Read This Book

From time to time I discuss books on this site, and it seems I usually wind up explaining why I don't think people should buy those books. Today is different. Today, I want to encourage everybody to read a book, A Sinister Charade: The Global Warming Hoax, by Dan Coffman:

It's not a good book. It's a bad book. It's a really bad book. That's what makes it so great.

The book focuses on a character, Jesse Ngata, who survives an assassination attempt brought on by his outspoken views on global warming. This propels him into a search for a shadowy Russian economist who has spent the last 30 years masterminding a global warming scare to bring down the western world.

Yeah, that's book's plot. It's crazy and ridiculous, and things just get worse as you go further in. Leaving aside the central story, the book's plotting is absurd. A protagonist nearly dying to an assassination then investigating the people who tried to kill him is a story element found in thousands of works of fiction. This book puts a new spin on it though.

After Ngata survives his home being blown up, he decides eco terrorists must have been responsible and proceeds go sailing around the world. He swears off his global warming activism all together, meaning the shadowy organization that tried to kill him no longer has any reason to go after him. They recognize this, and they decide to leave him be. A tenth of the way into the book, the protagonist and the antagonists decide to call a truce and go their separate ways.

Seriously. Ten per cent of the way into the book the author basically writes, "The book's conflict ends." It's awesome. It's the sort of audacious absurdity that makes something which ought to be excrutiating to read a blast instead. It's like how the author has his protagonist survive the assassination attempt.

Now normally, a near death experience is supposed to be a thrilling moment in a book. The reader is supposed to be fooled into thinking the protagonist is dead even though logically they should know he must still be alive for the book to continue on. And when the protagonist is revealed to still be alive, the reader is supposed to feel equal parts relief and wonder at his survival.

Because of all that, authors usually put a great deal of effort into finding some clever or lucky way for their protagonist to narrowly survive. They then devote time and space to developing tension and relieving emotions over the near-death experience. Only the most audacious authors would have the courage to go another route and just say:

The miraculous survival of Jesse Ngata was due in large part to several intricate operations during the two months since a massive explosion drove him into a nearly permanent coma.

And then later have their protagonist make the offhand remark:

The firemen claim a glass wall I'd added to my bathroom blunted the impact of the blast.

I love it. A professional assassin blows up his home with him inside it, and the author decides that's the only explanation we need as to how he survives. It's like at the end of Hudson Hawk when a car goes over a cliff, crashes to the ground and explodes with a man inside. This leads to the exchange:

Hudson Hawk: You're supposed to be all cracked up at the bottom of the hill!
Tommy Five-Tone: Airbags! Can you ****ing believe it?
Anna: You're supposed to be blown up into fiery chunks of flesh!
Tommy Five-Tone: Sprinkler system set up in the back! Can you ****ing believe it?

Because yes, I'm sure that... glass wall really blunted the explosion enough to save his life. That's a perfectly reasonable explanation. We need discuss the matter no further.

I'm not being facetious. I think this book is terrible. It's just terrible in that B movie, so terrible it's funny sort of way. I'm just dying to find out how Ngata gets himself back into the plot. You see, I haven't finished the book. I'm not even that far into it. The book is so ridiculous I decided I just had to write my thoughts as I went through it.

Here's my prediction. Ngata decided to go sailing around the world. I bet he's going to sail into the plot. I bet he's literally just going to sail into something in the middle of the ocean which forces him back into the plot. It's the only thing that makes sense, in that it wouldn't make any sense, and it'd get the story back on track.

38 comments

  1. Oh god. This is hilarious. Jesse Ngata didn't just sail his way back into the plot. He sailed his way into onto the scene of another assassination.

    Apparently what happened is this. After Ngata spent a couple months recovering, a research team decided to go out into the middle of the ocean on a boat because they felt that's the only way they could avoid being spied on while they talked. The people who had tried to kill Ngata went out there and killed the research team. To cover up their actions, they dumped the bodies overboard, emptied out the boat and phoned in a phony distress call reporting strange lights and whatnot to make it seem like aliens had visited the ship.

    At the same time, Ngata had recovered from his near death experience, chartered a ship to sail around the world and headed out. Naturally, he ran into the research team's boat almost immediately after the murderers had abandoned it.

    I kid you not. The protagonist of the story had no reason to be in the story anymore. His conflict with the antagonists was over. They were done with him. He was done with them. The story should have been over. The only way for the story to continue was for him to hop on a boat and sail into the boat where the bad guys had just murdered eight people.

    There were months and months of time Ngata was recovering, and there was the entire ocean, and yet, somehow, he just happened to sail into the scene of the other assassinations. It's insane.

    I love it.

  2. Oh, right. I forgot, there was even more randomness to this deus ex machina.

    It wasn't just that the protagonist miraculously discovered this ship in the middle of the ocean. The bad guys had rigged the ship to explode a few hours after it was discovered. The idea was apparently to let people discover the ship then have it mysteriously disappear (furthering the whole mysteriousness thing created by the weird radio message they faked before).

    So by all rights, Jesse Ngata should have died, right? He didn't find the bomb. He didn't disarm it. He had no way to save himself. He was just going to merrily sail his way into a grave.

    And then the navy showed up. The U.S. Navy showed up for... I'm not even going to try to explain the reason they give. Suffice to say they showed up, with the FBI (in international waters), and took Ngata and his crewmates onto their ship. They then investigated the ship and found the bomb.

    Which leads to two further absurdities. First, Ngata knew one of the FBI agents! Our protagonist miraculously survives an assassination attempt, somehow sails onto the scene of a second assassination by the same people months later in the middle of the ocean, gets saved by a bomb with the U.S. Navy miraculously shows up, and then, somehow, personally knows one of his rescuers. It's so stupid I can't stop laughing.

    The second absurdity is the author then has a Congressman show up to try to try to find some secret flash drive the research team had with them. Silly though that may be, what makes it absurd is during his discussion with the protagonist and his crewmates, the author actually has the balls to write:

    Jesse realized that Drucker was unaware of his recent, personal brush with death. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help but wonder if whoever was responsible for the disappearance of Sir Edmond Moore had also attempted to assassinate him. Was he still on some anonymous killer’s hit list? Even more disturbing, was the Golden Zephyr’s discovery of the booby-trapped derelict vessel something other than a coincidence?

    I don't even. I thought it was crazy enough when the author had the protagonist stumble onto the research team's ship in some crazy coincidence, but... is he suggesting it was planned? My mind is filled with wild ideas about how we'll find out the protagonist's crewmates secretly steered him into finding that boat, which was secretly piloted to that spot for him to find.

    I can't decide which possibility would be crazier. Or funnier.

  3. So I've read a bit more, and once again, Dan Coffman has written Jesse Ngata out of the plot. The protagonist talked with a reporter he talked to after his near death experience, and the book is following her right now, but he'll have to come back into the story somehow. I have no idea how it'll happen this time. He's apparently traveling to New Zealand because that's where his family comes from, or something like that, but...

    How will the Coffman bring him back into the plot? I'm dying to know what ridiculous plot contrivance will be used this time!

  4. You can make a good living Brandon by demanding money from authors for NOT publicly reviewing their book, judging by your take on this book and the one by Steyn!

    We need someone like George Orwell to write a satirical take on agw but failing that Clive Cussler would do a good job if we would prefer a good thriller on the subject.

    Tonyb

  5. Tonyb, I feel like that might be illegal. It's a shame. I'd be happy to be paid not to do things!

    Gary, I think everything about this book makes it obvious it's a terrible book. That's okay though. Terrible can be entertaining. For instance, I've read a bit more and found out how Ngata got himself roped back into the plot. It's hilarious. Remember, he left the plot once by surviving an assassination attempt brought on by his outspoken views on global warming then deciding to quit talking about global warming. That meant the bad guys had no reason to go after him anymore. He then sailed his way back into the plot by miraculously stumbling onto a ship the bad guys had killed eight people on, in the middle of the ocean, by pure chance. And again, he decided to leave the plot by just not pursuing things at all. He sailed off toward New Zealand to live his life, and the bad guys still decided they had no reason to go after him.

    But guess what? He stumbled onto the plot again. This time, he did it by visiting a store on an island. While he was at this store/restaurant, he noticed a medallion for sale. The medallion belonged to one of the people who had been murdered on the boat he had miraculously found in the middle of the ocean. Apparently after murdering the eight people on that boat, the bad guys sailed to this ocean, ate a meal and realized they didn't have enough money to pay for it so one of them decided to pay with a medallion he had taken off one of his murder victims.

    And Jesse Ngata just happened to sail to the same island, visit the same place and notice the medallion - because it was a family crest. Yes, the bad guys payed for a meal with an easily recognizable piece of jewelery they took off a murder victim... because they didn't have cash. As though that wasn't coincidental enough, that medallion just happened to have a secret compartment where the murder victim had hidden an ever so important flash drive with tons of secret information, which Ngata found due to all these freakish coincidences.

    There is no way any good book, no matter how good it might be, could come up with twists as entertaining as that. It's like the movie I just saw part of earlier today where a time traveling kung fu cop fought Nazis with the help of dinosaurs. Who wants logic or coherency when you can have sheer awesomeness instead?

  6. So I've gotten more than halfway through this book now, and the plot is still insane. After finding the super secret data on the flash drive, our protagonist Jesse Ngata decided to not do anything with it. Once again, he was content to not get involved in the book's plot at all. The author needed a way to force him back into the plot, so he decided to introduce a new plot device - NSA spying. Because Ngata did some Google searching on the family crest before he went and bought the medallion, the NSA became aware of it. Then some guy in the NSA approached the big bad of the story and sold him the information, letting him send an assassin to kill Ngata.

    Yeah. A handful of Google searches in the Bahamas was all it took for the protagonist to be found by the bad guys due to the NSA spying on everyone in the world, and people in the NSA apparently having ready access to any and all information gathered by that spying. As though that's not crazy enough, it still wasn't enough to bring our protagonist back into the plot. After killing the assassin, he just went back to living his life without getting involved in the plot!

  7. Another absurdity of this book's plot is the reporter our protagonist spoke to after he woke up in the hospital. The bad guys were spying on him in the hospital, having bugged his room, so they heard his entire conversation with her. That means they heard our protagonist explain how he felt global warming was a fraud and she should talk to certain people to find out more about the matter.

    So why would the big bad do an interview with her? He's described as a recluse, almost never giving interviews to anyone. He's super rich, and he could get an interview with anyone he wanted. This reporter is nobody special. She's portrayed as a complete nobody. The only thing which makes her special is the fact she decided to pay attention to our protagonist. Despite this, she's somehow the only reporter who manages to get an interview with the reclusive big bad? The author even shows the big bad is aware the purpose of her interview is not to do a biographical piece like she claims, having his inner monologue talk about how he doesn't trust her.

    But it is apparently necessary for her to do this interview because the big bad has some obsession with an Egyptian cult, from which his own cult has taken part of its beliefs from. He thinks the reporter looks like the goddess the cult worships, so I guess he's going to become obsessed with her. He'll probably wind up kidnapping her and our protagonist will have to save her, all because he gave an interview he had absolutely no reason to give.

    I'm telling you, this would make a great B movie.

  8. One thing I haven't really commented on is this book's constant droning on of how global warming is a hoax. It's so over-the-top it'd actually fit a B movie perfectly. Consider, for instance, this small sample of a senator's discussion with the reporter I just mentioned:

    “Once I have proof that the impacts of climate change are being manufactured by eco-terrorists, Congress may grow a spine and enact a comprehensive energy policy, which has eluded us for the past two decades. We’ve been hopelessly deadlocked because so many members fear being blamed for destroying the environment.”
    “What does this comprehensive legislation look like?”
    “Inexpensive electricity would be generated from our abundant coal resources, supplemented by nuclear, natural gas, and hydroelectric power where appropriate. Cars and trucks would be fueled by liquefied natural gas rather than gasoline.Petroleum would be refined into diesel fuel for water and rail transportation, jet fuel for aircraft, and a heck of a lot more feedstock for chemical, pharmaceutical, clothing, and plastic manufacturing.”
    Maria gave the senator a dirty look before complaining, “You failed to mention wind, solar, and biofuel energy.”
    “That’s because I’m not as dumb as the tree huggers. None of those technologies is viable for an assortment of reasons. Besides, they’re all as expensive as a big city whore.”
    Irritated by Drucker’s condescending tone, Maria asked, “What’s the benefit of your plan over our current policy.” “Damn, little lady, this president doesn’t have a policy. Under my plan, every household will see a significant reduction of home utility and transportation costs. That’s a windfall. With the lowest energy and shipping costs in the world, manufacturing will return to the nation. New jobs will be created, and salaries will grow once again. We can lower personal and business taxes and still wipe out the federal budget deficit in less than a decade. The middle class that made this nation great will enjoy a resurgence.”
    “You’re describing Utopia.”
    “I’m describing American exceptionalism at work once the boot of climate change is lifted from its neck.”

    I'd estimate at least 20% of the book is devoted to this sort of message. More time and space is devoted to this sort of discussion than anything else, including action scenes where people get blown up, pursued in high speed chases or even killed. It'd be perfect for a B movie with where all the speeches were delivered in intentionally hammy, over-the-top style.

    I mean, the book just had the bad guys use a small sub to sabotage an underwater oil pipe used by an oil rig to cause a massive oil spill. The protagonist then used a remote drone to go over to where the oil was leaking out and used an explosive device to seal the hole, all while hiding from the government. And all that was given maybe 10 pages of space.

    A world shaking terrorist attack complete with major political and economic effects, followed by a heroic effort to save the world? It's given ten pages of space. Each random speech about how global warming is a hoax? Probably given five pages a piece.

    I'd watch that movie. I'd watch the hell out of that movie. I think as long as the actors knew their job was to intentionally overact everything, it'd be hilarious.

  9. Okay, so I was right about the reporter being kidnapped by the big bad. And true to form, it happened in the most absurd way imaginable.

    The senator she had been talking to invited her to go on a trip with him to check out some rainforests which had supposedly been suffering due to global warming. He thought he'd find proof they were actually being destroyed by terrorists to trick people into believing in global warming. They did. And then bad guys who had been waiting in ambush attacked, firing into the group of people with the senator.

    Of course, everyone but the reporter died. Every single person. It wasn't intentional. The bad guys just managed to fire wildly at the good guys and kill a dozen people while somehow managing to only wound the reporter.

    How did the bad guys know the senator would be there? The book hasn't said. The spy the bad guys had on his staff killed herself well before this (in an incredibly poorly written, but kind of funny, suicide scene) so she couldn't have leaked the information. He must have gotten the information from somewhere else, but...

    Actually, that raises another point. Somehow the big bad was able to alert a Mexican cartel to where the protagonist was staying as well. The book doesn't explain how he found that information out either. I guess we're supposed to assume he bought the information from his guy in the NSA?

    I don't know. I think it works better without an answer. I'm enjoying knowing anything can happen at any point. It's easy to find plot holes and contradictions when there is something resembling a coherent plot, but once you throw sense and logic out the window, anything can work!

  10. Oh god, I can't stop laughing at how absurd some of these "twists" are. A couple lesbian arsonists had been setting wildfires across the United States to be blamed on global warming. They hadn't been mentioned in the book before this one part, but then suddenly there were pages and pages about them... only to have them die when their truck wouldn't start after they started a fire.

    That's right. Two characters were introduced, given pages and pages of space... then killed off because their vehicle randomly couldn't start.

    I don't even know why they were in the book, but I love it.

  11. Oh, and to make the randomness of those two characters even better, they were introduced and killed off about the same time the book tells us Russia invaded some country, causing tensions between it and the United States to shoot through the roof. No details about the invasion were given though. Only a little bit of information about the reaction to it were even given.

    That means the book was more focused on two random characters being introduced and killed off in an inexplicable way than a significant military action by a foreign power.

    I want this author write a romance story sometime. I'd love to see random asides during a story about two people falling for each other like, "On their one month anniversary, the aliens invaded. He bought her a silver necklace to celebrate."

  12. No idea. It'd be a remarkable coincidence if the two are unrelated, but I didn't see anything which indicates a connection. The book is (said to be) self-published, so it might just be chance. Or I suppose it might be the name Dan Coffman was chosen as a pseudonym due to its similarity to Ken Coffman. Lots of people use pseudonyms when writing, and I haven't checked to see if there really is a Dan Coffman.

    I imagine a person might be able to find out more if they cared to, but after about five minutes of internet searching, I lost interest. I did find some good news though. Apparently this is going to be the first book in a trilogy! That means there will be two more insane books to read!

  13. Okay, so I've finished this book and I've decided there was basically no reason for Jesse Ngata to even be in it. After saving the world from a major ecological disaster by stopping the oil leak caused by the terrorist attack, Ngata went on with his life. The big bad informed a Mexican cartel where he was, they attacked him and he escaped with the crew of his boat (less one person who died).

    At this point, the big bad was hiding out on his private island due to the release of the e-mails on the flash drive Ngata had found. Those e-mails were intended as a reference to the Climategate e-mails, which the author portrays as showing a massive criminal fraud to perpetuate a hoax the media simply ignored. The author is delusional. More importantly, however, is Ngata decided to go after the big bad on his private island so he'd be safe from future assassination attempts.

    Ngata goes to the island, takes down most of the security there and finds the kidnapped reporter. Then, he gets caught. Right before he's about to be killed, a United States drone takes out the big bad.

    Yeah. If Ngata hadn't gone to the island, the US would have killed the big bad anyway. Him going to the island basically served no purpose. All he did was rescue the reporter. Only, it turns out he didn't really do that. After he got her to the boat, he and the lady captain of it took off. The three of them were pursued and caught by bad guys. They were all drugged and injured, and the bad guys planned to execute them and throw them overboard. Ngata managed to overcome his injuries and the drugs to throw some life jackets overboard and got everyone into the ocean. When he woke up, he was on the coast alone, with no idea where the other two ladies were. This left a mystery of if they were even alive.

    That's most of the rest of the story. There's a tiny bit more, but the main thing is... what did Ngata do in this book? He survived the first assassination attempt against him by some unexplained fluke. He and his shipmates miraculously found the ship where the other people had been murdered, though it accomplished nothing. He found the super secret e-mails on a flash drive hidden inside a medallion because the bad guys used it to pay for a meal at a restaurant he just so happened to visit. He gave that drive to a senator. He then plugged an oil spill caused by terrorists with an explosive device. Then he... sort of rescued a reporter from the big bad?

    That's the grand accomplishments of our protagonists. Mitigating the terrorist attack by stopping the oil leak could have been a big deal, but that entire thing took up maybe 20 pages. The book didn't act like the spill was a big deal or anything. It barely paid attention to the matter. The spill didn't even matter to the plot. You could cut the entire arc out of the story, and the plot wouldn't change at all.

    So really, all Ngata did that was important to the plot is find the super secret e-mails through an incredible fluke. That's the only thing our protagonist did that was actually important to the plot.

  14. Okay, so one final detail about the plot of the book. This one is sort of a major spoiler as it involves a huge plot twist at the end of the book. I said of the book:

    The book focuses on a character, Jesse Ngata, who survives an assassination attempt brought on by his outspoken views on global warming. This propels him into a search for a shadowy Russian economist who has spent the last 30 years masterminding a global warming scare to bring down the western world.

    This was based on the description the author gave for the book. It turns out Ngata doesn't really search for anything in the book, but he certainly doesn't search for the Russian economist who put everything into motion. You see, the "big bad" of the book isn't the Russian economist. The big bad is actually some guy who was propped up by that Russian economist. The Russian economist was the man behind the big bad.

    That's a pretty standard plot twist, save for one thing. The real villain is someone mentioned a few times throughout the book though never seen. He's the former boss of the captain of the ship Jesse Ngata chartered to sail around the world on, the one who was her captain back before she had a ship of her own. In fact, he is the one who sold her the very ship Ngata spends most of the book on!

    This raises a whole slew of questions. Remember how I said:

    The second absurdity is the author then has a Congressman show up to try to try to find some secret flash drive the research team had with them. Silly though that may be, what makes it absurd is during his discussion with the protagonist and his crewmates, the author actually has the balls to write:

    Jesse realized that Drucker was unaware of his recent, personal brush with death. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help but wonder if whoever was responsible for the disappearance of Sir Edmond Moore had also attempted to assassinate him. Was he still on some anonymous killer’s hit list? Even more disturbing, was the Golden Zephyr’s discovery of the booby-trapped derelict vessel something other than a coincidence?

    I don’t even. I thought it was crazy enough when the author had the protagonist stumble onto the research team’s ship in some crazy coincidence, but… is he suggesting it was planned? My mind is filled with wild ideas about how we’ll find out the protagonist’s crewmates secretly steered him into finding that boat, which was secretly piloted to that spot for him to find.

    !!!!

    The captain of the ship Ngata is on spent years working for the villain behind everything! Apparently none of the crazy coincidences in the book were actually coincidences after all. Everything was planned. All these "chance encounters" where Ngata just happened to be in the right place at the right time were actually the results of him being carefully manipulated by an agent for the big bad!

    Or were they? Ngata had been setting up the arrangements to charter this boat for months before the assassination attempt. What kind of plan would involve having him narrowly survive an assassination attempt, spend months recovering from it, then charter this boat to go on this insane journey? How could they have known he would survive? How could they know he'd avoid becoming disabled? How could they know he'd still want to go sailing around the world rather than try to find out who tried to kill him?

    And even if they did know all that, why?! What possible purpose could there be in having Ngata go on this journey?!!? Why would the villain want the events of this book to transpire when all they did was undermine his plans to bring down western civilization?!!

    Or are we still supposed to believe none of this was planned? Is it just coincidence Ngata chartered a boat previously owned by the villain of the story? Are we just stacking that coincidence on top of all the other freakish coincidences? Did the captain of his boat work for the villain of the story for years then just conveniently happen to pick up the protagonist of the story as a customer... just because?

    It doesn't make any sense!!!

  15. Brandon

    Don't forget there are lots of books with basic flaws in their story lines.

    The whole trilogy of Lord of the Rings could have been avoided if Gandalf had done the sensible thing at the outset and given the ring to one of the eagles to drop in Mount Doom....

    However without that oversight we would all be the poorer and similarly the plot defects of the current book means you have many more enjoyable hours complaining about the sequels.

    tonyb

  16. Brandon

    I clicked on his name and here is his cv

    About the Author

    'After receiving his doctorate in Earth Sciences, Dan Coffman worked in the fields of environmental protection and crisis management. He began the third odyssey of his lifetime several years ago as a fiction novelist in the genres of scientific thrillers and adult fables. Dan is fascinated with the enigmas of ancient history, which are often intertwined with fictional illusion in his writing. You can learn more about his work at http://www.facebook.com/VerityFable. '

    The very good news from your point of view is that he has written a number of other works of fiction so no need to spend out money going to see bad B movies

    tonyb

  17. I've never been a fan of the Lord of the Rings. I think they're a great example of poor writing. That said, I'll never understand why so many people say things like:

    The whole trilogy of Lord of the Rings could have been avoided if Gandalf had done the sensible thing at the outset and given the ring to one of the eagles to drop in Mount Doom….

    The books actually make it clear that plan would never have worked. Sauron had flying creatures of his own, as well as an all seeing eye that could literally watch over anything. The entire reason the fellowship went with the plan they went with was they needed stealth and diversion to keep Sauron from noticing what they were doing because if Sauron figured it out, he'd be able to stop them.

    That said, there are plenty of popular stories with glaring plot holes or ridiculous plot devices (deus ex machinas can be found in everything). Usually people are asked to ignore them. What makes this book different is it seems to embrace them, reveling in the absurdity. And I respect that.

    The very good news from your point of view is that he has written a number of other works of fiction so no need to spend out money going to see bad B movies

    I checked out the other two works listed on Amazon, but neither seemed very interesting. They seem to be bad, but in the boring way, not in the fun way.

    However without that oversight we would all be the poorer and similarly the plot defects of the current book means you have many more enjoyable hours complaining about the sequels.

    Hey now! I'm not complaining. As absurd as everything in this book is, I love it. It's been the most enjoyable book I've read all year 😀

  18. Brandon

    I idly googled about the Eagle plot hole and was astounded and disturbed by the number of web sites dedicated to this and other LOR plot shortcomings. See 'eagles'

    http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Mistakes_and_inconsistencies_in_Tolkien's_works

    No, don't worry about riposting otherwise I will feel I am in an episode of the Big Bang theory where the guys get worked up about any number of trivial fictional characters.

    As for myself, yes I am killing time as I am trying to avoid settling down and going through all my research on medieval England in order to carry on my reconstruction of CET. Its a massive job and I am a bit reluctant to get started as my normal very fat pay cheques from Big Oil have not been arriving recently, so the financial motivation is lacking

    Speaking of plot holes CET has many of them and so, I am sure, do all the other temperature records especially those trying to construct a global average narrative.

    tonyb

  19. I'm not sure what there would be to riposte. That link says much the same as I said. Sauron had flying creatures of his own, so it would not have been some simple task to have an eagle fly the ring to the volcano. The only real oddity is that nobody even suggested the idea, but then, the discussion at the main meeting was only about what should be done, not how it should be done, so.. eh. The real reason was the eagles were a deus ex machina so Tolkien tried to limit their usage so as not to make them too obnoxious, but at least the story did offer some context which helped justify things.

    A much more troubling issue to me is why Gandalf, a powerful wizard, practically never uses magic. Or how he was able to die and be resurrected. Or how he refers to a literal god. It turns out there are explanations for all those issues if you look into the reference material, but to a person who just reads the LotR trilogy, they create a bizarre set of circumstances. For instance, how is a reader supposed to know Gandalf is an angel?

    There's a reason I'm not a fan of the books. Tolkien had a great imagination and did some impressive things when it came to world building, but he was a terrible story teller. If not for the historical context of being the "first" of its kind, I doubt his series would even be remembered.

    But good luck on your efforts. I'm trying to convince myself to catch up on a bunch of e-mails I need to respond to, but I don't want to get out of bed. I'm going to blame it on daylight savings time messing with my sleep patterns. I'm sure it's either that or just me feeling lazy.

  20. Brandon

    I was just idly browsing to see if dan Coffman was a relative of ken Coffman of dragon slayeRs fame, when I came across the list of authors writing for his imprint stairway press

    https://www.stairwaypress.com/authors/

    I was startled to see they had Thomas fuller as one of their authors and appear to have published 'a Luke warmers way' he does not sit easily amongst kens others authors unless he is a lot less liberal and a lot less lukewarmerish than I had realised

    Tonyb

  21. Now that is interesting. I hadn't paid any attention to the publisher information of that book when I read it, but I just checked, and Stairway Press is listed as the publisher. I get Fuller might not have been able to find any other publisher for his book, but even so, I can't imagine ever going with that publisher. Did he not realize who he was associating with, or did he just not mind being associated with them?

    Either way, it makes me a bit less surprised about what I pointed out in that post I wrote about his book. Once you start associating with Ken Coffman and his crowd, it doesn't surprise me as much when you resort to blatant dishonesty like Fuller's book did.

  22. Brandon

    I have exchanged views with Tom over the Years and always found him pleasant. I had always taken him to be something of a Californian liberal and that he certainly viewed man as having a big hand in global warming, being at the warm end of Luke.

    Ken Coffman I had always taken to be quite right wing and that he takes the view That man had no impact at all on climate. They do seem strange bedfellows and in the same bed is Tim ball.

    Perhaps Tom was just keen to get published and ken liked the idea of getting someone a bit more liberal into his stable. Odd though.

    Tonyb

  23. Tom... pleasant? You have had a wildly different experiences than I (and many others). It may just be due to not upsetting him or something, but he's often a prick. As in, he's probably one of the most offensive people I've seen on blogs. He apparently thinks it is funny to do things like come up with names like "Krazed Klimate Kultist" so he can say things like, "You're a KKK member." That's the level of behavior I see from him on a regular basis. He may be one of those people who are great when you get along with them but are horrible when you upset them, but overall, he's been a rather vile participant in the blogosphere.

    Anyway, I don't think it's inherently wrong for him to use that publisher. It can be hard to find a publisher, so you may have to go with a less than ideal one. I just can't imagine willfully associating myself with Ken Coffman and his group. I'd never want to have a book I wrote displayed on their site as one of their books like Fuller's is. He might feel different.

    But he might also not have realized it was owned by Coffman. I didn't. Looking at their site shows they certainly have a clear bias in what they publish, but some publishers do that just because they know they can make money by cornering a niche market. I don't think they make it obvious Coffman is a principal of the company.

  24. I should have probably included a link to the KKK thing. I saw it in this thread. I don't normally read that site, but I had been reading a post at Anders's blog, and he referenced it during a discussion. The way Fuller spoke of it in that thread makes it sound like he's used it a number of times before. I didn't bother to look much, but I did see he had used it at least one other time. I don't think I need to explain why labeling the group you disagree with the KKK is vile.

    Incidentally, Fuller apparently deleted all of Anders's comments from his blog after banning him from it. That's hilarious. While I might defend a blogger's right to ban a person, there is no reason to retroactively delete all of their comments from your site.

    People with good memories might realize there's a hilarious parallel here involving Stephan Lewandowsky.

  25. Brandon

    I am not as overtly combative as you. There are very few in the blogohere I would refuse to sit down and have a drink with. I have never had a problem with Tom. I even quite like Mosh and Josh. which is not to say that there are not some people who I find tiresome and there are one or two I don't usually bother with. Mind you I don't frequent all the same blogs that you do.

    I deliberately do not run a blog myself as I think that Even handed moderation must be impossible.

    Tonyb

  26. For what it's worth, there isn't a person in the blogosphere I'd refuse to sit down and have a drink with. I'd even offer to share a meal with someone like Michael Mann or John Cook if we were at the same event. The reason for that is while I may be combative, I'm also respectful of the fact people are people. That I disagree with someone doesn't mean I have to hate them. That I think someone behaves poorly some of the time doesn't mean I have to assume they are incapable of having a civil exchange.

    It's okay to not like people and still talk to them. It's even okay to dislike people and still talk to them. Once you realize that, things like moderation are actually pretty easy. I can't think of a case of bad moderation where the problem was actually that the decision was difficult. Difficult decisions don't produce bad moderation. Difficult decisions may allow a bit of bias to slip into one's moderation, but truly bad moderation always comes from people's motives in using moderation. Those motives almost always involve shaping the discussion to their own purpose.

    Incidentally, I know I sometimes get criticized for being overtly combative, but I think that's wrong. If you truly respect a person, you don't have to hide what you think. That's why the people I've had the most insightful exchanges with in my life didn't hesitate to call me stupid when I was being stupid. The people who openly criticize you show far more respect than the ones who just walk away and mutter to themselves.

    Oh, and you should check out my latest post if you haven't. I think even people who like to complain that moderation is hard will agree what Fuller did with his moderation was wrong.

  27. There's a good example of the sort of thing which makes me say overt combativeness is far less bad than some people make it out to be over at Anders's blog. Anders had said:

    I also don’t understand the logic.

    In his latest post. Willard responded to this:

    I also don’t understand the logic.

    Special pleading is a form of fallacious argument that involves an attempt to cite something as an exception to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exception.

    The lack of criticism may be a simple oversight (e.g., a reference to common sense) or an application of a double standard.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_pleading

    ClimateBall ™ helps understand ClimateBall ™ moves like Judy’s.

    Because Anders's remark had been used as a passive-aggressive way of criticizing something he disagreed with. Anders responded:

    Willard,
    Yes, that seems plausible. I should probably stop using “I don’t understand …” when what I really want to say “This doesn’t make any sense!”.

    In other words, Anders was hiding his true thoughts by trying to be less combative. His thoughts were in the form of, "That doesn't make any sense!" but what he said was in the form of, "I don't understand." Willard responded, saying (in part):

    I would advise against “it makes no sense” – it channels your inner Chewbacca

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/chewbacca

    Which caused Joshua to say:

    I once tried suggesting to Brandon that saying “That doesn’t make sense to me” or even better, “I don’t understand what you’re saying,” might be less sub-optimal than “That makes no sense.”

    Didn’t go too well.

    The reason Joshua's suggestion didn't go too well is the alternatives he proposes there are not the same thing. Saying, "That doesn't make sense" says there is something so wrong with it it is not coherent. That is very different from merely saying you don't understand it. Merely saying you don't understand something would be doing what Willard highlighted Anders had done. Ironically, Anders then made these two comments:

    That’s no great surprise. I’ve never had a discussion with Brandon that has gone well.

    Okay, yes. I was really meaning that I should be more direct and say what I really think, rather than simply implying it.

    Where he agreed with both people, even though they were saying opposite things. And all of this stems from the fact Anders didn't just say what he thinks. That time could have all been saved if people would just be up front and say what they think.

  28. Ugh. I just took a look at that book, and apparently it's making waves because of its doomsday talk. The problem is it doesn't appear Ted Koppel has any real understanding of what he's talking about. I've only read the first chapter as that's all the free sample I downloaded contained, but I think this a book deserving detailed responses. I'd consider offering some myself, but I'm afraid you overestimate my readership. I don't think many people would care what I had to say about the book, though it might still be possible to get a review copy (I've seen people who've never reviewed anything in their life get review copies before).

    But seriously, the first chapter has this gem:

    The Internet provides instant, often anonymous access to the operations that enable our critical infrastructure systems to function safely and efficiently. In early March 2015 the Government Accountability Office issued a report warning that the air traffic control system is vulnerable to cyberattack. This, the report concluded with commendable understatement, “could disrupt air traffic control operations.”

    This made me laugh out loud because of how stupid it is. The idea "the air traffic control system is vulnerable to cyberattack" is a complete joke because it pretends there is "the air traffic control system." Anyone who knows anything about airspace management, much less cybersecurity risks to it, knows that's simply not true. Heck, anyone who has even read the report Koppel cites should know it's not true as the report specifically says the FAA "relies on more than 100 air traffic control systems" just a few pages in. And only a third of those even use IP based communication protocols. The majority of them don't even run on devices that can communicate with the internet.

    And don't even start to think maybe this was just careless wording, that Koppel meant to refer to the entire national airspace system (NAS) rather than individual systems within it. Before I explain why, I need to say yes, there are national airspace system systems. The IT world is filled with screwy names. It's best to just use the NAS abbreviation as "NAS systems" sounds a lot less silly.

    Back on topic, Koppel couldn't possibly be referring to the entire NAS. Or at least, he couldn't be if he had the slightest shred of understanding of this subject. The GAO report he quotes doesn't say anything like what he says for the NAS as a whole. It's specifically referring to NAS systems, as can be seen by this full version of the quote:

    These shortcomings put NAS systems at increased and unnecessary risk of unauthorized access, use, or modification that could disrupt air traffic control operations.

    That individual NAS systems could be at risk doesn't mean the NAS is at risk as a whole. There are over a hundred different NAS systems. If one gets compromised, that may cause some disruption, but it won't have drastic effects like Koppel tries to portray. That's because the other hundred or so systems would still be there. But Koppel doesn't understand this because he apparently thinks there is one single computer system running the entire traffic control program for the United States.

    If this is any indicator of the quality of the research put into writing this book, this book must be terrible. Not only is what Koppel wrote here incredibly stupid, this is the one, single reference cited in the entire chapter. One reference in the entire chapter, and Koppel couldn't get it right!

    I kind of want to buy this book just so I can see how much more Koppel gets wrong.

  29. Hi Brandon

    You say;

    ' I’d consider offering some myself, but I’m afraid you overestimate my readership. I don’t think many people would care what I had to say about the book, though it might still be possible to get a review copy (I’ve seen people who’ve never reviewed anything in their life get review copies before).'

    I want to put it out there that I am quite willing to review cars, luxury holidays, new restaurants and a long list of other things provided they are free. I view my lack of experience positively in as much I can be objective. Or as objective as someone who has just had a freebie can be.

    Cyber attacks are much in the news over here due to a number of very high profile attacks on a major communications company and a number of other sources whereby the hackers can syphon off personal details such as credit card or bank information.

    I don't know Koppel so I don't know what if any, reputation he has for accurate reporting.

    Tonyb

  30. Reviews from a person with no particular knowledge or experience can actually be quite valuable. They're the ones most likely to reflect what the majority of individuals will think of the product. They just are less likely to spot certain types of problems. For instance, a good writer who knows nothing about a subject can write a piece that will be compelling and interesting to the average person even though a knowledgeable person will know it is pretty much completely empty or fabricated. But hey, I applaud your willingness to review things you're given for free, especially cars 😀

    On the issue of cybersecurity, the biggest problem for awareness is people hear stories about things that are happening/going on, but they don't understand them because they don't have the knowledge. This leads to all sorts of people reaching wrong conclusions, including reporters like Ted Koppel who openly states he doesn't know much about technology. His idea is to replace personal knowledge with interviews of knowledgeable people. The problem is, if you're not rigorous in checking what you hear, that can lead to all sorts of problems as those "experts" can be wrong. Or completely off-base. That's why a good reporter would take the time to actually learn about the subject he's covering.

    As for Koppel, I don't know what sort of reputation he has. I'm vaguely familiar with the guy, but the only thing I really remember him from was him saying Henry Kissinger was the best Secretary of State the country had had in decades, being one of the best of the last century. That stuck with me since Kissinger was responsible for at least one murder (conspiring to commit), actively supported a Pakistan government as it murdered its people and ignored election results which would overthrow it to the point he angrily talked to Richard Nixon during their planning meetings about how those people needed a massive famine to kill them off, helping kick out a diplomat for daring to condemn the continued support of the ongoing genocide only to turn around and privately label the man a traitor for his moral outrage. And I'll just stop there because if I don't, I'll write a couple thousand words about the horrible things Kissinger did, which somehow caused Koppel to be an admirer of him. In fact, Koppel said he was proud to call Kissinger a friend!

    That's more enough to make me doubt his journalistic chops. When you're friends with and a promoter of a completely dishonest individual who is arguably a war criminal, you probably aren't keeping an unbiased view of things. I suspect Koppel wrote this book not because he actually found serious cybersecurity issues so much as because he got an idea in his head, liked the sound of it and subconsciously set out to prove it was true. The result is confirmation bias and poor understanding of the subject combined to convince him everything he thought was true, really was true.

    But that's just a guess based off the first chapter of his book and a couple things I've seen him write about it. For instance:

    When the longtime ABC “Nightline” anchor called recently to discuss his book, Koppel explained, “Sometimes you hear something on the news that makes you say, ‘There may be a story here, somewhere.’ ”

    For Koppel it was a series of what he called “repeated little items,” and he provided several examples.

    “For instance, there was the time [former Defense Secretary and CIA director] Leon Panetta refered to a ‘cyber Pearl Harbor.’ Or when Janet Napolitano was leaving, after almost five years as secretary of Homeland Security. She gave a speech at the National Press Club in Washington — and way down at the bottom of the speech was this warning we were facing a cyber-attack on the power grid.

    “Then President Obama in 2013 said something about foreign governments trying to break into our power grid with cyber techniques.”

    While each piece wasn’t all that compelling, the combination of those mentions led Koppel to want to look into the potential threats to America. He thought initially that if all those “well-informed people are offering warnings about the likelihood of this happening, what is being done about it?”

    That's an okay reason to look into something, but a good reporter would begin by checking the claims. They would look into just what was said, how plausible it actually was and things like that. There's no evidence Koppel did that. The piece goes on to say:

    Koppel first reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security — as well as private agencies like the Red Cross — to discover what kind of preparations were being done.

    “If indeed there is a plan, then why haven’t we heard about it?” Koppel pondered.

    According to this, Koppel first contacted FEMA, the DHS and other groups to see what they had planned. There's no mention from him or the article that he actually investigated the plausibility of his ideas before contacting these people. That that is a problem becomes evident as:

    To Koppel’s horror, he discovered there really wasn’t a plan in place to protect the American public in the event of a major cyberattack on both the Internet and our power grid across the country.

    “When I asked about what people would need to do in the event of a major power outage lasting a very long time, I ended up getting people giving me a formula for a bad storm, or for a blizzard or an earthquake.

    “Those are situations where you need to have enough food for two or three days — and enough water for a similar period of time. You’re told to have enough medicine and a radio with batteries. But that’s completely different from what I was asking about — a total shutdown of the world as we know it.”

    He's made remarks like this a number of times that I've seen since looking into this book a bit. In each case, he paints the plans organizations have as insufficient because they aren't designed to meet the scenario he has in mind. Now, there are two possibilities here: 1) He discovered a problem nobody is planning for; 2) Dozens of organizations which have had to analyze this problem as part of their job have found the scenario he has in mind simply won't happen. He believes it's the former, but nothing I've seen in any of his public statements gives any explanation as to why.

    A good reporter would wonder why it is he is aware of this problem but everyone he talks to thinks it isn't a real possibility. Or really, just anyone with a bit of common sense. After about the tenth interview you do where people reject a scenario as simply ludicrous, a normal person would stop and wonder why it is they think it's so farfetched.

  31. Sorry, that last comment went on quite a bit longer than I had intended. I think it was my mind's subconscious rebellion at me trying to suppress it's urge to rant at how horrible a person Henry Kissinger was. Anyway, I forgot one important thing your comment reminded me of. You said:

    Cyber attacks are much in the news over here due to a number of very high profile attacks on a major communications company and a number of other sources whereby the hackers can syphon off personal details such as credit card or bank information.

    Here's a point you wouldn't know from Koppel's writing. The NAS systems which are most threatened by cyber attacks are actually not ones related to controlling the planes or anything like that. They're the systems which handle the human element. That is, airports have to use computers to handle tons of information about passengers (and their luggage) as they travel. There are a number of systems involved in the process. These systems are the ones most likely to be "hacked."

    One of the biggest worries about the computer systems involved in air traffic is actually the same mundane issue you refer to - theft of personal information. If a person could gain access to certain system resources, they could potentially steal information for hundreds of thousands of people. That wouldn't put any planes at risk, but it'd be a huge problem. Another worry is if someone managed to corrupt databases storing passenger information. You might wind up with a situation where the airport couldn't tell which people were supposed to be on which planes. That's obviously not going to crash any planes.

    Just because a "computer system" is referred to doesn't mean it's a vital system. It could just be something like an e-mail server. That's one reason why you should be careful of stories which aren't detailed or precise. If not, you might get fooled like if someone said a study proved "The temperature record is corrupted" when it really only looked at one station. (Because hey, that station's record was corrupted.)

  32. Hi brandon

    I am willing to add luxury houses to my free review portfolio preferably getting there in a free review car..

    I think there are a number of levels of. Über threat with at the top end major attacks on things that matter to everyone, such as infrastructure. At the other end we will come under increasing threat personally when our private details are stolen from a big corporation that hasn't safe guarded our data properly. That way can lead to theft of money and theft of identity. Cyber attacks on individuals also seem to be on the rise.

    In our local paper just today a couple of minor celebrities had their bank accounts cleaned out when one of them used a laptop on their balcony and the details were harvested by someone sitting in a nearby car with a laptop.

    The second instance was when someone succumbed to the old con of a phone call from 'Microsoft' saying their computer was under threat and they needed to allow them to take control with the inevitable result.

    It is upto all of us to be wary but cyber attacks big and small are on the increase .

    If you do get the book I will be interested to hear your report.

    In the meantime I am looking to do a free review of a luxury house in a ski resort getting there in a luxury car And preferably carrying out a review into the restaurants of the resort at the same time. So let me know if you hear of any opportunities...

    Tonyb

    Tonyb

  33. Tonyb:

    I think there are a number of levels of. Über threat with at the top end major attacks on things that matter to everyone, such as infrastructure.

    And I still scoff at the idea of a cyberattack of this nature because it is a complete impossibility; there simply isn't a way it could happen. That's not even due to network security or things like that. It's just a recognition of the fact too many things aren't even connected to the internet. In thirty years, if the push to switch everything to "smart grids" and things like actually pans out, it might be a different story. Until then though, it's really hard to hack analog devices.

    That said, while I scoff at the idea of this happening via a cyberattack, there is always the possibility of simple terrorism. It wouldn't take a lot of effort to destroy important infrastructure. If you know which transformers to hit, you can cause blackouts. If you know where cables which make up the internet backbone run, it wouldn't take a lot of work to cut some. One of the more frightening possibilities is someone destroying the submarine cables which bridge countries together. There's been cases where huge regions of multiple countries lost most internet access due to cables inadvertently being damaged. Intentional sabotage could be far, far worse.

    There are tons of other potential threats I won't go into, but the point is there are very real ways key infrastructure systems could be targeted. In a lot of cases, there have been steps taken to address that possibility (the vibration sensors around some of those cable lines are awesome). That's because people aren't as blind to threats as fiction likes to make them out to be. I think there's some truth to what fiction says, and there are many real threats which are underestimated or simply ignored, but there are no (modern) world-ending threats people just hand-wave away like Ted Koppel tries to pretend.

    At the other end we will come under increasing threat personally when our private details are stolen from a big corporation that hasn’t safe guarded our data properly. That way can lead to theft of money and theft of identity.

    This is definitely a big issue, but I think it's actually one that will get better, not worse. As time progresses, it will become easier for corporations to follow certain standard practices because everyone will have worked it out collectively. Twenty years ago, the IT world in corporations was far less organized and structured than it is now.

    Cyber attacks on individuals also seem to be on the rise.

    This is where I think the biggest problem lies. As technology keeps advancing, good security technology and habits will lag behind. Since people always want to have the latest, best thing, they will always tend to be the most vulnerable. Large corporations will often spend time and money before investing in new products, but people will usually just grab whatever looks cool. That makes them the easiest targets.

    In our local paper just today a couple of minor celebrities had their bank accounts cleaned out when one of them used a laptop on their balcony and the details were harvested by someone sitting in a nearby car with a laptop.

    I always laugh at that one, especially when the wifi network being used to connect to the internet was a public one. It's like, don't you realize what the word "public" means? It literally means anyone can watch what you're doing if they want to. I don't understand why so many people think sharing private information on a public network is a good idea.

    But then, there are actually ways to make it secure despite the network being public, so... shame on the bank for not using them.

    The second instance was when someone succumbed to the old con of a phone call from ‘Microsoft’ saying their computer was under threat and they needed to allow them to take control with the inevitable result.

    I don't know if you heard about it, but in the US, a guy called fast food restaurants claiming to be a police detective who had received a complaint from a woman who had been stolen from by one of the employees at the store. He actually managed to convince the manager at at least one restaurant to detain an employee for some time, search her belongings and ultimately strip search her. All just by saying he was a police detective... over the phone. Some people are just too stupid.

    In the meantime I am looking to do a free review of a luxury house in a ski resort getting there in a luxury car And preferably carrying out a review into the restaurants of the resort at the same time. So let me know if you hear of any opportunities…

    No promises. They usually only need one review at a time, and I'm afraid to say I would... um.. write the better review. Yeah, that's it.

  34. Hi Brandon

    It wasn't a public network in the sense of the sort you use if visiting a coffee shop that offers free wifi. Then the person slurping their latte two tables away may well be hacking into your own laptop.

    Most houses in the UK would have their own wi fi/broadband served through a personal router using one of the big companies systems. This would be protected by a password and registration number. So in effect the money was stolen at distance from a private network albeit one that wasn't well secured against a determined hacker.

    There have been instances where the waving of your credit card in front of an appropriate terminal have also resulted in additional sums being taken by close by hackers. In this instance it tends to be restricted to small amounts of money.

    So lots of ways for private individuals to fall foul of hackers as well as the big corporations where the theft tends to be of millions of account names. This is without even thinking of the safety of our infrastructure. Our Govt has got wise to this and is reviewing the security of such basic things as water/energy/sewage/transport and supermarket distributions

    How much the author of the book has dug into the subject I don't know.

    No, I hadn't heard of the fast food scam. However there have been instances of people on the phone getting through to the Prime Minister by impersonating a leader of another country. Elton John was recently called by someone pretending to be Putin regarding a personal meeting to discuss world peace and was taken in. As you may have heard Putin then did phone Elton to apologise and a meeting has been arranged.

    All of which probably illustrates that if you are bold enough you can getaway with anything.

    tonyb

  35. Tonyb:

    Most houses in the UK would have their own wi fi/broadband served through a personal router using one of the big companies systems. This would be protected by a password and registration number. So in effect the money was stolen at distance from a private network albeit one that wasn’t well secured against a determined hacker.

    Then maybe I shouldn't have laughed. If they truly had it secured, then I wouldn't fault them for it. I'm assuming they didn't just have a default password or something like that, in which case it wasn't due to any real fault of their own. The reason I laughed is I hear a constant stream of stories about this sort of thing happening on public networks, so I just come to expect that to be the case.

    There have been instances where the waving of your credit card in front of an appropriate terminal have also resulted in additional sums being taken by close by hackers. In this instance it tends to be restricted to small amounts of money.

    Yup. A similar thing can happen with ATMs, even when you slide the card (or insert it). That's a sort of theft I can't fault people for, but it's also one that most companies will reimburse. You just have to notice the problem.

    How much the author of the book has dug into the subject I don’t know.

    I actually went ahead and bought the book because my curiosity was getting to me. It's every bit as bad as I thought. He must just accept everything he hears at face value if he likes it. That's the only way I can see some of this stuff getting in. I'm only a few chapters in, but I had to stop after I literally fell out of my chair laughing after reading this:

    The attack, code-named Olympic Games, targeted an array of several thousand nuclear centrifuges located at Natanz, Iran’s main enrichment center. These centrifuges spin uranium gas at the high speeds necessary to refine the uranium used to fuel both nuclear reactors and bombs. With the introduction of a computer worm code-named Stuxnet, the cyber saboteurs were able to alter the speed of those centrifuges, undermining the refinement process.
    Sending the centrifuges into a destructive spiral would have been only marginally damaging had the Iranians recognized what was happening. They could have responded in time to mitigate the attack. The genius of the U.S.-Israeli attack lay in its ability to conceal the sabotage. According to David Sanger, who reported on Olympic Games for the New York Times, Stuxnet “also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those recordings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart.”

    See that part inside quotation marks? It didn't happen. It's just the figment of somebody's imagination. It has no basis in, well, anything. It doesn't begin to touch on anything resembling the truth. It's so far divorced from reality it might as well say, "Oh, and then Stuxnet unlocked the doors to the Velociraptor pen causing the beast to burst out and bite the guard's head off."

    And yes, I know this was printed in the New York Times. And yes, I know what it actually should have said. It should have said Stuxnet intercepted readings from infected devices to send fake data to prevent warnings from being triggered. But that has nothing to do with "what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like." Keeping numbers on a screen from changing or warning messages from popping up isn't playing "recordings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist."

    Reading this book is like watching a movie where the laws of physics don't work like they do in real life. I guess it might make for a fun experience, but if you know anything about anything you're looking at...

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