Exodus Lost by S. C. Compton (Three Stars)

Exodus Lost by S. C. Compton

(Three Stars out of Five)

An engaging bit of pop history. Well documented (over 700 end notes) investigation into the possible link between pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures and contemporary Old World cultures, specifically the Hyksos and Egyptians. Compton exhaustively explores his many links connecting the dots for the reader.

It sounds good except that some of the critical paragraphs have no end notes; those are Compton’s speculation. He does this a lot in his discussion of the linguistic parallels. It may be just as he says, but his documentation is not air tight.

Having read books like African Genesis and Naked Ape in the 1960s, I’m shy about jumping on this very attractive bandwagon. The wheels of academia turn slowly. So far they haven’t caught up with Compton.

If you’re at all interested in cross-cultural pollination, do read this book. Compton makes an excellent case for his theory.

Putin Cheats

The Obama administration in July announced that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Washington’s candor is fine, but the fact remains the Russians always cheat.

How both Republicans and Democrats justify treating Putin as an international “partner” is beyond me.

His is a rogue regime which has ruined his country, threatened his neighbors, and hurt—not helped—world peace almost everywhere he’s touched. He ought to be treated like the delinquent he is.

Book Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (Five Stars)

Book Review: Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff

(Five out of Five Stars)

A daring venture into alternate history based on the culture and history of Japan. Imagined late in a shogunate paralleling that of the Tokugawas in our version of reality.

Kristoff’s writing is reminiscent of Guy Gavriel Kay’s light fantasies about varied cultures and times. The trick is to set the scene well enough that the reader can both understand what is said as well as be transported to a different time and place. Kristoff does it almost as well as Kay. Shima is as richly conceived and described as Sarantium or Middle-earth.

To complaints that the story isn’t “Japanese” enough, I answer Continue reading

Book Review: Larger Than Life by Jodi Picoult (Four Stars)

Book Review: Larger Than Life (Novella) by Jodi Picoult

(Four Stars out of Five)

Picoult delivers more story in fifty pages than many writers do in hundreds. Through thoughts and flashbacks the main character reveals more about herself than she knows. The central story involves a researcher adopting an orphaned baby elephant.

Only once did Picoult insult the reader by telling us what we should have figured out on our own. (“We both knew she was not talking about the wine.”) But she made up for it with a line—or the opening of a line cribbed from Jane Austen. (“It is a fact universally acknowledge that it’s impossible to stay furious in close proximity to a newborn elephant.”)

Really good story telling.

Really good story.

Book Review: The Final Quest by Rick Joyner (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Final Quest by Rick Joyner

(Fours stars out of Five)

An extraordinary book. As difficult to classify as it is to put down. While the opening sections read like an allegory—sharing a format similar to Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Dante’s Divine Comedy—overall Joyner’s vision feels more like the apocalypse of John the Beloved. Joyner assumes the reader is a Christian. His frequent references to the Bible and church history will make little sense to non-believers.
While this book shares the challenging tone of many apocalypses, it is not about End Times so much as the individual readers reaction to the person and message of Jesus Christ. Joyner uses himself in his “visions” as an Everyman representation of all believers. While he seems to allot himself the role as an exemplar of perfect endtime Christian, a close reading will note that he castigates himself at almost every turn for his failures.

Joyner’s vision of the Last Battle differs markedly from Revelation (and you know which one we should take as scripture), but the difference struck me as inconsequential as Joyner focused on the internal preparation of the Christian and the church while Revelation focuses on the external conflict between the church and the world. Some will undoubtedly quibble about Joyner’s concerns about divisions and failure with the Church, but it certainly squares with what one sees happening in churches today. Regardless, it has valuable insights about living today.

A challenging book as relevant today as when it was written twenty years ago.

Democracy Isn’t Magic

public domain

Of course al-Maliki doesn’t want to surrender power. No executive does.

Can you imagine if John Adams or Alexander Hamilton had been our first president? We under appreciate George Washington. He decided eight years was good enough for any chief executive.

Democracy is not some magic system which automatically makes folks better. In fact, it’s based on the assumption that people are base. “One man: one vote” means no one was appointed by God or guns or gold to be better than everyone else. But all of us secretly think we’re better than everyone else. That’s why we now limit our President’s tenure.

public domain

It’s taken us over two hundred years to get it right and guess what? We’re not close to perfection.

“Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” Winston Churchill

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy (Three Stars)

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

(Three stars out of five)

Fun, silly, special effects laden.

Somebody had a lot of fun making this movie. Lots of pop culture references that I missed, but I enjoyed the 80s music. Hey, I’m old.

Glad I didn’t waste the extra money to see it in 3-D.

Pop corn for the brain.

Removing GMOs from Food

Did you know that 80% of packaged foods contain, genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? Few foods indicate they contain GMOs.

Some people want it out of their food; some food processors are trying to accommodate them.

It’s not easy, as you can read in the August 8 Wall Street Journal. (Take the quiz.)