Review of Glen Robinson’s THE SERPENT AND THE DOVE (HERETICS#2)

Having read, Heretics#1, I must say that THE SERPENT AND THE DOVE did not disappoint. Like its predecessor, it was an action-packed thriller full of suspense, heroic action, peril, as well as intriguing plot twists. The Heretics, as an organization, are about to go international and respond to training requests from teams in other countries.

Betrayal from within the organization leads to deadly strikes against the new teams and forces the Heretics organization to go into hiding until the betrayer can be discovered. Key to the disaster is a person called Veritas who uses human pheromones (a topic of scientific debate and speculation) to great effect.

This is a well-written story that kept me reading. I cared about the main characters and the suspense was handled well. Until the end, I was looking at rating it five stars, but I ended up at four. The author is clearly setting the reader up for the sequel, but there were so many loose ends that it left me somewhat dissatisfied. I, of course, expect some loose ends to make room for a sequel, but this story felt as if there were too many for my taste.

Perhaps, when the next book is available, and I have read it, the loose ends that trouble me now, will be the appetizer that will cause me to enjoy the sequel more thoroughly.


In August 21, 2017, the shadow of the moon crossed over the width of the continental United States. Interestingly, the narrow band of this solar eclipse could be observed in seven municipalities named Salem. This unique celestial event became the basis for Easley’s tale. Penelope Stone, a member of the “Salem Seven” from Salem, Oregon, was one of the teenagers who were destined for greatness. This is the story of what happened to them.

S. C. Easley has a wonderful imagination. Indeed, her fantasy story reminded me of Lewis Carroll’s ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND or Madeleine L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME series. Easley’s story is full of beautiful vistas, deadly enemies (for example Pyrats—beings with python bodies and rat heads) and many others. The seven teenagers meet many characters along the way (as Alice did) as they pursue their quest.

If I have one complaint, I wish this book had a glossary so I could refresh my memory as I meet characters a second time.

There was one part of the story, I particularly enjoyed. Several of the seven, thinking they knew better than their guide, decided to take an ill-advised shortcut to their next destination. The troubles on the short cut led to ill temper, sharp words, and grumbling. With every grumble their packs became heavier, until they opened them up and found rocks inside that had not been there before. These “weighing stones” had words on them that described their origin in the words, actions, and attitudes of the travelers. The teenagers could only continue after they had removed these rocks.

This is a wonderfully imaginative story. Like the best children’s stories, this speaks not only to children, but to adults who read it as well.


My Rating: Five Stars

2021 Christmas Greetings

Because of travel plans over the holidays, we decided to hold an early family Christmas celebration. As I thought about the good-natured banter, laughter and quips among the four generations present, it led me to think how much our world has changed over those generations, and how hard we have to work to get past the presuppositions that come from our histories.  

The years 2021, 1992, 1963, and 1939 are significant because these are the years when a member of one of those four generations turned twelve years old.

In 1939 a twelve-year old would still remember how recently the farm was electrified. Before that it was lamps, candles, and early bedtimes.

In 1963, one still carried books everywhere and spoke on telephone landlines, even party-lines!!

In 1992 computers were becoming more and more common. Cellphones and the internet were known but not yet in common usage, and electronic books were a novelty.

In 2021 the ubiquitous smartphone, texting, many, many social media platforms are the norm. With Covid-19, lock-downs, movement restrictions and mandatory vaccination laws have become common place, and interactions and travel we did without thinking in 1992 now definitely require second or even third thoughts!

As we talk to one another, we have to try to understand where the other is coming from. What are their assumptions…? What don’t they know about my world …?

So in this Christmas season, I`m reminded to be grateful for other generations, and to make sure I understand what they mean by what they said … a prerequisite for good communication.

A Note About Peter`s Writing

The year 2021 was significant for me from a writing perspective. I published my fifth book and started a new SciFi series. The reviews have been encouraging …

With Covid-19 raging and many of us locked down, it has been quite a while since I sent out my last newsletter. If you have a chance to let me know how you`re doing, I would enjoy hearing from you. If not an email, you are always welcome to leave a comment.


To my American friends “Happy Thanksgiving.” To everyone, “Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.”


Becoming a Truth-Seeker in an Age of Propaganda

My well-used copy of THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH

In C. S. Lewis’ novel THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH, published in 1945, he foresaw the age of propaganda. An unobtrusive organization, the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments (N.I.C.E.), was engaged in implementing its program of  eliminating undesirables. Although not well-known to the public, the N.I.C.E. controlled parliament. It didn’t really matter whom you, as a voter. elected. Once elected, the MP would be beholden to the N.I.C.E. for their success. Similarly, the media organizations were also under the thumb of the N.I.C.E.

At one point the protagonist, the malleable Mark Studdock, in his quest to always be part of the progressive element at his college, is roped into writing propaganda pieces for the N.I.C.E. for its many initiatives destined to remove people’s freedoms and liberties. Studdock’s template propaganda pieces appear in customized form in all of the nation’s papers. Lewis presents a brilliant picture of how a well-educated, articulate, academic can write convincingly and compellingly on almost any subject. As a reader, who knew the true events behind the story, I could nevertheless only marvel how a clever writer could twist the context to make the facts fit the wholly deceptive perspective desired by the N.I.C.E. The malevolent Progressive Element in the N.I.C.E. goes on to stage fake protests, use the media to mislead the public to rage against the innocent, all for the purpose of eliminating those people who oppose their pragmatic agenda of efficiency and control. Lewis has a real knack for making the propaganda so persuasive that the reader would be taken in if he didn’t see the actions behind the rhetoric. To me this prophecy is happening before my eyes seventy-five years after this book was written.

How does one, then, become a truth-seeker in an age of propaganda?

Before beginning a discussion of a difficult subject about truth and propaganda, it is important to define the terms.

Truth is a very important word in the New Testament. In the Greek the noun, transliterated, is ALETHEIA.

ALETHEIA: “The reality lying at the basis of appearance; the manifested veritable essence of a matter”

W.E. Vine; Cremer

PROPAGANDA: “An organized programme of publicity, selected information etc. used to propagate a doctrine, practice, etc.; the information, doctrines, etc. propagated in this way, esp. regarded as misleading or dishonest”

Oxford English Reference Dictionary

As I work to be a truth-seeker, two important points stand out to me:

  1. Truth (Aletheia) is connected to reality. It is quite dangerous to ignore truth because reality, by its nature, will win out.
  2. Truth is not always easy to identify, since appearances may be misleading. Often appearances can be created by what people say.

With regards to propaganda, it is not the opposite of truth, but often is a caricature of it. As the definition indicates, propaganda uses publicity and selected information with an end in mind. They may want you to buy a product, vote for a particular party, censure some group, or believe a particular message. The publicity and selected information is chosen in order: to get the audience to accept the teaching or take the steps desired.

So how do I become a truth-seeker in an age of propaganda? I think there are four steps that are important for me to take:

  1. If I am given information driving me to a particular belief or action, argue against it. If the information is part of a propaganda initiative, the propagandists are likely telling me half-truths and omitting all counter arguments. If the information is true, I won’t find any compelling counter arguments and the information will become even more convincing.
  2. Look for data and make the discussion about data. Often the most convincing propaganda is based on emotion, perhaps appeals to sympathy. That is to say, the propagandist avoids asking whether the statement under question is true or false. Instead they focus on how someone has been hurt or denigrated by the assertion.
  3. Look at the presuppositions. In propaganda, often the assumptions behind the information is never discussed, much less critically evaluated. Yet the whole argument rests on the validity of these assumptions.
  4. Become a two-column person. By that I mean, assume there is data for and against any position. If none is presented, as is often the case with propaganda, seek it out. Don’t be satisfied to leave one column empty.

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


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


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.


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.


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.