Archive for February, 2011

Branded Outlaw by L Ron Hubbard

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Branded Outlaw by L Ron Hubbard
Publisher: Galaxy Press

L Ron Hubbard is better known these days as the founder and past leader of the Church of Scientology. Before the church? An explorer, researcher, cowboy, naval officer, etc, were just a small slice of this man’s life. In the 1920-30’s he was a prolific writer of pulp novels, novellas and short stories. The subject material ranged from air adventures to westerns. I specifically enjoyed reading some of his science fiction novels. Now about…

Branded Outlaw, a novella, novelette or whatever the term you prefer is a western with a plot familiar to those who enjoy b/w westerns of the silver screen era of the forties. In size it is as wordy as a Reader’s Digest abridged novel, almost. No colour commentary to speak of, just punchy plot with a few twists. A man gets a letter from his father saying that his long time enemy has moved into the same valley. The son leaves Wyoming and races to the aid of his dad…

I enjoyed this quick little trip down pulp fiction lane. I don’t think it is worth the full cost of $10 Canadian. Now it was worth the price of $3.99 with an additional iRewards discount of ten percent. I have two more of these pulp books to read. They are nothing like the larger works of fiction Hubbard would write in the future. Of course if you happen to be a Scientologist you might want to buy his books because you like the man more than his writing.

What I found interesting is that the word Scientology does not come up once anywhere in the book. Even in the extended little bio of “L Ron Hubbard and American Pulp Fiction,” the religion is not mentioned. I guess they want people to concentrate on the works of fiction and not the religion… which many think is a great work of fiction itself. Having studied Scientology myself I would have to say the critics know nothing of the beliefs or the application of it.

Another interesting aspect of the book, as short as it is, is the glossary of terms used in the book. Its inclusion and scope reflect the belief that it is extremely important for people never to pass by a word they don’t fully understand. It is derived from Scientology study technology. I do wish I would have checked the list of contents at the beginning of the book. It would have saved me a lot of internet surfing trying to discover what some of the words he used meant. All in the glossary… who ever checks those things out first? Or at all?

Well this book report has become a little wider in scope than I first intended. I should stop before it rivals the book itself. (That was a little bit of lame humour) I am certain that you can find or will eventually find, these books in a second hand book store. The price will be about right for it then. Since Hubbard has passed away, if you feel like enriching his estate, you can pay full price if you have that desire.

In the end… I thoroughly enjoyed reading this western. That itself is all the book report you actually need to know.


New Hope for Egypt?

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

muslim brotherhood seeking official party status

Egypt at this time has a secular constitution. How long will that last? People are already attempting to make changes. If others have their way it will become an Islamic republic. In such circumstances sharia law finds its way into the constitution and the end result is loss of freedom, beatings and death… specially among the non-Muslim minorities. Like Iraq and other countries Christians who can will flee oppression. The country would become weaker not stronger. I can only hope that the people of Egypt who want freedom, will remember their religious cousins, Jews and Christians, and recall that the Quran said to treat them with respect and dignity.

If the Islamic Brotherhood attains official party status…
If they eventually form the government…
What will rise in Egypt will be hate…
It is the nature of the beast.

Decision Points by George W Bush

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Decision Points by George W Bush

publisher: Crown Publications 2010

A trip down memory lane? No, not even close!
A stroll down Pennsylvania Ave? Closer…
Walkabout in the bush with Bush? That’s got it!

What a journey this man has been on. It touches upon his life as a kid to college student to salesman/entrepreneur. He writes of his time as governor of Texas. He spends most of the book writing about his time as President of the USA. The walkabout? That is how I envison his passage from running for the presidency to his leaving the presidency eight years later. He entered as a man, and I believe history will say, he left as one of the great presidents.

The layout of the book was not what I expected. Like many people we like to start at the beginning and go to the end in order. If he did that he wouldn’t have called his book Decision Points. He structured the book by related events. He quit drinking and all the events related to that subject. 9/11 and all the events that held. Other topics with their own chapters: Stem Cells, War Footing, Afghanistan, Iraq, Katrina and some others with the Financial Crises coming last.

Was there anything really new to read? I would say, for myself, no. It was a refresher course in all that I had observed and learned over his eight year presidency. Some of the details however were new but did not change any of the context. Although I don’t think he took the right approach at some junctures in the decision process, and in retrospect his thoughts eventually agreed with mine, he held the reins of power and I believe he did a better job than most everyone else could have done with information on hand.

Are you a liberal? Are you a democrat? Are you an average Canadian (whatever that means)? You probably disagreed with most everything Bush had done. Of course listening to these groups over the course of his presidency I always wondered where the heck they were getting their info? As far as I could figure it came out of the darkness that is “politics as usual” and that is a condemnation of those who practiced it.

Others will certainly have their own opinions about the book. If you like politics, want to see what happened behind the scenes, and learn how Bush was motivated through it all… this is an excellent book to read.

I enjoyed it.

Mubarak steps down…

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Mubarak has left the building…

Mubarak has finally stepped down. The VP is not going to take his place. The military will exert temporary control of the government. The people have the fist phase of their demands met. All this and yet so little actually accomplished. In reality they haven’t gone anywhere at all. It is simply a wonderful show where the good guys, the people, oust the dictator.

About the military

I can only hope that they will do their best to prepare the ground work to have open, fair and free elections. This is not so easy a task. The state of emergency needs to be lifted. But lifting this hand of oppression too far will allow other, more radical elements of the population, to cause chaos through intimidation. Perhaps outright violence against other political parties and those seeking office. Don’t lift it up enough and they will be setting the stage to continue the dictatorship under some other “benign” president.

Another aspect is what timetable? If you hold elections too quickly the people will not have the time to firmly establish their different parties. The only groups that would benefit are the ones who are already firmly established. As of this time the main party appears to be “the Muslim Brotherhood.” This particular political entity does not reflect the general values of the Egyptian population. If the military takes too long to hold elections? Most likely nothing will change. It will be status quo. Instead of a president who was a military man you will have a military man with the powers of the president. You will have, in either case, a false political body appointed by the man in power.

What if the military strikes that perfect balance of 1/ Lifting the state of emergency while holding in check the abuses of those who would hijack the electoral process and 2/ Having everything done in a timely manner? Perhaps you would get a fair and representative government. This, however, I believe will be short lived if the people don’t make a stronger stand for freedom… for all. The test? Whether the new government will extend full rights and freedoms to all Egyptians. Will the Christians, and those of other faiths, continue to be marginalized or will they be allowed to have the same freedoms and rights, protected by the state, that Muslims have… or will eventually have.

What started this state of emergency in the first place? President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel. During a parade the Muslim Brotherhood killed Sadat by spraying the reviewing stand with machine gun fire. To prevent a revolution, a civil war, worse… a state of emergency was declared and the secret police went out to stop the group responsible for the killing of all those people in the stand.

The Muslim Brotherhood is still active today. During Mubarak’s reign they were suppressed. They do have a political wing as many others have. Yet they couldn’t advance, no one could, because the elections were in essence rigged. Now however, the wolf is at the door with the rest of the people. They want to have the doors of political freedom opened. If a fair and just election is held they will gain some power. The problem though is that they have no intention of working toward an inclusive government. From my understanding they set up movements that are dual purposed. One aspect is to help them take care of their own people. The second aspect is to exert physical power to gain (to wrest) control from whatever form of government they are under and place it under Islamic fundamentalist control. They seek to re-establish the Caliphate. This would be the political structure binding all Muslim states into one. Sharia law will become the standard. (Actually, the abuses of various customs, framed as Qur’anic, will be established.) This means that freedom, fairness and equality will be denied those who are not Muslim. That is not what the freedom loving people of Egypt are struggling to attain through their marches and protests. They may get their free elections… but lose the government majority once and they will be back under the heel of a dictatorial regime. It happened in Gaza. In some respects it happened in Turkey, though the military puts limits, as they always have, on the political system. How about Iran?

by hook or by crook

Revolutions have a way of opening the doors to change. When the people of Russia rose up to overthrow their dictator they were seeking freedom from tyranny. Yet within the ranks of the political reformers were those who had no intention of sharing power. They were the communists. They took power “by hook or by crook” They established a governmental dictatorship, an oligarchy, with ten percent of the people forcing everyone else to follow. The Muslim Brotherhood, as far as I can tell, want to achieve the same result. They dictate, you follow… or die.

The same can be said of Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany.

What passes for Islam today, especially the abuses, are not of the Qur’an but tribal customs and interpretations; the addition of the oral stories attributed to Mohammed to that which was written by the hand of Mohammed. The radical extremists and their organizations do harm to the memory of Mohammed and what he established here on the earth. I do not want to see Egypt, and its people filled with good intentions, sidetracked into the darkness by some brotherhood.

The army must preserve the peace. The people need to stand firm. They are traveling a dangerous road. I hope they find what they are looking for.

Mubarak has left the building…

…What is waiting in the wings?

Snow Day

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Sounds like all I had to do today was stay at home, sit by a cozy fire, relax in my easy chair with a hot cocoa in my hand. Not! A snow day for me is something that I dread. A blizzard no less. I can feel my back muscles stiffen in anticipation of the work to be done.

First, I like to pray before the storm gets to my house. You never know, God might have pity on this disabled frame of mine. Actually, they were saying 30 to 40 centimeters of snow to fall. God listens! I got less than half of that in my neighbourhood. Still, that is a significant amount of snow.

What makes it hard is that the snowplows come down Cannon and like to plow two lanes of roadway snow onto my meager little sidewalk. Five inches of loose snow ends up being 20 inches of packed snow and ice. Fortunately I survived. Then comes the walk to where we park the car. Again, about six inches but all of it loose. Quickly done, though having no place to throw the snow can be a challenge sometimes.

So I’m done? No! The plows come again, specially down the side street just before Linda comes home. Clean it up, again. Linda comes home I tell her to park across the street. I’ll park the car later. Hmmm… not before the plow comes down that side street again. Legs quivering and back shot, I use the back end of the car as a plow to get in. I’ll leave it for the next day.

The only thing that makes me feel good about the day? They were calling for a lot more snow than I got. For that I am thankful. Couldn’t have coped if God didn’t smile on my request.