Overheard

I’m stealing some of Tam’s schtick here, but I got nothing else today.

Overheard in Nogglestead cookhouse:

She: Wild horses couldn’t have kept me away.
He: Wild horses couldn’t
drag me away. Wild horses are not a very good area denial weapon.

Some Things Just Don’t Seem To Go Together

In the Springfield News-Leader, they are still lavishing attention on a young professionals report I wrote about for 24th State.

In today’s installment, we have this seeming incongruence:

While York stayed in Springfield and Hopp came back, another Drury grad, Samuel Moore, took his accounting degree to Washington, D.C.

Improved public transportation and the possibility of a more compact, urban lifestyle were part of the draw, said Moore, who is legally blind.

“I bike to work and it’s a 15-minute commute door-to-door,” in Washington, D.C., said Moore, a native of Buffalo, Mo.

Of all the cities in the country that would seem to be legally blind biker friendly, D.C. is at the bottom of the list.

Alexandria II: Curators’ Revenge

Boy, those Egyptians sure wanted all of their things back in one place, didn’t they?

One of the most widely debated topics in the art history world today is repatriation, or the return of “stolen or gifted” items to the home country. Should museums be allowed to keep their collections as they are, for the benefit of their patrons, or are they required to return significant works of art to the countries they originated from?

The debate continues as Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s antiquities director, recently announced his continued quest to retrieve artifacts stolen from the countries centuries ago, when the archaeological statutes that we have now weren’t in place. Hawass claims he will be relentless in his efforts, and is teaming up with other countries around the globe in order to further his mission. Meeting last week at the “Conference on International Cooperation for the Protection and Repatriation of Cultural Heritage”, Egypt and 25 other countries, including China, Peru and Italy, hope to reclaim many of these ancient artifacts from museums around the world.

In Hawass’s sights are the Rosetta Stone, currently held in the British Museum; a statue of Ramses II from Turin’s Museo Egizio; and the bust of Nefertiti from Berlin’s Neues Museum.

You know, that’s an awesome idea. Let’s put all of the priceless artifacts in one place in an unstable region. What could go wrong?

Looters broke into the Egyptian Museum during anti-government protests late Friday and destroyed two Pharaonic mummies, Egypt’s top archaeologist told state television.

You know, a certain amount of diaspora of artifacts would help prevent that sort of thing. One might argue that it would be good for all of mankind if those priceless treasures remained scattered so they could not all be lost at once.

But that does not serve the interests of the aggrieved nations, who want to bolster their reputations, their museums, and their budgets.

(For information about Alexandria I, check out the Wikipedia.)

The Person Is Not The Principle

I guess there’s a bit of a Nelsonic Ha, ha! going on over this bit of month-old “news“:

However, it was revealed in the recent “Oral History of Ayn Rand” by Scott McConnell (founder of the media department at the Ayn Rand Institute) that in the end Ayn was a vip-dipper as well. An interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand’s law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand’s behalf she secured Rand’s Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O’Connor (husband Frank O’Connor).

As Pryor said, “Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out” without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn “despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently… She didn’t feel that an individual should take help.”

Well, there, we have a seething indictment. A thirty-year-old memory from a social worker recounted on Huffington Post. I should burn my first edition of The Fountainhead in protest.

Well, no.

The same people who bring you The political is the personal also like to bring you The principle is the person, whereby if someone does not adhere to the principle, the principle is disproved. I mean, really. Try a little cogitation, fellows.

All it proves if it’s proved that Ayn Rand took the government money means is that Ayn Rand did not live up to the principle that government redistribution of individual wealth is wrong.

Ayn Rand also alluded to the inviolability of a person’s word, but was prone to violating the particular contract/promise of marriage in her writing and in her own life when some better piece of sex came along. That doesn’t prove that infidelity is okay (Robert B. Parker novels and their hundreds of cumulative conversations between main characters who and their therapists prove that).

Christians grasp this easily, as they believe the ten commandments are absolute and acknowledge that they break them. To the same bit of sophists, this represents HYPOCRISY!!!! which is some sort of rhetorical wild card that they like, but it doesn’t come from the same deck as reason.

Some others have tried to build an argument from the Word of Rand, but that’s not even necessary. Trying to argue against the charge of hypocrisy gets one onto a Möbius strip of the other side’s choosing. You cannot disprove hypocrisy. You shouldn’t even answer it seriously.

Book Report: Buried Treasures of the Ozarks by W.C. Jameson (1990)

Now this book is what I’d hoped for out of this book (although, to be honest, I read this book before I browsed the other one watching football).

This book collects stories, legends, and perhaps a bit of history regarding old mines, hidden caches, and buried dollars throughout the Ozarks. Grouped by state (Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma), the stories within this book run the gamut from old Spanish mines from the days of De Soto’s explorations to late 19th century outlaw money hidden hereabouts.

The Missouri section of this book talks about the nearby region, including a snippet that talks about an old mine hidden near the creek running southwest out of Missouri. That could be Wilson Creek, which is not that far off. So I have those neat things to think about, and I have ideas for not only articles, but also about fiction. So this book was quick and enjoyable to read and it might earn back its $4.50 price tag at Redeemed Music and Books.

It was written by a professor of geography and is part of a series of similar books. I might look for the others.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: The Turquoise Lament by John D. MacDonald (1973)

I must have read this book, as I assume that I’ve read all the Travis McGee series, but it hasn’t been recently, so I picked it up as a palate cleanser after the last Robert B. Parker effort. Within this book, McGee reunites with a former acquaintance he had known when she was a teenager. Now she’s a well-to-do heiress to a comfortable living from her treasure-hunter father, and she’s sailing around the world with her new husband. She thinks her husband is trying to kill her, so McGee flies out to Hawaii. He decides she’s just unnerved and not in love with her husband and that, hey, she’s all grown up now and they’re perfect together. So she’s going to sell the boat the newlyweds have been sailing on and live with McGee.

So McGee returns to Florida, but other events lead him to wonder. An intermediary tries to get an expedition going based on the lost research of the treasure-hunting father, which leads to the realization that maybe the husband is trying to kill her. Or make her think she’s going mad.

Also, it leads to a lot of soul-searching, reminiscing, and good old fashioned screw-them-in-power ruminating from McGee. The book is talkier than action-laden. I don’t remember if that’s the general McGee schtick, but it’s not badly done.

I recommend McGee and MacDonald, or vice versa, of course. I am re-reading the book, after all.

Books mentioned in this review:

“Daddy, Are Monsters Real?” The Little Boy Asks

I have this Q&A frequently with my four-year-old. I tell him about various monsters, stories about monsters, and fictional monsters and add a great depth of complexity to his world that he does not understand. The end result, though, is I assure him that monsters do not exist.

But I’m lying to him.

It saves me from having to try to explain this:

Gosnell Williams Moton

I haven’t written anything about the Women’s Medical Society atrocities in Philadelphia because abortion isn’t one of the hot buttons for me. I’ve been historically reluctantly pro-choice governmentally while pro-life morally (fun fact: I belonged to the Students for Choice group at the University, which confused my sisters-in-arms who knew me as an arch-conservative from my student paper column).

But I’ve read some of the “abortions” performed there (as recounted on Pundit and Pundette), and it becomes harder to remain governmentally pro-choice. It’s clear that, to some people, that lump of tissue remains nothing but a lump of tissue even after it’s viable, even after it’s born because abortion is okay.

Sadly, monsters are real, and most of the time they think they’re doing the right thing.

Ancient Chinese Secret Glyphs

You know what makes me feel left behind? When I encounter a set of signals, sigils, or glyphs that I don’t recognize nor understand. I’m a pretty smart guy. I have a college degree, although perhaps in the 21st century having a college degree is a symbol of not being very smart at all, particularly when it’s a B.A. with majors in English and Philosophy. But, still, I feel like a stranger in a strange land when I come upon something like this:

The Secret Chinese Language

That’s the bottom of our dust mop cover. I took it off to launder it. I think the package might have said it was washable. Something I own is washable, so maybe this is it. So I looked for the tag that explains what one can do with it, but all I had was this.

Uh.

The first one looks like a tub, so maybe that means it’s washable. But what does the 40 mean? I should use a tallboy can of beer? I should wash it just above freezing? I have no idea. It goes into the white load with the rest of my formerly whites.

The second symbol: A triangle, prohibited or eliminated. Do not listen to The Dark Side Of The Moon while washing?

The third symbol: A tank? This garment will not protect you from authority when you’re at a protest?

The fourth symbol: A circle, x-ed out. A cryptic reference to The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”?

“I want to see the sun blotted out from the sky.”

The fifth symbol: A circle in a square, x-ed out? Wait a minute, maybe the circle does not represent the sun, but rather an elder god or demon of some sort. And this is some sort of warning about containing that eldritch feotid beast from beyond the laundry room. Like an Elder Sign, if only I could decipher it.

Ah, the hell with it. I threw it in the laundry with some malt liquor and then the dryer. I have no idea how many of these important Chinese tenets I violated, but I have a mostly clean dust mop head. The point was not to clean it correctly; the point was to invest enough time ranting about it while seated at the computer with a cup of coffee that I would not have time to actually use the dust mop. Mission: Accomplished.

(And in the course of researching the post, I encountered this list of the symbols and what they mean. In addition to a rant post, I have also learned something that will impress my wife when I someday dramatically interpret a set of glyphs for her. “How do you know that?” she will ask, and I will just shrug. But you and I know, gentle reader.)

Book Report: Split Image by Robert B. Parker (2010)

I know, you’re thinking to yourself, “Are there only 30 pages of dialog between a major character in the Parkerverse speaking with his/her therapist in this book, or are there 40? Well, to tell you the truth, in all the excitement, I lost track myself. So the question is, does it matter, punk? Well, does it?”

It’s ostensibly a Jesse Stone book, but there’s a Sunny Randall thread going through it that includes a separate, unrelated case, so you get two bits of the Parkerverse in it. Additionally, Sunny is still seeing Dr. Silverman, so it has a touch of all three series. Maybe more, since I haven’t bothered with the Young Adult novels.

Okay, strip out the bad parts of Parkerania, and you’ve got a decent story. Jesse Stone investigates the deaths of a small gangster disciple (not theG.D.s, Packer fans). He discovers(?) two gangsters living side-by-side in Paradise in twin houses, and get this, they’re married to twin sisters. When one of the gangsters is killed, Stone has to find out who amongst the gangster world is doing this. Strangely enough, it’s….

Well, it’s a quick night’s read and it’s not a bad book once you strip the Parkerverse from it. Good news, though, Parkerversians: In this book, a male figure realizes he drove his wife to infidelity!. Jeez, Louise, I swear, I suffered through an English degree and attempting to do some biographical scat studies to explain books that have been studied for centuries. But Parker’s books really haven’t had much difference thematically since the middle to late 1980s. Make of that what you will.

Recommend it? Eh, it won’t do you major psychological damage, but it’s not as good as Parker’s books ca 1980 nor anything a whole host of authors, such as John D. MacDonald, wrote.

Books mentioned in this review:

Another Blogger Visited

Not to steal any of Bungalow Bill’s thunder with his recent visit from the FBI and the sheriff from the neighboring county, but in Massachusetts, a blogger has had more than that happen:

Police have seized a “large amount” of weapons and ammunition from an Arlington businessman while investigating if comments he allegedly made online were intended as a threat to U.S. Congressmen and members of the U.S. Senate.

Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan has also suspended the firearms license of Travis Corcoran, 39, who runs the online comic book business HeavyInk.com in Arlington.

What did he say?  Well, he posted about armed insurrection.  In two separate posts, he mused about at what point good citizens would revolt against an overbearing government.  Want to read what he wrote?  Here’s his blog: TJICistan.

 

Woops, there would be his blog if the powers that be had not removed it.  So you can’t see what he said, you have to take the word of the authorities or what I remember from them (I have him on my personal blogroll and saw the posts in question, but I did not feel compelled to react by summoning the authorities).

So the authorities in Massachusetts have seized his guns, but:

Corcoran, who has no criminal history, has not been arrested and does not face any charges.

Without charges, the authorities have taken his guns away.

Now, which action do you think will play more into the fears of the lunatic fringe?  Corcoran’s words, or the authorities’ actions in this case?

Just think: if Corcoran had actively built bombs to blow up government officials instead of writing political musings on the Internet, he would just be a guy from the President’s neighborhood.

(Other comment about this case at View from the Porch, Baby Troll Blog, Borepatch, and Dustbury.  This post cross-posted at 24th State.)

 

Book Report: Battlestar Galactica by Glen A. Larson and Robert Thurston (1978)

I first read this book in high school. Back then, the television program had only been off the air for about 10 years, and cable had not advanced to the point where the program aired anywhere. As with the Star Trek books, this book and other novelizations were the only reusable relic you had unless you could score some grainy videocassettes taped from the television and recopied. But this book held me out in those years between watching the program on TV as a boy with my father and the whole family together in our apartment in Berryland. There were so few things that we all did together. And watching Battlestar Galactica was one of them. A decade after reading the book, the series aired on SciFi, and I taped my own copies to review the series. A couple years later, they were available on DVD. And then SciFi remade it with modern hectoring lessons baked right in.

So this book is not only a book, but it’s an artifact with pointers to many discrete memories in my youth.

At any rate, it’s not a bad casting of the first three episodes of the television program, although when they flesh out the details, they make some stuff up that seems in odds with the actual edited television episodes. The biggest issue I have is that they made the Cylons into a lizardoid race in armor; however, I seem to recall Apollo telling Boxey in one episode that the Cylons were just the machine remnants of the actual Cylon race, which always gave the premise an extra twist for me. But I guess that was not Larson’s original intent and it carries through here.

Of course, Larson didn’t mean for it to be an anti-technology, anti-American parable, either, as the reboot came to be. Which is one of the reasons I’m an originalist. The other, of course, is the memories bound into the series.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: This Is It, Michael Shayne by Brett Halliday (1950)

This is a sixty-year-old book holds up pretty well. Frankly, if you remember the days before the Internet and before cell phones, you’ll only find one jarring dated note in the book: an evening postal delivery? Come on!

Mike Shayne, the red-haired and rangy Miami detective, is called to the hotel room of an investigative syndicate reporter who fears for her life. When he gets there, she’s murdered–and has half of a torn $500 bill in her hand. Since she’d already sent the other half as a retainer, Mike Shayne takes it upon himself to find out who killed her. Was it her ex-husband? The crime boss whose gambling halls she was shuttering? Or someone else.

If you’re like me, you know it’s someone else and you know who way early. But the final plot twist didn’t twist exactly like I expected. And it’s good late pulp crime fiction. This is a Red Badge Mystery, which means there’s another set out there I could accidentally start to collect.

(Previous Mike Shayne reports: Murder Spins the Wheel and The Careless Corpse.)

Books mentioned in this review:

It’s Not A Book List

TJIC linked to a Web site that would identify the New York Times Best Sellers on the day you were born.

Of course, it’s not just a book list; it’s a book challenge. How many of the books that were best sellers when you were born have you read?

The list from my birth date (books I’ve read in italics):

Fiction

  1. THE WINDS OF WAR Herman Wouk
  2. WHEELS Alex Hailey
  3. THE DAY OF THE JACKAL Frederick Forsyth
  4. THE EXORCIST William Peter Blatty
  5. RABBIT REDUX John Updike
  6. THE BETSY Harold Robbins
  7. MESSAGE FROM MALAGA Helen MacInnes
  8. OUR GANG Philip Roth
  9. NEMESIS Agatha Christie
  10. THE NAIVE AND SENTIMENTAL LOVER John Le Carré

Non-Fiction

  1. ELEANOR AND FRANKLIN Joseph P. Lash
  2. TRACY AND HEPBURN Garson Kanin
  3. BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE Dee Brown
  4. THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTS F. Lee Bailey
  5. THE GAME OF THE FOXES Ladislas Farago
  6. JENNIE VOLUME TWO, Ralph G. Martin
  7. HONOR THY FATHER Gay Talese
  8. THE LAST WHOLE EARTH CATALOG Portola Institute
  9. BRIAN PICCOLO: A SHORT SEASON Jeannie Morris
  10. BEYOND FREEDOM AND DIGNITY B. F. Skinner

Strangely enough, I read the same percentage (10%) of TJIC’s list, and they’re different books. Also, I have not identified the books I already own but have not yet read because, frankly, there are so many that I can never be sure.