The Story Behind the Invention of the World’s First Keyboard Designed Specifically for Computers

I am making this post to inspire other inventors and share my story. I hold a patent on the first keyboard that is specifically designed for use with computers and electronic devices. There have been other keyboard designs invented throughout history, but they have all been designed for use with typewriters.

One example of a keyboard that is better than the one we use now (The “QWERTY” layout) is the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard. It was invented in the 1920s and was never widely used. Although it was designed for a typewriter, typists who use/used it were capable of much faster typing speeds than typists who used a QWERTY keyboard layout; in fact, the world record holder for fastest typist is Barbara Blackburn, who maintained 150 wpm for 50 minutes, and 170 wpm for shorter periods.
The c^2 keyboard, the one that I invented, is capable of speeds faster than what is possible using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard. Right now, the average typing speed is around 40 WPM. After people learn how to use my design, I expect this number to double to 80 WPM. You don’t have to be Barbara Blackburn to see a significant increase in speed.

What does this mean?

1) It means that this is very exciting news for you if you decide to use my design. It means that you will have more free time. You will only spend half the amount of time typing that you do now. You can then use this time to do other things that you like to do. One of my favorite activities is kayaking.

2) It means that businesses that decide to switch to the c^2 design will run more efficiently. They will have more time to focus on their products and services, and improve them. It means that “time-sensitive” documents will be created/typed in half the time. It, ultimately, means that business that decide to use the design will be more competitive and will have an edge over their competitors.

Did you know that in 2015, the number of emails sent and received per day totaled over 205 billion? This figure is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 3% over the next four years, reaching over 246 billion by the end of 2019.


How much time do you spend writing emails each day? What if this amount of time could be cut in half?

3) Because of 2, the economy will improve and the stock prices will go up. This is great news for investors. It is exciting to think that my invention will improve the economy, make people money, and save them time.

4) It means that the life of a journalist will be easier. Many journalists are expected to write stories about news events as soon as they occur, and major developments can occur at any time. If you are not a journalist, it means that you will be able to read about developing stories sooner, because the stories will only take half the time to type.

5) It means that students will be able to access information more quickly. It means that they will be spending less time on writing assignments or demonstrating understanding, and they will be spending more time learning.

6) It means that college students will have more free time. In order to get a competitive job, many college students must participate in as many extra-curricular activities as possible, so they can include them on their resumes. Many of them are very busy and do not have enough free time.

7) It means many other things. This is just a short list.

Why is the c^2 design better than the one we use now?

1) I optimized the keyboard based on letter, digram, trigram, n-gram, and word frequency. A digram is a 2 letter combination; a trigram is a 3 letter combination, etc.

2) The 100 most common words in the English language make up over 50% of all written material. I made all 100 of these words easier to type on my keyboard.

3) I put the most frequently typed letters near the right hand. The QWERTY design puts most of these letters near the left hand. Did you know that around 90% of people are right handed? For these individuals, the right hand can type faster than the left hand.

4) By putting the most frequently used letters, letter combinations, and words near the right hand or on the home row, I have statistically reduced the chance that a typist will make a typing error. One of the reasons people make typos is because the fingers must leave the home row. In contrast, QWERTY keyboards seem built to produce typos. The most common word in English is “the.” How many times have you typed it “teh”? I want people to spend less time hitting the backspace key to correct typing mistakes. This will increase overall typing speed.

5) There are other reasons why the c^2 design is better, but I cannot disclose these reasons at this time. I will say that I am very excited, and I hope that you are too! Who doesn’t like having more free time?

How did you come up with the idea to invent a better keyboard?

This is a very interesting story. The seed of the idea emerged when I was teaching 3rd Grade. We were in the computer lab. The students were required to write BCRs, or brief constructed responses, to a story that they had read. I noticed that one student was struggling with the assignment. So I approached this student, and I asked him, “Why are you struggling?” He looked up at me, and he said, “The keys don’t make any sense.” To protect his identity, I will just refer to him as “Tiny Tim.”

The first thing I thought was: they don’t have to. All you have to do is press them and finish your assignment so that we can go outside and play kickball. I was the full-time pitcher for kickball, and it was a very nice day outside.

But I did not say this to Tiny Tim. Instead, I lied to him. I didn’t realize that I was lying at the time, and later I felt bad about it. I told him, “The keys make perfect sense. Everybody uses keyboards. Just keep trying and you will get it.” In all honesty, I didn’t really have time to say anything else or give him individual assistance. A student on the other side of the room had hollowed out a pen and was using it to fire projectiles; as far as I know, he wasn’t the original inventor of this “blowgun” and did not possess a patent. I had to ensure the safety of the other students.

After I had dealt with the situation across the room, I returned to the general area where Tiny Tim was struggling to type. I noticed that the student who was sitting to the right of Tiny Tim seemed to be typing at a very rapid rate and, I thought, he would soon be able to enjoy the reward of being able to play “Cool Math Games.” I was hoping that this incentive would inspire other students around him to work more quickly and more efficiently.

The sound that was emanating from his keyboard was very loud, and it seemed like many keys were being pressed in rapid succession. I was thinking, “This guy is awesome. Why can’t Tiny Tim be more like this guy?”

I approached him to offer him encouragement and praise. When I observed him typing, I noticed that he was typing very quickly, but he was making many typos. The key that was making the most sound on his keyboard was the “Backspace” key, which he was using to erase entire words that he had misspelled, and then he would retype them. He would then, sometimes, proceed to mistype the same word again.

I did not, then and there, in the chaos of the classroom have a “Eureka!” type moment. But I believe that my observations had a subliminal effect on me. Later, these memories re-emerged, and I had a creative breakthrough.

Later in life, I was driving for Uber because I was able to earn more money driving than teaching young students how to read and write. It was a relaxing job, and I really enjoyed some of the conversations that I would have with some of the customers. But not all of the customers enjoyed conversation, and some of them would have conversations with their friends, the other passengers.

Sometimes, out of boredom, I would read every street sign, billboard, or word that I would see backwards. Out of the hundreds of original palindromes that I have invented, many were discovered while I was driving for Uber. At that time, I had already invented a new genre of literature, which I called “palindromic prose poetry.” It’s basically combinations of palindromes, poetic phrases, anagrams, wordplay, and puns organized around a plot-based story.

I queried every agent in New York City, but the very few who gave me the courtesy of a response did so in the form of a rejection letter. It was my child-hood dream to become a famous writer, and I studied creative writing in college. I then became a teacher because I figured that I would have time to pursue my creative writing in the summer. I decided to self-publish a book written in my new genre. It is available on Amazon, but it has not sold very many copies.

I soon realized that there might not be a market for my new genre. I realized that I had to pivot. I would write an epic 200,000 word debut novel and become the next David Foster Wallace or Herman Melville. The literary agents in New York don’t like “short and sweet”; they like “long and bitter.” I figured my first book was too short and too experimental, perhaps even too creative. When I began the novel, I found it very time-consuming and frustrating. The time was ripe for the idea that would put an end to QWERTY, once and for all.

I was at a stop sign when the “Eureaka!” moment occurred. I read the sign backwards, “Pots.” I composed a short palindrome, “Stop pots.” Then, for some reason, I envisioned typing it in my head. I knew that “t” was the most frequent consonant because I intended to eventually write a novel, a lipogram, without using that letter.

I envisioned the pointer finger of my left hand, my weakest hand, leaving the home row of a mental keyboard to type a “t.” I immediately thought, “Why isn’t the most frequent consonant on the home row of my keyboard? Why should my finger have to move to type it?”

It seemed very inefficient. When typing large blocks of text, the time your fingers spend leaving the home row begins to add up. And then I thought of Tiny Tim. I pictured him saying to me, “The keys don’t make any sense.” And then I thought, “Tiny Tim wasn’t a dumb kid. Maybe Tiny Tim was a genius.”

After further research, I developed the optimal keyboard design and filed for a patent. I want to get my keyboard into every elementary school in the country. And I want to do it for Tiny Tim.

Can you guess where Tiny Tim was when the rest of the class was outside playing kickball?

He was in the computer lab with the kid who was shooting spitballs trying to figure out how to type on a stone age design for a keyboard.


How many comma splices can you find in Knausgaard? And two Proust passages.

A comma splice is generally considered a red flag for bad writing. However, rules are meant to be broken, and creative writing doesn’t necessarily have to conform to any set of formal rules. When two independent clauses need to be joined in a sentence, the following options are the most standard: a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, because, etc), a semicolon, a semicolon followed by a conjunctive adverb (however, therefore, nevertheless, etc) and a comma, a colon, an em-dash (–), or, the easiest solution, a period and the beginning of a new sentence. When two independent clauses are connected with only a comma, the result is a run-on sentence, or comma splice error.

This would be an example of a comma splice:

“Nick stood up, he was all right.”

A long time ago, it was fairly common to join independent clauses with a semicolon followed by a coordinating conjunction, even if there were no commas in either clause. If you read some classic literature, you might notice this. It is not standard practice anymore. The rules of writing seem to change and evolve over time.

Knausgaard’s book four seems to be a popular book that everyone is reading, he has developed his own style, he has been compared to Proust, perhaps because his books are long, I have included two Proust passages so that readers may make a comparison between the two prose styles.

Although I respect Karl as an artist, his style is not to my taste. I would be willing to bet that even he would not want other authors to imitate him; hence, the goal of this post is to prevent the spread of bad writing, which infects our society like a virus.

As a fun exercise, how many comma splices can you find in these two passages? How many total errors can you find? If you would like to leave a comment that contains your count, please feel free. Here is the first passage:

She was wearing jeans, a blue denim jacket, and, beneath it, a white lace blouse. She was chubby, her breasts under the blouse were full and her hips broad. Her hair was blond, shoulder-length, her skin pale with some freckles around her nose. Eyes large, blue, and teasing. Standing next to her in the hall, smelling the fragrance of her perfume, which was also full, as she passed me her jacket–there were no hooks in the hall–with a slightly searching look, I got another boner.

Here is the second passage:

Toward the end of May a letter from the akademi arrived in my postbox, I tore open the envelope and read it standing outside the post office. I had been accepted. I lit a cigarette and started to walk back toward the school, I would call Mom and tell her, she would be pleased. And then I would call Yngve because it meant I would be moving to Bergen that autumn.

In contrast to Knausgaard, Marcel Proust, constructed some of the most complex sentences ever written. In my estimation, I don’t think that any living writer is talented enough to replicate his style or structure (at the time of this post). Furthermore, there might not be much merit in doing so, as the book would most likely be ignored. What do you think?

Here is the first Proust passage (sentence):

But for me it was enough if, in my own bed, my sleep was so heavy as completely to relax my consciousness; for then I lost all sense of the place in which I had gone to sleep, and when I awoke at midnight, not knowing where I was, I could not be sure at first who I was; I had only the most rudimentary sense of existence, such as may lurk and flicker in the depths of an animal’s consciousness; I was more destitute of human qualities than the cave-dweller; but then the memory, not yet of the place in which I was, but of various other places where I had lived, and might now very possibly be, would come like a rope let down from heaven to draw me up out of the abyss of not-being, from which I could never have escaped by myself: in a flash I would traverse and surmount centuries of civilisation, and out of a half-visualised succession of oil-lamps, followed by shirts with turned-down collars, would put together by degrees the component parts of my ego.

Fascinating, is it not? Here is the second Proust passage (sentence):

But I had seen first one and then another of the rooms in which I had slept during my life, and in the end I would revisit them all in the long course of my waking dream: rooms in winter, where on going to bed I would at once bury my head in a nest, built up out of the most diverse materials, the corner of my pillow, the top of my blankets, a piece of a shawl, the edge of my bed, and a copy of an evening paper, all of which things I would contrive, with the infinite patience of birds building their nests, to cement into one whole; rooms where, in a keen frost, I would feel the satisfaction of being shut in from the outer world (like the sea-swallow which builds at the end of a dark tunnel and is kept warm by the surrounding earth), and where, the fire keeping in all night, I would sleep wrapped up, as it were, in a great cloak of snug and savoury air, shot with the glow of the logs which would break out again in flame: in a sort of alcove without walls, a cave of warmth dug out of the heart of the room itself, a zone of heat whose boundaries were constantly shifting and altering in temperature as gusts of air ran across them to strike freshly upon my face, from the corners of the room, or from parts near the window or far from the fireplace which had therefore remained cold—or rooms in summer, where I would delight to feel myself a part of the warm evening, where the moonlight striking upon the half-opened shutters would throw down to the foot of my bed its enchanted ladder; where I would fall asleep, as it might be in the open air, like a titmouse which the breeze keeps poised in the focus of a sunbeam—or sometimes the Louis XVI room, so cheerful that I could never feel really unhappy, even on my first night in it: that room where the slender columns which lightly supported its ceiling would part, ever so gracefully, to indicate where the bed was and to keep it separate; sometimes again that little room with the high ceiling, hollowed in the form of a pyramid out of two separate storeys, and partly walled with mahogany, in which from the first moment my mind was drugged by the unfamiliar scent of flowering grasses, convinced of the hostility of the violet curtains and of the insolent indifference of a clock that chattered on at the top of its voice as though I were not there; while a strange and pitiless mirror with square feet, which stood across one corner of the room, cleared for itself a site I had not looked to find tenanted in the quiet surroundings of my normal field of vision: that room in which my mind, forcing itself for hours on end to leave its moorings, to elongate itself upwards so as to take on the exact shape of the room, and to reach to the summit of that monstrous funnel, had passed so many anxious nights while my body lay stretched out in bed, my eyes staring upwards, my ears straining, my nostrils sniffing uneasily, and my heart beating; until custom had changed the colour of the curtains, made the clock keep quiet, brought an expression of pity to the cruel, slanting face of the glass, disguised or even completely dispelled the scent of flowering grasses, and distinctly reduced the apparent loftiness of the ceiling.

Out of boredom, I analyzed all four passages with the software I use at work to analyze literature that might be included in the common core school curriculum. Although it is frequently inaccurate when dealing with poetry or prose poetry, the software is a remarkable tool used to discover just how complex a prose passage is.

The Automated Readability Index of both Knausgaard passages: 13.7

The Automated Readability Index of both Proust passages: 195.7

I’ve decided not to reveal how many comma splices or total errors are in the Knausgaard passages, but I did, for fun and out of boredom, decide to edit the Knausgaard passages using periods, a few commas, and a semicolon. The result was strikingly similar to Hemingway’s prose, and it significantly affected the Automated Readability Index of both passages, which, after my edits, came out to be 1.9.

If you are reading Knausgaard, here’s what you are actually reading:

She was wearing jeans, a blue denim jacket, and a white lace blouse. She was chubby; her breasts were full, and her hips were broad. Her hair was blond and shoulder-length. Her skin was pale, with some freckles around her nose. Her eyes were large, blue, and teasing. I stood next to her in the hall. I smelled the fragrance of her perfume, which was also full. She passed me her jacket, because there were no hooks in the hall. She had a slightly searching look. I got another boner.

Toward the end of May, a letter from the akademi arrived in my postbox. I tore open the envelope. I read it while I was standing outside of the post office. I had been accepted. I lit a cigarette. I started to walk back toward the school. I would call Mom and tell her. She would be pleased. I would then call Yngve, because it meant that I would be moving to Bergen that autumn.


Book Review: Unbroken

Book Review: Unbroken

     It took Laura Hillenbrand 7 years to research and write the book “Unbroken”; it took me two and a half days to read it. The book is roughly 500 pages long. To say that I “couldn’t put it down,“ would be an understatement—I became wholly engrossed, and at once, addicted. It seems that, for evolutionary reasons, humans seem to become more engaged with survival narratives; especially if the yarn is spun in a way in which the reader can easily place herself into the shoes of the protagonist. The fact that this book is historical non-fiction (the events really took place), makes it that much more fascinating.

Research in pedagogy/psychology reveals that readers retain more information from texts that contain information that is of very high personal interest. I’ve read extensively on: the physics of flight – yaw, drag, lift, cornering speeds, stall speeds, thrust, G-force, maximum amount of G-force the human body can withstand before blackout/redout, max possible speed that can be attainted according to fuselage design; aviation; evasive aerial maneuvers and ACM according to Robert L. Shaw; World War II—both the conflict in Europe and the conflict in the Pacific Theatre; Japanese war crimes and violations of the Geneva Convention; famous aerial battles in the Pacific Theatre – the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Battle for Midway, the Guadalcanal Campaign, and the Battle of the Philippine Sea aka “The Great Turkey Shoot” (to name a few); The Battle of Iwo Jima, the beach landings, Japanese resistance, removal of entrenched bunkers by means of flamethrowers, and the iconic “raising of the flag”; The Battle of Saipan and Saito’s Banzai Charge; the design schematics and flight characteristics of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Lockheed P-38 Lightning (fork tailed devil), Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat, F4U Corsair, Grumman F6F Hellcat, B-24 Liberator, and B-29 Superfortress; ethical considerations concerning America’s use of atomic force, and the estimated cost of human life/resources required for an amphibious assault on Japan; Seppuku; the Legend of the 47 Ronin; Kamikaze attacks, and the motivation behind them; the Japanese military mentality inspired by the culture of the Samurai Warrior; and the willingness of the Japanese to fight to the last man, woman, and child. This is just a short list of some of my obsessions concerning World War II. It was, arguably, the last “Just War” (Augustinian reference—“Just” as in adjective; not adverb) in which the United States decided to participate. I am so interested in World War II aerial battles, that I wrote a story, originally titled “Pistol Pete,” about the P51D Mustang, and included it in my novella “Dread in Madrid”; although, the story takes place in the European Theatre, not the Pacific. It is available on Amazon.

     In addition to Military History, I am also fascinated by competitive running – being a runner myself. I have participated in many 5k races, and completed a marathon.  As of now, I am training for a triathlon. It would seem then, that I would be highly interested in a book that was written about an Olympic runner who becomes a bombardier in a B-24 Liberator, gets shot down, and survives some of the harshest conditions any man has ever had to endure – including several Japanese POW camps.

I normally don’t bother with contemporary authors—it takes a great deal to peak my interest. It seems that “Unbroken” has recently been adapted for film. I suppose I will go see it, but I wanted to read the book first. Reading a book after watching the film completely ruins the experience of reading and defeats its purpose; one surrenders their imagination to the vision of the film director; when the reader encounters a scene from the movie in the book, they immediately picture the scene from the film. Reading the book before watching the film is a better mental workout—the reader must conjure up original images in his or her mind, instead of capitulating to the vision of a movie director.

I’ve always found it helpful to have a list of major characters before I read book – it can sometimes be too taxing to keep track of them all while trying to follow the action/plot. I’ve found that, in many of the fiction workshops I have attended, many amateur writers tend to introduce too many characters too quickly; while the author may have a deep understanding of all of the characters, the reader does not. Rookie authors often make the mistake of assuming that the reader will be able to instantly memorize the names of characters, create a mental picture, and create mental associations/relationships to people in their past experiences (which is the best way to keep track of fictional or non-fictional characters). Even “professional” writers sometimes fail to provide a physical description of all characters upon introduction, or introduce them too quickly.

     Laura Hillenbrand does not make this mistake too often, but the book is epic in scope – a comparison between “Unbroken” and Homer’s Odyssey is not unwarranted (there is a literary allusion in Unbroken); however, “Unbroken” is obviously not an epic poem; I would classify it as “Literary Historical Non-Fiction.” Not all non-fiction is literary, or makes use of literary device. The point being that the story is so long, that it would be helpful to have a list of the characters before embarking on this reading quest. I will now highlight the major characters:

Louis Zamperini- The son of Italian immigrants, and thus, Roman Catholic protagonist. He plays pranks and gets into trouble in his youth. Later, he becomes an Olympic runner capable of running a mile in just over four minutes. He joins the Air Force, attains the rank of officer, and becomes a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator in crew 8 of the 372nd Bomb Squadron of the 307th Bomb Group, seventh Air Force.

“The Bird” or Mutsuhiro Watanabe- A Japanese corporal at a POW camp; the main antagonist in the book. He is handsome, with sharp features—and frequently frequents a whore house after he sadistically beats American prisoners. He comes from a wealthy family, is well educated, and speaks French – he is fascinated by the philosophy of French Existentialism; that is to say, Sartre & Camus, which he interprets as atheistic nihilism.

Hitler- The host of the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany.

Russell Allen Phillips “Phil”- The pilot of B-24 Liberator in crew 8 of the 372nd Bomb Squadron of the 307th Bomb Group, seventh Air Force; officer; son of a Methodist pastor. Eventually, Phil ends up sharing a raft with Louie after their plane crashes into the pacific.

Mac- A tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator “The Green Hornet” (A shot up B-24 in bad condition) in the 42nd Squadron of the 11th Bomb Group. He has an “affinity for desserts”. Eventually, he ends up in a raft with Phil and Louie.

Lieutenant William Harris- Member of American MENSA; genius; prisoner of war in Ofuna. He has a perfect photographic memory. He is capable of memorizing large volumes of information with a single glance and retaining that information for years. He is a mammoth of a man—over six feet tall.

Jimmie Sasaki- Japanese spy in America who eventually meets Louie again at a Japanese POW camp.

Fred Garret- Pilot of a downed B-24. He survives with a fractured ankle on a lifeboat. He is captured by the Japanese. His ankle is kicked in and eventually sawed off by the Japanese without the use of an anesthetic.

Masajiro Hirayabashi “Shithead”- An unintelligent Japanese guard at a POW camp.

Sueharu Kitamura “The Quack”- Ex-Sake salesman and now medical officer at the Ofuna POW camp. He delights in torturing injured American POWs by exacerbating their wounds when they come for treatment. After he cuts open old wounds, he sadistically asks his patients “Can you tell me where it hurts?”

These are some of the major characters that one should be familiar with before reading the book. I was going to include more, but I feared plot spoilers.

Deconstruction of the text:

The book begins In Medias res—Latin for in the middle. This was probably a good choice, considering that most people might find the first six chapters to be a bit of a grind. The reader is forced to chase the carrot on a stick and keep reading to find out what happens in that first short scene. Psychology indicates that the human brain is wired to desire closure; it will be bothered by a lack of resolution. The author (or editor) was wise to bait the reader in the beginning.

A convincing argument could be made that the first 70 pages of the book, which detail Louie’s career as a runner, are extraneous (or at least could be shortened) – but I would like to refute that argument. It is true that this book is primarily a survival story that takes place during World War II; it is not a story about competitive running. But the background information about Louie is necessary to understand his character: he is shrewd, capable of pranks and theft, and has an unbreakable will. Without these attributes, Louie would not be able to survive the trials and tribulations that face him later on in the plot.

I personally enjoy reading about competitive running and random facts about the 1930’s/Great Depression. For example, I did not know that women who had sex out of wedlock in the 1930’s were considered “mentally ill” (see p. 11); it seems that the criterion for “mental illness” changes every few decades or so.

The author also seems to consider eugenics a “pseudoscience” and states this as fact (p.11). This is dangerous and may be considered a form of intellectually dishonesty; it might be true that there exists a humane or utilitarian form of eugenics (or it might exist in the future). But for the most part, yes, “cleansing” the human race of: “criminals, masturbators, the insane, orphans, the disabled, the poor, the homeless, …etc” might not be a good idea.

Unless you enjoy factual information like I do, the book doesn’t really begin to pick up until Chapter 7 “This is it, Boys.” [Coincidentally, the title of this chapter was a line of dialogue from my second story in Dread in Madrid.] The chapter details Louie’s first experience with aerial combat in his first B24, which the crew called “Super man.” If you like reading action sequences, the first 70 pages are well worth the wait for the seventh chapter.

     The story really starts to become exciting when Louie finds himself in a lifeboat with Phil and Mac. Originally, there are two lifeboats. I will not reveal what happens. I will say that when you are reading this book and you do not believe than it cannot get any worse, it does—out of the frying pan and into the fire. I really enjoyed the use of foreshadowing via the appearance of the albatross on page 151. This bad omen can be traced all the way back to the Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner”; it is great that the text explicitly states this/spells it out for the reader – being subtle about a poetic reference would only be effective with a reader like myself. In the Coleridge poem, the crewmate who kills the albatross eventually finds himself on a boat full of ghosts of his deceased crewmates—accusative specters; ever since the publication, superstitious seamen have come to accept the fact that it is probably not wise to kill an albatross while at sea. The symbol of the albatross (as bad luck) has persisted throughout the cannon of Western Literature – a quick search via a concordance or Google will reveal myriad results. The two that came immediately to my mind were Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Melville’s Moby Dick – there is another poem (name escapes me, GAH! Hag. #palindrome) that also makes reference.

     It seems that adventures at sea or World War II have formed the skeleton for some great American writing. Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym,” his only novel, inspired Melville’s “Moby Dick”. The author of “Unbroken” could have woven in allusions to these works; or she could have referenced Joseph Heller’s magnum opus “Catch-22.” On the other hand, I’m glad she did not—Catch-22 has comic overtones; and “Unbroken” is well-written enough to not have to rest on the laurels of other literary greats. I’m delighted that there were any literary allusions at all – I certainly wasn’t expecting any. The author does mention Fredrick Douglass, but after reading “Unbroken,“ a plantation in the deep South pre-Civil War, or even Auschwitz, seems like a country club compared to a Japanese POW camp. Because the story is told from the perspective of tortured American soldiers, the reader will find herself turning every page just hoping for “Little Boy” to fall on Hiroshima, or “Fat Man” to hit Nagasaki.

     One of the most impressive aspects of this book is the amount of research that went into it, which is commendable. To the extent of my knowledge, it is completely accurate. The A6M Zero was one of the most nimble fighters of the war, and could probably out-turn any fighter plane in World War II, with the exception of a few Russian planes – the La7 comes to mind. The zero was designed for one versus one showdowns—samurai-like duels—against other enemy fighters; it was not (initially) designed to attack bombers because it was very vulnerable to damage. Allied fighters who tried dogfight the zero were almost never successful; American pilots eventually adapted a “boom and zoom” style, or relied on team tactics and wingmen. A short burst of 50 caliber machine gun fire was often enough to down a zero. The greatest American ace flew in the Pacific Theatre – Dick Bong, 40 victories. The exact amount of enemy planes that one needed to shoot down to become an “ace” is 5:

“The TBF pilot, Ray Hawkins, was a legend. In World War II, he shot down fourteen Japanese planes, making him an ace nearly three times over, and was awarded three Navy Crosses. He went on to fly in the Korean War, then became a Blue Angels flight leader. He was the first man to eject from a jet at supersonic speed. He survived.” (p.313)

A6M Zero

At its core, “Unbroken” is a book that deeply examines psychological warfare, the will, and the philosophy of oppression. With respect to oppression, Paulo Freire had a theory of inheritance; that is to say that the oppressed eventually adopt the mentality of their oppressors when they are liberated; the oppressed become oppressors. There is certainly evidence of this in “Unbroken.” I quote:

“For all Japanese soldiers, especially low-ranking ones, beating was inescapable, often a daily event. It is thus unsurprising that camp guards, occupying the lowest station in a military that applauded brutality, would vent their frustrations on the helpless men under their authority. Japanese historians call this phenomenon ‘transfer of oppression.’” (p. 201)

“Unbroken” also explores the connection between sexuality and violence. Neuroscience demonstrates that, indeed, there is a connection – areas in the brain that are associated with sexuality are intertwined with those areas that are activated while committing violence. From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, our ancestors were sometimes forced to “overpower” the opposite sex, physically, before intercourse. Perhaps our very strong women ancestors raped men; and our very strong male ancestors raped women. Either way, our species evolved in a way such that sexual arousal is linked to violence. This is a theme that appears in Anthony Burgess’ masterpiece “A Clockwork Orange.” I have explored the connection in my own writing, including the story I wrote about World War II in my novella “Dread in Madrid.”

Two of the cruelest Japanese guards, Quack and the Bird, seem to become sexually aroused by beating helpless American prisoners. The language used to describe them while they dish out their punishments is highly sexually charged: “The Bird strolled away. His face wore the same soft languor that Louie had seen on the face of the Quack after he beat Harris at Ofuna. It was an expression of sexual rapture.” (p. 304) There are other examples, but this was just one that comes to mind. That being said, “Unbroken” does amount to more than just “torture porn” – there is a love story, but I won’t ruin the plot for you.

Readers who are hoping for some sort of “final balancing of the scales,” or retribution, will be sorely disappointed – the book, instead, showcases the harsh reality that sometimes extreme cruelty is never properly punished; in addition, sometimes the wrong people are punished (I will not give away any plot spoilers). The POW prisoners have their “little victories” against the guards—they steal some rice, teach dim-witted guards incorrect English that involves profanity, or fart when they are forced to bow to the Emperor of Japan—but, in most cases, they never have the opportunity to dish out the same types of punishments that they were subjected to, at the hands of the guards.

In this respect, there are some underlying Christian themes in the book – for those who wish to look for them. They are certainly subtle and not overly overt; for this reason, non-Christians will not find themselves annoyed; and they will not feel like the prose is attempting to be didactic. Even so, the themes are there, and they are worth pointing out. When Louie is stranded on the raft, he begins to pray to God. His prayers are answered in little ways that I will not discuss in this review. In the New Testament, Jesus allegedly fasted in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. After Louie’s B24 crashes, he is stranded in a raft for much longer than that; but, on the 40th day, he begins to hallucinate and hear angelic music. Was this a coincidence? Possibly, but, in this historical non-fiction account of true events, why didn’t that particular experience occur on the 41st day, the 39th day, or the 69th day? It is worth pondering.

When the POWs first see the B-29 SuperFortresses fly over head toward Japan, they refer the airplanes as “their Messiah.” (p. 256) Despite all of the horror that you will encounter in this book, you will find occasional bits of humor. At about the time the POWs see the first B-29, the Japanese begin broadcast propaganda on the radio. In one instance, a Japanese General reports that a fighter pilot has downed an American bomber with a “rice ball.”

At one point in the book, Louie is forced hold a wooden beam over his head. He is told that he will be beaten if he drops the beam. Although it might be a stretch, this seems analogous to a beaten Jesus forced to carry his own cross. That is not to say that Louie is a Christ-figure by any means – he is human and has some serious flaws; but, nevertheless, the image is still there. Ultimately, there is no poetic justice in this narrative. The conflict is resolved with forgiveness—not vengeance. In the real world, perhaps this type of resolution is sometimes the only one to be had. I highly recommend this book!


Writing from a Dyslexic Perspective


Churchill was one of the greatest men to ever live. His quotations are timeless. I read somewhere that many politicians eventually become functional alcoholics because they become so accustomed to dealing with people on a regular basis where alcohol is served.

I recall reading about one Churchill incident. I love reading about history, especially World War 2! Winston was intoxicated at a party when approached by a woman. Mr.Churchill may have insulted her prior to the following statement, but I will let you google it.

She said, “Winston, you’re drunk!”

His reply was, “And, Madam, you’re ugly. And when I wake up tomorrow, you will still be ugly.”

If you don’t get it, you don’t get it. It was a joke.

The English language is an enigma. To be more specific–a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. There are different degrees of dyslexia. The specific kind I possess was never fully explained to me in my formal diagnosis; perhaps because no one fully understands the most complex object in the known universe. I was told that it was a “mild case,” but what does that mean?

I probably cannot undue the general public’s preconceived notions of what it’s like to have this disorder, but then again from my experience reading current events, and witnessing the general depravity of the general public, the average citizen probably possesses some type of “disorder” that has not yet been classified by science.

Just the other day I read about a mother who decided to drown her children in a bathtub, a white supremacist who shot Jewish people, and a High school student who decided to go on a stabbing spree in his High school.

Yes, I sometimes see words backwards on the printed page, and yet I’ve adapted and become accustomed to my disability to the point where it is no longer a factor and does not influence reading comprehension. When I genuinely concentrate I see words correctly on the printed page, while at first glance, they are distorted.


Adaptation can only be achieved through thousands and thousands of hours of reading and adaptation. My phonological awareness is above average. In fact, when I write, I hear the words, I do not see them. I have no basis for comparison, no standard. I take a more constructive approach in so far as that my “gifted condition” gives me a new perspective on language and a new platform to transform language in a unique, poetic, and creative way.

Dyslexia is a “problem” of perception, and not cognition. Most people who possess this condition are average or above average intelligence. I have difficulty spelling words, organizing sentences, and organizing most things. I cannot always effectively and accurately translate my thoughts into language. I blame sensory overload.

I used to volunteer for a non-profit service designed to assist people with a similar condition as my own. In my experience, my efforts were futile. There are conditions much more severe than my own. I hope this blog entry inspires people to help others in need and make the world a better place. These are just some thoughts from the perspective of a dyslexic writer.


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