Book Report: Shane by Jack Schaefer (1949, 1983)

Of course, I’ve seen the film with Alan Ladd as the titular Shane, and I own the The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking album which samples from the same, so when I saw the book, I bought it. It is the short novel (120 pages) upon which the film was based. Like True Grit, the book is told in the first person narrator through the eyes of a child. In this case, it’s the son of the farmers with whom Shane comes to becomes friends.

The book differs from the film in that Shane’s relationship with the husband is more brotherly, and the husband knows that his wife is attracted to Shane. At one point, he gives her a very Hank Reardon sort of “I understand because he’s so much better than I am” speech. I guess they couldn’t develop that sort of relationship in a short movie. Also, I don’t remember the film taking place over the course of a year, but I might be mistaken. Also, the boy does not chase after Shane when he rides off.

Still, an enjoyable read. A lot of people must agree, since the 1983 printing I have is the 65th.

Books mentioned in this review:

Automobile Use Is Corruption

That’s what the prosecutors indicate here:

Police in Coatesville say they stopped a white SUV being driven by a young girl on Sunday afternoon. Authorities say 30-year-old Lakisha Hogue was in the passenger seat when they stopped the vehicle. According to police documents, Hogue was laughing and said she was teaching the girl to drive.

Hogue is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor and other charges.

Meanwhile, they’ve charged the child for driving without a license, endangering the welfare of the child (itself), and other charges.

Seriously, can’t the prosecutors limit themselves to just one crime for one actus reus anymore?

Rhetorical question. Of course they cannot.

Meanwhile, keep this in mind that when you’re teaching your children to drive, you’re violating all these laws unless there’s a written exception for children with learner’s permits in the actual statutes. Which, of course, there’s not.

Is India Not An Advanced Democracy, Or Are The President’s Speechwriters Ignorant?

President Obama’s remarks last night:

We are the only democracy — the only advanced democracy on Earth — the only wealthy nation — that allows such hardship for millions of its people.

Question: Does India not count as a democracy or a suitably advanced democracy? Does it suit this characterization because it has hundreds of millions whose health care is not provided by the government? Or does the President’s speechwriters ignorant of things non-European?

Book Report: Private Edition by Macfadden Publishing (1950)

Let’s face it, looking at the cover of this book, a cheap black binding with only the words “Private Edition” underlined in pink cursive, one gets the sense that this might be a certain type of book. When one reads the first line of the first story, “As I fastened my dress–the soft, pretty one of pongee that I made especially for Dad’s arrival…”, one might think, Holy pongee, it is that kind of book!.

But one might then remember that this is a Macfadden Publishing collection from its old True Confessions style magazines. Instead of hardboiled morality plays featuring violence and stoic codes, we get gushy melodramas about how to deal with moral failings of the heart and lovelife. Unfortunately, many of them deal with contrived and rather silly “failings.” In the first, a woman’s hopes of a good marriage to a loving man are almost lost when it’s discovered that his first wife, presumed dead, is alive, so the protagonist is not really his wife. She shuns the husband then, fearing a scandal. Or another woman calls off a marriage and enters a life of charitable service–because her mother was a shoplifter!

The book isn’t a very good read, and it is most interesting as a historical document possibly offering insight into the mind of a young woman in the years after the war. These were her concerns, these were the parables to show her how not to get into trouble and how to find redemption if she got into trouble. Or at least these were the concerns peddled to her by Macfadden Publishing. Given that it made Macfadden himself rich, he must have touched someone and convinced them to buy these stories.

Books mentioned in this review:

What Does The Federal Government Manufacture?

President Obama to Appoint Ron Bloom Manufacturing Czar:

    In Cincinnati tomorrow, President Obama will announce that he’s appointing Ron Bloom his Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy, White House sources tell ABC News.

    Bloom is currently Senior Advisor to Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner as a member of the President’s Task Force on the Automotive Industry, named to that position in February. He will remain in that position even while he takes on his new task.

Now, if only it would take over some industries to counsel. More, I mean.

I know what T.V. means when he says that there are too many kooks on the right spouting off zany theories of despotism and whatnot. Hey, I’m right up there with them. But it would be nice if the Federal government would not do so many things that look like foreshadowing.

It Might Be About Race

Obama’s approval rating drops among whites:

    After a summer of health care battles and sliding approval ratings for President Barack Obama, the White House is facing a troubling new trend: The voters losing faith in the president are the ones he had worked hardest to attract.

    New surveys show steep declines in Obama’s approval ratings among whites, including Democrats and independents, who were crucial elements of the diverse coalition that helped elect the country’s first black president.

The article poses its own push-poll style point, that whites are abandoning Obama–because of race? However, it would be just as sound to ask, “Are blacks sticking with Obama because he’s black?”

Default or Hyperinflation

This author argues that the United States will default on its debt:

    Almost everyone is aware that federal government spending in the United States is scheduled to skyrocket, primarily because of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Recent “stimulus” packages have accelerated the process. Only the naively optimistic actually believe that politicians will fully resolve this looming fiscal crisis with some judicious combination of tax hikes and program cuts. Many predict that, instead, the government will inflate its way out of this future bind, using Federal Reserve monetary expansion to fill the shortfall between outlays and receipts. But I believe, in contrast, that it is far more likely that the United States will be driven to an outright default on Treasury securities, openly reneging on the interest due on its formal debt and probably repudiating part of the principal.

A national health care program wouldn’t be able to kill the sick and elderly quick enough to save us.

Book Report: Selected Works by Cicero (1948)

Look, Ma! I’m actually reading the Classics Club books I bought.

This book collects a number of Cicero’s works, including his law defenses or prosecutions, some of his letters, and some of his philosophical essays. I found it to be an interesting sampler plate, as it captures many different modes of Cicero. The attorney, with eloquent courtroom or Forum arguments for or against someone. In some cases, these were slow reads, as he goes on about people I don’t know. The politician and consul emerges through the letters, wherein he talks about how different people feel about him and how he’s going to persuade them, and so on and so forth. Finally, the philosopher emerges through the essays (and in spots in the letter or the courtroom things).

It’s also, frankly, a good piece of historical reading, too, as it open’s one’s eyes to the fall of the Roman Republic and the length and breadth of the Roman Empire+Roman Republic era. For example, Cicero writes in the first century BC and talks about the monuments that are already hundreds of years old. Marcus Aurelius will write his Meditations several hundred years hence.

Good reading, and I’m looking forward to reading other Cicero works in the future.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Long Time No See by Ed McBain (1977)

This is a shorter 87th Precinct novel from the 1970s, before hardback bloat demanded every book be 300 pages. A blind man is murdered, and then his blind wife is murdered and the apartment tossed. Is someone murdering blind people, or were they targeted specifically? That’s the question for Carella and the gang.

Funny, the book deals with veterans back from the War (Vietnam) and shenanigans in the military, but in 1977, McBain didn’t feel the need to foam about LBJ, Nixon, or Carter. Was George W. Bush just that evil that McBain couldn’t refrain in later books? It’s fortunate he did, otherwise he would not have sold so well nor built a legacy which makes his later political rhapsody tolerable.

Books mentioned in this review: