He’s Not Wrong

The Very Intersectional Caterpillar: Lefty children’s literature is coming to a library near you.:

Recently, I perused three emails from bookstores offering children’s book recommendations from a national “Indie Next” program organized by the American Booksellers Association (ABA). Amid 93 new books, all published since May, I couldn’t find one that would appeal to my boys. The choices included a “feel-good contemporary romance” about a young trans athlete fighting against a “discriminatory law targeting trans athletes”; a book about a young lesbian with pansexual and nonbinary friends who denounced her white privilege; a “queer coming of age story” about a young lesbian who joins the boy’s football team; a young-adult novel about genderfluidity by a non-binary writer who is the mother of a transgender child; a “tale of self-discovery” about a bisexual love triangle; a book about a transgender witch named Wyatt; and a “fabulously joyful” novel about “drag, prom, and embracing your inner queen” that featured “a fat, openly gay boy stuck in a small West Texas town.” Other titles included the tale of a Puerto Rican eighth-grader who “navigates . . . the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn”; a young-adult thriller with a bisexual protagonist that explores the “politics of systemic racism”; and Don’t Hate the Player, a novel about gamers I thought would appeal to the boys until I realized it was about a young feminist battling misogyny from the “male-dominated gaming community.”

My son, a sophomore now (WHAT? He’s only five, ainna?), and for an English project, he was allowed to choose from a menu of books to read, with wide ranging topics from all cops are bastards to all soldiers are war criminals to coming of age and coming out. When I was in high school, I read Last of the Mohicans as a sophomore and A Tale of Two Cities as a freshman–among other things.

The good news is that he and a number of his classmates see it for what it is and aren’t especially duped by it.

They’re not becoming readers, either, though.

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Don’t call us traitors: descendants of Cortés’s allies defend role in toppling Aztec empire:

When people from the Mexican state of Tlaxcala travel to other parts of the country, they are sometimes insulted as traitors by their compatriots.

Tlaxcala is Mexico’s smallest state in size, but it played an outsized role in Mexico’s early history, not least when indigenous Tlaxcalans allied with Hernán Cortés’ tiny band of invaders to bring down the Aztec empire.

Now, as Mexico marks the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán on Friday, the role of the Tlaxcalans in the conquest is being reconsidered.

Many historians argue that without the participation of the Tlaxcalans and other indigenous soldiers, Tenochtitlán might never have fallen to the Spanish.

As a reminder, the Aztecs, or Mexica, were known for child sacrifice as described in Conquest: Montezuma, Cortes, and the Fall of Old Mexico by Hugh Thomas:

What was necessary, in the meantime, was a suitable appeasement of Tlaloc, the rain god. He had to be given food, precious objects, people, chlidren (small, like the little Tlalocs who were believed to wait on the chief god of that name), in a series of festivals. The children had to cry, in order to indicate to the god exactly what was required; and to achieve this, their nails were often drawn out and thrown into the lake monster Ahuitzol, who usually lived from the nails of drowned persons.

As I said, and still do, that was a culture that needed to be put down.

An interpretation of the history that doesn’t get much play because it does not conform with what the cool kids say is that the Aztec was at the end of its time anyway, with a feckless leader and surrounded by subjugated peoples chafing at the demands of the Mexica. Including some tribes who used copper instead of stone knives. If it hadn’t been the Spanish, some leader would have arisen amongst the other tribes and united enough of them to topple the Aztec Empire.

Of course, how they would have dealt with the (later) arriving Spanish is another matter to speculate.

(Link via Instapundit.)

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Good Book Hunting, Saturday, October 23, 2021: ABC Books

Yesterday, we stopped at ABC Books for a book signing since we were in the area (well, an hour away in Wheatland, Missouri, for a cross country meet). I was pleased the meet was not delayed so long that I could not make the afternoon book signing. We actually got there, still cold and wet (going on five hours of being cold and wet), right as the signing started, actually, so the authors were talking with some other fans and blocking the way to the martial arts books, so I could not complete my regular circuit.

I wanted to get home, so I did not linger, but I did pick up a couple of things to read by the warm fire.

I got:

  • The signing authors’ book, Ozarks Hillbilly: Stereotype and Reality by Tom Koob with Curtis Copeland, a study with anecdotes about the archetype. Hopefully more anecdotal than academic.
  • Horizons and Landmarks, a 1911 collection of poetry by Sidney Royse Lysaght. From 1911, not about the gun.
  • Fugitive Blues, a chapbook by Debra Kang Dean published by Moon City Press who has recently rejected some of my new poetry. Not that I will let my bitterness affect my review. If it’s contemporary poetry, I shall be cranky about it anyway.
  • At The End of the Rainbow by Mary Morley Gunn, vintage grandmother poetry comb-bound from 1974.
  • I Once Gazed At You In Wonder by Jan Heller Levi which is a hardback collection of poetry from 1999.
  • Everything You Need to Know About Philosophy, an entry in the Pocket Professor series by Steve Herman, Ph.D., with Gregg Stebben. It will go along with the Giants of Philosophy audiocassettes I’ve been listening to, and it will augment what I have learned there or, if it’s too contemporary, make me angry. It’s shorter than the Copleston History of Philosophy series, anyway.

I won’t go into how much I spent since I’m moving out of the cheapest books that Mr. and Mrs. E. have to offer, but they’re not the really nice collectibles that they have that I hope to get with gift cards some day. At the end, though, I would probably be better off just buying the bookstore in toto instead of a little at a time. Perhaps then I would limit myself to taking a book or two at a time when I’m looking for something to read instead of buying five or ten to put on my shelves and then read one or two before I’m back again.

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My Phone Does Not Know Me Too Well

Spent the morning at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri, for a cross country meet in the rain and the mud. Got soaking wet, and wondered if the event would be canceled because the weather predicted rain and thunderstorms for the entire day. On the way in, I saw that the venue was hosting a monster truck rally in the evening; I wondered if they would postpone the event long enough that we would get free entrance to the monster truck rally.

The running was postponed (but only for about thirty minutes thanks to the heroic efforts of the powers that be), so I guess not, but I was texting my beautiful wife, who stayed behind due to illness, and the phone’s suggestions were way off.

It did not suggest any work by Joyce Kilmer. Nor what I was really talking about.

Now I’ll have to watch to see how many times the iPhone suggests “monster truck rally” in the future.

Because I am sure I am further on Apple’s that kind of people list now.

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Book Report: Kung Fu #4: The Year of the Dragon by “Lee Chang” (1974)

Book coverI read Kung Fu: The Way of the Dragon; I read Kung Fu #2: Chains; I read Kung Fu #3: Superstition. So it would make sense for me to pick up this book, Kung Fu #4, ainna?

Oh, but no: The first were tied into the David Carradine television series, as demonstrated by his picture on the cover. This book, however, is not that Kung Fu, it’s Kung Fu featuring: Mace, although they’re happy if you made that mistake and bought this book.

Joe at Glorious Trash started his review of the book thus:

Joseph Rosenberger turns in another installment of the Mace series, and thank god there’s only one more Rosenberger volume to go. Seriously, The Year Of The Dragon is a straight-up beating of a novel, mercilessly pounding the reader into a lethargic stupor of boredom. Now let me tell you all about it!

Seriously, that poor fellow is quite the scholar of mid-century men’s adventure fiction; he has even read all the books in this series and has written lengthy essays on each. So if you want smaht, go read that. I echo his sentiments.

You can see from the edge, where I purposefully cropped wide, that I flagged a lot of stupid things in the book. The ethnic slurs: Oh, my, yes, the most baddest word appears, but so do slurs for different ethnicities and nationalities–according to Joe, this is standard practice for the author, Joseph Rosenberger, whose The Death Merchant #7: The Castro File and COBRA #2: Paris Kill-Ground I did not like either.

Okay, okay, okay, here’s a bit about the book: The Kung Fu Master, Mace, a Shaolin monk sort of helping the CIA helps the CIA and the Red Chinese when an art treasure stolen from mainland China is brought to Seattle to move to a collector in Argentina. Two local brokers pair with a connected longshoreman to try to ship it on a freighter, but Mace and the Communist Chinese forces go through a series of set pieces looking for the art object and a series of chapters of discussing what they should do next. So it’s slow reading punctuated by very turgid “fight” scenes replete with a number of italicised Oriental-sounding strikes that the author might have looked up in a martial arts book of the era, and a whole lot of exclamation points! (I picked this book up as I was reading Patty E. Thompson’s books which also feature a lot of exclamation points–brothers and sisters, I think I am done with my annual reading quota of exclamation points through 2022!)

But, yeah, the fight scenes are turgid and unbelievable. The Kung Fu Monk kills a lot of people with a single blow, and although he ends up in a pile of corpses, there’s no mention of stumbling or stepping around the piling bodies. He kills a man with the Tao te Ching at one point–maybe even Tai Chi Walking somewhere–but throughout the word Tuh appears, which I suspect is the phoneticish spelling of Tao. Which is spelled Tao a couple of times. Oh, and it mentions Mace, the Kung Fu monk, taking out a bunch of bad guys quickly–in a minute and a half. Gentle reader, a minute and a half in a fight situation is a long time. My dojo’s sparring rounds are about a minute and a half, and when that time slows down when you’re advanced enough, it’s a lot of time. Of course, I’ve never killed anyone with a single strike before, and I’ve only been killed by a single strike twice (I got better).

And the set pieces, oh, geez. They have fight scenes, but they do not advance the plot except that they provide another place where the MacGuffin is not. But they are inclusive! When Mace and the Red Chinese sidekick attack a freighter, it’s a multi-ethnic crew of the sort of stereotypes that do no actually serve on freighters. Ach.

So, oh, yeah, this book is awful. But I read the whole thing. Because I’m hard up for completed books in my annual list (this is the only my 90th book this year so far), but mostly because I am a sadist.

Not as much of a sadist as Joe at Glorious Trash. Or not as much of a serious student of the genre.

I will say, though, that when searching “Death Merchant” book report, I came up with two recent Good Book Hunting posts. I was relieved to discover that I bought Lee Goldberg’s novel in the Diagnosis: Murder series, The Death Merchant, both at the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library spring book sale and on our trip to It’s a Mystery book store in Berryville, Arkansas this summer.

Yeah, Joseph Rosenberger books: Do not want.

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Normally, I would post a link to the Amazon item here, but can you believe that this naughty book is not available on Amazon or Ebay? C’mon, man. I am probably on a watch list for reading it. And you read this review. Don’t try to say you didn’t “Download” hate material; every time you visit a Web site, you “download” its contents regardless of whether you meant to, whether it was what you sought, or whether it was even visible to you.

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Catching Up With Route 66

Book coverI mentioned in September that I’d picked up a couple of inexpensive videocassettes with episodes of Route 66, the old black and white television program from the early 1960s. I finally made it through the last of the episodes–my television and movie watching in the autumn has been reduced to football, mostly–so allow me to sum up the episodes and what I thought of them.

In “One Tiger To A Hill”, Buz and Tod catch on as fishermen in Oregon, where they are hired by a widow with a beautiful daughter–and with whom they room. They encounter, and fight, another fisherman, a veteran who was broken by the war and perhaps his relationship with the daughter.

In “Welcome to the Wedding”>, Buz and Tod are sent to the airport to pick up the maid of honor for a wedding they’re attending. She’s running late, so Tod goes to see if he can have them postpone the ceremony. Meanwhile, a psychopath convict in transit appeals to Buz to reach out and bring back his brother so that the convict can see him one last time. When Buz reluctantly helps out against his natural instincts, the “brother” is shot helping the convict escape, and he takes Buz hostage to help him go back to his old house to retrieve his stolen loot. A young Ed Asner plays the marshal in charge of transporting the prisoner.

In “How Much A Pound Is An Albatross”, a blonde Julie Newmar plays a Vicki, free spirited heiress riding across the country on a motorcycle “to live.” She draws Buz and Tod’s attention–they actually crash the Corvette into a store window as she roars past–and they bail her out, which gives Buz a chance to get to know her better and to let her expound on her Beatnik philosophy of living–which she is doing to hide the pain of losing her whole family in an accident. She takes Buz out into the desert and perhaps on purpose runs out of gas, making it so she misses her court date, but all’s well and she goes free.

In “Give the Old Cat a Tender Mouse”, Julie Newmar returns as Vicki, this time coming to Memphis to meet a man her banker thinks would be a good match for her as he is also young, rich, and reckless. She catches Buz’s attention–but he does not crash the car again–and ultimately, after spouting more Beatnik and Existentialite philosophy, decides not to marry and rides off on her motorcycle. This episode aired ten months after the previous one with Julie Newmar in it, presumably the next season.

So, these are the six episodes (including the ones I watched earlier) I will see of this program in my lifetime, likely. I am no television scholar (even if I read Marxist/Feminist inquiries into the impact of television on life of the bourgeois in the ten years after World War II and other scholarly works for sadism sometimes, but I can see a little how the show takes in, in bite-sized chunks (the episode being the meme of the day) the concerns of the day, including the meaning of life, vets with PTSD before the abbreviation became popular, and the psychology of psychopaths. The programs are not as dated as one might expect, although they lack computers and cell phones–being as I am of a certain age, probably that world is not as alien to me as it would be to one of those damn kids.

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Did someone say blonde Julie Newmar?
Continue reading “Catching Up With Route 66

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On My Watch List, I Guess

I guess the world wants me to look for Pete Metheny records at book sales.

  • A couple weeks ago (I thought, but actually a month and a half ago), Jack Baruth posted about his relationship with the artist:

    My relationship with Pat Metheny is about as complicated as an entirely one-way thing can be; obviously Pat has no idea of who I am or what I might be thinking about him at any given time. I bought Letter From Home in 1989 and was a compulsive customer of his from then till 2019 or thereabouts. I have pretty much everything he has ever recorded, in multiple formats. Bought all the sheet music. The practice-exercise book. T-shirts, guitar picks. Hell, I bought Zero Tolerance For Silence, a repulsive cacophony of noise that was meant to be a final middle finger towards David Geffen. Have seen him in concert more than a dozen times, including three separate episodes when I caught the same gig twice in a week, at different places. You get the idea.


  • One of the marching bands I’ve seen in competition recently based part of their program on some piece or another from the artist; he was mentioned by name in the introduction. It’s not like I could tell Metheny’s music from any other bit of marching band music.
  • Today, Lileks mentioned him:

    If you call the number, you are warned that we are experiencing high call volume, and have not adjusted staffing levels at all; why would we? At least that’s what they should say. I was on hold longer than the actual length of the flight I was calling to change, it seemed. At least the hold music was unobtrusive. Meandering jazz. It made me wonder how much demand there is these days for smooth jazz – you know, the stuff secretaries put on the stereo in 1983 when someone was coming over for dinner for the third date. I was listening to some Pat Metheny the other day, and wondered: is this stuff just over?

    I mean, it seems to be over for Pat Metheny, inasmuch as I don’t hear him doing this type of music any more, so perhaps that’s a clue.

So I’ll watch for some of the early work of the artist on records when I hit the book sales and whatnot.

Of course, the mentions of the artist accumulating in my subconscious would have made me pick up something even if I didn’t say on my blog like a blood vow to the unheeding Internet that I would be looking for the artist in the future.

I’m not convinced to pay full freight for it, though, unlike that hard rock album Lileks told me to get.

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Book Report: Look What God Did! and Whose Job Is It Anyway? by Patty E. Thompson (?)

Book coverIn what might become a tradition for a couple of months here at Nogglestead, I have read these two book which I bought at an ABC Books book signing not long after I bought them. Nobody tell Billy Pearson (I am only at 25% of his books read after two years) or Julian Lynn (67% complete after two and a half years).

The first book, Look What God Did!, is a woman’s spiratual biography from a wild youth when she got off the farm in Mansfield and went to California in the early 1970s. She married a musician, divorced a musician, stayed in the church, and ended up marrying a good guy and became a mother and later a leader in her church and in her child’s school. She shares these lessons along with appropriate scripture lessons for each.

It reminded me a bit of Joyce Meyer’s Eat the Cookie, Buy the Shoes except without the polish of having done it a million times before.

The author favors exclamation points. A lot! I mean, she’s got one right in the title of the book, and she uses them frequently. Including a rare appearance of the triple-banger:

We boarded a boat behind the hotel that first morning and went out into the Sea of Galilee where we stopped out in the water to sing praise songs and listen to a devotional by one of the pastors. What an incredible sense of awe settled over us…to know that our Lord Jesus had been right there with His own disciples!!!

She also uses quotes from a variety of translations, including a spot where she gives verses from three different translations in three subsequent paragraphs:

He said, “Be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.” Matt. 10:16 (NIV)

He said, “God has not given us a spirite of timidity, but of power, and love, and discipline (self-control).” II Tim. 1:7 (NASB)

He said, “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34b (NLT)

I will leave it to you to speculate, gentle reader, whether she is that much of a biblical scholar, whether she collected different verses on notecards as she came across them elsewhere and collected them here, or whether she has a side-by-side translations bible.

At any rate, a short, pleasant read. Perhaps more targeted to women than promiscuous male readers.

Book coverShe told me this book, her second book, or perhaps her first (but I read it second, and they do not have copyright dates inside to help me out here), dealt with the workplace and people who don’t think something is their job. Which I thought I might relate to better since I’m a worker if not a woman, but this book has only one or two anecdotes that are new and instead recounts again her work in the women’s ministry in her church and becoming a parent organization leader in her child’s school–as well as a workplace-based anecdote where she offered to pray for an employer’s lost horses–that she told in Look What God Did!.

So it was a bit of a repeat. Although each chapter ends with a Lessons learned tidbit instead of Bible verses. I suppose it would not have been as stark if I hadn’t read them back to back.

Quick reads, anyway, and my purchase both supported a self-publishing author and my friends at ABC Books.

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“So are marching band competitions growing on you?” she asked.

My oldest son is in his high school marching band at the encouragement of my beautiful wife who was a band geek babe throughout high school and college, and he kind of likes it.

His freshman year, his late entry into the high school kept him from marching, and the 2020ness meant his band only played at the football games and sent videos to workshops and competitions, so this is the first year I get to really experience a band season.

Which explains why I have been living six day weeks in October: Saturdays are given over to band competitions, start with taking him to school at 9am and end with picking him up from school at 11pm or so. Which includes sitting in bleachers for ten hours, watching bands of various sizes perform their shows.

The bands perform in something called “prelims” which is nominally an elimination round, but sometimes the round only sends a quarter of the bands home. Then, the bands get some feedback and hang out all day, and then those not eliminated do the same shows. Then, the top eight bands get huge trophies.

To me, the shows are like synchronized swimming with an overlaid symphony. My wife has experienced the marching band life, so she has an understanding of it that I lack. They’re making shapes, although I am not sure what the shapes are supposed to represent especially vis-à-vis the music they’re playing. Some music is arrangements of popular music for marching bands, but some of it is not. So they’re walking in circles here like spinners and propellers in the old biology computer game. What does that mean in relationship to the music? To the theme?

I suspect there’s really not a narrative or thematic element to many of the things they do, that the whole exercise is self-conscious bit of art, where you need to appreciate the things the marching band is doing as things a marching band is doing. To appreciate the synchronization, the artistry, and the musicality of a marching band marching. Which is kind of like a lot of modern art: It’s self-conscious, look at me, not look through me to a deeper meaning.

So, no, I told her. I think one has to have been in a marching band to really get into it. Otherwise, we’re just going there to support our kids.

Although I have to say that it led me to a “meme” that with probably the highest odds for me to see it in the wild, shared elsewhere from me as the root of it:

Those are actually “marching tubas” (different from the Sousaphone, which is the tuba-like instrument used by marchers that looks like a traditional tuba).

But muzooka captures it better, I think.

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Book Report: Terra Nova: The Wars of Liberation edited by Tom Kratman (2019)

Book coverI bought this book because it’s in the sidebar at Bayou Renaissance Man because he, the BRM, has a story in it.

It is a collection of military sci fi stories set in the Kratmanoverse, where the UN has settled undesirables on a planet called Terra Nova; the colonies are created by nation/ethnicity in different places, so they sometimes come into conflict (Muslim wars of conquest) but mostly the colonists resist the United Nations who runs the colonies corruptly. The colonists are not supposed to be armed, and they live near sustenance level in many cases, as technology is too expensive to import to the colony–and the UN wants to keep it restricted.

So even though the macro story has been decided elsewhere (in the novels in the series), the setting provides a fertile ground for smaller short stories in the millieu. We get murders and factionalism on a multi-year colony ship; we get a cleric who helps a fishing colony escape Muslim raiders; we get a helicopter pilot who defects; we get black mercenaries who come to help pacify an Asian province but come to sympathize with their fellow colonists; we get a couple of hackers who help a drug lord break UN smugglers’ hold on him; and more. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of room between the broad strokes of the novel series for interesting stories. It’s a little like how I was introduced to Dragonlance in the old days, although the collections of short stores I got my hands on mainly still focused on the main characters of the stories, and these stories likely deal with people who don’t show up in the Big Picture at all. Although I cannot say that for sure.

So the stories have different perspectives, styles, and themes, but they share a certain realistic outlook as to human nature and societies. It is a Baen book, after all, and if you’ve read any of the author’s blogs, you’d know they’ve got their heads on straight.

I wanted to read something in the military sci fi genre since I’ve got a military sci fi novel started around here somewhere. So it was research, and a pleasure.

I did not flag a lot of things, but I did mark this one:

“I was entirely comfortable with his questioning,” retorted Champlain. “I rather obkect to the murder of noncombatants. Sir.”

His last syllable rhymed perfectly with “curr.”

C’mon, man, that’s right out of the Marcinko.

So, as I said, I liked it, which is good, since I paid full price for it. I’ll even think about getting some of the other modern military sci fi as I mess around with it myself. Maybe some Kloos, maybe some Kratman. Or maybe I should just read the Ringo and Drake and other books I already have on my shelves. What a novel idea that is!

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Bill Clinton: Still Sophisticated

A number of places I’ve seen have reported former president Bill Clinton’s recent hospital stay thusly:

Bill Clinton was released from the hospital for an infection that was not COVID.

It was, however, sepsis (mentioned in this Daily Mail article, but not the New York Post article linked above).

Sepsis kills eleven million people every year. But at least it wasn’t COVID.

But it’s important that the headlines and reporting mention that it was not Wuhan Flu.

Because it’s important that we we not doubt that Clinton is part of the sophisticated, vaccinated crowd.

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On Baruch Spinoza read by Charlon Heston (1990)

Book coverAfter listening the Charlton Heston narrating St. Augustine, I went right into this, skipping ahead 1200 years (although I did listen to St. Thomas Aquinas earlier, so I did have a medieval interlude).

With Baruch Spinoza, we’re coming into more modern modes of thought. Spinoza embraces a sort of Platonism as well, but unlike St. Augustine, his does not contain a personal God. Instead, God is distant (but present in everything) and rather inscrutible except through deep thought, as God (not a he as that is antromorphic) created everything and continues to create everything every day, but God is not responsive to mankind at all.

So working from that point, Spinoza tries to build a set of ethics with some disappointing results.

The course is about half biography and half deep thought, which is just about right for this lecture series. I had to listen carefully to the bits that explored his theory of substances, modes, and attributes, and I’m pretty sure I would have to read more detail about them before I could talk intelligently about them, but rest assured, they’re Platonism in Dutch.

The course mentions how he influenced the Romantic poets–probably in the God is in Nature lines of thought, and how he was excommunicated from his local synagogue and lived a life in relative poverty and isolation as a result. But interesting.

You know, many of the lecture series I have, I put on the shelf as trophies, but these are brief enough and interesting enough that I might want to listen to them again. So long as I have continued access to a cassette deck.

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On Saint Augustine read by Charlton Heston (1990)

Book coverI listened to these lectures, er, audio books, out of order–I listened to St. Thomas Aquinas before this couple of cassettes, so I’m going out of order on the history of philosophy (sorry, Father Copleston, but I stalled out on your series years ago). I would probably have gotten more out of the Aquinas lectures reading how much his Aristotle-focus was a counterweight to Augustine’s Christian Platonism.

Which it is; I know, I just listened to the Teaching Company’s Augustine: Philosopher and Saint last February, so I remembered a bit of historical context–Augustine’s mother’s name was Monica, and he flirted with heretical thought in his youth, and the merging of Platonism with Christian thought.

You know, as I’m going through these philosophers again with Charlton Heston reading them to me, I think I’m soaking more in. The interplay between the thoughts. Of course, the Aristotle versus Plato bit. I like Augustine’s Platoism, though, amongst all the strains I’ve seen. Its World of Forms is God, and he somehow makes it a personal God as well–as I have mentioned, I need to read the primary sources more, but I’m not sure that I want to get into Professional Philosopher mode, where I spend years studying to split a hair differently than my also-publish-or-perish peers and base my argument on a particular translation which might not really capture exactly what the author meant. I prefer my high level, so that’s kind of what he was thinking approach. Where these short lecture series serve me well.

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Audiobook Report: Just a Guy: Notes from a Blue Collar Life by Bill Engvall (2007)

Book coverYou know, I first heard about Bill Engvalls in the middle 1990s, when my girlfriend referred to him as the guy who says, “Here’s your sign.” The Blue Collar Comedy Tour was, what, almost twenty years ago? And this book is from fourteen years ago, so it’s not fresh and new. It’s the story of Bill Engvall’s life up until that point, from his childhood in Winslow, Arizona, and Texas to his marriage and his start and climb into comedy.

So it’s not a gag reel; it is more a wry biography. I found it kind of meh, but poignant in spots–the story of his parents’ divorce and his wife’s brush with death after a miscarriage particularly struck me. But not much of the rest of it.

At the conclusion, he says he’ll be happy if he’s almost remembered as the fourth guy in the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. But rest assured, Mr. Engvall, you’ll always be the third guy because you had a tagline, although not as good as “You might be a redneck” or “Git-r-done.” To my knowledge, the fourth guy–Ron White? Maybe?–did not.

But he seems like a nice guy, and I feel like I might be selling him short, but the book just didn’t resonate.

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A Little Over The Top

Parson says Missouri is pursuing prosecution after St. Louis reporter finds state data flaw:

Gov. Mike Parson said he was pursuing criminal prosecution against the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and its reporters Thursday after the newspaper discovered a data vulnerability in a state website.

Sections of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website allowed someone visiting the site to search through teacher credentials and certifications, revealing Social Security numbers within the HTML source code of the pages, the Post-Dispatch reported. That source code is available to anyone visiting a website on a web browser.

Yeah, pumping out the social security numbers in hidden fields is bad juju, and it does not require any manner of hacking to get to it.

I wonder why Parson has gone nuclear over this? To shore up his support with educational professionals? C’mon, man.

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Cousin Effect

Trading For Treasure: the pandemic creates a trading card boom:

Get out the old dusty shoeboxes from the attic because a historic trading card boom is underway. One company is cashing in by helping thousands around the world buy and sell little cardboard versions of their beloved sports icons.

Once a beacon of childhood memories for generations, trading cards are now a booming business for the Camann family in Richmond, Virginia.

Wild cards: Spree has police wondering if bistate gaming thefts are linked:

The thief who shattered the glass door and display cases at Realms of Gaming here Monday, swiping thousands of dollars’ worth of collectible trading cards, also may be behind similar break-ins in St. Louis County.

Police in the bistate region will be sharing notes Wednesday to see if the burglaries are the work of the same people, said Troy police Chief Brent Shownes.

“We’re learning of more and more of these,” Shownes said, estimating a half-dozen such burglaries in recent days.

They include break-ins at two game stores on Watson Road. Game Nite at 8380 Watson Road in Marlborough and Yeti Gaming at 8920 Watson Road in Crestwood were burglarized late Sunday night and early Monday.

I still don’t plan on retiring based on the value of my middle 1980s baseball cards. But perhaps I should plan on having to defend them with deadly force.

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A Lost Metaphor

Not a metaphor referring to the television show Lost–I mean, who remembers Lost now?

I mean, a metaphor that we really cannot use in the 21st century.


I was driving along this morning, taking the oldest to school in the darkness for his marching band practice, and I thought about writing a poem about moving through the tunnel of the night, and I thought perhaps I could work in a line about static, but no.

I mean, who under the age of, what, forty has experienced broadcast static?

Most kids these days have not experienced over-the-air television nor have seen a playing of the national anthem and then television stations signing off in the middle of the night nor dozens of UHF stations on the second dial that show nothing but white noise.

On the radio, the Seek buttons and digital tuning eliminates that sound between the stations, and although one can still experience some weaker signals when driving out of range, who listens to the radio in the car any more except we old men, and by we, old man, I mean I.

So I got to wondering whether the removal of the concept of static from the mental makeup of modern man has had any impact. In the digital media world rife with social media misgivings, have we lost the ability to discern signal from noise, the ability to not accept everything presented to us as equally true or just surface impressions?

Eh, maybe I’ll use the metaphor anyway since I don’t expect young people to read my poetry anyway. Or old people for that matter. I’ll just write what I want.

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