Three of the Best Books I read in 2014

It’s the end of the year. Don’t people look back at the past and choose best films? best books they read? Look for meaning?

accidental superpower 1Peter Zehan’s “The Accidental Super Power: The next generation of American preeminence and the coming global disorder”  Demographics, geography and the future.  Mainstream optimism and how lucky we are in the USA to have lived in this place, at this time in history. Curious about where we’re going?  Zehan’s Accidental Superpower will challenge every readers basic premises and constructs.   I am NOT an optimist so Zehan’s thesis was fresh!

So I thought I knew what it meant when reporters would routinely call North Korea the most “oppressive regime in the modern world”.  Jeezus, I was naive.

oms I

Adam Johnson’s “The Orphan Master’s Son” is  a novel containing such horror, tragedy and sadness and yet it is simultaneously engaging!  And revolting too! Setting: Follow the life of an orphan in North Korea who has survived a harsh upbringing full of dangerous work assignments, starvation and abuse and now, as a young man, is put to work by the state doing various nefarious tasks.

This book won the Pulitzer prize for fiction in 2013. It was gripping yet hard to read. Even painful in places.   Read what makes you “uncomfortable”!  I’m glad I did.

man from berlinThe Man from Berlin: by Luke McCallin.  Mystery murder in WWII. Unlikely setting since a single death, (hell even a thousand deaths)  in the east was insignificant.   But man what a read.! War, aristocrats, thugs, cops, Nazi’s and beautiful Women all in an exotic dangerous setting.

The “lost xcvr manual”

So you’re selling a radio in sparkling condition. Put it in the original box with original packing ready to ship.  But then the manual is lost! Where is it? Hell we just moved from California to Virginia. Never mind that we downsized and got lean for the Old years!  No “real ham” would ever lose the manual!

Found it the day after I shipped! Laughs.

the lost manual

John Hinckley Trial: Special Event Station

FLASHBACK: WA4D “Special Event Station”  1982

Previous Blog entry from long ago.

1982 Hinckley Beach

 

In June 1982 as a Cameraman for NBC News based in Washington D.C. every Saturday for a month I was assigned to stake out the U.S. Federal Courthouse where the trial of attempted Presidential assassin John Hinckley was underway. All the networks and the print media set up on the front lawn of the courthouse. (This was back when Federal Courthouse security was waaaay more lax than it is today.) Our job was to await new developments and the lawyers would periodically come out and stand in front of the microphones and update the press.  We in the Press Corps called the setting, “Hinckley Beach” since it was summer and little happened until the end of the trial.  We’d bring lawn chairs, coolers and umbrellas to beat the DC summer heat and humidity.

One weekend, I threw my Kenwood TS-130 HF rig in the microwave truck and and a Hustler Mobile Whip that I mounted on an upside down trash can (a faux ground) and set it up on the roof of the van. A Washington Post photographer thought my radio set up was interesting and shot the photo above. It didn’t make it into the paper, but he sent me a copy.

My recollection is, I worked alot of DX on 15 meters that day. Foreign Hams would express surprise when I told them where I was operating from. Surely operating from the courthouse would be prohibited!  I was on the air, MC-60 mic in hand when this photo taken. It was fun.

NOTE: Some years later (mid 90’s)  I would see Hinckley up close and photograph him thanks to (Bearcat Scanners)….but that’s another story for another time(and video too!)