A Dig A Day Keeps Ehrenreich Away

Jane Galt digs at Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickeled and Dimed: On Not Getting By In America:

I read “Nickeled and Dimed”, and was impressed by its detailed description of life at the bottom . . . and completely unimpressed by its economic illiteracy, paternalistic snobbery about the people she worked with, disdain for her customers, bizarre fantasies about the motives of middle-class consumers, and her complete and total lack of even a vestigial sense of humour.

I don’t even think I was impressed with its detailed description of life at the bottom because, as I recall, it didn’t have a palette that extended beyond grey and dark grey.

A couple of years ago, I promised my wife I would write a detailed, scathing review of the book myself, but I’ve not yet gotten to it. I’ll have to reread it before I can do so, but at least Ehrenreich won’t get more pennies out of me for rereading a book I already own. But I bought the paperback edition I own new, dammit, so I bought Ehrenreich a couple milligrams of a doobie.

Book Report: Sinbad’s Guide to Life (Because I Know Everything) by Sinbad with David Ritz (1997)

I’ve read Chris Rock’s Rock This, I’ve read Bill Cosby’s Time Flies and Love and Marriage, Rita Rudner’s Naked Beneath My Clothes, Judy Tenuta’s The Power of Judyism, and more recently, Jeff Foxworthy’s You Might Be A Redneck If…. So I’ve read my share of the comics’ attempts to cash in on their fleeting fame with a book deal. So I picked up Sinbad’s Sinbad’s Guide to Life (Because I Know Everything) from the St. Charles Book Fair for $2.00. Because I read these things habitually.

Honestly, I probably have seen some of Sinbad’s stand-up routines, but I know him mostly from Necessary Roughness. I didn’t have expectations of his style of comedy. After reading the book, I still don’t. I’m sure he’s a pretty good comic, but he’s not that good of a writer. Even with help, the substance of this book is hard-pressed to actually fill out the book. Part memoir, part humor, I guess Sinbad wanted to pass on some of the lessons he learned the hard way.

But it’s tricky to translate comic success to hardbound books. Cosby did it, but that’s because his humor is topical and bound in storytelling, so he’s got a head start on people who simply fire off zingers. Rock’s biting topical commentary offers some humor and some laughs. Even Rudners musings are amusing at times. And the Foxworthy book was a picture book of one liners. So rating these books, I’d put Sinbad a step above Tenuta; her schtick doesn’t translate well to the printed word, and maybe Sinbad’s would have, but it really didn’t make me laugh, educate me, or teach me anything.

It’s not a bad book, it’s simply a book hardly worthy of any adjectives. Probably not $2.00 either, but what else could I do? I have a library to fill.

Books mentioned in this review:

Bush Charisma Works On Bush Supporters, Hard Core Republicans

St. Louis Post-Dispatch dramatic headline: Bush rallies crowd to back war. However, the story indicates this might be an understatement:

    President George W. Bush used his visit to St. Louis on Wednesday to make his case to local soldiers and supporters that the nation must persevere in Iraq and Afghanistan to safeguard America’s security.

    His approach, he declared, is “not based on political polls or focus groups,” but on the belief that “we must stay on the offense in order to protect America.”

    “The American people expect the government to protect them,” Bush told an enthusiastic crowd of 500 at a fundraising dinner for U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. [Emphasis mine]

Yeah, this was more Henry V at Harfleur than Mark Antony at The Forum.

Supreme Court Urges Military To Take No Prisoners

Let me, prognosticator of unintended consequences, tell you what this Supreme Court decision means:

    The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

    The ruling, a strong rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and international Geneva conventions.

If the executive branch and the military must apply United States constitutional protections to enemies captured on the battlefields of foreign wars, it will capture fewer enemies.

The Supreme Court has sentenced those who would have been captured to death.

Had He Been An Emu in Carbondale, The Subject Would Have Been Dead

From the dramatic story entitled "Suspect steals county patrol car in Berkeley; suspect, officer injured", we have this suspenseful episode:

    The suspect drove the stolen police car for some time while surrounding police agencies attempted to stop him. The police car stopped for a short time at Suburban and Mueller streets in Ferguson. Then the suspect suddenly put the car in reverse and rammed a Cool Valley police car. At that moment officers from more than one police agencies fire shots at the suspect, all missing.[sic]

Fortunately, the suspect was acting aggressively and elusively with anyone he met, but he could not run 35 mile per hour, and both of these criteria must be met for instant execution.

The Only Good Scientist Is A Doubtful Scientist

New Surgeon General’s Report Focuses on the Effects of Secondhand Smoke:

    “The health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are more pervasive than we previously thought,” said Surgeon General Carmona, vice admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service. “The scientific evidence is now indisputable: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults.” Secondhand smoke contains more than 50 cancer-causing chemicals, and is itself a known human carcinogen. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke inhale many of the same toxins as smokers. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer, the report says.

To quote Dean Yeager, “Your theories are the worst kind of popular tripe, your methods are sloppy, and your conclusions are highly questionable. You are a poor scientist, Dr. Venkman!”

Science is the most pragmatic of human endeavors, in that one only believes something is true because even if overwhelming evidence is in favor of a conclusion, science should only be 99% sure, reserving that 1% in recognition of human fallability. I’ve not seen all the data nor all the studies–like many, I’ve only seen the big exclamations from the studies which support the claim about second hand smoke and the vital italicizations of studies that dispute it which were funded by Big Tobacco!

But one thing I’m sure of: I doubt the "scientist" who says he has indisputable proof or an inarguable conclusion because that sort of scientist has mounted a bank and is trying to sell something.

(As some of you know, my beautiful wife vigorously disagrees with me, and I might be sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable future.)

For Those Thinking of Voting Democrat

I remind you, gentle reader, if you’re dissatisfied with your current Republican leaders in Congress and are considering voting for that conservative Democrat this year, please catch that candidate speaking on to an audience that is not conservative, because that’s how your Democrat will sound once he or she is in Washington and is speaking through national media.

For example, I just caught a snippet of an interview on KMJM – Today’s Jams and the Best Old School with Claire McCaskill, and I learned that requiring an ID to vote is a plan for them [Republicans] to disenfranchise voters legitimate without IDs who don’t tend to vote Republican. Well played to the audience, Claire. I would have stomached you as governor, but I don’t look forward to six years of you as my senator.

I’m not voting for Jim Talent, either, as I’ve made clear. I’ll have to cast my ballot for Frank Gilmour, the libertarian. Although I don’t agree with the Libertarians on foreign policy, I do think its the one party that would probably hold the line on spending if it accidentally found itself in power.

Enthusiasm, Tempered

Charles Krauthammer, "Why I Love Australia":

    God, I love Australia. Where else do you have a shadow health minister with such, er, starch? Of course I’m prejudiced, having married an Australian, but how not to like a country, in this age of sniveling grubs worldwide, whose treasurer suggests to any person who “wants to live under sharia law” to try Saudi Arabia and Iran, “but not Australia.” He was elaborating on an earlier suggestion that “people who … don’t want to live by Australian values and understand them, well then they can basically clear off.” Contrast this with Canada, historically and culturally Australia’s commonwealth twin, where last year Ontario actually gave serious consideration to allowing its Muslims to live under sharia law.

Meanwhile, Australia, the beloved, features strict gun control and sword control policies. Let’s not forget that while we laud the plucky Australians for their collective spine.

One Man’s Property Is Another Man’s Property, If That Other Man Is The State and The First Man Is Annoying

Over at Boots and Sabers, Owen applauds the lowering of the threshold at which the government can seize property from individuals: if it’s annoying. Owen says:

    This could be a good idea.

Wherein “this” is this:

    Frustrated by a weekend cruising ritual that gridlocks intersections and gobbles up officers’ time, some Milwaukee leaders are pushing for new tools to fight the problem, boosting fines and letting police seize cars by declaring them a “nuisance.”

Geez, maybe I’m just a jack, maybe it’s just because I’m young enough to remember engaging in car-seizure yielding nuisance behavior–whether playing my car stereo too loud or getting into a car with friends to ride around on a Friday night– or maybe I just don’t want the government to seize private property based on a subjective call of one of its functionaries, but I think it’s a really, really bad idea to keep lowering the bar for reasons why the government can take your property. And a nuisance crime isn’t it.

Unfortunately, Owen doesn’t elaborate on how high a lawn would have to get before the government could take a house–but it’s a nuisance when neighbors let their lawns go to seed. It’s a matter of degree, not a matter of kind, that prevents the government from doing so once we’ve allowed the State to start stripping property based on arbitrary and subjective judgments of “nuisance.”

To allow this abuse of government power because it punishes that which annoys you leaves you no sympathy and no quarter when the government wants to take something from you because you’ve annoyed someone else.

Book Report: Blue Screen by Robert B. Parker (2006)

Because of who is he and what he meant to my youth, I bought this book like all other Robert B. Parker novels at full price, in hardcover, when it became available. Because it’s a Sunny Randall novel, though, I didn’t immediately read it right away. Heather actually read it first, which meant she could duly be impressed when I verbally anticipated plot points when they became obvious.

A serviceable piece of genre work, this book combines elements of the Parker books Looking for Rachel Wallace, Stardust, and Double Play and almost channels Lupica’s Full Court Press. And although it channeled the books, it didn’t completely retread them, so there you go. Sorry, that’s a Robert Crais catch phrase, not “We’d be fools not to,” the Robert B. Parker catch phrase.

Serviceable, worth a couple of bucks, but it’s not as deep nor satisfying as Parker’s other work, but I’m not as young as I once was, either, so perhaps I’m just more demanding or less in need of moral instruction.

Books mentioned in this review:


A Normal Day Until

Sure, it’s a normal day enough day. You rushed through breakfast, kissed your wife on the cheek quickly, and were thinking more about the day ahead than passing over the interstate when suddenly a backhoe on the back of a flatbed on the interstate below cuts the overpass in half.

Okay, that took place at night and apparently didn’t have any fatalties, but that’s how suddenly and stupidly your life could end. A plane skids off the runway, a truck topples over and rolls off of the exit ramp, and good night. It’s no wonder I don’t want to leave my house.

Have a nice day.

If Only This Story Had Been In The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

If only this headline would have been in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Woman bitten by dog is in coma.

Because verbs are so much more expensive in the south, the St. Louis daily would have simply gone with Woman bitten by dog in coma, and oh, the fun I would have had. But the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel can afford the extra two characters’ worth of ink, and my world is less mirthful on account of it.

Scope Creep

Highway Patrol can’t probe most deaths of mentally ill:

    Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt declared last week that the Highway Patrol would be told of every death and assault in a state mental health facility, but the patrol says it doesn’t have the manpower to investigate a majority of those cases.

    “We don’t have those types of resources,” said Capt. Chris Ricks, the Missouri Highway Patrol’s spokesman.

One would assume that it’s because most of those deaths were not, you know, on highways.

Why is this a story?

    The acknowledgment came a week after a Post-Dispatch investigation found failures in every level of a system that is supposed to ensure the Department of Mental Health and police adequately investigate allegations of mistreatment of mentally retarded and mentally ill residents.

Because the Post-Dispatch wants to keep up a crusade and maybe get a journalism prize or something.

And if it has to further empower state law enforcement, who cares? The story of overreaching government authority, that’s a story–and a new outrage for media to discover and cover–for another day.

Carbondale Vandalism Blamed on "Visitors"

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville have reported that over $100,000 vandalism has occurred in the last several years in Carbondale, but are quick to pin the tail on someone other than the students in the area:

    Campus Police Chief Todd Sigler says vandalism and other cases of damage haven’t noticeably spiked over the past several years. And he says he believes that not all damage to property is criminal or caused by students, suggesting that visitors may be responsible for some of the problem.

Those "visitors" have, no doubt, been known to be aggressive and elusive — capable of moving up to 35 mph — with anyone who gets too close.

No dollar figure was cited related to the damage caused by police firing willy-nilly on flightless “visitors” to the campus.