Book Report: St. Louis in Watercolor by Marilynne Bradley (2008)

This is a collection of watercolors by local artist Marilynne Bradley. Each depicts a notable landmark in the St. Louis area, most of which remain. Additionally, each watercolor comes with a bit of the history of the depicted location; Ms. Bradley is also active in the local historical society, so she brings that bit of knowledge to bear.

I paid full price for it in the local bookshop; if I’d planned better, I probably could have gotten an autographed copy from Bradley. I’d originally thought I’d bought the book as a gift for my mother-in-law, but I’d only had the notion to do so, so I got it for me instead and will share it.

Do I recommend it? I guess, if you’re into looking at watercolors or want a little trip through some history vignettes.

Books mentioned in this review:

How Republics End

neoneocon and Donald Sensing have more details about the “coup” in Honduras where the military removed a president whose term limits were about to expire and who was going to have a referendum not supported under the Honduran constitution to remove those term limits.

One wonders what would happen in the United States if that sort of power grab occurred. At the local level, it worked for Mayor Bloomberg of New York City. Meanwhile, here’s the start of the Constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd amendment to our constitution limiting Presidents to two terms.

I think there should be more term limits at the Federal government level, not fewer; however, I do not support the consolidation and acquisition of power to a central, self-selected few as a new aristocracy in Washington.

When the Republic falls, an emperor is not far behind.

Cross Purposes

How would the passage and signing of cap-and-trade legislation help in President Obama’s stated goal of keeping health care costs down?

Last time I was in a hospital, there were lots of blinky lights, garbled intercoms, and buzzing machinery that need energy to function. With more expensive electricity, how many treatments must be denied to make the scales balance for the unelected board or commission in charge?

Book Report: Sudden Prey by John Sandford (1996)

Being as this is a 13-year-old Sandford novel, it’s one of the better ones in the series. If you’re familiar with the series but are reading them out of order, note this is the book whose events precipitate the first breakup between Lucas Davenport and Weather, which is the name of his girl who was going to become his wife and eventually does.

The plot centers on a biker-slash-light-militia guy seeking revenge on Davenport and his (city-wide, not state-wide) team after they kill the man’s sister and wife in a bank robbery. Thus, Davenport dispenses with much of the mystery element with which he sometimes struggles in favor of a more straightforward thriller plot. Since Davenport’s still a city cop in this book, he deals with crime instead of the mix of crime and politics he has to deal with later.

That being said, why is it that the quality of many modern series declines over time? Is it because once the brand is built, the author puts less efforts in those books while he or she tries to increase earning potential by writing additional series or books in the time he or she used to spend on a single title? Don’t get me wrong, as a former wannabe novelist, I’m all in favor of that, but as a reader, sometimes it leaves me cold.

Books mentioned in this review:

Telling Metric

You know, President Obama was apparently on the television doing an hour-long presentation about health care control. And you know what I find a telling statistic about the perceived importance of this event?

Where were the drunkbloggers?

VodkaPundit didn’t cover it. Instapundit didn’t link to any.

It cannot be an important policy presentation without drunkblogging.

Ergo, nobody in the blogosphere must have taken it seriously.

Book Report: Isaac Asimov’s Book of Facts by Isaac Asimov (1979)

This is an idea of stunning fecundity. As you know, an idea book is any collection of anecdotes or stories from which one can derive ideas for expanded articles or essays. This book collects a large number of facts grouped topically and focusing well enough on history to go into my sweet spot.

I read it over the course of a number of months, a couple anecdotes/facts or a chapter at a time. I’m thinking about putting it onto my desk, though, so any time I’m out of ideas, I can grab it, flip to a random page, and then draw something out to draw out into an essay.

Books mentioned in this review:

Forget Yoda

Treasury to Auction $104 Billion In Debt Next Week, a Record:

The Treasury announced Thursday a record $104 billion worth of bond auctions for next week, part of its herculean efforts to finance a rescue of the world’s largest economy.

The sales will exceed the previous record of $101 billion set in auctions that took place in the last week of April and consist of two-year, five-year and seven-year securities. That record was matched by another $101 billion week in May.

Call me a wee bit skittish in the 2009 Obama Economic World, but sooner or later these headlines are going to have to include the word try instead of assuming someone while buy what could become junk bonds.

(Link via Instapundit.)

Sharing A Ministry

I have shared triumphs like this:

And finally, after months of cajoling and correcting, I seem to have made a convert! I just edited a draft document in which the writer used the serial comma consistently throughout! Also, another one is halfway there — he seems to get the general concept, but is confused about the placement of the final comma in relation to the “and” — he writes, “thing, thing and, thing” instead of “thing, thing, and thing.” But at least now I can tell how many items he intended to list, so that’s an improvement.

I beat that into enough designers that they do it correctly, years later and in different positions. And if only one of them passes the lesson on, I’m totally reaping the Amway benefits of knowledge-spreading.

(Link seen on Dustbury.)

Let’s Hear Him Say Ninety-Nine, Ninety-Nine

Obama Blueprint Deepens Federal Role in Markets:

The Obama administration last night detailed a series of proposals to involve the government more deeply in private markets, from helping to steer borrowers into affordable mortgage loans to imposing new limits on the largest financial companies, in a sweeping effort to curb the kinds of reckless risk-taking that sparked the economic crisis.

How long until the government actually holds the paper on your home, and you live in it at its pleasure? That’s called state property, ain’t it?

Book Report: Back to the Future III by Craig Shaw Gardner (1990)

Last autumn, I read Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II. Back then, I said:

Unfortunately, I don’t think I have the third novelization of the movie (although I do have the trilogy of movies, which this book encourages me to watch). And I want it.

Well, I didn’t have to go to Ebay or anything since it turned up serendipitiously at a school rummage sale I attended last week. So I jumped into it as soon as possible. The novelization is from the same guy who did the second one, so he still overuses the question marks and the exclamation points. But he does neat things to cover visual effects, such as the Eastwood Gorge sign change in the end. In the film, it’s a visual effect, and the author seamlessly has Marty notice it. Other times, though, he seems to bang it a little bit.

The movies are very visual experiences, and some of it is lost. But a good nostalgic read never the less.

Books related to this review:

Cap and Trade + Nationalized Health Care = Crazy Delicious

Hey, let’s do it like the Canadians:

The Lower Mainland’s health authorities will have to dig more than $4 million a year out of their already stretched budgets to pay B.C.’s carbon tax and offset their carbon footprints.

Critics say the payments mean the government’s strategy to fight climate change will further exacerbate a crisis in health funding.

“You have public hospitals cutting services to pay a tax that goes to another 100 per cent government-owned agency,” NDP health critic Adrian Dix said.

(Link seen on Surber.)

It’s a Fundemic!

WHO: Swine flu pandemic has begun, 1st in 41 years:

The World Health Organization declared a swine flu pandemic Thursday – the first global flu epidemic in 41 years – as infections in the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere climbed to nearly 30,000 cases.

The long-awaited pandemic announcement is scientific confirmation that a new flu virus has emerged and is quickly circling the globe. WHO will now ask drugmakers to speed up production of a swine flu vaccine, which it said would available after September. The declaration will also prompt governments to devote more money toward efforts to contain the virus.

The difference between yesterday and today? A proclamation from above.

Book Report: Yes Sir, That’s My Baby photos by Josef A. Schneider (?)

This book is a slender Hallmark version of the book listed below. Child photographer Josef Schneider has taken photos of children with odd expressions on their faces, and they threw in word and thought balloons to ascribe wry thoughts to the children. Mildly amusing.

It’s not a coloring book that I’m counting towards my yearly reading total, but I am counting it.

Books related to this review:

Book Report: Devil’s Holiday by Fred Malloy (1952)

Well, this was a book in a plain brown wrapper.

The cheap binding mirrors a Walter J. Black sort of binding. A novel title like Devil’s Holiday and an author named Fred Malloy, I was sure someone was going to get icepicked. But you learn something new every day. Like that there was a lurid genre of what they called sleaze or soft-core pornography featuring tawdry, descriptive scenes of seduction as it were. In 2009, you wouldn’t call this pornography. But fifty years ago, apparently, hoo-whee!

The book centers on the afternoon, evening, and night of Christmas Eve. Young couple (almost 30, so Old Married Couple in 1950s books) is kinda on the rocks. When husband came back from the war, he was different and the wife had almost taken a lover in his absence, but did not. The afternoon of Christmas Eve, the husband gets together with a young woman from the office and, after heavy drinking, they spend the afternoon in a hotel. He leaves his wife’s Christmas gift in a cab with her, and he starts fruitlessly seeking her to find it. She returns it to the wife, and the husband’s infidelity is thrown in her face. So she goes out on the town to get even and to give him grounds for a divorce because she loves him and doesn’t want him to be the villain in the divorce. So he goes out to a dive bar, hooks up with a ruffian from Missouri, and they drink, get into a fight, and try to meet women.

The characters at the root have a basic love for each other but cannot communicate it, and they’re swept into a series of poor decisions that are fueled by the constraints of the norms of the time and more alcohol than it would take to kill me and preserve me.

I don’t know what it says about its times that the relatively tepid sensual descriptions in the book were considered sleazy or pornographic. I also don’t know what it says about our times that 1950s sleaze has more conflicted characterizations and internal dilemmas in a simple plot than in much contemporary fiction of a more lofty-goaled but still genre fiction.

I might try this author again if I stumble over another one of his works, but I gather they’re pretty rare.

Books mentioned in this review: