The Bow-Tied Blogger

The life and adventures of one soldier and his various journeys.

  Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Book Review for March. Unfortunately, the book reaidng is lighter as I may be off to Warrior Leadership Course. So here goes:

Colonization: Aftershocks

The Rebels (Kent Family Chronicles

Converting to Judaism - Choosing to Be Chosen : Personal Stories

Books read for March: 3
Books for 2007: 13

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This may be my last day of posting for two weeks. I am not even an alternate, but am in fact on standby. This means that after the primary soldiers are picked, then any remaining slots go to alternates, and anything left after that goes to standby folks like me.

In the meantime, I have a few announcements:

One, welcome back to Baleboosteh. I only hope that Bagel Blogger will return soon.

I also want to offer a great thank you to Sara with No H. I just received the book she sent me and, unless she strictly follows negiah, I have a great big hug for her :)

If I knew your email, I'd send you a more personal thank you :)

Not too much other news, but one more post a little later tonight, and I wish all my readers well for the next few weeks.

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  Monday, March 19, 2007

Now, most of my readers know about most of the links on my blog roll, as they are bigwigs like Mike Totten, or members of the jblogosphere. However, one of them is an old friend of mine. Laura just finished grad school at NYU, and is ready to review whatever she wants to. She's been on a roll the last week, so I heavily recommend reading her reviews. I should have introduced her a while back, too.

Now, in other news, I am on standby for the Warrior Leadership Course, so if I am quiet until April 5, that means I went. Now, being on standby means that I will go if there are openings, and from what I hear there may be as many as 120 soldiers and only room for 80, so if openings occur, extras may have to argue why they should go. The downside is when I have to get up on Thursday morning, so it sucks to be me on Thursday :)

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  Sunday, March 18, 2007

Last two books.

Now, I am giving another twofer, because the two books are about conversion:

Your People, My People: Finding Acceptance and Fulfillment As a Jew by Choice

Conversion to Judaism: A Guidebook

Now, I for one love stories about conversion. Conversion is more about how to convert and reasons for conversion, as well as reactions to converts, be it family, friends, and other Jews.

There aren't as many stories as guidlines and prayers, but it is very helpful in learning about conversion and about Judaism in brief.

Your People, My People is more about conversion stories, through different categories, like the reaction of the non-Jewish parents as well as the Jewish parents as their in-law joins the tribe.

The one thing that wasn't as useful to me was that I am single, and while there are some Jewish women I am attracted to, and will eventually get the coruage to ask out, I am not converting to court Jewish women. Luckily Your People contained a chapter for singles. In fact, one interesting tidbit was about a guy who converted at the behest of his Jewish girlfriend, a five week Conservative conversion.....part of me is curious about that, though I feel that would be cheating :)

After the breakup he puts his new faith on a shelf but thankfully a Jewish friend gets him to a single havurah at a Synagouge. Knowing of such a group is very helpful to me. The singles tales speak more to me, because I am single and have no idea when I will go on a date again, let alone get married. The other stories were great to read, but I saw them more as stories, and I was rather amused by the guy who converts to marry his Reform wife, but he goes Lubavitch, and that ends the marriage.

I give both books positive reviews and recommend them for reading. Also Your People, My People informed me about a network for Jewish converst that may be a useful resource for me in the future.

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  Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Book Review Time. First I want to thank Sara with no H for sending me a book. I can't wait to see what it is :)

Now time for the last book on my list, but one that drew me to it by name: Turbulent Souls:: A Catholic Son's Return To His Jewish Family

Now, when I saw the book, I was curious to say the least. I myself grew up Catholic. My mother is from a mostly Irish family with some German, though her maiden name is Worthington, but thankfully they were originally Normans. Besides, the Worthington's moved to America (well NYC to be more specific), because a Joseph Chapman Worthington married an Irish Catholic and the Brits didn't look too highly on an Anglican marrying an Irish Catholic. MY father's side is Scottish and French, and this is true for centuries as Forsyth was DeForsyth, but in the first goyim millennium, they emigrated to Scotland...probably towards the end of that millenium, as Scotland was Calydonia until the Irish conquered it..this is why Mc and Mac are so similar and why both nations are Gaelic. Those Franco-Scots eventually became Barons and sold out the British, and this group includes Logans who were DeLogans until King James came about. That group settled in the American South and were Episcopalians. My father's mother was French from New Orleans and her family was exiled from France for being polite to tourists :) They were a combination of Canadians who didn't like the outcome of Abraham Plain and aristos settling in New Orleans.

Well, that is my family, and also why I was brought up Catholic. Now the author Stephen Dubner has a very different background. For me to be Jewish, I will convert, though this may be after I move to New York City, where I will not have too much trouble finding a Synagogue :) Stephen's case is different, because his mother is Jewish, even though she converted, so he just needs to embrace his birthright, which he does, but more on that later.

Now, Stepehen's parents were both Jewish and grew up in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, their parents didn't provide them the best religious upbringing. Solly (Stephen's father) was raised by a very devout father, who was not the most personable father, and Solly lost his mother as a young man, which gave him a tremendous emotional blow. During WWII, Solly joined the Army and served in the Pacific, where he would convert to Catholicism, perhaps hoping Mary can fill the void left by his mother Gittel's death. Florence, Stephen's mother had a different background. She grew up in Brooklyn, but in a very secular background, as opposed to Solly. As a young adult she took up ballet and was instructed by a Russian expatriate who had converted from Russian Orthodox to Catholic. Florence would follow in a similar path, but she became a much stricter Catholic. Needless to say, their parents weren't pleased. Florence's parents were disapproving and understandably dismayed to find a holy water dispenser or crucifix, while Solly's father sat Shiva and mourned the "death" of his son. Another prominent change was the names. Solly became Paul and Florence became Veronica. The two met after the war ended and after marriage they moved to a rural area in Suffolk County. As Catholics, they were actually very devout and zealous (which I once was) and had eight children. With all the children, the house in Suffolk proved too small, so they moved to a suburb of Albany, in a farmhouse that was dubbed Eden.

At 10, Stephen was lose his father, which had many effects on him, including an aversion to the Charismatic Catholics his parents had begun flocking to, but his questions about his faith would come much later in College where he would meet his first wife and start a band.

Now, his Catholic faith had lapsed and he had married his first wife in an Episcopal ceremony. They lived in Greenwich Village, where Stephen met his wife's instructor and role model, an Orthodox Jew who, while not advocating any specific faith for Stephen, encouraged Stephen to find absolutes to his life and determine his identity. Through this connection and a search for his parents' family that even leads him to Poland, Stephen re-connects to his Jewish roots. Also, after hi first marriage ended, he remarried a Jewish women and now has two kids, continuing a strong, but knowledgeable Jewish tradition. Ironically, this may have only been possible due to his parents' conversion as he was the youngest of eight kids.

Now, I did not know the story in advance and in some ways I can relate to it, but not too much, as the only non-Catholics in my family are Episcopalians. Also, my parents are not overly devout or the least bit zealous. One other factor affecting Stephen was his initial resentment at his par nets for abandoning their Jewish roots, until it was his ex-wife's mentor who helped him understand that his parents were following their hearts as he was following his, and the fact that if his parents became nonobservant Jews instead of zealous Catholic, they would never have had eight kids, so no Stephen to return to his Jewish roots.

Granted, I have only covered a portion of what the book is about, but if I give too much away, you won't get curious and read the book for yourself :) I thought the book was very good, and of course I also loved Freakonomics, which he wrote more recently. As a Jew in training, I love stories about conversions, and while this book is not a conversion story formally, it still has a great story to it, and I can sympathize with some of Stephen's journey as I am learning Hebrew and will eventually learn how to use a tallit and tefillin, though I will have the benefit of conversion classes and instruction while much of it had to be self-taught, as he accidentally ripped his tallit while davening in one chapter.

I highly recommend the book, especially if you enjoy learning about journeys.

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  Sunday, March 11, 2007

Book Review

Today is a double header, as they are the first two books of a trilogy:

Second Contact (Colonization, Book 1) and Down to Earth (Colonization, Book 2).

Now, the story starts with the Worldwar Series, where lizards attempt to conquer Earth during WWII. The lizards are a very conservative race that progress at a slow and gradual pace. A probe of Earth (or Tosev 3 as they call it) taken 800 years ago shows a knight in rusty armor, leading the lizards to believe that Earth is still in the same position it was during the High Middle Ages, but are they in for a shock!

The invasion interrupts WWII and forces all human forces to unite against the invaders. One minor league ballplayer named Sam Yeager enlists in the Army while his coworker Bobby Fiore is kidnapped and forced to mate with a Chinese peasant, Liu Han.

A Jewish resident of the Warsaw Ghetto was medical student until the Nazis arrived. The lizard invaders destroy the barriers to the Warsaw Ghetto, and nuke Berlin, which starts a good alliance with Moishe Russie (the medical student) and Mordecai Anielwicz along with most of Poland's Jews. Russie becomes a radio spokesman for the lizards, much to the dismay of his cousin David Goldfarb, a radar worker for the RAF, and son of Polish Jews who fled turn of the century progroms for a better life in East London.

The relationship is soured when Washington DC is nuked next and Moishe seeks Mordecai's help in escaping Warsaw, along with his wife and son. Eventually Moishe is captured and imprisoned, but rescued by his cousin David courtesy of the Royal British Navy. Later on, the Russie are sent on a mission to Israel (though then known as Palestine), but are captured by the Stern Gang and later by the lizards, but Moishe becomes a chief advisor for them.

In the US, Same Yeager is a sci fi nut and when two lizards are captured, he volunteers to guard them and study them, which leads him to Chicago and the wife of a physicist working on the Manhataan project. The physicist has dissapeared and is presumed dead, so the wife Barbara and Sam marry enroute to Denver where the project is continued.

In China Liu Han and Bobby Fiore wind up joining Mao's guerrilas in fighting lizards, especially after their daughter is captured and later retaken, but Bobby is killed before the daughter was born.

In the midwest near Denver a Cavalry Captain Rance Auerbach meets a lively farmgirl named Penny Summers and they become lovers, though Rance is severely wounded by a lizard machine gun, whcih will affect him later.

Mordecai eventually settles into Lodz, but in the meantime befriends Wermarcht Colonel Heinrich Jaeger and his later wife Ludmilla Gorbudnova a Senior Lieutenant for the Red Air Force, and together they prevent an atomic bomb from exploding in Lodz, Poland, where they all settle.

These are the major characters from the first trilogy along with Atvar the Admiral of the Conquest fleet and Straha a Captain who defects to the United States. By the end of the first trilogy, Atvar negotiates a stalemate with the three remaining superpwoers, the US, Nazi Germany, and the USSR, while Japan and the UK are independnet but reduced in power. Africa, Latin America, Australia, the Middle East, China, Southeast Asia, and Poland are held by the lizards, while a section of the South pacific known as Free France exists as a convenient neutral ground for illegal deals as well as ginger selling (ginger is a spice that has narcotic effects on the lizards).

Now, in the second trilogy, it is the early 1960s. On the downside Nazi Germany still exists and is headed by Heinrich Himmler. Even worse is that they are a strong influence on the UK which is bad for David Goldfarb and his family. Eventually he and his family will flee to Canada, but he has some misadventures in the meantime where an old "friend" extorts him into taking a mission to Marseilles, part of the Reich.

In Marseilles, it is shown that France is still occupied by Germany and one history professor is courted by an SS Officer trying to find her brother an independent smuggler. The Professor Monique is eventually forced to become teh SS Officer's lover and eventually flees to live with her brother in the seeider parts of Marseilles.

In Fort Worth Rance Auerbach is a broken and grouchy old man suffering form his wounds and living on a meager pension. Penny Summers returns to his life after having cheated ginger dealers from Detroit, and after they are visited by two hitmen, they flee to Mexico, which is under lizard control, to sell ginger, but are arrested and forced to capture the Marseilles smuggler, where they run into David Goldfarb.

The plan fails as David, Rance, Penny, and Pierre the smuggelr are capture by the Reich. The lizards extradite Rance and Penny, along with David because he is Moishe Russie's cousin. Penny and Rance are sent to South Africa where they plot a major ginger operation and will eevntaully flee to Tahiti in Free France.

The Russies are considerably better off than in the first trilogy as Moishe is an adivsor to Atvar and has a Medical school named after him in Jerusalem, which his son Reuven attends. The Middle East is not that peaceful as Muslims led by Kohmeni and others lead uprisings against the lizards in Baghdad and other places, over resentment at lizard rule and the fact that the lizards favor the Jewish residents.

The USSR is now ruled by Molotov, Stalins Foreign Commissar, who was briefly deposed by a coup but later regains power and takes his revenge on the NKVD (the KGB never evolved in this timeline), but has to be careful not to let the Red Armyhave too much power.

In Lodz, Heinrich is dead, but Mordecai has considerable influence as he is a friend of the lizards in charge, especially with one sub-administrator Nesseref who was part of the colonization fleet.

Now, the Colonization fleet arrived, but an unknown enemy wiped out all of the Imperial administartion ships, plus the colonists and conquering forces have vast conlficts as the colonists expected a conquered world, and cannot relate to the soldiers at all.

In the US, Earl Warren is President, and Straha along with Sam Yeager both live in Los Angeles. Sam is now a Major and will later be promoted to Lt Colonel by President Warren. His son is a College studnet and he has a girlfriend of teh same age. Due to the lizards' prescence, both he and his girlfriend mimick the lzards' ways as a typcial youthful game.

In China, Liu Han and her daughter live as stalwart Communists, but the lizard who cpatured Liu Han's child, captured a child later on and named her Kassquit. Kassquit lives as a lizard in a human body, feeling very marginalized though she eventaully dsicovers sam Yeager posing as a lizard and meets both him and his son.

Nazi Germany is ruled by Himmler until his death, where a less sane leader takes over and goes to war with the lizards over Poland, only the lizards completely wreck Germany and force them to free France.

During that war, Jonathan Yeager, Sam's son, and Kassquit are aboard the lizard ship doing a study as Kassquit and Jonathan engage in sexual experientation for several weeks.

This ends the first two books with more to be learned in the final book of the series, which I am currently reading.

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  Saturday, March 10, 2007

Needs of the Army.

My plans for Pesach will have to wait until next year, as my unit is sending me to Warrior Leadership School on the 22nd of March until April and I will wind up missing Pesach. I guess that is life and some days you don't get what you want. To put it mildly I am not endeared to my unit. If anything I am not too happy at Ft Hood, or with my job. I also dislike their promotion of camaraderie and other crap. I feel more like a Finance mercenary than some bonded soldier. I do my job, but I don't want to have much to do with my coworkers off duty. I live and work with them, and that's about it.

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  Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My Monday misadventures

I guess combining Purim with an M16 range is a good idea. Maybe I decided to imagine the pop up targets as Haman subconsciously, but in any case, I hit 30 out of 40 targets, so I'm doing something right.

Now, the only problem was that we had night fire and there has not been any rain in weeks, so fires are not uncommon, so the first group to fire that night set off a forest fire, which was extinguished later, but the whole exercise was pointless as night fire is not required to qualify and only 16 NCOs had the opportunity to fire.


  Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Happy Purim

Chag Sameach!!!

Today was a great day and great for a fun purim in Austin. The day started at 11:30 when we all boarded a bus for the Dell JCC in Austin. Upon arriving, we enjoyed the festivities and a few of us went to the kosher deli at the grocery store near the JCC...unfortunately I didn't, but I will at another time.

After enjoying the festivities I went to the Megillah reading at UT Austin's Hillel Center, and while I had trouble keeping up with the Hebrew, I followed along with the graggers in attacking Haman's name. I also now have a gragger and a black yarmulke to go with my desert camoflauge yarmulke.

The event was a great deal of fun and contained an improtant message considering events in the world today. My dear friend, Red Tulips of Culture for All sends me a great link about a modern day Haman in modern day Persia.

Also, for great fun is the Purim Podcast.

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Copyright 2007 Thomas forsyth. I welcome comments