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The Last Days of Night – Edison-Westinghouse feud

Graham Moore certainly starts by getting your attention.  First there is the quote and you wonder how that is related to this story of the Edison-Westinghouse feud.  Then there is the man on fire.  The promise of an interesting read.

I saw The Last Days of Night on Netgalley.  It was set in late 19th century New York City which caught my interest.  And it was about the Edison-Westinghouse feud over the merits of direct current (DC) and  alternating current (AC).  I knew  a little about this AC/DC dispute but I was very fuzzy on the details.   So this historical novel had two points of interest in its favor.

I decided to give The Last Days of Night a try and I’m glad I did.  This review is based on my  Advance Reading Copy (ARC) from Netgalley.  The book will be published on 16 Aug 2016.   .

I did not know that Edison v. Westinghouse was a big lawsuit for patent infringement. Edison was suing Westinghouse for a billion dollars. That is a lot of money. It was even more in the 1880s. The outcome of this would determine the course of the electrical revolution. But if this was so important, why did George Westinghouse pick an inexperienced lawyer?

As mentioned before, Graham Moore gets your attention right off. Then he weaves a wonderful story which both enlightens and entertains.  He takes a story which could have been a rather dry recitation of the technical side of the electrical revolution and the associated legal maneuvering and turns it into a most interesting tale.

In Graham Moore’s  notes at the end he clearly explains that this is a work of historic fiction.   He tells us how he parted from or rearranged some historical facts and why he did it that way.  He talks about the unknown history between the facts and how he filled in those gaps and why he thinks his assumption are reasonable.

I was even more impressed after I finished reading and looked on the Amazon page to get the image of the book and link for this review. I learned that Graham Moore is the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and his previous book was a best-seller.

The Last Days of Night  is a  wonderful book and I highly recommend it

Republicans vs military

The House Republicans want to prevent the Defense Department from dealing with a national security threat (http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2016/06/republicans-trying-to-stop-pentagon-climate-plan-000149).

The Defense Department sees that climate change is a threat and wants to prepare for it (http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/471521p.pdf). But many Republicans seem to think it a hoax and those in Congress are so sure of themselves that they think they should stop the military from preparing for this threat.
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Donald, stop digging

When you get yourself in a hole the first thing to do is to stop digging. Donald, stop digging. Apparently Donald Trump has not learned this simple rule.

He has insulted the parents of a soldier who died for his country. Despite the outrage among many Americans he seems intent on continuing this fight. Donald, stop digging. You are in too deep already.

After insulting the parents and probably their religion, he compares his sacrifice to that of a dead soldier or perhaps the soldier’s family. A decent person would have at least mentioned that he was sorry for their loss before bringing up his sacrifice. Maybe even skipped the part about his sacrifice.

And we all know Donald has sacrificed. He built buildings and created jobs. He did add something about being successful. He forgot to mention that he actually paid some of the people who actually did the work. Not all but some.

Does this sacrifice even come close? Donald, stop digging.

Congress fails again

It has been months, yet Congress fails to get serious. Our Congress fails again to seriously address the public heath emergency caused by the Zika virus.

President Obama requested $1.9 billion for Zika prevention about 6 months ago, but Congress has not been able to agree on a bill to fund this. Not much has changed since I wrote about this almost a month ago (see Zika, politics as usual) except that Congress has left on vacation without doing anything. Continue reading

Bernie or bust mistake

I watched part of the first night of the Democratic Party convention last night. As I expected, after the primary contest there was still considerable support for Bernie Sanders, his ideas, and the political revolution he started.

But Bernie came in second. It was a great showing, especially since many considered the primary process to be unfair to Sanders.

The convention will nominate the winner Hillary Clinton to oppose the Republican nominee Donald Trump. Some Sanders’ supporters think the best course is to sit out the election and not vote for anyone. This is the “Bernie or bust” group and I think they are making a huge mistake.

I doubt many of them would prefer a Trump presidency to a Clinton presidency. But that could be the result if Hillary Clinton does not get the support of all Democrats and progressives.

So “Bernie or bust” people think about it. Do you really want to take a chance on the outcome of this election? Well, we all take a chance every 4 years. Those who vote get a say in the outcome.

David and Donald and the GOP

David and Donald, a fine pair, are part of the new GOP.

David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leader, has thrown his hat in the ring for the GOP nomination for Louisiana US Senator because Americans are “embracing the core issues I have fought for my entire life.”

I suppose in this belief he is thinking about the drift of the national Republican party since there is widespread support with the victories and now nomination of Donald Trump.

Is this the new GOP?

Zika, politics as usual

Zika is a public health emergency. Yet Congress sees it as Zika, politics as usual. It is a chance to get what you want in return for the other side being able to provide funds to address a public heath emergency.

I get a weekly newsletter from Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). In this week’s newsletter he was talking about how the Republicans are trying to pass a bill to fund the research and the fight against the Zika virus. The bill also includes provisions relating to military construction and veterans affairs. The Democrats are filibustering this commonsense bill. In Senator Toomey’s words: Continue reading

Shadows of the Stone Benders

I liked Shadows of the Stone Benders by K. Patrick Donoghue  much more than expected.  I occasionally enjoy science fiction and rarely like fantasy. Yet the write-up I saw on Netgalley was interesting.

The publisher compared it to the books of James Rollins and Steve Berry.  I’ve never tried James Rollins but I have read and liked several books by Steve Berry.  So I thought I would give it a try. Continue reading

Scenic drives

We like driving get-aways. It might be a day trip or maybe a short journey of a few days. Sometimes you are in a rush to get somewhere but if you have the time, scenic drives make the journey worthwhile in itself.

We have a book I have mentioned here before, National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways: The 300 Best Drives in the U.S.. As the title tells us has hundreds of scenic drives in the United States.

This time we were going to spend one night away from home which gave us 2 days of sight-seeing. We decided to see the lower to middle Hudson Valley in New York. We had been there before but usually we had a specific destination in mind and were in a rush to get there.
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The Lewis Man by Peter May

The Lewis Man by Peter May is the second novel of The Lewis Trilogy. I had read the first after a friend had suggested I might enjoy it. I liked it very much as is apparent in my review of The Blackhouse.

In The Lewis Man several of the main characters are back but not necessarily in the way expected. Detective Fin Macleod is back. Detective Macleod grew-up on the remote Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.  But in this story he is no longer with the police but has moved back to Lewis. Continue reading

Dystopian thriller

I liked The Punishments by J.B. Winsor but thought it could have been better. Given the current political climate I think this  dystopian thriller is very timely.

Author J.B. Winsor writes about a United States where the government is taken over by Christian fundamentalists. The situation in the county is not unlike that today.

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My Gows are in disarray

I thought I had it. Not real convincing but plausible. A few weak spots but still the best I had. Seemed like the best I could do a few years ago. Now my Gows are in disarray.

Why the Gows? My great grandmother is Emma Cash McKenzie. I’ve made good progress on my McKenzies but gotten nowhere with Emma until very recently. And then very quickly things went downhill. Continue reading

The Blackhouse by Peter May

The Blackhouse by Peter May. is the first novel of The Lewis Trilogy. The prologue sets the scene which will become important as the book progresses. Although chapter 1 gets off to a start in Edinburgh where Detective Fin Macleod is dealing with personal tragedy, much of the story takes place on the remote Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Detective Macleod grew-up on Lewis off the coast of northern Scotland. He is sent from his police station in Edinbugh to Lewis to help in a grisly murder which bears a resemblance to a murder he had investigated in Edinburgh. As this task is assigned to Fin, we learn that the crime not only took place in his native village but he knew the victim.

As the investigation progresses on Lewis, The Blackhouse alternates between the present time and Fin’s past.

I did not immediately like The Blackhouse. It seemed to start as a story that was just interesting enough to keep you turning the pages to see what happened but wondering if it was worth reading all of it. But within a few pages of reading about Fin’s childhood on the island, I was pretty sure that I would read the whole book. I guess it took 20 or 30 pages to get me hooked on the story.

The story is a dark and disturbing one. It is very intense at times. It is moody as is the landscape. It is not one of those action thriller/mystery books. I think it was a very good book and I’d highly recommend it. I plan on looking for the rest of the Lewis series in my library and perhaps other books by Peter May.

New York City Exposed

The full title New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal that Launched the Progressive Era was a bit long to fit as my title. The author is Daniel Czitrom. The history of New York City is an interesting one. At least, I find it interesting.

The story is set in gilded age New York City. It was 1892 and the rich were very rich, the poor were very poor, the police and the city government were corrupt, and Tammany was in charge of it all. Continue reading

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