & Automation Society (IEEE RAS) – 23,225
  84. Military Space Warfare Discussion Group – 188
  85. Security, Intelligence & Risk Fusion Group – 363
  86. IEEE Computational Intelligence Society CIS – 5,141
  87. Technology & Society: the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) – 4,234
  88. American Association of Political Consultants – 10,610
  89. Creativity: Authors and Books | Artists and Paintings – 142,556
  90. Politics, Diplomacy, Communication & Protocol (Think Tank) – 585
  91. Sports Techie – 4,800
  92. Business Analysis – 13,776
  93. Defence IQ – 13,782
  94. Aerospace & Security & Defence Technology & Business – 45,724
  95. Space Situational Awareness – 730
  96. Military History & Strategy – 10,838

 

 

FORMERLY A MEMBER OF (at least 22 more in the past two years):

 

  • Knoxville Farragut HS Alumni
  • Writing Professionals and Authors
  • Network Chattanooga
  • IT & Startups
  • Online Sellers Community for eBay, Amazon,…
  • Senior Executive Exchange
  • The IT Entrepreneur
  • Global Business Leaders
  • Audiophile Enthusiast
  • LinkEds & Writers
  • Technical Writer Forum 
  • Vinyl Record Collecting Network 
  • Career Thought Leaders Consortium 
  • Film & TV Tech Professionals 
  • Positions for Scientists 
  • Cybercrime Today 
  • Technology Leaders Association 
  • Chief Strategy Officer 
  • Startup vs Corporate Innovation 
  • Data Driven Drilling & Production 
  • Advanced Clean Energy Summit 
  • Technology and Society: the IEEE Society on Social Implication of Technology (SSIT) 

 

 

[If, for some reason, you would like to confirm this information, you can find the people I follow, companies I follow and LI groups of which I’m a member at the bottom of my LI profile, like everyone else’s:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottholstad/.]

 

 

 

 

[The top section of my LinkedIn profile…]

 

 

 

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Book Review: Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 30, 2020

Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military PowerJapan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power by Sheila A. Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before I say anything about this book, I need to confess I know the author (to whatever degree), highly respect her expertise on Japan (she’s the Council on Foreign Relations’ Senior Fellow for Japan), so this commentary and rating possibly may not be as reasonably objective as I try to make most of my ratings/reviews. That said, when she came out with this book recently, I was elated and dived in. It’s taken me a long time to work my way through because I have this horrible habit of reading far too many books simultaneously, which just slows everything down. And I’ve been meaning to contact her and give her some kudos for producing a great work here, but I’ve been too tied up to even keep up with people like I typically have over my life.

That said, I can hardly think of a more timely book. Particularly as it relates to the topic at hand. Millions (okay, maybe fewer, but still quite a lot) have been “China watchers” for years now and while it’s sensible, advisable, necessary, etc., to keep eyes trained on Beijing, and particularly as variables within the South China Sea become more clusterf*cked, more hostile, as the PLAN continues its progression into the India Sea, now being joined by Russia and Iran in a potential new axis of maritime adversaries, and as China has already tangled with the Philippines and Vietnam, and as India strives to become another possible regional hegemony, I think many of us in the west (understandably, perhaps) tend to lose track of some other states of import, most notably our longtime allies, at least one of whom is now feeling completely abandoned by the current US Administration and any defense agreements we’ve had since WWII (Australia), which I think is a travesty considering what a great and faithful ally Australia has been to the US over that time period, joining the US with only a couple of other states in fighting alongside us in the various “conflicts” we’ve found ourselves — unlike the vast majority of other, more “prominent” allies. Australia is so panicked that debate as been ongoing there on what to do regarding China, the Indo-Pacific region, and defense of their own country as they lack any form of serious navy, having built their defense doctrine on dependence on the USN. Which no longer looks like a sure thing, so major leaders are actually calling for the country to withdraw from the NPT and illegally go nuclear for survival’s sake! Which is a sad commentary.

Meanwhile, South Korea is facing its own challenges due to not only China, but their northern neighbors, whose leader seems cleverly insane. Plays a tough game. But the focus here is obviously the one that seems to get forgotten in all of these geopolitical games — Japan.

It’s great to see this major Asian/East Asian state that has been basically boxed into a corner it’s trying to get out of become the focus of some good new research and analysis produced and published just at the right time. Because for those caught up in the SCS BS going on daily, all too many people seem to neglect the games being placed in the ECS (East China Sea). Between China and Japan. Or more accurately, between the PLAAF/PLAN over the Senkaku Islands, or the Diaoyu Islands as the PRC insists on referring to them as, and the JCG and JASDF. And it couldn’t be any more stupid than this, but it is, and yes, it’s merely symbolic, but the fact that one state feels so aggressive about a group of small uninhabited islands that Japan legally owns, per international law and recognition, that it’s willing to take “testing” the much smaller and spreader thinned out JCG and JASDF by sending hundreds or even thousands of Chinese fishing boats into the contested waters or a larger number of aircraft buzzing the islands constantly, itching for an “opportunity” to do who knows what at the very plausible risk of a regional war that could spread once you bring contesting hegemonies into the equation … well, that’s either a sign of supreme confidence (maybe Pillsbury was right, but was too generous in his predictions of when the CCP would show its hand?), supreme stupidity if it actually is willing to risk a potential world war by hedging its bets the US won’t want to enter such a war merely because of decades-old defense commitments and treaties between the US and Japan (which is actually NOT a bad gamble on their part circa early 2020 as I write this), or typical CCP craftiness in pushing all as far as possible to get as much as possible by whatever means necessary — short of all out war. Which is my take on it at the present, but I’m willing to adjust that analysis as events transpire.

One may be a follower of issues, variables, geopolitical tensions, etc., throughout the greater Asian and East Asian regions, and they may be aware to some degree of what potential threat a burgeoning regional hegemony may present, but they may not possess the context Sheila provides in this book, such as how Japan has historically had its political and hence military hands tied when it came to defense spending, military building, etc., due largely to the constitution the US drew up for the country upon its surrender in 1945, and due to a combination of war guilt, the struggle to rebuild a country and economy, and to yes, abide by the constitution they now were governed by which has limited their ability and indeed desire to “go military.” And with China incessantly goading them eternally for the atrocities committed during the last century, the most famous of which was Nanking, those historically cautioning against appearing antagonistic in building up a (smallish) military for defense are now being countered by those who, like our other traditional allies in that area (such as Australia and South Korea), are getting sick and tired of Xi throwing his weight around yet fear if conflict comes, they’ll be on their own — hence the topic of the book titled “Japan Rearmed.” Frankly, there’s much more than simply what I’ve described or alluded to (and I’ve possibly even gone off track, inadvertently — a bad habit), but if I went into more, I’d be writing a book myself (another major element is merely the concept of an offensive militarized Japan with all of the possible regional implications that might entail…)! This is really one of the best books on the topic I’ve seen come along in a very long time. And again, so relevant and timely. I couldn’t urge people around the globe, let alone in the west and US, to read this more strongly than I am now, because I think it’s essential that we understanding the changing dynamics of a newly multi-polar world that’s been shifting to the east for over two decades. There are more variables than one cares to think about, but think about them one must (or should).

I feel like I didn’t do the book or the author sufficient justice in what I’ve written, but my health has sadly deteriorated to the point where I rarely write long, meaningful or in-depth book reviews like I did for many years, and I just don’t have the time and energy I once did. So my hope is the author will forgive any shortcomings in this review and will appreciate the overall spirit of support and enthusiasm I have for this book because I think it’s the best one I’ve seen published in the last several years amongst the Asian “experts” out there, no others being specifically named or mentioned at this time. Personally, there may be one or two experts out there who have very high profiles, and everyone seems to dote on every word they produce, but for my money Sheila Smith can think, research, analyze and write her way around all of them, and if this book isn’t proof, I’m not sure what would be. Most strongly recommended for those who are into international relations, Asia, East Asia, China, Japan, geopolitics, the growth of regional hegemonies, the global shift to the east, the dynamics being played out daily, etc. Literally one of the best of hundreds of books I’ve read over the past couple of years. Get a copy.

View all my reviews

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Finally! A Few (Brief) New Book Reviews

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 27, 2020

Those of you who have been with me for a long time may remember I used to constantly write book reviews, for years, and in some cases, some very thorough, comprehensive in depth ones that took a long time to write. Unfortunately, my health really plummeted a few years ago and has gotten progressively worse ever since. I’ve been blogging regularly since 2003, often on a daily basis, but typically several times a week over the whole time, and while I’ve written on many different topics, my book reviews have typically drawn the most viewers. So when I went a year without posting anything while trying to stay alive, once I returned in 2018 for sporadic visits back here — sadly — I discovered that I still had a good number of followers, and hadn’t lost virtually any — technically. What I did lose, though, was virtually my entire reader base. And even though it’s been two years, I’ve never recovered any reader base at all, which has left me conflicted because my health has gotten very worse with the prognosis not too great and I’ve closed nearly all of my social media accounts and have very limited time, strength, energy, etc., to interact with people, let alone write much of anything, let alone READ much of anything — at least not like I used to. Nonetheless, I’ve been enjoying trying to get some more reading in and I’ve been writing largely brief reviews for many of these books, most just junk, but some fairly decent. But I am starting to feel like why write or post anything on this blog at all if literally no one sees or reads it ever besides myself. I’ve known others in similar situations over the years and the usual stock response is to do it for yourself as a form of diary, if nothing else. And that’s how I’ve been treating it. But if my expected life span is not that long, why the hell would I want to waste my time writing or posting stuff here if no one literally sees or reads any of it??? It’s a waste of valuable time and energy that could be better spent in other ways. Thus, while I’m starting to seriously consider permanently stopping blogging after 17 years and deleting this, my last, blog, I’m still hoping to work on a couple of blog posts I’ve had planned for the past couple of weeks, but just haven’t been able to do so while I ponder things. So I thought Why not post a few little reviews from some recent ones I’ve put on Goodreads? Which might be a way to jump start me and inspire me to move on to the bigger projects I’ve had in mind. So, forgive the lack of quality my book reviews formerly had. I’ve been woefully out of practice for a long time. But for the one person who stumbles across this blog post and decides to glance at it, I hope you’ll see something remotely interesting at least. Thanks, and cheers!

 

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Doc: A MemoirDoc: A Memoir by Dwight Gooden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, the book’s okay, but not actually what I was hoping for. I remember when this kid came up. What a hell of a rookie year he had (and his second year was basically as good if not more so). You want strike outs? Serious freaking heat! He went from a name to a recognized world sensation in a month! It wasn’t long after that, with Daryl Strawberry supplying the lumber and former Expo catcher, Gary Carter, smacking a few out while providing clubhouse leadership, that they beat the Red Sox to win their first World Series in 25 universes…? Seemed that way.

I’m not a Mets fan, but this kid — they were starting to call him “Doc” — was a once in a life-timer. And then he seemed to just start to fade away. Eventually disappear. 15 minutes.

I guess I wanted to really hear about his coming up to the majors and his incredible rookie year, and on to the Series, instead of opening the book to him passed out in a drug den doped up and too screwed up to make it to the stadium for the big game. It’s not that that’s not important or what Gooden clearly wanted to do with his book. And it’s his prerogative to do that, sure. But it’s my prerogative too, as a consumer, to not care too much because that scene has been written about a thousand times in a thousand sports and entertainer’s books, while few of them ever approached the level of success he had in his first two years. It’s not that his focus isn’t valid — it is. It’s just, been there, done that a million damn times with players not even worth 10% of him, and I just wanted to read about a rookie season for the ages. I’m actually kind of sick of all of these screwed up athletes ruining their careers and lives and then NOT writing about what made them interesting when they were able to play, but instead writing almost exclusively on how down the gutter they all fell and what it took for them to make it back. And again, I don’t want to invalidate that. I’ve got my own stories too. But when reading a memoir of an athlete of this stature, I really just don’t want another “Insert pages of last athlete’s memoir, replace author/athlete names with current one, change book jacket, sell.” They’re redundant after awhile, so you almost start to not care anymore because you become so desensitized to it. Which is sad. I only wanted to read something fun for once, something decent, exciting, celebrating an amazing accomplishment instead of just another book on an athlete destroying their careers and lives. Hell, I predicted this exact outcome, but as I write this, former Steeler All Pros Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell just finished their first season after “escaping” evil cheap little Pittsburgh and neither of them really understood that they WEREN’T the damn straw the stirred the drink — they were an overall part of the drink, every part of the drink is replaceable, and frankly, Brown’s bitching about Ben really ticked me off because without Ben throwing him the ball — and Ben had PLENTY of other high drafted, very talented people to throw to, many of whom went on to become 1,000 and/or Pro Bowl receivers, often with another team rather than staying with the Steelers for their entire career — like respectable Hines Ward did, Stallworth, etc. The point is, Brown owes practically all of his stats to the 6th best QB in NFL history and possible the best offensive line for any one decade in NFL history, with three annual All Pros, two other decade-long starters, 2-3 going to the Hall of Fame one day? They thought they could spit in Pittsburgh’s face for whatever greedy, elitist reasons and continue to duplicate their numbers nearly ANYWHERE else? They obviously don’t have good agents or advisers because I would have bet my house that neither would do crap and that they just nuked their careers and their once probably HOF destinies due to total idiocy. See, we see a few Doc’s every year. And it’s not that they’re story, especially if redemptive, isn’t good, valid or interesting. I just wanted a good view into that incredible year for once rather than the downside of fame and riches. A different take. On something that I actually care about because I’ve seen and been around enough misery throughout my life around this planet to think there’s too much special about the redemptive stories — a ton of people could write the same thing — but they are the only ones who can write about what it was that made them household names. Whatever, I guess it’s just me. It’s an okay book but I’m kind of over these types of celebrity autobiographies, so while I want to give this book two stars for ticking me off, that’s subjective and probably not fair to the author, so I’ll give it three, but know what you’re getting before you get it so you don’t make the same mistake I did…

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Being ThereBeing There by Jerzy Kosiński
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Postmodern brilliance. Stunning in what is says in what it doesn’t say. I actually prefer Kosinki’s The Painted Bird, which is a little more brutal, but I honestly think Being There is the author’s best truly “postmodern” work, translated well to the screen, and perfectly holds a mirror up to society. Will they even glance at it? I did. Kicked my ass. Couldn’t be more recommended, but for those you don’t like minimalist postmodern, you may find yourself bored, possibly not picking up on some subtleties, or simply unimpressed. Or you may actually walk away feeling more and more impressed the more you think about it. (In fact, I was so impressed with it that I wrote a short paper on it from a Reader Response position and it was published in a peer-reviewed, MLA-indexed journal: The Arkansas Review. It’s titled “The Dialectics of Getting There: Kosinski’s Being There and the Existential Anti-Hero.” It’s actually online somewhere, but I don’t know what the policy here for giving our URLs is, so if you’re interested at all, you cane either do a search or go to my blog listed on my profile (hankrules2011), with hyperlink, and find it listed among a few publications. Feel free to leave comments re your own observations, if you’ve read it. It’s definitely not a universally admired or appreciated text. Which makes it all the more delicious for me. 😉

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The Bomb: A New HistoryThe Bomb: A New History by Stephen M. Younger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A lot of people seem to like this book, and it’s not that it’s not good — it is. It provides a solid history of how it came to be and what has happened since with some good technical details thrown in. And for those not already familiar with such information, it’s a good primer. However, in terms of the author’s present worldview, recent worldview, future worldview, again, while I don’t necessarily disagree, it simply seems a bit dated and it’s hard to believe this was published merely a decade or so ago, because this feels most definitely like an immediate post-Cold War book to me, and one wonders where the author has been the past 20 years… It’s like he hasn’t kept up with the changes he didn’t anticipate, or couldn’t have in 1990, but which were already taking place before he even published this book. Which again begs the question — are his assessments of present geopolitical conditions, military strategies, hegemonies, etc., accurate not only at the time of publication but today? I think most would argue, NO, they weren’t and aren’t. I feel fairly confident I could, most certainly. Which then begs the question of if he was and is so off base in his understanding of the present dynamics and his predictions of future dynamics and geopolitical likelihoods, how do we know how much to trust from this book, and further, is this book of any current relevant value? As a historical primer, it’s fairly well done. As a “New History,” it fails miserably. There are many better books out there and thus this is most definitely NOT remotely recommended.

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DeliveranceDeliverance by James Dickey
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

God, I can’t tell you how much I hate this book, nor how much disdain I have for Dickey. He represents, for me, everything that is wrong with both southern literary fiction and general “acceptable” and virtually ordained “literary fiction,” per the academic establishment officially set up to define what is “acceptable” and what is not “acceptable.” Gotta love these people claiming the title of judge and decider of such things so they can dictate not only to virtually all English professors what they can and can’t teach but to all students what is accepted and what is not. As well as to discriminate between those worthy of NEA grants, inclusion into the Academy of American Poets (yes, I was a member for years), etc. I recall asking a professor as an undergrad why we always had to study Dickey, Faulkner, Wharton, etc., but never Kerouac, Ginsberg, Rexroth, Bukowski, etc. The scorn was palpable as I received a lecture on true and acceptable literary work and its craft and value versus populist drivel writers. I recall thinking that very narrow minded, but as I continued in my academic studies, research, publishing, later teaching and even later deciding I hated the academic bullshit and got out of there, I’ve come to conclude the majority of these academic sheeple don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, are just trumpeting the party line, seem to think themselves worthy critics yet aren’t good enough to write and publish anything as good as, not only the authors they teach, but the extremely popular and successful writers they diss. Those who can’t write teach, yes? There’s a reason that saying came into being decades ago. And obviously it’s not that some English and writing professors don’t write or publish, but I’ve rarely met any who A) were successful at publishing more than a couple of small quickly forgotten useless pieces of academic, literary mainstream pathetic crap or B) who were successful at publishing more than a few books, and generally were well written, well crafted, but in the vein of much literary fiction/poetry, just flat out boring as crap. I recall when I was publishing prolifically one journal standing out especially as a stereotypical university journal that I hated so much, as did many of my friends and colleagues. The Southern Humanities Review, I believe, would often have issues that were full of little but poems with titles like “sunset at deer lake” or “robin at rest” or “sunrise at ‘x” mountain,” etc. It’s like, have none of you academic writers ever ventured outside your ivory towers or gone anywhere besides rural America? Do you love Walden that much? Because that’s not been my life nor the life of many I know and maybe that’s why I was always initially drawn to Sandberg’s Chicago poems and the grittiness of ACTUAL reality for so many people, followed by both reality and actual creativity and talent in Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind (the biggest selling book of poetry in US history), or Ginsberg’s infamous “Howl” and especially nearly any of Bukowski’s books. The fact that he was one of America’s most prolific poets, most successful and popular poets, and a continual best selling author in many other countries around the world, and that countless books have been written about him, movies made from his books and about him as well, etc., is irrelevant to those in charge of teaching, instructing and molding the minds and skills of students when in fact, virtually none of these people have the talent, skills, success and credits to even compete at all with Buk seems lost on them. Which should show you enough about their intelligence, knowledge and critical abilities. Crap, I really don’t know or care how good or not Deliverance is. It’s just always represented and been a symbol of all I view as wrong with the canon. It’s not that I think the topics they write about or some of the writers aren’t good or legit. I just take issue with these assholes simply casually dismissing non-rural, gritty populist fiction and poetry as illegitimate merely because so many of these deal with topics, issues, people, cities they dislike or don’t want to dirty their pristine hands with because I guess they’re too damn delicate to enter actual REAL life that so many millions in this country face every day, as opposed to their fairy tales spun and regurgitated as the only life experiences that contain validity. I’ve often wondered how these people would survive and what they would then write if they were placed in John Fante’s life, Bukowski’s life, Antler’s, my own for that matter… I would wager many of them simply couldn’t make it. Yeah, if you buy into the brainwashing, this book may be for you, and if you legitimately enjoy southern fiction or “legitimate” literary fiction, this book may be for you and more power to you. However, I’d implore any and all of you to not close your mind to others not in the “official” canon because if you haven’t stepped outside of the imposed boundaries, you might find yourself surprised by the creativity and talent out there. And you might not want to go back…

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Collected PoemsCollected Poems by Philip Larkin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never really enjoyed or appreciated poetry — especially that of the “masters” they continually shoved down your throat year after year throughout your educational experience. I mean, is there any official academic ban of a little damn diversity in poets and poetry being taught??? I recall asking a couple of professors why we never read or studied certain prominent poets and got the reply that they weren’t worthy of it, weren’t good enough to take seriously, etc. So while I have far too much education and too many degrees, the fact is as always, tradition academics devoid of open minds and creativity continually decide the appropriate “canon,” simply by recycling the same shit every year. I grew to hate Dylan Thomas with a passion, felt like puking when reading Plath, took years for me to appreciate Yeats, etc. If they didn’t cram it down your throat every year, I don’t think I would have been a poetry-hating English major! Thankfully, one professor quietly pointed me to Larkin as a poet who might appeal to me, and he was right! While not every poem resonated with me, I found relief in Larkin and simply quality poetry that was generally overlooked or ignored in academia. Naturally, I read everything of his that I could. LOL! It wasn’t too long, though, before I stumbled across the two poets who would both shape my own life and my own writing: Ferlinghetti and Bukowski, both of whom I had the pleasure of later meeting and getting to know and I will always treasure the various autographed books and other things they each gave me, but I’ve often wondered if I would have even found them, let alone come to appreciate them so much, if it weren’t for Larkin in the first place. I continue to remain grateful to him and his poetry for helping me to turn away from my hatred of poetry by realizing that there were many legitimate alternatives from the same old dusty boring “masters” forever taught in the schools and who gives a damn what some Ivory Tower academic says about what is or is not acceptable quality — it’s purely subjective, and the fact is, both Ferlinghetti and Bukowski have been far more popular and successful than any other American poets, with the sole possible exception of Ginsberg. If you haven’t read Larkin, do so and I think you may find yourself surprised at what you read, ideally in a positive way. Obviously recommended.

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Last Exit to BrooklynLast Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is without doubt one of my favorite novels of the so-called Accepted literary canon. I also think it’s Selby’s best work. Loved it a bunch, but I’ve always gone that way, whether it was Sandburg and his grim Chicago streets or John Fante in downtown LA or Bukowski on skid row and most of William Burroughs’ early work, like Junky and Queer. Of course, there’s the so-called “shock” factor. I guess academics (and I was one for many years) are a bunch of wussies then, because if they think this one is rough, there’s much rougher out there and just for shock value alone, I invite anyone to read de Sade’s Juliette. I read it in college and it blew my mind. The cool thing about that one is besides the sickness and perversion, de Sade goes into a great deal of philosophical thought/dialogue that should make many of the Enlightenment crowd pretty impressed. So twice the bang for your buck! Seriously, if anyone thinks this is too shocking (and they do), they’ve been sticking too closely with Jane Austen (whom I like), and ought to get their intellectual feet wet beyond the kiddie pool. Strongly recommended!

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My Years In Books: 2019

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 24, 2019

Every year, I participate in the Goodreads Annual Reading Challenge. At the beginning of each year, you set a goal for how many books you’ll read that year. Goodreads keeps track of your running total and then lets you know how you’ve done and what percentage of your goal you met. You can also see other participants in the Reading Challenge. Each year, they provide an end of year webpage showing your stats, how you did, etc. For some reason, they recently decided to make them only able to share to a few social network sites where I no longer have accounts. I remain annoyed by this, so I’m doing the next best thing for the second straight year. (And you can see my blog entry for 2018’s results here:  My Year In Books: 2018.) I’ve taken several screenshots showing information like what they describe as your “Year in Books,” parts of the webpage showing how many books, pages, etc, you read that year, the average length of the book, etc., my 2019 Reading Challenge results, my Reading Challenge results since 2013 and something I’ve never done before — an intro to the webpage of My Year in Books because as you’ll see, my numbers are tremendously skewed up this year and are thus somewhat deceptive, so I felt obligated to explain. For what it’s worth, I set my 2019 reading goal at 90 books. Goodreads is reporting I read 443 books, or 492% of my original goal. Like I said, I wrote an explanation because while I exceed my goal every year, it’s never by that much and there are a couple of reasons why this year’s numbers aren’t completely accurate. So I’m going to post these screenshots for you to see. If you want to see the actual books I read this year, you can go to my Goodreads profile here. (I believe you have to be a logged in member to view it, however…)

And now, the promised screenshots. Comments are welcome…

 

2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge

My Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge Results

 

 

 

My Goodreads All-time Annual Reading Challenge Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019”

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019” — Introduction

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019” — End Of Webpage

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

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We Just Bought A New House and We’re Moving!

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 24, 2019

We have been house hunting all year in another primary region of the country for several different reasons, and I initially thought it would and should turn out to be quick and easy, but it’s been the most hellish house buying/moving experience of my life! Because of things like my poor health and my wife’s busy schedule, we simply couldn’t work out the logistics of a long trip, so we’ve been doing this remotely, which I’ve never done before. It’s really way too long of a story to tell, but we looked in a 3 state area for the whole year, and it has been the worst and toughest year of our lives! But we finally closed on a house a couple of weeks ago, and we’ll be moving to Pennsylvania in two weeks. I’d love to tell the story, but it would take too long and I don’t have the time or energy. So this will be another photo blog, with picks of the house we’re going to be moving into. It’s not what we started out looking for, it’s not ideal, we would probably prefer a number of things it lacks, but for here and now, it was the right place in the right location at the right price, and it’s actually a nice little house, I think, although I do cringe at the idea of downsizing. Heh. We’ll be living in a TINY community in the middle of the state, north of Baltimore, in between Pittsburgh and Philly, so there are many reasons why that’s an ideal location for us, which I won’t go very deeply into, but basically my health is so bad that numerous specialists have given up on my health even being MANAGED, let alone treated here in Chattanooga, the state itself, and even the entire region and I’ve been repeatedly advised to move to one of the following places: Mayo Clinic (Minnesota), Cleveland Clinic or Johns Hopkins (Baltimore). And since Gretchen is from Maryland and her family all live there and since she worked in Baltimore, and it and DC nearby, and they have a much better job market than here, and she’s also excited about seeing old friends and more, it just makes sense. (Frankly, it’s time for us to leave the South.) Additionally, this will be about a one hour commute for her to Baltimore, or if she could find a closer job, we’re 20 minutes from Gettysburg, 10 minutes from Hanover, 30 minutes from York, 45 minutes from Harrisburg, an hour and a half from DC, an hour and a half from Philly, and it’s more to Pittsburgh, but in the event Johns Hopkins can’t handle all of my issues, both Pittsburgh and Philly have top hospitals in some my areas (neurology, neuroscience) that could serve as backups or supplements. So as much as I would like to describe how insanely nuts this year has been, what we’ve had to go through to make this work, and how grueling this has been for us, I simply don’t have the time or energy to describe it and write more than I am here, so I’m going to go ahead and mainly post some pics of the new house we’ll be moving into in early December.

First, a few basics: It is a small, older two-story colonial (built in 1930) that we think is fairly attractive. It’s got three bedrooms and one bathroom, a nice covered front porch, small but nice back deck, small level yard, lovely real original hardwood floors with a pleasant and good sized living room, dining room and kitchen. Upstairs, the master bedroom is uniquely shaped, but not a bad size and has a door leading out to a back upper story covered balcony. The other bedrooms are somewhat small, but they fit the house and we knew we’d have to downsize. There’s a very large unfinished basement that will provide excellent storage and if we ever get the funds to partially or fully finish it, the listed “living space” square footage will shoot up tremendously because the literal square footage is actually over 900 more square feet than the listed livable square footage. We didn’t have many requirements and were forced to lower our expectations because Maryland (our original intended location) is such an expensive state to live in, and we wouldn’t have had many options, and yet even in podunk PA, in the neighboring county, the property taxes were just insane! We’ve been spoiled in Chattanooga, because the taxes are the lowest we’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen monster ones in Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Phoenix and Malibu, but all the time we were looking at regular sized, regular priced (cheap even) houses in that county, I kept asking the realtors WHY a 1800 square foot house with three bedrooms and one bathroom that runs about $220K-$250K would have property taxes of $6000, $8000, even $11000 and $13000 a year?!? There? Manhattan? Sure! Newport Beach? Sure! Santa Barbara? Of course. But what the hell is in the sticks that is such a big draw that people are dying to move there and pay those kind of property taxes for a generic rural area??? That’s nuts! I offended some people by asking that question about some place no one has ever heard of, that has no draw at all to merit robbing people like that – why?!? In any event, this house’s taxes are much more than we’re used to, but less than the examples I gave and for that area, about average. Even though we didn’t have many requirements, most of the houses in that area are very old. I knew that because I spent a decade living in that state as a young boy and I can recall all of the many houses from the 1830s and 1790s, etc. So almost none of these houses have any AC at all — and I get massively hot. Also, I prefer gas heat, and most had electric. We also prefer city water and sewer, and of course, most were on wells and septic tanks. BUT, this house has gas heat, central AC and is on public water and sewer, so YAY, that makes a big difference to us. There’s so much more, but I have very poor health and am tied up in trying to make arrangements with movers, auto transport services, utility companies, and all the details that go with this, so I’m just going to move on to the pics. The only other thing I’ll mention is that the house is located in Adams County, PA, where the county seat is historic Gettysburg. Our town is the fourth largest (of 18) “borough” in the county with a massive population of all of 3,000 people, making it the second smallest place I will ever have lived. It’s called McSherrystown (Borough) and it’s old and cute. And here’s something we really like! No crime. Like none. During  this century, no murders, rapes, assaults, one arson every other year, two robberies, and fewer than 75 thefts total for the whole damn century! The “city” has a police force of FOUR! Hell, that’s how many cops got killed on my block in LA every night when I lived in 18th Street Gang Territory, as well as when I was in North Long Beach (and dozens of other places there and elsewhere). Since we’ve been crime victims multiple times, this matters greatly to us. You may not be impressed with this house and it won’t be the nicest and will be the smallest I’ve ever lived in, but we do like it, think it’s attractive and it has some really nice features, and since every place has its pros and cons, we’re happy to have found this after 11 hard months of work trying to get a house and we’re especially happy to have gotten it for so much less than most others anywhere around there and others we were considering.

 

1. Our new house, front from street.

 

 

2. An angled street view of the front of our new house.

 

 

3. A different angled street view of the front of our new house.

 

 

4. The foyer. Needs a touch up here and there, but otherwise nice and in good condition with access to all of the important parts of the house.

 

 

5. The well lit, open living room with a lovely opening to the large formal dining room next to it. Original hardwood. Lots of windows. Good size. This is especially important to me as I have serious mobility issues due to my health, and so I spend the majority of my time on the ground floor, and so obviously the living room.

 

 

 

 

6. Another vantage point of the living room.

 

 

7. From the living room looking into the foyer.

 

8. Spacious cheery formal dining room!

 

 

9. Dining room, looking into the kitchen and the living room.

 

 

10. Spacious kitchen. This honestly isn’t our favorite, but we looked at so many houses throughout three states that we saw every kind, size, style imaginable and while this lacks the cupboard and counter space we would really prefer, it’s MUCH better and massively larger than the one in the house we had signed an agreement to purchase the previous month, only to have the inspector find so many “invisible” problems that the likely repair bills would likely have been in the six figures alone — and so we walked. That house seemed very nice, was quite large, but had the tiniest, most useless kitchen we’d ever seen, so we’ll take this present one any day over the former. Hey, can’t get everything you want, right? It’ll be good.

 

 

10. Kitchen facing entrances to other rooms.

 

 

11. One of the bedrooms.

 

 

12. A (small) second bedroom.

 

 

13. The master bedroom. Oddly narrow and long, but still pretty nice, we think.

 

 

14. Another view of the master bedroom.

 

 

15. The back deck with small, level back yard and a decent shed in the background. I’m not much of a “deck” person, but I’m actually pretty happy about this one, because our current one — which we’ve had to have ripped up, torn down and rebuilt twice in five years at great expense — is SO incredibly high off the ground, and the stairs so steep and vertically challenging with small, narrow steps, that it’s completely unusable for me, while this should be, so maybe I’ll actually become a “deck” person…

 

 

15. The back of the house. The cool thing about this photo is the funky thing I didn’t show in previous pictures. If you look up toward the top floor, you’ll see that the master bedroom has a door that opens on to a fairly decent, comfortable covered balcony, which is a little unusual, but we think it’s pretty cool.

 

I won’t bore you with any more house photos. It’s just that I literally have no one to show, and even though it’s probable that no one will even see it here online, at least I’m getting to attempt to show some photos of our new house, so it would be nice to know if anyone saw this post. As I said, it’s been a demanding, exhausting, draining, frustrating, infuriating, tiring, impossible, expensive as hell year culminating in finally finding a house we could buy, but now the end of it all is finally getting near and we’ll (hopefully) finally be able to sit down, take a breath and relax in a couple of months. Unreal year. For so many more reasons not mentioned here.

Well, enough of that. I’m going to post a few final pics I got off the Net of a few parts of town so you can see how tiny and quaint it is. I won’t label each of them like I did for the house, but the one of the church is of the town’s Catholic church, and the biggest one around, while the one of the diner shows the only restaurant they have, and the hilarious one of their police car is of the only one in town for the four police officers to share while not having to do a darn thing about the near total lack of crime. LOL! Thanks for indulging me, if anyone did. We’ll be moving in a couple of weeks. Catch ya on the other side…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ID Cards and Certificates for Some of My Zillion Professional Organizations

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 23, 2019

I want to try to blog more, but my health is very poor and I’m horribly busy, largely trying to buy a house in another region of the country and get us moved — all remotely. It’s been far more time consuming and labor intensive than I anticipated, it’s wearing me out and not leaving me time for much more. But I actually have taken quite a few pictures over the past few months, so I thought it might be fun — for me at least — to post some picture blogs! Most of you still looking at this blog probably didn’t notice the new Page I created a few months ago titled “PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS” and listed as one of the menu items at the top of this page. You can find it here. I know most people probably wouldn’t be interested in a topic like that, but a couple of the things that I think make it pretty cool are A) I belong to a Zillion, as the title of this blog post states. Actually, not that many, but currently over 40, and if you were to count the number I did belong to at one point and have left, it would be over 55 easily. And there are some interesting things about this stat. For one thing, they are very varied in the fields they represent, so I’m betting not many people out there are members of such a huge variety of professional organizations, let alone such a crazy huge number. Another interesting fact is many are very hard to get into, very specialized, and have high to insanely high educational, work experience, experience levels and years and so forth requirement for consideration, and a good number of them vett applicants, which can last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to over a month. Some of these organizations reject the majority of their applicants. And then the other main point I think is pretty cool is that B) I haven’t initiated applying to all of these or even many of these. For quite a few, I was invited to apply or even invited to join! Why? Sometimes it made sense and other times it beat the hell out of me! But it’s still a bit of a compliment, so while I actually do NOT join every organization I’ve been recruited for (including two pretty famous and influential ones I may mention later), I do try to join ones I wouldn’t normally think I’d be qualified for if they represent my interests, official or unofficial experience, etc.

Anyway, you can find the list of most of the professional organizations of which I’m currently a member at the top of my blog site along the header menu, the far one on the right, titled PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS. But that’s not the purpose of this post. Remember I said I was hoping to do a few picture blog posts? Well, this is one. Some of these organizations may be viewed as a little more “professional” than others, and as a result, some of them send or provide you a Member ID Card and/or a certificate for framing, some of which are quite nice, while others are simply paper you print out and they’re cheap looking. One organization even sends an attractive metal medallion of some sort, although for the life of me, I’ve never figured out why. It’s not a pin, you can’t wear it, what can or are you supposed to do with it? But I actually like it, so I’m not complaining. When I decided to do this, I was going to try to put the photos of the cards and certificates in alphabetical order to mirror the list on the webpage, but I really don’t have the time to devote to that, so I’m just going to place them on this blog post I think in alphabetical order of their acronyms rather than the official organization name, but I’ll try to provide sufficient identification so you’ll know what they are as you see them. (And I may put a couple of screenshots of a profile or something I have on an organization’s site rather than a member ID card or certificate.)

 

 

 

American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) – the top half of my web directory profile page

 

AAPC

 

 

 

 

American Counseling Association (ACA) Member Certificate

 

 

American Counseling Association (ACA) Member ID Card

 

 

 

 

 

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Professional Member Certificate

 

 

 

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Professional Member ID Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA International) Member ID Card (Front & Back)

 

 

 

 

American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) – Upper section of my profile on the organization’s website

 

 

 

 

 

A screenshot from The AllHumanity Group‘s Network website in which I was welcomed to the group some years ago

 

 

 

 

ASIS International Member ID Card

 

 

 

ASIS International Member Logo

 

 

Espionage Research Institute International (ERII) Member Certificate

 

 

 

Espionage Research Institute International (ERII) Member Medallion (Front)

 

 

 

Espionage Research Institute International (ERII) Member Medallion (Back)

 

 

Foreign Policy Association (FPA) Membership Webpage Header

 

 

 

 

IEEE: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Member Certificate

 

 

 

 

Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society (AESS) Member Certificate

 

 

Computational Intelligence Society (CIS) Member Certificate

 

 

Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS) Member Certificate

 

 

 

Power & Energy Society (PES) Member Certificate

 

 

 

 

Robotics & Automation Society (RAS) Member Certificate

 

 

 

Systems, Man, & Cybernetics Society (SMC) Member Certificate

 

 

 

Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT)  Member Certificate

 

 

 

IEEE Member ID Card

 

 

 

Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE) Senior Member ID Card

 

 

Internet Society Member ID Card

 

 

 

Framed, Hung ISACA Member Certificate

 

 

 

50 Year Anniversary ISACA Member Certificate

 

 

ISACA Bronze Member ID Card

 

 

Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) Member ID Card

 

 

 

There are a few others not mentioned on my blog Page, and obviously I am missing member ID cards or certificates from quite a few that are listed. One reason, though, is that a number of these organizations, some of which I’ve been a member of for decades such as Usenix, no longer produce member ID cards, although I have many of my old ones from previous decades and I have Usenix member ID cards for myself for the last four years before the turn of the century! So I’m about to finish this idiotic post that no one will read or care about, but I’ve had fun putting it together, by posting a few screenshots while leaving many more unposted from my very large profile on a site that used to be called ExecuRanks, but which changed its name to AdvisoryCloud a couple of years ago. I was invited to become a member and while there is an annual charge for most people, I was not required to pay it. Since I was in the process of doing some consulting and had been thinking about getting a seat on an advisory board again somewhere, I decided to join (because I have actually declined invitations, although it probably seems hard to believe), put together a profile, have a public listing and see if anything would happen. Unfortunately, almost immediately after, my poor health took a serious nosedive, getting progressively worse ever since, and I’ve been forced to turn down numerous opportunities, some of which would have been great, such as being asked to join the advisory board of an Australian cryptocurrency startup, collaborate on a technical security paper with a Ukrainian security expert for a large circulation European security publication, engage in research, experiments, publication of findings with a US nuclear entity doing some cutting edge research and work, help a university “rebrand” itself and much more, as well as sadly having to cancel or turn down an unreal number of speaking engagements, ranging from everything from being a featured speaker at a major university’s graduate MBA program in which I was asked to give a presentation on entrepreneurship to speaking at a well known annual security conference on cloud technology security to a UN NGO on the topic of successfully accomplishing one of the UN’s official SDGs before 2030 to being asked to speak on sustainability at a well known annual international science conference in Paris and more. Serious disappointment! I’ve also had to cancel trips to various conferences and conventions around the country, in places like Atlanta, Huntsville, Washington DC, Baltimore, Charleston SC and Los Vegas, among others. And finally, I’ve had to consistently turned down repeated requests to provide me with VIP passes to serve as a visible SME at conferences and conventions throughout the country, ranging from Atlanta to Nashville to Knoxville to Washington DC to New York City to Baltimore to Las Vegas to Los Angeles, as well as repeated invitations to be a guest at conferences located elsewhere, such as England, Poland, Switzerland, Australia, South Korea and more. Most of these would have involved compensation plus expenses. Bitterly disappointing, I have to say. Finally, a couple of somewhat humorous and somewhat odd situations. Two organizations have tried fairly hard to recruit me with my either refusing or not agreeing to commit for an indefinite period of time. One is the Freemasons, where over a period of several years, I was approached by three members of various ranks, all of whom attempted to persuade me, and the second was especially odd. Most of us have heard of, if not being pretty familiar with the historic Knights Templar, and while history tells us the group was outlawed with its members hunted down, and tortured and killed by the Inquisition even though these Christian knights had dedicated their lives to guarding pilgrims on their way from Europe to the Holy Lands, as well as having to fight numerous, gruesome battles with a variety of Muslim groups surrounding the area. There are confirmed, documented historical reasons why they were banned, but I won’t go into that here. Suffice it to say that many people believe them to be a part of the past while many believe a good deal of them survived and fled to other countries, especially Finland, England and Scottland, and depending on which conspiracy theory you read, either have survived under the radar all these centuries while wielding tremendous influence behind the scenes (as well as the belief they still hold a huge fortune, as well as the Holy Grail and the Ark, etc…, the second two being solely rumor) to their descendants being one or both the Freemasons (and there is a lot of evidence to support that theory) to the Illuminati, where this is not nearly as much evidence, aside from the fact that many members of that group were also Freemasons, which was allegedly linked to the Templars, so there you are! And while the Freemasons have survived and thrived all these centuries (our first president was one, as were many of the other Founding Fathers), the Bavarian Illuminati was banned 10 years after it was formed and its members were hunted down throughout Germany, so naturally conspiracy theorists believe a number of them escaped, fled elsewhere, with a certain number eventually making their way to America. Where they united with former German colleagues to form the Skull & Bones fraternity at Yale, which is a whole different story and conspiracy theory that is huge enough to fill many books and which I won’t get into. The point is this: there is little tangible evidence to conclude or confirm the Templars A) remain in existence while under the radar for centuries or B) ever made it to the US. Nonetheless, there has been such historical international obsession with the order, that for centuries, publications have appeared about them, books have been written, and even movies made (The DaVinci Code with Tom Hanks is one of them) because a whole lot of people believe or want to believe this group still exists. For whatever reasons. And the irony is, there ARE current organizations claiming heritage of and the right to use the name for their organization, and while they no longer are actual “knights,” they typically maintain the same original goals concerning Christians in the Middle East, aiding others, and much more. And the largest and most visible such organization that asserts it is the only group with the historical right to the name “Knights Templar” is OSMITH. This international organization is called “OSMTH,” which is an acronym for The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, headquartered in Europe with some 5,000 members around the world, and its US branch called The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ). OSMITH is a registered UN NGO with many privileges, great influence, and as just one example, it is one of the few entities allowed to vote on winners of the Nobel Prize every year. The majority of its members are retired general and admirals from countries around the world, with several others who are high ranking commercial or national governmental leaders and heads of state. It is invite-only, and few are admitted. So I was incredibly surprised when over the past year or two, two different high ranking individuals approached me about possibly joining, and one of them was so ardent a recruiter of me, that he assured me privately that if I wanted in, I would get admitted! WTH??? That’s incredibly bizarre, although also strangely flattering. I never committed, wanted time to mull it over because A) I’m not sure I can commit to what they ask of their members in terms of service, and B) I don’t know if I share the same values and goals of the organization. However, I’m still in touch with the second in command in Europe so I guess if I did decide I wanted to be a member, I could simply contact him and discuss it and I guess it would happen. I had to include this bit, because these recruitments were so unexpected, so unlikely, so ardent, with so many possible implications that it kind of blew my mind.

So now that I rambled like an idiot and got off track, I’m going to finish this post up by posting a few screenshots of the top main portion of my AdvisoryCloud profile. The actual size of it contains informaton documenting education, employment, specializations, and various credentials and notices of SME in various subjects and it is so long, printing out the profile results in about 7-8 pages with the majority being the information I just mentioned. But I don’t want to post all of that because even I would be bored, so I’m just going to post screenshots of my main profile description to amuse you and make you giggle. And if anyone out there does or did read this, A) I’m grateful to you, B) I hope you found it at least mildly interesting or entertaining and C), you have a very high pain tolerance level. LOL! Thanks and cheers to all. The last few photos are from my AdvisoryCloud profile, as mentioned.

 

 

 

Partial Screenshot of my AdvisoryCloud Profile

 

 

 

 

A couple of examples of some credentials from my AdvisoryCloud Profile

 

 

 

My only “Business”-type photo, which is displayed on my AdvisoryCloud Profile

 

 

The first (top) main part of my AdvisoryCloud Profile

 

 

The remainder of the main part of my AdvisoryCloud Profile

 

Go ahead and laugh. It’s okay and I won’t be angry. While everything here is true, it admittedly seems bizarre and not totally believable to everyone, I would imagine, but I can back all of this up, so odd or not, it’s accurate. But you can still snicker. LOL!

 

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