C. G. McGinn

Writer

Ramblings about Books and Writing

Back on Twitter....sorta

Let me start out by saying that Twitter, FaceBag, all of these SociNets are festering pits of hate, anger and douche baggery of the highest order. Anyone who posts regularly on their sucks in my most humble opinion.

I of course, mean that in the nicest way possible.

As a platform to advertise this blog, it's the only game in town, so I will use it so long as it's viable.

I had a 'personal' Twitter account that I seldom used. I got rid of it. I now have a public facing account associated with this website. I will not tweet about the President, or about the last President, or about whatever people are virtue signaling about this week.

This will always be  a site about writing and what I'm reading.

Here's what I'm currently up to so I can justify using the appropriate hashtags in this post:

I'm finishing The Day After Rosewell. Full post coming soon.

Per everyone's request, I'm also reading book 1 of the Stormlight Archives (AKA: The Way of Kings). One day I may actually finish it. It's quite the epic read.

Ever expanding and editing my 2nd Novella. Soon it will be a novel...and then I'll be a real boy!

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Spoonbenders is the story of a Greek-Irish family. The only difference between my own family and the one in the story is that my family does no possess any sort of telekinetic or psychic powers.

...that I know of.

The eldest daughter knows if a person is lying or telling the truth.

The eldest son can move objects with him mind.

The baby of the family is the worlds greatest psychic.

The grandson can astral project.

And the grandfather is a master of cards, slight of hand, and all things Penn and Teller.

Those were probably spoilers. It probably doesn't matter though. Where the story goes from there is quite unique. This is one of those, it could happen in real life but there are sci-fi elements at play sort of stories. It's sorta what Stephen Kings does with horror, only the stakes are much lower.

It takes place in 1995.

It was a good book to get into after a break from reading, and The Library at Mount Char

I'm re-reading The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch for the book club I'm hosting. It's a long book but there's still time to read it and join in the discussion. This Thursday. At 7PM. Southborough Library.

Then I'll be starting The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. That should keep me busy for a while. 45 Hours and 32 Minutes in fact. 

News About Alerts from the Google

I set up a Google Alert for any hits on my name in the Google. I'm that much of a narcissist that I need to know when I show up in Google. Anyone can do this. It's easy. I remember it being easy, though I couldn't tell you how I did it.

I've received 3 alerts. The first 2 are not me, but they are horrible people who happen to share my name.

The first was a talented individual who was arrested for cooking meth...while driving.  

The second was some UK 'bloke' who abused dogs. Another winner.

But the third is all me, baby!

Just a wholesome writer hosting a book club. The first meeting happens this Thursday, the 28th at 7PM. Be there or don't. Either way I will be there talking about, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

I can promise you there will be no cooking meth while driving, or abusing animals because I'm too busy growing weed.

There will be a lot of good, passionate discussion of a book I greatly enjoyed reading the first time, and am loving during this second read-through. Read the book and come participate, or don't read the book and listen to me...and other people, talk.

Comic Book Theory: The "Cake and Eat it Too" Gambit - Part 1

This will be one of those posts that most of the non-comic book audience will probably stop reading after this very sentence. By the end of the paragraph, the rest of you will stop reading. We're not talking about Batman here, or Iron Man, or even Squirrel Girl. We're going to discuss a recent poll taken over on the FaceBag pertaining to the one comic I go all fan-boy over. I'm of course talking about, Ninja High School. Stick around and you may learn something.

 Ben Dunn

Ben Dunn

NHS had a good run for a book that caused many a comic book store owners to glaze over when I, in my youth, asked if their store carried it. It was an obscure title that one would randomly find on the comic shelf at Newbury Comics or Strawberries. Remember Strawberries? But typically one had to have a subscription set up with their local comic book store, and have the title special ordered. At least, this was the case in my area or the world, and I'd like to think that with the copy reserved for me, and the one ordered for the store, that I single-handed-ly made Ben Dunn a household name on the entire East Coast. I feel similarly about being the one who brought Nickelback to Maine during my college years. Take that, Maine!

 Look at this photograph!

Look at this photograph!

The series began back in 1986 and closed out in 2009 with issue 175. In that time, earlier parts of the series saw reprints and Full Color versions of issues, along with special issues like Year Books, and crossovers with other titles published by Antarctic Press. It had a good run. The core story revolved around Jeremy Feeple--a 16 year old high school student who is the object of attention by a ninja and an alien.

In 2014, Ben teamed up to Steve Ross, and issue #176 was released. I don't have the issue in front of me but the gist of it was essentially the last episode on the cusp of a reboot. I need to stress, I don't have #176 or the other comics in the initial series in front of me. They are in storage. Don't be this guy:

 Worst. Blog. Ever.

Worst. Blog. Ever.

But I did talk to Steve about it. #176 goes as follows: The universe in which the story takes place gets corrupted. Two characters are removed from Space/Time on a machine powered by steam. The mission: Shit's gots to get fixed, yo! The End

Issue #176 came and went. No #177.

Until...

 Thanks FaceBag Polls!

Thanks FaceBag Polls!

Should the series be rebooted?

A lot of folks weighed in and said they didn't want all the content since 1986 to be wiped out. This is a legitimate fear where the fictitious world one has been reading or watching is actually rendered meaningless, because the creator of said world decides to start fresh. Normally I wouldn't care about such things, but--Hello! FanBoy#1!

 I choose the former. Not the later.

I choose the former. Not the later.

Issue 176, the universe we've been reading about is literally corrupted. Had Ben ended with 175, there'd be no reason to worry, however 176 was a turning-point, a critical place in the story were its very existence lay precariously teetering on the edge of space and time. It was a line drawn in the sand. A piece of Ninja High Schooly history that can't be unmade.

It was also a damn good story and one that had to be told. I for one loved it and since we hadn't seen any Ninjas in High School since '09, it was great to get back in the saddle with Ninjas in High School. (I'm sure that sounded better in my head).

 Where it ended...or began, anew?

Where it ended...or began, anew?

This is what JJ Abrams did when he rebooted Star Trek. The first new Star Trek movie goes back in time and wipes out the history of everything that we all know, love, and hate about Star Trek. No Kirk, no Picard, no DS9, no 7-of-9, no Picard memes.

 "Shut up, Wesley!" -Picard

"Shut up, Wesley!" -Picard

We're left with a cast and crew of super models, and an optometrist's bill costing thousands in gold-pressed latinum due to all the damn lens flares. I hate the new Star Trek movies because of what they removed. I understand the importance of a long running series and would hate to see it go away.

However I also see the reason for a fresh new start. NHS began in the late 80s. The comic book industry is a very different place in 2018. Social Media and smart phones have left us with the attention spans of goldfish. And for Ninja High School to be successful, it needs to recapture its fan-base and attract a hip new audience. For this, I am proposing the patent-pending CGMcGinn Cake and Eat it Too gambit of comic book reboots.

But first, let's look at DC Comic's "New 52" for the extent of this paragraph. Specifically we'll be talking about Batgirl. Prior to New 52, Barbara Gordon was Oracle, a computer hacker extraordinaire, member of the Birds of Prey, who also helped Batman from time to time. Prior to that she was Batgirl, but thanks to Alan Moore and the Joker, she'd been rendered bound to a wheelchair and her Batgirl position was reassigned. New 52 happened and thanks to a vague surgical procedure, Barbara could walk again, was reinstated as Batgirl and went back to fighting crimes in cape and cowl.

This is an example of a soft reboot. Batgirl remembers her life prior to New 52 as Oracle, but for the extent of the  New 52 run, she is doing the whole Batgirl, walking-thing again. It's a Batgirl story, not an Oracle story. The origin story wasn't retold. It was a continuation of the character's arch, but at the same time a reinvention of the character.

This sort of reboot was possible because Batgirl is a superhero. She's timeless like the Simpsons. She can be college age forever. What defines her is her ability to kickass like Batman, but she comes at it from a very different perspective. She's a woman. Her motives are very different. Because of The Killing Joke--thanks a bunch Alan Moore, you too Joker--she's darker, but because of her ability to walk again that darkness gives way to rays of optimism.

Anyway, enough about Batgirl. Jeremy Feeple is not a superhero, nor is he secretly Batgirl (as far as I know). Part of the original run involves his awkward trek to adulthood. I think part of the appeal to a book like NHS was watching Jeremy stumble towards adulthood, finding and falling out of love, dealing with bullies, and getting into the occasional skirmishes with aliens, monsters, and ninjas.

The Cake and Eat it Too gambit

Issue #176 is the new Star Trek movies, only better. It's new Star Trek because the timeline is reset. It's better, because screwing with Time is not an exact science and events that we read about in the initial NHS run, happen differently.

Here are some bullet-points:

  • This would be a full reboot of the series
  • Jeremy Feeple is 16
  • Because time is wonky, the reboot starts in 2018 instead of 1986
  • In the initial series, Jeremy's mom took care of Jeremy and his younger brother, Ricky because their father got trapped in Dimension X when Jeremy was very young. Since mom was the one taken out of time to save the universe in #176, the reboot will have Jeremy and Ricky being raised by their father. Where is mom? Do the Feeple's know? It's a new wrinkle in the reboot.
  • More on mom: She is one of the few characters who knows about the 2 different timelines. This could come into play later in the series or not at all. But she could be a guiding force in Jeremy's success.
  • The war between Sulusian and Zardon has changed dramatically in some way. Perhaps Zardon is no longer the antagonists in the conflict. Perhaps the war has yet to begin. Perhaps the Sulusian royal family is not as well liked as they were in the initial series.
  • Asrial had always been handy, mechanical and less girly. This is more apparent because her royal family status no longer means as much. Perhaps the whole Princess in Exile angle is less imposed by her royal parents and more to do with conflicts at home.
  • Since Prof Steamhead was also removed from time in #176, someone else fills his place as a mentor to Jeremy. Their motives may not be noble, and could possibly be downright malevolent.
  • Rivalsan Lendo keeps having nightmares about Hell. This is in reference to the plotline in the initial series where Lendo indeed goes to Hell in order to rescue Jeremy's soul. This was a favorite plotline of mine. Lendo is also less of a dick to Jeremy, probably because of the dreams.
  • WW2 Ends differently. The Allies still win, but with greater losses. Steamhead isn't around. Hitler is taken alive. Ichi's grandfather is a different kind of Ninja Clan leader.
  • 9/11 happened. Quagmire was a target. Perhaps Tomorrowman failed to stop it in time. Perhaps Tomorrowman was never able to get over this and all those who were lost that day.
  • Something HUGE is happening in Hawaii. ;-p
  • There's no rats in Dimension X. None
  • Dogsupreme is no longer a slave to Zardon and is the Thanos of the known universe.

Well this was a very long post. Level 100 Fan-Boy in the house, yo!

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char falls into the Slipstream sub-genre of fiction with titles like, John Dies at the End by David Wong, and Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The titles by Wong and Vonnegut are hilariously funny in their approach to the bizarre world they create. Wong's stories are ultra violent but easy to read because of the comedy. Vonnegut is more cerebral, making the reader think.

The Mount Char is ultra violent, not funny, and really makes you think. It was an amazing book that makes one squirm at times.

I will not spoil this book. Like the Matrix, you must experience it for yourself. And no, it doesn't end up being a computer controlled virtual reality in order to keep turn human slaves into batteries.

But I will say: you won't see where it goes until you get there. It's really a well crafted story. It's very different and many of the main characters are both awful and beautiful at the same time. And like any good book in this genre, there are several WTF moments. Just roll with it. Trust me, there's a solid pay-off. At least I thought so, and why the hell are you even here if you didn't at least care a little about what I thought? Go waste your time on Reddit, or the YouTubes.

I'm currently on leave from my full-time job due to my second child entering the world on Tuesday. I'm realizing that I've reached a very specific stage in life. I'm no longer the single guy, or the married guy with no kids. It took my first kid to turn 2, and my second to almost get here before realizing I'd reached this milestone. I'm not happy, but I'm also not unhappy. Sobering, would be the word for it. All of this hit me today. I'm sure I'll eventually make peace with these feelings. For now I'll just wait and see.

Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan

Altered Carbon is the first book in a trilogy centered around, Takeshi Kovacs--all around heartless badass. Kovacs is a unique strain of humanity known as an Envoy. Being an Envoy basically means he can read a person very well, all the while knowing a billion-billion different ways of killing them amidst the backdrop of a 25th Century future.

In the 25th Century, the soul, the human consciousness, the thoughts and memories that make you, well you, are downloaded into a cortical stack, which lives in the base of your spine. This is what they look like outside of said spine:

 Altered Carbon, Netflix 2018

Altered Carbon, Netflix 2018

The stack can then be placed into a sleeve. A sleeve is a human body, grown or cloned. Some bodies are synthetic, others are flesh and blood. Envoy's are unique in that their conciseness can be transmitted through space from one planet to another, into a body built, primarily for starting or stopping wars. Again, Kovacs is something of a badass. 

This series takes place in a world similar to Blade Runner and Neuromancer in regard to high technology, colonization of various planets outside of Earth, and a galaxy-spanning gap between the have's and the have-not's. It's dark but littered with all sorts of shiny toys, drugs, and virtual experiences to try.

What makes this series different from the two titles mentioned above is the sex--for which there is lots of it. And it's very descriptive sex, which is cool, and something of a trend in these newer stories that fit into this sub-genre. Autonomous by Newitz had it's share of sex in it, and on the fantasy side of things, Game of Thrones is pretty much all sex and horrible horrible ways to dies, and sex. It seems the current formula for a grim and dark, story is to throw in heaping piles of intercourse. Again, not a criticism--simply an observation.

As a rule I try not to consecutively read an entire series. I like to break them up with different titles. The reason for this is getting burnt-out on one world, one author, one specific style. I broke my own damn rule this time around. I got burnt out. I probably have some biases when it came to book 2 and 3.

That being said...

Book 1: Altered Carbon is the strongest in the series. It's a detective story that breaks the detective story formula half-way through. It's the only book in the series that takes place on Earth, so there is familiar ground for the reader. I felt I best understood Kovacs's motives in this first book, and since the series is told from the 1st Person POV, I should have at least some idea of what the character is thinking. Books 2 and 3--not so much.

Todd McLaren read the audio book versions of Books 1 and 2, and William Dufris read Book 3. Both did a wonderful job, however Dufris's pronounciation of the "Kovacs's" name sent me right over the edge. Here is an excerpt from Page 10 of Altered Carbon:

 Altered Carbon, Morgan, p10

Altered Carbon, Morgan, p10

Book 3 takes place entirely on Harlan's World. And yet, the reader, who is speaking as Kovacs, mispronounces his own damn name, over and over again. And since everyone he comes into contact with is also a resident of Harlan's World, and would know the pronunciation of Kovacs the same way we might know how to pronounce "Smith" or "Jones", it was criminal in my opinion, for this mispronunciation. There should have been a note passed to some mucky-muck at whatever audio book company produced this. Learn your main character's name, damnit!

I'm going to go and watch the Netflix series based on the first book now. I might have more to say on this after I've watched the show. I didn't love the books. But it wasn't awful. The technology in play was solid--probably the most well thought out tech system I've run across in recent reads. I recommend reading the first book. From there, it's entirely up to you if you want to continue.

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

Autonomous is what will happen when Big Pharma is allowed to run amuck, becoming the most powerful corporate entity in the known universe... Oh, wait a minute...

As a social commentary, it's a satire of the argument between drug companies who rack up the prices of much needed medicine, those who need these drugs but cannot afford it, and the black market that fills the void. In a future where even atoms are able to be replicated on 3D printers, the quality of said drugs from the underground, mirror their brand name counterparts.

This is but one of many stories that I'm currently reading set in a very bleak future that rings with the echos of Blade Runner, Neuromancer, and, more recently, Altered Carbon. Set in a world where the technology is old enough to be taken for granted, where both human and robot kind coexist, co-habitate, co-mingle, etc, etc, etc...

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock

A few weeks back, my editor posted a link to a blog looking for writers. It was a paying gig, which involved writing about reading. What discouraged me was that they specifically stated that they WERE NOT looking for book reviews. I guess that's what I do. I don't know. I think I give you enough to make a decision whether or not you should try out a book. I don't like getting in depth on the plot or development--sticking more to what struck me as unique. At first glance I guess this could be misinterpreted as a review.

Needless to say, I didn't apply for the job. Maybe I'm selling myself short. Who knows.

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is what happens when you give Alexandre Dumas tickets to a Steampunk convention, then lock him in a room and tell him he won't be let out until he writes a book about it. This is a steampunk, swashbuckling tale in the sky, with healthy doses of palace intrigue, magic, magical technology, and more twists in the plot than...something, something...M. Night Shyamalan.

 Biography.com

Biography.com

Steampunk as a genre seems hard to get out into the mainstream. Masques and Mirrors certainly isn't pure steampunk, but there's enough of it in there to get one's cogs off...whatever that means. In fiction, I think it's best used when describing a certain aspect of the technology. When it's used too much--encompassing the plot, the dress of the characters, the way they talk, it breaks the story and turns into, well, a steampunk conversion. I guess the same could be said about any quirk of world-building, but right now, steampunk seems to be the lightning rod for such criticism. If there's a pun in there, it was only partially intended.

Blackwing: Raven's Mark by Ed McDonald

Blackwing is the first book in the Raven's Mark series by author, Ed McDonald. The book is artfully vulgar. What I mean by that is that McDonald's dialog is very good, and his characters--mostly mercenaries with a penchant for hard living and heavy drinking--speak as you'd expect them to. But there's an art form to their cursing. Watch a season of Deadwood and you'll know what I mean.

Part of what made Blackwing such an entertaining read was actor, Colin Mace, who lent his voice to the audio book. A grizzled 'merc' is one thing, but an English grizzled 'merc' is an angry, drunkard ride without breaks. It's like whenever Neil Gaiman reads something, if, in this case, Neil were on a three day bender and wielding a gnarled wooden cricket mallet.

The story itself is unique, different from other dark fantasy tales. Set in a post apocalyptic landscape brought on by a magical war, against an enemy of angry demi-gods, life is harsh, brutish and short for most.

The events in this first book are so earth shattering, that I wonder how the rest of the series will hold up over time. But for now, Blackwing is a very good debut in a series with a lot of promise.

Sea of Rust by Robert Cargill

The premise for Sea of Rust is the backstory/explanation that Morpheus gives Neo when he first asks about the Matrix. The long and short being: We went to war with AI of our own creation, they were faster, better, smarter than us, and royally kicks our sorry fleshy asses into near-extinction. Where Sea of Rust differs from The Matrix is that Sea of Rust goes all the way--the machines not only win the war, but they literally kill every single man, woman and child on the earth, leaving robot-kind in charge of the planet.

Let that sink in for a minute. Only we arrogant humans would assume that we'd be needed to power the machines--living a simulated life in a virtual world, hooked up as a giant battery. 

Sea of Rust is probably a great deal closer to a real life AI vs Humans scenario then anything currently out there in both books and movies.

And there are no punches being pulled here. There are moments in this book that were very hard to take. Movies will show scenes of able-bodied men being killed by antagonist or protagonist, and the audience will watch and accept this without disgust or resentment. We've grown so used to the James Bond henchman, that these faceless masses might as well be machines.

But have a robot kill a child, or a baby?

Sea of Rust pulls no punches.

In the midst of these rather squeamish scenes--necessary scenes in order to tell an effective story--I greatly enjoyed this book. The main character was truly a product created by man. Her calculating and cold outlook on life was the soul of a machine, and yet she experienced something of a moral conflict within herself as humans often do.

This is a story about AI where the robots do not feel boxy and soulless. This is AI with heart.

 

 

I Can't Make this Up by Kevin Hart

If there was ever a book best listened to, rather than read, it would be I Can't Make this Up: Life Lessons by comedian, Kevin Hart. Read by Kevin Hart, nay--performed by Kevin Hart.

kevin-hart__130430040218.jpg

Thirteen-plus hours of stand-up with an honesty that Hart is known for. Well worth the price of admission, which in my case was one Audible credit.

I read this book over the summer after suffering a streak of bad books that aren't even worth mentioning here. So it was great to read something both lite and funny, from a man with so much optimism in the midst of what would appear to be a very difficult upbringing. This book can't help but feel good by proxy.

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove is not a book I'd normally be drawn to read. But I have two jobs in two different-enough geographical location--and when co-workers from both jobs start telling me that I have to read this book, then I listen. I shrug out of my set-in-stone ways, and I read the book.

A Man Called Ove is about a man set in his ways. He's pushing 60, he lives alone, and he's had just about enough of this crazy world and all it's do-nothing millennials, new-fangled technology and a disposable society that's forgotten how to fix something as simple as a bike. He's a man from a simpler time trying to find  his place in this strange new world.

I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed the reader. It reminded me of the movie, Up, only much more adult, and real--and lacking a talking dog and chubby Asian kid.

Resident Evil bundle on Steam.

Yes, it's happening.

Wait a minute. Hold on.

It's Happening.gif

It's actually the Capcom Publisher weekend on Steam. So there's more than just Resident Evil games. However, Resident Evil is the reason to play Capcom games. Everything else is just sorta, meh...Except for Bionic Commando.

I've been playing Resident Evil games off and on since 1998 when the first iteration of the game came out. Throughout high school and college I religiously followed the series--playing the hell out of RE1 and RE2. I played RE3 maybe once, along with Code Veronica.

Resident Evil 4 revitalized the series for me. It was funny, creepy and had somewhat of an open-world feel for a game that really wasn't open-world at all. I played through most or Resident Evil 5, but never finished it and I don't even know what happens in Resident Evil 6. RE 7 looks awful. I hear it's very scary. It probably is. But it doesn't look like a Resident Evil game to me. I guess like Ove, I'm a man set in my way. I like my Resident Evil games a certain way. Once you go changing it on me, I think it's strange and weird, and should get the hell off my lawn.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon was a book I first read in sixth or seventh grade.

That was back in the 90's. I looked something like this:

No, more like this:

180px-Doug_Funnie.jpg

The book takes place in the in a pre-Rudy Giuliani New York City. Though it's aged well.

Flowers for Algernon is the story about Charlie Gordon, an intellectually disabled adult with an IQ below 70. He's chosen to be part of a surgical experiment that turns him into a genius. The book is written in the first person in a series of Progress Reports, beginning before the experiment. His pre-surgery reports are spelled phonetically and without punctuation. Sentences are short and simple. Post-surgery the reader literally sees Charlie learn how to spell, use punctuation both improperly--then correctly, and his thoughts and experiences become more and more complex.

This time around I listened to the audio version. I was curious to see, or rather, hear the difference. The reader did a great job, changing his voice from childlike to something more adult as Charlie's intelligence increased. However I did feel that a certain depth to the story was lost by not physically seeing his progression in spelling and sentence structure. I recommend that people read the book first, then listen to the audio version.

Flowers for Algernon, Brave New World, and 1984 are part of the holy trinity of classic science fiction that have had a lasting influence on me. I can remember very clearly where I was when I was reading these books. Flowers for Algernon--English class in 6th or 7th grade. 1984--Summertime, sometime before 9th Grade, on my screened-in porch. Brave New World--Freshmen English--I sat in the back of the classroom like all the 'cool kids'.

I've since re-read Brave New World and Flowers for Algernon and have discovered things that I'd either forgotten or missed the first time around, during those heady and awkward years that don't contrast as sharply as I'd care to admit to this thing called adulthood.

I'll probably read 1984 soon and finish up the trifecta. 

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn

Jim Jones was a socialist.

I never knew that. Until reading The Road to Jonestown, I thought he was a cult leader of the religious variety. He was that as well, but what made Jones different from how he'd been portrayed--at least to me--was that his beliefs came more from secular social justice than religious ideology. In a way this made him far more dangerous as he promoted very good things that both religious and secular progressives could get behind.

Desegregation is a good thing. Pressuring the landlord to fix the pipes for their black tenants is a good thing. Feeding people through church charity events, creating scholarship programs for those who would otherwise never go to college, and fostering positive change in poor communities are all good things.

 History.com

History.com

Jones's ego and paranoia--caused by drug abuse--were his undoing, and unfortunately he took with him 909 men, women, and children--mostly children.

It would be easy to dismiss this as an inherent problem with socialism. But the real problem is extremism. Again, the social programs Jones was trying to promote were all good things. But ultimately we saw him, and many of those who believed in him dying, and murdering for an extremist ideology. Socialism to the extreme--impoverished communal living, hero-worship of a very flawed individual, and paranoid ideas of a corrupt government black-bagging and spying on the masses.

Extremism in all forms--religious fanaticism, terrorism, political activism in the form of violent protests ultimately lead down the same path, and certainly did not die was Jim Jones and Peoples Temple.

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn is a fascinating read. It's scary, insightful and thought provoking,  standing as a warning in a time where polarizing ideologies seem to rule the day.