Post-Dispatch Blogger Knows Evil When He Sees It

When the blogger puts in a headline like this, you know he wants you to understand the evil nature of the subject: Bush backer, also a Cards owner, steps to the plate for Martin (emphasis added).

Why does Jake Wagman put the name of George W. Bush in the headline? So you’ll respond as you’ve been conditioned: vapors or pitchforks, whatever you do when you hear Bush’s name.

I’m not sure how relevant it is to whether this person supported a president from history, two years gone almost, but the newspaperblogmen think you should know.

Book Report: Up for Grabs / Top of the Heap by A.A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner (1964/1952, ?)

This edition is another Walter J. Black book club special that puts two of Erle Stanley Gardner’s Cool and Lam books into a single volume. I think that, at one time, Walter J. Black must have been the biggest publisher in the country. That said, it’s not designed to be a heirloom edition; the book does not have a single numbering system and is typeset independently in each of the two novels. That’s weird, but I bet it was inexpensive.

Up for Grabs finds Lam working for an insurance company that investigates potential claim fakers by sending them to a dude ranch in Arizona to see if they act according to their injuries. When the latest whiplash sufferer comes, Lam determines that this guy won’t tip his hand because he’s been tipped off. The insurance company wants to settle, but Lam goes off on his own and discovers a crazier scheme than mere insurance fraud.

Top of the Heap details a rather convoluted scheme involving mining companies as money laundering for a gambling house, at least until one of the mines turns out to actually have gold in it. Then the bullets fly and Lam has to get to the bottom of it even though he has originally been retained to hunt down two women used to make a fake alibi for a banker’s son.

In all of the stories, Lam is engaged to do something simple, but he finds something beneath it that causes him to go against the explicit wishes of his employer. Then he’s beaten a couple times but puzzles it out to get a big financial reward in the end. Formulaic, but enjoyable enough. Unfortunately, the titles are not tied enough to the plots that the title alone evokes memories of it. So much so that I had to look at the first few pages of Up for Grabs to remember what it was about.

One thing, though. Bertha Cool, Lam’s partner and sort of comic relief in the series, is presented as a huge woman. She has to squeeze her bulk among furniture when she’s not flinging it around with one hand like a gorilla. Picture that in your mind. Okay, you can imagine it. Then Gardner throws the weight into the text so you can realize how humongous (add your own echo in your imagination here) she is: 165. What? Dude, 165 is voluptuous, not ginormous.

I really like ESG, both for his Perry Mason books and these A.A.Fair-pseudonymed works. You can expect to read more book reports about them from time to time in the future. Like next year or so.

Books mentioned in this review:

When The Only Solution You Have Is Government, Everything You Have Is A Problem

The headline tells enough of the story: EPA classifies milk as oil, forcing costly rules on farmers

Okay, we have the government putting its boot on the neck of an oil company for an accident, and now we have the government redefining “oil” because its hydra-heels need more necks to put all those boots on. Somewhere, Eric Blair is nodding his head and marking off steps he could have forewarned us about if he hadn’t caught that damn cough.

Clearly, someone at the EPA is busy trying to make it like he or she is doing something in the eyes of the boss, which sadly less and less looks to be the citizens of the nation.

(Link seen on Troglopundit.)

Book Report: Historic Midwest Houses by John Drury (1947)

This is an awesome idea book. You know, a book that’s chock full of ideas for essays one could write about historical personages or whatnot.

This book collects, by state, a number of historic homes you can visit in each state and details why they’re historical. As the book covers the Midwest region, you get some rather old homes in Ohio and Kentucky, but some nondescript and only regionally important homes in the Dakotas.

The book is 63 years old at this time, so it’s a historical document of its own, describing people who the author thought was important enough to commemorate the homes at that time. In many cases, the historical figures died only a decade or so before the book was written and the historical personage or his or her family lived in the house to press time.

At any rate, I enjoyed the book as a bedstand book (marked as one that one can read in short segments, stories, or columns and put down for a couple of days without having to remember where you are) over the course of several months. I’d recommend it for aspiring writers and people interested in random history trivia.

Of the homes mentioned, I have been to two: the Mark Twain House in Hannibal, Missouri, and the Daniel Boone Home in Defiance, Missouri.

As a final note, most of the states came up with pretty relevant people, but poor Iowa only came up with people who visited for a while, like Antonin Dvorak, and people who were born there or lived there but moved away and got famous. Or who ended up mostly known in Iowa. Sadly, not many of these personages serve as fodder for essays targeted to national magazines.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Step-by-Step Pyrography by Bob Neill (2005)

This is the second book of pyrography I’ve read in the run-up to my first attempt at it (The Art of Woodburning being the first). It’s not the better of the two.

Essentially, it’s a bunch of different projects with photos of the finished project and the same steps, over and over. I mean, it’s not like in other crafting books where you do a lot of different things. Here, you essentially take a piece of wood, copy a pattern onto it, burn it into the wood, and maybe add color to it.

The book offers the photographs and includes essentially those same steps on each set of pages.

I suppose if they did it differently, such as pairing patterns with project ideas but omitting the steps, the author would have had to come up with twice the number of projects to fill the same number of pages. And that would have probably made a better book.

On the other hand, I do take away from this book that you can use a woodburning tool, at least the woodburning tool used by this author, to work on leather and laminate. That I did not know and might try sometime. After I finally settle down and do this bit of woodburning I have in mind.

Books mentioned in this review:

Here, Let Me Cheer You Up

Don’t worry about a double-dip recession. Hope for a double-dip recession, at least the W-shaped recession that looks like this:

Because at the end of both dips, it goes back up.

There’s no reason you can’t have a recession that looks like this:

Kinda like hoping that Obama is only is bad as Jimmy Carter.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers. Thanks for the link, Professor. Hey, if you’re in the IT industry, don’t forget to check out my Software Quality Assurance blog, QA Hates You.

Is It Reruns, Or Is It Nick At Nite?

McChrystal out; Petraeus picked for Afghanistan:

President Barack Obama sacked his loose-lipped Afghanistan commander Wednesday, a seismic shift for the military order in wartime, and chose the familiar, admired — and tightly disciplined — Gen. David Petraeus to replace him. Petraeus, architect of the Iraq war turnaround, was once again to take hands-on leadership of a troubled war effort.

He did a damn fine job in Gaul; let’s send him to Britain!

Not that I’m complaining. The Empire after the Republic (after the Civil Wars) did okay for a while.

It’s Not Principle, It’s Taste

So far, I’ve held off writing a long treatise on how a program like Dexter is a sign of a rootless amoral society because it features a serial killer as its protagonist.

Which is fortunate, since I really think the Red Letter Media film reviews are a riot.

I guess it’s taste and not some principle that makes me look down my amoral nose at Dexter. Or maybe I identify more with the protagonist Mr. Plinkett.

Democratic Party Official: Some Free Speech Just Begs For The Purification That Fire Offers

Up in the KC area, a local farmer’s expression of his political views have been torched. Twice.

So when the 72-year-old Raytown man wanted to speak out politically, he used what he had handy: a 45-foot-long, semi-truck box trailer.

Are you a Producer or Parasite

Democrats – Party of the Parasites

He planted the trailer with its professionally painted message in his Bates County cornfield along heavily traveled U.S. 71 about an hour south of Kansas City. He wanted lots of people to see it.

They did. Including at least one with a good case of outrage, matches and a can of gas.

On May 12, Jungerman’s trailer was torched. The Rich Hill volunteer fire department responded. A week later, it was set afire again. The firefighters put it out again.

Then flames erupted in an empty farm house that Jungerman owns.

A local Democratic Party member thoughtfully mused:

Local Democrats don’t want to be linked to the arsons. Jungerman has every right to speak his mind, said Kay Caskey, a Bates County Democrat and wife of longtime state Sen. Harold Caskey.

“Obviously our country is in disarray now because of economics, jobs and foreclosures,” she said. “We are hurting as a country. But there are too many people who want to tear it down instead of build it up. Yes, there is anger out there, and we are a long way from Washington.

“This man has a right to do what he did, but around here some people might wonder at what point do you cross the line?”

According to Kay Caskey, the word parasite might reasonably call for arson. Well, maybe not parasite. But some words might cross the line to make Molotov cocktails a reasonable response. Maybe tick. Tapeworm. Somewhere, a speaker hits a noun that crosses the subtle line enabling property damage.

Unfortunately, the news article does not follow up to get Ms. Caskey’s idea of proper burning words nor does it get her to explain how short a skirt a woman can wear before it crosses the line and invites sexual assault. But some legal freedoms and exercise thereof might call for illegal response. A modern Democratic Party recasting of Thoreau if I ever heard it.

That’s What I Get For Reading Job Ads on Craigslist

It’s a common schtick on my other blog to make fun of job listings on Craigslist and elsewhere, but this one isn’t funny, really, in a funny way.

Here’s the ad for a Software Development Manager at Joyce Meyer Ministries:


Want to work for Joyce Meyer Ministries?
Click for full size

For those of you not into Joyce Meyer or not in the St. Louis area, where the newspapers and television shows routinely run exposes on the multi-million dollar industry and where plantiffs sue Joyce Meyers whenever one of its employees commits a crime, this is a very large ministry operation with television, print, and apparently software or Internet operations. But the trigger here is that it’s Christian.

Now, Craigslist hipper-than-thou readers often respond to job listings, mostly to mock misspellings or crazy collections of buzzwords sown by recruiters, but this respondent mocks the company for its beliefs:


Someone has unresolved issues with his parents
Click for full size

1) Must believe in the supernatural, specifically Jesus.
2) Must be mentally unstable and suffer from Glossolalia.
3) Must be comfortable working for an organization that doesn’t pay taxes and contribute to society.

Haw, haw!

Anyone want to guess the over/under that this respondent would think working for an environmentally themed non-profit would be A-OK? Maybe a subsidiary of the government handling operations that aren’t constitutionally allocated to the government? Those are enlightened callings, not vocational insanity demonstrated by Joyce Meyers employees.

Any time I see reflexive anti-Christian sophistication like this, I always assume someone has unresolved issues with Mommy and Daddy.

Politicians Can Have It Both Ways

24th State highlights a “flip-flop” by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill:

So let me get this straight. In March, she gets to send press releases to the Post Dispatch talking about her frustration and the offensive Jim Bunning who had the brashness to suggest they figure out a way to cut spending before tacking on tens of billions to the deficit.

In June, she does the same thing Bunning does, actually going so far as to vote against the very unpaid benefits she was saying were necessary three months ago, and now she’s a budget hawk?

Politicians don’t do what they think the constituents want. They do what the newspapers will report favorably. They’ve held themselves accountable only to the press, whom they thought reflected the public. Unfortunately, that disparity has grown quite a bit and the public is more aware of it than ever. Whereas politicians could count on the short memories of the press in the past, they’re going to awaken in a new world where the public pays attention over a long period of time and remembers what the politician did yesterday or last year, not just what the press reported that the politician did just before the election.

Ha! I’m kidding. The current crop of politicians will wake up looking for lobbyist jobs, and their replacements will be aware of the 21st century world they inhabit and whom they serve in it.

But It Flies In The Face Of All Intuition!

The usuals decry this decision by the St. Louis area grocers: Schnucks allows concealed-carry in stores after six-year ban:

The signs barring the carrying of concealed weapons inside Schnucks quietly came down earlier this month — more than six years after they first went up in the grocery chain’s Missouri stores following the passage of a state law allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons.

But the aisles will run red with blood conmingled with catsup from bottles broken in the shootout! Gun opponents just know it from their invaluable intuition!

Schnucks has not barred weapons in four other states — Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, and Tennessee — where the company has stores and where there are concealed-carry laws on the books. And there haven’t been any problems in those states, she said.

Gun opponents decry this measure, saying the bloodshed should remain on the streets, where they intuited it would run when Missouri allowed concealed carry in 2003.

Book Report: Tabletop Fountains by Dawn Cusick (1999)

I saw an episode of Creative Juice where Cathie and Steve made a fountain, so I’ve thought of giving it a try. This book offers a bit of technical insight into how to make them and 40 projects for indoor tabletop fountains.

I don’t know what more to offer you in a book review about a craft book here. It doesn’t look too difficult to make a fountain, and the projects don’t offer that much variation. Nothing wild in here, just some water tumbling down some rocks, although the book does include one water wall sort of fountain. The designs are from a variety of designers, not just the author, so you see some variation, I suppose, but it is a narrow band of handicrafts.

Of course, I’ve already checked another book out of the library on the subject. No doubt my book report for that one will be even more droll. I ought to start putting up photos here of the various things I make like I do on Facebook so at least you, gentle readers who are not my Facebook friends, will see them.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Another Antigone by A.R. Gurney, Jr. (1988)

This is a full evening play with four characters: a professor of Greek tragedies who tends to portray things in an Athens vs. Jerusalem template, which might just be an educated way to say “Anti-Semitism”; the Dean of his college, an old lover who doesn’t like the administrative life as much as she hoped; a Jewess student who decides on her own to write and stage a modernised version of Antigone instead of a paper for the aforementioned professor; and the girl’s boyfriend, a chemistry major uncommitted to chemistry but with a talent for the classics.

A lot’s going on in here. The girl takes on the arms race (its from the 1980s) with her Antigone, but becomes more stridently Jewish when the professor’s anti-Semitism is suggested to her. Additionally, she doesn’t want to settle any more for a Wall Street job. The professor discovers that he’s about to be retired as students stop signing up for his classes. Is it him or is it less appreciation of the concepts of tragedy in America in the latter part of the 20th century. So many things to ponder, but nothing really brought to the forefront or to a conclusion.

The play leaves the story kinda in media res. Some alliance shift, some changes happen, but in the end, the resolutions are temporary and illusory. I can’t tell if the professor’s point about the inability to appreciate tragedy is supposed to be shown through his story being tragic–or the opposite.

That said, how come so many plays are plays about plays or plays about colleges or screenwriters? Does this make plays less accessible and more insular or does it reinforce the fraternity of people who see plays through common languages and metaphors? Does the use of the word “Jewess” bespeak of my own anti-Semitism?

There’s a lot to think about in this one.

Books mentioned in this review:

Because I’m A Blogger, I Must Weigh In

I picked this flyer up at the local library, and I must pontificate upon it because I am a blogger.

Happy teen pregnancies

You know, if you’re designing a flyer about teenage pregnancy, perhaps you should choose an image aside from one that depicts the pregnant teen and a friend in a mall photo machine smiling.

I’m just saying.

I understand that the point is that said female with child is not alone. Even her friend who was at the mall with her that day when she would later begin to miss a period after some unprotected loving from the eleventh grader who loved her truly and wrote rhyming poems in pencil to her convinced her they would be together “forever” in a time period where “forever” meant “after graduation” is kinda freaked out by the new revelation that her underage drinking buddy ought to shut it down for a while until the child comes out with fingers instead of flippers.

I feel bad for any young woman who faces pregnancy at a time when some of us are trying to figure out whether Band X equals Band Y in authenticity or intensity. But it’s a damn big decision, and I don’t think a couple smiling kids atop the flyer captures the weight.

If you’re going to go with a photo at all, maybe someone looking worried or freaked out. Because having the child is going to lead to a couple months at least of not smiling or sleeping followed by a lifetime of responsibility that will include a lot of joy, but all of it adult joy. Having the child and putting it up for adoption will lead to a lifetime of wondering and what-iffing. Aborting the child should lead to a lifetime of guilt and what-iffing. Regardless of the resources and the choices available, unplanned pregnancy is not a time for smiling.

What a foolish design choice. A disappointing choice, actually, as it sends a very wrong message about the emotions of the timeframe and underplays the seriousness of the situation.

But I do go on about nothing.