Another of the late Robert Conroy’s alternate history novels. This one is set in 1945. WWII in Europe is winding down, Berlin is about to fall. Harry Truman is now the US President. The change is scarily probable viewed from a modern perspective. Stalin decides that he want’s a bigger buffer zone than he was promised by Roosevelt and Churchill, so after taking Berlin, he turns the massive Red Army westward to attack American and British troops. Remember that the Russian army was really, really big at the time. Partially because of the US supplying them with food, clothing, weapons, planes, and oil for years. There are few factors that work in the Allies favor, including Stalin’s management style, and the Manhattan project. An enjoyable and engaging read. Check it out.
Keanu Reeves is back John Wick in another cautionary tale. When you force an assassin known for his focus and strength of will, even among other assassins, to kill your sister, don’t then put a contract on him for killing your sister. This may tend to make him cranky, and when John Wick gets cranky, people die! Seriously, a lot of people. Mostly other assassins trying to collect the bounty on Wick’s head, but a ridiculous amount of henchmen of the guy who put the contract out. He even kills two guys in a bar with a pencil. In a fun bit of uber-violence mixed with with bits of dialog by some really good actors (like Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne, but not Ruby Rose, who plays a mute assassin). Fire up the popcorn and enjoy.
Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout
We’re setting the Way Back Machine to 1938 for this Nero Wolfe novel. If you like murder mysteries, any of Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels is worth the read. What makes this interesting is that none of the story takes place in the familiar brownstone which Wolfe so rarely leaves. He and Archie have ventured into the wilds of upstate New York so Wolfe can display some of his Orchids at a county fair. Wolfe and Goodwin become involved the local scandal of a champion Guernsey bull named Hickory Caesar Grindon being sold to a owner of a chain of restaurants. The scandal is that the new owner plans of cooking Caesar and feeding him at a large barbecue as an advertising event. Hot tempers, long standing family feuds, and shady characters lead to multiple murders. One of the nice twists is the local cop who tosses Archie in jail. Archie passes the time by forming a prisoners union, complete with presenting a list of demands to his jailers. This novel also introduces the reoccurring character of Lily Rowan.
What is Self-Defense: Kenpo Jiu-Jitsu by James Mitose
This classic is back in print. My copy was printed in the early 1980s. The original was printed back in 1953. Most of the Keno/Kempo taught in the United States traces directly back to James Mitose, and the most famous of his students, William Chow.
For those of you coming in late to the party, Earth Day” is on Lenin’s Birthday. Not a coincidence, given that the “founder” of Earth Day was much more a “Watermelon” than an actual environmentalist. Watermelon: Thin layer of green of the outside, red to the core.
Let’s review the predictions from the very first so called “Earth Day” back in 1970.
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” — George Wald, Harvard Biologist
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” — Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“By… some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” — Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” — Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day
“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” — Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University
“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” — Life Magazine, January 1970
“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” — Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” — Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
Ok, Ehrlich was sorta right on this, if you restrict his predictions to modern Communist China, where they are showing the typical communist/socialist contempt for the environment.
“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” — Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
Now we get to my personal favorite, although probably not Al Gore‘s…
“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” — Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
2014 Update: Wired Magazine publishes this article: Renewables Aren’t Enough. Clean Coal Is the Future
It wouldn’t be Lenin’s Birthday with out this clip of the late George Carlin discussing “Saving the Planet.”
Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
I’ve always been much more of a hard SciFi fan than fantasy, but I like Larry Correia’s fast paced pulp style. I started listening to little bits of this book at the end the weekly Baen Books podcast. When I got a dead tree version, I chewed through it pretty quite. Good adventure with a reluctant hero who has, like some of the characters in his Monster Hunter International books, been given the ‘short straw’ by the gods. Larry Correia is a pen and paper RPG geek from way back, and this book show some serious world building. If you want some fast paced fantasy adventure, where the author was clearly chuckling when writing parts of it, give this book a read.
Murder by the Book by Rex Stout
Stout at the top of his game in this Nero Wolfe mystery. A pair seemingly unrelated murders are presented to Wolfe, who makes the connection and sets on the trail of the killer. He and Archie Goodwin are presented with two more murders while tracking the murder who almost got away with it.
Part of the classic Lensman series, from which all Space Opera springs. It’s the story of Kim Kinnison, the result of thousands of years of selective breeding by an ancient race, to save civilization from the forces of tyranny. It has massive space battles, planet destroying weapons, intrigue, aliens, battles of the mind, and true love.
Let’s not forget the space axe. Space Armor is proof against bullets and death rays, so the heroes use a specialized 30 pound axe to kill their foes.
A ripping good yarn from the Golden Age of Pulp. SciFi Grandmaster Robert Heinlein considered Smith a mentor, and echos of the Lensman series can be found in Heinlein’s work as well as Ringo, Weber, Halderman, and many others.
I Love You Alice B. Toklas
Setting the Wayback Machine to 1968 for this Peter Sellers film. He plays an uptight lawyer, what the kids called a “Square” back then. He manages to get a hippy girlfriend, who whips up some pot laced brownies, a favorite recipe of a close and personal friend of Gertrude Stein. Sellers’ character eats them and decides “drop out” and become a hippy. A definite period piece comedy.
Setting the Wayback Machine to 1983 for this Dan Aykroyd comedy gem. You might recognize Howard Hesseman and Fran Drescher. Drescher plays one of four high end “Ladies of the Evening” run by pimp Howard Hesseman. He gets into trouble for not paying off the local crime boss, Mom. He cons Aykroyd, who plays a young college professor, into taking over his job. He creates the persona of “Doctor Detroit” to save the day. Light fun, with decidedly adult humor.