Monday, May 16, 2011

The Hot Gates

That’s the pass at Thermopylae, the hot gates.

The book under consideration is The Hot Gates by John Ringo. The book has less action, and more politics or sociology than the previous two books. It does end in one of Ringo’s typical battle scenes, though I think this one only has a few millideaths, not the megadeaths of his planetary battles.

Ringo makes a few interesting points in his political discussions. He draws a parallel between the ancient Greco-Persian conflicts, and the current struggle. He also attempts to explain Donald Rumsfeld’s dictum about knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. He plays around with the last a little bit, but doesn’t really explain it very well. You can know that you don’t know something. For example, I know that I don’t know the metrics behind Chinese poetry. That’s a known unknown. We know that if we travel to Alpha Centauri, that if intelligent life exists there we’ll have no prior knowledge of what it’s like. That’s another known unknown. Unknown unknowns are only recognized retrospectively. We didn’t know on Sept. 10, 2001, that we weren’t aware of al-qaida’s plans for the next day. We didn’t know, prior to Einstein, that we didn’t know the explanation for the perihelion of Mercury.

Ringo makes a case for the Greco-Persian wars and the later wars with the remnants of the Persian empire as being similar:

“Nope,” Vernon said. “But getting closer. Sorry, just my opinion, but the advance of Islam can be looked at as the same advance as was fought by the Spartans at Thermopylae. The imposition of control of thought from the East if you will. Islam brought with it that essential mindset that all men are slaves to a higher power. The Persians it was Xerxes and Darius as god-kings. Islam simply substituted Allah and kept the same thought-process. Again, you may not agree, but it’s my battlestation. Okay, that’s the final clue. Any takers.”

In the previous post I suggested that we might look upon the series of wars that begins in 490 BC as the longest war. I rather think that John would agree.

A major section of the book is concerned with the relations between a female coxswain/engineer from the US and her male South American counterparts. Ringo makes some observations about US (Norte) culture versus South American (Sud) culture. My sole experience with S. American military personnel is that I once has a student who said that he had been a sergeant in the Colombian army. So I can’t judge the validity of Ringo’s comments there.

Some people will find the book rather long, and lacking in action, but for fans of Ringo and those who share his world view, it’s a decent read.

Next up, if I can screw my courage to the sticking place and read the silly thing on the computer is Hegel’s Science of Logic, to be followed by his Phenomenology of the Spirit.