Larry Hosken: New: Tag: brutal-truth

Book Report: Chinese Playground

I picked up this book around the time that arms dealer Leland Yee was suspended from the California state senate. That case had some San Francisco Chinatown gangster connections. If you look around for books on that, this autobiography by Bill Lee comes up. This book talks about growing up in Chinatown with gangster connections. And you get a pretty good idea of why criminals shouldn't brag: once the cops start arresting everybody, plenty of panicky folks are ready to snitch. And then, a turn that would be too weird if it were fictional: This autobiography also has some tech company misogyny from 1988—Lee was there when Richard Wade Farley tried to prove to his stalkee Laura Black that he wasn't a scary creeper guy by killing lots of people in the office where she worked. If you wondered what violence lurks in the bay area, this book has more than its share.

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Book Report: Worm

Do I call it a "Book" report if it doesn't exist in book-ish form? Oh sure why not. Worm is a novel-length story posted online. It's about superheroes. What if there were thousands of superheroes in the world? But nobody's born with superpowers—instead, anyone with latent powers gains those powers only after they've gone through some trauma. Thus, nobody's born knowing how to use their powers; instead, they grow up thinking of un-powered life as normal. In this world, it's not enough to have superpowers—to make a difference, you also need to get past the mental blocks against using those powers. Unfortunately, this means that some of the most powerful people are pretty ruthless. It's a darned bleak story.

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Book Report: City of Fortune It's a history of Venice back in the days when Venice was a big deal. If you think that Realpolitik is hardass nowadays, go read your history and weep for the soul of humanity. Venice came to power ...

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Book Report: Republic, Lost When Solyndra was falling apart, Republicans were screaming: these green companies were just boondoggles, false fronts to scoop up government money. It's easy to dismiss their complaints as a bunch o...

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Comic Report: Apocalypse Nerd Since Valve is in the news with lots of news about virtual reality, you might think if I was going to review a Peter Bagge comic, it would be Reset. But only if you didn't know how far behind my book...

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Book Report: Homicide This week, teams are playing in the Ravenchase Great America Race, solving puzzles day after day, driving from city to city. And thus I've been outed: Team Bloody Boneless Smoking and Burning spotted...

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Comic Report: Cuba: My Revolution What was it like living in Cuba as it changed from a kleptocracy to a paranoiac batsh*t-insanocracy? It was bad. The protagonist of this comic got shot at, imprisoned, tortured, watched her family in...

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Book Report: Surface Detail (Yes, I'm publishing another blog post today. Sorry about the flurry. I'm testing stuff. This blog post should look pretty ordinary, but there's a rel="author" tag hiding in the source code.) It's a...

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Comic Report: Parker, the Hunted; Parker: The Outfit These Parker comics are retro noir crime fiction. The retro's all over the art. It looks like graphics from ads from the early 60s. The violence and the menace of violence is all over the place. ...

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Book Report: Flashman It's the story of empire. It's the story of a conquering force in Afghanistan realizing that they weren't as conquering as they thought. It's the story of the Massacre of Elphinstone's army told from...

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Book Report: Three Cups of Tea Yeah, it's that book that everybody else already read, the one about the do-gooder who builds schools in Pakistan (and, later, Afghanistan). This book started out hard to read—the writer think...

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Book Report: The Making of the Atomic Bomb I've read plenty of books about the development of the atomic bomb, but concentrating mostly on Los Alamos. It's a tale kind of like Camelot for nuclear physicists—for a time, the world's best...

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Puzzle Hunts^W^W LARPs are Everywhere, Even the Transbay Terminal Girts noticed something Nonchalant-Game-ish to do this evening in San Francisco. There was a nicely-done stroll. (It was fun! I'm glad I went! I still don't want to do Nonchalant-ish things that don...

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Book Report: Down at the Docks Back in 1999, I traveled in New England. I told intrepid traveler Tom Manshreck that I was going to visit New Bedford. He said ""Yeah, man--New Bedford used to be a good place to go to--to get shot...

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Comic Report: Persepolis An autobio comic about growing up in Iran. First under the corrupt Shah. Then under the Fundies. Getting away to Europe without parents, without much of a support system... You get the idea that ...

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Book Report: Oil! This is the book that the movie "There Will Be Blood" was based on. But that's not how I heard of this book. I saw Word for Word perform the first chapter. This group acts out short stories and st...

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Book Report: The Great Gamble It's a book about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, telling it from the Soviet point of view, based on interviews with Soviet soldiers. It's like a horror movie where you want to yell at the chara...

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Book Report: Killing Neighbors I used to work for a lady named Lee Ann Fujii. She was pretty cool, so when I heard that she wrote a book, I figured I'd read it to see what she's been up to. She's now a foreign policy wonk special...

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Book Report: Designing Web Usability This book is about web usability. It's kinda old, from the year 2000. Reading it with this historical hindsight was somewhat discouraging. Apparently, webmasters have made the same mistakes for sev...

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Book Report: Spin State I liked Spin State, a science fiction novel by Chris Moriarty. It's science fiction but with a story in which the characters make mistakes. That's a good thing. I actually found myself thinking li...

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Book Report: DEC is Dead, Long Live DEC This is a book about DEC, Digital Equipment Corporation, a start up that grew big. The author argues that some of the things that made it a great start-up, a great place to work... these things also...

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Book Report: Deliver the Vote Deliver the Vote is a history of crooked elections in the U.S. of A. It doesn't try to describe all crooked elections. Just some good stories, just enough to fill up a few hundred pages. George Wa...

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Book Report: A Far Country Scouting game locations for a puzzle hunt, e.g. BANG 19, is time-consuming but fun. It's a good excuse to go out on a tour of not-in-front-of-your-computer. Plus, since you're trying to find places...

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Book Report: The Next Catastrophe I'm going to Jury Duty today. Oh, gee. What if I get picked for a trial that goes on for three years? What if I'm sequestered? Does that mean no internet? What a catastrophe that would be. Oh h...

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Book Report: China: Fragile Superpower This book is about China. This book makes me want to hide my eyes and say "I hope you're wrong." It paints a discouraging picture. The Chinese government fears overthrow by popular uprising. The g...

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Book Report: Invisible Man Yesterday, I went to a game party at work. I won a couple of games, which was more than my share. You might think that means I'm a brilliant strategist, until you find out what games I won (and how...

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Book Report: The Wonga Coup Some people worry that laryngitis might interfere with their opera singing. Me, I spent the day at home trying to recover from laryngitis, listening to operetta. And I'm glad that I don't rely on m...

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Book Report: The Boys I'm not at Comic-con this weekend. I just read comics, but I don't especially want to meet their creators. I especially don't especially want to meet the creators of "The Boys." "The Boys" is perha...

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Book Report: How I Came into my Inheritance (and other true stories) 'Lene is out of the hospital. Meanwhile, Alexandra says that her mother is sick; Team Mystic Fish might be on shaky ground this weekend. I have no health problems myself; in theory I have no cause ...

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Book Report: Goodbye Darkness This memoir of the Pacific in WWII is pretty disturbing. I suspect that William Manchester was pulling punches, but his story still has plenty of punch. People got blown up. People fought at close...

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Book Report: Malcolm X Here I sit in a dark train somewhere in the vicinity of Menlo Park. The train is dark and stopped. An alarm bell rings constantly. We have stopped because we hit a car. At first, this was a sad s...

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Book Report: Heat Bill Buford's previous book Among the Thugs was wonderfully brutal and scary, so I figured I'd like this book about restaurant kitchens and butchery. It's fascinating. He talks about how chefs lear...

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Book Report: The Railway Man The good news is that Gene Wolfe has a new book coming out with "Pirate" in the title: Pirate Freedom. The bad news is that book isn't scheduled to emerge until November, months after the pirate-the...

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Book Report: Shadow Cities This book, by Robert Neuwirth, changed the way I think about the world. It's about slums, squatter cities, shanty towns, favelas. It's about people who build on land they don't own. It's about peo...

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Book Report: The Making of the Atomic Bomb I've read several books about the Manhattan Project. They all had a focus. New documents that had come to light. Focusing on one of the minor players. Family life. Now I realize why all of those...

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Book Report: Re/Search Pranks 2 I had an interesting phone conversation a few weeks ago. I responded to some spam email offering to optimize my web site so that it would rank higher on web site searches. There are legitimate ways...

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Book Report: Maximum City I hear wild cheering outside. Does that mean that the USA scored a goal in the World Cup match just now? Maybe I should care, but I don't. Which reminds me of Maximum City. I only made it partway...

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Book Report: People's History of the United States Reading Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States is hard work. He writes about some parts of USA history which I didn't know about. Some of these pieces of history were pretty disturbing...

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