My Review of Marie C. Keiser’s HEAVEN’S HUNTER

Heaven’s Hunter by Marie C. Keiser

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Randall Yung is the scion of one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the galaxy. He’s been trying to escape their manipulations for a long time. There are only two people he really cares about. One is Alicia, a young Catholic woman, who disappeared the day after she had accepted his marriage proposal. His other friend, Conrad, was killed when a vessel, Heaven’s Hunter, fired a torpedo at close range that penetrated to the bridge of Conrad’s destroyer. Randall makes it his mission to bring Conrad’s killers to justice.

This is a superbly-written story that I found hard to put down. The author uses the strengths of the first person point of view to let the reader observe as Randall makes observations about himself and his life. There are surprises at every turn and the ending is deeply satisfying.

When the man responsible for launching the missile that killed Conrad was asked by Randall why he had left it [the fleet] for a pack of superstitious nonsense [Catholicism], Alvarez replied “Because it’s beautiful and good and true.”

I am not a Catholic, but if asked why I became a Christ-follower, I would have answered in exactly the same way.




View all my reviews

Review of Bowen Greenwood’s Science Fiction Love Story ONSLAUGHT

Langston Wheeler is a member of the Brotherhood of the Gentle Hand. That is to say he is a telepath with extraordinary powers that has pledged to use these powers only for good and in service to others and never to aggrandize power.

On being sent to the planet Felicitas to investigate a rogue telepath, he meets the beautiful, courageous, and brilliant Tia Dynn. As a Gentle Hand, Wheeler is only permitted by his order to marry other telepaths. As he struggles with his feelings for Tia, it turns out the rogue telepath is actually part of a preliminary incursion, preparing Felicitas for a full scale invasion by telepaths and their army of hybrids. Langston and Tia are thrown into a fight for survival. The terror, the fight sequences, and the narrow escapes are well-handled and contain some interesting surprises.

In summary, this is an interesting, entertaining love story and thriller in a sub-genre that might be termed superman meets supermodel. It’s a story I will likely read again. I heartily recommend it to others.

I rate Onslaught four stars.

2021 Canadian Federal Election – Part 5. One voter’s report card on the handling of the pandemic

Leadership

Calling an election in the midst of a pandemic invites a review of the leadership’s handling of the crisis. To put this leadership assessment into perspective, I ask myself the question, “How would Winston Churchill have handled this crisis?”

I think Churchill would have urged us to use prudence, act with courage, and not be afraid

I think Mr. Churchill would have spoken forthrightly about the gravity of the challenge before us, but would have urged us to be prudent, take reasonable precautions for personal safety, but work to keep Canada running through our work and social interactions. He would not have wanted us to cower in fear in our lock-down bunkers, waiting for the crisis to pass.

The political establishment has fanned the flames of fear as a way of ensuring compliance with their unpopular edicts

When I look over the last year and one half, I see pandemic infection and death statistics front-and-center in the news and in the announcements by our political leaders. I note that voices who object with our direction are being stifled. Any discussion or critique of our mitigation edicts are not answered with data and reasonable give-and-take discussion, but are labelled as counter-productive and dangerous.

I think Mr. Churchill would have made it very clear he was in charge

It’s all very well to receive advice from generals in a war situation or a medical advisor during a pandemic, but as Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill would have known the final decisions rested with him, his cabinet, and parliament. Although a medical advisor may make suggestions and give advice, the survival of a country and her people depends on much more than optimizing our response to one threat. Mr. Churchill would considered the medical advice, but decided on what was best for Canadians and Canada taking all factors into consideration. Indeed, the morale of the populace would have been paramount. Why optimize for survival while undermining all aspects of life that give value to survival?

Above all, Churchill would not have used fear as a motivator for ensuring compliance

Mr. Churchill, even as he spoke the truth about the danger facing Canada, would have faced the future with confidence and courage. Every general knows that there may be times when your troops need to retreat to a more defensible position, but if the general uses fear to get compliance, the orderly retreat will become a rout and there won’t be an army left to rally. Mr. Churchill would have known that using fear as a motivator in a crisis would have been a huge mistake.

In my view, our leadership has been gripped by fear as they responded to this pandemic, and their fear has infected Canadians right across the country

Not only have our leaders at all political levels shown fear, but they have been ready to use fear to motivate compliance to their edicts. It is hard to see how we can rally our populace to return to a normal life as they grow used to masking, isolation, and perpetual lock down.

Is there another course we could take?

I think there is. We could begin treating Canadians as adults and make them responsible and able to take steps to ensure their own safety and the safety of their families, while acting in ways that preserve what is most important to them by:

  • Providing Canadians with an honest assessment of how effective various protective measures are. This should be a two-columned approach with data presented for and against the effectiveness of various measures:
    • This should include for-and-against discussions of vaccine effectiveness, immunity achieved from previous infection etc.
    • For-and-against discussion on hand-washing, masking, social-distancing, and indoor versus outdoor transmission
  • Don’t compel people to undergo medical procedures to make someone else safer
  • Make it clear the objective is to return us to our life as it was before the pandemic. Many of us thought and expected this would be achieved by vaccination. If that’s not the case because of the variants, then a monumental effort needs to be made into effectively treating the symptoms in severe cases so the variants no longer matter.

One voter’s report card on how our leaders have handled the pandemic

Simply put, I give our leaders an F. Our Prime Minister, as leader of our country, in my view, bears the bulk of the responsibility for this failure, but premiers and civic leaders followed suit and must share the blame. Why do I say this?

  1. The Prime Minister and cabinet’s primary responsibility as the crisis unfolded was to procure and make available to Canadians the vaccines as quickly as possible. They failed. Instead of partnering with the Americans and adding our resources to theirs, Trudeau chose his own course, which in my view proved disastrous.
  2. Our vaccine roll-out was very slow. For many long weeks, Canada sat at number 37 in the world for per capita doses with very little ramp up. To give the Prime Minister credit, one thing he did do correctly was to ensure the first dose was broadly distributed before the second was administered. But all in all, he and the cabinet failed on Job One.
  3. The Prime Minister and the premiers have used fear to gain compliance with their measures that have closed businesses, locked us in our homes, and changed how we interact. It will be very difficult to undo the fear.
  4. The Prime Minister and the premiers have sown the idea we will never return to how it was before. We are even growing used to using the term “the new normal” which is a code phrase for “the perpetual abnormal.”

2021 Canadian Federal Election – Part 4: Remaining Key Points

On September 3rd, the National Post published a table from a Leger poll which indicated the issues identified by Canadian voters as most and least important to them.

The largest number of respondents (13.5%) chose “cost of living’ while the fewest respondents (2.2%) chose immigration. All of these numbers are low and there is little consensus on what the major issues are. Given the many closed businesses, the huge transformation in the types of jobs available during a pandemic, and the uncertainty how the pandemic constraints will play out, it is not surprising that how we’re going to survive financially is on everyone’s mind.

In Part 1 of these posts, I identified the four issues or topics of particular concern to me in the upcoming election. I have written about preserving our freedoms and securing our oil and gas supply, but I have neglected the middle two, primarily because these concerns do not seem to register on the radar of any of the political parties. Yet I think they are very important. Here is the list again.

  • Preserving our basic freedoms
  • Keeping the government from interfering in our lives
  • Preserving the history and accomplishments of Canada in particular, and western civilization in general
  • Maintaining Canadian energy independence and, particularly, preserving the strength and viability of the Canadian oil and gas sector

It’s noteworthy that none of the topics that mattered most to me as a voter, were chosen by Leger for their poll list. At least basic freedoms and preserving our oil and gas sector has been addressed by two of the main parties. So why are points two and three important?

Keeping the government from interfering in our lives

It has been at least a multi-decade trend that our governments increasingly interfere with our lives. From my perspective I our governments increasingly:

  • Regulating what we watch on TV or listen to on the radio
  • Controlling our eating habits
  • Controlling what topics we can debate and change by voting, so that some changes that have been voted in can no longer be voted out
  • Educating our children by training them what to think, rather than training them how to think

These past eighteen months, I have seen this interfering trend accelerate. Certainly part of this acceleration has been the pandemic measures that had an invasive impact our personal lives such as:

  • when and who must wear masks
  • the number of people we can have in our homes, our gatherings, and even our church meetings
  • a movement toward coercing people to get vaccinated even if they prefer to take their chances with a Covid-19 infection or because they believe they are at risk of being harmed by the vaccine

But the government has also been working to be invasive in other ways

  • restricting what news programs we can watch because they claim some news organization distribute misinformation (isn’t it my job to determine that?)
  • limiting some experts from sharing their analyses on Covid-19 because they differ from the government’s directives (shouldn’t the government permit disagreement as long as both sides talk about data and statistics?)
  • the government is increasingly taking on the role as an omniscient mind reader because they pretend to determine what speech is motivated by hate, and so, it is becoming increasingly arbitrary what assertions are out of bounds in discourse

Preserving the history and accomplishments of Canada in particular and western civilization in general

If one travels extensively abroad, one realizes rather quickly the privilege and benefits we have had in growing up in Canada. We have had access to education. Our parents have had a major say in our education and they have been permitted to pass on their convictions to us. We have been able to start our own businesses and manage our investments. We have been able to vote and even begin new parties when the existing ones no longer serve their constituents.

These benefits are part of our identity, and have been strongly influenced by our fore-bearers. Our history (both Canadian and European) have strongly influenced the institutions we value (democracy, parliament, rule of law, independent courts). From where I sit, we no longer transmit these realities to our children. Indeed, I have never before seen the intensity of the self-loathing for our history and institutions that is now commonly expressed in news media and even in educational materials.

These trends are not only damaging, but unjust. We have not walked in the shoes of the Fathers of Confederation, yet we condemn them anyway. We deface and damage statues and somehow the rule of law is not enforced.

I find this very troubling and look to vote for those who least support this troubling trend.

A Review of J. K. Bailey’s ZEALOT FINALE #1

J. K. Bailey’s first book is a wonderful testament to his vivid imagination and story-telling ability. The story follows the adventures of a boy Chen and is full of wonderful imaginative inventions: Zoas which are animal human hybrids, Wryym which are dragon beings, there is a creature called Bio-Weapon, and a mobile plant-being called, appropriately enough, Venus (reminiscent of the Venus flytrap).

I enjoy books that not only tell an imaginative story, but also make me think. At one point Chen, when talking about fear, makes the counter-intuitive observation that “strength does not do away with fear, love does.” I thought about that for some time and came to agree with him.

My rating: 4 stars

2021 Canadian General Election – Part 3: Maintaining Canadian Energy Independence

Why energy independence and a healthy oil and gas sector is important

As Canadians we live in a cold country. It’s now September in southern Ontario and very soon we will be turning on our furnaces to get through another winter. Once they have been turned on, we will count on them well into next May to keep our homes livable. Most of our country is much colder than southern Ontario. So imagine what would happen if we so mismanage and demonize our oil and gas sector that our energy infrastructure will suffer, new oil and gas production will be discontinued. and we have made intermittent energy sources such as wind or solar a significant part of our energy grid. Imagine a January and February when your gas furnace or fireplace cannot be lit.

As Canadians we live in a vast country with long driving distances between cities, towns, and farms. Can we really afford to bet that we can deliver food, materials, and move ourselves in our country if all internal combustion engines have been discontinued? Maybe some day the technology will come along to make this possible. Ought we not wait until that breakthrough becomes a reality before we ban the technology that works?

It’s very easy for our governments to set artificial deadlines and tell industry to meet them. Not everything that is demanded by government can be done. Innovation does not always happen on command.

As a cold, vast country with a tiny fraction of the world’s population, I believe the global demands made by climate politicians ought not apply to us. We can’t afford the risk.

What do the parties say in their platforms?

Last time, I discussed the platforms alphabetically. In an attempt at fairness, I’ll shuffle the CPC to the end for this discussion.

 

Liberal Party of Canada

Conservatives like to say that you have to choose between growing the economy and protecting the environment. That’s a false choice that leaves workers behind and our future in danger.

We know that a serious plan for the environment is a plan for the economy. That’s why our plan for climate is a jobs plan.

The above was quoted from the liberal website. It’s easy to make glittering generalities about a bright future. Yet industry runs on power and has to deliver goods and services. Solar power and wind cannot displace fossil fuels. Until we truly have a replacement power source for fossil fuels, these types of pronouncements are meaningless in my estimation. This was disappointing because of the lack of the specifics.

New Democratic Party

Page 45 NDP Platform

One can make net zero a goal, but that doesn’t at all mean it’s possible to achieve that goal. We have no alternative energy source to fossil fuels at this point. Punishing industry if they don’t achieve the impossible is neither fair nor prudent. 

People’s Party of Canada

ISSUE

The Liberal government is spending billions of dollars at home and abroad to fight global warming—or “climate change” as it is now called to account for every natural weather event and its opposite.

In order to lower greenhouse gas emissions, it has imposed taxes and countless regulations, it subsidizes inefficient and costly “green technology,” and it is blocking the development of oil resources crucial to our prosperity.

It is an undisputed fact that the world’s climate has always changed and will continue to change. Until twelve thousand years ago, much of Canada was under ice, and it is thanks to natural climate change that we can live here today.

There is however no scientific consensus on the theory that CO2 produced by human activity is causing dangerous global warming today or will in the future, and that the world is facing environmental catastrophes unless these emissions are drastically reduced. Many renowned scientists continue to challenge this theory.

The policy debate about global warming is not grounded on science anymore. It has been hijacked by proponents of big government who are using crude propaganda techniques to impose their views. They publicly ridicule and harass anyone who expresses doubt. They make exaggerated claims to scare people. They even manipulate school children, getting them to pressure their parents and to demonstrate in the streets.

FACTS

Climate change alarmism is based on flawed models that have consistently failed at correctly predicting the future. None of the cataclysmic predictions that have been made about the climate since the 1970s have come true. No new ice age. No steady warming in direct relation with increases in CO2 levels. No disappearance of polar ice caps. No exceptional rise in ocean levels. No abnormal increase in catastrophic weather events. No widespread crop failure and famine.

In fact, CO2 is beneficial for agriculture and there has recently been a measurable “greening” of the world in part thanks to higher levels. Despite what global warming propaganda claims, CO2 is not a pollutant. It is an essential ingredient for life on Earth and needed for plant growth.

OUR PLAN

Given the uncertainties over the scientific basis of global warming, and the certainties about the huge costs of measures designed to fight it, there is no compelling reason to jeopardize our prosperity with more government interventions.

A People’s Party government will:

  • Withdraw from the Paris Accord and abandon unrealistic greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
  • Stop sending billions of dollars to developing countries to help them reduce their emissions.
  • Abolish the Liberal government’s carbon tax and leave it to provincial governments to adopt programs to reduce emissions if they want to.
  • Abolish subsidies for green technology and let private players develop profitable and efficient alternatives.
  • Invest in adaptation strategies if problems arise as a result of any natural climate change.
  • Prioritize implementing practical solutions to make Canada’s air, water and soil cleaner, including bringing clean drinking water to remote First Nations communities.

(Updated for the 2021 Campaign)

The content above was cited from the PPC website and as indicated was updated for 2021. Link

It seems to me if we did as the PPC suggest, and withdrew from the Paris Climate accord, we could ensure our energy supply for our bitterly cold winters, and still do what we could to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (conservation, move to natural gas with its higher hydrogen content). Our decoupling from Paris would make no difference to the global climate objectives because of our small population.

Conservative Party of Canada

In contrast to the Liberal plan which is short on specifics, the CPC climate plan spans almost 10 Pages pg 76-85 in their PDF document. Perhaps the quotation cited below gives a brief flavor of the plan. They acknowledge that fossil fuels will be with us a long time. They then have a huge list of incentives to help us reach the 2030 Paris Accord targets.

My Conclusions

I have been following the greenhouse effect/global warming/climate change debate since the 1970’s. It’s quite surprising to me that the global warming trend (if there is one) has not been larger after almost fifty years of steady carbon dioxide increases. Still, this is not my area of expertise, but I do know how to analyze data and so I have serious doubts that the message we receive day in and day out is the accurate one. I worry that we are falling into the trap of “confirmation bias.” At the end of the day, I readily admit my predictions of the earth’s climate 100 years from now are not reliable. But I do know that Canada is a cold country and that even if we completely decouple from the climate accord, our small population, and our tiny fraction of the global energy output, will make no difference to the success or failure of achieving the Paris Climate Accord 2030 goals.

2021 Canadian Federal Election – Part 2: What Do the Parties and Candidates Say About Preserving Our Rights, Liberties, and Freedoms?

Why is this subject important to me?

I don’t want to live in a society where I’m compelled to:

  • Regurgitate acceptable answers to the most fundamental of questions:
    • What is the ultimate nature of reality?
    • What is my purpose in life?
    • How should I act in light of these realities
    • What is my duty?
  • Not speak the truth because I will be punished if I do
  • Meet only with those people that are approved by the power structure
  • Read only the information approved by the power structure

In other words, I don’t want to live in a totalitarian society where my personal freedoms have been set aside and I am reduced to nothing more than a cog in a big machine and my function is to serve the machine, whether I want to or not; but I will be punished if I don’t comply.

Are things really that bad?

If by this question we mean “Are things as bad as they can get?” they are not yet that bad. However, our governing authorities have, in a climate of great fear, set aside our freedoms of religion, of association, of free speech, and to some extent, freedom of the press (especially for smaller news outlets). This has been done, as far as I can see, without having these new rules vetted by the courts, without a referee or ombudsman to whom one can appeal to constrain overzealous and ineffective regulations. Instead our freedoms have been set aside by rules drafted and executed by appointed health bureaucrats in response to a health crisis. To me it shows how fragile and ephemeral our freedoms are when they can be set aside without discussion as soon as a health crisis is declared. Once set aside, we still have no firm timetable for the restoration of our freedoms.

What do the party platforms say about safe-guarding our freedoms?

I will go through the platforms alphabetically. The links to the platforms are found in Part 1. of this series.

Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)

As far as I have been able to determine, the CPC have not expressed any specific intentions to restore freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, nor to put any appeal mechanisms into place to restrain overzealous suppression of these freedoms. Their statements on freedom of speech are shown below.

From PDF page 78/actual page 154

Liberal Party of Canada

I have looked through the Liberal Party of Canada Plan. None of the topics in the plan seem even remotely related to preserving our fundamental freedoms.

The New Democratic Party(NDP)

I don’t see that the NDP in their platform have made any provisions for defending basic liberties for all Canadians. On page 94 and beyond they talk about ending discriminations against select groups of people. Banning certain kinds of speech may be the NDP’s intent. However, it seems to me, if one bans any disagreeable speech, then free speech has vanished.

The Peoples Party of Canada(PPC)

The PPC party has a whole section on freedom of speech. They also reminded me how the Liberals excluded churches from access to hiring summer students unless these faith organizations renounced their deeply held conscience-based beliefs against abortion. The text from the PPC document is cited below and the link will take the reader to the correct page.

Cited from the PPC website

ISSUE

The rights of Canadians to freely hold and express beliefs are being eroded at an alarming speed under the Trudeau government. Some of its recent decisions even require that Canadians renounce their most deeply held moral convictions and express opinions they disagree with.

In 2018, the Liberal government denied summer job funding to organizations, including charities, that would not sign an attestation supporting abortion. It also passed bill C-16 as part of a trend to force Canadians to express support for the existence of various gender identities beyond the biological categories of male and female, and to use pronouns demanded by those who identify with these other genders.

In addition to these assaults on conscience, the government launched a series of regulatory attacks on free speech on the internet and is pressuring social media companies, which are already censoring speech that isn’t politically correct, to crack down even more. It is also considering bringing back Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. This hate speech provision was repealed by the Conservative government in 2013 because it was being used arbitrarily to censor statements that offended some people on the internet.

In what appears to be a first step towards restricting our right to criticize some religions, it adopted M-103, a motion that condemns religious discrimination but only specifically mentions one religion, Islam, and without defining the term “islamophobia.”

Finally, on university campuses, a growing number of faculty and administrators—those who should be fighting for open debate of controversial ideas—have become aggressive advocates for censorship.

FACTS

History and social scientific research show that freedom of conscience and freedom of expression, when maximally protected, advance the intellectual life of a nation, foster greater ideological diversity and societal understanding, and nurture other freedoms necessary for a successful democracy.

This is why Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees citizens freedom of conscience and religion, as well as freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.

OUR PLAN

What some people find politically incorrect, offensive or even hateful cannot serve as the legal basis for discrimination and censorship. Canadians should be able to enjoy maximum freedom of conscience and expression as guaranteed in Section 2 of the Charter.

A People’s Party government will:

  • Restrict the definition of hate speech in the Criminal Code to expression which explicitly advocates the use of force against identifiable groups or persons based on protected criteria such as religion, race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation.
  • Repeal any existing legislation or regulation curtailing free speech on the internet and prevent the reinstatement of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
  • Repeal C-16, M-103, C-10, and C-36.
  • Ensure that Canadians can exercise their freedom of conscience to its fullest extent as it is intended under the Charter and are not discriminated against because of their moral convictions.
  • Withhold federal funding from any post-secondary institution shown to be violating the freedom of expression of its students or faculty.

What this Analysis Means to Me as a Voter

I was disappointed that I could not find a single notion or point (aside from glittering generalities) that overtly supported our basic freedoms. It looks to me, under the Liberals, I will be facing increasing, creeping totalitarianism with so many of my thoughts and beliefs under pressure to conform to the ever changing Liberal script.

The NDP platform, if anything is even worse.  I have serious doubts about the efficacy, justice, and value of their (in my view) extreme activism.

The CPC Platform was somewhat encouraging, in that it at least recognizes the fact, that if freedom of speech is to have any useful meaning at all, it must tolerate offensive speech. Bland, insipid speech that no one finds offensive does not need any protection. Nor does it allow the kind of active debate, so necessary for a healthy democracy. On the other hand, clearly defined criminal speech, that is to say, speech that threatens violence or incites violence must continue to be prohibited as the platform explicitly states.

I was disappointed that I could not find any provisions or concerns about the curtailing of religious freedom and freedom of association that has occurred during the pandemic. This ought to have been addressed. By my latest count 25 churches from many different denominations, from right across our country have either been burned down or subject to an arson attack. A further forty churches have been vandalized [ https://tnc.news/2021/08/23/a-map-of-every-church-burnt-or-vandalized-since-the-residential-school-announcements/ ]. The most I have heard from our politicians for these criminal acts are the mildest of rebukes and no platform policy statements urging protection for these churches.

Of all the platforms, the PPC platform most strongly supported my concern for the preservation of our most basic freedoms. I especially appreciated that it reminded me of the attack against conscience rights, directed against churches, as they sought to access the summer student funding for projects of general benefit to their communities. PPC also reminded me of the Liberal’s intent to re-establish Federal Human Rights Tribunals. The thought of bringing these back makes me shudder as I remember the injustice of their previous operation when they used government money to bankrupt the unfortunate individuals targeted by HRTs, when incited to do so by activists. The process was the punishment, regardless of how unjust the accusation or how solid the defense.

2021 Canadian Federal Election-Part 1: What Issues Would I Like to Query Politicians on in this Federal Election?

A friend of mine, whose opinion I value very much, encouraged me to engage more strongly as a voter in the run-up to the federal election to be held on September 20th. His advice, derived by a consideration of Matthew, chapter 14, convicted me that I should do more than vote, send money to those I deem most worthy,  and read-up on the positions of the various political participants. Accordingly, I am breaking a long-standing personal rule to never talk about politics on my personal blog.

Let me begin by saying on July 22nd (I know the exact date since I keep a journal), at supper I pulled out a question out of a box called Table Topics. The question that came up asked: “Which three political issues are most important to you?

My wife Kathy and I each formulated our own lists and, when combined, came up with four points:

  • Preserving our basic freedoms
  • Keeping the government from interfering in our lives
  • Preserving the history and accomplishments of Canada in particular, and western civilization in general
  • Maintaining Canadian energy independence and, particularly, preserving the strength and viability of the Canadian oil and gas sector

Going forward I plan to examine the party platforms and available candidate information on these topics. Here are some links:

Review of C. S. Wachter’s A WEIGHT OF RECKONING

The fantasy Worlds of Ochen are seven planets linked by portals. Although the worlds are linked, the actions in the series occur on seven islands, one on each world. The islands differ by climate, by the presence or absence of magic, among other things. If you read these books be sure to look at the beautifully illustrated maps on the Wachter Website (https://cswachter.com/).

A Weight of Reckoning is the sequel to the Seven Words series. The action begins quickly with plans for human sacrifices designed to bring back a guardian demon that had been banished. The focus and the capstone of the increasing number of weekly human sacrifices, is the blood and ultimate sacrifice of Prince Rayne who was instrumental in banishing the demons from Ochen in the first place.

The fast-moving story is replete with personal sacrifice, hard choices, desperate actions, and self-sacrifice as it moves from world to world in its march to the final conflict. Reminiscent of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis’ writings, I loved how the author thoroughly anchored this story in a world view that recognized Good and Evil.

Wachter is a superb story teller and world builder. Her writing is clear, concise, and precise. The characters are well-crafted and detailed descriptions of the landscape put the reader right in the middle of a vivid action scene. I highly recommend this series. Although I began with this book, I plan on returning to the first story and read them from beginning to the end.

My rating: 4.5 stars

 

Arithmetic and Facebook

One of my Facebook friends commented on this simple, apparently long-circulating, arithmetic problem and so it prompted many other of my Facebook acquaintances to also weigh in. The statistics of this FB post, as a whole, captured  my attention. With 516K votes (“likes” I suppose) and 5.5M comments that is almost too impressive.

I don’t think the interest in this question would have been so high if everyone had arrived at the same answer. Since some did not, from the few answers I’ve seen, it seems many were prompted not only to correct the errors, but to also provide detailed explanations on the order of precedence rules in arithmetic.

Now, I’m naturally skeptical and suspicious (not always a good trait) and so I could not help suspecting that some of the wrong answers presented with conviction were nothing more than “click bait” and perhaps led to the phenomenal response to this simple post.

As a tutor in chemistry and physics this discussion provoked some interesting thoughts …

  1. In any math problem that involves a mathematical expression, the expression is a language that connects the person who set up and solved a math problem and someone else who uses the solution to find the correct answer to a similar problem. The conventions around the rules of precedence, that is to say: “multiplication and division must be done before addition and subtraction” are established so that the users of the equation understand how they are to perform the various operations correctly to get the right answer. If they are not followed, then using hyperbole, bridges will fall down, planes won’t leave the runway, and patients will received incorrect dosages. The rules involve shorthand (default rules that everyone is supposed to know) that make the expression as compact as possible.
    • since multiplication is done first, as most respondents noted, the expression simplifies to:
    • 50+50+0+2+2=? and so the answer is 104
    • If the person who set up the expression wanted a different outcome, then brackets would be used to change the order of operations … (50+50-25)x0+2+2=? … this answer would be 4
    • The conventions communicate from the person who set up the equation to the user. Like all conventions of this sort, they are only effective if we all agree to the same ones.
  2. The second interesting point has to do with calculators. Depending on the calculator, a person who has not bothered to learn the order of precedence conventions can easily get the wrong answer. Using a calculator is no guarantee of accuracy.
    • For an older, simpler calculator that forces you to enter a number and an operation and another number to complete the operation, going from left to right will give the incorrect answer. By beginning at the left the user imposes an incorrect order of operation on the whole equation. You will in effect solve … (50+50-25)x0+2+2=?
    • A more sophisticated calculator that lets you enter the whole expression will follow the rules of precedence

Bottom line: having a calculator does not necessarily keep you from making mistakes if you don’t learn the rules.