No More Magic Wands

No More Magic Wands

Dec 16, 2016John H. ManholdAll Reviews, Business, Non Fiction, Political, Reference, Self-Help, Social Issues

No More Magic Wands ISBN: 9781533538923, an e-book by George Finney.

The book begins with a statement heard almost ad nauseam: “Security is everyone’s job.” This follows with another truism: “That’s what we say as security professionals. But we don’t always act like we believe it. It really does take everyone working in concert to make an organization truly secure. Why, then, do we do so little to enable those outside the cybersecurity field to do their part of the universal security job?” The author continues to enumerate the perfunctory band aids usually provided and then provides a summary statement: “If security is everyone’s job, everyone needs the right tools to actually do the job. Not some of the tools. Not a little of the information. All of it.” He then proceeds to provide the reader with all of the tools AND information required to establish a secure cyber site.

Discussion: First, the material is presented by a man whose credits would appear to make him eminently qualified to furnish information to secure a cyber network. Second, he has set forth chapters that describe in detail the necessities to obtain/maintain cybersecurity, chapter summaries, important takeaway points, open-ended questions and a final summation of the presentation. Third, and perhaps most importantly for presentation of a subject most people just ‘wish would go away’, he has used quite adroitly simple stories in a parable like manner as a lead into each point or series of points he wished to establish for each chapter. AND he has managed to do so in a quite inoffensively effective manner.

Conclusion: The author has delivered/emphasized the importance of a significant number of tools/activities and their interaction for the proper function of a cybersecurity system. This is especially well-worthwhile and a most timely contribution, not only for those intimately involved, but provides a better understanding for the populace of the extent of the problems existing in the international hacking about which the media so endlessly is bombarding today’s population.

5* Cybersecurity, its problems and solutions, cleverly presented.

Expendable

EXPENDABLE
A Matti James Mystery in e-book by M. A. R. Unger.

Plot/Characters: Matti James is a special reconstruction artist attached to the Coroner’s Office in the town of Henderson and intimately friendly with Jack Wagner. He, a coroner’s assistant, must investigate a possible death at a strange fire pit of sorts that has been seen from the upper trail in the wild canyon region. He asks her to accompany him and also requests that she bring her dog that has particular assets. It is a difficult hike but she is accomplished in the sport and agrees. They discover a skull with a RR spike driven through the jaws that is suspended on a pole in the middle of a particularly unusually arranged fire pit. They retrieve the skull, turn it in and discover they must be examined for radioactivity because of the RR spike. From this point a complicated plot evolves as an attempt is made to inflict radioactive suffering upon a huge mass of individuals to make the world aware of the perils of nuclear power. Involved is much of the Las Vegas area, persons associated with the Chernobyl disaster, the Piute Indian Tribe, FBI, members of a Wicca coven, now retired members of the Mafia, Matti’s Inbetweener (Ghost-type) buddie Abby, her Foothills Canyons Detective Agency companions, the U. S. President briefly and a number of individuals of, and/or with, indeterminate association(s).

Discussion: This is a pleasantly written, heavily convoluted mystery about a protagonist whose adventures assumedly are well-known from former volumes. The story moves well and although not providing answers to several questions, presents an interesting tale that, except for activity of a couple of strange ‘Inbetweeners’, for the most part, delicately tip-toes around and within the bounds of credibility.

4* Interesting and involved mystery story enjoyably written.

Walking Out of the Dark

Walking out of the DARK
ISBN: 9780993240201, a novel based on a true story in e-book by Steven R, Mailkowski,

Mike, the protagonist, is a young man in his twenties who has moved from his rural home to the city to attend a school for the blind. The move has been recommended because, although he still has marginal vision, he has been told it gradually will fade. To save money his residence is a rather run-down hotel/boarding house peopled by druggies and prostitutes among others. It is cheap and close to school, however. The story follows Mike and his activities as he interacts with Ruby, an interesting resident of his hotel, Margaret, his first teacher, George, a somewhat older fellow student who was an auto mechanic, Norman, a former football coach, Samantha (Sam) a lovely younger teacher and others as well as some of their friends and/or acquaintances.

Discussion: The author has provided a quite engrossing look at the activities of sightless individuals. The thought and practice that is required for the simplest activity and how the slightest wrong or not well-thought-out move could cause a problem that could range anywhere from amusing to complete disaster. The entire tale is absorbing and is set forth in an intriguingly light ‘up-beat’ manner that glosses over the devastating effect that the sightless person must experience and avoids much of the ‘downside per se’ and the more obnoxious individuals who no doubt are encountered. Instead it focuses on the statement: “There are a lot of things you can do in a bad situation; try to choose something that doesn’t make it worse.” It concentrates on the tremendous strength, fortitude and humor exhibited by the affected individuals and even describes some of the physical games devised for and by the blind for entertainment – games ranging from a type of baseball called Beep Ball to such dangerous sports as downhill ski racing where the skier is followed by another with sight who, when approaching the flags, shouts to a blind watcher that it is time to vigorously shake a tambourine so the blind skier will know the flag has been reached so as to make the appropriate turn.

Conclusion: This book is a worthwhile read that provides a number of insights into the world of sightlessness that demonstrates existence of a degree of resilience, hope and humor that is amazing.

5* Nicely constructed/presented fictional memoire, highly recommended.

 

A Hole in Science

A HOLE in SCIENCE
Arevised edition in 2016 e-book by Ted Christopher that he has subtitled: An opening for an alternative understanding of life.

The book’s synopsis recalls the fact that problems have always existed for the scientific understanding of life, particularly with the number of unusual behaviors encountered and suggests exploration of alternatives. For example, with advanced studies of DNA and the genome it was believed that the age of ‘personalized medicine’ was at hand where hereditary disease would be eliminated. Sadly, we are not quite there yet. Hereditary diseases which supposedly could be wiped away by finding and destroying the common variable(s) in their genetic origin, were discovered to have far too many variables. The common factor(s) present could explain only six per cent of the hereditability and almost none of the causality. It is accepted that 99.9 % of human beings are identical. However, that remaining 0.1 % still has a huge variability. The author then proceeds to discuss a number of the variabilities as encountered in monozygotic (identical) twins; Intelligence Conundrums – childhood behavioral syndrome, the child prodigy, the Einstein Syndrome, the Savants and the Flynn Effect (environmental influence); animal mysteries (strange social behavior); those of families; groups; gender; all with a considerable amount of discussion within a religion/science context rather heavy on transcendentalism, reincarnation and similar. A short author’s biography and quite extensive list of references round out the presentation.

Discussion: This is an interesting book for non-scientists. The author in his closing comments states that he wished to provide a discussion “for the curious” and that “The main point of this book has been to point out some of the basic problems with the material-only vision of life.” Even more specifically perhaps, he has listed some of the many questions surrounding life and the manner in which they offer challenges to materialism. Also in his closing remarks, the author cites a strong personal interest in transcendental views as a result of inexplicable dreams as a child as well as a “deep phobia and somehow sensing a connection to someone who had died in a difficult scenario”. The residual effects of such experiences quite obviously can provide intense pressure to investigate, hopefully to deliver some manner of personal catharsis. Certainly this is an acceptable cause that furnishes simultaneously interesting and thought producing material to the inquisitive mind that has not previously had the benefit of exposure to much of the material provided.

Summary: Interesting introductory scientific discussion with religious overtone for the previously uninitiated. Some further editing may have been helpful.

4* somewhat scrambled but interesting book for uninitiated inquisitive reader

Anamnesis Paradox

Anamnesis Paradox, an e-book by Stewart Sanders opens with the author’s statement: “This book is fiction, except for those words that happen to be true.” This statement, as well as the book’s content, perhaps can better be understood by a prospective reader with a little more explanation. There is another pre-statement to the actual story’s beginning: “And now, amongst the ruins of lives lived at an uncompromising pace, start the dreams. Welcome to your Anamnesis.” If today’s reader is unacquainted with this less often encountered term, it is defined in M-W Collegiate Dictionary simply as “a calling to mind”. Google offers a definition more pertinent to the author’s tale: “recollection, (or reminiscence of) in particular the remembering of things from a supposed previous existence (often used with reference to Platonic philosophy)”. [Plato having set forth the belief that the recovery of buried memories, anamnesis, was the only manner in which one could know the world in which he/she lived.] The most pertinent definition of the remaining word of the title, paradox, of course, is number 3 in the M-W dictionary: “one (as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases.” Specifically for purposes here, something may sound absurd, ridiculous and/or contradictory but contain elements of truth. The author offers further explanation for the basics of his saga: “Human brains can make the simplest answers hard to find, by limiting all reason to only account for whatever tiny part of life’s rich tapestry has been experienced. We each have an eternal soul, our church teaches that instead of allowing the natural process of transference, we influence the process, but the soul’s story must always start at the beginning of the body and mind.” Further along he raises the question: “Could that mean all of our hidden routines were left by a consciousness that we knew where to look all along.”
Discussion: The story line itself follows the thoughts/action and the recalled thoughts/actions of individuals through various periods of their lives from the 1100’s to the present with recall of activities, acquaintances and individuals of note ranging from Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury to Hitler’s demented (?) obscene physician Mengele, and today’s prominent Mujahideen. The book is well written but somewhat difficult to follow as it moves from person to person, and even sometimes confusing especially with different sexual references. Philosophical offerings obviously are plentiful and, as would be expected with the author’s background, much of today’s cutting edge science is included along with plentiful elements of sci-fi.

Conclusion: It is strongly recommended that the prospective reader heed the author’s specific advice at the very start of the book. “This is the third title in a continuing saga, you need to read book 1, Paralysis Paradox available for free on Amazon and book 2, Convergent Paradox first.” This admonition is almost mandatory because the volume cannot stand adequately on its own. If the reader proceeds he/she will find considerable confusion and/or even complete disenchantment at the worst. At best only partial enjoyment even if the basic tenet is accepted.

3* 4* Philosophical fiction; 3* or less dependent upon acceptance of admonition.

Mortum

MORTUM
ISBN: 9781477829394, Thomas & Mercer, an e-book by Erik Threrme.

Plot: Andy Crowl inherits the house and other worldly goods from his 33-tear-old cousin Craig Moore who apparently fell from a cliff and drowned. There were no witnesses but autopsy demonstrated no contrary evidence. The house is in the very small town of Mortum where Mary, Craig’s mother still lives. Andy drives to the town with his sister Kate, meets the real estate agent and against instructions to not visit and/or attempt to move anything from it until legal matters have been settled, he goes there and begins to explore. A highly offensive odor greets him and Kate which turns out to be a dead rat under the refrigerator that has a key and a note in its mouth. Andy immediately realizes that this is a clue that will lead to others before his total inheritance is divulged. He and Craig often challenged each other in this manner. From this moment the story proceeds in a slowly expanding way to evolve a pattern of deceit and deception laced with misconceptions, misunderstandings and poorly thought-out activities indulged in by a number of often quite self-centered and/or thoughtless individuals. The tale ends in a manner that just seems to perpetuate the problems experienced by the poor protagonist.

Characters: Craig is never introduced, per se, but his competitive nature in association with Andy provides the basis for the plot. His mother Mary was 19 and pregnant when she moved to Mortum and provided the information that her husband had been killed in an auto accident in Canada. She also refused to answer any of Craig’s questions about his father. Andy is the son of a caring mother and father, as is Kate who is a single, conservative thinking, lower grade school teacher. Andy is enamored of puzzles, recently divorced under circumstances divulged later as not of a frivolous nature previously assumed by his sister. Nate is the local owner of a gas station in the town and has been there ‘forever’. Harlan, Nate’s ‘no-good’ nephew occasionally plays poker with Craig. Ricky Simms is the local cemetery custodian who takes a liking to and treats Craig like a son until a misunderstood occurrence drastically changes the situation. Debbie who is Ricky’s 13-year-old granddaughter.

Discussion: The author has provided an interestingly involved tale of deceit and deception indulged in by a group of characters who regrettably from this reviewer’s standpoint are not well defined. Thus, the activities in which they participate often are difficult to understand and/or accept. If, however, the reader enjoys a provoking almost totally plot based mystery, he/she no doubt will enjoy.

3* Unusual involved plot based mystery, 2* character inconsistencies.