No Word On Left Handed Hunter Accident Rates

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finds a truth in statistics:

An estimated 650,000 hunters, many with high-powered rifles, will saturate the fields and forests of Wisconsin when deer-hunting season opens Saturday. They will track game at a time when hunting has never been safer in Wisconsin.

But a Journal Sentinel analysis shows the percentage of accidents caused by hunters 21 and younger in 2006 was the highest since 1999. And in the past five years, those young hunters were more than twice as likely to cause hunting accidents than all other hunters.

Fortunately, judicious use of a calculator has given the paper its needed anti-hunting trope.

Book Report: One of Us Is Wrong by Samuel Holt (1986)

I wanted to say that it’s been twenty years since I read the second book in this series, but I’d be misstating my own longevity as well as warping the former Clinton presidency into a longer period than it was. I only read it the book I Know a Trick Worth Two of That probably in 1990 or 1991; I suspect I picked up the copy I had of that at a paperback exchange in Milwaukee the summer before I began college. I don’t know why I remember it that way.

So I recognized the naming scheme/”author” when I found this book probably earlier this year, and the memory was such that I bought the book. And you know what? Worthwhile endeavor.

This book sets the tone for the series: a former policeman/basketball player/television show star Samuel Holt has to deal with his celebrity but also finds himself in a situation where a crime has been committed and where he, the man who played PACKARD, must find out who or what is going on.

It’s a light read from the 1980s featuring Arabic terrorists plotting an attack on American soil. Really, though, that’s secondary to the voice navigating the LA scene suffering from the cancellation of the television series that made him a household name and identifiable celebrity. The Samuel Holt character drives the book, and the missteps, mistakes, and typographical errors are forgiven. After all, Donald Westlake, who wrote this book and the four-book series under the pseudonym of the main character (a la Ellery Queen), churned out a pile in the 1980s.

Friends and readers (and by “Readers,” I mean “Deb, CG, and Gimlet”), I’ll look for the remaining two books in this series. So if you’re into light mysteries, you might want to check these out, quirky as they might be.

Books mentioned in this review:


Personal Relics: The Good Bookmark

   You can tell I’m a serious reader, not one of the rank amateurs who merely picks up the latest mass market paperback for airplane or beach reading or who parrots lines from the latest hot talk show host book club’s recommendation so I can sound smart at card parties. No, it’s not the fact that I carry snapshots of my library instead of my children to show to random coffee shop patrons. My continual enumeration of the books I read each year and my easy answer to questions of what I’ve read lately don’t give me away. The identifier that signals my serious pursuit of letters, which can often include mass market paperbacks and hardback thrillers amid the serious highsnoot stuff, is my good bookmark.

   Make no mistake, I own more than my share of the common paper bookmarks that blizzard any book buyer. I have colorful, bag-stuffing scrips of paper with the names of the large chain bookstores and the large Internet bookstores. I have many folded, worn used bookstore bookmarks from shops I have visited in myriad cities across the country. I even have several from used bookstores that I’ve never visited that came with books I bought elsewhere. I have a couple of bookmarks enclosed with unsolicited fundraising appeals; I didn’t send money, but I kept the bookmarks. We even have one or two congratulatory bookmarks given for elementary or middle school achievements floating around here. All get their usage between book covers.

   During my reading lifetime, I’ve not been particular about separating the pages where I last imbibed the language with a piece of refined bookmarkery. I’ve used envelopes, receipts, the odd note page, napkins, smaller books, and other varied materiel to let myself know where to resume and to mark for the world exactly how many pages’ worth of wisdom I bore. When one is away from home, one must make do with what nature and its descendent civilization provide. When I am at home, I prefer to use a real bookmark, and for the main book I am reading at any time, I use the good bookmark.

   I speak its very name with reverence, as one speaks of the good china. This good bookmark bears my last initial stamped into the top and looks to be brass. The front side shines brightly, and the rear displays a handsome sheen of green paint. Like all good things, it is formal and practical at once.

   I received this particular bookmark as a graduation gift when I matriculated from high school. No doubt, my distant aunt bought the bookmark at the bookstore when she was buying my gift certificate and impulsively added the five dollar’s worth of finery to my gift. Regardless, it not only bore my initial, but it became mine.

   Almost twenty years later, the memories of most gifts from that era have faded after the utility or quality of the gifts faded or failed. I’m sure I spent the accumulated capital on used books as I bought reading material for the interim summer. I wore the clothes, played the harmonica a couple of times, and I forgot the thoughtful or thought-free presentations of friends and family. But the bookmark lives on.

   The bookmark retained some of its mint condition by spending much of the 1990s in a complete collection of Emily Dickinson’s work, somewhere in the middle 700s of her numbered list. A few years ago, during one of the periods when I continued my trek through the wilderness of poor capitalization, I swapped out the good bookmark for a pair of bookmarks—one to tell me where I am, and one to tell me how long I had to go to finish the hundreds of poems Dickinson wrote in 1865.

   So while those bookmarks spend the next decade in the Dickinson, I use the good bookmark now for my primary reading material. It lends a certain air of class to my reading, elevates my place marking. Anyone who invests in or continues to use an actual piece of metal to mark a place in a book obviously plans to mark a lot of books with a permanent artifact.

   I’ll have to remember again to thank my aunt, long after she has forgotten the gift.

Book Report: The Black Hole by Alan Dean Foster (1979)

Sometimes, when you’ve seen the movie, you compare the novelization to the movie. However, I’ve not seen this movie. I did, however, have the activity/coloring book when I was much younger, so I do have a means of comparison, and at times this novel suffers in comparison.

Hey, I like Alan Dean Foster (see also Cyber Way, Midworld, Codgerspace, and even The Dig). I liked his novelization of the movie Outland, for crying out loud, which I read way, way back in the day.

This book runs about 200 pages, and the first 70 lead up to the docking with the mysterious space station. You see, the Palamino is a scientific discovery vehicle which comes across a 20-year lost space station-sized vessel, the Cygnus. Its expensive mission was similar to the Palomino‘s, but it was recalled to earth and never came back. Once the crew of the Palomino is aboard, things start to happen: they find that only one human remains, a meglomaniac scientist who wants to fall into the Black Hole to see what’s on the other side, and the Palomino just wants to go home.

Calamities occur, and the ending differs from the comic book and probably from the movie (from what I read on a fan site). This time, the book goes all Space Child and the movie has a better resolution.

So it ran a bit long in spots and probably didn’t do the film any justice, since the film probably relied on a lot of visual effects not carried over. I forgive Alan Dean Foster for the effort.

And I liked it so much that I’ve added it to my Amazon wish list along with another DVD of the same title that’s apparently set in St. Louis. In case any of you cheapskates has any money left over after donating to the Fred Thompson campaign through the widget in the sidebar to the right.

Books mentioned in this review:


Gravy Train Turf Battle

A senior Congressman sees fit to inject his office into oversight of televangelism:

The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee has launched a wide-ranging investigation into the financial dealings of six TV evangelists, including Joyce Meyer, the popular preacher who has built a $124-million-a-year empire headquartered in Fenton.

On Monday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Meyer to provide his staff with documents detailing the finances of the Joyce Meyer Ministries, including the religious group’s compensation to Meyer, her husband and other family members, as well as an accounting of their housing allowances, gifts and credit card statements for the last several years.

Congress shall make no law doesn’t say a thing about fishing expeditions into religious organizations, does it?

Update: James Joyner links to another article that describes other targets of the investigation and applies the adjective mundane.

Compartmentalization at Work

So KMOV TV runs this commercial barking about its INVESTIGATION! into the fact that our government is woeful on its obligation to maintain highways and bridges so that they don’t, I don’t know, actually collapse into the Mississippi River.

However, it’s good to see some homeowners have their priorities in order:

Nearly 100 signatures have been gathered from residents whose homes sit along Interstate 270 in Kirkwood, calling for a study to see if a sound wall should be constructed to shield residents from traffic noise.

Whenever you see stories about people who bought homes along the interstate suddenly confronted with noise and who now clamor for government-funded remediation, remember that every last study conducted to see if it’s necessary and every last dollar spent on making their backyard decks more enjoyable is less steel and concrete to make sure the highways safe for everyone.

I don’t want to hear breakdowns of city/state/government funding or dedicated resources to these sorts of things because that same city/state/government funding could and should be dedicated to the basic repair of the roads.

I speak as someone who bought a house on an interstate. I got a better price because of the noise; I’m not going to expect you to make my cheap property more valuable nor to improve my lifestyle. Period. Especially not at the expense of vital infrastructure maintenance.

Book Report: Now & Then by Robert B. Parker (2007)

This is the latest Spenser book. In it, Spenser gets tasked with finding out if a woman’s cheating on her husband; she is, and after Spenser reports to the husband, both the husband and wife are murdered. Spenser suspects he’s captured more than the infidelity on audiocassette, he’s determined to find out why.

Amazon reviewers give it a pretty good rating; Heather did not. I think it’s toward the lower half of the middle of the pack Spenser novels. Sometime in the middle 1980s, probably with Taming a Seahorse, Parker got very recursive with his Spenser novels. Suddenly, the plots are repeats or continuations of old cases, April Kyle, Paul Giacomin’s family, Gerry Broz, and whoever start cropping up with new problems, and the series folds on itself. This book, too, fits into that as events within the book are constantly referred back to A Catskill Eagle as motivation for Spenser, as if he needed more than the normal private eye impetus.

Aside from that, which I can sort of overlook, there’s a lot of background that’s not covered or only supplied as a prop. The main bad guy in this book is a violent radical out of the 1960s who uses violent means to fight the power. Which seems to mean Spenser, sort of, here. It’s a fairly stock now for the Spenser universe (see also Early Autumn, Looking for Rachel Wallace, Back Story). I mean, dang, I would love a little scam out of sheer greed.

But Dr. Parker’s getting up to 75 these days, so I guess I’ll take what I get.

Books mentioned in this review:


Book Report: Webster Groves by Clarissa Start (1975)

This book has a sort of double-effect twist going on; Clarissa Start, a former columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and former resident (as of the writing, she had moved to High Ridge, Missouri), wrote this book at the behest of the city government in Webster Groves as part of its bicentennial celebration. That means it’s a history book that’s 30 years old.

So I got a glimpse of the past from the past. The tone of the book is very exceptional, so Webster Groves has a hint of Lake Wobegon to it. Of course, a book written on the government dime would explain that the citizens are the best and the town is the best and everything else. I guess I cannot knock some exceptionalism in history, but when it’s applied to a small town, it’s odd. Also, the book ends with several chapters of Webster Groves at 1975, with a demographic study and the high school commencement speech. I just skimmed these.

Still, the book details the area at the turn of the twentieth century very well and explains the events that precipitated the incorporation (a mugging/murder), the resistance to a layer of government and its eager taxation, and a bit of perspective to the current complaints and how far back those tensions existed.

It brings the book forward, as I mentioned, and the conversational tone tells you what replaced the old blacksmith shop and early businesses downtown. However, 30 years later, the Farmers Home and Trust Bank is gone as well as the IGA grocery store, and those things seem quaint now. But I didn’t buy it for contemporary insight, I bought it for its discussion of the old times, and I got it.

More trivia for the cranium, and things that I can tell the child as he grows up so he will think I’m very smart. Fooling the children, really, is the secondary use of all knowledge that comes to the fore after you’ve succeeded in the primary use of all knowledge, fooling women into thinking you’re smart so they will mate with you. One, anyway.

Books mentioned in this review:


Not What Taco Bell Had In Mind

A Taco Bell commercial apparently ran during the newscast near the story about university porn club captured here. As a result, the Taco Bell commercial freeze frame displays with the headline that probably doesn’t build the brand equity Yum brands wanted:


Taco Bell frame, frozen

Double funny: the commercial features the character on the left air-whipping the fellow on the right while Devo’s “Whip It” loops.

Triple funny: The pull quote says entail. Heh heh heh. Heh heh heh.

Book Report: Farnham’s Freehold by Robert Heinlein (1964)

Unlike some, I haven’t read much Heinlein. As a matter of fact, as I review a list of his books on Wikipedia, I can’t say I’m sure I have read any, although some of the titles sound familiar from my middle school Del Rey paperbacks-in-library-binding days.

I can’t say that now, certainly, and I do have a couple more on the to-read shelves, so I’ll get my old school sci-fi thing going on.

This book, ca 1964, revolves around a nuclear conflict and a nuclear family plus a friend who duck and cover into the father’s bomb shelter when the bomb comes. The family has its problems, from a headstrong son with Oedipal issues to the hard-drinking suburban wife, but the confident and resourceful father holds the family together with the force of his will. A third nuclear strike on a military facility near the home sends the bomb shelter to another place or time.

So the first forty-eight percent of the book details the family’s survival in an unspoiled world, the next forty-eight percent of the book details what happens when the family discovers it’s 2000 years in the future, and four percent of the book at the end details a denouement or dedeusment of sorts.

The prose is lean and the plot is definitely event-driven, so I enjoyed it, but I guess one could knock it for thin characters. However, if you’re a growing lad, this is good science fiction to get you in the mood for the release of Star Wars in fifteen years.

So it’s not as hard science as Niven, but it’s not as dense as some of the stuff of his I’ve read, and it’s not 500 pages either.

Books mentioned in this review: