Observations.

Is Cuba an exemplar of U. S. foreign policy?

President Obama's Cuban plan started the process of normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba. President Obama's Cuban policy has components found in other of his administration's foreign policy efforts: To fix the present by symbolic attempts to mend the past. They are marked by a recognition that: incremental and indirect change can be just as important as more obviously interventionist moves can be; change in other parts of the world is usually shaped more by internal efforts and perceptions than external; dialog with other countries is a vital part of exerting influence on change outside our borders.

Reviews.

Marooned on Mars

Book Pocket Review, Title The Martian, Author Andy Weir, Rating 4.0,

The Martian

Andy Weir

Pocket Review

This 21st century Robinson Crusoe tale works because the lone marooned astronaut's effort at survival on Mars is framed around the question: how would a dogged but highly knowledgeable engineer solve the existential crises that cropped up, and live yet another day?

History, Reviews.

The smartest Nazi

Book Briefly Noted, Title Spandau: The Secret Diaries, Author Albert Speer, Rating 4.0,

Spandau: The Secret Diaries

Albert Speer

Briefly Noted

Albert Speer, Hitler's personal architect and Reich Armaments Minister, kept a diary while he was in Spandau prison following his conviction at the post-war Nuremburg trials. These diaries provide a fascinating, hooded glimpse of the 'smartest man' in the Nazi leadership. At least, smart enough to evade the death penalty at the Nuremberg Trials ...
Observations, Politics-Government.

There is "spin", and there is bearing false witness

One of the most difficult things for me is to watch politicians, governments, corporations, and organizations of all stripes, tell lies in order to persuade their intended audience to support them. This is clearly a naive reaction on my part: Why be perpetually bothered afresh by something that is pervasive and nearly universal? After all, "everybody cheats", and the most important thing for these entities is that they survive, they prevail, or that their influence waxes rather than wanes, not that they do the "right thing". To this question I have no pragmatic answer, except to say that I believe that honesty has more potential to make people and organizations successful, to make the world that more loving place called for by the major religions, than does the selfish manipulation that is the lie. The lie all too often gets you what you want, but at what cost to others, and at what cost to yourself?
Reviews.

Stuck at twelve

Book Book Review, Title In the Woods, Author Tana French, Rating 3.5,

In the Woods

Tana French

Book Review

Rather than mainly a rational whodunit, Tana French's In the Woods is a psychological drama, an intricate set of well-executed character studies embedded in the story of a police investigation into a child murder.

History, Reviews.

Napoleon

Napoleon: A Life, by Andrew Roberts. My early view of Napoleon was as a cartoon figure: A megalomaniac who tried to take over the world. I recall looking down at Napoleon's tomb in Paris in the company of my brother Craig, the two of us mocking his immense sarcophagus and elaborate surroundings, wondering aloud why the French would semi-deify such a bloody tyrant. The typical American republican conceits aside, we were woefully uninformed about much of the life of Napoleon.