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Archive for December, 2011

Still Adding

Posted by heyrandy on December 12, 2011

Here is some more words I had to look up. I find them in my reading. Extra points to anyone who can find duplicate from the previous lists. The list is alphabetical. Some letter headings have no entries. Fill in the blanks from your own reading.

 

a

ateliers n. A workshop or studio, especially for an artist or designer.

Anglepoise n. a lamp held in place by a flexible jointed mechanism that uses springs to maintain position

an·o·mie or an·o·my  (n-mn. 1. Social instability caused by erosion of standards and values. 2. Alienation and purposelessness experienced by a person or a class as a result of a lack of standards, values, or ideals: “We must now brace ourselves for disquisitions on peer pressure, adolescent anomie and rage” (Charles Krauthammer).

anon 1. adv. At another time; later. 2. In a short time; soon. 3. Archaic At once; forthwith.

apport (Spirituality, New Age, Astrology & Self-help / Alternative Belief Systems) a.  the production of objects by apparently supernatural means at a spiritualists’ seance b.  the objects produced

anacoluthon n. the abrupt change in a sentence. often used for rhetorical effect. eg. I told him if he didn’t stop drinking, what would happen to him.

adjuvant n. an agent added to a drug to increase its effect

agon n. 1. A conflict, especially between the protagonist and antagonist in a work of literature. 2. The part of an ancient Greek drama, especially a comedy, in which two characters engage in verbal dispute. 3. A test of will; a conflict: “Freud’s originality stemmed from his aggression and ambition in his agon with biology” (Harold Bloom). 4. A contest in ancient Greece, as in athletics or music, in which prizes were awarded.

Arawak 1. A member of a South American Indian people formerly inhabiting much of the Greater Antilles and now living chiefly in certain regions of Guiana. 2. The Arawakan language of the Arawak.

atrabilious adj.  Inclined to melancholy.  Having a peevish disposition; surly.

attar n. A fragrant essential oil or perfume obtained from flowers: attar of roses.


b

bally adj & adv (intensifier) Brit slang a euphemistic word for bloody

banlieue n. a suburb of a city

bourn n. a small stream, a brook

boustrophedon a style of writing in which the lines alternate direction

brisance n. The shattering effect of the sudden release of energy in an explosion bri·sant (-zänt, -zät) adj

c

cambric n. a finely woven white linen or cotton fabric.

campanile n. camp a nee lee  a bell tower; usually stands alone unattached to a building

caparison 1. An ornamental covering for a horse or for its saddle or harness; trappings.2. Richly ornamented clothing; finery.tr.v. ca·par·i·sonedca·par·i·son·ingca·par·i·sons1. To outfit (a horse) with an ornamental covering. 2. To dress (another) in rich clothing.

carceral adj. Belonging to a prison

caryatid n. a supporting column sculptured in the form of a draped female figure

Catherine wheel n. a type of firework that spins around and emits flames

cerecloth n. Cloth coated with wax, formerly used for wrapping the dead

chiaroscuro n. 1. The technique of using light and shade in pictorial representation. 2. The arrangement of light and dark elements in a pictorial work of art.

chrism n. Ecclesiastical 1. A consecrated mixture of oil and balsam, used for anointing in church sacraments such as baptism and confirmation. Also called holy oil2. A sacramental anointing, especially upon confirmation into the Eastern Orthodox Church.

chunter (v intr; often foll by on) Brit informal to mutter or grumble incessantly in a meaningless fashion

cisvestitism the dressing in clothes appropriate for one’s own sex

corbel n. A bracket of stone, wood, brick, or other building material, projecting from the face of a wall and generally used to support a cornice or arch. tr.v. cor·beled also cor·belledcor·bel·ing also cor·bel·lingcor·bels also cor·belsTo provide with or support by a corbel or corbels.

crapulence n. 1. Sickness caused by excessive eating or drinking. 2. Excessive indulgence; intemperance.

cri de coeur n. n. pl. cris de coeur (kr) An impassioned outcry, as of entreaty or protest.

d

debridement  n. Surgical excision of dead, devitalized, or contaminated tissue and removal of foreign matter from a wound

dacoit  n. a member of a robber band or gang in India or Myanmar (Burma).

defalcation intr.v. de·fal·cat·edde·fal·cat·ingde·fal·cates To misuse funds; embezzle.

dido n. pl. di·dos or di·does A mischievous prank or antic; a caper.

dingus n. 1. An article whose name is unknown or forgotten. 2. A person regarded as stupid.

disseizin n. law wrongful dispossession of one in possession of real property

doughty adj. stouthearted, brave

drumfire n. heavy, continuous gunfire

drusy (Min.) Covered with a large number of minute crystals

e

eclat  brilliancy of success or effort; splendor; brilliant show; striking effect; glory; renown 2 demonstration of admiration and approbation; applause

fenfilading 1. Gunfire directed along the length of a target, such as a column of troops. 2. A target vulnerable to sweeping gunfire. 3. Architecture A linear arrangement of a series of interior doors, as to a suite of rooms, so as to provide a vista when the doors are open.

epicanthus n pl -thi [-θaɪ] (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Anatomy) a fold of skin extending vertically over the inner angle of the eye: characteristic of Mongolian peoples and a congenital anomaly among other races Also called epicanthic fold [New Latin, from epi- + Latin canthus corner of the eye, from Greek kanthos]entrepot  n. A warehouse; a magazine for depositing goods, stores, etc.a port where merchandise can be imported and re-exported with paying import duties; a mart or place where merchandise is deposited; as, an entrepôt for shipping goods in transit

fellah n. A peasant or agricultural laborer in an Arab country, such as Syria or Egypt.


fetterlock n. another name for a fetlock A projection on the lower part of the leg of a horse or related animal, above and behind the hoof. b. A tuft of hair on such a projection.

feuilleton n. 1. a. The part of a European newspaper devoted to light fiction, reviews, and articles of general entertainment. b. An article appearing in such a section. 2. a. A novel published in installments. b. A light, popular work of fiction. 3. A short literary essay or sketch.

feuterer someone who keeps a dog

fin de siecle adj. Of or characteristic of the last part of the 19th century, especially with reference to its artistic climate of effete sophistication

flensing tr.v. flensedflens·ingflens·es To strip the blubber or skin from (a whale, for example)

flinders n pl  Bits, fragments, or splinters

fons et origo n.the source and origin

forfend vt. To keep or ward off; avert

g

grue a shiver or shudder; a creeping of the flesh vb (intr) 1. to shiver or shudder 2. to feel strong aversion

gutta-percha n. A rubbery substance derived from the latex of any of several tropical trees of the genera Palaquium and Payena, used as an electrical insulator, as a waterproofing compound, and in golf balls

gharry n. A horse-drawn carriage, used primarily in Egypt and India, often as a cab.

gloaming n. twilight, dusk

gymkhana n. 1. Any of various meets at which contests are held to test the skill of the competitors, as in equestrian-ship, gymnastics, or sports car racing.

2. The place where such an event is held.

h

hartal n. the merchants strike where all shops are closed as a form of protest

haver Brit. to talk nonsense, to dither

hierophany the revelation of the sacred

hummock 1. A low mound or ridge of earth; a knoll. 2. also ham·mock (hmk) A tract of forested land that rises above an adjacent marsh in the southern United States. 3. A ridge or hill of ice in an ice field.

i

illeism the referring of one’s self in the third person

idyll 1.a. A short poem or prose piece depicting a rural or pastoral scene, usually in idealized terms.b. A narrative poem treating an epic or romantic theme.2. A scene or event of a simple and tranquil nature.

infando

in media res  adj In or into the middle of a sequence of events, as in a literary narrative

inosculate v.tr. 1. To unite (blood vessels, nerve fibers, or ducts) by small openings. 2. To make continuous; blend. v.intr.1. To open into one another.

2. To unite so as to be continuous; blend.
inter alia  among other things

interne n. (Medicine) a variant spelling of intern us adj. too odious to mention

immure tr.v. im·muredim·mur·ingim·mures 1. To confine within or as if within walls; imprison. 2. To build into a wall: immure a shrine. 3. To entomb in a wall.

in vivo adj adv Within a living organism

j

jamais vu the opposite of déjà vu

jodhpurs n. riding pants

jointure 1. Lawa. An arrangement by which a man sets aside property to be used for the support of his wife after his death.b. The property so designated.2. The act of joining or the state of being joined.

k

karst n. An area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns

kohl n. A cosmetic preparation, such as powdered antimony sulfide, used especially in the Middle East to darken the rims of the eyelids

kraal n. South African 1. A rural village, typically consisting of huts surrounded by a stockade

l

lambent 1. Flickering lightly over or on a surface: lambent moonlight. 2. Effortlessly light or brilliant: lambent wit. 3. Having a gentle glow; luminous.

liminal n. the threshold of a psychological or physical response

lissa jous Lissajous curve (or Lissajous figure), a mathematical figure showing a type of harmonic motion. Lissajous orbit, an orbital trajectory resembling a Lissajous curve.

louche adj. of questionable taste or morally decadent

laicization n. lacize vt. to free from ecclesiastical control, give over to the laity

leechcraft n. The art of healing; skill of a physician

logrolling n. The exchanging of political favors, especially the trading of influence or votes among legislators to achieve passage of projects that are of interest to one another. 2. The exchanging of favors or praise, as among artists, critics, or academics.

Lucullan adj. lavish, luxurious

m

marguerite n. any of several similar or related plants having daisylike flowers

maceration vt. to make soft by soaking in a liquid

menticide n. the systematic undermining of someone’s beliefs

meprobamate n. A bitter white powder, C9H18N2O4, used as a tranquilizer, muscle relaxant, and anticonvulsant.

midinette n. a Parisian seamstress or salesgirl in a clothes shop

mirabile dictu interj. Wonderful to relate.

moue n. A small grimace; a pout

n

nocebo n. an inert substance given as a medicine that cause an adverse reaction in the recipient, the opposite of a placebo

nosology n. the classification of diseases

numinous adj. 1. Of or relating to a numen; supernatural. 2. Filled with or characterized by a sense of a supernatural presence: a numinous place. 3. Spiritually elevated; sublime.

o

omphaloskepsis n. a form of religious meditation practiced by Eastern mystics who stare fixedly at their own navels to induce a mystical trance. Also called omphalism.

orotund adj. Pompous and bombastic: orotund talk. 2. Full in sound; sonorous: orotund tone

oubliette n. A dungeon with a trapdoor in the ceiling as its only means of entrance or exit

odalisques n, A woman slave in a harem

ogive n. 1. Statistics a. A distribution curve in which the frequencies are cumulative. b. A frequency distribution. 2. Architecture a. A diagonal rib of a Gothic vault. b. A pointed arch.

p

palfrey n. (pawl’ free) A saddle horse, especially one for a woman to ride

pandit n. Brahman scholar or learned man

perfervid adj. intense, impassioned

phreatic adj, Of or relating to ground water

polje n. (Earth Sciences / Physical Geography) Geography a large elliptical depression in karst regions, sometimes containing a marsh or small lake

pseudopodia n. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology) a temporary projection from the cell of an amoeboid protozoan, leucocyte, etc., used for feeding and locomotion

puissance n. power, might

purulent adj. Containing, discharging, or causing the production of pus

q

r

Rapallo (Placename) a port and resort in NW Italy, in Liguria on the Gulf of Rapallo (an inlet of the Ligurian Sea): scene of the signing of two treaties after World War I. Pop.: 30 000 (1990 est.)

readeption  n. the regaining of something lost

recusant n. 1. One of the Roman Catholics in England who incurred legal and social penalties in the 16th century and afterward for refusing to attend services of the Church of England.  2. A dissenter; a nonconformist.

s

salafism n.  a militant group of extremist Sunnis who believe themselves the only correct interpreters of the Koran and consider moderate Muslims to be infidels; seek to convert all Muslims and to insure that its own fundamentalist version of Islam will dominate the world

schadenfreude n. delight in another’s misfortune

sodality n. 1. A society or an association, especially a devotional or charitable society for the laity in the Roman Catholic Church. 2. Fellowship.

solfeggo 1. Use of the sol-fa syllables to note the tones of the scale; solmization. 2. A singing exercise in which the sol-fa syllables are used instead of text

Sublime Porte n.  the Ottoman court in Constantinople

sudorific adj.  Causing or increasing sweat
sumpter n. A pack animal, such as a horse or mule.

shire n. A former administrative division of Great Britain, equivalent to a county. 2. often Shire A Shire horse.

t

tatterdemalion n. a person wearing tattered clothes

Telamon n. Greek Mythology One of the Argonauts and the father of Ajax.

tegument n. A natural outer covering; an integument

u

ultimogeniture n law  (Law) a principle of inheritance whereby the youngest son succeeds to the estate of his ancestor Compare primogeniture

v

valetudinarian n. a weak or sickly person, especially one very concerned about his illness

verdigris n. 1. A blue or green powder consisting of basic cupric acetate used as a paint pigment and fungicide. 2. A green patina or crust of copper sulfate or copper chloride formed on copper, brass, and bronze exposed to air or seawater for long periods of time.

virtu n. 1 A knowledge or love of or taste for fine objects of art. 2. Objects of art, especially fine antique objets d’art, considered as a group

viscera n. abdominal organs

w

wherry n.  sailing barge used especially in East Anglia

whitsun adj. (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) of or relating to Whit Sunday or Whitsuntide

x

y

z

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Banal but Expensive

Posted by heyrandy on December 10, 2011

America Revised, Frances FitzGerald, 1979

Not much has changed in the thirty-two years since the author wrote this book. Public education is still a political mess. By reading this book you will know some of the history of the mess.

The author’s focus is on the school textbooks. Political pressures and educational fads have forced the textbook remake itself to satisfy them. Ethnic groups, reform groups, reactionary groups, and single issue groups have all had influence in textbook writing. Textbook publishers have not been able to keep up.

The losers in all this are the school children. Fitzgerald concentrates on the American history textbooks. Nothing is very good. The only constant is dull writing. When this prose combines with the gimmick-of-the-day the result is some mis-educated kids.

People are usually supportive of their local school. They think that the problems are somewhere else. What they do not think about is that all the schools use the same textbooks and all the teachers use the same teaching methods. The problem is universal. This is what makes the book more than a complaint about poor writing.

The author also points out that actually intellectual training is a minor part of schooling. The emphasis is now on character molding. All that has happened is that students are now illiterate and ill-behaved.

The author is optimistic, but really the book tells us that the future is more of the same, only more expensive.

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Continuing the Conversation

Posted by heyrandy on December 7, 2011

The other day I talked with someone about student loan debt. The several readers of this blog know that I think student loan debt is a bad idea. When I mentioned that I had heard about someone with $120,000 debt incurred while obtaining a liberal arts degree from a prestige university but was now in a low paying job, the person said, “He won’t stay there.” I let the matter drop. But I thought that I would pretend the conversation continued.

Me: Actually, he probably will always be in low-level jobs.

He: Why? Surely anyone smart enough to graduate with a degree from a prestige school will advance.

Me: These days companies are doing credit report checks on applicants. This person’s credit report will be a disaster. Do the math. To pay the loan off in 30 years he will need $333 a month in just principle. There is probably an on-line site where you can calculate this with interest. If not, your bank’s mortgage department can. This debt is like a mortgage without the house or tax deduction. He cannot make this large a payment on his pay. He will go into default. This will sink his credit score. It’s low-level jobs forever.

He: Wait a minute while I work the IBerryPadReaderFirestarter. There, I found one. http://www.interest.com/mortgage/calculators/mortgage-calculator/

Me: How did you do that? I am writing this blog.

He: So am I. It is internet magic. The same person can be two people. I can’t explain it.

Me: Neither can I. They did not teach it in school. That is what I get for going to school before the Algore invented the internet.

He: How will this affect his future? What can he do?

Me: The Algore’s? Not at all. He is cleaning up with the global warming scam. The guy sure knows how to work a con. The debtor? Work two jobs, live at home, eat rice. Maybe he will lose weight. Dandelions are edible. He could munch a few while he does that yard work on the side for cash.

He: You make this sound hopeless.

Me: It is. He is a fly trapped in the spider’s web of debt. He is at the banks’ mercy. They are not in the mercy business. There is no profit there. They are               about profits. He has only one out.

He: What is that?

Me: Marry someone who is as smart as he is but rich.

He: That is silly.

Me: True. Most people who are as smart as he is are not rich.

He: Could he declare bankruptcy? Surely that would erase the debt.

Me: Yes, he could; but that won’t erase the debt. The banks had the law written so that student loan debt is not affected by bankruptcy. That is why the banks like student loans. I don’t know what they think of the students. They are smart enough not to say publicly. It’s bad for business.

He: It seems so unfair.

Me: Life’s …

He: I know, I know. Is there a better way to get an education than to go into such debt.

Me: There is. First, it’s schooling that is expensive; education is cheap, even free. This guy is getting a real education now. Second, when you think school, think cheap. Why shop at Hiprice when Walmart will sell you the same stuff for a lot less. You can even beat Walmart by shopping on-line. A lot of people who manage Walmart have degrees from Prestige. They did not see the internet as a threat. This tells you a lot about a lot. Do a cost of value study. This is a college level assignment without the credit hours. Do not fail this coarse. Is Prestige U really a better value, is it that much better, than Southwest East Central State? If it is, does it justify the cost? Third, you do not have to spend four years at Prestige to graduate from there. Do the local community college for two years. You save on tuition and living costs. Transfer your credits to Prestige and get your degree for half the price. The same agency certifies both schools. This means that accreditation-wise Harvard’s degree is just as good as one from U Mass. Inthewoods. Is that one word difference on the diploma worth what you paid? Fourthly, and lastly because I am beginning to run out of numbers, get a job in your field of study and learn from the inside. This way your boss pays you to learn. Some companies will even pay your tuition. This guy followed the herd. Too bad they were all lemmings.

He: Mass Inthewoods is two words. Shouldn’t that be course? I have heard that lemmings do not….

Me: Yes, You are an educated person, degreed even. I put that in there so you could get some value. If the lemmings don’t like it, have them sue me. They lost the last time.

He: Can’t this guy get a lawyer and have the lawyer do something.

Me: I am sure he could find a lawyer. Remember, the banks have lawyers too. When this guy goes into default he will find out about this. The banks did not have the laws written in their favor for no reason. The banks will pursue legal action against any debtor who is in default. I imagine it will resemble a pack of wolves ….

He: What can the banks do those who default?

Me: I don’t know. I am not a lupine lawyer.

He: His future is bleak.

Me: Especially bleak when you consider the non-financial effects. He is unlikely to marry. He will never be able to borrow money. (This is not a bad thing. But he will be paying cash for the clunker he drives.) He is going to get to take close care of his parents so he can save on the rent. He will be creative about hiding money from the collectors. He will configure his taxes so he always has to pay. This will deprive the government(s) of the free loan many people give them. (Tax refunds go to the loan holders. The banks got their money’s worth from their campaign contributions.) He will return his empties. Actually, he will return others people’s. He probably won’t have too many of his own. Water is cheaper and more healthful. It will help get the rice down. I can already imagine the decrease in litter. I don’t want to think about his health.

He: What is his hope?

Me: Hyperinflation of the currency. It will help all debtors but destroy the lenders.

He: He wins, the banks die. Is that so bad?

Me: You die, I die too. That is bad.

He: How likely is hyperinflation?

Me: The answer is in the bottom of you tea-cup. I drink coffee. That is my excuse, and I am sticking to it.

He: That line is tired.

Me: So am I. Good night.

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Sales Lines

Posted by heyrandy on December 6, 2011

There are words and phrases that help sell ideas. Most of these words and phrases are emotional. They load the issue with feelings. I have collected them. Here are some with definitions and discussion.

Clean. Clean things are good. This means dirty things are bad. We have clean-burning natural gas. We also have coal. Coal is not clean.

Family. We hear of “family farms.” A local politician sent around a survey that used “family liquor stores.” That was a new one. “Family values” is trite.

Fight terrorism. Phrase used to justify repressive measures. It is now the case the those fighting terrorism are becoming the real terrorists.

Protect the children. You can’t keep the little one too safe.

Strong schools. An euphemism for more money.

Reform. Usually just talk but sometimes there are superficial changes.

Transparency. A repainting in a new color.

Accountability. The matter caused great bad publicity, so some small fry got fired. Reform usually follows along with promises of transparency.

Fight/get tough on crime. Small-time crooks go to jail. The politically connected thief who stole billions keeps most of the money.

Clean up corruption. My guys get the graft, not yours.

Will/man of the people. He is in someone’s pocket.

Terrorist. Any one the government wants to kill.

Supporter of terrorism. Usually a head of state that has fallen out of favor with our government.

Rogue state. They won’t do what we want.

Regime change. What happens to a rogue state that does not have nukes.

Nukes. Things rogue states use to prevent regime change.

Allies. Countries that go along with us because they will get a share of the loot.

Standards. Important things that are not important.

Good government. Ordinary government with transparency.

Social justice. When government, good or otherwise, takes from those who own and give most of it those who don’t.

Fair share. Class envy; you pay for what I want.

Soak the rich. Tilting at windmills.

Switzerland. A small, land-locked, anomalous country in Europe that is neither ally nor a rogue state.

Good education. Paper certification.

Israel. Majority shareholder of the United States Congress.

TSA. Successor to the Keystone Cops but not as funny.

There are many more. I will leave it to you to add your favorites in the comments.

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Two Down, One Coming

Posted by heyrandy on December 5, 2011

Survivors, James Wesley, Rawles, 2011

This book is a parallel account of the author’s first book, Patriots. (Read but not reviewed.) A few of the characters are the same, but the book focuses on new people living through the same post-financial collapse America. The story line is much the same: starvation, gangs of looters, plucky survivors with guns, UN troops.

Rawles (note comma in name. He says it is a common law thing.) gives us plenty of technical detail (He mentions ball ammunition as well as hollow point ammunition.) and some product reviews (When buying extra magazines for the Ruger Mini 14, always get the ones made by Ruger. The others are “jammamatics.”. Mini 14 owners take heed.). He tells us how to make homemade napalm, the importance of gun cleaning, and that tires will be unobtainable in the collapse. He even gives some investment advice: “We should have bought more magazines and ammunition rather than silver.” Some of his technical details are not quite accurate. He thinks a jig will hold the metal pieces in alignment after the welding is done. Without proper stress relieving weldments relieve themselves. Any weldment that has been machined without first being stress relieved will be a piece with misaligned surfaces. Jigs are merely to hold the pieces together while welding. I know an engineer who found this out.

The author is a former Army captain who cannot get it out of his system. His politics are overtly libertarian, but we are given an obvious pro-interventionist scene where a man says “Thanks for your service” to one of the main characters who was badly wounded in Iraq. This is in the same book that suggests no government is best, but a constitutional republic is okay. The author does not seem to notice that unconstitutional wars by a no-longer-constitutional republic contradicts this. The author tries to have it both ways.

If you are a fan of the author’s first book, you will like this one. If the book does not sound interesting, do not despair. The author is working on a third.

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The Best View of the War

Posted by heyrandy on December 3, 2011

Five Years to Freedom, James Rowe, 1971.

My only thought was that war was always more glorious when watched on film. p303

This is a story of courage and will. It is the true story of one man’s struggle to stay alive and sane while being held in horrible conditions for five years as a Viet Cong prisoner. Captured in 1963, Lt. Rowe endured repeated bouts of debilitating dysentery and beriberi, constant malnutrition, and clever psychological  manipulation. He survived while three of his fellow prisoners died.

After his 1960 graduation from West Point, Rowe was assigned to a special forces unit in Vietnam as an adviser. He was captured when the Vietnamese unit he was with encountered a larger than expected enemy force. Two other Americans were also capture with him.

Rowe soon began the horrible experience of living in a small cage, subsisting on an almost rice only diet. The degrading conditions would induce three other prisoners to simply lose the will to live. In those conditions it was easy to die. Rowe almost took that path. Physical weakness coupled with hopelessness can be a powerful incentive to quit.

The prospect of release was always held out to Rowe. All he had to do was cooperate. This would have betrayed his oath to uphold the Code of Conduct, but it would have certainly gained him better food if not release. The propaganda effort against him was intense. Constant “lessons” in socialist doctrine as well as a steady stream of “You are loosing the war. Why waste your life?” talk was difficult to resist.

Rowe presents a perspective on the war that no longer common. We mostly look back on the war as a giant mistake. Rowe presents the U.S. involvement in a good light. A few years and generations make a lot of difference. They also make no difference. The arguments his captors made against American involvement in Vietnam sound a lot like the arguments made against American involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The book is not about the politics of war. It is about the courage of one who fought in it. This is why you should read the book.

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The Life After the Life Before

Posted by heyrandy on December 1, 2011

Warday and the Journey Onward, Whitley Strieber, 1984

America has been partly nuked. DC is gone. So is San Antonio, the Dakotas, and much of Russia. The electromagnetic pulse from the weapons has destroyed most electronics. Death from starvation, disease, and radiation poisoning are common. So is euthanasia.

A spark of hope set in the scene of gloom. 1992 is the setting, four years after the warday. Two men, reporters for the Dallas newspaper, decide to write a book about life in post war America. The research the book by traveling in a grand circuit from Dallas to California, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York (where one of the men lived on warday), down through the south and then back to Dallas.

They interview people of all types by getting them to talk into a recorder. The monologues are revealing, Tragedy, hope, greed, and courage come through. California is a police state. Entry there is not permitted without prior authorization. Illegals are severely punished. (One researcher got two years in prison, the other three. Their escape from the bus on the way to prison is not believable.) Southern Texas is now in the hands of Mexico, but the Governor of Texas wants to raise an army to reclaim the land. The Mexicans want to take California. Everywhere there is radioactive dust. Medical care is severely rationed–by the British.

The two men get copies of government documents to show more of the story. It is fun to read artificial government-speak. Bureaucracy never dies. It just adjusts to the situation.

The book is about the future of post-war America. The future is hopeful. I actually expected the book to end with the married man returning home to have his wife tell him she was pregnant. I guess some devices are best unused.

The book is average for post-apocalyptic tale. It doesn’t take long to read, but unless you are really a fan of the genre, give the book a pass.

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