Book Report: Endangered Lighthouses by Tim Harrison and Ray Jones (2001)

Book coverThis book identifies and documents a number of lighthouses that are (or were) at risk of falling down and need preservation and restoration. The book looks at a variety of lighthouses in different regions, including the northeast, the south, and the Great Lakes (and on on Lake Tahoe, but it’s not really a lighthouse in the lighthouse sense of the word).

It gives, in dribs and drabs, some history of the Lighthouse Service, which handled lighthouses before the Coast Guard took them over, as well as information about some of the players responsible for designing multiple lighthouses and patenting lens systems. Also, some of the lighthouses were staffed and not automated until my life time.

Many were not considerered worth preservation immediately after they were decommissioned, and even now, some are nothing more than brick towers standing on some bit of private land. Although lighthouses in the popular imagination are picturesque, in many cases they were much more utilitarian structures, and one can understand why the government and locals might not have thought them worthy of preservation. Contrast them with something like water towers to get an adeqaute sense of the relationship.

Some of the relics are in parks or public locations where the locals have not allotted budget for restoration, and the book refers to a couple that are on private property (one is being restored for an AirBNB before that was a thing). Man, how cool would it be to have a lighthouse on your land? Of course, I think it would be cool because I would have the urge and perhaps someday the budget to restore it. Note that I had this exact same idea when I read A History of the Rural Schools in Greene County, Mo ten years ago.

I also got to thinking of a recent film set at a lighthouse with Williem Defoe, a Wisconsin native, and that guy from those vampire movies. I wracked my brain trying to remember the name of it, and that was especially hard because it was the obvious The Lighthouse. And now that I’ve read the plot summary, yep, that’s a movie I’m not going to watch just because I read a book about lighthouses.

At any rate, an interesting browse. Too wordy for a football game browse, but who knows when that will again be an issue.

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A Poem I Forgot I Remembered

The other day, I was flipping through a paperback collection of poems called Immortal Poems of the English Language, a gift from my high school National Honor Society Secret Pal (a year-long Secret Santa type deal) at the end of the 1989 school year, when I came across “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars” by Richard Lovelace:

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
     That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
     To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
     The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
     A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
     As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
     Lov’d I not Honour more.

I had forgotten I remember that poem.

I memorized it and performed it once or twice in my coffee house open mic days (whose memories I have shared). But I’d forgotten I’d memorized it. I mean, it’s not like the Edna St. Vincent Millay sonnet that I liked to open with at a new venue, and it’s not as noteworthy as memorizing “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” en toto. So I’d forgotten I know it.

But after we wrote the poem and after my youngest boy read it, I showed them how I could recite it from memory (mostly), and pointed out that when you really liked a poem, you could memorize it and recite it and thus make the poem yours. They did not seem excited at the prospect, although they acknowledged that they’ve memorized song lyrics. So they know what it means. Whether they will ever choose to memorize a poem of their own accord remains to be seen. But I’m hopeful.

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Entitlements, 2020

Daniel Patrick Moynihan?:

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

Thanks to the myriad studies, models, and tests conducted during this current unpleasantness (the COVID-19 pandemic, he says to himself reading this in 2030 when it might not be immediately in mind and assuming he survives the current unpleasantness), and how each is breathlessly reported by a 23-year-old journalist whose only brush with “science” was a freshman class in climate change, we can each have our own facts to clout people who wear masks/people who don’t wear masks/people with whom we disagree politically.

One of my pastors posted this on Facebook:

As governors are trying to figure out how to ease back in to a new normal, please remember:

🛑 Some people don’t agree with the state opening…. that’s okay. Be kind.

🏡 Some people are still planning to stay home…. that’s okay. Be kind.

🦠 Some are still scared of getting the virus and a second wave happening….that’s okay. Be kind.

💰 Some are sighing with relief to go back to work knowing they may not lose their business or their homes….that’s okay. Be kind.

👩🏾‍⚕️Some are thankful they can finally have a surgery they have put off….that’s okay. Be kind.

📝 Some will be able to attend interviews after weeks without a job….that’s okay. Be kind.

😷 Some will wear masks for weeks….that’s okay. Be kind.

💅🏻 Some people will rush out to get the hair or nails done…. that’s okay. Be kind.

❤️ The point is, everyone has different viewpoints/feelings and that’s okay. Be kind.

We each have a different story. If you need to stay home, stay home. But be kind .

If you need to go out, just respect others when in public and be kind!

Don’t judge fellow humans because you’re not in their story. We all are in different mental states than we were months ago. So remember, be kind.

Please SHARE this reminder for kindness. ❤

I suspect that ship has already sailed and sunk just off the coast.

Regardless, I’m still going to smile and say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” to people even if they’re dressed and are treating me like they’re Wuhanfa.

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They Saw Me Coming

Seen on Facebook:

Of course, I ordered one.

You might remember how impressed I was when I read Scipio Africanus: Greater than Napoleon. And Hannibal, clearly.

Unfortunately, I’ve bought a handful of t-shirts from Facebook ads, so Facebook shows me more t-shirt ads than posts from my friends.

And designer face mask ads. Heaven help us, but there might well be a glut of those in a year or so. I hope you can make quilts from them.

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Dreaming of (A) Home

The other night, I dreamed of the trailer park.

It was weird; I was going for a run from our trailer towards the outside of the park. It was nice outside, but I saw some people as I turned onto the main street in the middle of it, but I went wide of them for social distancing purposes. I got to Delores Drive, the thoroughfare that led up to the highway, and I stopped to look at the Stop’n’Go which was a small convenience store, but it might have had a couple of gas pumps. Instead of the Stop’n’Go, a little plaza stood there with a Domino’s Pizza. Suddenly, it was snowy, and I was crawling on the shoulder of Delores Drive headed toward the school bus stop or perhaps up the hill–it was a big hill and not fun to drive on in the snow and ice. So I heard; I was too young to pay attention to real life at thirteen years old.

So I decided to take a spin around the old homestead in Google maps.

This is the entrance to the trailer park. Back when I lived there, the sign was a big wood-carved sign that misspelled it as Siesta Manor Mobil Home Park, although someone tried to squeeze an E in there, but it was far smaller than the other letters. The lot behind the sign was green space with some playground equipment and a swimming pool. It looks as though they’ve filled that area with other pads.

Looks like the pool is still there. Strangely enough, I think I only went to that pool once or twice in the three years I lived there. I might have gone to Noyes Park’s pool in Milwaukee the same number of times in that span.

Even though the number says 108, I’m pretty sure this pad is the one our trailer sat on. Third from the main road. In the first lived a woman and then her son; the son sold my brother Playboy magazines and later gave us a dog we called Buddy, but the dog had been abused and kept us in terror–and took the eye of our Pekingeseish dog in a fight–before my mother had enough and divested the family of the dog whilst I was in college. The second trailer housed an old man who somehow got permission from my mother to let us go with him to Portage Des Souix (about an hour and a half away) to help clean out another trailer of his. Old Frank was a messy, dirty man, but I guess my brother befriended him. On the other side of us was the Hittler trailer, of course. Across the street where Jimmy’s dad lived, next to Cathy, the woman with the double-wide who became a realtor and sold my mother the house down the gravel road. On the other side of Cathy was a guy who worked for the government whom the FBI interviewed when my mother was going for security clearance; he came over right away to let her know the FBI was canvassing the neighborhood.

I’d say it hasn’t changed since the last time I took a look at it, but the image is dated 2013, so of course the 2013 image hasn’t changed. I notice, though, that they built all those pads at the front of the trailer park but had a lot of empty pads in the interior.

Clearly, the little business plaza which featured the Stop’n’Go has not fared so well. In addition to the little convenience store at the left, the building at the right held business offices for a liquid propane dealer and, briefly, something called “Hot Tub Haven” that was open until 2am and, in a stunning turn of events, involved prostitution.

Across the street, we used to stand and wait for the bus in front of a beauty college that stood at the entrance to Brookside Estates, another mobile home park. What’s really weird is that you can see the old building in one spot in Google Maps as you’re moving south on Delores Drive:

That image is dated 2017; in other images dated 2019 which you see for most other spots on Delores Drive, the building is gone:

Google Maps is kind of like my own memory; I think this is true, and sometimes, something can corroborate it, but most of the time, in the 21st century, it’s unbelievable and unproveable, and those who could attest to it don’t remember or are dead.

Atop the hill, the old U Gas is now a Circle K.

On Sunday mornings, my sainted mother would often stop at the U Gas to pick up a dozen gas station doughnuts for us. I remember not being able to afford canvases or art supplies, so I’d cut the corrugated cardboard doughnut boxes to be the canvases for my extra credit poor water color paintings. The U Gas also had a couple video games in rotation, and although I didn’t get into Out Run, all three of us in Triple N Lawns blew all of the money we’d earned and our banked gas money on Rampage one afternoon.

Across from the U Gas was the flea market for a long time until they tried to develop it. They built a Bonanza restaurant deep into the lot and had a sign that said Now Leasing Plaza 30 which must have been up for a decade. Eventually, they put in a mobile home lot. In the last thirty years, though, it has been developed.

I sure missed the flea market, though. A kid with a couple of bucks in his pocket could climb that hill on a Saturday morning and find any number of wonders.

At any rate, man, that was almost 35 years ago. This is the point where I’m supposed to say, “It doesn’t seem like it!” My beautiful wife says something along those lines when we drive through the Missouri State campus where she went to school. And maybe it wasn’t for her, as she has not aged. But for me, yeah, that was a long time ago.

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A Hand Out, Not A Hand Up

Tyson Foods chairman warns ‘the food supply chain is breaking’:

The chairman of Tyson Foods is warning that “millions of pounds of meat will disappear” from the national food supply chain as the coronavirus outbreak forces food processing plants to shutter.

“The food supply chain is breaking,” John Tyson wrote in a full-page advertisement published Sunday in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

An advertisement in the papers? Why run an advertisement in the papers, especially the New York Times and the Washington Post?

Unless it’s a call for… government action in the form of money or a special guest worker program or something.

You know, I used to be young and cynical, but that’s back in the days when I was a foolish optimist.

(Link via Instapundit. See also Powerline.)

UPDATE: Well, they got something: Trump to Order Meat Plants to Stay Open in Move Slammed by Union. Maybe not what they wanted. (Link via Instapundit.)

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Good Book Hunting: April 28, 2020: The ABC Books Order

I placed this order last week early in the week, so I’d hoped it would come last week, but it’s here today. The stay-at-home order for Missouri will end on Monday, May 4, so I’ll stop ordering books online and return to my regularly scheduled trips to the north side. Which will be a bit of a boon, but also I will lose the sense of Christmas I get when unboxing things that I’ve forgotten I ordered.

Last week, apparently I went through the drama and film section again:

I got:

  • Science Fiction’s Greatest Monsters by Daniel Cohen. Closer inspection of the actual item indicates that this is actually a children’s book. Which means I will jump on it quickly to pad my annual numbers which are getting hamstrung by the omnibus collection of Agatha Christie that I’m working through.
  • Education of a Working Man by Louis L’Amour, a memoir by the western author.
  • General Principles of Play Direction by Gilmor Brown and Alice Garwood, an ex-library textbook-looking book published by Samuel French, which was a publisher of plays to perform.
  • The Way of the Seal by Mark Divine with Allyson Edelhertz Machate. To compare and contrast with the Marcinko books, although I must note I do not have his nonfiction leadership book.
  • A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee, a play.
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral by Richard Curtis. I saw this film when it was newly on video. Yes, it was chosen by my girlfriend at the time.
  • Signs and Portents by Jane Killick. An episode guide to the first season of Babylon 5. I don’t think I’ve seen a whole episode of it.
  • Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson. A musing on how Breakfast at Tiffany’s made the modern woman. I can’t wait to see if it says that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I saw this film once back in the day as well, as it was also chosen by my girlfriend at the time (the time we watched it, not the time that it came out. I ain’t that eld.).
  • Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. A biography. I see this one has a sticker still on the back, so I’ll have to be sure to read this one at church in case Mrs. E. is watching.
  • The Cabin by David Mamet. Almost a memoir.
  • The Annotated Monal Lisa by Carol Strickland, PhD. A crash course in art history with some comparisons, but not a pop-up video sort of annotations overlaying great works of art.

The stack of unread ABC Books on the floor is not as tall as I am, so there’s no problem yet. Now that I’m in between novels in the Agatha Christie omnibus, so perhaps I can knock some of these shorter books out.

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AI Rorschach Test

So I’ve been writing my grandmother letters every week or so during The Lockdown as she has mentioned on occasion (the occasions being whenever we talk) that she likes my letters (previously sent at Christmas time and when the boys’ spring pictures come out). I’ve added some pictures to the letters, embedding the digital images right in the letter instead of printing them separately because there’s no need for her to have them aside from the letters, and if they fade in a couple of years, no one will care about my letters to Nana.

But as I’ve added the images, I see that Microsoft Word has had some ALT text to the images for some damn reason, as though Nana is going to have a screen reader read the printed letter to her. Who knows? Microsoft knows best, and it obscures the settings to turn its new (aka within the last fifteen years’ worth of) Microsoft Office stupidity if you even can.

So we get Artificial Intelligence Rorschach tests. Tell me, Microsoft AI, what do you see here with a picture of three fools in the pool in the middle of April, when the water is still cold?

Yes, clearly that is a bench sitting in the water. I suppose I should be happy it did not think that was three Loch Ness Monsters doing something out of the Kama Sutra, which to be honest, I might have seen were it a black and white blot of similar shapes.

Okay, so I tell Nana about snake flashcards I made and the snake in the garden that inspired it. So here’s a picture I stole from the Missouri Department of Conservation Web site of the prairie ring-necked snake.

Oh wise oracle of Azure, what do youit see?

A cat lying on the ground indeed.

You know, these answers are so far off, I wonder two things:

One, why is Microsoft even bothering to expose this nonsense to users when it is so very clearly not right at all?

Or, second, why does the artificial intelligence want us to think it is stupid? What is its real goal here?

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Book Report: Sartre for Beginners by Donald D. Palmer (1995)

Book coverThis book is a little wordier than Einstein for Beginners, but one would expect that the sort of people who would write Marxist comic books are probably better equipped to go on at length about Sartre and Existentialism than physics.

But it’s a good primer on Sartre’s thought through his career. It’s broken out by topics, but also a bit of evolution which, spoiler alert! culminates in the highest point of Sartre’s thought which is of course the defense of the Soviet Union and Stalinism found in Critique of Dialectical Reason which was not published completely in his lifetime because he could not square the circle. Fortunately, this comic book does its best to do the same. But, yeah, that’s not what Sartre is best known for and for good reason.

In case you’re wondering, Marx doesn’t appear in this book until page 3. Fortunately, though, he is clothed.

I’m getting a strange sort of pleasure out of these books. I mean, I know they’re simplistic Marxist tracts, but it’s interesting to kind of contrast my understanding of the topic with the comic book and see if I can spot exactly where it goes spinning into nonsense.

This book is sixteen years into the series after Einstein for Beginners, and I see that they’ve got a bevy of books in then-current print. Einstein for Beginners isn’t listed in the covers, nor are Marx for Beginners, Lenin for Beginners, or The Anti-Nuclear Handbook, but we’ve got a mix of then-contemporary-ish titles like Mao for Beginners, Pan-Africanism for Beginners, Black Panthers for Beginners and Malcom X for Beginners along with “timeless” topics like Plato for Beginners, Hemingway for Beginners, and Nietzsche for Beginners. Then we go into the WTF with The History of Clowns for Beginners. And Sex for Beginners–I’m almost afraid how Marxism might ruin that for me. But, still, I have a strange fascination for these books now, and I know if I see any of these in the wild for a dollar or two, I will buy them and read them soon.

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Homeschooling, Day 92x3-4y

After last week’s incident with the deadly (if you choked on it) prairie ring-necked snake in the gardens of Nogglestead, I decided it would be a worthwhile goal to teach the boys to recognize various snakes of Missouri.

So I went to the Missouri Department of Conservation Web site and got a list of the snakes of Missouri. Then, in my own personal arts and crafts time, I laid them out, printed them out in color, and made a set of flash cards:

Unfortunately or fortunately, I was not zealous in selecting only snakes whose habitats include southwestern Missouri, so we have a number of snakes who have been seen in Platte City once. Maybe.

To study them, I am going to shuffle them and make each child write them out in alphabetical order and then in order of length.

And then once they’re good at identifying the snakes by the pictures on the flash cards, I’ll have made a set of cards with other pictures of the snakes so that they learn to go by the pattern and not the particular picture.

Once, when we went on a hike at the Nathan Greene homestead in Ash Grove, we came across a snake lying across the cut grass that served as a path across a wide meadow when we found a five foot snake lying across it. I didn’t have a stick to move it along, but I convinced the boys to walk around its but end slowly. After we were past, I got closer to snap a picture, and it snapped into defensive posture and moved along. It freaked the boys out so much that, although I said we’ll just keep walking and watch more closely for snakes, my youngest took off at a run, at which point he stepped on another snake which also snapped to defensive posture whilst my boy jumped straight into the air. We made it back to the trailhead very quickly, and the boys have not been eager to go hiking since.

At any rate, a useful exercise to keep them busy in between their actual school assignments.

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Teleschooling, Day 87x3

My boys have a science project where they’re supposed to create a Rube Goldberg machine.

Here’s what they made:

I’m not saying that it was the best Rube Goldberg machine ever, but it looks like it was so advanced that the Israelis took it out.

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The Source of That Thing Dad Always Says (X or XVIII, Depending Upon Your Accounting Methodology)

For a very long time, whenever my children purposefully or accidentally knocked something down or broke into component parts a Lego or block creation, I would say, “Smash, Smash, Diggin’ the Smash.”

Which was the catch phrase of a radio personality in St. Louis around the turn of the century. Well, not the catch phrase: something that radio listeners would say on the phone or whatnot, and the recordings were played on the air as promos or whatnot.

I thought of this when I saw that he has returned to the St. Louis airwaves. Again.

I looked (briefly) for something where people repeated the line, and all I found was a short documentary piece on his career until 2014:

Unfortunately, the reason he can return to radio is that his wife, who had been ill for a while, passed away.

Perhaps the next time we pass through St. Louis, we can catch a bit of his one of his programs, and the boys can learn the source of that thing.

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Homeschooling, Day 1,000,001

The boys have continued with their teleschooling as schools in Missouri have been closed for the rest of the year. They’ve been a little, erm, lax about turning in their work on time, but that’s not really been much of a change since the teleschooling began.

One of the young men was charged with creating a model of the ear for his science class, and he of course did not begin it until the week after it was due. He built a small model out of Sculpey and pipe cleaners, but the first try was rejected, and he built it again. Which was accepted.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can use it in our art history unit on Van Gogh.

You know, that gag worked better on Facebook. Just the picture and the punchline. BOOM!

Meanwhile, tonight’s poem tying into history courtesy Blogodidact. Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
    Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
    And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
    Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
    Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
    We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
    When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
    To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
   The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Now, if I can only put my thumb on them long enough to get them to finish their papers on lessons learned from the autobiographies of Ben Franklin and Frederick Douglass.

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Remember, if you hit any open-the-state protesters with your car (I am SOOOO essential, Karen! I NEED TO DRIVE!) this week, you should immediately sanitize the bumper and fender to ensure they don’t give you COVID-20.

COVID-19? Man, that’s so yesterday. The hipster fear is now COVID-20.

If the protester hits the windshield, windshield washing fluid is not enough!

And the media will cheer you for running down the protestors, unlike the Profa protesters a couple years ago.

Perhaps I need a category for sick or gallows humor since that runs so deep within me. Also note: THIS IS NOT REAL ADVICE. I realize if you’re old enough to need reading glasses to read this fine print, you’re not tempted, but kids these days. GAWD!

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Brian J. Joins the Navy

Scientists Explore Underwater Quantum Links for Submarines.

As you might recall, gentle reader, I have lots of experience with Quantum Link.

As some of you older folks might know, Quantum Link was an online service for Commodore 64s which later became a little thing called America Online.

But I was on it in the old days, before it was cool. I’m a Q-Link hipster.

Well, all right, not a lot of experience. Let me explain.

When we lived in the trailer, we got our first computer, a Commodore 128, with my mother’s inheritance from her aunt. We also got a modem with it (not one you plug your handset into a la Wargames, but a flaky Volks 6480 1200 baud modem into which you plugged your telephone line directly. We got wind of or, quite likely, a free installation disk somewhere, perhaps with a magazine or sent via a magazine’s mailing list.

So we installed it.

To get into Q-Link, you had to dial up to one of the big data centers that leased their lines to businesses during the day, but were available for consumer traffic at night. The client software ran and communicated with the company servers back east, and you could get into chat rooms both public and private (yeah, Baby Boomers invented online sex, too, you damn kids). The news groups and forums were free, but chatting and playing games was not; you had to pay an extra six cents a minute to do so, six cents a minute that was added to your phone bill (come on, not everyone had credit cards in 1987).

You would think the limits to off-business hours would have minimize the damage a couple bored teens could do, but you’d be wrong.

My mother worked first shift in those days, so she’d leave the trailer a little before seven in the morning, and we’d roll out of bed and hop online for a couple of hours of Plus time before the data center would cut over to businesses. And nights, we’d weedle my mother until she relented to let us have an hour of Plus time, maybe even each.

I imagine they had an account page somewhere that could show you how much Plus time you used; I’m also sure that if I saw it, I would have dismissed it with “What does another $3.60 matter?” (call it Dollars-a-Day Bad Habits: The Early Years).

When the phone bill came, somehow we’d racked up over $300 in charges. Which took diligence, gentle reader, and probably sneaking onto the service at night as well.

You know, $300 doesn’t sound too horrible now, but my sainted mother was a clerk-typist spending her take home pay paying for the oldest, worstest trailer in the park and cheap ground beef and off-brand Hamburger Helper, so this was a significant amount for us at the time. Maybe an extra paycheck, or thereabouts. She just admonished us in the adult fashion–you know when you do something so bad that you don’t get yelled at, you get admonished, which is worse. And she paid it without docking our allowance–which was, what, maybe a buck a week at that time? I would probably still be paying that off if she hadn’t been so gracious and forgiving.

But that was the end of Q-Link for us, and we were relegated to BBSes when our Volksmodem wasn’t flaking out on us.

So maybe I don’t have as much actual experience with Quantum Links as I put on my resume.

Years later, as I mentioned, it became America Online, and I signed up on my mother’s old 486 (ask yer grandpa). And I posted on a newsgroup through it. And the rest is wonderful history. So not only did I get a beautiful wife on the Internet before it was cool–I got her on QuantumLink.

(Link about the submarines via Instapundit.)

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Book Report: The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill (1946, 1999)

Book coverI got this book from ABC Books last week, so at a lull in the Agatha Christie omnibus, I picked it up because I thought a play would be a quick read before I returned to Miss Marple.

Well, no.

It turns out that this is an extra full evening play. It runs 196 pages of dense dialog. It’s not the centered character name with snappy dialog that you get in something like, say, The Courtship of Barbara Holt; it’s more like the character name at the upper left and a dense speech that you get out of a thick collection of Shakespeare (the likes of which I should probably pick up again two (!) years later).

It’s of the subgenre, which is apparently a subgenre given the propensity of plays with similar setting and characters, of “grifters and losers in a bar” type (see also The Time Of Your Life by William Saroyan) which differs from another subgenre of the “grifters and losers in their home” type (such as The Homecoming by Harold Pinter and another play I saw staged at St. Louis Community College-Meramac twenty-some years ago). Given that these were Big Plays that appeared on Broadway or in London, I have to wonder about the class implications of the hoity-toity people getting together to watch the pale imitations of the lower classes get together and be losers together. Undoubtedly, one could also say something about the lower classes coming together to watch well-to-do losers and grifters come together to grift on The Real Housewives of New York, New Jersey, Beverly Hills, or Khardasia. Meanwhile, I keep stumbling upon these books.

At any rate, a group of souses at a rundown bar in 1912 await the coming of Hickey, a salesman who comes for a bender every year on the owner’s birthday, and buys all the drinks. We get introduced to a couple of leftists, a couple of “tarts” (not prostitutes) run by the bartender (not pimp). We’ve got another “tart” who has been planning to marry the other “bartender.” We’ve got a number of people who’ve lost their jobs or positions, presumably for love of the bottle, who’ve thought to sober up and get their things together “tomorrow.” And when Hickey comes, he’s a changed man, sober, and ready to help them come to acceptance of their lots by showing them that they really don’t want to do those things at all.

So it’s long, it’s got a lot of characters, and it’s depressing. Which is why it keeps getting revived, sixty years later (the cover ties into the 1999 revival starring Kevin Spacey, Tony Danza, and Paul Giamatti; the 1966 version had Mr. Drummond Conraid Bain in a juicy role).

It might be the first Eugene O’Neill I’ve read; it won’t be the last, as I have A Moon for the Misbegotten which looks to be shorter.

Also, note that this is the second book in a row that I’ve completed which features the ultrabad word nigger (The House of Man being the first). Is this a sign of my latent racism, or just luck of the draw? The Internet would probably agree to the former. I bet the word is cut or will be cut from the newest revival of the play, though. Even when depicting a different time and place, whitey can’t say that, especially in anger (as it appears in this play).

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Sometime in 2021, perhaps May or June, medical suppliers will take millions of masks and protective gear, overproduced in the summer and autumn of 2020 by every medical producer, textile mill, and specialty t-shirt shop who offered masks with your favorite team or slogan on them, and stored for almost a year in vast warehouses, and bury them in a great landfill as though they were unsold copies of E.T. for the Atari 2600.

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Good Book Hunting, April 21, 2020: ABC Books

So I ordered my weekly (soon to be more than weekly ABC Books order before the weekend, which means I got it on Tuesday instead of Thursday.

Which means I can order again already.

I got:

  • 97 Ways To Make Your Cat Love You by Carol Kaufmann. This is humor. I hope.
  • Lafayette by Martha Foote Crow. Part of the True Stories of Great Americans series. You can tell we’re off to a roaring start when we talk about the great American Lafayette.
  • The Cat Who Came To Christmas by Cleveland Amory. I’m surprised I don’t own one of these books already (a search for “amory” on the blog brings up a couple of Heinlein books for their polyamory). I think I listened to one of his books on tape, but that must have been twenty (!) years ago or so.
  • The Poems of Alice Meynell by Alice Mynell, a 1923 edition and in a Mylar cover. Who? you might ask. Look it up on Wikipedia like I just did. An Englishwoman poet from the turn of the 20th century. A contemporary, but a little older, than Edna. St. Vincent Millay.
  • Whoppers: Tall Tales and Other Lies by Alvin Schwartz.
  • Napoleon’s Hemorrhoids and Other Small Events That Changed History by Phil Mason, a collection of pop history pieces.

Meanwhile, my beautiful wife got some books in the mail:

From other used bookstores.

You see, she knows of a book and goes looking for it. Me, I want to see what ABC Books (or the various book sales) have that I might want. One could probably draw all sorts of conclusions about our life philosophies from this anecdote.

At any rate, restrictions might ease in the next week or two, which will mean that I’ll be back to only buying four or five books for every book I read. Which is a more normal pace.

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On The Life and Writings of C.S. Lewis by Professor Louis Markos (2000)

Book coverI started this series not long after finishing The World of George Orwell, but it took me a very long time to get through the last couple of lectures what with the current unpleasantness and all which reduced my time listening to CDs in my automobile to less than an hour a week.

The 12 lectures cover his writings in mostly chronological order:

  1. The Legacy of C.S. Lewis
  2. Argument by Desire: Surprised by Joy and The Pilgrim’s Regress
  3. Ethics and the Tao: Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man
  4. Nature and Supernature: Miracles and The Problem of Pain
  5. Heaven and Hell: The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce
  6. Lewis the Scholar: Apologist for the Past
  7. Paradise Regained: The Space Trilogy I
  8. Temptation, Struggle, and Choice: The Space Trilogy II
  9. Smuggled Theology: The Chronicles of Narnia I
  10. Journeys of Faith: The Chronicles of Narnia II
  11. The Beginning and the End: The Chronicles of Narnia III
  12. Suffering unto Wisdom: Till We Have Faces and A Grief Observed

You know, I have not read much Lewis. I read The Screwtape Letters five years ago (!) and Poems last year. I read the first two book of the Chronicles of Narnia when I was a kid. But this series made me want to read more–it excellently presented a summary of the points he made in each of the works, but they made me want to read the whole thing. And maybe listen to the course again later.

And Lewis was a contemporary of Orwell, but the series doesn’t report a lot of interaction between them. Nor would there be, really, as they moved in different circles–Lewis as an eventual Christian man of the academy, and Orwell was an occasional tramp who produced mostly left-wing stuff.

But of the two, I’d rather hang out with Lewis, and I think he has ultimately proved to be the more lasting and consequential of the two. But that’s just my opinion, and I could be easily influenced by the relative quality of the productions.

I am running low on CD courses I’m eager to listen to in the car, which is all right since I’m not in the car much for the nonce. I am, however, looking forward to the library re-opening so I can pick something else up. In case I ever get to the point where I’m in the car, off and on, for an hour or two a day.

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Why I’ve Almost Given Up On The Blacklist

My beautiful wife and I have been watching the James Spader television show The Blacklist since almost the beginning. We have been recording it from the beginning, but I think we started watching it after a whole season had elapsed as we don’t tend to watch 3.5 hours of television a day.

We’ve stuck through it even though its internal intrigues have often sounded like they were not planning any sort of arc across the seasons, but rather came up with something after each renewal. So we’ve had lots of crazy things going on, the story line turning on itself, mysteries resolving into new intrigues that, in total, won’t stand up to scrutiny.

We’ve stuck through it through poor police procedures, most notably how lackadaisical the police are at setting a perimeter when busting in on bad guys, often skipping any sort of perimeter if the bad guys need to escape or setting the perimeter appropriately at 46 minutes after the hour when they need to wrap the episode up. I’ve forgiven other television-driven decisions and tactics as well, not to mention the intrigues and characters who are important for a while and then are not.

But in the current season, I’m having a hard time with the absurd hard-left story lines and moralizing.

Spoilers below the fold.

Continue reading “Why I’ve Almost Given Up On The Blacklist

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