Saturday, December 31, 2011

Crash and Burn: The Bureaupathology of the Federal Aviation Administration by Robert M. Misic with Bobbi Linkemer

Published by Magic City Press (2011)
I may have thought I was reviewing horror books before, but this non-fiction book by Robert M. Misic was certainly not the one I should have been reading as my daughter and grandson were flying through US airspace! Crash and Burn might be called an expose of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) particularly in the past quarter century, but it is really a presentation of failing procedures, in-fighting, lack of precautions, hiding errors and omissions, and many more facts that have come to the surface that are and have been putting passengers and flight crews at danger. Forget about terrorism being the primary danger in our skies. As Pogo, a cartoon character by Walt Kelly, once said, "We have met the enemy... and he is us!"

As a Canadian I had been aware of some instances of unreported abuse of the system once they became news, but this is far deeper and widespread than I could imagine. Included in the book are accounts of many Whistle-blowers concerned for air safety, how these reports were received, and how these conscientious people were treated, some stripped of their credentials, losing their jobs, their reports hidden or falsified and ignored, it goes on and on. A chapter titled "Deliberately Committed Operational Error"; another "Twelve New York Controllers' Revenge: Fired, Rehired, Exonerated" and "One Way to Kill Traffic Controllers: Lock Them in a Carbon Monoxide-Filled Room"!

On the positive side, hopefully this book can be seen as a wake-up call to the bureaucrats. Isn't outside terrorism enough? Should it be a part of American "tradition" behavioral-wise? Robert Misic's "Crash & Burn" puts forth a very compelling case, I hope it will do what he has set out to do. The writing is succinct, most reports coming from air control tower personnel. This includes the author, a retired air controller. Everything in the book is clearly laid out. The back of the book contains the full names of the glossary including acronyms, references, historic letters, recommended reading and resources for the flying public. A thorough, well-documented and conscientious book. I give it five stars because of the helpful additional information in the last section of the book.

Tir Na N'Og: Journal One by Marni L.B. Troop

No ordinary fantasy, but more of a "what if this was how it happened" fantasy. I say this because the Faeries are quite unlike any I've read of before. Marni Troop has a fascinating imagination, exactly suited to this story. Casey, a pure-blood Faerie, is chronicling the events of her very long life. In fact, she is doing more than that, she is chronicling the history of her people as best she can. She has been taught a code of writing by an elder. Her kind are of the land, quite literally. It doesn't take long to figure out that the island they came to believe is their land will later be known as Ireland. Descriptive and well-crafted, the book is captivatingly original.

The book is imaginative, I could almost call it historical except that it is a fantasy. No wonder Ireland is so mystical. At the opening, Casey is celebrating her 100th birthday, not as an old woman but as a blossoming, very tall, female just entering puberty. The Faeries in this story live a very long time, which is a good thing if you are to write the history as it has happened and as it is happening. She is writing this history because she believes they will be wiped out and no one will ever know they existed. She is sending the journals to someone named Michael, whose persona is not revealed in this first book, Journal One. Besides having learned what would become their written language, Casey has another special ability. She can see into other Faeries' minds.

One day she realizes she is tuning in to a stranger, a man. She feels no menace from him. Eventually, this man arrives on a ship, and requests she take him to her king or leader. However, with many of the people inhabiting this place, someone kills this Iberian man that Casey feels has come in peace. This act provokes an invasion shortly afterward, one of many to come in their time. It is because of the invasion, and the resulting losses of life, that the invaders, meeting with the indigenous people, Faeries and mixed blood, allow them to live within the land and the invaders will live on the land. The Faeries have felt the pull of the land, their castles and fortresses have been received by the land, sinking at least one level into the land and no further. So few survivors remain that Casey felt compelled to write the journal so the world will know that they did exist at one time. This Journal is the first. An unusual concept and imaginatively recorded, the Journal is quite fascinating. An interesting debut full of darkness and light. I look forward to the reading the second journal. I see that the books are going under a new title in the future, from "Tir Na N'Og" to "The Heart of Ireland" Saga.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Survivors of the Great Tsunami: the course of Eurasia after the 4.2 ka BP Impact by Alewyn J. Raubenheimer

A provocative book based on an ancient manuscript of an inundation over 4000 years ago (BP = Before Present), therefore this flood would have happened in 2193 BC or very close to that date. Alewyn J. Raubenheimer takes us on a journey through time as he sets out to prove the authenticity of this manuscript, Orea Linda. Is it authentic? Was there really such a civilization of democracy, architecture, shipbuilding, horticulture, literacy and monotheism? A place of freedom, culture, and industry (metallurgy). The author goes into the plausibility very thoroughly, using references from such diverse writings as the Bible, Ipuwer and later Nefertiti, Homer, Heredotus and others. The research covers many strategic areas for seeking out the past besides historians. Satellite imagery, DNA mapping, archaeology, paleontology, geology, anthropology and astronomy all play a part in this intriguing book.

This civilization, Frya's Land or Frisland, appears to be the beginning of an advanced, cultured civilization in a world where most were barbaric and based on slavery and idolatry. Even the language appears to be an ancient variation of the old Friesian language. The manuscript begins with a description of an earth-shattering global event quite probably caused by an asteroid or pieces of asteroids hitting the earth in the Indian Ocean. The Burckle Impact would have had the power of "several million nuclear bombs". The earth tipped on its axis, changing the earth's orbit and therefore the climate. Volcanoes erupted, earthquakes cracked open the earth, after-quakes carrying on for 3 years, Frisland tilted and sank beneath the global flood. Millions were killed in the cataclysm. Survivors scattered throughout the world.

The writing, though full of quotes from various sources including the Orea Linda, is interesting and well written. Alewyn Raubenheimer is well versed in the study of his research. He speaks of the early Europeans and in particular the people of Frya's Land with clarity. The Orea Linda book has been passed on and added to through thousands of generations, and was brought to light in 1872 when it was translated after a descendent who had received it from his aunt in the 1830s contacted the provincial librarian and archivist of Friesland in the Netherlands. It had been handed down in his family for generations when his aunt gave it to him to keep. The book is quite fascinating in showing the building blocks throughout history of countries as seen from the descendency of the Friesland people. The author makes a very good and thorough case for the authenticity of the book, which has long been held to be a hoax by many experts, and authentic by many other experts. He encourages further study as technology improves. One thing stands out loud and clear, he believes in the authenticity and believes it tells us a lot about global history. Great food for thought.

Recipes to Die For: a Victoria Square Cookbook by Lorraine Bartlett

What a great idea! This book is written in the voice of the main character from Lorraine Bartlett's Victoria Square Mystery series, Katie Bonner. Readers of this series are already very familiar with the vendors of Artisans Alley Crafts mall and other townspeople who populate the series on an ongoing basis. Now we learn a little more about these individual characters as they submit to Katie their favourite recipes to include in her cookbook. Beginning with "signature drinks", hilariously we learn that the funeral director's selection as his signature drink the Zombie. These unique recipes range from how to make hot chocolate from a powdered mix to Cornish Pasties, Scallops al Forno, slow cooker recipes, lunches, dinners, desserts, and more. Not one of these recipes is difficult to prepare, most are quick and easy, yet delicious. Jordan Tanner, who owns the bakery at Victoria Square, submitted a recipe for Pecan Oatmeal Pie, that looks like it would be good for breakfast, lunch or dinner, very versatile. Each recipe is prefaced by a bit about the character, or in Katie's case often a bit of a snippet about her Aunt Lizzie who raised her and taught her how to bake. Besides the cooking and baking, I also enjoyed this book as a complement to the series.

I found several recipes I'm anxious to try out, especially the Cornish Pasties which I really like but haven't seen a recipe for in my cookbooks, and I was excited to see a recipe for Peanut Butter Buckeyes, simple as can be and I absolutely love the mixture of peanut butter and chocolate. My copy of this book is already full of post-it notes, marking what I want to try. I should have just looked at the index in the back of the book! This is a handy little cookbook, great for potlucks, party hors d'oeuvres, late night snacks, almost any occasion. A very entertaining cookbook for reading and cooking. Would make a great little gift for someone who loves to cook or bake but has little time.