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28-12-2014 In the Airport

Book Review: Kevin Trudeau Your wish is your command.

Coming back from the Gold Coast holiday I found myself stuck in the Coolangatta airport as bad weather meant the flight was delayed, and delayed, and delayed again. Thus I looked at the only thing still unheard on my iPod and it was a lecture series on using magic to become rich. This report was written on my iphone so excuse the typos.

1. Download a free copy. The guy is a criminal. Don't send him your money.

2. Incredibly long winded. It comes as 14 lectures or so. Can be summarized in half a page. Could be explained in detail in one lecture. The rest is repetition, self promotion, boasting to the point of just being a verbalized fantasy, and encouraging the listener to pay money for more advanced courses.

2.5 Joel Bauer does much the same thing. But provides much more concrete and original material. He still needs a serious editor however(1).

3. However. There is a small core that sounds real and useful. This stuff is not original. He has copied it off other authors over the past century. (To his credit he does acknowledge them. ) in general it's just a rehash of Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Earl Nightingale and a handful of other positive thinking types as has been previously rehashed by The Secret and dozens of others. Kevin just adds in a big world wide multi millennia conspiracy theory to explain why the earlier books or courses didn't work for the sort of repeat offender mark for this sort of thing that is most likely to fork out big money.

4. It is supposed to be recorded in some crowded lecture in a luxury castle in the alps in a seminar involving many superweAlthy and famous people. All available evidence indicates it wa done by one guy, Kevin, in his bedroom.

I also think he has based a lot of his work on the well known success coach MC 900 foot Jesus.

The actual information in the course can be obtained in lectures 2, 6, 8 and 13. His highly repetitive style means you can skip all the rest. He's either just repeating what he said earlier. Or saying something he will repeat later.

Or. You can ignore the lectures and just read here

First he starts with 4 basic principles to any sort of self improvement. These all sound good to me.

1. Who do you listen to? Listen to people who have actually achieved what they Are claiming to teach. Of course this means you should NOT listen to a bankrupt convicted fraud like Kevin here.

2.trainability index. A sciency sounding term that means Willimgness to change previous ideas when learning new imfoation plus Willingness to study and learn. But which he then twists to mean willingness to pay large amounts of money ( to Kevin no doubt) to attend training courses.

3.training balance scale. Ie self improvement training should be a balance between motivation and actual technique. This goes some way towards explaining the structure of most of the self improvement books and courses.

4. Stages of competence: unconscious incompetence - no skill and don't know about it; conscious incompetence - know you aren't skilled; conscious competence - can do skilled when thinking about it; unconscious competence - don't even need to think.

Then there is the by now well known principle of "you get what you are always thinking about. " I think this was explained perfectly in a couple of paragraphs by grant cardone (you train your brain to notice and act in ways that match your new obsession) but Kevin spends several hours to layer on mystical magic explanations. He thinks he is using science and physics to explain things. But he is so ignorant about science that he thinks physics is some sort of mystical magic so that's how it ends up. I'm not saying that as a sort of insult. He comes right out and says that physics is magic that can't be understood. He also spends a fair bit of time saying that his theories are scientifically proved. And then the very next paragraph he says that scientists are too ignorant and blinkered to understand it.

Eventually he reaches a sensible point that going for goals that are too fantastic to bring yourself to believe is setting yourself up to fail. Go for goals that are realistic to the point of being absolutely believed. but get you all excited.

Then. Think about your goals as if you've already succeeded. Get realistic images and feel excited.

(1). Joel Bauer has a similar very long winded. Repetitive style. But he has both a much more publicly proved history of success. Claims far less grandiose (but still life changing) results. AND his long lecture style is part of the very technique he teaches to create sales. And I've seen him use it to sell $3.7 million in "advanced courses" over a two day period. He even provided the information during the actual sales pitch to let the audience calculate how much the advanced sales course cost him to provide. -> $1-2000 per person. For which he was charging $10000 ( minimum 80% profit) PLUS another $10000 if the training worked. So somewhere between $3.3 m and $7 m profit in 2 days of free lectures/sales spiel plus a week of providing the advanced course. And I bet the advanced course has " opportunities " for even more advanced courses.

Interesting note: Joel had some pretty positive things to say about Kevin Trudeau which both raised my estimate of Kevin's value a bit. And lowered my estimate of Joel's value a lot.

On a Similar Subject

Going grey overnight. Could this happen if someone was already going grey, was covering it up, and then a sudden traumatic event made them abandon the coverup effort?

It would fit the legend.

18-12-2014 Buzzer

In order to keep my hair and beard in a respectable state, so that nobody thinks I'm a hippy, I have to trim it occaisionally. (No more than once a week.)

This requires use of a buzzer, or hair clipper, and so I bought one, in 2005.

After only 9 years, my $20 investment has proven to be a lemon, because as you can see from the photo, the plastic structure is cracked and falling apart. Cracks are arrowed.

So I thought: Well, electrical goods are cheaper now, I'll just ebay one up and it should cost me $5 or something.

And sure enough, the prices for new buzzers started at $5.37, including delivery. However, they were all battery powered. Which is never as reliable or trouble free as a simple plug in cord. Or worse, they were rechargeable, which means that you can't even replace the batteries, and they'll die in a year or two and you need a whole new machine.

The cheapest plug in machine was $25, which is even more expensive than my old one.

However, I noticed an interesting thing. All the ads for battery powered machines, from the price of $5.37 up to about $18, ALL showed exactly the same machine, with the same logo on the side. So that indicated that this was actually a major producer and that the product was at least sometimes worth up to $18. So I bought it (for $5.37 naturally).

So it turned up, and as you can see it's much smaller than the old one. It's also much lighter, which is another way of saying all the components are thinner and more fragile. I doubt it will last 9 years, but hopefully the $/year cost won't be any worse.

10-12-2014 Music to my ears

The nextdoor neighbour has either just bought a dremel, or is learning to play the violin. At this point it's hard to tell.

01-12-2014 Fluid flow in a non-constant volume system

This is, apparently, one of the best guides to such things, with references including industry representatives who claim that people have managed to become acknowledged “experts” with businesses built just from careful study and application of this one book.


I certainly learned stuff from it, though I'm not sure how I can apply much of it.

23-10-2014 Dracula Untold

Watched the latest Dracula flick. Amazing how you can have entire movie about war between Turks and Christian Europe, with considerable screen time devoted to the Christianity of the Europeans, and not once provide any indication of what religion the Turks were. Almost as though it was censored out. On the other hand, it's difficult to do a vampire story without Christianity looking good. Though some try.

13-10-2014 Slum Lord Part 2


My tenants have left, prefering to live about an hour closer to the city. For some reason.

So income is down. Opportunity for nude weight lifting up. Net: Sad.

Meanwhile, the one handed deadlift is interesting.

29-09-2014 Easy Strength Part 4


Contrary to the significant monthly improvements I was getting when doing my Clean/Press/Chin/Leg-lift/Overhead-carry workout, my new workout of Power-snatch/Behind-neck-press/Overhead-squat/Curl/Suitcase-carry produced no improvement at all over the first 5 weeks.

Well the snatch stayed the same. I'll conceed that Behind-neck-press and Overhead-squat numbers are up, because I'd hardly ever done them before.

Possible reasons:

Conclusion: I'll give it the full 40 days. THEN go back to Clean/Press/Chin/Leg-lift/Overhead-carry. Which I really like.

Hmmm... maybe Clean/Press/Front-Squat/Chin/One-handed-Overhead-carry, where the OHOHC is going to be a tummy exercise as well as a carry.

19-09-2014 White Trash Zombies

Books by Diana Rowland

I'm not going to bother reviewing these books. Given the physical laws of the universe as we know them, there is no possible way that books with titles like these could be anything less than brilliant.

05-09-2014 Good Signs


If I find myself at the gym one evening, halfway through a workout, and I suddenly remember "Hey! I already worked out this morning didn't I?" then I guess I'm doing something right.

Not mentally, clearly. Obviously that side is going to bits.

But physically I'm just bursting with energy. If you ever find yourself just chucking in a 50 rep set of deadlifts in the afternoon because the workout from this morning left you feeling like more... try to stay in that zone.


Little Updates

TV - Dexter

Season 5 Dexter is a little ... I don't know... I'm not cfortable watching it. Until I have a glass or two... Or three.. Or four of wine ( or port or scotch or something) After a fewish glasses I'm looking at detective Batista's hat and thinking that I want it.

Likewise detective Morgan. If you know what I mean.

Americans are weird

I'm reading this book on the history of the US special forces and this veteran is talking about how crazy and wild the culture used to be. How they used to "have beers together on Friday afternoons. Can you believe it? That sort of thing is unbelievable in today's society."

And I'm thinking that if having some beers on Friday afternoon is unbelievable then either "beer" is special forces slang for "underage hookers dusted with cocaine" or the USA has gone even more extreme left wing puritain than I've been lead to believe. And I've been to the USA and seen the shelves of alcohol in the supermarkets. So I'm going with the "beer is just a code word" theory.

Thought Police

I went out to collect the bins. And there was a sticker on the green waste recycling bin telling me "Congratulations. We have inspected your bin and you were putting the right stuff in the right bin." Which tells me two things.

1. They didn't really inspect the whole bin. Nobody pawed through a meter of Bougainvillia and rose cuttings just to ensure my ideological correctness. So the greenies are lying about one more thing.

2. And if the environazis are actually going around spying on me then my guilt at having hidden an entire old car battery at the bottom of my other bin drops from about 5% down to 0.0%. Fůckem. Right in their furry little ears as Queen Victoria so memorably put it.

Slum Lord: Step 1

I've just got a couple of tenants in the spare room of my house. That's going to be another $100 per week in my pocket. On the downside I can't do weights naked in the kitchen any more. So it's probably a wash.


Swift Market Response

Saturday's newspaper had a headline

Break Out the Chainsaws

as changes in environmental regulations meant it was now easier to cut down trees on your residential property.

Sunday morning... a group of girls were walking house to house down our street offering to cut down any trees we might want to get rid of.

As it was, I was perfectly capable of getting rid of any trees by myself, but apparently some neighbours did take advantage of their service, as I heard the girls shouting back and forth all day as they chainsawed up various trees a few houses down.


Easy Strength Again, Again

Exercise update: Reset

As explained below, I was doing a strength cycle called Easy Strength. After 40 workouts (8 weeks) I really did have measureable and significant strength improvements.

So I took a month off to just do bucket-bell swings and slim down. And then I got sick for half of that month (to the point where coughing would literally keep me up half the night).

Anyway, I'm just about better now, and dearest wife* is about to head overseas on another business trip, so I'll start another cycle. This time I'm going to go for

  1. Power snatch
  2. Behind the neck military press
  3. Overhead squat
  4. Reverse grip cleans (cheat curl)
  5. Suit case carry

As before, these exercises naturally clump together into supersets. So a set of power snatches leaves you in the right position to move directly into behind the neck military presses which leaves you in the right position to move directly into overhead squats. The other two do require putting the weight down and changing grips.

And the selection above, for me, at this time, means I am slightly pushing myself with the same weight on the bar, so no need to change plates. Which is why I chose some obscure versions such as behind the neck military press instead of (my favourite) push press.

*This use of the phrase dearest wife should not be interpreted to mean that I have other, less dear, wives. I don't think I could survive that, even if I was allowed to try.


Like a Toaster

How do you fix a printer that is continuously giving paper jams? The most effective method is to grab a butter knife, jam it in the paper slot (being careful not to contact the live electrical contacts) and rip it back and forth to clear out whatever is jamming the paper.

Dear Bureau of Meteorology

I am writing to complain about your product.

Specifically, I object to the temperature range from about -5°C to 15°C. This range is useless, being too cold for swimming and yet too warm for snow. It is uncomfortable and good for nothing, yet the weather often sets itself to a temperature within this range.

For your next release, could you please either remove this range entirely, or make it optional.

Thank you.

P.S. There is also the matter of the command line Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. which is flakey at best...

Outright Scams

Should you be unfortunate enough to need to buy some cold medicine at the supermarket, you will soon find that there are two completely different sorts. There are real medicines, that have real, pharmaceutical ingredients such as Phenylephrine Hydrochloride or Chlorpheniramine Maleate. And then there are dodgy hippy muck that have ingredients like White Willow extract or Elderberry Powder. If I wanted to just go and eat some random plants I could just go outside and start pulling up dandylions.

But the real trick is that you have these herbal remedies sitting on the shelf mixed in with the real stuff. In identical looking packages, and for the same (or higher!) prices. I've no doubt that many people get fooled, especially when operating under the fog of illness.

The best stuff of all is Codral Day and Night(at least now that our hated overlords have banned pseudoephidrine, under the theory that it is better that 100 innocents should suffer than that one junkie should get a cheap thrill). The daytime stuff is fairly effective, the nightime stuff knocks you out and works really well.

Naturally the Woolworths supermarket didn't even have that, so I bought a cheap Woolies knockoff of the basic daytime-only Codral (once you start to check the ingredients (to avoid the fakes) you realize that the generic stuff is exactly the same as the name-brand). But I really wanted the day-night stuff, so I then tried a real chemist, to see if they had any. They did, and cheaper than the generic stuff in Woolies. So I bought that too, cold medicine doesn't go off, and it's worth while having some at home and at work.


Easy Strength Again

Exercise update Again

As explained below, I was doing a strength cycle called Easy Strength. After 4 weeks I broke a couple of PRs, so I kept going:

  1. Barbell Power Snatch: Previous PR 73, this time 85.
  2. Barbell Clean and Push-Press: Previous PR 95, this time 95.
  3. Chinup: Previous PR 47, this time 47.
  4. Knee lift: Previous PR 47, this time 47
  5. Loaded carry: Previous PR 67, this time 95

Awesome and awesomer. But I think I've just about gotten sick of it, and I've reached the recommended 40 exercise sessions, so I'll swap to something more aerobic for a while.

Meanwhile, driving home in a prudent and reasonable manner

If you are going onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the South East, you drive into a tunnel that then makes a sharp lefthand spiral up through 270°, elevating you about 8 meters so you cross over your own path and then end up on the bridge going north.

So on Sunday afternoon I'm driving home from a birthday when suddenly the MX5 in front of me drops about 3 gears and takes off up the spiral in the right hand (outside) lane at full power. Which was reasonable enough.

The Porsche 911 next to me was not going to stand for that, so he dropped a few gears too and jumped into the outside lane to take off in hot pursuit. Followed by some idiot who thought he could match them in a worked (engine wise) but totally stock suspensioned Falcon ute.

I was actually catching up to the Porsche (it was an older model from the mid 1980s, probably not that much faster than the Falcon currently is in a straight line) but the sideways loading going up the spiral was a little concerning given the extreme solidity of the rock wall that my rear end would hit if the leaf spring suspension should decide to let go.

Then we reached the top of the spiral, on to the bridge, and had to slow for traffic.

Slow... but not give up, as the action now turned to lane swapping in the effort to keep ahead.

(I should point out at this point that we had all just a couple of minutes before driven past what appeared to be every cop in the city sitting around Hyde park for some reason. And now far behind us.)

On the other side of the bridge, Mr Porsche peeled off to the left, so I was remaining sitting behind the MX5. Which, it was now apparent, had a shiny V6 badge on the rear. Well that explains the rorty snarl the car made as it took off up the spiral. I guess it would be one of the Mazda 6s, maybe a little one like the 1.8 litre from the Eunos 30X, or the 2.5 from a couple of other models. Otherwise, if the 980 kg MX5 was packing a modern 3.0 it should have left both me and the porker far behind.

Unicorns and Rainbows

Nobody ever asks what sort of evolutionary pressures would drive a horse to develop a big, sharp weapon on the middle of its head.

I'll tell you what that looks like to me. Vicious, nasty, fighting among the males for breeding rights. Combined with bigger herds of females and a required aggressive territoriality.

A real unicorn would be an hair-trigger killer. Like a rhino.


It is all explained.


Easy Strength

Exercise update

My current exercise program is an actual published one, rather than a hybrid cyborg that I made up myself from general principals. The general principal approach should work well, but in practice it is all to easy for laziness to creep in and give a less than effective program. There is also the issue that actual understanding of the principals is not what it should be; both for me and (from what I can tell) for exercise science in general.

By using an actual program that has been followed pretty closely by a number of people, you can look and see if they actually do build muscle, or if they start lapsing into lengthy comas or something.

So I decided to have a go at a real program with a record of success. The one I went for is called Easy Strength which not only sounds easy, it looks easy too.

Developed by guys called Dan John ( fairly well known multi decade olympic lifting coach and US national level highland games competitor and coach) and Pavel Tsatsouline (famous Russian torturer).

The scheme is simplicity itself: Pick five exercises to cover the whole body, do no more than 10 reps. Repeat daily for 5 workouts per week, to a total 40 workouts. Here is an academic paper covering the program.

There are some guidelines that have been published from time to time, each time promising to make it easier to follow by making it more complicated. I don't follow the reasoning behind that so I just followed the original as outlined above.

My workout is

  1. Barbell Clean
  2. Barbell Push-Press
  3. Chinup, with the weights hanging from my feet
  4. Knee lift (ab exercise), with the weights hanging from my feet
  5. Loaded carry

It's easy to see that lift 1 and lift 2 go together. So I just do 2 sets of 5 clean and press. And lift 3 and lift 4 go together, so I do 2 sets of 5 chins and leg lifts. Then I do one more clean and press, and then go for a walk with the barbell above my head.

This sunday was the end of week 4, so I worked up to a max in each lift to see how it went.

  1. Barbell Clean: Previous PR 95, this time 95.
  2. Barbell Push-Press: Previous PR 87, this time 95.
  3. Chinup: Previous PR 40, this time 47.
  4. Knee lift: No previous PR, this time 47
  5. Loaded carry: No Previous PR, this time 67

The Loaded carry was disappointing, but the Clean and press was enough to keep going. OK, the problem with the loaded carry was that I couldn't C&P it again to get it into position.

All up, worth the 20 minutes per day.


Diploma part 2

2nd round of lectures. Maybe 1/3 of the starting class has not turned up. I can't imagine it being too difficult. So either they decided they were in the wrong course. Or kidnapped by goblins. Hard to say.

Meanwhile I'll probably have to drop into work and put in a couple of hours after the course finishes for the dAy.


I just got home from work. Which is strange because I didn't even go to work today. I spent the day in the city at my mangement course then on the way home I got a phone call asking me to just drop in to work for 5 minutes. That took 4.5 hours.

AND my wifi isn't working at home.

And I have two things I sold on eBay I need to pack and send. But that's not going to happen tonight.


Whoa! It's been a while

Thought experiment

Background: It has been lamented that with current electronics tech it is fairly close to impossible to produce a $20 000 mobile phone that is actually better than the ~$500 ones that the mere middle class can afford.

It is a source of annoyance to the sort of people who would like to buy such a status symbol/toy, and a source of great annoyance to those who would like to sell it. Hypothesis: Using a nuclear battery would at least give Johnny Rockstar an iPhone that never needs recharging. Likewise Jenny Queens-Counsel with her nuclear laptop. There would be a SERIOUS premium that you could charge for a limited number of customers.

eg. If Bill Gate's time is really worth so much that he loses money by bending over to pick up a $100 note, then how much is it worth to never run his mobile phone or laptop out of battery, or to never have to stop and recharge? I'm guessing many, many times what it would cost to provide such a product.

Further Hypothesis: If such products were developed, you would have to keep them secret for political anti-nuke-kook reasons. So the status symbol aspect is lost, except among the other members of the 0.01% who know what is up. So you'd just have a drop in phone or laptop battery, and the unwashed masses would never know.

Conclusion: It's feasible, highly lucrative, and would be secret. Therefore it's already done.

Test: Check to see if any of the really rich ever actually run out of battery in their new Tesla.

22 May

On my way back from my first day at my diploma of project management. I finish a lot earlier than when I really go to real work. Of course this means I have to go into work on Saturday to keep things on track.

The lecturer seems cool. But I find myself Judging him because he is wearing a suit and tie, but his suit is so cheap that even a clothing philistine like me can tell there are faults with it. And after he takes off his jacket his shirt comes untucked at the back. I'm not sure to be worried that I am turning metrosexual or proud that I've finally developed some dress sense. Or confused that this guy is the one who is paid to teach business skills so maybe I am missing the point.

Also: It takes me just about 2 hours to commute to the city.


Dinosaur Sighted

At a meeting today, our CEO took the minutes.

I was not aware that there was still anyone who used two finger hunt-and-peck typing.

We did end up with smilie faces in the published minutes, so it was a net win.

Materials Engineering

At our design meeting we encountered a range of different materials problems. The materials that we needed were clear:

  1. Unobtanium
  2. I.P.Infringium
  3. Bio-Toxo-Lethalate

It seems we will have to go with option 4: Redesign


Another China Trip

It's cold here. Water molecules are moving so sluggishly that they are sticking together to form crystals that then fall out of the sky. You know, the sort of thing you see in cartoons. I didn't think anyone actually lived like this in real life. With all that ice and snow. And talking rabbits. I'm watching out for anvils.

Drunk blogging a chinese dinner.

Am I drunk? I just stuck my hand in a pot of boiling water and I didn't hurt. So yeah. (Hey! Now that I go through my drunk notes I find out why I have a new scar on my hand. See: Taking notes while drunk is useful.)

Chinese are like Russians when it comes to high octane pure alcohol.

I'm in a restaurant where apparently the polite thing to do with rubbish is throw it over your shoulder.

Also: tea that has gotten cold. Over the shoulder it goes.

The only way I'll live through the night is that I've got maybe 40kg of lean mass on these guys. More on the chicks. So I can absorb more alcohol.

Cigars at the table. The Australian nanny state is far away.

Is this chick feeling me up? Or am I confused by cultural personal space issues? And blood alcohol content?

Ok. I spilled a drink and the lady on my left wiped me very thoroughly. And my dear wife punched me in the face and bent my glasses. So that's another piece of evidence.

Banana. Sliced but not peeled. Weird.

And the local delicacy: A whole-meal sesame-seed bun. I didn't mention that we have them in the west.

Hey! It looks like I won! At least against the very touchy chick. Some people don't think you can win atdrinks. Same fools who don't know you can win a handshake.

After enough alcohol, everyone's command of language drops to the point where I can speak Chinese with them on an equal footing. Or at least I can't tell the difference, which is what counts.

On the way home.

A different dinner. Sitting next to a high school kid. Though he's 18 at which age I was at university.

It takes me a while to pidgeon-hole him: he's a hipster. His parents made him dress properly for dinner but there is still some weirdness going on with his collar and shoes.

More to the point, he is one of those Lisa Simpson types who are smart and well read enough to work out that what school and tv gives them is the over simplified, lowest common denominator, designed by committee message designed to be absorbed by the 10th percentile student (and regurgitated by the 1st percentile teacher) to produce obedient, docile , and productive workers.

However, both Lisa and this lad are too young and naive to realize that the first alternative viewpoint they encounter is most likely to be almost exactly the same thing, only aimed this time at the 80th percentile kid.

So they get caught up in some sort of innocent activism that superficially looks like it is struggling to overturn the powerful forces that control society. But in reality they are mostly either meaningless or the unpaid footsoldiers of one existing power group against another.

I remember when I was in school I had a friend who straight out said (and wrote a poem about! That he read to his friends at school!!!) that he was rebelling against society by the activity of listening to rock music.

"Er what?" Even in grade 10 most of us were well aware that rock music was an established big business that was a significant part of society, not an outside force.

Anyway, I thought that was about the most unrevolutionary act of rebellion I was likely to see, but this chinese guy was able to beat that. He was convinced that he had already managed to strike a significant blow for freedom by designing a school magazine that had a cute cover and a contents page in the centerfold.

I couldn't bring myself to tell him that outside of the seven people who actually made the magazine, probably everyone else had forgotten it already.

He displays a level of enthusiasm, self confidence and hard work that will probably take him to the top in his field. But I hope he choses his field with more maturity and perspective than he shows when he proclaims (at a dinner for his parents business partners) that "if it wasn't for Kurt Cobain and Nirvana allowing me to express my rage I would have commited suicide". Everyone responded with some combination of pity, amusement, and (in my case at least) amazement that someone could actually build up enough stereotype muscles to actually be one of those "rich, successful, good-looking, highschool kids whose parents are in the process of spending a million dollars to give him the best education possible and he still thinks that life sucks and he is hard done by."

I didn't think they existed in real life. I certainly don't remember any from my school.

If I was his age I would probably conclude he was insane and not talk to him. And vice-versa. But now I find him like some sort of exotic myth. Like if a unicorn turned up and proceeded to get it's horn stuck in trees all the time.

I met a professional watch dealer. He traveled between China, Switzerland, Germany and Italy finding the coolest, most spectacular high end 5 and 6 figure watches.

So what did he wear? An antique! A 1980s Casio digital calculator watch, from before he was born.


More Books

A Renegade History of the United States It sounded like a nice idea. Retell the history of the USA from the perspetive of criminals and lawbreakers, examining how they affected the development. In practice it seems to be an embarassingly lewd account that is written more in the style of a letter to Penthouse magazine than a history book.

And it comes off as a letter to Penthouse that was written by a 14 year old. Stuff like "the pounding sexual rythmns of negro music", by which I take it he means that there were drums. I mean who is he writing this for? Nobody since the early 1950s 1750s is going to believe that the mere addition of drums to a band will make the music any more "sexual" than a simple violin and piano. There is no inherent immorality in any instrument type (except didgeridoos, obviously), and I find it very difficult to believe that anyone ever really thought that there was. (Examining such a concept would probably be a far more interesting history book.)

There is some areas of interest, such as following the historical trends of things like unmarried motherhood, which shows that current debates on the subject are usually moronically parochial about such things. But the breathless recounting of lines such as "sensual negro women" keep distracting the reader away from history and back into thinking about the author's particular fetishes. Yes, you prefer your cheesecake to be chocolate, OK, stop going on about it.

I gave up reading the book at that point.

Oxford Very Short Introduction: American Indians By which of course the author means those of the USA. His occasional mention of Canada, Mexico and the early spanish settlement in the Carribean indicates that he is, in theory, aware that there might be other countries in the Americas, but they aren't important, and as soon as the book gets going these other places (if they really exist) can be safely ignored except when border incidents crop up.

Another element that can receive one nod of acknowlegement, and then be safely ignored, is the issue of bias in the book itself. And bias there is. When thousands of years of history, including several hundred years of conflict with other cultures, can be written without a single incident in which the indians might be at fault, you know you are dealing with a very one-sided view.

The language is also a dead give-away. If some Indians misunderstand the European culture, that is "confused by an alien culture". If three pages later some white people misunderstand the Indian culture, that is "cultural blindness". Yes, it's that blatent.

However, once you get past the adjectives, this is actually a fairly good book. There was a fairly good emphasis on the way that Indian culture was not a static thing. That many of the famous tribes (such as the Creeks) were not only more recently formed than the early European settlements, but that they were established as (African or other indian) slave owning and slave raiding groups.

(The way that many of the indian tribes actually owned significant numbers of african slaves was an interesting twist. One that I would really like to see in a movie, just for the way it would challenge the dominant paridigm.)

This is a book I was happy to read through to the end.

Worm Now THIS is a good book. Super heros, if you like that kind of thing. But very well written.

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