bobquasit: (Lo Pan)
Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous WebsiteInside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A difficult book to judge. In large part, it seems to be one side of a battle over a broken relationship. Not knowing the other side, how am I to judge who's right? And why should I bother?

In this particular case, the dispute is between the book's co-author, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and famed Wikileaks director Julian Assange. I'll credit Domscheit-Berg and/or his co-author Tina Klopp (who I presume is a ghost writer), with showing some restraint; they paint Assange as an arrogant and irresponsible egomaniac, but you can see them trying hard not to seem too obviously one-sided.

As for the truth of the details, how the hell am I to know? It's believable that Assange is an asshole. On the other hand, that's just if you go by Domscheit-Berg's word. Frankly, there are a million stories like this out there: a working relationship gone sour. I've had a few of them myself. Unfortunately this one isn't terribly more interesting than, well, any of mine for example! It's only the celebrity of Assange and Wikileaks that got this book into print.

There are two things that could have redeemed this book. One would have been great writing. I can't speak for the original German edition, but the translation in the English edition was merely workmanlike. Oh, it was handled well enough that it didn't jump out at me as a translation; whoever went over the translation did a good enough job, as far as that goes (and incidentally, I used to touch up and in some cases re-write poorly translated articles for a magazine myself, so I have some experience in this area). But the writing simply isn't anything special. Nor is there, for example, any particular humor to the book.

The other potentially redeeming factor would have been some really insightful details about the workings of Wikileaks. There's some of that here, and it is somewhat interesting. If it's credible (and I have no particular reason to doubt it) then Wikileaks is in a real technological pickle. But again, although I support openness and the stated principles of Wikileaks, technical issues don't mean a lot to me here.

The book is remarkably current. It's about issues that took place as recently as five or six months ago. That's a bit jarring! It gave me the feeling that I could have been reading the whole thing on some online forum.

I also have to say that I can't help but feel a little bit taken advantage of by Mr. Domscheit-Berg. His book seems to be little more than a veiled continuation of a running battle with Julian Assange. Okay, if his account is accurate, then Assange is an irresponsible egotist and bastard. But I wasn't involved in this battle, and why is Mr. Domscheit-Berg making money off of me in pursuit of his war? Apart from anything else, that seems a highly ironic act for someone who professes such high ideals.

Incidentally, the book was a birthday gift from my sister and her husband. I'm quite sure they hadn't read it themselves. It was a thoughtful gift - if you're reading this, sis, I hope this review doesn't hurt your feelings - because I am interested in openness, politics, and Wikileaks. I just wish Domscheit-Berg had produced something more worthwhile and in-depth.

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bobquasit: (Lo Pan)
Posted over on the New York Times, waiting for approval.
Oh my god, politics, don't read this )
bobquasit: (Lo Pan)
Hidden Empire Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
The label on the spine says "SCIENCE FICTION", but "FANTASY" would have been more accurate. "RIGHT-WING FANTASY" would have been the most accurate of all.

Global warming is a lie, and even liberals know it in their heart of hearts. Guantanamo is relatively "nice". Progressives conspired against America, and were roundly defeated by patriotic red-state forces. Fox News is the only channel that even occasionally tells the truth. A Rush Limbaugh analog is a brave, noble, and lovable hero.

Three thoughts went through my head as I read this:

First, that George W. Bush could have written the whole thing. I knew that Card had been getting more and more right-wing over the years, but this surprised even me.

Second, that with each page I found myself disliking Card more and more. Your mileage may differ, but I found his opinions really offensive. He really seems quite proud of his bigoted opinions; that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has read any of his homophobic and religiously-biased articles.

Third, whatever storytelling talent Card had has long since been replaced with a dumbed-down writing style and an urge to grab the microphone and preach the True Faith. He's really gotten himself into a rut; he seems utterly dependent on overly-precious banter between precocious kids and their parent(s), alternating with warmed-over right-wing political philosophy and rather limp and confused action scenes.

There's a worldwide epidemic and African warfare thread which is slightly less tedious than the rest of the book, but it certainly doesn't make up for the rest of it. The whole thing rather reminded me of the Left Behind series, and that's a memory I would rather not have dredged up.

It's funny; he was able to write well, once upon a time. It's hard to believe that this book is by the same guy who wrote Songmaster.


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bobquasit: (Default)
This is an absolutely delightful (political) video:
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
This topic bothers me, but I have a hard time not replying to this sort of question.

"Do you approve of our government using predator aircraft to strike at terrorist targets?"

Oh hell, I assume that this is political.
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
I suppose this could be considered political, so on with the political chastity belt again! (Read more) )
You think 79% is high? The effective annual interest on many payday-loan-store loans is over 800%.
bobquasit: (Default)
Politics. Do not click if the topic bothers you. )
bobquasit: (Default)
Apparently someone was recently executed for a crime it was then proved they hadn't committed. Someone asked if this would mean the end of capital punishment in the USA.

I suppose this is political, so here's a cut.
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
God help us, it's more politics. Snarky politics, to boot!
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
Here are a couple of photos of some of the grateful young beneficiaries of our new Nobel Peace Prize President's policies:
Oh god, NO! He's writing about politics again! Watch out! Don't click!!! )
Found these via Glenn Greenwald over at Salon.
bobquasit: (Default)
Warning: politics inside. It's a letter I wrote to Salon.
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
Okay, this is a political post which is NOT filtered. I'm putting it behind an LJ cut, instead. Those who don't like my political posts, DON'T READ THIS.
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
Just had a thought: instead of using a Politics filter for virtually all my political posts, would be be acceptable if I put political content behind an lj-cut?
bobquasit: (Default)
...died early this morning. I'm terribly sorry to see him go. As I wrote on Askville:
He exemplified the ideal of noblesse oblige. Born with everything - incredible wealth, looks, charm - he could have spent his life enjoying himself without a thought for anyone else. Instead, he spent his life working to improve the lot of those less fortunate than he. But actually, I think he enjoyed that far more than he would have enjoyed a lifetime of selfish pleasures.

I saw him once; didn't get to meet him, but I saw him about 16-17 years ago at Boston's World Trade Center. I was very surprised. He wasn't the fat, red-faced caricature I'd come to expect from depictions in the press. In fact, he seemed far younger than I'd expected, and was a surprisingly handsome fellow.

I wish we had more Senators like him - even one would be good. He was my Senator for many years.

I suppose it was inevitable, but right-wingers are already screeching about Chappaquiddick. Bastards. I notice they never whispered a word against Laura Bush, who had a very similar event in her young life.
bobquasit: (Default)
Robert Novak is dead.

I was having a bad day, but this news brightens it a little. As, I would imagine, it has brightened his - or would, if there was a hell.
bobquasit: (Default)
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of Heinlein's last books, and not one of his best. It represents yet another installment in the "World As Myth" theme that he used so often later in life, and therefore includes many characters from his older, better works - including, inevitably, Lazarus Long, who continues his long (pun intended) degeneration from the original interesting protagonist of "Methuselah's Children" into an annoying incest-freak, Heinlein surrogate, self-parody (I suspect), and all-around jerk-who-must-be-worshiped-due-to-his-natural-moral-superiority.
Read more... )
Heinlein only wrote one more book after this; I've read it, but don't remember much of it (which is not very high praise, I must say). Unfortunately, that means that I don't remember if there was any mention of the outcome in that book. I suppose I'll have to re-read it to find out.

If it weren't for Heinlein's great skill as a storyteller, I'd have given this two stars at best. It's certainly among his weakest novels.

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Jun. 9th, 2009 10:03 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Okay. Per request, I will never make an unfiltered political post here again. I'll also go back and filter some of the more recent unfiltered political posts.

I'll post an announcement now and again about the existence of the political filter, however, if that's all right.

PS - what about humorous posts that relate to politics, like and ? Should I filter those as well?

PPS - Okay, I've filtered about ten recent posts. My apologies to the few who had commented on them, but who aren't on the politics filter; sometimes there are no good choices, I guess.

There are still some humorous political posts left. I can remove them if anyone wants me to; let me know. I'll filter any future posts of that sort. This means that for those not on that filter, I'll be posting much less often.


May. 29th, 2009 03:25 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Someone asked an anti-Obama question about the government owning GM (which is SOCIALISM!!!). I didn't feel like getting into it, so I was brief:

Don't know. Don't care. If you're stupid enough to buy a GM car, you deserve whatever breakdowns you get.

She responded that I didn't seem to like GM, so I gave her a bit that I made up long ago:

In Japan, if a worker makes a bad car, he must ritually disembowel himself in order to extirpate the shame that he has brought upon his family. If an auto executive's company brings out a bad car, he does the same thing on national TV, so that all may see his disgrace.

In America, if a worker makes a bad car, he scratches his @ss and goes for a beer. If an executive is responsible for a bad car, he raises the price, runs more ads prominently featuring the American flag, and applies for a government bailout - which he gets. Then he turns around and uses some of that money to lobby the government to eliminate or delay safety features and fuel efficiency improvements (see Iacocca, Lee), thereby killing thousands of Americans, ruining the environment, and increasing our dependency on brutal Middle Eastern despots.

What's not to love?
bobquasit: (Default)
I just wrote this as a comment further down, but it's worth posting by itself.

This morning there was a story in the New York Times; the Explorers (who are part of the BSA) have been training thousands of children aged 13 & 1/2 and up as paramilitary death squads!

Technically they're to be border patrol or "law enforcement" teams, but they train with guns and...well, take a look at the article. The photo is a bunch of kids dressed as a goddamned death squad!

Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More (link fixed)


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