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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.

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Category: Movies/Books
by Gerald Boerner

"’We all have a right to keep secrets…”
— Dan Brown, Digital Fortress

"It is said that in death, all things become clear; Ensei Tankado now knew it was true."
— Dan Brown, Digital Fortress

Bonus: Thought for the Day…
"There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Strathmore loved his country. He was known to his colleagues as a patriot and a visionary…a decent man in a world of lies."
— Dan Brown, Digital Fortress

Bonus: Thought for the Day…
"Every night the young Tankado stared down at the twisted fingers holding his daruma wish-doll and swore he’d have revenge – revenge against the country that had stolen his mother and shamed his father into abandoning him."
— Dan Brown, Digital Fortress

Bonus: Thought for the Day…
"To make their charade of incompetence complete, the NSA [National Security Agency, but so secret that it’s also known as No Such Agency] lobbied fiercely against all new encryption software, insisting it crippled them and made it impossible for lawmakers to catch and prosecute the criminals. Civil rights groups cried foul, insisting the NSA shouldn’t be reading their mail anyway. Encryption software kept rolling off the presses. The NSA had lost the battle–exactly as it had planned."
— Dan Brown, Digital Fortress

  

Dan Brown (born June 22, 1964)

Dan_Brown_bookjacket_cropped Dan Brown is an American author of thriller fiction, best known for the 2003 bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code. Brown’s novels feature the recurring themes of cryptography, keys, symbols, codes, and conspiracy theories. His books have been translated into over 40 languages, and as of 2009, sold over 80 million copies.

This book deals with issues of civil rights, the privacy of citizens from their government and the right to privacy on the internet. There are many discussions in the book concerning whether or not it is ethical for a government organization to freely access any information stored electronically by its citizens.

Real life scenarios…

Digital Fortress Cover The book is loosely based around recent history of cryptography. In 1976 the Data Encryption Standard (DES) was approved with a 56-bit key rather than the 64-bit key originally proposed. It was widely reckoned that the National Security Agency had pushed through this reduction in security on the assumption that it could crack codes before anyone else.

The brute force search used by TRANSLTR takes twice as long for each extra bit added to the key (if this is done sensibly), so the reaction of the industry has understandably been to lengthen the key. The Advanced Encryption Standard established in 2001 uses 128, 192 or 256 bits, which take at least 1021 times as long (i.e. 270) to solve by this technique.

Unbreakable codes are not new to the industry. The one-time pad, invented in 1917 and used for the cold-war era Moscow-Washington hotline, was proved to be unconditionally secure by Claude Shannon in 1949 when properly implemented. However it is inconvenient to use in practice.

Plot summary…

When the NSA’s invincible code-breaking machine encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls in its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, a brilliant and beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers sends shock waves through the corridors of power. The NSA is being held hostage… not by guns or bombs, but by a code so ingeniously complex that if released it will cripple U.S. intelligence.

Chillingly current and filled with more intelligence secrets than Tom Clancy,  Digital Fortress transports the reader deep within the most powerful intelligence organization on earth–the National Security Agency (NSA)–an ultra-secret, multi-billion dollar agency which (until now) less than three percent of Americans knew existed.

When the NSA’s most classified technological wonder–an invincible code-breaking machine–encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls in its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, a brilliant and beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers sends shock waves through the corridors of power.

The NSA is being held hostage… not by guns or bombs, but by a code so ingeniously complex that if released it will cripple U.S. intelligence.

Caught in an accelerating tempest of secrecy and lies, Susan Fletcher battles to save the agency she believes in. Betrayed on all sides she finds herself fighting not only for her country, but for her life, and in the end, for the life of the man she loves.

With a startling twist that leaves the agency scrambling to avert the biggest intelligence disaster in U.S. history,  Digital Fortress never lets up.

From the underground hallways of power, to the skyscrapers of Tokyo, to the towering cathedrals of Spain, a desperate race unfolds. It is a battle for survival — a crucial bid to destroy a creation of inconceivable genius… an impregnable code-writing formula that threatens to obliterate the balance of power. Forever.

Cast of Characters…
  • Susan Fletcher 
    A brilliant and beautiful mathematician
  • David Becker
    Linguistic genius, boyfriend of Susan Fletcher
  • Ensei Tankado
    Terrorist, deformed, Japanese son of woman deformed by atomic bomb
Reflection on Digital Fortress…

“Information age terrorism is the topical subject of Brown’s inventive debut thriller about a virtual attack on the National Security Agency’s top-secret super computer, TRANSLTR. Although TRANSLTR is meant to monitor and decode e-mail between terrorists, the computer can also covertly intercept e-mail between private citizens. The latter capability drives former NSA programmer Ensei Tankado to paralyze TRANSLTR with Digital Fortress, a devious mathematical formula with an unbreakable code. Tankado then demands that the NSA publicly admit TRANSLTR’s existence or he will auction Digital Fortress’s pass-key to the highest bidder. Brown cleverly makes ironic, mischievous Tankado (who dies in the first chapter) the most interesting character in the book and its real protagonist, as the programmer posthumously outmaneuvers his opposition, countering their obsessive quest for complex solutions with brilliant simplicity. His favorite saying, "Who will guard the guards?" stands in noble contrast to the NSA agents self-righteous insistence that they always know what is best for America… In this fast-paced, plausible tale, Brown blurs the line between good and evil enough to delight patriots and paranoids alike.”
— Publisher’s Weekly

[Book information is from the Wikipedia article on Digital Fortress that can be found at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Fortress ]

[Book information is from the Dan Brown Web Site at:
http://www.danbrown.com/#/digitalFortress/plot ]

Bad Writer, Good Novels… Can you have both? This article on Dan Brown’s writing style, or lack thereof, is ‘roasted’ with 20 examples of bad sentences (and why they’re bad)… Thanks, Heather, for the heads up on this article. I still like his novels, but agree with many of these critiques. A good part of the first third of ‘The Lost Symbol’ is spent giving background detail. Some is required, but let’s get to the action…

The Lost Symbol and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown’s 20 worst sentences 
Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

The Lost Symbol, the latest novel by The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, has gone on sale. We pick 20 of the clumsiest phrases from it and from his earlier works.

If Dan Brown’s new novel The Lost Symbol is anything like his previous works, it will not go down well with the critics. Famously, comedian Stewart Lee mocked him for using the sentence “The famous man looked at the red cup” in his bestselling The Da Vinci Code.

In fact, Lee was making that up – the sentence never appears in the book. So are the critics unfair on Brown?

They’re certainly harsh. Edinburgh professor of linguistics Geoffrey Pullum says “Brown’s writing is not just bad; it is staggeringly, clumsily, thoughtlessly, almost ingeniously bad.” He picks out some excerpts for special criticism. The female lead in Angels and Demons learns of the death of her scientist father: Genius, she thought. My father . . . Dad. Dead.” A member of the Vatican Guard in the same book becomes annoyed by something, and we learn that "his eyes went white, like a shark about to attack." … [MORE]

by Gerald Boerner

"When in doubt just spit it out! The old Yankee proverb embodies…”
— Dan Brown, Deception Point

“I am fascinated with the gray area between right and wrong and good and evil.”
— Dan Brown, Deception Point

Bonus: Thought for the Day…
"Brown has an impressive grasp of his material. He is a more astute storyteller than most of his brethren in the thriller vein."
Kirkus Reviews of Deception Point

Bonus: Thought for the Day…
“…where we entirely miss the obvious-that is, that we are all trying to decipher life’s big mysteries, and we’re each following our own paths of enlightenment….where we entirely miss the obvious-that is, that we are all trying to decipher life’s big mysteries, and we’re each following our own paths of enlightenment.”
— Dan Brown, Deception Point

Bonus: Thought for the Day…
"The cavernous main chamber of NASA’s habisphere would have been a strange sight anywhere on earth, but the fact that it existed on the Arctic ice shelf made it that much more difficult for Rachel Sexton to assimilate."
— Dan Brown, Deception Point

Bonus: Thought for the Day…
"Keeping information from the director of the NRO was like keeping Vatican secrets from the Pope. The standing joke in the intelligence community was that if William Pickering didn’t know about it, it hadn’t happened."
— Dan Brown, Deception Point

  

Dan Brown (born June 22, 1964)

Dan_Brown_bookjacket_cropped Dan Brown is an American author of thriller fiction, best known for the 2003 bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code. Brown’s novels feature the recurring themes of cryptography, keys, symbols, codes, and conspiracy theories. His books have been translated into over 40 languages, and as of 2009, sold over 80 million copies.

The Delta Force, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Space Frontier Foundation are factual organizations. All technologies described in this novel are real.

DeceptionPointIn his most thrilling novel to date, bestselling author Dan Brown transports readers from the ultra-secret National Reconnaissance Office to the towering ice shelves of the Arctic Circle, and back again to the hallways of power inside the West Wing. Heralded for masterfully intermingling science, history, and politics in his critically acclaimed thriller  Angels & Demons, Brown has crafted another novel in which nothing is as it seems—and behind every corner is a stunning surprise.  Deception Point is pulse-pounding fiction at its best.

An excellent thriller. A big yet believable story unfolding at breakneck pace, with convincing settings and just the right blend of likable and hateful characters. A finely polished amalgam of action and intrigue. Brown has done his research, folding in sophisticated scientific and military details that make his plot far more fulfilling than the norm. (Publisher’s Weekly)

Plot summary…

Earth from Space Intelligence Analyst Rachel Sexton is in her mid-thirties, is single, and works for the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office). Her father, Senator Sedgewick Sexton, is a popular presidential candidate beating the incumbent President of the United States Zachary Herney in the opinion polls. The President sends her to the Arctic as part of a team of experts to confirm and authenticate findings made by NASA deep within the Milne Ice Shelf.

NASA’s new Earth Observation System (EOS), a collection of satellites constantly monitoring the globe for signs of large-scale change, has found an extremely dense spot in the Milne Ice Shelf. NASA discovers a very dense meteorite. In it are fossils of bugs very similar to–but not the same as–species on earth. NASA claims this as proof of extraterrestrial life. This find is something NASA needs desperately, as the agency’s success rate on other fronts has put it in a bad light. Senator Sexton uses this as an example of government overspending and failure to further his campaign.

Artic Tundra In order to ensure that the discovery is not tarnished with the bad reputation that NASA has developed, the President has sent four leading civilian scientists (Michael Tolland, an oceanographer and TV personality; Corky Marlinson, a brilliant but eccentric astrophysicist; Norah Mangor, a prickly glaciologist and Walter Ming, a palaeontologist) to the Arctic to verify the meteorite’s authenticity.

Meanwhile, a Delta Force team is observing the discovery, monitoring the NASA staff with the latest military technology for an unknown commander. When Ming observes an irregularity within the pit the meteorite was found in and reaches into the water to obtain a sample, the Delta Force team ‘takes him out’ using their miniature spy bot, leaving his body in the water where it sinks deep into the water where he will not be discovered. When Tolland sees the irregularity, he shares it with Corky Marlinson and Rachel Sexton. They report it to Mangor, who confirms that there is sea water in what should be a closed area with only freshwater.

Decepionpoint2 The four go outside to scan the ice from a distance. The scan shows Ming’s body in the water and a column of frozen sea ice beneath the meteorite where it was drilled up into the glacier. Upon discovering this, the four are attacked by the Delta Force team leaving Norah Mangor dead. Sexton, Tolland and Marlinson escape and are picked up by the Navy submarine USS Charlotte. The Delta Force team believes them to be dead, leaving them a chance to tell the President’s advisor and Rachel’s boss at the NRO about their discovery, Ming and Mangor’s deaths and about the attempt on their lives. Rachel’s boss, William Pickering, has them airlifted from the sub to a chopper which escorts them away from the meteorite discovery site.

A group of four civilian scientists have already been studying the find and have confirmed NASA’s claims. It is only hours before the President and NASA plan to go public with the discovery.

Main characters…
  • Rachel Sexton
    the protagonist; a "gister" for the NRO and Senator Sexton’s daughter.
  • Michael Tolland
    an oceanographer
  • President Zachary Herney 
    the President of the United States.
  • Senator Sedgewick Sexton 
    Rachel’s father and a presidential candidate.
  • Corky Marlinson 
    an astrophysicist.
  • Lawrence Ekstrom 
    Administrator of NASA.
  • William Pickering 
    director of the National Reconnaissance Office
  • Marjorie Tench 
    senior advisor to the President.
  • Gabrielle Ashe 
    Senator Sexton’s personal assistant.
  • Delta-One, Delta-Two, and Delta-Three 
    members of Delta Force
  • Norah Mangor 
    a glaciologist
  • Dr. Wailee Ming 
    a scientist
Reactions…

WARNING: some of the characters in DECEPTION POINT are not as they seem. Actually, nothing is. The only certainty is that behind every corner is a stunning, pulse-pounding surprise.

Dan Brown is the author of numerous bestselling novels, including Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. In Deception Point, Brown has done his research, folding in sophisticated scientific and military details with extraterrestrial proof. This story consists of a young senator’s daughter uncovering secrets about a new NASA discovery that will shake up politics in the current presidential election as more information is gained, the more the young woman must fight for survival from undercover special ops teams.

The characters, setting, and conflicts within this book will make you realize the immense deceptions and thrills anyone would long for. Throughout this book characters play a huge role in the dramatic outcome of every chapter. You will not know the real underlying role of the main characters until the last pages of the book. For this reason, many conflicts formed between these characters.

In Deception Point the many conflicts kept your heart pacing and pages turning. The main conflict in this book involves the civilian scientists and the band of assassins (the delta force). The minor conflict is between the Senator Sexton and President Herney. In the main conflict the band of assassins are hired to kill the scientists so they will not leak out an enormous secret that could destroy the President?s run, hence closing down NASA. In the minor conflict, Senator Sexton is trying to ruin Herney’s second run for president by polluting the media with past NASA failures and expenses.

The mysterious and ominous setting of this book partners up with the conflicts to bring you more suspenseful action. The dark and icy setting in the North Pole gives this book its bloodcurdling action and suspenseful encounters. The eerie mood of the North Pole presents the assassins with a more deathlike appearance and more shocking scares. The illusive characters, eerie setting, and intense conflicts within this book will make you realize the immense deceptions and page turning-suspense anyone would long for.

[Book information is from the Wikipedia article on Deception Point that can be found at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deception_Point ]

[Book information is from the Dan Brown Web Site at:
http://www.danbrown.com/#/deceptionPoint/plot ]

Dan Brown does it again… The release of ‘The Lost Symbol’ was released yesterday, and not only was it a run away hit like ‘The Da Vinci Code’, but it broke the one-day sales record for its first day out! I started my read at about 12:15 am yesterday when my Kindle version and could finally start to read it. How about yourself?

Dan Brown novel breaks one-day sales records | Reuters 
Source: www.reuters.com

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The latest novel from "Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown, "The Lost Symbol," broke one-day sales records, its publisher and booksellers said.

Readers snapped up over one million hardcover copies across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom after it was released on Tuesday, said publisher Knopf Doubleday, a division of Random House Inc.

"We are seeing historic, record-breaking sales across all types of our accounts in North America for ‘The Lost Symbol," said Sonny Mehta, editor in chief of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Knopf Doubleday is a division of Random House Inc. … [MORE]

(Originally posted on Friday, July 31, 2009 at 10:52pm)

Here are the rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. They don’t have to be the greatest books you’ve ever read. 
1. The Harry Potter series
2. The Lord of the Rings series
3. The Chronicles of Narnia series
4. The Eragon series
5. The Bourne series
6. The Greek Way/The Roman Way
7. The Fifth Discipline
8. The Hobbit
9. The Eye of the Needle
10. The Hunt for Red October
11. Applied Imagination
12. Walden
13. Megatrends: Asia
14. The Count of Monte Christo
15. The Historian
16. DaVinci Code
17. Angels & Demons

This category will be posting reviews of some of my favorite movies and books. I will also comment on the types of reviews written by the cadre of reviewers and what I perceive as their strengths and weaknesses. We invite you to check in on us periodically, since we will post updates, as deemed necessary.