Meet Dr. Shakespeare

"Students may begin their medical school careers riding on a cloud of altruism and goodwill, but it’s not long before the grueling schedule, avalanche of new vocabulary and stubborn patients can take a toll.

To return the student brain to a state of balance, David Watts, MD, UCSF professor of clinical medicine, argues that a healthy dose of literature — poems and stories, specifically — be a core part of the student experience.

It may seem counter-intuitive: Adding more work to an already-loaded academic schedule seems like a recipe for disaster. But in an article titled “Cure for the Common Cold” published last month in The New England Journal of Medicine, Watts says that poems and stories — even just a few a week — can show students the richness of human relationships. In other words, imaginative literature can reignite the compassionate spark that spurred students toward the healing arts in the first place, according to Watts."

From: http://www.healthcanal.com/mental-health-behavior/33454-Treat-Emotional-Toll-Medical-School-Physician-Prescribes-Shakespeare.html

Jack King on Facebook and www.SpyWriter.com


Love of books is like any kind of love

“Love of books is like any other kind of love,” Fadiman said. “It takes different forms.” There are “courtly lovers” of books, who treat books as sacred objects, and “carnal lovers” — those who engage with their books as physical objects, and who are more than willing to profane them in all manner of ways.

Examples of the latter camp abound. Wordsworth once cut open the pages of a new book (a necessity due to the bookbinding techniques of his time) with a butter-greased knife, according to Fadiman. William Empson was reprimanded by a librarian for returning a copy of “Dr. Faustus” smeared with jam from his morning toast. A Columbia University librarian reported a returned book with a fried egg in its pages. And as per the tale that provided the lecture’s title, New Yorker legend A.J. Liebling was said to have used a strip of bacon for a bookmark.

Harvard librarians, Fadiman reported, have found in the pages of books a sewing needle, feathers, playing cards, yarn, a parking ticket, an arrest warrant, “a piece of fuzzy pink cake that was presumed to be a former Hostess Sno Ball,” and even a used condom.

“At least those things are removable,” she conceded. “The one thing that is least removable is your own words.”
And they stay on the pages for the life of the book, so make your annotations wisely (or preferably not at all).

More: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/04/love-beyond-words/

WikiJustice - "Wikileaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd." A novel of suspense. Free Paperback Giveaway http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/36304 Limited Time!

The subtle difference between a "spy" and an "intelligence agent"

Q: "What exactly were you doing in the U.S.? What is it called? Spying?"

A: "It’s the same thing the American special services are doing in Russia. The English word “spy” may refer to what the Russians call “spy” or “intelligence agent.” It depends on how you look at it. It’s no accident that, in the Soviet Union, the good guys were called “intelligence agents” and the enemies were called “spies.” ...

"intelligence does not work against specific people. It’s not permanent and assignments can change. As a secret agent, you work for the good of your country. Crimes may be committed against specific people, but intelligence is a patriotic business."

More: http://indrus.in/articles/2012/10/19/russian_spy_reveals_his_secrets_18485.html

Miniature spying insects

A miniature spying insect:

"Next time a pesky insect lands on you take a close look at it before you swat it away because you could be in for a nasty surprise.

What might appear to be a mosquito or something similar could, in fact, be a miniature spy drone which is snooping on you and being controlled by someone thousands of kilometres away."

More: http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/beware-intelligent-insects-they-are-spying-you-weekend-review-rv-131241


Politicians who don't read fiction are dangerous to society

We read fewer novels.

"It's not that the quality of fiction has gone downhill. It hasn't ...

Our attitude towards entertainment has changed, as has what we expect from a book. That's too bad, because we're missing something when we don't read fiction. To have politicians who don't read novels is particularly serious.

A good book is a window into how we as humans act and think. It makes us consider our own lives and those of people around us. Good writers introduce us to characters who, if they existed, would be unknowable by their local politicians. It's an indirect way of learning about our world.

A non-fiction book can educate us about the newest science on climate change or homelessness or psychology. But if you pick up a (non-fiction) book by a psychologist named Daniel Kahneman, you'll read that humans learn about abstract concepts and statistics better when they're told a story, rather than handed a stack of facts and figures."

More: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/touch/story.html?id=7431241

Politicians! Get to know and understand the peoples of the world before you decide to bomb them. Read!

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


Before the Word there were letters

"I am persuaded that without knowledge of literature pure theology cannot at all endure, just as heretofore, when letters [literature] have declined and lain prostrate, theology too, has wretchedly fallen and lain prostrate; nay, I see that there has never been a great revelation of the Word of God unless he has first prepared the way by the rise and prosperity of languages and letters, as though they were John the Baptists.

. . .

Certainly it is my desire that there shall be as many poets and rhetoricians as possible, because I see that by these studies, as by no other means, people are wonderfully fitted for the grasping of sacred truth and for handling it skillfully and happily."

Martin Luther, Letter to Eoban Hess, 29 March 1523. Werke, Weimar edition, Luthers Briefwechsel, III, 50.

Via: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/joecarter/2012/10/does-theology-need-literature/

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


Writers, the collective

Is it possible that waning interest in literary fiction is the result of the army of Borg writers driven by a single collective thought, producing clones of the same book?

"Here come the writers: hundreds of them, liberated from their garrets and suddenly overrunning the country, going from invisible to omnipresent...

The answer is that they come from creative-writing programs, which have emerged in the new century as the indispensable nurseries of literary fiction in North America. Half of all published authors in Canada have studied creative writing, according to a 2010 survey, and enrolment in postsecondary creative-writing courses is booming even as interest in traditional literary studies declines. ...

One now-traditional criticism of such processes is that they produce homogenous results, often identified as “workshop stories” or “Iowa novels” by skeptics. Most teachers deny it, naturally, pointing out that creative-writing courses have broadened access to the art and are in part responsible for the new diversity of Canadian literature. But the taint remains.

Fictions that carry it tend to be “highly competent but dull,” according to Hollingshead. “The rule is the telling detail,” he says, “so you get all this surface information, but to no effect. You have a kind of aesthetic sheen on the prose but you’re not getting enough ideas and you’re not getting enough dramatic energy.” He is confident in the prospect of literary renewal, but doubts such a thing will emerge from the creative-writing academy."

More: http://m.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/writers-graduating-by-the-bushel-but-can-they-find-readers/article4625110/?service=mobile

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


Writers driving a wedge into society

"In 2004, philosopher and literary critic Kojin Karatani declared, in his essay "The End of Modern Literature," that Japanese literature had lost its privileged position within national consciousness while embracing minor subcultures ... thus becoming a mere commodity. As a consequence, literature had lost its power to affect social or political change."

However a writer "Tomoyuki Hoshino indirectly expressed his disagreement with Kiratani's bleak vision. According to him, "we cannot expect literature to directly effect change in a clearly observable form. At best, it is a tiny wedge the writer can drive through the social and cultural status quo. Still, it is exactly literature's ability to allow readers and writers to inhabit minor (...) worlds that allows literature to affect society as a whole, one story, one reader at a time. ...

In the end, by refusing to passively accept conventional truths regarding sexual, cultural and national identity, and inciting in both his characters and readers this revolutionary desire to change, Hoshino's work becomes more political than any open social criticism or ideologically charged novel."

More: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fb20121021a1.html

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


The Shop

"The CIA is not in the habit of discussing its clandestine operations, but the agency’s purpose is clear enough. As then-chief James Woolsey said in a 1994 speech to former intelligence operatives: “What we really exist for is stealing secrets.” [...]

That is why by 1955, and probably earlier, the CIA created a special unit to perform what the agency calls “surreptitious entries.” This unit was so secret that few people inside CIA headquarters knew it existed; it wasn’t even listed in the CIA's classified telephone book. Officially it was named the Special Operations Division, but the handful of agency officers selected for it called it the Shop.

[...] in the 1980s and early ’90s, the Shop occupied a nondescript one-story building just south of a shopping mall in the Washington suburb of Springfield, Virginia. The building was part of a government complex surrounded by a chain-link fence; the pebbled glass in the windows let in light but allowed no view in or out. The men and women of the Shop made up a team of specialists: lock pickers, safecrackers, photographers, electronics wizards and code experts. One team member was a master at disabling alarm systems, another at flaps and seals. Their mission, put simply, was to travel the world and break into other countries’ embassies to steal codes"

More: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-CIA-Burglar-Who-Went-Rogue-169800816.html?c=y&page=2

Jack King's new novel: The Black Vault

Why we read

"Literature has always been a catalyst through which humans can find humor, adventure, or an escape from their everyday. However, I would argue that entertainment is not the most important role of literature, either. These two functions can be found in other forms of media as well. Literature holds no advantage over film or art in this case, except perhaps to contain a greater amount of information in one place.

What, then, is the purpose in reading? What advantage does it give us, if not to entertain, educate, or explore? What abilities does the act of reading print words in a paper novel grant us above any other medium?

Reading gives us a window into another’s mind, in a way that cannot be duplicated in another medium. Whether it is greater than other mediums, such as art or film, is perhaps a matter of opinion. However, it’s clear that literature offers an experience of empathy matchless in its sincerity."

More: http://www.theracquet.net/mobile/features/why-read-1.2930145

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


The rise of the academic novel

"The academic novel is usually considered a quaint genre, depicting the insular world of academe and directed toward a coterie audience. But it has become a major genre in contemporary American fiction and glimpses an important dimension of American life.

...there are simply an overwhelming number of academic novels. Drawing data from the standard bibliography, there were 70 published between 1990 and 2000, and 238 from 1950 to 2000. That doesn’t include mysteries, of which there are about 500 in the same period. It also specifies novels that center on faculty or staff rather than students (the latter I would distinguish as “the campus novel,” since they usually turn on student life on campus)."

The rise of the academic novel:


More: http://blog.oup.com/2012/10/rise-of-academic-novel-genre-american-literary-history/

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com

Distrusting Literary Prizes

"why are prizes so mistrusted these days? There are many possible answers, but two make, out of this many, more sense.

Prizes have become banal. There is a prize, an award, for almost every thing. And every writer that wants to sell enough books to make a living out of it, must, at least, have been laureled once or twice. The excess of awards makes them less valuable, thus also taking value from the awardee, person and book. ...

Still, awards play an immensely important part in today’s literary panorama. They tell people what to read. ... They might teach what, but not why.

In addition, creative writing courses seem to be contributing to this overall lack of literary sensibility. By slowly replacing literature graduations – that focus, essentially, on reading – creative writing courses are manufacturing more writers than readers, and therefore unbalancing the scale dangerously. This leads to the necessity of more awards to inform people of what to read. And publishers, of course, say thank you very much. By trying to perpetrate one artistic form, creative writing courses are slowly slaughtering it."

More; http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/our-voices/battle-of-ideas/forget-the-booker-the-prize-every-author-really-wants-is-academic-validation-8213065.html

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


Read aloud to better understand literature of the past

"When we read a text, we hear a voice talking to us. Yet the voice changes over time.

When we read a novel written today, we hear a voice
 that speaks pretty much the same language we speak, and that addresses people and things in a way we are used to. But much happens as a text ages – a certain type of alienation emerges. The reader may still hear a voice, but will not understand it fully and therefore risks missing important aspects...

... people often read texts aloud until the late 1700s, even when they were alone. So the recommendation to read older literature aloud in order to understand it better is given for good reason.

We who are more accustomed to silent reading are not as sensitive to the tone of voice as people were in the past. We simply cannot hear the voice very well. But the voice of a text is always important, just think of all the smileys we have started using to add clarity to texts"

More: http://m.phys.org/news/2012-10-voices-older-literature-differently-today.html

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com

Too fat to fight

"At the intersection of fat-shaming and war-mongering comes a bizarre public health campaign: an effort by retired generals and admirals to ban sugary sodas and snacks from public schools. The kids today, say the former brass, are too fat to fight for their country.
Welcome to the sum of all libertarian fears: a Nanny State that packs an M4 rifle.

Those officers, part of a group called “Mission: Readiness,” argue in a new report called “Still Too Fat to Fight” that unhealthy snacks, particularly in schools, endanger national security. “No other major country’s military forces face the challenges of weight gain confronting America’s armed forces ,” they fret.

“It’s clear to us that our military readiness could be put in jeopardy given the fact that nearly 75 percent of young Americans are unable to serve in uniform,” write two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff..."

More: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/09/too-fat-for-war/

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com

Benefits of Early Reading

"Children whose homes are filled with books don’t just have the fun of being read to. They also enjoy the benefits years later.

A study has found that if just ten children’s books are to hand when a child is four, a part of their brain involved in language and thought matures more quickly by the age of 18 or 19.

However, if introduced at the age of eight, these books ... seem to have little impact on the brain, suggesting the age of four is a critical time in its development.

The research has excited scientists because it the first to show how small differences in a normal upbringing affect the brain."

More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217722/Reading-How-books-age-helps-boost-brain-Reading-young-age-helps-organ-mature-quicker-later-life.html

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


A Literary Conspiracy

Some of today's op-eds speculate about an alleged conspiracy against American writers who, year after year, are omitted by the Nobel committee.

Generally I don't give a time of day to reports of literary awards - treating literature as thought it was a competitive sport, or a similar corrupt body, is abhorrent. But these "conspiracy" allegations caught my attention, you know - with me being a conspiracy thriller writer. And I can't help but wonder who perpetrates the conspiracy?

The words of a certain prominent New York literary agent come to mind:

"Jack, American readers don't want to think. They only want to be entertained."

Literary agents, for those of you who are not involved in the publishing world, are the gatekeepers, often influencing what does or does not get published.

There's your conspiracy.

DITCH THE AGENT: http://www.spywriter.com/dta/index.html


IFOs - Identified Flying Objects

UFOs become IFOs. Those flying saucers you thought you saw did exist, after all. Schematics declassified:


More: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/10/the-airforce/

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


Inherited Creativity

So you want to write a novel? You must be born with it:

"Researchers from Yale in the US and Moscow State University in Russia launched the study to see whether there was a scientific reason why well-known writers have produced other writers. ...

"This work is unique in its objective to investigate the familiality and heritability of the trait of creative writing," the researchers write, "while controlling for general cognitive ability and for the general level of family functioning. Despite the lack of systematic research on the aetiology of writing in general and creative writing in particular, it is rather difficult not to acknowledge the familiality of creativity in writing, given the families of writers who have entertained and educated us over the years. These findings constitute the tip of an interesting iceberg, indicating that there may be some components of creative writing that are familial and heritable.

"It may be worth further studies to confirm that creative writers are indeed born, as well as made. When writers capitalise on these inborn propensities and expose these propensities to rich experiences, we, as readers, can enjoy books that not only form the foundation of cultural life but also impact the biology of the human brain."

More: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/want-to-be-a-writer-have-a-literary-parent-8200777.html

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


How To Beat a Lie Detector

You don't have be employed in the security sector to be subjected to a polygraph test. Sooner or later, on a variety of reasons, you may face one. It doesn't have to be a stressful experience, it won't be if you take the time to prepare. It may even turn out to be quite fun. Purchase a set (available directly from China) that plugs into your laptop, invite some friends, and play a round of truth or lies...

"First, Tice says, a person can trick the tester on "probable-lie" questions. During a polygraph's pre-test interview, the tester usually asks a person to answer questions they are likely to lie about.

These include questions like: 'Have you ever stolen money?,' 'Have you ever lied to your parents?,' or 'Have you ever cheated on a test?'.

Most people have done these at least once, but lie about it. So the tester uses a person's response to a likely lie as a way to establish how a person physically reacts while lying.

Tice says to trick the tester, a person should lie in response to these questions like most other people would, but also bite their tongue hard while doing so, which will set off other physiological reactions in the body.

The tester's "needles will fly everywhere," says Tice, "and he will think, 'This guy is a nervous nelly. He has a strong physical reaction when he's lying.'"

"And you're skewing the test," he says. Tice says it's also easy to beat a polygraph while telling a real lie by daydreaming to calm the nerves."

More: http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2012/09/25/nsa-whistleblower-reveals-how-to-beat-a-polygraph-test

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com


Books as Social Catalyst

"the role of books as a catalyst to effect social transformation...

...books can be tools of reconciliation in times of conflict and help build permanent peace and mutual understanding. The spread of a literary culture ... can extend the message of humanism among the masses and also promote positive thoughts.

...organizing book fairs at the block level and village level, particularly in areas where reading habit was non-existent. Such a move would help bring about much needed positive developments to the underprivileged sections.

... literary pursuits ... the need to have a balance between freedom of expression and social responsibility ... literature should not undermine amity and understanding among people."

From: http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=oct0312/at09

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com