Book Report: Paul Harvey’s For What It’s Worth edited by Paul Harvey, Jr. (1991)

I read Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story, lord, has it been five years ago already? No wonder I’m feeling old. I was going to go on a bit about how you can hear Paul Harvey’s voice as you read these things if you’re of a certain age and tie it to how people about 40 years old also have a certain affinity for CBS News’ Christopher Glenn’s voice, too, since he used to do the news breaks on Saturday mornings and CBS hourly news on the radio, but jeez, I think I need an old man’s nap before I do.

Although I didn’t like the pacing of the Rest of the Story segments translated to the page, these shorter pieces fit okay. For those of you who don’t know, the For What It’s Worth bits were just shorter segments of Harvey’s News and Comment instead of stand-alone pieces in their own right. The length varies, but the choppier radio broadcast style works better.

The vignettes are amusing. Now that we have Snopes, we know many of them are urban legends recounted, some knowing jokes with the artificial spontenaity of an America’s Funniest Home Videos nut shot (am I old enough that I have to explain that to kids, too?), and some things that might have happened. Just enjoy the stories and don’t build a worldview about them.

Paul Harvey was audio blogs, really. Some linking, little thinking, some wry notes, and some urban legendry. Enjoy them as such, for what it’s worth.

Books mentioned in this review:

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Joe Williams Love Translates To Box Office Gold

Wherein “gold” in this case might mean “$12”:

For a nation at war with its own values, “Fair Game” is a compelling, pertinent and scrupulously true political thriller in the honorable tradition of “All the President’s Men.”

Valerie Plame, smartly portrayed by Naomi Watts, was a CIA operative who specialized in defusing the nuclear ambitions of terrorists and rogue regimes. When President George W. Bush’s administration said Iraq was stockpiling uranium from Africa, it didn’t square with Plame’s information. She suggested to her bosses that her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson (Sean Penn), was qualified to investigate.

When the American public goes to films, it doesn’t go to see artists twisting facts to make a compelling narrative designed to hector America and Americans; that’s why a couple of them still take their daily papers.

I predict Fair Game comes in 9th this week if not lower.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Wherein Brian Solves A Word Problem

So I’ve been going to the YMCA for over a year, and I’ve noticed that as I cool down from a session of maintaining my guns (grand Liliputs like something out of an action-adventure novel by Alistair Maclean) and walk around the track on the workout deck, joggers often pass me at about the same point.

This led to a word problem for me to solve.

Given that the track is 1/7th of a mile and is a rounded square with each side approximately 190 feet long, why on earth does a jogger always pass me at the same point in the track? Today, a young woman with blonde hair, about 5’6″ and trim, in a tie-dyed tank top and–wait a minute, my wife reads this blog– I mean, this jogger of no note passed me on the east wall of the Y, right near the free weights. She It jogged off ahead of me. I maintained my unsteady, how-long-was-I-on-that-stationary-bike pace counterclockwise, and when I reached the east wall by the free weights, she passed me again.

As I mentioned, this observation has perplexed me for a year. Are these runners stopping to do some lunges at some time? Are they pausing to walk a bit? Get a drink? Why is this happening?

So I watched her all the way around the track. For scientific purposes, crikey, I swear. How did this story become about me being the creepy lech at the gym again?

She passed me on the east wall. When I got to the north wall by the cardio, she was on the west wall above the gyms, about 90 degrees ahead of me in the circuit. When I got to the west wall, she was 180 degrees opposite me. When I got to the south wall, she was 90 degrees behind me, coming up to pass me again on the east wall. And she did.

Yet I remained flummoxed.

So I watched again, and this time, when I was on the west wall and saw her on the east wall, it clicked. She’s running exactly twice as fast as I am staggering.

I’m sure other runners passed me in different places a hundred times when I was walking my dozens of miles over the course of the year. But I only noticed when one passed me in the exact same spot every lap because it was so odd.

So I didn’t really solve the word problem using math, but I got my English and Philosophy degree by subbing in a class in computers and a class in logic for the math requirement (and I could have done away with the logic requirement, too, if I wanted a Poli Sci or pre-law degree).

And I’m strangely lightly elated to finally know how this happens, although it might have been clear to anyone who gave it more than my annual minutes of thought. Given enough time and laps, I can figure anything out.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Book Report: A History of the Rural Schools in Greene County, MO by David L. Burton (2000, 2010)

I bought this book from David Burton at the UM Extension office because I wanted to learn more about the one room schoolhouse just down the road (Farm Road 190 and Highway FF). It’s Green Ridge, and apparently it’s in use as a garage, or it was when the book was written. I’d known there was a school over there, but I think I’ve been pointing visitors to the wrong building.

I’ve also learned there was a one-room school probably in sight of my back deck (Capernaum). How fascinating.

At any rate, the book is a brief history of school districts in Missouri from the pre-state days up until the reorganization in the 1940s. A bit dry on the text, but it’s focused on policy and events, not a driving historical personage. A catalog of the schools in Greene County follows as well as some photos and driving tours.

A nice resource. Nice enough that I bought the book on CD, too, so I can search it with a computer. However, for this review, I flipped through the book to check the names of the schools above. Maybe I’m not that far into the 20th century yet, which explains why I sought this book out.

Books mentioned in this review:

A history of rural schools in Greene County, Mo

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

It’s A Ruling, All Right

You’re the ruled. The bureaucrats are the rulers:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will effectively ban the sale of beverages that combine caffeine and alcohol, including Four Loko and Joose, by ruling that caffeine is an unsafe food additive, according to Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Bask in the reflected glory, subject, of the beauty of the fiat, of the diktat of the unelected officials who exercise so much anonymous power over your life. Caffeine? An unsafe food additive because they say it is. A rule that applies only in the case of alcohol, now. Because caffeine is only unsafe when added to something in a fashion that the bureaucracy has deemed unsafety.

Secondly, note the huzzahs from an elected official, an elected legislator, who could have introduced this properly as an act and had Congress pass this as a law. Instead, he’s thrilled that the control and the possible will of the people has been subverted through governmental processes designed to get around the basic processes of a Republic.

I’d weep, but my tears are an unsafe blog additive as ruled by the FCC.

(More reax: Tam, the voices in Jennifer’s Head.)

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Book Report: The Libyan Contract by Don Collins (1974)

Just when I get to breezing along these paperback pulp novels, thinking they’re all the same, I run into one that’s not.

Maybe I’ve been running in a particular series (The Executioner), so I get complacent and think that they all read like that, fast and engaging, and then I run into something like this.

Oh, not to sell it short: this book is ripped from contemporary headlines. A Texas oilman wants to kill an Arab leader for his own personal gain! If that doesn’t strike you as the summation of the left’s view of the 21st century, I don’t know what would, aside from that the post-2009 21st century includes RACISM! as the motivating factor for Texas oilmen and their sympathists opposing…. Well, anything.

Except this book takes place ca. 1974, when a CIA agent seeks out a South African son of an SS officer who’s out to kill Muammar al-Gaddafi. Wait a minute, a CIA agent protecting Gaddafi? This just in: I made a dartboard with Gaddafi’s face on it as an art project in middle school. I am now middle-aged. I would say, “WTF?” but that’s how the kids talk these days. Did I say “kids”? I meant “people who think they’re young, but are marketing to kids.”

Sorry, as a middle-aged man, I’m prone to the wandering thoughts that come with age. Where was I?

Oh, yes, this book I read in 2010.

Well, it’s a book that takes its inspiration from the international suspense pulps of the era. Ian Fleming inspired many, which is why the main character has relations with Israeli intelligence and Maltese natives in that way.

However, the book’s pacing really pulls it out of the ranks of pulp or paperback fiction; solid paragraphs and extraneousity slow the book down a great deal. The story is a bit meh. The set pieces are not so much predictable as slow to develop, and the main character’s main job seems to be running to authorities in various locations and asking for their help, which is not what one usually wants in a two-fisted pulp novel.

Apparently, this is part of a series and is the first in the series without the Secret Mission: prefix. So I’ll avoid those with it and try to avoid others in the series without it.

And I’m back to Don Pendleton by now, thank you very much.

Books mentioned in this review:

Secret Mission No. 17: The Libyan Contract

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Bending the Cost Curve Over

I don’t understand the sudden outrage about the new TSA procedures. They’re listed right there in the ObamaCare bill under Preventive Care.

The backscatter machines?
Involuntary CAT scans.

The pat-downs?
Manual examination for breast cancer and other tumors.

The forthcoming body cavity searches?
Manual colonoscopies.

It’s not only for your own good, citizen, but it’s for your own good.

UPDATE: Also in the health care reform: Starting in 2014, all Americans must take one flight a year.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Book Report: Second Opinions of Hippocrates’ Oaf by James T. Brown, MD (1982)

This is my second book of self-published Ozarks humor this year (the first was Branson Humor as you well recall). I liked this book better.

That’s not to say that this book is a laff riot. It collects some musings of a doctor as he goes through the business of being a doctor (ca. 1982). There are some amusing bits, but nothing that made me laugh out loud or anything. As a matter of fact, it continues my absolute descent in recent reading from Cosby to Bombeck to this.

The book has some things in common with the latter as they come from the same time period. But because it’s a small press book published in the area where I live, although there are no particular pieces dedicated to the Ozarks, I look upon it with affection. It strikes me as a collection of stories a relative might tell you, expecting laughter but mostly getting smiles as much for the relative as for the stories themselves.

Books mentioned in this review:

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

They Control The Horizontal

Instapundit links to a PDF letter from C-SPAN to forthcoming House Speaker Boehner about relinquishing control of the cameras in the House chamber to C-SPAN. Apparently, the House itself controls them now, and C-SPAN wants the ability to show wide angle shots and reaction shots.

I wrote a reaction letter to Instapundit, I wrote the following:

I’d expect some resistance. If C-SPAN could show wide-angle shots, it would show viewers how few legislators actually attend debates on the weighty issues and the calls of History. While the number of those present probably exceeds the number of legislators who read the bills these days, it would provide pretty visible evidence of how unseriously most of our elected leaders take their roles. Or more would have to actually show up. Our Congressmen most likely want to avoid either of these inconveniences.

Just so.

Hopefully, a new incoming Republican Congress will recognize what a boon this would be. Also, it would be a nice accompaniment to shorter bills focused on a single thing.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Wherein I Enrich My Word Power Without Paying

Thanks to Owen, I have some new words to try out, like this one:

9. Brabble

Verb – “To quarrel about trifles; esp. to quarrel noisily, brawl, squabble” – Brabble basically means to argue loudly about something that doesn’t really matter, as in “Why are we still brabbling about who left the dirty spoon on the kitchen table?” You can also use it as a noun: “Stop that ridiculous brabble and do something useful!”

I think that’s been replaced in the modern lexicon by blog.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Public/Private Cuts Both Ways

I spend a lot of time carping on when the private half of the public/private scams renege, but sometimes the public half plays the private for the sucker. Case in point: Branson stalls on paying fees to private airport:

Aldermen unveiled the $70.5 million budget to the public Tuesday but ultimately decided to postpone initial approval of it until they figure out whether they can find a way to fund a pay-for-performance agreement with the Branson Airport.

“I don’t think the city can appropriate the money for this year and for (2011) now,” said Alderman Bob Simmons. “That would be irresponsible.”

At issue is a contract, signed in 2006 and modified in 2010, in which the city agrees to pay $8.24 for each passenger the airport brings to the city. The city has not paid the final $260,000 bill for 2010 and did not include in its proposed 2011 budget the estimated $670,000 the city would be expected to owe the airport in 2011.

Alderwoman Sandra Williams said the city simply can’t afford the payments, although it has a $5.7 million carryover from 2010 it plans to put in its reserve fund.

Williams also said the contract with the airport never guaranteed that the city would always produce the funds.

“The payments are subject to annual appropriations and therefore, there can be no assurance that future boards will approve it,” she said.

Branson Airport CEO Steve Peet said the city is misinterpreting its ability to get out of the payments.

“Every long-term appropriation from a city has language like that,” Peet said. “If it’s for more than 12 months you have to have that language. It’s a way into the agreement, not a way out of it.” Peet would not discuss whether the airport would consider legal action.

Keep that in mind. Sometimes when you lie down with fleas, you get dogs.

Full disclosure: I love the Branson Airport. It’s tucked away nine miles into a golf course living development and sits atop a mountain. And it has direct flights to Milwaukee, although Branson would prefer to think it’s direct flights from Milwaukee.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

The End of At-Will

Ha! I like not that:

A longtime employee of the Whole Foods Market in Brentwood is suing the company for firing her after she complained to her superiors about the alleged mishandling of organic produce.

Elisha Wellman of St. Louis had worked at the store since 2001. But in late August, she was fired, the lawsuit says, after she repeatedly pointed out unsanitary display crates and shelving, and the commingling of organic and nonorganic produce.

“She attempted to bring this to the attention of her managers, then brought it to a regional level, and then a week or so later she lost her job,” said Gary A. Growe, Wellman’s attorney. “They accused her of being involved with some customer complaints some six or eight months ago, that she had nothing to do with.”

Under the “at-will” doctrine, Wellman had the legal ability to quit at anytime, while Whole Foods could fire her at any time, for any reason, unless the termination was discriminatory. But, Growe explained, the law contains a “public policy exemption” that prohibits a company from firing a person if they point out violations of law or policy. It’s under this exemption that Growe is making his case.

“The law gives you the term ‘whistle-blower,'” Growe said.

Given the number of regulations applicable to any business, it’s a very short slippery slope to making anyone who complains at work into a whistle blower, ineligible for termination.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

That Shell Is Empty, But There’s A Peanut Under This One

Please, keep the tax dollars flowing; although the Ballpark Lofts II building in St. Louis, funded in part through giveaways and tax credits is going to foreclosure, the Heer’s Building in Springfield handled by the same developer is ship-shape:

A downtown St. Louis property developed by Heer’s developer Kevin McGowan has been targeted for foreclosure, but McGowan said his loan on the Springfield building is not in similar danger.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on its website that Bank of America has filed legal notice that it plans to foreclose on the Ballpark Lofts II building owned by a limited liability corporation McGowan formed with former partner Nat Walsh.

Renovated as condos and offices, the building is at least partially occupied.

McGowan said Thursday he plans for his new company, Blue Urban, to purchase the building by buying the loan made to the earlier LLC before the Nov. 23 foreclosure sale.

He said the notion Heer’s was targeted for foreclosure is “a false rumor” being spread by the project’s detractors.

His company couldn’t pay the mortgage on the property, so his new company might buy it at the foreclosure auction.

God Bless America, and by “America,” I mean the people with the chutzpah to do that sort of thing and the municipal governments that continue to enable them. And by “bless,” I mean something else entirely.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Government Recycles Ideas To Boost Cigarette Tax Revenue

The government returns to an old idea to help boost cigarette tax revenue in decline as people stop smoking: collectible cigarette packs.

In the first major change to cigarette packaging in a quarter-century, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it will require graphic warning labels on packages, covering half the package’s front and rear. It will also require labeling covering 20 percent of the surface of cigarette ads.

The labels will feature either drawings or photos illustrating graphically the dangers associated with smoking and will be accompanied by text stating that smoking is addictive or that it kills. The pictures are not quite as grim as some used in other countries, but regulators hope they will be sufficiently frightening to keep young people from beginning to smoke and to strengthen the will of those who are attempting to quit.

From Troglopundit, here are what the new collectible packs look like:

Collect them all!

Althouse links to some other designs at the FDA Web site.

No word on the official Denis Leary commemorative tin packs which will be the real centerpiece of the campaign.

Back in the old days, cigars and whatnot came with baseball cards. Now they come with collectible government propoganda.

As I said in a comment at Trog’s, there is a certain remarkable consistency in thought here: our Betters in Washington are sure that the proletariat have not modified its behavior according to the Betters’ wishes simply because the Betters have not effectively explained the Message to the proles.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories