Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Scammell writes that Solzshenitsyn, as a writer who emigrated to the US, may have brought down the Soviet Union himself

Michael Scammell is author of “Solzhenitsyn: A Biography” (W.W. Norton, 1984).
Today, Wednesday, December 12, 2018 he has an op-ed in the New York Times, p. A27, “The writer who beat an empire.”   Solzhenitsyn started out with a novella “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” about a Stalinist labor camp, where he (the person) was sent to a labor camp for writing to a friend criticizing the soviet system.  As in early colonial America, letters were read by authorities.
The little book was published in the west in 1962 by a small literary magazine Novy Mir.  Further autobiographical novels would include “The First Circle” and “Cancer Ward”, and then “The Gulag Archipelago” in 1973.  The Soviets expelled him, and his arrival in the US out to prove to conservatives and especially Trumpians the desirability of some immigration.  His writings helped bring down the Soviet Union in 1991. But Solzhenitsyn did want a nationalist country with religious and conservative family values, rather than Boris Yeltsin’s freewheeling republic, but he got what he wanted with Putin in 2000.

The op-ed also discusses the clandestine publication of Boris Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago” which had become a massive motion picture by 1966.
When I became a patient at NIH for the second half of 1962, my roommate had a copy of “The Brothers Karamazov” by Dostoyevsky. We would scape past the Cuban Missile Crisis will I was still a patient.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sandy Hook papers on and by Adam Lanza released and published by Hartford Newspaper

The Hartford Courant is making available all the court papers in state police custody concerning Adam Lanza, perpetrator of the Sandy Hook killings on Dec. 14. 2012.

The main link for the publication is here, as a Courant Exclusive. The reporters are Josh Kovner and Dave Altimari. 
The article provides a link to an editorial explaining why the newspaper decided to release the papers.

There is no “manifesto” as such, but many scrapbooks and loose writings, like “Big Book of Granny”.
Lanza’s mental state seems to be extremely disturbed, starting with autism, which usually does not take this kind of path.  He hated any kind of personal contact with anyone. There are references to what he perceived as sexual abuse from physicians, doing normal examinations. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

The "Homebrewed Christianity" series:Bill Leonard's "Flaming Heretics"

Author: Bill Leonard

Title: “Homebrewed Christianity: Church History: Flaming Heretics and Heavy Drinkers

Publication: Nashville: Fortress Press, 2017, 238 pages, paper, 8 chapters, endnotes.

This orange book is one of a series called “Homebrewed Christianity”, edited by Tripp Fuller.

The basic premise is that Christianity is practice has been a bottom-up religion, defined by how it is practiced by real people, who are compared to chess pieces (Bishop, Elder, Deacon, Acolyte). Yet the tone of the book presumes people want to act together and belong, not be so much on their own. 

Indeed, the first chapter is called “herding ecclesiastical cats.  As the reality of actually witnessing a resurrection and ascension, which would have seemed like ultimate truth to those who happened to live at a time and place where they could see it, receded, and became a matter for “men of faith”, it became a member of socialization and organization to figure out who really should be in charge and who should deliver the messages and how people would follow.

Perhaps that has meaning today as individual speech itself becomes questionable and we wonder who has the “privilege of being listened to” in a secular sense.

The church has always had to deal with the paradoxes of hypocrisy.  It doesn’t know who walks with the Lord. Only people do. The latter part of the book gets into specific episodes, like the Jim Crow laws and Scopes Trial (movie “Inherit the Wind” and the “old time religion” scene). 
Copies of this book were sold at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC last spring.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Independent bookstores can now do print-on-demand on the premises (some of them)

CBS News reports that independent bookstores are making strong returns after being almost wiped out in the middle 2000s. 

The resurgence of independent bookstores is related to “localism”, and some bookstores can now to print-on-demand on the premises, which could be an interesting development for me.

One of the largest indie bookstores in the DC area is Kammerbooks at Dupont Circle.  Recently I went to a reading at One More Page Books in Falls Church VA. 

CBS has a story in 2003 concerning some bookstores' purging customer records when Congress passed the Patriot Act! 

Heavy rain hampered “shop small” Saturday in the DC Area, although I had a chance in Ellicott City MD Sunday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Time offers "Great Scientists" for your coffee table

Time Magazine sells a supermarket coffee table booklet “Great Scientists: The Geniuses and Visionaries Who Transformed Our World.” The Editor is not named.

The book starts out with a lot of material on Stephen Hawking (by Brian Greene, who passed away of ALS in 2018 at age 76, living extraordinarily long since it started when he was in college.

Hawking came up with the theory that black holes may not be completely black, but could evaporate with Hawking radiation. That could theoretically mean that (mini) black holes could store and retransmit information (about someone’s life).

Hawking also believed that the Universe might have started with a singularity inside a black hole.
On p. 72 the booklet presents Paul Crutzen, who discovered the ozone holes which, adjunct to climate change, can threaten future generations.

On p 31, the booklet shows how Muhammad al-Khwarizmi invented Algebra I around 800 AD.

It would be nice if a booklet like this could cover Jack Andraka’s “Science Fair” which appears to have invented a cheaper blood test for many cancers (not just pancreatic).

I would be nice also to cover the work of Taylor Wilson, who invented a fusion reactor in 2008 at age 14.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

"The Land that Failed to Fail": New York Times starts massive booklet on what makes China work

Philip P. Pan and photographer Bryan Denton are offering a serialized book about China “The Land that Failed to Fail”, link.

The byline is "China rules." That is, "They didn't like the West's playbook.  So they wrote their own."
It seems that statist capitalism (what Ted Koppel called “The People’s Republic of Capitalism” ten years ago in a Nightline series) has worked out very well.

There is a curious combination of nationalism, consumerism, and psychological socialism – personal right-sizing and forced participation in social capital – that seems to be working.  The idea seems very threatening.  But in a sense China expects everyone to know their place and act before speaking.
There will be more installments, particularly about the Internet censorship.

Wikipedia photo attribution: By Alex Needham - English wikipedia , Public Domain, reference.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Author of novel "Occupation" in China gets prison time for depicting gay sex; book had sold well online

A female fiction author, “Liu”, in China has been sentenced to ten years in prison for writing and publishing a novel called “Occupation” that describes male homosexual acts.

The sentence was laid down by the People’s Court in Wuhu in Anhui Province.

All this despite the fact that homosexual acts are legal in China. The situation seems parallel to the 2013 Russian anti-gay propaganda law, but Chinese attitude toward gay rights gets much less attention than Russia’s (and the middle East and sub-Saharan Africa).

The book had sold well online in China. 

The Metro Weekly in Washington DC had a detailed story by Rhuaridh Marr.

The Global Times in China has a source story.   The BBC offers details here