John Scalzi, “Old Man’s War”

I happened to come across an interesting title, as it happens to me sometimes, and I did not feel sorry a bit for reading the “Old Man’s War” by Jouh Scalzi. It was so good, I actually went on and read the sequel, “The Ghost Brigades”. Strangely, that did not disappoint me either. The writer is surprisingly good and I was not able to predict the turns of the plot, which makes for a very exciting reading. Well, sometimes you do go “oh, damn, I wish he didn’t do that” but it’s the author’s cruel world and he is the king.

The writing style is very much reminiscent of that of Robert Heinlein, whom I love to read. Author even acknowledges pretty much that Robert Heinlein was an inspiration to him. The last sentence reads “Thank you, Robert A. Heinlein, for debts that have … become obvious.” I have to say John Scalzi lives up to the expectations, albeit being far more cautious and less provocative than Heinlein. All in all, a highly recommended, very entertaining reading in the Sci-Fi genre with plenty of interesting ideas interspersed with action.… -->

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Jed McKenna, “Spiritual warfare”

The human race isn’t defective, it’s just broken.

I often state that the knowledge comes whenever we are ready to receive it. For me, most of the knowledge comes as books. I seem to nearly always have the right book that tells me exactly what I want to know at the moment.

This book is beyond belief. It is so true that it invalidates any and all criticism that I may have had for the second book of the trilogy. From my perspective, the second book was weak and purposeless, with many anecdotes and little substance. This, the third book, remedies all that with a vengeance.

This book not only reaffirmed my own thoughts and ideas on the subject of spirituality and enlightenment but also brought some new ideas and information that I have not considered before.

Scoop a jar of water out of the ocean and put a lid on it. Study it in its segregated state. Where is the ocean in that jar? Where are the tides and the currents? Pour it back into the ocean and it returns to its integrated state. The temporary entity no longer exists. By scooping it into a jar, you’s created a new entity, a sub-ocean. It’s not possible to subdivide infinity, of course, but try telling that to your new entity. It has all the properties of the ocean from which you scooped it, in no way greater or lesser than any other sampling you might take, yet it bears little resemblance to its authentic oceanhood. It has an independent existence, yet as soon as you pour it back, it merges seamlessly back into the integrated whole. Where is that particular sub-ocean entity after you pour it back in? The same place it was before: everywhere and nowhere. It didn’t exist before you scooped it up, but you didn’t create it. It doesn’t exist after you pour it back, but you didn’t destroy it. So what was born when you segregated that jarful? What died when you reintegrated it?

Most importantly, the book contains what amounts to practical advice in so far as such can be given and that makes its value even higher. An excellent read and an excellent source.

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Jed McKenna – “Spiritual Enlightenment, The Damnedest Thing”

You know how this famous saying in oriental spiritual philosophy goes, that when a student is ready, the teacher arrives? I think that this saying is entirely true. When the student is ready, the teacher always arrives. Just don’t be literal about it, the teacher does not have to arrive in the shape of a wise old man with a white beard. What arrives really is the knowledge that you are ready for. And it may arrive as a conversation on a plane, a movie, a new acquaintance, or a book.

This book is great. I feel like reading my own thoughts but well organized and neatly put together. It’s a great book and gives this necessary kick to face the reality. Only I would not recommend it. And I don’t. Usually, when I read a great book, I run around advising everyone and their dog to read it. Not this time, though. Even trying to discuss the ideas in this book with people who read it proves difficult, not to mention trying to impose it on someone who is not interested in serious business of demolishing self. So, I do not recommend it. You will find it when you are ready for it. Or you will find something else. It does not matter. This book is not entertainment, it has to be taken literally, just like the books of Castaneda are. So, don’t. Unless you are fed up with the world as it is and want to look for the truth.

If you do, then this book helps a lot to organize your own thoughts and it tells you what you needed to hear all along: forget about external knowledge, you have work to do, work on yourself, so go and do it.… -->

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Robert A. Heinlein, “Have Space Suit – Will Travel”

“Have Space Suit – Will Travel” is another wonderful book from one of my favorite authors, Robert Anson Heinlein. It is classified as science fiction, as, I think, all of his books are. There is science fiction in it all right. However, as it is usual for Heinlein, there is quite a bit of adventure and a serious amount of political and societal wisdom in the book. Adventure is thoroughly enjoyable and a couple of times takes completely unexpected turns. What piqued my attention though was the end of the book.

Nearly at the end, there is a court of sorts that judges whether Earth would present a danger to the survival and well-being of the existing system in the future. It is a “Security Council” of sorts, for the three participating galaxies.

“The facts have been integrated. By their own testimony, these are a savage and brutal people, given to all manner of atrocities. They eat each other, they starve each other, they kill each other. They have no art and only the most primitive of science, yet such is their violent nature that even with so little knowledge they are now energetically using it to exterminate each other, tribe against tribe. Their driving will is such that they may succeed. But if by some unlucky chance they fail, they will inevitably, in time, reach other stars. It is this possibility which must be calculated: how soon they will reach us, if they live, and what their potentialities will be then.”

The book is written in 1958 and the United Nations Security Council had its first meeting in 1946. Apparently, Heinlein saw quite clearly the danger of the organization: such an overarching organization of powerful nations is charged with keeping the world “stable” and may destroy other nations that threaten the status quo. Both organizations are charged with keeping the peace but the one in the book easily destroys whole planets and civilizations for the sake of safety. What does the one we know in our world do? What will it do in the future?

Anyway, even besides this obvious political twist to the story, the book is quite amazing. It has a very romantic story, in fact, without ever mentioning anything about love. It is rather about romantic friendship and I nearly forgot that the friendship can be romantic. It is so good that there are authors like Robert Heinlein to remind me.

“The best things in

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Russia’s response to Ukraine’s intention to introduce book embargo

Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications (“Rospechat”) responded to the intention of the Ukrainian authorities to introduce license and quotes for Russian and other foreign books and publications. In a statement “Rospechat” said Russia will not change the existing legislation in the field of publishing and printing industry in this regard.

The ministry noted that the Russian legislation in this area has always been very liberal: publishing and printing are not licensed and restrictions for the importation of foreign book production do not exist. In the fruitful cooperation developed between the Russian and Ukrainian book publishers, readers had access to books published in both countries.

The head of “Rospechat” Mikhail Seslavinsky expressed concern that the new policy of Ukraine may negatively affect the cultural cooperation with Russia. “It will be sad if, against all odds, a book embargo will be established even briefly in the cultural space of Ukraine – a phenomenon that reminds us of the saddest pages in the history of the twentieth century” – he said.

Quoting book production involves the introduction of restrictions on the importation of books from other countries. If quoting and licensing of Russian and foreign books is implemented, their delivery to Ukraine will be only possible on the issuance of special permits.… -->

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Ukraine plans to weed out Russian books

Ukrainian authorities intend to restrict the import of books from Russia. The members of the parliament, Verkhovna Rada, believe that books adversely affect the immature minds of Ukrainian citizens.

Galina Chernaya, representative from “Freedom” party, declared that there is a need to tighten the restrictions on the book trade and increase import duties on Russian literature at the meeting of the parliament. “We have to erect a barrier against the Russian book, which demolishes our spirituality and exposes us to the destructive Russian world”,- said Chernaya.

Representative Irina Farion has supported the radical views of her colleague. “We demand to impose a high duty on all Russian-language production in Ukraine. Tax the Russian book! Impose a five percent duty. If had my way, I would have imposed a 20 percent blanket duty on everything Russian”,- said Farion.

Irina Farion is known for her radical stance towards the Russian-speaking Ukrainians. In February 2010, she addressed an open letter to President Viktor Yanukovych depicting what she perceived as the threat to the national status of the Ukrainian language. That same year she appeared in the TV headlines after her making anti-Russian statements in a kindergarten was caught on video. Later Farion called on Ukrainians to imprison “all degenerates who do not speak Ukrainian.”… -->

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George Orwell, “Nineteen Eighty-Four”

Picture of George Orwell's "Nineteen eighty-four"

There is not much to say about this famous book except that it is completely misinterpreted and misrepresented in mass media. And that is not surprising after reading the book any more.

Basically, there is only one advice to be given about this book: “go read it.” That is all there is to it. Just get it and read it.

The book contains a very good description of how we ended up with the world as it is now. The book “Nineteen eighty-four” is actually a report by George Orwell on the basics of our society, on its functional principles, and on the reasons why the world is the way it is.

“The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.”
— George Orwell, 1984

Look around as you read it. It is our history and our present. Think.… -->

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Robert Heinlein, “Friday”

Illustration by partpencils to Friday by Robert Heinlein

Just got around to reading another book from one of my favorite authors, Robert Heinlein. The story is called “Friday” and is set in a future version of Earth plus just a tiny bit of space travel and colonies on other planets. The usual for Heinlein quick-running plot about a specialist courier with a fair amount of fighting, lounging and love provides an intense level of reading pleasure.

Once I started reading, I could not stop. I read through the book in two evenings, same as it happened when I read “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and all I have to say is “Bravo!” The story contains a mind-boggling amount of information, concepts, and insights, each packed into a paragraph or two. This is really rather an outline of a huge amount of thought, something of a summary of important ideas, each of which could serve as a basis for a whole new book. Every page has several statements that I could quote on various occasions if I could only remember that much verbatim.

I found many ideas that resonate with me in this story and I will place this book right at the top of my personal favorites list.… -->

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Facial recognition for surveillance at large

There is an interesting article about face recognition cameras and software at TechRepublic that cites a few interesting projects and makes a good point about the advances of the technology.

I talked to a few people that know well the camera systems in London and I understand that they now can track anyone around the city automatically. The technology that we think is from fiction books is actually already there. There is no need to think whether it is possible or not, it is. The only problem for wide-spread surveillance is that the cameras have to be installed…

I read a wonderful book “Rule 34” by Charles Stross recently that I can wholeheartedly recommend. The book’s action is set into the future but that is the future that has all the technology of today, simply deployed overall. It is not such a far-fetched story any more than the article linked above.

The spread of surveillance calls to life such things like counter surveillance clothing fashion. I think when it is in the fashion, it is not new any longer, is it?… -->

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