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Bernie "xyzzy" RSS Feed (Arlington, Texas)
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The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I by Barbara W. Tuchman [Presidio Press, 2004] (Paperback) [Paperback]
The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I by Barbara W. Tuchman [Presidio Press, 2004] (Paperback) [Paperback]
by Barbara W. Tuchman
Edition: Paperback
8 used & new from $4.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Reveals the nature of August in an intriguing way, September 15, 2016
It is okay to read Barbara Tuchman's books out of the order in which they were written. If you are starting here you definitely missed "Bible and Sword England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balflour", and "The Zimmermann Telegram" as a good background.

I have taken dry courses on WWI with the facts, numbers, and names. Some were very good with charts and diagrams. Some of the best explanations came from economics classes. However none of them put it all together as if you were reading a newspaper of the time until "The Guns of August."

Barbra brings out many facts and figures but mostly the personalities which seem at first an overwhelming amount of detail. Later you realize it is the detail that you missed in your history class.

Barbara has a way of making you feel that you shook hands with each of the key and not so key contributors to the creation of the environment of war and the people that dictated its nature and outcome.

You may find yourself re-reading this work periodically as you pick up different views through life and can reflect on what Barbra says in a new light.

I have to admit that somehow I missed some of the big things like "Plan 17." It was funny as when I was in the Army for the second time I went through BNOC where we had to stay up 36 hours and execute a different scenario every four hours. One of the scenarios was plan 17 where when you were up against an entrenched force that knew their territory so your only hope of success was to charge. If you lost momentum or tried to hide you were dead anyway. We won at only a casualty rate of 80%; the French faired pretty well on their first try also.

So in many cases this book can reflect on your life and the lives of others today.

I bought the hard copy of this book and also the Kindle edition with Whispersync. Usually the advantage of hardcopies are maps and charts. The Kindle edition had maps and charts that you consume in on. Whispersync also has its advantages; however you must be prepared for an overwhelmingly English accent.


The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty That Armed Germany at War by William Manchester (2003-03-04)
The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty That Armed Germany at War by William Manchester (2003-03-04)
by William Manchester
Edition: Paperback
4 used & new from $68.85

5.0 out of 5 stars How Krupp the manufacturing family influenced the shape of Germany, September 13, 2016
This is an excellent book about a family, noted for their involvement with the steel industry and especially the manufacturer of arms, struggle with Germany’s economy and power covering about 400 years between 1587 and 1968.

It looks lengthy however; it is over just as you are getting started. A side benefit is the technical information added helps you imagine what is like to design and sell the arms.

In some cases, they were almost given away for a cause. At other times, they mercenarily sold arms to many conflicting countries on both sides. This story parallels other books on history and makes the world seem that it is made up of people not just historical facts.

Interestingly enough William Manchester mentions that George Bernard Shaw actually based a play on the Krupp family, “Major Barbara” which consequently was made into a movie with windy Hiller in 1941.


The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Cliff Stoll (3-Feb-2007) Paperback
The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Cliff Stoll (3-Feb-2007) Paperback
by Cliff Stoll
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from $8.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Appropriately titled, September 13, 2016
Format: Paperback

A cuckoo bird will lay its egg in another birds nest letting that bird raise the offspring as her own.

I saw the TV program on this story before reading the book. Coming from a UNIX background it was fun to see a system I recognized. It could have been titled "The story of Ping" oops that title has been taken. I remember being billed for time on the computer and could only gain access at 2 AM. Many of these skills are now lost to people that do not have a shell account. I especially like how they kept the intruder on the line ling enough to track. The hunt was intriguing and it makes you wonder what is happening today. While this book deals with such things as passwords, the many new avenues created on today's Internet may afford for a newer mystery. Until then this is the classic.

A student managing the computer at Berkley notices an unusual charge to his account. He finds that someone is hacking before it was fashionable. To track down the culprit(s) he must first learn the tracking skills. This process is in its infancy so he even has to invent a few of the skills himself. The use of timing and knowledge of the speed of light allows for a good guess at the distance. The only way to go through the old timing switching stations was to hold the intruder on line ling enough. This required the creation of a dummy database with intriguing information.
Who's this mysterious intruder(s)?
Will they be caught?

What implications does it hold for us today?


Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics by David Reimer (2014-04-27)
Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics by David Reimer (2014-04-27)
by David Reimer
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from $45.76

5.0 out of 5 stars I can now Count Like an Egyptian, September 13, 2016
This critter is designed as a teaching tool and has some fun exercises.

If you are interested in different math theories this is a great intro to a different way of thinking.

An added value is the esoteric descriptions of other things Egyptian that are not necessarily count related.

It is what the title implies about counting and uses contemporary coins as examples. What it is not is a book on the more exotic useful math and geometry used by the Egyptians.

One book cannot be everything. But I can now Count Like an Egyptian.
And it is fun fun fun.


This Island Earth
This Island Earth
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Read what you missed in the movie, September 5, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: This Island Earth (Kindle Edition)
“Ever hear of an interositor?”

The book written in 1952 anticipated the electronics of today and possible tomorrow. The story is oure SCI-Fi fun.

Raymond F. Jones does an excelled job of fluffing out the details that the 1955 movie may have inferred to and does it well enough that you do not really have to see the movie to enjoy the story.


The Trojan War by Coolidge, Olivia E., Coolidge, Olivia E [HMH Books for Young Readers, 2001] Paperback [Paperback]
The Trojan War by Coolidge, Olivia E., Coolidge, Olivia E [HMH Books for Young Readers, 2001] Paperback [Paperback]
by Olivis E. Coolidge
Edition: Paperback
7 used & new from $634.11

5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly lucid version of the war., September 5, 2016
I cannot say that this was my introduction to the war as I have had decades of different interpretations and writings. However unlike attempts to water-down or paraphrase the story this one sticks close to the real thing yet makes it more affable. The reader will not have to unlearn this book to enjoy the Iliad.

This will turn out to be one of those stories that you cannot stop reading until the end. And even if it is a happy ever after story you will want more.

Because it reads fast there is a list of characters and places to fill you in on the story assumes culturally already know.

This is by no means a substitute for the real thing. However it can stand alone as an interesting story.


Mathematics for the Nonmathematician (Dover Books on Mathematics) by Kline, Morris (1985) Paperback
Mathematics for the Nonmathematician (Dover Books on Mathematics) by Kline, Morris (1985) Paperback
by Morris Kline
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from $5.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Ha ha fooled you, July 30, 2016
If you were expecting math theory without the math or an opportunity to replace algebra with arithmetic tricks then you will be sorely disappointed.

Like his earlier book "Mathematic s: a cultural approach) this is a sneaky way to introduce liberal arts students to the world of mathematics by showing them a practical approach. Don't by any means mistake this for what it is not; it is not a way to cut corners as by the time you finish this book you will been introduced to just about every phase of mathematics and geometry.

Although it can be a fun approach, you will need to be prepared to learn some stuff about things such as theory of gravity.

It starts off with the historical orientation to math and why math is important.

To give you an idea of the simplicity of this book here is a sample of the contents:

a historical orientation
logic and mathematics
number: the fundamental concept
algebra, the higher arithmetic
the nature and use of Euclidean geometry
charting the earth and the heavens
the mathematical order of nature
the awakening of Europe
mathematics and painting in the Renaissance
projective geometry
coordinate geometry
the simplest formulas in action
parametric equations and curvilinear motion
the application of formulas to gravitation
the differential calculus
the integral calculus
trigonometric functions and oscillatory motion
the trigonometric analysis of musical sounds
non-Euclidean geometries and their significance
arithmetic's and their algebras
the statistical approach to the social and biological sciences
the theory of probability
nature and the values of mathematics

As you can see you're in for a lot of fun especially if you liked mathematics for non-mathematicians. Ha!


Pop Goes the Weasel The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes by Jack, Albert [Perigee Trade,2009] (Paperback)
Pop Goes the Weasel The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes by Jack, Albert [Perigee Trade,2009] (Paperback)
by Albert Jack
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from $3.39

5.0 out of 5 stars "As I was going by Charing cross", July 30, 2016
This is a fun reference as are the other books by Albert Goes. I know about some of the Nursery Rimes but never realized how many there were.

Originally bought the book for "Oranges and Lemons" part of which is in the book of "1984" by George Orwell. However all the other rimes are worth it.

In the rime "As I was going by Charing Cross" he missed an opportunity to tell the history of How Charing Cross got its name.

Over all it will make you think twice before mindlessly repeating the rimes in public.


The Razor's Edge by Maugham, W. Somerset (2003) Paperback
The Razor's Edge by Maugham, W. Somerset (2003) Paperback
by W. Somerset Maugham
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from $32.43

5.0 out of 5 stars A look into another world in another time, July 30, 2016
Yet the writing is so full that we can feel part of this other world.

I came to this story by the back door. My first introduction to Somerset Maugham was through the movie "The Razor's Edge" (1946) staring Tyrone Power as Larry Darrell. I have no idea as to how much it was adapted from the book. Then in 1984 we watched Bill Murray as Larry Darrell. This film lost what magic the 1946 film had. So it was time to read the book. Yes I know very few films can do more than present the essence of a book. Turns out that even the older film wrote Summerset out of some of the scenes.

Larry is back from the war (WWI). As with many of us he is left with nagging questions about why one person lives and another must die. This problem leads Larry to search for the answers. He turns down opportunities and takes up a lifestyle to help him find answers. This story is told or narrated by Somerset Maugham himself. In the book Somerset takes more of an active part in the story. Larry came as close as any of us to the answer, he seeks and we leave him much the same way one enters and leaves your life.


On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Scribner Classics) Classic edition by King, Stephen (2010) Hardcover
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Scribner Classics) Classic edition by King, Stephen (2010) Hardcover
29 used & new from $11.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Will the real Stephen King please stand up?, July 30, 2016
This was money well spent. This book is more than the title implies. First it is a selected biography of Stephen King. I enjoyed the poison ivy episode. This is not a deviation but an explanation of why he writes the way he does and the background that he draws on. Secondly this is a "how to write like Stephen King" book it reflects his likes and dislikes. I agree with most of them. I suppose that that is why I like his novels.

However I can only guess that he must spend a lot of time around people that cuss. It is not like he is not aware of it. I feel that he is somewhat proud of the fact that he cusses a lot. Luckily he said it is not necessity to be excessive.

I share his dislike for flashbacks. And he also expresses several dislikes for other stilting crutches, including excessive description of Back-story.
An added bonus is his description of the van accident that a certain comedian commented about saying that Stephen lost his Tommyknockers. Stephen forgot to mention that he bought the van that hit him for destruction purposes. Talk about revenge.

Over all after reading this I was compelled to try my hand at writing.


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