Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

I have another 800 reviews at my archive blog: http://www.deadtreesreviewarchive.blogspot.com (please visit).

I post my reviews to:

2 yahoo groups
Amazon and B&N (of course)
and on Twitter

I am always looking for more places to post my reviews.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tesla for Beginners

Tesla for Beginners, Robert I Sutherland-Cohen, For Beginners LLC, 2016

Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest scientists of modern history, on the same level as Guglielmo Marconi or Thomas Edison. Here is his story.

In the late 19th century, Tesla emigrated to America from his native Serbia. He carried more than a letter of introduction to Thomas Edison, who was The Man at that time. After working for Edison for several months, Tesla went off on his own. New York City had started to get electricity through Edison's direct current (dc) system. Tesla developed alternating current (ac), a much more efficient way of distributing energy, which has become the standard.

Tesla had an incredible memory, and a head full of ideas. It led to him receiving over 300 patents. Among other things, alternators in cars, robotics, remote control and radio are based on his work. He envisioned a hand-held device that could connect people all over the world with pictures, voice and information (sound vaguely familiar?). He became world famous.

Tesla was a great scientist, but he was not much of a businessman. Getting funding for his various projects was a constant struggle. In later years, his work went from Cutting Edge to Just Plain Weird. In 1943, he died in New York City, broke and alone.

This is an excellent, and easy to understand, book. Tesla was world famous, and seems to have been forgotten by history. If you are reading this on a cell phone, thank Nikola Tesla. 

Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How

Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, Theodore John Kaczynski, Fitch and Madison Publishers, 2015

There are more than a few people who feel that society's rush toward a technological future will lead to disaster. This book presents some pointers for thinking in broad, strategic terms about getting society off that particular road.

The overall goal for any organization, whether it is social, political or environmental, should be clear and simple. It can't be something vague, like "promoting democracy" or "protecting the environment." The goal also needs to be irreversible; once achieved, it can never be taken away. An example is when women got the right to vote in the early 20th century. After it happened, any politician was going to have a very hard time taking it away from them. No matter how democratic an organization claims to be, there will be times when not every issue can be placed before the entire membership for a vote. There needs to be an inner core of committed members with the authority to make such decisions.

Throughout history, many people have suggested that human society needs to be "planned" or "controlled," for various reasons. A huge, chaotic thing like human society can not be controlled to any great extent. At most, it can be "nudged" in one direction or another. Who decides in what direction human society should go? What is a "good" outcome? Assume, just for a moment, that it is possible to control human society. Assume that there is a computer system big enough to handle the trillions of equations that need to be solved. Who is in charge, a person or a small group? Who gets to decide who that person, or people, should be? Can a lack of ego be guaranteed?

A number of writers, including Ray Kurzweil, are looking forward to the day when human immortality, or the coming of human cyborgs or the uploading of a person's brain to a computer become reality. The author asserts that these are nonsense. For instance, immortality will only be available to the one percent, not to everyone.

This book is heavy history and social science, so it is not for everyone. The reader will get a lot out of it. This is very highly recommended.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Danger At The Ballpark

Danger At The Ballpark, Jack Herskowitz, TriMark Press, 2017

A trip to a live baseball game is supposed to be a relaxing afternoon or evening watching America's favorite sport. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?

This book contains many examples of people getting hit in the face by foul balls coming at them at great speed. From the time the ball leaves the bat until it hits someone in the stands is about one second, so getting out of the way is not feasible. Perhaps the person is making their way to their seat, and gets hit by a foul ball. The person could be heading to the snack stand to get some peanuts and Cracker Jack, and a foul ball finds them. It is also possible to be outside the stadium, and get hit by a foul ball coming from pre-game batting practice. Instead of a ball flying into the stands at high speed, the bat might slip out of the batter's hands and fly into the stands. The bat could shatter into many sharp pieces that fly into the stands. An injured person can sue the team for damages, right?

That suit won't get very far. There is a legal principle called the Baseball Rule. It basically says that, from the time they enter the ballpark, the patron, not the team, assumes the legal responsibility for injuries that may occur there. The injury may come from a fight with a drunken patron, from falling from the upper deck (because the railings are only two feet high), or from a fight with the team mascot. A "reasonable" person is supposed to know that danger can come from almost anywhere. Any injury is the fault of the patron, not the team.

Japanese baseball parks have netting along both base lines as far as the dugouts. Why can't American parks do the same? Nothing shall interfere with the patron's enjoyment of the entertainment experience (it's no longer just a baseball game).

This book is a big eye-opener. After reading this, maybe more people will stay home and watch the game on TV. It's easy to say "What are the odds?" How much do you want to push your luck?