High Mortality Rate For Springfield Pedestrians

This sign would seem to infer Springfield motorists are killing a lot of pedestrians:

I mean, what is the other option? I guess that the pedestrian had to yield to oncoming traffic.

This is positioned where it would be visible to those turning left across a cross walk, so perhaps that is the intent: to remind drivers to yield for pedestrians who have the walk signal.

However, distracting signage is not the way I would go.

Robert Davies, Daryl Simon Have An Alibi

Gold bars with faked logo slipped into global markets, JPMorgan vaults: report:

Gold bars stamped with fake logos of major refineries have been circulated into the global market and landed in the vaults of JPMorgan Chase & Co. — part of a plot to launder smuggled or illegal specimens of the precious metal, according to a report.

Bars worth at least $50 million stamped with the logos of Swiss refineries that did not produce them have been identified by all four of the country’s top gold refiners in the last three years, Reuters reported.

As you know, gentle reader, my novel John Donnelly’s Gold includes the manufacture of a fake gold bar.

What, you didn’t know that? Gentle reader, you should buy the book that is rated at least 4 stars on various forums.

It Makes Sense For A Meme; For Real Life, Yeah, No

So my cousins have posted this meme on Facebook:

Well, I suppose that looks good at the cursory glance you give to a Facebook posting. But in the real world, what the heck are you going to put into a bottle that loses structural integrity in a matter of weeks?

Gentle reader, I’m not talking about the situation at Nogglestead, where every couple of years we take bottles out of the back of the cabinets and find salad dressing whose best by date is in Roman numerals.

If you think about the logistics in the food industry (which meme sharers generally are not), start the counter at the manufacture date of the hemp bottle. It’s coming off of an artisanal assembly line in Vermont or Oregon, and it’s boxed up, stored, and shipped out in a first-in first-out fashion to a processing plant where they make organic hand-crafted kimchi. How many days is this? Unless they’re overnighting the bottles, call it a week.

At the kimchi factory, it sits in a warehouse, gets filled with rotten vegetables, and gets warehoused again. Say the whole process at the food plant takes three days (but it’s probably more).

Then it gets shipped out to a grocery warehouse, where it sits on a pallet of kimchi until it gets packed for delivery on a truck to be sent to a grocery store. Pretend that the foodies and television personalities are pushing kimchi this year, and this process only takes a week.

The load gets delivered to the grocery and gets stocked (1 day). Pretend that the stocker did a good job rotating the kimchi and put it to the back of the shelf. And pretend that kimchi is in this week’s newspaper ad and that people who would buy kimchi actually read the newspaper, so customers buy all the kimchi in front of it and it’s out of the store in, what, four days?

So you get that hemp bottle full of stinking Korean food into your cabinet, and you have to eat it in the next week or it’s going to be a stinking mess on your shelf.

So perhaps a bottle made out of hemp that breaks down in a month is not the Earth-saving magic you’re looking for.

Book Report: The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art by Stephen K. Hayes (1974)

Book coverI bought this book at ABC Books in July, so it was at the top of the stack. I’ve read a couple other martial arts books in the last year (The Martial Artist’s Way, The Zen Way to Martial Arts, Taekwondo Kyorugi, and so on).

The book starts with a bit of history of the ninja in Japan and then tells how the author went to Japan to study with Masaaki Hatsumi, the last ninja grand master (still alive at 87 today). The book then talks about some fighting techniques, describes some weapons of the ninja, and the has a couple of chapters on reconnaissance, espionage, and the spiritual elements of budo. It’s not a long book–150 pages or so–and it has a pseudo-libary binding but no library marks, which makes me think it might be a book aimed at younger audiences.

It’s not so much a how-to book on strikes and whatnot as a summary course. Which is unfortunate. I’m really looking for dirty tricks to pull on the other students at the martial arts school where I train and not so much high-level musing on how to manipulate people using the earth/water/fire/air/void breakdown of the universe.

Full disclosure: I studied at a bujinkan dojo briefly in the middle 1990s, so I would have been indirectly a student of Hatsumi Sensei myself. But not this book’s author.

Spoiler Alert: Nah, Brah

When some unrelated research leads you to an article about a long-awaited event.

Which, five years on, still hasn’t happened. The project (or a project) remains in development. Which means I can recycle this post in five years.

Although, who knows? Stranger things have happened. They did finally make a Parker movie (well, two, if you count Payback). But not a series of films.

One wonders if these older properties have enough of a movie-going fan base to make them worthwhile.

Book Report: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney (2018)

Book coverI bought this book at LibraryCon this year and picked it up first from amongst the gleanings.

I remember noticing that this book, unlike the others at the convention, was hardback with a dust jacket. Most self-published authors go with paperback. When I cracked it open, I discovered that it was actually published by an imprint of Macmillan Publishing. The back flap talking about the author said she was into equality and inclusion in publishing and that she created a #Hashtag, and I thought uh oh. I feared it might be a modern science fiction or fantasy with a message. Fortunately, it is not.

It is a good story. Basically, yes, it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Wonderland. A young woman, grief stricken at the death of her father, is attacked by a fantastic creature and is saved by a man from Wonderland. Not the Executioner’s man from Wonderland; an exiled resident of a fantastic world who bears a dark blade. He teaches her to be a Dreamwalker, a person from our world who goes to Wonderland to kill Nightmares, which are manifestations of human fears that are more frequently plaguing Wonderland. Alice has allies in Wonderland–other Dreamwalkers who guard other places where the two worlds intersect–but they discover a growing danger from a mysterious Black Knight who wants to resurrect the Black Queen to rule Wonderland.

The only quibble I have with the book is that the climactic battle at the end comes up and is dispatched very quickly–which, as you know, gentle reader, is a common complaint I make. The book too clearly leads into the next in the series, which means the end doesn’t really resolve that much in the story arc.

But that’s a minor thing. The story moves along well, and the author not only relies on the Alice in Wonderland story for a jumping-off point, but she also alludes heavily to “The Jabberwocky” as well. And she titles her chapters in addition to giving them numbers–a practice of which I approve.

But I’ll pick up the next in the series when it comes out next month. And I will pick up a copy of both books for my godson for Christmas since he likes fantasy novels. Or so I hope–because every year, he still gets them from me.

If only the author would do a book signing at ABC Books so I could get the books signed.

Someone Of No Consequence Disses Renoir

Renoir’s Problem Nudes:

Who doesn’t have a problem with Pierre-Auguste Renoir? A tremendously engaging show that centers on the painter’s prodigious output of female nudes, “Renoir: The Body, the Senses,” at the Clark Art Institute, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, sparks a sense of crisis. The reputation of the once exalted, still unshakably canonical, Impressionist has fallen on difficult days. Never mind the affront to latter-day educated tastes of a painting style so sugary that it imperils your mind’s incisors; there’s a more burning issue. The art historian Martha Lucy, writing in the show’s gorgeous catalogue, notes that, “in contemporary discourse,” the name Renoir has “come to stand for ‘sexist male artist.’ ” Renoir took such presumptuous, slavering joy in looking at naked women—who in his paintings were always creamy or biscuit white, often with strawberry accents, and ideally blond—that, Lucy goes on to argue, the tactility of the later nudes, with brushstrokes like roving fingers, unsettles any kind of gaze, including the male. I’ll endorse that, for what it’s worth.

Technically, I guess that counts as two people of no consequence.

The writer then goes on to say the nudes of Picasso and Matisse are a breath of fresh air after looking at the Renoir. So he is also a man of no taste.

(You know what I think of Matisse, which I do infrequently and that’s too much.)

(Link via Instapundit.)

Brian J.: Jazz Poseur

How much of a poseur at jazz am I? I am using the French spelling of it, aren’t I?

Also, I score 0 of 100 on this GQ article which would serve as a quiz if I had any of the answers: The 100 best jazz albums you need in your collection.

I mean, I have numerous albums and collections by artists who appear on this list, but I don’t have any of the individual records on this list.

Which is explained by:

  • Their collectibility–I don’t find the records at library book sales or thrift stores.
  • I rarely seek out old recordings on CD, and you don’t find the CDs out in the wild, either.
  • The list does not contain a lot of jazz/torch singers, which is the kind of CDs I do seek out.
  • I am a poseur.

I think about getting Miles Davis’s The Birth of the Cool from time to time, but that’s about it.

Perhaps it’s not so much that I’m a poseur; perhaps I’m not a GQ hipster. It has been decades since I subscribed to that magazine, which I did as part of my late 1990s “I need to dress better and be more sophisticated by following magazine diktats” phase. None of the diktats, though, included dropping a lot of foreign words in italics in conversations. Which is just as well. I wouldn’t have followed it if it had, much as I did not follow the clothing, music, book, or movie fashion tips I gleaned from the short-lived subscriptions.

(Link via Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Now that I have replaced my failed record player(s) and have gotten back to walking my fingers through my collection, I discovered that I do have Dave Brubeck’s Time Out (I also have Time Further Out and Jazz Goes to College). So I have 1 out of 100. I am a hipster.

A Musically Unbalanced Summer

It was March when I last updated you, gentle reader, as to my musical purchases and checked to see how balanced they were between heavy metal and jazz songbirds.

I’ve been a little naughty in buying CDs here recently, so I thought I’d go back through time to see how I’m doing.

In the last six months, I’ve purchased:

  • True Love by Jessy J
  • Second Chances by Jessy J
  • Rewind, Replay, Rebound by Volbeat
  • Cherry Blossom by Keiko Matsui
  • A Drop of Water by Keiko Matsui
  • Another Place by Hiroshima (I already own it on vinyl, but want it available when I am not at a working record player.)
  • Meliora by Ghost
  • Crossfade by Crossfade
  • All I See Is War by Sevendust
  • Storyteller by Morgan James
  • Hunter by Morgan James
  • We’ve Only Just Begun by Ashley Pezzotti
  • Core by Stone Temple Pilots
  • No. 4 by Stone Temple Pilots
  • The Purple Album by Stone Temple Pilots
  • Shangri-La Dee Dah by Stone Temple Pilots
  • Tiny Music…. by Stone Temple Pilots
  • Storyteller by Tine Thing Helseth

In my defense, the Stone Temple Pilots CDs came in a set that cost as much as a single CD.

So we’ve got 8 jazz songbirds, although Hiroshima is a stretch even with Barbara Long on the vocals and Morgan James considers herself to be a soul singer and not a jazz singer. We’ve got 9 metal albums. So it’s not as unbalanced as I thought. Also, one classical trumpeter who might be the second prettiest trumpeter in the world.

But it doesn’t make up for the jazz-heavy winter and spring, but there’s a new Hellyeah! album coming out next month. Which will help. Also, my opportunity to listen to metal has been curtailed. I’ve not been going to the gym that frequently lately. My job has frequent phone meetings which interrupt. And I’m not driving far enough to listen in the car.

So perhaps it is just as well, although it’s just as sad.

Repeating What I Have Been Thinking

Although tied to recent news: The 1519 Project: How Early Spanish Explorers Took Down A Mass-Murdering Indigenous Cult.

Let’s take a brief recess from the 1619 Project to explore another project. Call it the “1519 Project.” A full century before The New York Times’ proposed re-dating of the American founding and 2,200 miles southwest of Jamestown, European contact sparked a native uprising against a gruesome cult of cannibalism and mass murder.

Graphically described in the 1855 book, “Makers of History: Hernando Cortez,” John S.C. Abbott paints a picture of desperation for a tiny band of Spanish soldiers and their native allies. Next year marks the 500th anniversary of the Battle of the Dismal Night, where an initially successful Cortez was nearly crushed by superior Aztec forces.

Hugh Thomas described the human sacrifice with some approval, calling them “astonishing, often splendid, and sometimes beautiful barbarities”, in his book Conquest: Montezuma, Cortes, and the Fall of Old Mexico. Since then, I have been on Team Cortez.

Ignorance of history is what they teach in history classes these days.

(Link via Ace of Spades HQ.)

Good Book Hunting, Saturday, August 24, 2019: ABC Books

It’s been a month and a half since ABC Books had a book signing, which is okay since I’ve only just now started one of the books I bought on my last sojourn up there, and I got plenty last weekend without a trip up north.

But this weekend, they had a book signing with Billy Pearson, a fellow who had only started writing at age 80 and has nine books in print.

I picked up four of them and a little extra.

I got:

  • Frontier Woman, the account of Billy Pearson’s aunt after she moved to Colorado with her husband in the 1880s.
  • Chronicles of Hickory County, historical anecdotes from people that Pearson knew.
  • The Chemistry of Love, a novel. I told the proprietrix that it would go well with The Physics of Love. And that I would be looking for the Biology of Love and The Geology of Love when they get them in stock.
  • Missouri Short Story Adventures which might be fiction or anecdotes.
  • Karate!, a 1970s paperback by Russell Kozuki.
  • Complete Karate by J. Allen Queen, a more textbook-sized book of karate.
  • Flight of the Golden Eagle: Tales of the Empty-Handed Masters by Terrence Webster-Doyle which looks to be lessons from martial arts that are not necessarily martial arts strikes.

That should keep me going until next time. And beyond.

I’m interested in the karate books as I have toyed with the idea of starting to study another discipline part-time as I’ve advanced to a level in my satori studies where progress is going to be slow, and I might want another style to keep it fresh.

At any rate, my oldest boy picked up a couple of YA scary story titles, and my youngest didn’t want to stop reading the book he had in the truck to come in and pick new books. So perhaps that’s a lesson I should learn.

Maybe not.

Speaking of 80s Movies

Since we were just talking about 80s movies, I saw this image on Facebook and thought it would make a good quiz:

I won’t bother to type them all out because I am lazy, but allow me to identify the ones I have not seen and why.

  • Friday the 13th: I think in my slasher movie days, which is to say in the days when my friends wanted to see slasher movies or my friend’s father wanted to watch slasher movies so he rented a couple for us when we slept over at his house, that I might have missed the first in the series although I caught most of the middle of the first ten.
     
  • Steel Magnolias because it’s a chick flick and no chick I’ve been with since the 1980s has insisted upon watching it with me.
     
  • Raging Bull which is more of a 70s film according to zeitgeist, ainna? At any rate, I just haven’t come across it cheaply at a book sale or anything.
     
  • Broadcast News because it looked kinda preachy, and I haven’t sought it out.
     
  • Mystic Pizza. See above comment about Steel Magnolias.
     
  • Flashdance. A dancing movie. To be honest, I’ve not seen Footloose either. I guess I dodge movies that look to be dancing movies that were made after, what, 1960?

That’s six movies I’ve not seen out of 36, which is 30 of 36 or 83%.

Not bad since the ones I mentioned are chick flicks and whatnot.

I’ve seen Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Weird Science, and Die Hard within the last year. I’m hoping to see The Goonies and Top Gun with my children soon. A couple others on the list I’ll consider revisiting. A couple, like The Evil Dead and Heathers I’ll probably never need to see again. Of the ones I have not seen, Flashdance and Raging Bull are most likely and Friday the 13th is the most likely to not.

Meanwhile, At The IMAO T-Shirt Babe Reunion

As I mentioned in the book report for Who Built That?, we were thinking of going to see Michelle Malkin speak. Last night, we did.

I spent the whole evening telling the various high-powered other attendees of the annual Vitae Foundation event that my beautiful wife once modeled a clothing line with Ms. Malkin.

WHICH IS TRUE because they both appeared in the IMAO Peace Gallery wearing Nuke the Moon shirts.

Were they wearing clothing for promotional purposes? Yes. AKA modeling a clothing line which only had one offering, so it was geometrically more of a clothing dot.

As I’m relying on pictures of my beautiful wife as Rule 5 material here on the blog so much recently, I’ve started to wonder if I’m turning into an Instagram husband. But in my defense, I had to remind myself that the previous picture was from a local business magazine.

Yes, yes, the headline is misleading. Technically speaking, Sarah K. was the IMAO T-Shirt Babe and won the grand prize, marriage to Frank J. So I guess she’s Sarah K.J. now.

And, yes, I could have said I modeled a clothing line with Michelle Malkin as I was in the Peace Gallery, too, but, come on. That does not flatter my beautiful wife, with whom I dispute whether she was any higher than result #3 on the Google Image Search for legs back in the day. She says she was higher, but when my co-worker told me about it, she was #3. Unstated: Why my co-worker was searching Google image searches for legs. I would have mentioned that fact about my wife at the Vitae event, but that might have mortified her.

Thank you, that is all.

Wasted Ingenuity

I always find stories like this interesting: Fugitive lived in isolated bunker for 3 years to evade arrest in Wisconsin:

His hideout was near the Ice Age Trail, a 1,000-mile footpath that winds through Wisconsin woodlands. It’s a rustic trail, still partially in development, and in remote places like Ringle sees very little foot traffic.

Button began digging out the bunker, lining the walls with cardboard and tarps. He made a roof out of tarps and logs. When it was finished, he started moving in supplies one backpack load at a time. He bought half a pallet of canned food and brought in a TV.

When it was time for Button to finally disappear, he said he left his car, wallet and ID at his mother’s house in Richfield, along with a note that he was moving to Florida. He hopped a train in Stevens Point and covered himself with coal in one of the coal cars to avoid detection. He got off the train in Wausau, and it took him two days to walk to his bunker.

Over the years, he was able to ride a bike to the landfill to collect food, clothes, tools, electronics and other supplies.

Tennessee escapee: Affidavit says fugitive Curtis Ray Watson strangled, sexually assaulted Tennessee corrections employee

Button attached a TV antenna to a tree outside the bunker and used a system of eight solar panels and numerous car batteries to power the TV, other electronics, lights and fans. When he needed more electricity, Button pedaled a bike attached to a homemade generator.

He did better than that kid in Alaska.

I dunno why the stories of fugitives hiding out in the woods fascinates me more than kids wandering into the woods and dying. The relative success (that is, the fugitive lived)?

What We Did This Weekend

I’m pleased to see that the new sledge hammer and mauls work to split the logs left over from when a spring storm blew a large tree over, knocking down our security light. The utility co-op came along and cut the tree off of the broken light post, replace the lights, and left me with some firewood to split.

So I ordered some splitting wedges from Amazon since I couldn’t find them in the local hardware store. They arrived in a damaged box clearly labeled as “It Wasn’t Our Fault” by the delivery company, but fifteen pounds of pointy iron in cardboard isn’t going to ship well.

I went looking for my sledgehammer, but I believe my boys have taken them into the woods some years ago when they were into “mining” which meant tearing chunks out of the old railbed that serves as my neighbor’s driveway. So I bought a new one, and we were in business yesterday.

Briefly. It took me a while to get back into the swing of things, literally. Hitting off-center often sent the maul looping through the air, and the uneven ground often made the log topple when hit. It took us 30 minutes to split three of the logs which are pretty wet yet, and it was well over 90 degrees. So this is a chore to resume on a nice autumn day.

Book Report: Miracle in the Ozarks by Chester Funkhauser (2004)

Book coverIn keeping with my recent spurt of Ozarkiana (Unto These Hills, The Willow Bees), I picked up this short novel.

In it, a grandfather still grieving from his wife’s death from cancer takes in his daughter and grandson as the boy suffers from leukemia and the marriage is on the fritz. The daughter takes a nursing job in town, leaving the ailing boy to spend the days with his grandfather in a cabin in the mountains. The boy starts talking about meeting the fairy people down, and his imaginative incidents almost make it sound believeable. But the boy gets lost in a thunderstorm, and the local crazy war veteran helps to find him, and the adventure results in reconciliation and healing all around.

It’s a short book–156 pages–and it’s one of the better of the local novels I’ve read. Although it’s not self-published, it’s apparently from a very small press, and the author is (or was) a grandfather himself who is pictured on the back with his wife and one of his large woodcarvings. So perhaps not a professional writer, but the story is well executed nevertheless.

Apparently, I bought this book four years ago at the Friends of the Christian County Library book sale, so it’s a relatively recent entry in my book stack. Which explains why it was in the front. Perhaps I should dust and turn-out the library again, but that would hide so many of my new acquisitions in the back. But it might turn up those Joshua Clark books I’ve hidden.