Sunday, May 16, 2021
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Music Reviews

Patricia Cornwell: Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper -- Case Closed

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Author: Patricia Cornwell
Title: Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper -- Case Closed
Format: Paperback
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Rated: * * * * *

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In a much touted special back in February on ABC, it was poinyed out how much money was spent by Ms. Cromwell in her Jack the Ripper case. She had drawn a 'complete' conclusion as to the identity of Jack the Ripper. In her book, Ms. Cromwell goes forth to show just how that money was spent (and assuredly how she will recoup it). However, the book is a fascinating read. She never waivers from her conclusion as to the identity of the killer and does not allow you to wander either. With her scientific background and inimitable writing skills she takes us on the journey with her to see - just as assuredly she did - that her conclusion is one of almost verifiable fact. What we learn about her claim is just quite possibly how 'right' she could possibly be. Many conclusions and comparisons are drawn but not in a willy-nilly fashion. Each item that she brings up is backed up and qualified. Each turn that she makes she explains to us why she is leading us down this path. Some Ripperologists may still claim that she is wrong but Ms. Cromwell certainly does not allow you to think that with this writing. I would definately recommend this book to anyone interested in adding this to the plethora of suppositions that wre already lining the shelves. It simply is a great read. Review by John Guerra


Erik Larson: Devil In The White City

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Author: Erik Larson
Title: Devil In The White City
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
Rated: * * * * *

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Working in a book store affors several opportunities, one of which is advance copies, (this book is not due out until February 2003). In one remarkable combination of history and true crime, Larson combines the story of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 with the story behind H.H. Holmes, quite possibly America's first serial killer - a phrase which had not been 'invenetd' at that time. Intertwining the story of the task at hand of first winning the vote to host the fair in Chicago and the trail of Dr. Holmes - virtually one chapter after another, Larson kesy us into not only how vitally important the fair was considered to the burgeoning industrial age of America but the birth of something more sinister as well. Meticulous detail is enhanced by coherent and liveley storytelling of the men who would work and fight together to bring the fair to fruition. Even the slightest details turn out to be harbingers of the world that was yet top be awakened in the 20th Century and we see, through the aformenetioned details, how not only was the fair important to Chicago and the States but how it literally lead to many things that we would soon take for granted in the following century. In following Dr. Holmes and how his story injected itself into the fabric of the fair, we see - as mentioned earlier - that the onset of the 20th century - would not only bring forth some of the simplest everyday items and icons but how, in a world that would soon be thrust into two successive world wars would take with it the innocence of a bygone era in the unlikely guise of a 'mild mannered' and charming doctor. As the term psychopath and serial killer had not been used to date, Larson points up the connection - possibly - betwixt the country's advancing technology and the retreating humanity that was yet to come. This is an intelligent and compelling read for the history buff and true crime reader - Look for it early next year.


Kevin Kelly: Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World

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Author: Kevin Kelly (@)
Title: Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Perseus Books Group
Rated: * * * * *

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Kevin Kelly is the Executive Editor of Wired Magazine and former publisher and editor of Whole Earth Review. He has been instrumental in helping launch The Hacker’s Conference, Cyberthon and the WELL. His book is highly recommended to anyone interested in technology, economics, evolutionary theories and even spiritualist (especially techno-shamans). The New Biology of Machines begins with a comparison of the made’ vs. the born’ and from here goes into topics such as hive mind, coevolution, ecosystems, economics, god games, artificial evolution and much more. Kelly continually discusses new forms of technological discoveries, experiments and even fringe ideas related to them and what these may reveal. He then takes technology and compares it to biological systems which are similar so that one can easily see various parallels in both nature and scientific (computer, mechanical, etc.) experiment. This collection of thoughts and ideas helps one more readily put together the intricate pieces of technology and biology to make further sense of our ever-developing world and to awaken new thinking processes within. Kelly even touches on the concepts of Baudrillard’s Simulation & Simulacra especially in the chapter on God Games. In essence we are the simulacra of God by all logical reasoning. He discusses how simple systems can be modified by simply adding quantity, "more is different", and how this is obvious in both insect cultures and in computer simulation. There are many many concepts which are strictly revelations of science technology which reveals the mysteries of the biological and thus ourselves and could also easily be associated in spiritual concerns by anyone with an open mind to do so. I believe that one day the concepts in this book will become more common knowledge and will thus aid in the rethinking of our reality of existence. Reality is what is truly at question here and is proven to be not what we seem to have accepted it to be. Technology will prove that there is more to our existence than we believe and the unexplained in nature actually makes more sense. With this comes an opening of awareness and consciousness that will expand the horizons of man and machine kind. According to Kelly there is no real fear of a fiction like The Terminator becoming reality that biological and mechanical systems will find a symbiosis and that this is truly what we should seek. Another item of interest is that we have already developed means to artificially evolve even software to create better and more efficient software that is indecipherable to a human coder. This is only the beginning; imagine adding artificial intelligence into this system. You then have intelligent evolving machines. On the topic of evolution the goal seems to be to try out all possible variables to see what works. It is also displayed that parasites help an ecology evolve faster as does temporary chaos that ensues before the system’ again finds stability. Think about this when life-changing events throw things into an uproar. There are simply too many revolutionary discoveries, sciences, philosophies, and ideas in this one book to discuss them all here. However when you read them you will find that they readily relate to your personal life and society as well as fictions you may have been exposed to. The possibilities are endless and we have only touched the tip of the iceberg. To think that this was originally written in 1994 and science advances exponentially so it will be no wonder when we watch many science-fiction technologies become reality in the years to come. This book offers not just information on technology but new and enlightening ways of perceiving the world we live in based on the information provided and is highly recommended to anyone who wants to learn and or grow at least mentally if not in other ways. This is a book for technologist, alternative thinkers, and others on the fringe.


Diane Wolkstein: Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth

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Author: Diane Wolkstein (@)
Title: Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Perennial
Rated: * * * * *

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This book comes highly recommended as the most informative book written so far regarding the goddess Inanna of ancient cultures. The Sumerian hymns and stories included are translated from the actual cuneiform tablets which compose the most complete collection of these writings so far. This book is an excellent read for anyone interested in learning about Inanna whether for personal (spiritual) reasons or for historical reasons this book is essential. Interestingly enough I found my introduction to these ancient writings a bit revealing. It seems that not only were the Sumerians to hold what is known as the first story of creation in the huluppu tree which predates the biblical Genesis by thousands of years but it seems that they also wrote the first erotica for there are many references to Inanna's vulva in the text. Following the stories and hymns are some very informative commentaries. These give some interesting information regarding the "cradle of civilization" and its history, culture and literature. It also discusses the deciphering process and the history of the finding of the tablets and the process of putting the pieces together. You will also find some interpretive discussion regarding the text and annotation about the art used in the book which are mostly photos of pictographs and sculptures from ancient Sumeria.