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A Review of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook”

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 21, 2020

Antifa: The Anti-Fascist HandbookAntifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These days? An absolutely essential book. Necessary, especially in 2020 America. Because most Americans haven’t been exposed to historical fascism the way Europeans have, most don’t have an accurate, complete or in some cases any understanding at all about this very dangerous movement, let alone its textbook (or playbook) tactics and techniques that are nearly always virtually identical, starting with a Goebbels-styled propaganda blitz, complete with massive amounts of lies, disinformation, fear-mongering (always of some evil, fearsome “other” — immigrants are usually good targets, as are Jews, minorities, the disabled and mentally ill), the point being to creative divisiveness, mistrust — especially in the “mainstream” (or any) media — but even in one’s neighbors, co-workers, others who are different in culture, religion, politics, convincing the people they are victims who have been wronged by others, initially outside the state, later inside the state, thus creating a need for a strong, centralized leadership led by a strong(man) autocrat, typically excellent at “hiding” their fascist tactics, plans, goals etc., until it’s too damn late. ALL of which we’ve experienced under Trump. Fascists always also promote violence — again, check — and pick out their perceived most dangerous “foe,” nearly always antifascists who have been around as long as fascism officially has (since 1919), NOT because they are “fascists” or terrorists themselves as fascists ALWAYS claim in labeling their enemies exactly what they are to turn the public, especially liberals against them. In this case Antifa, which is NOT an organization like the KKK, many Neo-Nazis or Spencer’s official Alt Right organization, but an IDEOLOGY, a commitment on the part of those who care about the dangers posed to freedom and peoples being targeted by racists, white supremacists, white nationalists, etc., and I’ll wager the majority of Americans have never heard that word or term five years ago, but now because the fascists led by Trump, and spurred on by the mainstream media AND liberals who should be grateful there are people willing to lay their lives on the line to protect THEM from future concentration camps and gas chambers. I’ve seen nothing but bullshit claims by hypocritical liars like the “Proud Boys” (what idiot came up with that name?), other similar group AND various Dems, progressives, liberals screaming about the evil “fringe left” and Antifa itself — as though there’s an official organization with an office, mailing address, hierarchy, officers, etc. — like the liberals and the Alt Right have — and especially how violent Antifa “terrorists” are because they go around stabbing poor defenseless patriotic white separatists. It’s infuriating! The thing is, not only do the Trump sheeple believe them, but the naïve witless liberals — who are being targeted for “extermination” as several Proud Boys proclaimed at their recent Washington DC gathering — yet I challenge anyone to do their due diligence and find how people organizing temporarily under the antifascist “Antifa” termed umbrella work vs how white christian nationalists work. Just go back four years and research. The Nazis always claimed “Antifa” terrorists try to and/or succeed in “stabbing” them, which I guess legitimizes in their view going all over the communities more heavily armed than the US military.

Let me explain a few things, and these examples don’t necessarily come from this book, but would be historically supported. Antifascists typically gather together historically to DEFEND themselves, their communities, and legitimate protestors from harm, sometimes lethal, on the part of fascists, historically very well documented, so much so that I feel I needn’t say anymore more than Mussolini’s Black Shirts, Hitler’s Brown Shirts, Mosely’s Black Shirts, the atrocities in the Balkans during the 1990s — which will always be the end result of unchecked fascism unless their movements are crushed — and when our president literally says on national tv that his rabid Proud Boy followers should not Stand DOWN, but instead Stand Back and Stand BY, he is telling his own type of Black Shirts to be ready to kill his and their opponents, just like they’ve been dying to, just like their predecessors have, and while people on television worry about a potential “civil war” and will violence happen while crucifying this mysterious evil “Antifa,” the facts are that antifascists deemed “militant,” because they are only a small portion of such movements since the majority try to provide educational materials, look up info on known white nationalists and “Doxx” them to embarrass them into quitting their movements, and peacefully protesting on the whole. While there are armed leftists, they can’t remotely compete with the firepower and the willingness of the right (no longer fringe right), and most do not carry arms to protests, OR even knives — UNLIKE the fascists. Traditionally, they have carried non-lethal defensive weapons such as shields, some body army, and historically batons for protection. So let me ask you, how many confirmed stabbings or murders have been committed by proven antifascists under the Antifa label in the US over the past four years (if ever)? I haven’t recently looked this up, but last I recall it was possibly one, if that. Meanwhile, to use a famous example that our president refused to condemn, at Charlottesville, the infamous act was when a white supremacist drove into a crowd of protestors (this tactic has been tried and/or used elsewhere by them), killing a young woman? Any remorse? No. Any publicity about the SEVEN antifascists who were stabbed at this same rally by Alt Right white christian nationalists — as opposed to zero of them by “Antifa” terrorists? Hell no! Wonder why? I don’t. What about the claims over the past year or so by these violent racists that Antifa terrorists are gathering by the hundreds of thousands to attack their marches, scared to death because there are only thousands of well armed, assault gun carrying white supremacists, so naturally they need police protection. And how many more antifascists have been stabbed at these events? What about confirmed stabbings of these Alt Right fascists?

Here’s a handy fact checking article about this very topic. One section states,

“Overall, however, data show that Antifa activists have been involved in relatively few violent incidents compared to white supremacists, who have conducted at least 40 lethal attacks since 2018 according to the Department of Homeland Security.”

Yeah, do your homework. In an area not far from me, a small community had a small number of peaceful, mostly older, anti-Trump citizens who scheduled a protest at their county courthouse which would have entailed maybe 40 people, most of them retired, none armed or dangerous, and it was national news when over 1,000 white supremacists came from all over the region, including other states, armed to the hilt, to make sure these people remained peaceful and legal and to keep others safe — from white haired people with canes facing thousands of guns. Police protection. Fuck no! Standard, no matter where fascists are. In this same little county, this little group tried to schedule some three more tiny little protests, and had to cancel each — and their constitutional rights fascists and racists are always screaming leftist “fascists” are denying them re free speech, gathering publicly, etc — because they actually received numerous public threats made as promises that hundreds more would come, armed, to “keep the peace” (there would have been noting but peace if those asshats hadn’t shown up!), and for the final one, they received public messages made available to everyone that if these few dozen people gathered with their signs, there WOULD be shooting and they would be the targets.

I have a lot more to say on the subject, but I’ll just say this — I’ll be damned if my family, uncles, cousins fought, bled, sacrificed all on foreign beaches to free millions of people being tortured and killed by insane genocidal fascists AS WELL AS trying to keep the rest of the world safe from these evil monsters, only to find some decades later, flags bearing Swastikas being planted in American soil, if not eventually American political buildings and agencies! I’d rather die first, and anyone wishing to follow a Hitler lover, giving up their freedoms and slaughtering their countrymen over political differences in AMERICA, are simply traitors guilty of the worst of treasons, deserving of the punishment traitors once got in this country. This is not necessarily the best book I’ve read on this topic — there’s another couple I think are a bit better, one of which is Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works — but this book IS a great starting point and I urge anyone who still cares about democracy, freedom, the future of America and Americans — not just of one certain color — to read this, ingest the info, ponder it and act according to one’s own beliefs because this is likely the most dangerous time in our country’s history, and it’s antifascists who are currently the only line of defense between what Trump allegedly plans to unleash — even if he could hold the “Trumpites” back — and I’m not sure that would be possible — and/or until others unite to defend themselves, their neighbors, this country from insane lunatics living in a different, warped toxic and lethal universe. Could not be more recommended!

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Book Review: Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 20, 2020

Well, unfortunately I’m rather livid at the moment because even though I had written I do not have the time or energy for a proper review due to severely bad health and a late time of night, I had just spent 1.5 hours working on the BEGINNING of a review, presumably saving as I went along as I always do. However, I don’t know what happened, but the page refreshed and everything was lost — all of my time and work and I don’t have the time or energy to try to recreate that, so I’m very unhappy. As a result, I’m just going to leave a few minor paragraphs or so with apologies… I did want to do it justice.

Normally I’m a fan of Bart Ehrman’s, although I don’t always agree with him. Unfortunately, I think this is his worst book and I’m shocked he put his name to it. Frankly for the scholar people view him as and he frankly promotes himself to be, he embarrasses himself in his sad efforts to first, trash the credentials of those he opposes in the initial stages of the book, especially as compared to his own “fantastic” academic credentials, which should be beneath him for multiple reasons: 1) it’s unnecessary and unprofessional, 2) other people DO have legitimate credentials despite what he thinks, and worse, he misrepresents at least one or more in terms of their specialties proving a lack of validity in facing a scholar of his character and 3) while I don’t have time to go into all of his academic background, I doubt he’d love it if people knew the initial fundamentalist “academic” institution where he obtained a three year (?) degree acknowledges on its own website currently that this degree was NOT accredited. Moreover, as someone who over the course of my entire life, have known countless friends, colleagues and family members who attended and graduated from Moody Bible Institute, I can attest to the fact that not one of them were able to find professional employment post-graduation, largely due to their spurious academic “qualifications.” This, the vaunted academic “scholar” Bart Ehrman!

As to the book, his arguments are weak and generally beneath his usual standards — by far — and do little to convince anyone that he has outdone his “opponents.” Indeed, he actually relies on hearsay and speculation, which are hardly convincing in the academic world. (The fact that no New Testament author ever MET Jesus, let alone possibly even met someone who knew him, is a non-issue for Ehrman as his relates that PAUL, of all of them, CLAIMED to have met Peter and James, yet there is not one shred of either independent evidence nor Jewish evidence to confirm that, so all we have to go on is Paul swearing he did, so must have. Good enough, eh? And I jumped off my roof today and flew around town because despite no one seeing and documenting it, I swear I did and thus it’s true. Not too different from American fantasies in 2020, where whatever one wishes to believe is apparently true. (Until science proves them wrong. Like every time.) Another little hint is the long acknowledged fact that while no one in the Bible, including the authors of the Gospels, can possibly provide evidence (nor is there independent evidence anywhere) of any sayings of this Jesus, let alone the accuracy of claimed sayings, Paul may have “known” of a couple — through his debatable vision. Again, we have to take him at his word, and then one must wonder why Paul virtually NEVER refers to Jesus’ actual LIFE. If he “knew” him as he claimed, wouldn’t he have recorded … something? No, instead we get post-crucifixion spirit Jesus and the religion Jesus never set out to create while Paul himself did.Finally, the actual topic of this book — Did Jesus exist? Well, there are tons of books on the subject, from all angles. And so many areas to cover. And so many Jesus’s back then, as apparently not only was it a somewhat common name, but also somewhat common for others claiming that name while additionally claiming to be the Messiah. More importantly, there are so many clues, examples and outright facts to make one legitimately doubt he existed that it’s entirely possible to assert with authority that he did not exist — as a number of people do. A few things before referring to others. It’s virtually undisputed that the Gospels were written long after his death, that the authors are unknown (with the names attributed to them generally considered to have been so potentially hundreds of years after they were written), that the authors did not know Jesus nor knew anyone else who knew Jesus and the fact that Jesus and his followers are assumed to have been illiterate and thus Jesus never left one shred of any alleged teachings of his, as well as the fact that each gospel was written in educated Greek while this Jesus would have spoken Aramaic (with some Hebrew translation thrown into the gospels for good measure when it came to the alleged prophecies, most of which have been proven to have been taken out of context, simply wrong or even nonexistent), it’s plausible to assert that possibly everything attributed to Jesus, if not virtually all of the gospels themselves, were complete fabrications. Indeed, scholars have had to resort to a hypothetical source they refer to as “Q” (as well as a couple of other such sources) to fill in a ton of blanks, because there is no evidence to support many of the claims made in the gospels, so naturally someone HAD to know the details and we’ll just conveniently call him “Q.” There is absolutely no evidence for this Q, let alone independent evidence at that. A million other things aside, in addition to the well-known town of “Nazareth” Jesus came from not yet actually even existing, thus forcing theologians to stretch hard to make other Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, Semitic, Arab and eventually Latin translations of words that appeared to be close to “Nazareth” while yet none of them actually meant or were “Nazareth” somehow fit, which REALLY ticks them off due to its inconvenience, ultimately there is literally no independent evidence or mention from the first century (nor virtually any Jewish mention as well, literally) to confirm or even allude to the validity of ANY claims of this Jesus the Jewish Messiah ever existing — and this in a century famous for its record keeping, particularly by the Romans, if not other peoples and races. Thus there are records on nearly everything and everyone of note throughout the empire, and certainly Judea as well, and among untold numbers of records, there are none of any crucifixion of a Jesus of Nazareth (it wasn’t until after 300 CE that Jewish Christian writers and historians began referring in print to a place even called something similar to “Nazareth,” while a Greek variant was found sometime after 220 CE. Indeed, no secular reference to such a town was ever found until a 1962 archaeological dig, which traced the inscription found back to around 300 AD — in Hebrew), none of any mammoth earthquake (let alone any earthquake) on the day of the crucifixion, nor of the temple’s curtain being ripped in half (which Jewish historians would surely have documented), NOR any resurrected zombies wandering the streets of Jerusalem, nor any huge crowds gathering around any teachers in that general area and by that name, nor of any travels, arrivals and departures of any Oriental “wise men” come to worship the babe — who was either there within Herod’s grasp or in Egypt depending on which gospel one chooses to believe — nor of any famous miracles, healings and exorcisms by a Jesus in Galilee (a backwater at the time), and certainly no dead people coming back to life. Etc., etc. There is NO independent evidence to back up a shred of this fancy nor any evidence outside of the Bible itself, and the gospels disagree with each other in so many ways that those who believe the book to be the inerrant word of God (how does one combine four different resurrection stories?) must be driven crazy by this and those who find alternate ways of interpretation then are forced to cherry pick!

It’s late and I can’t continue, so I’ll close with some reference material I’m recommending for dear deluded Mr Ehrman, as well as any other readers who may be interested. These are by no means the only resources — simply ones that come to mind at the moment (although the first is pretty good).

1) Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All by David Fitzgerald.

2) Jesus: Mything in Action, Vol. I (The Complete Heretic’s Guide to Western Religion Book 2) by David Fitzgerald. If I recall — and it’s been awhile — I think this is the first of a three-book series and this book covers the gospels…

3) Deciphering the Gospels: Proves Jesus Never Existed by R.G. Price.

and an interesting additional book not specifically about Jesus, but really more about the Bible and specifically the Old Testament. It’s an archaeological account by two Jewish academics and scientists who seemingly prove the bulk of what we know as the Old Testament — if true at all — was never ever written until Israel and Judah had been split as separate kingdoms and Israel had been conquered and taken away and while I don’t want to give away all of the spoilers, the gist is these stories appear to be scientifically proven to have not been written until possibly around 700 BCE, thus potentially calling into question basically all we’ve been taught and all we’ve been taught to believe and pretty much everything else associated with it and that follows it. Even if you disagree, it’s intellectually interesting and a good exercise in (internal) debate.

4) The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman.

Ultimately, I would only recommend this book to show people additional confirmation of any scientific or literal evidence of the lack of the Biblical Jesus. If you’re a theocratic religionist who lacks an open mind, this book won’t be for you — it might serve only to irritate you. If you are interested in this debate, or series of debates, you may find this book intriguing, although I would have it pretty low on my reading list. Ultimately Ehrman’s worst book and definitely not recommended.

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

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On Aristotle’s “Politics”

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 30, 2020

PoliticsPolitics by Aristotle
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Doesn’t live up to his reputation. But then, some feel he himself didn’t live up to his reputation. Or more realistically, that there were others possibly more deserving of his reputation and legacy. I believe many scholars have determined Democritus (with his mentor Leucippus) were actually more influential, accurate, knowledgeable and diverse, among other things. Noted virtually universally as the “father of modern science,” through Leucippus’s influence, he is often thought to be the first physicist, as he is typically credited for his formulation of an (detailed) atomic theory for the universe. In fact, his atomic hypothesis was developed to such a degree, and unlike anything else at the time, bore a resemblance to modern science and one could essentially argue that what we know, or learned, about atomics in the twentieth century was directly influenced by Democritus’ atomic theory, which in many ways remains the basis for current atomic physics. Moreover, he dabbled and proved influential in a number of other areas, ranging from geometry specifically and math in general to geography and anthropology to the importance and essence of epistemology to scientific aesthetics to politics and natural philosophy (of course), where he seemed especially concerned with the subject of ethics, to military tactics as well as cosmology, poetry, biology and many, many more subjects — really the first true Renaissance man. Really kind of puts some better known philosophers to shame (not that some weren’t also geniuses — it’s just that many people can’t find many in history, and virtually none before Democritus to explore and master such a wide variety of subjects. Indeed, his “void” thesis lived on to influence Newton and continued to hold that influence basically until Einstein).

However, regarding this book by Aristotle, while this was a subject he was well versed in and despite this book being a bit dated, it was still fairly well done for the times, had some good ideas, thoughts, points, etc. Unfortunately, there’s always been some controversy surrounding it due to some textual irregularities and discrepancies in some of the eight “books” making up this book, or rather what remains of them. (Some of the major topics among these different books include ideas about community, citizenship, regimes, education, constitutions and political theory, among others.) However, this to the point that some have argued the book represents seemingly two different versions, or perhaps stages, in Aristotle’s thoughts, beliefs, positions, etc., and the two opposing sides seem so varied, almost oppositional, that IF Aristotle even wrote the entire thing himself, it’s likely he would have done so over a long period of time, so that a significant period of time elapsed between the first and later sections, thus explaining its inconsistencies and, one might say, possibly two different belief systems. Thus, I’m only giving it two stars because even though it might otherwise merit three at least, the problems noted make it difficult to have confidence regarding sufficient authenticity, consistency and more, and frankly results in a poor book in its known form and hence one of his lesser works. As a result, not recommended.

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Book Review: Henry Ford’s “The International Jew”

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 22, 2020

The International JewThe International Jew by Henry Ford
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is an unusual book to give a rating to or write a review about. I’d read quite a bit about this book before ever reading this book. (And I’m currently reading two interesting books on the man. They are Max Wallace’s The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich and the second one is Neil Baldwin’s Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production Of Hate.) And yes, as this book is written, it’s reprehensible. And there’s no doubt Henry Ford was anti-Semitic to whatever degree. But there are several alleged variables that make it hard to take this seriously as his own writing and hence, specifically his own stance. I have read a number of books on Ford and especially as he relates to his right hand man, his personal secretary of a sort, and ultimately an editor of the newspaper he owned (where this man oversaw the majority of the essays allegedly written by him and attributed to him). This man, Ernest Liebold, was a German, part of the Detroit-area German “American” community, and considered by many reliable sources to be a literal future Nazi (as Ford would become one of Hitler’s biggest financial supporters during his rise to power), allegedly sent from Germany to influence one of the most powerful men in the world. In various biographies and histories, one will read that Liebold got so much power that no one could get to see or talk to Ford without getting through Liebold first. Many sources say – including even Wikipedia – that Ford didn’t even write the articles attributed to him. Rather, he verbally expressed his opinions to Liebold and to the main editor, one William Cameron. It was thus left up to these two men to take what Ford apparently said aloud, and shape those opinions into publishable articles – which they did virtually the entire time. And subsequently, some sources allege that Liebold himself was the “author” of many of these articles, taking cues from Ford, if not literally making some opinions up while attributing them to Ford who apparently signed off on all of them without reading them.

To add to the confusion, there were many Jews in that Detroit area where Ford lived and worked and indeed, his neighbor and apparent good friend was an active Jewish rabbi whom Ford had over for dinner every week. So it may seem to some that Ford’s anti-Semitism was certainly valid, unjustifiable, and frankly odd as hell, because he liked and hung out with various Jews, as friends. When the newspaper started publishing seriously anti-Semitic stuff, some of them were put off, naturally offended, and by some accounts, Ford found this perplexing, confusing, and couldn’t understand why they’d be upset about his little paper. I believe this is even brought up in one or both of the books I’m currently reading.

The fact is the more you learn about Ford, the more you find while he had a few good ideas from time to time, such as his infamous massive one involving better pay and working conditions, he seemed a bit of an out of touch dunce, oblivious to the world, easily maniputable – kind of like Donald Trump today. Basically clueless. So just as Trump is killing people around the world at the moment by urging them to inject themselves with bleach (if not drink it) to “cure” the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is literally batshit insane, so too did Ford go around in a daze, believing discredited crap to be authentic – just like The Donald – and some allege that’s how The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – already discredited by the London Times, among others – came to be published in his paper, thus confirming for and influencing Hitler, his creepy pals, and countless of Jew hating Americans. Totally irresponsible and absolutely stupid. And again, some attribute this to Liebold, the German Nazi-to-be, and less to Ford whom they claim was too clueless to know better. One has to recall that even though this infamous book had nearly universally and publicly been declared a hoax with the true author having been identified by differing sources as one of two primary culprits (although most feel it was ultimately the work of the Russian government), there were still those who were so “out of it” or naive that they continued to fall for that hoax years later, as one biography on Allen Dulles stated that a German “informer” he had while stationed in Switzerland had gotten the book to him and he was so shocked and horrified at this international “Jewish plot” that he immediately fired off a top secret memo, going above his boss, sent directly to the White House, where it presumably died the death it deserved. Thus, an example of how even allegedly knowledgeable and powerful people could be suckered by that despite it’s having been discredited if they weren’t already familiar with it…

And on and on. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all trying to absolve Ford from his sins or claim he did not have a serious bias against the Jewish people as a whole. But the fact that he liked individual Jews as friends to have over regularly for years while his crap got published and distributed to the world by one or two men with definite agendas who allegedly wrote up things Ford said and constructed articles out of them, but since there don’t appear to be any surviving types of evidence of these sayings, one might wonder if Liebold just didn’t make half this shit up and since Ford didn’t even proof, edit or read the stuff published under his name, but simply signed off on it, it’s not so clear cut that he even knew what the hell he was seemingly doing, which would go on to impact millions around the world. Of course, everything attributed to him in the worst of ways could indeed turn out to have been true and accurate, and I wouldn’t be surprised, but when you start finding out details of who basically controlled and influenced him, who had total access to him and wrote things on his behalf in his name AS Ford and with Ford allegedly a Trump-like dittohead, it is also possible to speculate as to how much he actually knew the stuff coming out under his name and attributed to him was as reprehensible as it was, as damning as it was, influenced far too many people against the Jews in the worst possible ways, etc. I’m not sure if we’ll ever really know… It does make for some fascinating questions and speculations though.

In any case, this is an important historical book to read, if for no other reason than to see some of the truly awful things written about the world’s Jews which ultimately lead others to commit the most unspeakable horrors, and regardless of Ford’s actual awareness or not, ultimately he is responsible for this, this was his “fault,” and his legacy needs to always maintain that ugly truth. Recommended as a historical piece, but certainly not something to agree with or act on – unless you’re a KKK member, Neo-Nazi or the like, but since I think most of them are likely illiterate, I don’t know that they’ll be reading this to begin with!

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Book Review: A Foreign Policy for the Left

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 12, 2020

A Foreign Policy for the LeftA Foreign Policy for the Left by Michael Walzer
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Weak. I’ve been a progressive/”liberal” for most of my adult life but over the past five years have become really disgusted with the group. While I cannot stand (even believe) where the far right has gone, A) the left could look to them for some damn lessons, because B) the Dems eat their own, constantly bickering among themselves, constantly attacking their own while the right gets behind their candidates and fucking WIN while Berniebots hate their OWN leading candidates so much, they fucking voted Trump INTO office last time! It’s their damn fault that moron is president and so for the past four years, most of America, including nearly every liberal, has counted on seemingly ANYONE running against Trump to kick his ass and put some sanity back in the White House, … but it’s happening again, and it started at least two years ago. I’ve read some books by some disillusioned lifelong Republican strategists and advisers who are desperate to join with everyone in a centrist effort to vote Trump out, although they say they won’t vote for a Hillary or Bernie. I understand that. It’s called compromise and it used to be a big part of our government. These major players write that the Dems can be counted on to bicker with their pet projects and pet peeves so much that they lose sight of the election and lose the election as a result of infighting while the conservatives all rally around whatever asshole is their candidate, like him or not. And the Dems lose and they do this to themselves and they never learn. And these people are 100% right. Trump WILL win again because for the past two plus years the Berniebots have insisted that NO ONE except Bernie will be okay with them – Biden, Bloomberg, Warren, no one. Because he’s the “outsider.” HE’S BEEN IN FUCKING OFFICE LONGER THAN ANY OF THEM!!!!! You stupid dumbass hypocritical traitors! So because you hate people in your own *alleged* party so much (because obviously you’re Republicans as you’d rather have an autocratic insane Republican president than someone from a party you claim to be a part of who is not your favorite choice…), you’d rather have a treasonous Russian puppet in office. You’re the damn problem, not the conservatives! Idiots. And this book? Rewritten regurgitation with few new ideas. Neither party has a grasp on quality, successful, diplomatic-yet-cautious foreign policy and the leaders of both parties have taken the “winner” from the Cold War and they’ve fucked the country and world up with their idiot foreign policies, and we want these people recommending anything? The liberals are idealists with no concept of reality and the evangelical right wing nutjobs are fascist nationalists intent on getting behind an apocalyptic nationalist Mussolini wannabee. Awesome. And my wife won’t let us move to New Zealand… Both parties have proven to be failures at public policy and foreign policy over the past 25+ years. Please get the centrists together and form a real, actual third party to wipe these idiots out of office and start over with some sanity and reason. This book? About as good as current conservative books calling for “change” — bullshit.

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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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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.

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