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David M. Elder RSS Feed (Pacifica, CA USA)

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Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel
Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel
by Michio Kaku
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.28
119 used & new from $2.48

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not Impossible: It's How Much We Have Still to Learn!, July 15, 2008
Ok, I will admit it: I'm no Einstein; not even close. And while I am fascinated about the arcane science of quantum physics, I still get puzzled by concepts such as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principal and all its implications. Michio Kaku does better than most in trying to explain such weird things to idiots like me (although I haven't checked out Physics for Dummies yet). And when as a physicist he applies what he knows to the various impossibilities he covers in his book, it seems clear that there is far more that we don't know. When he talks in the timeframe of centuries and millennia before we might be able to do some of these physically not impossible things, given how much we don't know, I am left wondering just how much theoretical physics in it's infancy really differs from religion (even magic) in defining epistemology.

I thought this a fun and exciting read given that it gives hope to a lot of us SF nerds that one day everything in Star Trek will come true. I would have liked to see some drawings to help better visualize some of the concepts, but for the most part I could follow his verbal explanations. I did feel that on some things in which Mr. Kaku was not a subject matter expert (mainly some of the paranormal stuff) he did not do justice to the scientific body of research out there on the subject, often resorting to the Amazing Randi and Skeptical Inquirer folks to back up claims of phenomenon disproved. Aside from that, it was a quick and enjoyable read.

Someone Would Have Talked: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Conspiracy to Mislead History
Someone Would Have Talked: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Conspiracy to Mislead History
by Larry Hancock
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $33.25
40 used & new from $14.68

17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leads! Leads! Leads! Now follow them UP!!!, April 2, 2008
Let me try to be constructive without being overly critical in saying what this book, Larry Hancock's Someone Would Have Talked, is and isn't. First, it isn't a work of original research; much of the theories, allegations and evidence cited have been around for awhile. You will not find a smoking gun here. Second, you will not find an objective author; it is assumed from the start that JFK's death was part of a conspiracy. Thirdly, you will not discover a detailed and methodical analysis of the evidence. Be prepared to be bombarded by a plethora of names, organizations and events - confusing to keep track of - that in one way or another, past researchers have linked to the Assassination.

What you will find is a handy compendium of some of the more intriguing unresolved miscellanea from the Warren, Church, HSCA and related investigations of the Kennedy Assassination, cobbled together and centered around a shady character with anti-Castro, CIA and mob connections named John Martino. But Martino's role in the books serves as no more than a framing device for the author's version of the most popular whodunit theory of a Mob, Anti Castro Cuban, CIA nexus that has prevailed since at least the 70's.

But ignore the theory: this is a valuable book for researchers, not alone for it's breadth of post-HSCA evidence that has come to light, but a great source of promising areas for follow-up research as well. Indeed, Hancock bullets many of these intriguing new items. He might as well have listed some of the other dubious evidence which, like many authors of such books, he does not question the validity of. For example, one might conclude that Oswald couldn't have been on the 6th floor at the time of the shooting since he was seen by so-and-so in the lunchroom a few moments before and after, with or without a coke in his hand. What the Warren Commission asserted about witness error as to time and memory cannot be dismissed out of hand without significant proof to the contrary.

SWHT bolsters the view that Oswald was clearly being used by intelligence groups, whether willingly or naively on his part, for unclear purposes, more than likely the `dangle' the author suggests. But when Hancock once more dares venture into the Oswald-Imposter theory to create a fall-guy, we get back into the gray areas of nebulous hearsay. And the online exhibits and photos the author provides on his accompanying SWHT website do not go very far to enforce his views. For example, the Photos meant to back up Deputy Craig's Oswald look-alike at the TSBD and the mysterious Rambler are like your average Grassy Knoll shots -- not to mention your typical UFO pics: blurry and ambiguous and of better use for a `Where's Elmo' puzzle. And the exhibits are mainly of historical interest and do not really go all that far to tying the purported conspirators to Oswald, the Manlicher, bullets, wounds, or whatever crime-scene evidence one chooses to believe is important.

Moreover, like most conspiracy theorists with pre-conceived notions, contrary evidence that would spoil the theory is completely neglected. For example, Hancock does not believe Oswald fired at JFK, nor was knowingly part of the assassination conspiracy. He doesn't really say what he thought he was a part of. He certainly doesn't answer the lingering questions about what Oswald was doing in his Garage that morning - same garage where the Manlicher was -- when he got out the `curtain rods', nor where the curtain rods went and why he denied carrying them to work that day. Nor does he attempt to resolve his picture of Oswald's choir-boy innocence (vis-à-vis killing Kennedy at least) with previous evidence of his predilection toward assassination such as that of his taking a shot at General Walker - evidence much more solid than any presented to the contrary. And of course the author completely ignores the best scientific evidence so far presented that there was a conspiracy - the acoustics tests indicating a shot from the Grassy Knoll. Since the conclusion these tests help to draw was that that shot missed, it did not fit in with the author's view of a fake autopsy as part of LBJ's cover up and so he ignored it. Nor for the same reason apparently was the excellent work from Posner and PBS Frontline of Zapruder all but proving the single bullet theory, discussed.

Still, the worth of this book is not in the theory. It is in the many promising leads of Ruby and Oswald associations with CIA, FBI, Mob, Ant-Castro Cuban and most especially, each other.

What needs to happen now is for someone to take up just one of these leads and drill down. To prove the conspiracy, the focus must be on a small piece rather than the Big picture. We have had far too many books on the Grand Conspiracy; now that a consensus has been built on who was involved and why, it is time to prove the link with the planners by following up in detail on one of these important leads that link Oswald, Ruby and the conspirators in those last few months in Dallas.

Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK
Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK
by Lamar Waldron
Edition: Paperback
60 used & new from $0.01

20 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Unsubstantiated Facts Leading Nowhere, September 13, 2007
As with most books about the JFK Assassination, 'Ultimate Sacrifice' suffers from its own evangelism; having decided on a theory, the authors opt for proselytizing over objectivity. Authors Waldron and Hartmann start by taking themselves and their theory much too seriously, trying to convince the reader of the correctness of their conclusions by presenting a gigantic load of so called facts to overwhelm the reader. Most of these "facts", however, are far from substantiated, coming as they are from the usual secondary sources rather than original research, while ignoring much good evidence that detract from them.

There are way too many assumptions of unproven allegations in this book for me to take the authors' conclusions seriously, despite the new evidence they provide from some admirable original research to try to back them up. To take just a few examples:

1. The authors accept without question that Oswald was an American agent before he went to Russia. They cite the usual suspicious, yet inconclusive evidence about this such as the 'phony' suicide attempt, Oswald seen with unsavory characters while in Japan, an alleged false defector program the US was supposed to have run, and just the general feeling that it seems to make sense. And yet, the authors completely ignore the much greater evidence opposed to this inference found in the well-researched chapters on Oswald's time in Russia in the Mailer biography, much of it coming from KGB sources who had been watching him constantly. Indeed, not one shred of spy-like behavior was made evident too them by their subject during his entire stay.

2. The authors believe Oswald did not take his Marxism seriously, but was only pretending to be a true believer as part of his cover. Were this true, Oswald must have been the best method actor of all time, never getting out of character, even with his wife and close friends. And oh yes, all those commie books in his room were `planted'. Amazing analysis!

3. The authors decide to accept with little question the interpretation of the ambiguous ballistic and medical data of the assassination that best fits their theory, namely that the fatal shot came from the Grassy Knoll, while discounting the Single Bullet theory. Once more they completely neglect the most scientific data available that counters this notion: the Barger Acoustic analysis done during the HSCA hearings. Nor do they cite the excellent analysis of the first shots in the Zapruder film done for the Frontline special on Oswald that clearly shows the flap of Connelly's collar being flipped up as the bullet -- the same bullet that emerged from Kennedy's throat -- passes through into his shoulder.

There is much more of this type of thing, too much so for me to find much value in what evidence the authors do present. I say this believing indeed that JFK was assassinated as the result of a conspiracy involving elements of Cosa Nostra and CIA. But the breadth of scope of their arguments is just too much for the lack of depth of the evidence they provide.

Do not mistake me, there is some value in this book. The research on the Tampa and Chicago threats is intriguing. The details on the CIA-Mafia assassination plots is both informative and believable. And the presentation of Ruby's ties to Organize crime is the most convincing and thorough I have seen. Unfortunately, when the authors try to cover all the mysterious associations of Johnny Roselli, the Mafia point man on the assassination, they mainly rely on a single secondary source, All American Mafioso by Charles Rappleye and Ed Becker while completely neglecting to cite the most curious close friendship he maintained with top CIA officer William K. Harvey, point man for Executive Action assassinations, until his death. The same tactic of using a very small number of JFK assassination books to back up their arguments is used to show the actions and meaningfull associations of the other mobsters involved in the conspiracy as well.

What is needed in the field of JFK assassination research is not more rehash of old and untested data to backup new conspiracy theories, but a well constructed analysis focused on manageable areas of the assassination using original research, including validating rather than blindly accepting evidence cited in previous works. At times Ultimate Sacrifice does attempt this, but far too seldom; and in the end, the books bites off more than it can chew and concludes very little.

Myst V: End of Ages - PC
Myst V: End of Ages - PC
Offered by You Name the Game
25 used & new from $5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ubisoft Myst the Mark on this one, February 15, 2006
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
A BAD, SAD end to a great series! Myst V is the absoulte worst of the bunch. The game seems as if it was built in a rush by third stringers using leftovers from URU and Myst 1. The puzzles are lame and the graphics poor with detail, clickable or otherwise, minimal and no interactive video. Worst of all seems to be the poor quality control: I have run all the Myst Games as well as URU on the same machine and only with Myst V did I have so many technical problems, including a Crashed Hard drive.

The only good Part was David Ogden Stiers as the voice of Esher and, of course, Atreus.

They Saved Hitler's Brain
They Saved Hitler's Brain
DVD ~ Walter Stocker
11 used & new from $11.64

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ten Thumbs up!!! A Cinematic Tour d'Force!!!, October 13, 2005
This review is from: They Saved Hitler's Brain (DVD)
No better representation of the cinematic art of 'avant noir' has yet to surpass this stylictic post-modern cult masterpiece. Under the sheer directorial genius of David Bradley (Julius Ceaser, Dragstrip Riot), "THEY SAVED HITLER'S BRAIN" should long remain an immortal classic.

The Third Reich: A New History
The Third Reich: A New History
by Michael Burleigh
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.41
95 used & new from $0.22

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A moral view of Nazi Germany, October 13, 2005
I picked up this massive tome with the anticipation of being served up something akin to Shire's excellent "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich". Had I not read that book with it's emphasis on the organization, personalities and political history of the Nazis, Burleigh's work would have been even harder to follow then it was. It is implied that you have read it already or something like it, perhaps even Mein Kampf -- though the author rarely cites the latter and the former not at all -- and assumed you know the difference between a Gauleiter and Gruppenführer or are fully aware of the nature of the events and party infighting behind the Night of the Long Knives.

You will find little information in this book about the roots of Nazism or the events that led to it's rise; nor will you get more than a glimpse of characterization of it's principal actors. Having said that, A New History fills in some gaps left out of the popular William L. Shire work and others in the areas of economy, government, policy, and society with a very heavy emphasis on the crimes of Nazi Germany.

Burleigh does not try to hide -- and neither necessarily should he -- a personal bias that should be lacking in the objective observer in his view of seeing Nazi Germany as nothing but a state of pure evil with hatred it's only raison d'etre and who's only historic legacy was mass murder. The narrative does a fine job of identifying the evolution and natural progression from eugenics to euthanasia to murders-of-convenience during wartime to large scale assembly-line genocide. And yet, after we are told how it happened, we are still left to wonder -- and continue to wonder today, even as our own inner demons lead to events such as an abu gharib -- about the nature of the psyche that could lead sane people in a highly civilized culture to sink into barbarity.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 16, 2009 10:45 AM PDT

House of 1000 Corpses
House of 1000 Corpses
DVD ~ Sid Haig
Offered by Expedited Warehouse
Price: $7.41
69 used & new from $2.14

37 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cult Classic Wannabe: Rocky Horror Meets Texas Chainsaw, August 20, 2003
This review is from: House of 1000 Corpses (DVD)
OK, this movie got a generally bad review by the Brie-sniffing, wine-swine critics who feel only foreign movies are worth a view. Having said that, House of 1000 Cropses is not a 'GOOD' Film: It's a 'BAD' film, a really 'BAD' film! And yet it has those endearing qualities that fans of bad horror films have come to love: the stuff of what cult classics are made of. It's clearly what director Rob Zombie had in mind. To the question of whether or not he has succeeded, only time will tell.
In a nutshell, two teenage couples on a Halloween date end up in a gas station museuem run by a foul-mouthed clown named Captain Spaulding and an aged Michael J. Pollard (remember him from Bonnie & Clyde). The mueseum is sort of a chamber of horrors, depicting modern day serial killers such as Ed Gein (the basis for Tobe Hooper's TSM movie). Here the kids learn of the legend of the mad Dr. Satan, the local serial-killer.
Dragging their dates along, the boyfriends want to go in search of Dr. Satan landmarks and end up running into a beautiful blonde hitchhiker named 'Baby' who leads them right into an ambush. The couples take refuge in an old farmhouse that turns out to belong to Baby and the rest of her demented Pyscho-Killer family who proceed to put the teenagers through a series of tortures right out of the Tales of Arabian Nights.
Karen Black (Trilogy of Terror, Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces) plays Mother Firefly, trying to outdo her equally demented daughter Baby in the tortures she puts her 'Guests' through.
OTIS (Otis was the name of serial-killer Henry Lee Lucas's sidekick), played by Bill Mosely is the head of the family resembling a mean-spirited Riff-Raff (Rocky Horror Picture Show).
His Mansonesque vision underscores the remainder of the movie's scenes which mostly depict a series of fun-house horrors.
Characters and scenes are, for the most part, culled from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, itself heavily spoofed throughout the movie. The DVD adds something special over the film: a selectable menu hosted by Captain Spaulding who berates the viewer with filthy-mouthed taunts, while a less intimidating, but equally menacing baby seduces you with herseself and nit-wittery through a menu of of the usaual DVD Featurettes.
A must see for any true Horror/Cult Film Fan.

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper--Case Closed
Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper--Case Closed
by Patricia Cornwell
Edition: Hardcover
867 used & new from $0.01

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Little Substance, Much Inuendo, March 13, 2003
Cornwell presents absolutely no facts for her case. Moreover, she reveals an overall lack of knowledge about the case; not suprising since before she started the book she admitted she knew hardly anything about the Ripper murders.
Instead of presenting facts, Cornwell shamelessly maligns a great artist with her blind, baseless assumptions. At best, she might have a case for Sickert having written a few hoax letters, but there were thousands of such hoax letters and absolutely none of them have ever been successfully tied to the killer.
I think Cornwell should stick to writing fiction, for she certainly is no journalist and doesn't seem to understand the difference between investigative reporting and stroy telling.

The Complete Idiot's Guide(R) to the Mafia
The Complete Idiot's Guide(R) to the Mafia
by Jerry Capeci
Edition: Paperback
71 used & new from $0.01

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Minimalist History of the Mafia, February 6, 2003
Trying to establish a true history of the Mafia, one that is both explicit and accurate, is about as meaningful as a trying to put together a true history of the CIA or Kennedy Assassination. There are two kinds of writers of Mafia, those who overstate its power and influence and those who understate it. Capeci is among the latter, though it seems for no obvious reason other than opinion given the minimal use of sources and bibliographical materials he documents, hardly sufficient justification. I suspect the truth probably lies somewhere in between.
The strength of this book is the information it provides about recent Mafia history particularly of the 5 New York Families, largely derived from Capeci?s journalistic and law enforcement sources. Here he excels and seems to know his material quite well. It falls short, however, in being a comprehensive, or even good or entertaining account of that overall history. I would recommend Stephen Fox?s Blood and Power and Nash?s Encyclopedia of Organized Crime for that.
The non-NY families are given scant coverage in this book and some very important moments in LCN history, such as the 1930 Atlantic City Conference establishing the current ?System? as it is known today envisioned by Johnny Torio, are not even mentioned, while the importance of other?s such as Luciano?s role in the Castellemmarese wars, is understated.
Though it is true that they aren?t as powerful as they once were, Capeci?s assumption that the MOB is dead in many states and all but extinct in others seems a bit pre-mature at best and ignores the LCN?s resiliency and adjustment to new circumstance, both threats and opportunities, that it has shown in the past, as well as it?s ability to adapt defensively to changes in tactics of the legal system and law enforcement that has kept it around for so long.
Overall a good starter, with valuable info on recent events of the 5 NY families, but hardly thorough and very dry in delivery.

Mafia and Mafiosi: Origin, Power, and Myth
Mafia and Mafiosi: Origin, Power, and Myth
by Henner Hess
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from $152.18

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mafia Does not Exist, January 24, 2003
So runs the theme of this most excellent work by Sociologist Henner Hess. In point of fact, the Mafiosi came well before the Mafia, a secret crime organization supposedly having it's roots deep in history: in reality, such a Mafia never existed, and what most of us think of today as the Mafia is mainly a fairly recent example of life imitating art.
The subculture of Mafiosi had its beginnings in the 1860s as an extension of feudalism in Sicily. In Hess's book we meet the true Mafiosi, uomo d'onore, a man of honor, the Godfather. He is the Don who is the self-made man, able to do well for himself and his family, able to solve his own problems without help from the State, which he disdains. This is the Mafia of Don Corleone, a man of respect who uses illegal methods to protect the land owning nobility he tenants and advance his own means through extortion, intimidation, theft, and of course, murder.
Hess easily dismisses the historical fallacies of an ancient foundation for a Mafia, rooted in culture, religion, Freemasonry or other popular esoteric sources. Surprisingly, the Mafia of secret rituals and structured crime families competing and cooperating on an immense scale in international crime is a relatively recent phenomenon in Italy, one imported from America. Indeed, the American Mafiosi's Sicilian country cousin has been as much influenced by him and the movies and books such as the Godfather about him, that this once mainly agrarian phenomenon has changed to meet those concepts. It was not until well after publication of the Godfather that the Coreleonisi Mafiosi, wanting to imitate the artistic depiction of their own values of Omerta, made themselves the most powerful crime Organization in Italy.
This is a truly fascinating read, both scholarly and entertaining, and the most reliable book on the origins of the Sicilian Mafia I have come across.

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