Tag Archives: realistic

Hacking Timbuktu

Davies, S. (2010). Hacking Timbuktu: A novel. Boston [Mass.: Clarion Books.

Does this code make sense to you?

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
list *1, *new;
int *result;

if (argc next = 1; 1 = new
new = mk_list (“3, available ips);
new->next = 1; 1 = new

cl = clnt_create(argv[1], “tcp”);
result = tunnel1_1(1, cl);
if (result == NULL) {
printf (“error: Timbuktu tunnel blocked!\n”);
return 1;
printf (“client: Timbuktu tunnel open!\n”, *result);

return 0;

If the code does make sense to you I‘m pretty sure you’ll like this book… if it doesn’t make any sense you’re in the same boat I am, but don’t worry I loved this book!

By chance our protagonist Danny Temple a burgeoning parkour expert and master hacker along with his best friend Omar “Grimps” Dupont a francophone and master at parkour (see videos at the bottom of this post), find themselves in possession of a magic square which contains the map to two million mithqals of gold.

It takes a Dogon to recognize a Nommo

1 mithqal ≈ 3.6 grams ∴ 2 000 000 mithqals = 7 200 000 grams
1 troy ounce = 31.1034768 grams ∴ 7 200 000 grams = 231 511.25 troy ounces

Now here’s the juicy part!

As of 09/17/2011 gold was trading at $1771.32 per troy ounce
231 511.25 troy ounces x $1771.32/oz = $410 080 507.35 !!!

Not too shabby, eh.

Now all Danny and Omar have to do to get the money is decipher the map, avoid capture from various security guards, the London police, and crazed treasure hunters from the Facebook group: the Knights of Akonio Dolo. Oh ya, and they also have to fly from England to Mali without any money, avoid being killed by the manuscript mugger, and figure out how to carry two thousand mithqals of gold from the middle of nowhere back to the Bank of Africa. Simple, right? Well, if you disagree, I’d like to see you try (you can start by at least reading the book :p )

I’m not an especially fast reader but I have been plowing through this book. The chapters mostly flip between Danny and Omar’s journey towards decoding the map and the Manuscript muggers similar journey in Mali. This keeps the action fresher, IMHO. The scenes where the author is describing events of hacking and parkour move at a similar pace as a movie quick, action-packed and thrilling!

About Parkour:

Parkour (sometimes abbreviated to PK), AKA; Free Running AKA l’art du déplacement (the art of movement) is the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment. I’m particularly interested in it as when i was young, growing up in an urban center I loved climbing around on buildings and seeing the city from above. Assuming trespassing laws aren’t broken to blatantly I feel this is a great exercise for kids, a touch of danger, the thrill of independence and the benefits of physical activity. After all kids traditionally are supposed to monkey around in trees. Buildings replaced trees, so naturally kids gotta monkey around on building now. That being said, i never tried anything as fancy as parkouring so don’t be an idiot and try out the parkour moves you see in the following videos. As Omar says in the book: “those who parkour practice not just until they get something right, they practice until they can’t get something wrong.” Words to LIVE by if you catch my drift.

Here’s a video of some sick looking moves:

And here’s a video explaining the philosophy of parkour: The Art of Motion


The Other Side of Truth

Naidoo, B. (2000). The other side of truth. London: Puffin Books.

This story focuses on the lives of two Nigerian children who are forced to flee their home after the “Brass Buttons” of Nigeria’s ruling powers assassinate their mother in retribution for the political newspaper writings of their father. The heroine, Sade (pronounced Sha-day) and her younger brother Femi, are sent to London with a stranger to find an uncle who has gone missing. Abandoned on the cold London streets they eventually wind up as refugees with the British immigration services. This book touches on many painful, but important topics, racial violence, immigration, bullying in school, the inequity that exists within and between world states… all in all this is a very powerful book, both painful and inspiring to read. When it was first published this book won the Carnagie award for children’s literature, amongst many others, and a stand alone sequel, Web of Lies, has subsequently been published by Beverly Naidoo.

The New York Times Upfront

The New York times upfront. (2008). New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc. May 4, 2009.

I was drawn to this edition of the New York Times Upfront magazine because it contained an article by Peter Menzel that was basically a synopsis of the full length coffee table book he coauthored with Faith D’Aluisio called Hungry Plant: What the world eats. The original book was quite intriguing and I was pleased to see it’s exposure to the teen market. In fact I found all the articles in the magazine to be very well written. Another piece called Is it a Show or an Ad? delved into the subversive advertising that saturates modern entertainment shows. It was similar to reading a copy of Adbusters, but without the aggressively pessimistic cynicism.
So, don’t be turned off by the fact that this magazine looks fairly identical to the adult version of the New York Times magazine (methinks this here’s an attempt to make life-long loyalists for the NYTM empire) the magazine will appeal to teens because it talks about issues they care about, without lying or beating around the bush.
The magazine gains further credibility for me because there are twenty high school teachers listed as advisors in the credits of the magazine.
To view this issue and many more in full by accessing the New York Times Upfront archives through Scholastic’s website

Band of Acadians

Skelton, J. (2009). Band of Acadians: A novel. Toronto: Dundurn Press

John Skelton definitely did his homework before writing this book, but it is more than factual accuracy that appeals to me about how he set the story. This is one of the few books that has balance between the female and male characters. There is an equal representation of sexes in the lead characters, although overall there are more male than female characters, and both sexes are active participants progressing the narrative and showing multiple dimensions.

The book chronicles the escape of fifty boys and fifty girls from Grand Pre, Nova Scotia, their flight to Louisburg (the approximate distance is displayed in the Google map at the end of this post), and their eventually settling in Westmount where they successfully defend themselves from several British assaults. The story takes place in 1775 the dialogue is digestible for modern vocabularies, although I did find myself forgetting that the characters were French because the books is, obviously, written in English.

This is book that every fan of historical fiction can enjoy regardless of sex or gender. However, the way that it is written seems to be geared more towards male readers than female. Within a few sentences of the books beginning the escape is underway and there are many marvelous fight scenes throughout and some very noble heroics against the British forces at the end.

Though not my favourite genre this historical work was appealing and if anyone needed a bit of a boost getting into Canadian history (say, for a high school history class for example) I would happily recommend this book.

L8r, g8r

Myracle, L. (2007). L8r, g8r. New York: Amulet Books.

It may make me sound like Luddite, but I can’t stand texting language… I hate it hate it HATE IT! I can stomach acronyms like WTF, LOL, TTYL, etc. but when everything is shortened down it makes me cringe. It was with this sentiment that grudgingly checked out a Lauren Myracle book from the library. I will admit that in my mind I was already trashing it.

However, as I read it the drama of the girls stories helped me digest the atrocious

through in this book, mostly “relationship” firsts if you catch my drift, despite it being the third book in the series and as always I support dialogues about taboo subjects. However, my belief is that language is used to express thoughts and feelings and I feel IM style “literature” might amuse teens, but won’t help them mature and grow. Simple sentences combined with incorrect spelling serves only to reinforce the level that teen fans of this series are already in. It seems unlikely to spur them on to greater intelligence, which is not to say that teens won’t develop on their own and ditch this style of “writing” as they get older and their tastes refine.

Basically, this was not my type of book at all, but I’m glad to have read it so that I was able to see some positive aspects. One unexpected positive aspect is that after reading this book I really, really want to read some adult fiction to cleanse my brain of the vapidity to which it has been exposed.

Sentences: The life of M.F. Grimm

Carey, P., & Wimberly, R. (2007). Sentences: [the life of M.F. Grimm]. New York: DC Comics.

In an earlier post I’d kinda trashed Word Up! magazine for providing incomplete coverage of questionable role models. This book by Percy Carey, aka MF Grimm, is a great example of success in the areas that Word Up!’s coverage of Lil’Wayne fell short.

MF Grimm has a story comparable to Lil’Wayne he unapologetically talks about getting in fights, shoot-outs, dealing drugs, and the “glory” of the gangsta life. The main difference in MF Grimm’s story is that he doesn’t just share the glory, he shares, his pain, his regret, and the consequences of his actions as well. He never blames anyone else for his paralysis nor for his several incarcerations (well, okay he does blame a snitch as the reason the cops pinned him, but admits that if he wasn’t dealing drugs he wouldn’t have been in the situation in the first place).

The graphics are engaging; not too explicit, but not watered down. The dialogue is rough, but real. The story is captivating, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Even in the roughest of situations, Percy Carey is sure to remind readers that good influences are always around. True, Carey’s fighting spirit is what got him into a lot of trouble but, after he smartened up, it was that same fighting spirit that got him out of trouble.

This story is a rollercoaster ride of a black man’s life growing up in NYC in the 80’s and trying to break out of the gang life and into the hip-hop industry. From Sesame Street to being jailed and paralyzed, Carey’s story alterates between down to earth and boastful, but that’s an element of hip-hop regardless. Also, one final shout-out is to the credit that Carey gives the strong female role models he’s had in his life; his Mom, grandmother and sisters. It is nice to see women of colour represented as people rather than objects, a mistake made far too often in the rap world.

Anywho, here’s MF Grimm stats on AllMusic.Com and here’s a track that keeps it real off of his album American Hunger, “I Rather Be Wrong”