Books and literature

So much confusion, so much paranoia, so many good intentions, so much hard work, technical genius, cynicism, manipulation, buckpassing, buckpocketing, argument, grandstanding, risk-taking, calculation, theorizing, goodwill and bad, rhetoric and hypocrisy, so much desperation, all point to something intractable behind the problem of how to deploy sufficient and appropriate nuclear arms to protect one’s nation […]

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The main storytelling device in William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral is after-the-fact exposition (ATFE), which gives it the feeling of a mystery more than conventional science fiction. Rather than tell you in advance how a world or a technology works, Gibson shows you the results without context and provides the explanation later. This does well […]

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In the Massey College room where I lived for three years (V:4, best room in the college), there was a sumptuous abundance of shelf space: two shelves extending the entire long axis of the room (probably 20′ of shelving each), plus this shelving unit between the office and bedroom areas. Now, my generally excellent new […]

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Occupy Wall Street comprised the people who responded to the call. Ultimately, however, uncritical openness was Occupy’s downfall: the general assemblies were paralyzed by the inability to distinguish between true and false. Participants who had been with Occupy for a day were given a say equal to that of committed activists who had founded the […]

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I have written before about banned books. In this video, a contemporary author discusses the experience of having his novel banned for containing apparently mature content: His closer — about deferring to librarians to make such judgments – differs from the more common narrative that rejects such curation entirely.

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Donald McLachlan, a journalist who served under Godfrey [head of British naval intelligence] at the Admiralty, afterwards argued that all wartime intelligence departments should be run by civilians in uniform, because they are unburdened by the lifetime prejudices of career soldiers, sailors and airmen: ‘It is the lawyer, the scholar, the traveller, the banker, even […]

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I left the Corps because I had become a reluctant warrior. Many Marines reminded me of gladiators. They had that mysterious quality that allows some men to strap on greaves and a breastplate and wade into the gore. I respected, admired, and emulated them, but I could never be like them. I could kill when […]

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“Sir, what the fuck were the commanders thinking, sending us in there with no armor to clear a fucking town? We could have all been killed, and for what? We’re sitting in the same goddamn field we were in last night, as if nothing had happened, except we got the shit shot out of us […]

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At company headquarters the captain had no further instructions for me — just settle in for the night and be ready to move in the morning — so I returned to the platoon. By now, the Marines had hacked sleeping holes from the soft dirt and had begun the daily routine of security, cleaning weapons, […]

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The general stood on top of an amtrac, backed by the U.S. and Marine Corps flags. His voice boomed through a microphone to the hundred or so men standing beneath him. The theme was rules of engagement, and he wanted to make four points very clear. First, commanders had an inherent obligation — not merely […]

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