- Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to al-Qaeda by Wallace, Melton and Schleshinger
Fascinating, scary, and geeky. With great diagrams and photographs explaining how spy devices were constructed and worked, and with interesting stories about various successes and failures, all told from the perspective of the "techs" working behind the scenes to support operations. For someone interested in geopolitical history, technology, security issues and government secrecy, it was a must read and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Warning: the book minimizes any discussion of the ethical/moral/legal implications of the spycraft, and the human toll takes a backseat to the geekery.
If you read political thrillers or action novels for their ability to transport you away from the concerns of current events into a fantasy that seems realistic but is purely fictional, then Steve Alten's book The Shell Game is probably not for you. And I wouldn't blame you; most folks probably don't want anxieties about their real lives and the future of our society to be a central part of the escapist action and adventure reading that we do on the beach. But after I heard that the book takes on the realities of peak oil, government corruption, American foreign policy and the political futures of today's Presidential candidates, and weaves them all into a 466 page novel, I couldn't help but be intrigued by it. Here's my review, some spoilers if you read on.
Continue reading "Steve Alten's The Shell Game"
The tail end of the trip I just returned from took place in Nashville, TN and was charged with readings and viewings about the occupation of Iraq and the current political trends in Washington: I finished reading Nashville resident Al Gore's book The Assault on Reason and then later the same day, saw the new documentary film No End In Sight. The two tie together nicely, and so I have a review of them both here.
I always look forward to seeing the speakers that my alma mater, Earlham College, brings to Richmond, Indiana because they often bring perspective, insight, and experience that you just can't otherwise get living in a small Midwestern town. Tonight's event was no different: William Kristol (neo-conservative pundit, editor of the Weekly Standard, Bush/Quayle advisor, and member of the American Enterprise Institute) would be giving a talk entitled "America's Foreign Policy After 9-11" on campus free to the public. I appreciate that Earlham makes the effort to bring speakers and thinkers like Kristol who are so diametrically opposed (e.g. Ann Coulter) to so many members of the Earlham community on campus to present alternate, challenging and often infuriating points of view. And I usually appreciate that the Earlham community handles these encounters in such a principled and respectful way.
Oh wait, did I just say "principled and respectful"? I must have made a horrible mistake somewhere, because at tonight's talk, about 30 minutes into Kristol's speech, a student-looking person got up on stage and smacked Kristol square in the face with a pie.
The Drudge Report had a subtle series of links Monday about the apparently "misspoken" remark that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made in Iraq this weekend, where he mentioned that the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11 was shot down. Of course, the Pentagon has now quickly corrected that, and I'm sure if the administration has anything to do with it, that'll be the last we hear of it in mainstream media.
I have no interest in perpetuating conspiracy theories (which is obviously why I read the Drudge Report...er...), but it sure does seem like Mr. Rumsfeld is finding quite creative ways to draw negative attention to himself these days.