Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat

And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat is the author's memoirs of his WWII experiences. Mowat deservedly has a reputation of being an elegant writer with many colorful expressions. Unfortunately there's a artificiality to the work particularly in the dialog. I just can't believe WWII Canadian soldiers would say anything remotely like this. This does cover the Sicily and Italian campaigns which is unusual enough to be interesting.

Recommended as literature not as history.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II by Stephen Budiansky

Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II by Stephen Budiansky I really hate sales departments that put the word "complete" in the titles of their history books because history is never complete. That complaint out of the way this is an excellent book that describes the breaking of German and Japanese military codes in WWII. There's a nice balance between anecdotes about the personalities and highly technical accounts of the decryption. Not surprisingly the story mostly revolves around Enigma and Purple there's also a fascinating section on American attempts to break Russian codes. Finished off with some notes onwhat the Germans were reading. There are a few general history errors he brings up the old canard about Polish cavalry charging tanks and mistakenly refers to the MKVD as the KGB.

Highly recommended.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I stopped being surprised by the FIA a long time ago

The laughable punishment for Renault just makes me mad. Suspended ban.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quotation [occasional]

"This kid, if it was up to me, wouldn't be allowed to walk blind people on the sidewalk. It's such yobbish behaviour from which he has also benefited, because, like he says in his sworn statement, he did it so he would get a contract renewal for 2009, and he will be paid until the end of the year. [...] He is a silly kid who doesn't know if he has pushed the throttle or not, because it's no coincidence that he's had 17 accidents since he's been at Renault."

Carlos Gracia

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eddie Irvine still out to lunch

So what if Renault fixed a race and endangered lives? This is war! Ummm pathetic just pathetic. If races are being fixed I wonder how many sponsors will stay in ever think about that Eddie?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Life's too short

An incident over the weekend has brought into stark relief that life is too short. As mentioned in an earlier post I wasn't sure what to do with books that I've been unable to finish for whatever reason. Some of these I've been working on for months I've made more than 3 attempts at getting through them. I don't want to devote an entire post to each so I'll list them off here. Some of them are review copies. These things happen I hope that they will be understanding. I do want to acknowledge I did receive the copies even if I can't bring myself to do a complete review.

The Chameleon Conspiracy by Haggai Carmon an American intelligence official tries to track down links between a money launderer and terrorism. A wealth of real world info is unfortunately delivered in minute detail by characters I just didn't care about. An ARC.

Avenger by Frederick Forsyth a lesser novel from the master of espionage fiction. He seems to be more interested in telling the rambling back story than actually getting to the plot. An aid workers kidnapped a mercenaries hired to rescue him.

Bear Any Burden by Ellis M. Goodman this was sold to me as a spy novel but it's more of a family saga. Unfortunately it's very over written. Instead of just telling us that their first landlords husband in Scotland died of a heart attack it's described in the pros. An ARC.

The Just War: Force and Political Responsibility by Paul Ramsey written at the time of Vietnam this discusses Just War Theory in the context of the Christian tradition. Unfortunately the number of straw men make the book next to useless.

History of the Goths by Herwig Wolfram a terrible translation from German does little to hide the rather silly idea of tracing Germanic people's through language. He spends little time trying to prove his case instead going in for broad statements.

Pleasant surprise

I didn't think it would be back however I'm happy to be wrong. Canadian GP back on the F1 calendar for 2010.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bach, Beethoven and the Boys!: Music History As It Ought To Be Taught by David W. Barber

Bach, Beethoven and the Boys!: Music History As It Ought To Be Taught by David W. Barber is a humorous look at the major individuals in classical music. Barber relates genuine information that is in and of itself amusing. For instance what Bach left behind when he hurriedly quit one of his posts. This information is easy to pick out from the puns that litter the text. There are cartoon illustrations throughout. Most of them illustrating one of the puns.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Maybe just maybe the system worked

I do have to scratch my head at the immigration case of Rochelle Wallis. She's the Canadian being deported from the UK under the new law against forced marriages. My problem isn't about the law itself but rather how the story is being covered. This BBC story is typical. The CBC did much the same story in July.

From the CBC story we learn the following, Rochelle Wallis is 19.
"The pair decided to get married last year when she visited him in his village of Pontrhydygroes, Wales. The couple met two years earlier in Canada and remained in touch."
Now I'm just a guy who reads a lot of military history but I'm pretty sure that would make her 16 when they met. I wonder how old the husband is? Oh wait it's buried at the bottom.
"Adam Wallis, 28, recently got a job as an electrical technician in Wales, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported."
Hmmm 25 year old meets up with 16 year old. You know for once I agree with the apparatchiks.

Number Ten by Sue Townsend

Number Ten by Sue Townsend is a snarky sendup of "New Labor". The Prime Minister much to his horror has lost touch with British Society so he enlists one of his security guards to help him get back in touch with his people. The humor here is done with broad strokes. Townsend's disdain for what the Labor party has become is quite obvious and it's accurate from what I understand. I was chuckling throughout most of the book.


Inglourious Basterds

Short review, too much talking [not even witty] not enough NAZI killing.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Socialists in NASCAR?

Before going to bed I had to post this. Considering the brouhaha over the socialist indoctrination that is supposedly going to take place in America's schools. Here's a public service announcement that makes up part of the package.

I'm back

Regular service should resume shortly with a list of books that I've just had to abandon....