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Zoo-Book Review

ZOO_BookReviewAuthor: James Patterson d Michael Ludwidge

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, New York, NY

Copyright: 2013, ISBN: [0446571791]

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes

Summary:  Maybe not intended, but ZOO is a parody of the current climate change crisis and ranks up there with George Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM as social commentary. ZOO however goes a step farther. It shows us how to really solve a crisis, whatever the crisis may be.


Remember the population crisis of the 60’s and 70’s? It really took off as a crisis after Paul Ehrlich’s THE POPULATION BOMB.  We were supposed to have a global famine by 1980. The anticipated crisis loomed so large that it even inspired a really good movie.  In “Soylent Green”, the population of New York was supposed to be about 40 million people by 2022 with plenty of homeless people roaming the streets, food-rationing and forward thinking “job creators” having figured out a way to feed the starving. From the hysteria over an over-populated earth, we got soy burgers and bottled water—plastic bottled water. This particular “crisis” imploded and deflated when the Y2K crisis popped up. The world was supposed to end when all the computers running utility grids confused the year 2000 with the year 0000. With even our computers figuring out there is no such year as 0000, we passed through the Y2K crisis only to encounter full bore publicity about Global Warming.

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A Beautiful Child – Book Review

ABeatifulChildBy: Matt Birkbeck

Copyright: 2004, 2005, ISBN: [9780425204405 ]

Cover: Pyrographics

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, 27 August 2013


Summary:  Beyond the search for identity of Sharon Marshall, this book chronicles the extraordinary ineptness of the American penal system and our timid efforts as a society to protect our children.

In this rather extraordinary crime book, Matt Birkbeck presents the facts underlying the question of Who was Sharon Marshall:

  1.  Sharon Marshall Hughes was found lying on the service road just off Interstate 35 in Oklahoma City in April 1990. She died on 30 April having never regained consciousness. At the time she was going by the name Tonya Hughes and the name on her grave marker.
  2. Her “husband”, Franklin Delano Floyd was born in 1943, a very intelligent but flawed individual. His father having died three years after his birth and his mother unable to support the four children from the marriage, Franklin was raised in an orphanage in Atlanta, Georgia. He was there from 1946 to 1959 when he was kicked out for repeatedly running away and breaking into homes.
  3. In June 1962, Franklin abducted a four year-old girl from a bowling alley and molested her. Convicted of the molestation charge, he was sentenced to ten years in prison.  He escaped from the Milledgeville State Hospital where he was undergoing psychiatric evaluation. He then robbed a bank in Macon, Georgia.  He was apprehended and sentenced to fifteen years to the Federal Reformatory at Chillicothe, Ohio in 1963. He ended up in the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, a maximum-security prison housing violent criminal from the Washington, D.C. area. We learn that “maximum-security” is an amorphous term. The prisoners at Lewisburg were certainly not experiencing “maximum-security”. Floyd “was regularly raped and beaten” while there.  In February 1965 he was transferred to another maximum-security facility in Illinois—Marion federal prison. There he submitted to a “daddy” and was protected from beatings in exchange for sexual performance. His final prison home was at Reidsville State Prison where he completed his bank robbery sentence and was paroled in November 1971. He went directly to the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta to serve the remainder of his sentence for an attempted escape from Chillicothe.
  4. Author Birkbeck gives us a brief and enlightening history of the Church of the New Song. Federal prisons cannot protect inmates from sexual assault, but they can protect an inmate’s right to establish and practice a religion—said religion being the Church of the New Song or CONS. Floyd became a participant before his release from prison to a halfway house in November 1972. A friend he made in prison and a fellow member of CONS, David Dial, plays a role in the search for the identity of Sharon Marshall as well as for the search for her missing son, Michael. Michael was most likely killed by Floyd after an abduction from the school Michael attended while assigned to foster parents.
  5. After being released from a halfway house in January 1973, Floyd picked up in February 1973 after attempting to kidnap a woman at a gas station. With the help of David Dial, he posed bond. He did not appear for a June trial. Floyd disappears from the earth from June 1973 until the summer of 1989.

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Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior – Book Review

SubliminalHowYourUnconsciousMindRulesYAuthor: Leonard Mlodinow

Publisher: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, NY

Copyright: 2012, ISBN: [9780307472250]

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, August 16, 2013


Summary: Human interaction and the brain. How new imaging techniques are expanding our understanding of the brain. A traditional view of the mind as an outgrowth of brain activity.


The reason you are reading this is because of an unconscious series of events.  The events lead you inevitably to this blog and this review.  Or, a simpler way of putting it is that you are here because of habit—though that’s another book (HABIT review here). Hence, we begin our Angry Birds pursuit of brain-mind research.

You may take exception to the above assessment of predetermined action.  However, the basis of Leonard Mlodinow’s SUBLIMINAL is that all your physical AND mental activity is the result of sub-aware streams of direction—what he calls the unconscious.  This is the premise of SUBLIMINAL.  Mlodinow provides plenty of examples to back it up. But there are two problems with the premise. The first problem the author attacks early on. The second problem he does not address.

On page 12, Mlodinow readily admits that it is difficult to distinguish automatic behavior from consciously directed behavior. The “new unconscious” which supposedly directs all behavior is being defined by a close examination of the internal workings of brain neurons.  From this examination it now appears that what we think as consciously directed behavior is really an expression of reflex-streams originating from brain chemistry of which we are unaware. We can define “unaware” as being a condition in which we do not focus or pay attention to data present within our environment.  Hence, some data form our environment is subliminal.

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The Black Count – Book Comment

blackcountthAuthor: Tom Reiss

Publisher: Broadway Paperbacks, Crown Publishing Group, Random House, Inc

Copyright: 2012

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, 12 August 2013


Summary: The life of Alex Dumas, father of Alexandre Dumas. The younger used the life of his father for his novels, THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO and THE THREE MUSKETEERS. Excellent and well-researched book: some extraordinary material on life during the French Revolution. There is pertinence to today’s political science.

I read books from front to back rather than sampling the middle or peeking at the ending. Tom Reiss’s Prologue, Part 1 and Part 2 of THE BLACK COUNT nearly thwarted the journey. Once past the prologues however, I found a rich and vibrant exposition of history. It is history covered before of course. Reiss brings a freshness that is well worth the momentary distraction of the prologues. THE BLACK COUNT is another one of those sentinel histories in biographies like Emil Ludwig’s NAPOLEON. I read NAPOLEON as a teen. Ludwig was also the author who got me interested in Nostradamus.

Having been an avid explorer of the prophecies of 16th Century French seer, Michele De Nostradamus, reading BLACK COUNT was disquieting—to use a weak description. Nostradamus expresses strong views on the French Revolution. He is also expresses strong opinions about the aftermath. We are still living the aftermath. Tom Reiss’s THE BLACK COUNT frames the legacy issues by examining the life of one man—French General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas.

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