Saturday, May 19, 2018


Historians say each era has a unique spirit, a nature or climate that sets it apart from all other epochs. In German, such a spirit is known as "Zeitgeist," from the German words Zeit, meaning "time," and Geist, meaning "spirit" or "ghost." Some writers and artists assert that the true zeitgeist of an era cannot be known until it is over, and several have declared that only artists or philosophers can adequately explain it. We don’t know if that’s true, but we do know that "zeitgeist" has been a useful addition to the English language since at least 1835.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Humans Are Not Peaceful

Jordan Peterson lays a case for why seemingly normal people aren't very peaceful. In fact, we are all far crazier than most of us think. 5 mins.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

Double Star is a Robert A. Heinlein science fiction novel published in 1956 and was the Hugo award winner for that year. It is interesting to note the story is really about politics in general as well as deceptive political strategies.

The story is told in first person from the POV of down-and-out actor Lawrence Smith or Lorenzo Smythe, as he prefers. Lorenzo is hired to double for an unnamed public figure who turns out to be one of the most prominent politicians in the solar system. John Joseph Bonforte is the leader of the Expansionist coalition, currently out of office but with a good chance of changing that at the next general election. Bonforte has been kidnapped by his political opponents, and his aides want Smith to impersonate Bonforte while they try to find him.

For fear of spoilers, I'll keep the rest of the story to myself except to say the remainder of the book takes place either in space (inside a ship) or on Mars. There is not a lot of action, so if you're looking for Mad Max or alien chest-bursters, you are likely to be disappointed. Heinlein is in top form here with an engaging story of political deception.

One thing that does not hold up well is the Martian connection. Heinlein describes a world with wide, water-filled canals populated with intelligent, ambulating tree stumps. So far, we haven't seen any of those from the Mars rovers. However, like I said above, the story is really about political machinations so I suspended my disbelief via Heinlein's marvelous prose and viewed the Martians as just another weird political faction.

By the way, the central political issue is whether or not to give the Martians the right to vote in the "coalition" of a human-dominated Solar System (probably a bunch of white guys). Lorenzo shares the anti-Martian prejudice prevalent among large parts of Earth's population, but he is called upon to assume the persona of the most prominent advocate for Martian enfranchisement.

Double Star is a great story -- a classic, really, and falls into the category of Heinlein's other political stuff; notably, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress which is another Hugo award winner. Heinlein won four Hugo awards in total. The other two Hugo award winners were Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land.

Steven Parker reviewed the book and said: "Smolif is extremely well written. This is one sci-fi novel that captures and keeps your imagination from the start to the finish without the vulgarity that is so commonplace in today's literature. I would recommend this tale to anyone that enjoys reading and I don't mean just sci-fi. If you like mysteries, adventure and just plain fun, this is one of those little diamonds you find once in a while."

Thank you, Steven Parker!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Wake up! Conspiracies are the norm rather than the exception.

-- Mackenzie Maguire