I Know That I Promised

Island

I know that I promised, and I know that most of you have read about it, but this story was just too precious, not to comment on.

American Is Killed by Bow and Arrow on Remote Indian Island

John Allen Chau had to know that what he was about to do was extremely dangerous.

Mr. Chau, thought to be in his 20s, was floating in a kayak off a remote island in the Andaman Sea. He was about to set foot on one of the most sealed-off parts of India, an island inhabited by a small, highly enigmatic tribe whose members have killed outsiders for simply stepping on their shore.

Fishermen warned him not to go. Few outsiders had ever been there. Indian government regulations clearly prohibited any interaction with people on the island, called North Sentinel.

While I was reading this story, I wondered what this guy was – some sort of super-jock survivalist, out to prove that he had was the biggest dick??! Then came the punch line.

But Mr. Chau pushed ahead in his kayak, which he had packed with a Bible. After that, it is a bit of a mystery what happened. On Wednesday, the Indian authorities said that Mr. Chau had been shot with bows and arrows by tribesmen when he got on shore. It was a “misplaced adventure,’’ said Dependra Pathak, the police chief.

No, it wasn’t!! There is no mystery. This was not “an adventure.” This self-made martyr was an unwelcome Christian missionary, too arrogant and stupid to stay out of harm’s way. The article doesn’t say if he was a Jehovah’s Witness, but apparently there are even some Indian people who don’t like telemarketers. 😯

He violated the laws of India, which clearly forbid him from interfering with the natives. He violated the rules of his own missionary group, who urged him not to go, and he disobeyed Christ’s own Biblical directives. Jesus said to go by twos, to spread the word. Christ obviously knew the need for backup, but Chau insisted on going alone – probably because he couldn’t find anyone else crazy enough to go with him.

Christ said, “If you offer the word to a people, and they refuse it, depart from that place and leave them.” Chau swam ashore one day, and the natives shot arrows at him, obviously not willing to accept him (or Him) and The Word. The only arrow to hit, struck his Bible. He believed that God had spared him. Instead of departing from that place, he swam back out to the fish boat, but returned the next day.

He is apparently unmarried and childless, so he qualifies for the Darwin Award. He’s not your usual, testosterone-infused gym-jock. He is was something even worse – A faith-infused Jesus-Jock. At least he managed to kill only himself.

I repeat from my post, “What’s wrong with a comfortable delusion?” Because, not every time, but ultimately, and inevitably, it leads to the likes of:

Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre – 918 good Christians dead.
Uganda, Nov. 2018 – more than 918 black Christian sect suicide deaths
David Koresh and the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco – 75 faithful and 4 FBI agents dead
Heaven’s Gate cult mutilation and suicides – 39 dead
Solar Temple Order – 74 dead in Quebec, France, and Switzerland
South Korean ‘Benevolent Mother’ sect – 32 poisoned and strangled

And these are just the recent, penny-ante examples. How about the Inquisition, where thousands were horribly tortured and executed, or the Crusades, where hundreds of thousands died on faraway battlefields, or through disease or starvation, including excess population children?

And these are still penny-ante! How about the delusionally manipulated European peasants of the Dark Ages?? The Church convinced them that cats were the minions of Satan, so they killed them all off – which allowed rats to proliferate – which promoted the growth of fleas infected with bubonic plague – which killed off over 1/3 of the total population of Europe…. Millions and Millions!

Anyone who doesn’t see, or denies the relationship, is more than comfortably deluded. Not to seem harsh, but, aside from the FBI agents in Waco, I don’t really give a damn. It’s a self-solving problem. It’s about as important as being unfriended on FaceBitch: it’s like the garbage taking itself out. 😈

Delusion does nothing but hold us back. Truth is far more important than all of the soothing lies and should be sought in all instances. I know that sometimes the lies can give you temporary peace, but in the end, somebody always gets hurt.

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Book Review #4

After writing reviews on the first three of Lee Child’s, Jack Reacher books, all I can say is, this is how they should have been written.

Back, just about the time that the phase, “Jumping the shark” was created, but before I became aware of it, I noticed something similar about television programs. (And Art, and many other things)  After a couple of very successful seasons of Mork and Mindy, even the Mix-Master mind of Robin Williams had to rest, and they brought in Jonathan Winters to save the series.  Whenever a program becomes so cartoonish that they have to add characters, it’s on its last legs.

I liked the series Bones when it first came out, but it’s become so soap-opera-ish that I don’t hold much hope for it next season.  Already cartoonish, a couple of years ago, I found out about these books when they brought in a character called The Locator, and then tried to split a cartoon off from a cartoon and gave it its own series.  I was surprised it lasted one short season.

Even between the pilot and the first episode, they got rid of the intelligent, good-looking, smart-mouthed, British, female bartender and replaced her with some tween Roma Gypsy naïf, and her soap-opera-supplied male cousin.  The books are SO different.

The Author – Richard Greener

The Book – The Knowland Retribution

The Review

To begin with, unlike the TV show, the protagonist was not struck by lightning, and able to find any object in the world.  He is intelligent, methodical, and a student of psychology and the human condition, which allows him to locate any person, many of whom don’t want to be found.

I thought I knew why there were only two books in the series when the central character, already wealthy enough from a number of discreet, high-society cases to live in the Bahamas, receives $31.1 million.  He gives away $30 million of it, and I still don’t know why Greener only wrote two Locator stories.

The book is not About the Locator.  He only appears in about a third of it. The primary third is about an Atlanta real-estate lawyer who loses his wife, his daughter and his only two grandchildren to e-coli contaminated meat.  He eventually sets out to kill those who made conscious decisions to put commerce above food safety.

The second main part of the story is about a steel-trap-mind newspaperwoman, who wants her own column, but is relegated to writing obituaries for the New York Times.  It is her noticing and connecting violent executive deaths all over the eastern United States, which reveals the plot, and its probable planner.

Walter, The Locator, appears in the first couple of development chapters.  He pops back in briefly a couple of times to help direct the paper lady, and shows up again at the denouement finale.  Other than brief mentions of how he honed his Locator ability, very little of it is shown.  He just shows up, and the wanted person is there, all very anti-climactic.

Technically-speaking, there were few typos, or incorrect word usages….until we got to the last chapter.  Suddenly Walter spots a Chevrolet Camero, not Camaro.  The General Motors website says that they search for, or make up names for Chevrolet products which begin with C, for alliterative value, like the Chevy Cruze.

They were initially going to use the Camero spelling.  The GM website says that, in Spanish, the word means a large single bed, a contradiction in terms.  A translation site gives it as a ¾ bed.  Camaro is a made-up name, but means “companion” in middle French, and in modern Spanish, the adjective value is “shrimp-like”, while the noun means “loose bowels”, diarrhoea.  Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a shit.

Possibly in a rush to get the book published, the last chapter suddenly has the woman reporter speak of having someone bare (bear) with me, an invitation to a party I wouldn’t want to miss.  Walter names a character who’s (whose) calling is suspect.

Some action is taken at the whimsy of the perpetrator, and assistance is rendered complements of an FBI supervisor.  These last two seem almost like Lee Child’s British construction.  While not exactly incorrect, most American writers would speak of, at the whim of, or whims of.  Whimsy has such a light-hearted flair to it, not correlating to the death and destruction of the story to that point.  Complements and compliments are forever being mixed up, but in this specific spot, compliments is the more correct.

The book has solid character development, good plot progression, and engrossing narration.  All in all, so much more satisfying than the cotton-candy prose I so often paddle around in the shallow end of.  It was quite enjoyable, and I look forward to the next, but sadly, last.

Book Review #2

So, here it is only four months later, and my lazy, forgetful ass is finally getting around to doing another book review.  I bitched in another post about a book I was particularly disappointed with, but it wasn’t really a review.

After a considerable wait, I finally received, from the Library, the second in the Jack Reacher series, like the previous, 700 pages of large print.  It was the fourth book I was reading simultaneously, and took just over a week to get through.

The wife decided to do some research on the series, since I’ll want to work my way through it.  The library has an e-copy of the next one, which we reserved.  I’ll probably receive it quicker than this one.  After that, they don’t have any, till the latest in the series.  She checked with one of the e-book distributors, and they have them all, for $4/ea.  I may have to ask for my own Kobo for my upcoming birthday.

The Author – Lee Child

The Book – Die Trying

The Review

I’m still hoping that Child’s writing improves as the series advances.  Like the previous book, some portions of it are inspired.  Then other sections drone and drone.  He seems addicted to whipsawing.  In several passages, the story goes from, It is, to It isn’t, to Yes it is, back to No, it isn’t, finally to It provably is.  Once, or even twice, can be excitingly suspenseful.  Three or four times in one book quickly becomes disappointingly formulaic.

Reacher is in the wrong place at the wrong time when three guys kidnap a young female FBI agent off the streets of Chicago in broad daylight.  Child, through his Reacher character, still shows solid logic.  The fact that the three kidnappers were only gone from a militia compound for five days, means that there is a mole in the FBI office who studied her schedule, a plot twist that got past me.

SPOILER ALERT

The author builds the suspense through the usual process of elimination, and brings it down to just two possible candidates – and then plot twists it that they are both dirty, one for ideology, the other just for greed.

What I liked about the book:  The usual guy stuff.  Lots of things went bang and boom.  Bad guys got dead.  Good guys got saved, good logical thinking employed, lots of witty repartee.

What I didn’t like about the book:  A surprising number of minor details.  I watch a considerable amount of English telly, but things I accept without question on a British broadcast, grate when viewed in a book aimed largely at a North American market.

Child has a character stand on a queue.  Most Americans will join a line or line-up, but not a queue.  Those who do, speak of standing in a queue, not on one.  Standing on a queue, seems like I’m leaving footprints on unfortunate people.

The same with what a character did at the weekend.  “At the weekend” seems like someone drove up to it and parked outside.  Americans do things on the weekend, to enjoy the entire 60 hours

When Reacher first met the heroine, he did a cold read on her, and figured she owned twenty outfits, each worth $400 – an $8000 wardrobe.  While she is impressed with his observational skills and logic, she tells him that she worked at a Madison Avenue firm for three years before joining the FBI and bringing her clothes with her.  She has 35 outfits, and $400 is what she pays for a top when it’s on sale.  She has $8000 worth of shoes.  This is not a problem with the writing, but I have trouble rooting for any female who owns $8000 worth of shoes.

Child doesn’t seem to know the difference between a cave and a mine, and has Reacher fighting his claustrophobia by crawling through a tiny passage where the roof comes down almost to his head and the walls close in till he can hardly move his elbows.  Then he encounters the skeletons of five competitors the head bad guy had murdered.

This is a great psychological passage, showing the ruthless evil of the villain, and Reacher winning out over adversity.  I can ignore the question of, if it’s that tight in there, how did he crawl past five skeletons?  The question I can’t ignore is, how did they get there?  In a passage that small, they couldn’t be dragged in, and they couldn’t be pushed in.

This book is only a year newer than the first, and Child still doesn’t seem to have learned much about guns.  True, he doesn’t have anyone waving little .22 caliber pistols, but, at least five years after the FBI switched to semi-automatic pistols, he has them still carrying old .38 Special revolvers.  Everybody else in the book had auto-loaders, the Army, the Secret Service, even the bad guys.  How come the Bureau got stuck with the antiques?

He has the heroine come into possession of a “MAC 10” machine pistol, but she’s afraid to fire it because the noise will attract more bad guys.  I suppose I should cut Child a little slack on this one.  Even many knowledgeable gun dealers don’t know the difference between an Ingram M 10, and a MAC 10.  The M 10 does not become a MAC 10 until a Military Arms Construction (MAC) sound suppressor has been attached.

Salesmen used to meet potential buyers in hotel rooms.  The “silenced” gun was removed from a titanium briefcase, and the salesman would order a jug of ice water and glasses from room-service.  When the hotel employee knocked on the door, the salesman would toss a couple of cushions in front of the briefcase, to catch ricochets, and burn through a 30-round magazine of shells.  He would then turn the cushions over, jam the gun back into the briefcase, and answer the door.  Not one bellboy ever reported anything suspicious, but tons of sales were made.

Despite their minor flaws, these are good solid action books.  I look forward to the next.