Book Report: A Political Bestiary by Eugene J. McCarthy and James J. Kilpatrick (1978)

This book was written in 1978, back when one could try to write a general political humor book without vitriol toward either side. So it’s amusing in spots, imagining Washington buzzwords as actual animals illustrated by Jeff McNelly of “Shoe” fame.

More than its actual humor content, though, the book provides a sort of insight as a time capsule into 1970s political thought. At the base, not much has changed except that perhaps the underlying tenets of liberal thought have been seriously challenged, leading to the aforementioned vitriol.

The more the differences change, though, the more they remain the same.

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Book Report: Missouri Bandits, Bushwhackers, Outlaws, Crooks, Devils, Ghosts, & Desperadoes by Carole Marsh (1990)

With a title like this, I’d hoped for a collection of thought-provoking and perhaps article-launching anecdotes. Instead, I got a young adult book self-published in a very rudimentary style circa 1990. How rudimentary? The pages are only printed on one side, the dust jacket is a stock dust jacket with the title pasted on, possibly from work-at-home-in-your-spare-time people, and the pages were designed with DOS-based, if that, desktop publishing not far above the old Print Shop software. And the author liked to make things fun by putting wingdings in words. I kid you not.

Revel in that glory.

And for all that, the pieces in the book aren’t that specific to Missouri. There are some things about Ma Barker and whatnot, but then they get into President Lincoln’s ghost in the White House, word finds with synonyms for Thief, jokes, and urban legends set elsewhere in the Midwest. All the better for the recycling of the material.

Hey, apparently Carole Marsh made a go of this judging by the sheer number of titles associate with her. Good for her. However, I cannot recommend anything from this book.

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That’s My House

Back when I lived in the projects, the other children and I would often declare That’s my (blank) whenever we saw something really nice. By stating that, we were declaring how awesome something was. And probably how unlike it was to anything we really have.

So in that vein (or vain, as the case may be), I’d like to declare about the 2010 417 Homes Homes of the Year winner in the $1,000,000 Plus category: That’s my house:

Some of the home’s unique features include a 60-foot corkscrew water slide that leads into a heated indoor pool. There is a diving rock above the pool, and a hot tub is located nearby. These luxurious features extend far beyond the pool room into the basement with a bistro area, a wine cellar and a walk-in cooler. The finished basement also features a bar made of an antique reclaimed wood beam with a three-tap bar system. And the fun doesn’t stop there, either. There is also an underground shooting range, where the homeowners can polish their pistol and archery skills.

The person for whom the house was built said:

The homeowners stressed to the builder, Doug Pitts of Doug Pitts Construction, that they wanted this home to have a lot of space for their three children to run around in.

Sounds like Daddy took care of Daddy, too. Since <LeonidasVoice>This…. Is… Springfield!</LeonidasVoice>, perhaps the underground shooting gallery was Mommy’s idea. You never can tell down here.

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Quotation from Popular Literature ca. 1904

Owen Wister, The Virginian:

There can be no doubt of this: All America is divided into two classes,–the quality and the equality.

The latter will always recognize the former when mistaken for it. Both will be with us until our women bear nothing but hangs.

It was through the Declaration of Independence that we Americans acknowledged the ETERNAL INEQUALITY of man. For by it we abolished a cut-and-dried aristocracy. We had seen little mere artificially held up in high places, and great men artificially held down in low places, and our own justice-loving hearts abhorred this violence to human nature. Therefore, we decreed that every man should thenceforth have equal liberty to find his own level. By this very decree we aknowledged and gave freedom to true aristocracy, saying, “Let the best man win, whoever he is.” Let the best man win! That is America’s word. That is true democracy. And true democracy and true aristocracy are one and the same thing. If anybody cannot see this, so much the worse for his eyesight.

Of course, that was popular literature when America was on the ascent.

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Largess My Ingress

The other day, I bad a couple minutes to spare, so I thought I’d do so as a proper Lileksian: I decided I’d try out the new Relics Antique Mall on Battlefield Road here in Springfield. I had about 30 minutes, and I knew I would not have time to go through the whole thing, but I’d have the chance to review the self-proclaimed Largest Antique Mall in Missouri (larger than all the other largest antique malls in Missouri, and I think they all claim it). So I turn into the driveway by the huge sign and pull into the parking lot of a large warehouse-or-manufacturing-plant-looking building stuffed between a couple of warehouse and manufacturing style facilities.

The building has two narrow glass doors on either side with no other windows on the building. As I start looking for a parking spot, I see a small 9.5″ by 11″ sign on the first door I pass: Not an Entrance. No identifiers on it. The second door has a similar sign on it, but I didn’t see it clearly. Only that neither of the doors clearly said “Entrance” or “Relics” or offered business hours. They looked like the entrances to, well, an office building or a plant of some sort. Suddenly and sullenly, I was no longer in the mood for an antiquing expedition. And I left.

Because I didn’t know where the damn entrance was.

One thing that trips my Grrr wire (and, apparently, ranting fingers) is a commercial enterprise that won’t tell me where to go for commerce. Whether its nondescript buildings holding an office I need to visit or a yard sale that has ads in the papers and signs on the corners but nothing in the grass by the house to tell me that, yes, there are things for sale way up the driveway, I just say, well, since I have children in the car with me a lot of times, these days I just say, “Never mind.”

Spend a little money for clear lettering and signage where I’m supposed to come in, or I won’t. Spread a little light pollution, for Pete’s sake. Because I’m not going into undermarked doors like this one and chancing that the Millworkers Union might impress me as an apprentice.

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You Know What You Want, But Planners Know What You Need

So you think you want a home with room for children and hobbies surrounded by a little bit of grass and maybe privacy fence where you can put something more than a toy barbecue designed for apartment balconies? St. Louis County Planners know better:

St. Louis County planners want to change the county’s zoning codes to encourage people to live closer together to save energy and the environment.

The current codes reflect society’s reliance on the automobile and people’s preference for stand-alone houses, one to a lot.

That’s not the future of housing, experts say.

The last line quoted should be That’s not the future of housing if experts have their say.

Because, face it, they’ve spent years and thousands of dollars getting Master of Urban Planning degrees and have studied theories about what people should want instead of what they want–and do–when allowed freedom.

Message: The environment is more important than you are, subject.

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Economists Are So Cute

Economist ‘encouraged’ despite jump in area jobless rate:

Kansas City-based BLS economist Linda Nickisch said there was an upside despite the 9.3 to 9.5 percent increase in local unemployment from October to November.

“It’s encouraging because it could mean that more people are out there looking for jobs,” Nickisch said.

It could also mean that in that time period, unemployed people thought that their unemployment benefits were going to end in December and were taking action to get a job, but now that they’ve got another year or so to lollygag about, they’ll get back on the sofa and bring that unemployment number back down.

Economics is the PhD equivalent of going to and using its sample to not only tell where all the dollar bills in the country are right now, but also where they will be in 2 years and 8 days.

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Modern Mythology

I’m not gonna get all down on Big Pharmaceuticals here, but don’t the names these days sound a little more mythic than they need to?

Because when I hear about Uloric, immediately I think of a giant blond man with a horned helmet, bearing the mighty four-bladed Xanax in his quest to defeat the unhuman Prinvil and their allies the demonic Zestril and to defend the mighty artifact the Zocor from the predations of the Norvasc and their tyrannical warlord Zithromax.

I think we could build a whole mythology here, or at least keep a comic book running for 40 years, not counting the time spent on alt-history and alt-present stories.

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