Review: The City and the Stars

The City and the Stars
The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was written originally in 1948 and rewritten in 1956, and I describe it as “a probable roadmap of humanity”.

Let’s start with some interesting facts, somehow I ended up liking gay authors; they are just amazing, and Artur C. Clarke is definitely both. He lived most of his life in Sri Lanka, and the influence of Buddhism are evident. He describes a world of 7 suns and did a bit of research and found out this concept is borrowed from Buddhism.

In his “Sermon of the Seven Suns” in the Pali Canon, the Buddha describes the ultimate fate of the world in an apocalypse that will be characterized by the consequent appearance of seven suns in the sky, each causing progressive ruin till the Earth is destroyed:

All things are impermanent, all aspects of existence are unstable and non-eternal. Beings will become so weary and disgusted with the constituent things that they will seek emancipation from them more quickly. There will come a season, O monks when, after hundreds of thousands of years, rains will cease. All seedlings, all vegetation, all plants, grasses and trees will dry up and cease to be…There comes another season after a great lapse of time when a second sun will appear. Now all brooks and ponds will dry up, vanish, cease to be.
— Aňguttara-Nikăya, VII, 6.2 Pali Canon[57]

So his most famous work is, in fact, a popularized Buddism sermon.

Ok, is allowed to copy with pride, everybody does that.

There is nothing unique in this word but modified states of previous work.


The part that got me interested was around the technology that he embeds into this story and there he is rather ultra creative and a pioneer. So let’s list them:

1) Black holes are described as black suns. Maybe he was not the first but was one of the first to describe the gravitational powers, in literature, of a black hole thus popularizing the term to the masses.
2) Death Stars as seen in Star Wars are described in this book, in this case, they were build to get rid of the aging Moon. Star Wars just copied with pride this object later on.
3) He described the Ulam spiral or prime spiral; that is a simple method of visualizing the prime numbers that reveal the apparent tendency of certain quadratic polynomials to generate unusually large amounts of primes. Ok maybe the Greeks knew about it before anybody else, but someone else put his name on it.

ulam spiralgreek-ornaments-1908131
4) The mad mind, as the perfect Artificial Intelligence and his gut feeling, told what everybody else says now days, that it would be a mad mind. As the Wikipedia article describes nicely:

“The sheer complexity of human value systems makes it tough to make AI’s motivations human-friendly. Unless moral philosophy provides us with a flawless ethical theory, an AI’s utility function could allow for many potentially harmful scenarios that conform with a given ethical framework but not “common sense”.

5) He envisioned the perfect machine with this statement “No machine may contain any moving parts”. Why is this significant? Because it does not have friction, machines break down because of resistance of the components, the so-called tear and wear.
6) He introduced ethical hacking, on how you can bypass a password-protected area by pretending that the state of the machine didn’t change. That was my favorite scene and was brilliantly written. He used it again as a cure of fears, to hack our brains so we can unlock potential by using neuron sensors inside a Virtual reality helmet. This is something that we see coming up nowadays and has enormous market potential. Remember this book was written three years after the end of word war 2.

The road ahead

As for the future of humanity, will not say much because the story must be read and each one of us can make his conclusions. I’m for curiosity and exploration but if we need to win death to rediscover our immortal human nature then will just confirm that life and history go into circles. And as Archimedes once said, I will repeat the same:

μὴ μου τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε!” (Mē mou tous kuklous taratte!).

Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Humanity went from “the picture of Dorian Gray” to “50 Shades of Gray” in the last 100 years. I gave five stars because I love the maxims presented in the book. Oscar deserves an Oscar for sure. Reading about his life on Wikipedia, I realized that this book was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Somehow he knew himself, and how his end is going to be, so he wrote it early enough.

The teasers

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

No wonder why gay people write the best books, probably fueled by their hedonistic nature and the drama of covering it up, they are the best to describe our human nature.

“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”

What can I say about this book after reading “crime and punishment“? That is rather more colorful? More witty? Nevertheless is about human nature and our desire to control it, to dominate our mistakes.


“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

Every single dialogue in the book is full of grand statements and quotes, in fact, you can read the entire book by searching quote about “the picture of Dorian gray”.

“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his own soul?”


But enough with the teasers, the points that got me interested in this book was the title and the opium dens in Victorian England. Dorian is a Greek ethnic group, mainly lived in Crete and where now days is Sparta. Oscar goes into an extravagant praise of the Greek culture and heritage as I have never see before. However is a bit absurd that such book full of hedonism is titled after the most discipline and austere of the Greek ethnic groups. The Spartans were not known for wild orgies or living by their passions, the Athenians did. Even the Doric style in architecture is straightforward and lean and not flamboyant. So was this intentional or he was just misinformed at the time? This is something that Google couldn’t answer, so I hope at one point the answer will come to me.

Secondly, I found out that this book was censored by his publisher and most probably the editions printed after that didn’t contain many of the original paragraphs. He did that because at the time this book was a bit shocking, the homosexuality of the author was rather visible in his writings. I added a note to find out the original and reread this book at a later time.

Opium wars

Now about the opium den, those are typically places that you can smoke dope, something like the coffee shops in Amsterdam. I didn’t know that such activity was popular in Victorian England, or that was even possible, so I spent some time reading about it. To my surprise, I found that cocaine and opium plus other addictive drugs were sold in Pharmacy shops. The trade was very popular because it was marketed as pain relief medicine at the time. Sometime before the first world war, the business stopped officially by regulation. With the start of the war, the consumption increased again because opium was used as actual pain medicine instead of recreational usage. In fact, if you read carefully the path of drug trade you will find that is still sold in enormous quantities because is included in popular painkiller pills. Those do contain marks that frequent use leads to addiction but still sold under the different pretext and in beautiful packages. Now I understand where this “medical marihuana” talk is heading.

Opium den

There were many wars around opium trade and lets not forget that Afghanistan is the number one producer worldwide. That makes Taliban the number one supplier of our pharmaceutical companies. Down that line, if you consider where we have wars, you will notice that is either for diamonds, drugs or oil. A curse of humanity to like what it shines, makes us delusional, and pollute our lands.

Maybe Oscar knew that curse of the human condition rather well, and he challenged himself by writing a book about the morality of his desires.

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Review: Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What I, the reader, can say about the beauty of his thoughts and dialogues? Now I understand why they call this book an all time classic. I even got a writer’s block by trying to summarise my thoughts about this book; it seems impossible task since his words are still flying in mind.

There two distinct parts in this book, the murder and punishment. Got interested on how a person can describe a crime in such detail, especially the feelings around it. Well articulated scenes that for a point I thought that most probably he did kill someone. So I went into a research mode to find out the truth.

The Crime

Dostoyevsky lived in times that mother Russia had a deeply spiritual and an identity problem. French revolution just ended, the American civil war was starting, and the ideas of Marx were publicised.
He was a smart fellow, but with an intellectual soul so he ended up forming a club that included even Bakunin, the most famous Anarchist ever lived. With a friend like him, for sure he got radicalised. He got arrested, and a mock execution by firing squad took place in St Petersburg but a pardon came at the very last minute. I believe that any man standing in front of the firing squad team can get his feelings all messed up very quickly. Monty Python they are not even close describing the feeling but undoubtedly influenced by that moment:

Spending years in the Siberian prisons and described as one of the most dangerous convicts (mind more lethal than a weapon you see) spent most of his time in chains. All that life experience, falling from partly aristocratic life to a life in chains and suffering, can easily describe how one can get acquitted with the feelings related to murder and despair.

The ideology of him is not easily extracted from this book; you need to pay attention to understand if he is a socialist, an anarchist or genuinely a Christian or a combination of all those three together. The word “nihilism” is mentioned two times in the book, or the notion that morality does not inherently exist. The superhuman character that is above everybody else and he, because he is superior, can kill is the central point of the book. Nietzsche probably read lots of Dostoyevsky; Hitler read lots of Nietzsche, and you know the end results of that philosophical point of view. I could extend the thought that since he was a friend of Bakunin, he branched out nihilistic concepts from anarchist ideology but that is a rather lengthy discussion that would love to have after I have completed reading all his books and confirming my assumption.

The punishment

The last part of the book is about punishment. The worst kind of punishment because he falls in love with a girl and a police officer is mind freaking him out for few chapters. That police character is coming like a nemesis to him, and he is brilliant. The idea that he will go to prison and lose his love could be described as worst punishment than the jail itself.

Personally, I find the book to correlate strongly with his personal life. The “murder” was his political club. The believe that those intellectuals were bigger than the Tsar and they had the power to do whatever they wanted to do. His victims where a family of 2 extreme speculators so the correlation is strong. I bet the rest of his books describe the life in Siberian prison and his gambling habits after that, but that again is an assumption and will take a while before I read more of him.For now, I need to clean up my memory banks from all that misery and angst.

And now something lighter

Woody Allen has got many elements of Crime and Punishment in the movie Match Point. So instead of heavy reading get a quick fix with this one but you will be missing a lot.


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Review: Dream Psychology, Psychoanalysis for Beginners

Dream Psychology: Psychoanalysis for Beginners
Dream Psychology: Psychoanalysis for Beginners by Sigmund Freud
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Friday night and was bored, so I looked into free movies and found “My Scientology movie”.

The movie is about reported abuses within the Scientology church and is rather good. The history of the church starts with a failed SciFi writer; he made few books – they failed so he decided to create a Church. Dianetics is the first book of the Church that now is almost a billion euros global business.

Scientology is psychoanalysis mixed with a SciFi novel that is converted into a Hollywood-like production and governed like an army. Just brilliant!

I got interested on the subject, and I dig in to find out more, so I picked up Freud.

What are dreams?

As an engineer, I tend to see our body and brain as a computer. Is a simplification, I know but is the easiest way to describe it.

Dreams are like the browser cache that needs to be flashed out often so the web pages can render normally. Must be done every day so you don’t get buffer overflows.
Some of the processes, created by daylight, need to be resolved but since the computer robotic arms are hibernating, the only action that can be taken is to Dream.

Unresolved issues are displayed in a full motion picture in our brains. Desires as well and there Freud is making the assumption that sex is dominating our dreams. Well, recent studies tell that we think about it 7,200 times per day!

So Freud by intuition understood that since this Sex subject is dominating our heads daily, it must also be one of the most dominant items cached in our brain.


So far so good and the book was OK until the point of Symbolism and Free associations between images in a dream and actual meaning. There the things get so blur that requires serious reading and studying. I’m not convinced that we have a dictionary of dream symbols and ordinary meaning, maybe there is, or maybe soon we will have one.

The bottom line is that and I’m not a subject expert but based on what I have understood so far; everything starts with Catharsis (like a code dump that needs to be reviewed to find leaks and bug fix). The process of flushing out everything that you think or dream and reflect those thoughts with you (like self-medication) or with a specialist (psychologist).

The daylight views are easy to flash out since you can see the cause and effect in front of your eyes and keep some notes.

The challenge with the dreams is that thoughts are symbols that need decoding.

So how all that is related to the Scientology movie? Well, the guys are using the same process of Catharsis, the flushing out of all thoughts and keeping records on what you said. Then they link a SciFi book story as the central symbolism to be thought for the rest of your life. Meaning that they are associating ONE STORY only to your life experience thus blocking Free Association of dreams and meaning. Think about it for a minute how much powerful that is, to me, this limits free thinking.

There many out there that they use the same technic to convince us about products and services, just think how much you tell about your life on social media and read again above how Catharsis works in psychoanalysis.

Conclusion: Freud is a must read to all that are searching to understand the foundation of Brands and Public Relations. And also for those that want to understand human nature in general. Powerful tools, use them ethically and for doing right or just to free your mind.

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Review: A Journey, My Political Life

A Journey: My Political Life
A Journey: My Political Life by Tony Blair
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first chapters of Tony’s book remind me the early days of the Troy war.
Iphigenia is sacrificed, and then the warlords start the 12 years invasion and occupation of Troy lands.

In this case, Iphigenia a tragic character, is, of course, Princess Diana and the warlords are Tony Blair and George Bush. A strong correlation is established in my mind, between Odysseus and General Petraeus.

The sequence of events does match Iliad, but let us take them from the start.

Tony’s crusade

Tony, a young lawyer, gets excited about Governing and penetrates the Labor party. He is not particularly socialist or coming from humble backgrounds. He is a new generation of focused managers with superior debating capability and understanding of modern Public relation systems.

He renames Labor to New Labor and removes all socialistic parts from the party constitution in exchange for a landslide election victory. The first disaster occurs, Diana is killed in Paris, and Tony gets an opportunity to orchestrate a fantastic global PR event since all eyes were on him.

Tony, didn’t have to have any ideology, he found that in Gordon Brown that looks like was more like a Philosopher but without the charming baby face of Tony.

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan should go down in the history books as the first openly published debate on the reasoning and moral behind a war. As a lawyer he was the right person for the job, he could twist the arguments to the point that created the necessary doubt needed. You don’t need to convince, you just create a shadow of doubt and then lead. Brilliant job Tony! Everything else can be handled later (like the absence of WOD) with the right PR spin and uncertainty principle.

On the downside, you can clearly see the arrogant British empire view of the world on the argument on why there was an outbreak of violence in Iraq.

From Villain to Saint

To vindicate his name, he launched rather good PR activities such North Ireland peace resolution and putting up Bono from U2 to solve the African debt. That kind of global view and action is missing from any other European leader to the point that I’m totally disappointed that the UK will Brexit. Is in my opinion that only British politicians can establish EU as a world power but is doubtful if they can unite Europe.

In this book, I understood the pre Brexit perspective. Gordon Brown wisely said “do not overdo the migration question on the media” but the landmine was placed and planned early enough. They could have replaced that “migration” word with some other problem but all other available problems were not big sufficient to polarize the public.

Tony, is not necessarily hardcore European and is funny to see that all laws enacted during his time now they will have to be removed by the Brexit processes.

The bottom line of his style can be summarized to 1) have a briefing on every subject 2) create the arguments as a lawyer 3) do not engage if you don’t know the answer.

I learned a lot from this book, no matter how history will judge Tony on his actions, my take is that he is the personification of a good lawyer with amazing Public Relations skills. You could see that his insecurities such Public speaking turned out to become his bigger strength.

Bravo Tony, you are a fantastic character, I might not agree with everything that you have done, but that was a stellar performance, an example to the rest.

Debating styles in Democracy

Now please see the different debate styles between 2 democracies.

This is how the UK is doing it:

Can you hear the archaic sounds of the backbench? gives the feeling of old barbarians debating around a camp fire. This image is very carefully reconstructed and in my believe the essence of British democracy.

This is how Germany doing it:

And what about EU:

Is clear that in the UK the debate is more lively, more a show of quick intellect. In Germany, the leader is firmly at the head, and everybody listens. As for the EU is more similar to UN floor where everybody says whatever but no one actually cares.

Until we move EU to the level of the UK based debate with charismatic leaders discussing like in a cockfight, we will not have a unified continent because the images that we are projecting are more of a university lecture than a vibrant community of leaders.
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Review: The Miracle of Self-Discipline

The Miracle of Self-Discipline
The Miracle of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brian is a master salesman, absolutely no doubt about it. This book was 1 hour long, and it was designed to promote his online courses. Brilliant!

He gave useful tips, short ones but powerful. He went back to Aristoteles and Napoleon Hill just to give credibility to the suggestions, but he did it in a marvelous way.

I totally agree with him about reading books, but I like the way that he is selling it. “50 books a year is the equivalent of a Ph.D.”, I totally agree Sir. A few weeks back, I wrote a blog post about the power of driving and listening of audio books. Brian sells the idea of audio books rather nicely, with arguments that you just cannot refuse that are correct.

Personally, I believe that online courses are way too much on the text and video side,and that makes it impossible to learn while driving. That’s why Eliademy launched a few weeks back a functionality that allows a teacher to include also audiobooks in addition to live courses. So we share the same vision on this one.

I liked his style so much that I sent him a personal email, this guy can make teachers sell more online and im sure about it.

Conclusion: I gave 4 out of 5 because this was a teaser and not a full book. Nevertheless in those 30 pages he managed to get me hooked, and that is what I can call “the art of selling.”

Once again, I looked into the statistics and this time I made a hypothesis than a conclusion.

The Miracle of Self-Discipline

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Review: The Art of Money Getting: Golden Rules for Making Money

The Art of Money Getting: Golden Rules for Making Money
The Art of Money Getting: Golden Rules for Making Money by P.T. Barnum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Benjamin Franklin beyond inventor and philosopher was also frugal and advocate of a rather stoic life with no extravagances. Sometimes, or more than we know, he indulged himself while visiting Europe and especially in romantic affairs.

This book starts where the Marcus Aurelius, Meditations book ends, and Benjamin Franklin and Carnegie would have loved it. Is not of the highest quality, philosophically speaking and judging but the advice is very much down to earth. Like make an excel file and mark what is spent on luxuries versus necessities, and cut down expenses to the point so every month you spend less than you earn.

Don’t get debt, avoid “unlucky” people, be systematic but also be charitable are few of his suggestions. The funny part is that Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman, businessman, and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

How one that makes money out of luxuries of life, can write an anti-consumerist book is a bit strange. Then I remembered a movie that I saw last week, Water for Elephants, that described a bit the life in a Circus and the challenges they faced, and I understood better his mindset.

All in all, was a good Saturday morning coffee book that lasted 1:30 hours (but some chapters I had to hear them again, so I can convince my self that it might be a good thing to follow his advice).

You can find the full free book here:…

As usually, I checked the statistics around this book and here is my finding:
getting money

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