New Data Disputes Women’s Magazine Poll Findings on Nature of Masculinity

When I cook something on the grill and enter the house smelling of smoke and charred meat, my wife sometimes says with the undertone of a growl, “You smell good.”

When I emerge from poorly ventilated bathrooms and smell of chemical solvents, my wife says nothing.

Bear that in mind the next time a women’s magazine poll, designed to be shown to men by their mates, proves that women who read women’s magazines and show their poll results to their mates find housecleaning sexy.

Book Report: The Pork Choppers by Ross Thomas (1972)

Book coverWow, this is one cynical little book.

I bought this book in April with a bunch of Ross Thomas’s other titles, and I put them in chronological order in case they’re a series. This book is the first of the ones I got.

The book deals with a labor election, where the longtime president is standing for reelection and the secretary-treasurer is challenging him. The president regrets not having gone to LA when he was offered the opportunity for a screen test when he was a young man. Now, he’s a raging alcoholic who’s bored with the job but wants to keep it. His wife is thirty years younger and is hungry for sex that her husband can’t provide when he’s particularly alcohol-consumptive, as in the stress of the election. The man’s handler provides booze for the husband and sex for the wife, thinking she’s going to divorce the labor leader for him. The secretary-treasurer is an ugly man and a bully with the tendency to break into violent childish tantrums. Then there are the campaign workers, the power brokers, and the influencers who machinate in their ways to get their man elected. And the hitman hired for a couple bills to kill the labor president.

As I said, cynical. There’s really not one unflawed character amongst them. You feel a little sympathy for some, but I couldn’t relate to any, really, except perhaps the labor president’s son, a former policeman fired for being too compassionate, who returns to help his father.

The book moves really well as it shifts between characters and scenes. Each has a good deal of background thrown in fairly expositorially, but it’s not so much as to bog the novel down. The author reminds me a bit of John D. MacDonald for some reason, perhaps the pace and topic matter, but without the main character that the audience should sympathize with.

Another thing: the book dates itself mostly not because of the technologies used and whatnot, but it talks about salaries, and they’re low. Wealthy fatcats make $90,000 a year, and a lot of middle class types make under $10,000. Each one jars you a bit.

Then the book ends, kind of abruptly. But it’s a pretty good book and I enjoyed it. Which is a good thing, since I bought three other books by this author up in Bolivar.

Books mentioned in this review:

DVD Review: Atlas Shrugged


So the new DVD for Atlas Shrugged came out last night, so instead of watching the St. Louis Blues resoundingly defeat the Chicago Wolves (at least, I think they must have looked like a minor league team), I watched it. I was a little sad I missed it in the theaters, you know.

Some were disappointed, but I was not; I realize that the entirety of the book could not fit easily into a film, no matter how many parts they split it into. Galt’s speech alone runs three hours by itself. So if you’re that keen on absolute textual integrity, as so many OBJECTIVISTS probably are, yeah, you’re disappointed. Also, the characters won’t look exactly like you imagined them. Worse, they won’t look exactly like Ayn Rand (PBUH) incarnated them.

But the themes are there. The main plot points, as I recall them (it’s been almost ten years since I read it, prolly). The plot moves along and the dialog is more punchy than what Ayn herself wrote. So if you’re an objectivist apostate, like me, you’ll probably enjoy it. If you’re not already an Ayn Rand fan, perhaps you’ll find something of a story where increased government intrusion into private industry results in disaster that leads to increased government intrusion into private industry (rinse, blather, repeat).

But because those are the main themes and the businesspeople are unapologetically the good guys, I wonder if this sort of story can resonate with audiences. The theatrical return were disappointing, if I recall. Maybe the DVD and online sales will prove lucrative. I expect so. It looks like Part II is a go. Good.

But here are a couple nitpicks I had:

  • In one of the radio/television cuts in the “How Bad Things Are” montage, they mention gas is over $37.50 a gallon. And then Dagny Taggert, protagonist, and Hank Rearden, industrialist and hence protagonist, drive from Colorado to Wisconsin and back. Maybe that’s to show how rich they are, but the economics of it don’t add up.
  • When Dagny and Rearden consummate their relationship, it’s a tender, PG-13 love scene. Come on, a tender love scene in an Ayn Rand novel means they use open hands. Admit it, when you read Ayn Rand depicting the mating ritual of homo sapiens, you imagine it something like this:

Still, a worthy way to spend an hour and a half. Makes me want to cue up my videocassette of The Fountainhead which trumps Atlas Shrugged because, well let me put it syllogistically:

  1. Gary Cooper
  2. Patricia Neal
  3. QED

Army Skips Skynet, Goes Straight To Voltron

To Create the Perfect Machine, Soldiers Build a Robot Out of Robots:

Over at Fort Benning, soldiers at the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment aren’t waiting for military robot makers to come up with the right mix of robotic capabilities. Putting that military penchant for improvisation into practice, soldiers there are mashing up their military robots to give themselves the capabilities they want, piggybacking one robot on top of the other until they get the right mix of gear.

All right, maybe it’s not so much Voltron as Capsela. But you have to crawl before you walk.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

Free Books

As you know, I buy my books in bulk at book fairs and often end up with duplicates. A recent cleanup of my bookshelves has yielded the following:

Free books

They include:

Shoot me an email or comment if you want any or all of them. First come, first served.

Book Report: I’m Not Anti-Business, I’m Anti-Idiot by Scott Adams (1998)

Book coverIt’s been six months since I’ve read a Dilbert book. I don’t know if that’s a record or not; it’s just an excuse to link back to the previous Dilbert book I read.

So if you read that review, you know what I’ll say about it: The humor holds up over the intervening 13 years (since the book was published, not since May). You could still stick these on your cubicle wall. It’s not that hard to read and is a nice respite from longer works or for browsing while you watch a sporting event on television.

Although maybe the deeper meaning in the deeper meaning of Dilbert lies in the fact that these books, of which I own 8 (numbers 6-14 now, so I’ll try to remember if I go looking in book fairs for the rest) is that they’re amusing, they’re relevant, but they’re not really deep and resonant that I remember any of the real ongoing storylines. The characters sketched, yes, but the plots? Not so much. They’re more like the Executioner novels than other sorts of fiction, enjoyed as one consumes them, but only really for the time one is reading. Not that it’s a bad thing, mind you, but nothing more, ultimately.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Outland by Alan Dean Foster (1981)

Book coverAfter I read a science fiction paperback recently, I chose from shelves laden with thick important tomes another of the many thin genre paperback novels: this book. I had already read this book, some 20 years ago when I was in high school and when I’d borrowed the paperback from the Community Library in High Ridge (memory and logic serves that I borrowed it from the Community Library and not the high school library because I read a paperback, not a paperback in library binding).

The plot: A Federal Marshal goes to a mining colony on Io where miners are cinematographically killing themselves. Sean Connery, back when he had color to his hair, uncovers a drug ring run by the colony’s administrator, and has to deal with hired killers. An Amazon reviewer calls this High Noon in space, and I immediately tut-tutted it, but there is a countdown-to-the-killers element, but it’s not a direct transfer and there’s more to it than that, but the film certainly nods to the classic.

So it’s a good lightweight science fiction book. Wait, some aficionados would call this a Western in space (see above). But you know what? That’s what science fiction really was before Niven and the engineers took over the genre. Accessible, breezy, and commonly themed stories set in space that people could relate to without pulling out the slide rule.

Books mentioned in this review:

This Oughter Be A Meme

If there’s anyone left memeing on blogs, or at least memeing on blogs that read MfBJN, I demand, er, ask you to consider what you’ve been looking at on Wikipedia.

Consider this A PERSONAL REQUEST FROM BRIAN J. NOGGLE.

Go to your browser’s address bar and start typing en.wikipedia and report the five top results.

If you care, mine are:

I’d count that as being a Renaissance man. Especially since I’m counting from my Tower machine. Were I recounting from my laptop, no doubt Sinistar would reign supreme.

So what have you been looking at on Wikipedia?

Book Report: Halo: First Strike by Eric Nylund (2003)

Book coverI’m not above reading a book based on a videogame (see also The Dig). Heck, I’m not even above reading a novelization of a movie based on a video game (see also Street Fighter). So a science fiction novel set in the universe of a video game franchise? Why not?

The book doesn’t depend upon the knowledge of the video game series. It drops in some terminology that you’ll recognize if you’ve played the games, but it doesn’t rely on them. It’s fast-enough moving and original, unlike a film script, so between the pre-existing mythos upon which it draws and the fact that it doesn’t just run a series of scenes with depth make it a bit deeper of a book than a screenplay adaptation.

It fits into the game series, I discovered on Wikipedia, but I’m not sure I care how. They say that these detailed games are an art form in and of themselves, but I don’t think videogames can eclipse books/movies/stories, since in addition to requiring a media player (like movies and recorded music), it also requires enough patience and skill with a controller to get through the story. I have a theory that I’ve alluded to about the degrees of art, where primary art requires only the art work and the art lover (live theatre, live music, books, art works), the secondary requires the art work, a mechanism to recreate the art work, and the art lover (recorded music, movies, text on a screen). Video games requiring skill to advance the narrative represents a third degree, if possible, which diminishes their experience.

The author is a technical writer at Microsoft who apparently cranked the titles out in a matter of months. You know, I’d like to think I could do that, too, if I had full time paid work of it, but I could disappoint myself.

At any rate, I enjoyed the book so much that I looked for more by the author when I went to Hooked on Books last week, but I didn’t find any of the Halo books. I’ll keep an eye out in the future, though, because I’m running out of things to read.

Books mentioned in this review:

Tea Partiers Sure Love Thems Some Cock Fights

So I was reading this article about cockfighting in Forbes Life, and….

Well, of all the ways to start a blog post.

But it’s true. The son of a writer for Forbes, kinda like a Chris Buckley rerun, meanders through the story of his last year between working as an investment banker and then bumming around Asia. He starts it out like this:

Bloodied red feathers are swept to the side of the ring. Spectators throw thousands of tightly rolled Filipino pesos back and forth on the floor of Manila’s Araneta Coliseum to settle bets. The victor, a Sweater Kelso cock, is rushed to get his wounds stitched, while the limp body of a yellow-legged hatch, the challenger, is carried from the ring. It’s the last fight before the halftime show: a routine by the Thunderbird Girls, a chicken-feed company’s cheerleaders. Scantily dressed in schoolgirl outfits and dancing to T-Pain’s “Take Your Shirt Off,” the girls make the crowd, overwhelmingly male, Catholic, and Filipino, lose control. Welcome to the World Slasher, the twice yearly Super Bowl of cockfighting.

This is the coliseum where Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fought out their epic Thrilla in Manila, where Pope John Paul II once led Mass, and where Taylor Swift would perform in two weeks. (Her face flashes on the JumboTron between fights.) As the Thunderbird Girls conclude, the announcer’s voice beckons over the loudspeaker: “Now to honor our distinguished international guests….” I’m wedged in a line between Third World business tycoons and Tea Party–esque expats from West Virginia, Louisiana, California. As we head past security guards and through the VIP section, our names are being called out.

What the devil does that mean, Tea Party-esque expats? I mean, other than a handy way to imply Tea Party-minded people like cockfights?

I wonder if it’s supposed to mean anything else.

Good Book Hunting: November 1, 2011

On Tuesday night, we had a little time without the children, so my beautiful wife and I ducked into Hooked on Books.

I bought a couple books:

Some books from Hooked on Books

I got:

  • The Handle, one of Richard Stark’s Parker novels. You might know him as Porter, as he was renamed in the Mel Gibson film Payback.
  • A Dilbert book.
  • A collection called Unsolved Mysteries which looks to be just a shade paranormal but might provide me with some ideas.
  • Cat-a-Lyst. One: It’s an Alan Dean Foster book. Two: It’s got a cat on the front cover.
  • The Trap by Mrs. Stephen King, published under her married name and not her maiden name. I have a couple by her and one by Stephen King, Jr., so I hope I like them.
  • One of the Odd Thomas graphic novels. I don’t remember explicitly saying I wouldn’t buy one, and I have.

You can tell the nature of my shopping excursion: the book racks in the front with the $1 books, the small alcove in the back with the $1 books (and penned graffiti), and then the classics/literature section where I bought nothing but where it was next to the comics.

I haven’t even read all the books I bought at the book fairs this year yet and I’m hitting the used book stores for fun. What is wrong with me? Is the fact that I like to look at bookshelf tumblr sites also a symptom?

New Interpretation Of Bible Finds Laying Off Employees Violates Ten Commandments

In a facile letter to the editor, a Christian of some sort, amid the regular blurrings of doctrine, uncovers the emanations and penumbras of the Ten Commandments:

So, when the conservative politicians say they are going to do away with Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, then as a Christian I must speak out and say this is wrong to bring hardship and shorten the lives of people.

Christians, if you support the conservative movement because of abortion, then I wish to point out that Jesus says nothing about abortion or murder in his admonishment in Matthew, and there are nine other commandments, too. If you cause a person to lose their income and cause a person to lose their way to pay for a doctor you are murdering them.

I say regular blurrings because this fellow talks about the early Christian church, a voluntary organization of like-minded individuals (come to think of it, that describes Christian churches even today) coming together and sharing their goods voluntarily and compares, not contrasts, that with the government’s compulsory behavior, where like-minded or not, individuals must sacrifice their time, talents, efforts, and goods to others who have less for whatever reason (sometimes hard luck, sometimes bad choices) as legitimized by a Rousseauan “Social Contract” foisted on them without their implicit consent.

Oh, yeah, also he says violating 10% of the Ten Commandments is okay, apparently. And then goes onto say that laying someone off from a job is the equivalent of murder.

Strangely enough, in so many interpretations of Christianity, Jesus’s lessons were for all people to behave just as the interpreter does already.

The Private Sector Was There First

Trog links to a story about the military investigating the possibility of caffeinating meat for soldiers:

An Army lab here is testing a beef jerky stick that . . . contains an equivalent of a cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine to give even the sleepiest soldier that up-and-at-’em boost,” Davenport reported.

Come on, the private sector is already there.

(I knew about Perky Jerky because I’d read this article in Forbes. The link is not important; what’s important, gentle reader, is that you respect me for reading Forbes in print.)

The “Saves One Person Rule” Is In Effect

You know the old cost-benefit analysis failure that masquerades as a justification for all sorts of intrusion into individuals’ private lives? “If x saves just one person, it’s worth it”? Well, my friends, push that button:

If a Herman Cain presidency stops just one man from smoking, it’s worth it.

Wait a minute: What if Barack Obama promises to stop smoking if he wins re-election? It’s neutralized!

(Link seen on Hot Air.)