What'cha Readin'?

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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4701  Postby crazyfitter » Jan 09, 2021 2:56 pm

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Not a book that would normally attract me but as it was a Xmas present I gave it a go and glad I did. Set in a feudal system which seems to have lasted 10 thousand years, in an era that has had a summer lasting 10 years: and winter is coming. There’s an appendix listing all the ‘great’ family’s, a who’s who and who married who in a strategic game of gaining more power and influence. Incest as well to keep bloodlines ‘pure’.

So it’s swords and dragons and the occult and anyone not a member of a great house is a little person. If I could understand half the relationships and activities I’d probably get a honorary degree at some university. The key is just to go with the flow and just enjoy. I’ve just downloaded the follow up, A Clash of Kings which is continuing the story nicely
The slap in the face that is offered by anti-rationalist, pseudo-scientists and anti-intellectuals that infest much of public discourse is a sad coda to what has been achieved these centuries past by the scientific method - don’t get me started
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4702  Postby Animavore » Jan 09, 2021 2:57 pm

Never heard of it.
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4703  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 09, 2021 4:03 pm

took me the best part of a year to get through that book - bounced off it so many times for some reason...
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Tolkein
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4704  Postby crazyfitter » Jan 09, 2021 4:29 pm

I’ve seen bits of the box set on YouTube so was intrigued to get the book but hardly any of the exerts were in the first book. Gives me something to look forward to.
The slap in the face that is offered by anti-rationalist, pseudo-scientists and anti-intellectuals that infest much of public discourse is a sad coda to what has been achieved these centuries past by the scientific method - don’t get me started
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4705  Postby Animavore » Jan 09, 2021 9:39 pm

I only started reading that series because after season 2 of Game of Thrones I couldn't wait to find out what happens next so I jumped straight in at book 3 then after finishing to the end went back and read the first two.
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4706  Postby crazyfitter » Jan 30, 2021 3:51 pm

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I enjoyed the film and always knew I’d get round to reading the book one day. Except that the book, in spite of the title, is of Jack Aubrey’s exploits in the Mediterranean. My bad. Maybe I’ll get round to the book of the film eventually.
I was a bit taken aback by the style of prose but maybe it is true to the era and the middle class/ autocratic nature of military officers. If my wife had read this I’m sure she would quickly have said her favourite put down of such people ‘Oh jolly hockey sticks’, regardless of gender. Politics, double dealing and philosophy interspersed with naval escapades, what more can you want.

I was prompted to look on YouTube at a brief life of Thomas Cochrane a real life Captain and Admiral from that era and found that the exploits of the fictional Jack Aubrey were a copy of Cochrane’s. I’ll look forward to reading another of the books soon.
The slap in the face that is offered by anti-rationalist, pseudo-scientists and anti-intellectuals that infest much of public discourse is a sad coda to what has been achieved these centuries past by the scientific method - don’t get me started
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4707  Postby crazyfitter » Feb 13, 2021 3:48 pm

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In 2017 a strange object entered the solar system and it was named ‘Oumuamua. It was caught on camera too late to get a picture so all we have are photos of a blinking light as it approached the sun and went on its way. It came from the local Standard of Rest (LSR). To explain: there is no ‘stationary’ in the universe but the average speed of all the stars in the local cluster gives the LSR. It would appear to be stationary in the cluster. Then our sun ran into it it’s 45000mph which was about 10 times what ‘Oumuamua was travelling at.

There was no outgassing from melting ice as a normal comet from our Oort Cloud would produce and its trajectory round the sun was smooth, unlike a normal comet which would have been shedding ice. It’s trajectory cannot be explained by gravity alone.

At this point I went to Wiki and read what the establishment have to say on the subject. It’s probably cigar shaped and behaved in a strange way for unknown reasons.

Avi on the other hand points out that if it was a light sail of particular dimensions it would behave exactly as it did. It did occur to me that Avi might be one of a small group of nutters that, for instance, believe that the pyramids were built by extraterrestrials. However this is his resume:

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Avi does not claim to have the definitive answer but suggests that this alternative deserves to be taken seriously and we should be ready for future encroachments. He’s an enthusiastic supporter of SETI which faces hostility from the astronomy community (who knew?) and is on the advisory committee of the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative. This initiative is about taking photos of another planet, the nearest one at Proxima Centauri, and getting them back inside a human lifetime. The plan is to hit a light sail with a powerful laser, accelerating it to 1/2C so it gets there in 20 years. On the nose would be the camera, transmitter etc, less than the size of an iPhone. 4.2 years to receive the pics back on Earth. Sounds like a plan.

Avi can be heard on YouTube Chanel Event Horizon which is a specialist science Chanel.

He’s very passionate about science and space exploration but I don’t believe his ‘Oumuamua hypothesis. It asks me to believe that just as humankind is able to detect such objects it does detect such an object. The odds against that happening must be astronomical. Or that such objects are common place and another is likely to swing through next week. I don’t believe that either.
The slap in the face that is offered by anti-rationalist, pseudo-scientists and anti-intellectuals that infest much of public discourse is a sad coda to what has been achieved these centuries past by the scientific method - don’t get me started
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4708  Postby crazyfitter » Feb 28, 2021 9:50 pm

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At last Ive finished the series. But has the series finished with me? I never realised when I set out that it’s unfinished, and might never be of course. The book finishes with two murders and so many loose threads I was quite shocked. I’m sure I’ve seen snatches of the series on YouTube that are ahead of the book so lm truly baffled. The characters, plots and twists are so convoluted I don’t think I could pick up again with a gap of months let alone years.
There’s three prequels but I won’t be going down that route.
Damn it.
The slap in the face that is offered by anti-rationalist, pseudo-scientists and anti-intellectuals that infest much of public discourse is a sad coda to what has been achieved these centuries past by the scientific method - don’t get me started
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4709  Postby crazyfitter » Mar 08, 2021 7:32 pm

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I’ve no idea why I haven’t heard of bellingcat and Higgins before considering the news scoops they’ve achieved and their methodology. It all started with Higgins with his laptop on his kitchen table looking at Facebook videos of unfolding news stories and the development of his blog Brown Moses.

The downing of MH17 over Ukraine is a good example of his methodology. He understood that when a news event happens, or a military convoy moves through an area, people get their phones out, take pictures and post them on Facebook, or Russia’s alternative. By searching for posts in the timescale and rough area he was able to obtain pictures, and track the progress of a Russian military convoy from Moscow to the border of the Ukraine almost on a day by day basis. There were 4 Buk missile launches travelling on flatbed lorries in the convoy and he was even able to identify each one by examining the damage patterns on their rubber mudguards. They were like fingerprints, individual to each lorry.

One day there was only three Buk’s and a few days later the fourth was back, minus a missile. Identified by its ‘fingerprint’. Social media traffic was searched for soldiers talking to family and friends about what was happening. Ukrainian separatists wrote that they were expecting a missile and were going to shoot down a Ukrainian fighter plane.Russian Spetsnaz forces were on social media bragging about their activities in the Ukraine. Yes really. On the ground many photos were available of the wreckage including remains of the cockpit with human remains inside and shrapnel damage.

Moscow came up with four different suggestions about what had happened including MH17 being shot down by a Ukrainian fighter but shrapnel evidence proved otherwise. Moscow bots and supporters latched onto the excuses and began widespread disinformation campaigns.

Bellingcat was able to identify not only soldiers but their officers going up to the highest ranks and even Putin himself.

Higgins was visited by two detectives from Holland with others from The Hague and was expecting to be able to discuss the evidence with experts but found that they regarded him to be the expert. By this time he had a small office in Leicester and thousands of citizen ‘detectives’ worldwide collecting open source material.

Another case was the Skripal poisonings in Salisbury. Skripal was a Russian double agent and in hiding in the UK. When his daughter visited it looks as if she was followed and thereby revealing her dads whereabouts to the Russian would be assassins. When they were identified by British agents they were interviewed on Russian tv which degenerated into farce. They claimed to be salesmen and visited Salisbury on the recommendation of friends to visit its famous 123mtr spire. Nobody in the world talks like that. Nobody says they visited St Paul’s Cathedral to see its 111 mtr dome.

Bellingcat was able to trace these men to their registered home, a flat opposite from GRU headquarters. GRU is the military intelligence agency. Then it was discovered that 30 men were registered at that flat. Bellingcat were able to trace the travel arrangements of these 30 men to different hot spots round the world and back again to Moscow. In other words they had discovered a nest of spies.

But how was this tracing done? Apparently Russia leaks like a sieve and Bellingcat was able to access various data bases including passports and driving licences. There’s been a lot of tightening up since.

The book is very well written, published this year and stuffed with case studies, notably Syria war crimes and other Middle East cases. Bellingcat seems to have learnt the art of geolocation. They take the YouTube pics of say a firing squad at work, and create a map of the area then identify it on google maps and other resources. So when the Assad regime says, this is a picture of a rebel headquarters we bombed In xtown, Bellingcat were able to say, no, this is a civilian area in ytown. And so it goes on.

Bellingcat now also has an office in The Hague and good relationships with major news agencies. It draws on the expertise of specialists in various fields, like chemical weapons, and organises workshops worldwide for amateur sleuths. Anyone can be a part of it, a visit to their website is worthwhile.

Eliot finishes his book by saying, ‘ The Bellingcat method has expanded far beyond the foundational principles of ‘Identify,Verify, Amplify’ encompassing an ethic, a social mission and a drive for accountability. We will remain at the vanguard of open-source investigation. We will break major stories. We will present evidence and insist on the primacy of fact. We will act as a firewall against disinformation. And we will encourage as many people to join us as possible.
The slap in the face that is offered by anti-rationalist, pseudo-scientists and anti-intellectuals that infest much of public discourse is a sad coda to what has been achieved these centuries past by the scientific method - don’t get me started
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4710  Postby UncertainSloth » Mar 08, 2021 7:38 pm

i was reading up about the book after i saw it on your list - sounds intriguing
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Tolkein
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4711  Postby crazyfitter » Mar 08, 2021 8:16 pm

Very intriguing and a welcome birthday present from my daughter.
Eliot even talks about the role of AI in investigations. The way algorithms could be written so that thousands of hours of tedious basic research could be saved. Both Facebook and Google have approached him for help in cleaning up their sites but the task was so enormous he declined. I think Facebook donates to Bellingcat.
The slap in the face that is offered by anti-rationalist, pseudo-scientists and anti-intellectuals that infest much of public discourse is a sad coda to what has been achieved these centuries past by the scientific method - don’t get me started
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4712  Postby crazyfitter » Mar 08, 2021 8:24 pm

Damn, I put Google but it was probably YouTube or Twitter. I’m not going to search the book for that though, you get the idea. :doh:
The slap in the face that is offered by anti-rationalist, pseudo-scientists and anti-intellectuals that infest much of public discourse is a sad coda to what has been achieved these centuries past by the scientific method - don’t get me started
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4713  Postby UncertainSloth » Mar 08, 2021 10:00 pm

excellent - will have to seek it out, sounds very interesting...this is why i love the book threads, would never have come across this otherwise
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Tolkein
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4714  Postby don't get me started » Mar 08, 2021 11:23 pm

I'll second what UncertainSloth said.
Excellent write up crazyfitter. Rather than just copy and paste, or post a link, you took the time and trouble to compose and set down a clear, logical, objective and thorough description of the facts at hand, as presented in the book, avoiding hyperbole and emotionalism. You are a better writer than some who receive payment for their 'journalism'.

Definitely makes me want to read it now.

Hooray for the book thread! :cheers:
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4715  Postby UncertainSloth » Mar 09, 2021 12:44 am

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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4716  Postby crazyfitter » Mar 09, 2021 1:54 pm

:o :shock: :oops:

But considering it’s taken me 73 years to write like that...
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4717  Postby crazyfitter » Mar 17, 2021 9:42 pm

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A small book, 280 pages and lots of small chapters. It’s about the attempted suicide of a young woman and how she is suddenly able to see alternative realities of her life if only she had taken this that or the other decision. I’m sure I’ve read books that run in a similar vein before but without the words quantum entanglement and multiverse cropping up. It’s an odd thing that non of the lives entailed clocking into a factory every day.
Mmmm maybe it isn’t.
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4718  Postby crazyfitter » Mar 27, 2021 7:08 pm

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The first of five Agent Cormac novels by Neal Asher but I won’t be reading the other four. What happened? I’ve no idea, I should be annoyed with myself for loosing track of or failing to understand events but I’ll just content myself with being glad I finished it. Apparently it’s of the genre Post Cyberpunk and one day I might try to understand what that means. On the other hand...
One thing I took away from it was the definition of humans given by Earth Central, the AI that controls humanity: Fast machines controlled by slow genes. I can relate to that.
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4719  Postby cowolter » Mar 30, 2021 11:14 pm

I try to alternate history/politics and something self-help. Currently reading a book on the Alamo "A Time To Stand: The Epic of the Alamo" by Walter Lord. The story has me inspired so I will probably read something about exercise or physical health. I have heard great things about "Strength Training Anatomy" by Frederic Delavier but it may be a little bit too advanced a subject for me since I have no background in the sciences
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Re: What'cha Readin'?

#4720  Postby crazyfitter » Apr 07, 2021 8:56 pm

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When talking about the British Empire Sathnam, Wolverhampton born to Punjabi parents, has to often listen to reposts about the good the Empire did and how he should be grateful to live here. Well he is and lists the advantages he’s had. Free education at Wolverhampton Grammar School and Cambridge University and the NHS are just three things he mentions.

He’s worked as a journalist at the Times and Financial Times and as a broadcaster. Over time he’s been able to pick out racism both overt and probably intentional. Growing up in Wolverhampton he was familiar with NF hooligans of course but came to realise that his school didn’t even mention empire, though he knew a lot about the Tudors. On being interviewed at his newspaper the interviewer said ‘I like Indians, they’re so hardworking’. As opposed to ? Jamaicans maybe ?

He’s listened to people extolling the virtues of Indian railways and has an active dislike of the Marigold Hotel and Great Railways series. Oh dear, I loved them. The problem is they give a ‘good old British Empire’ sheen to some nefarious activity. The railways were part funded by Britain with a guaranteed 5% interest payable to investors and the inevitable shortfall paid by Indian taxpayers. Everything was imported from railway lines to rolling stock and 1000 steam locos when it all could have been made there. The lines were run for two main reasons. To transport troops from centralised areas instead of from many more expensive local garrisons and to get British goods to customers throughout India. Come WW1 rail lines were ripped up and sent to Europe along with much rolling stock leaving locals unable to access food and employment. Railways had changed the economy.

In 1961 the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Ian Macleod ordered that post independence governments be denied access to material that would embarrass the government, police, military etc and in 2012 it was found that thousands of documents had been destroyed that showed ministers were aware of atrocities being committed prior to independence.

To bring the story bang up to date he discusses the Black Lives Matter movement and the reevaluation of imperial monuments and the News at Ten items on how the Empire explains racism both here and in the USA.

I have some mixed feelings about it. While I read about these events, genocidal at times, I wonder about their effect on a youth who joins the NF and doesn’t know about them. Nothing for the most part I suspect as cultural and financial depredation and the leadership of educated and unscrupulous men do their damage. I hope I’m wrong but reading through this I’m reminded of an event in Oldham. A friend of mine, a shop steward in a large local factory was approached one day with a complaint. ‘What about all these foreigners coming in here’ they wanted to know. They were talking about two Manchunians that had started and Manchester was just 8 miles up the road.

I think I’m getting pessimistic in my old age.
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The slap in the face that is offered by anti-rationalist, pseudo-scientists and anti-intellectuals that infest much of public discourse is a sad coda to what has been achieved these centuries past by the scientific method - don’t get me started
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