John Kass Is Getting Rid Of Books

Getting rid of old books. This is going to take longer than I thought.

I feel like an apostate myself as I’m getting rid of more books than he does by the end of the column because I’ve found two duplicate Patrick O’Brian books and have culled them to give them to my brother. Who might not even like military nautical adventures yet.

When I find the second copy of Mastodonia, that will be three books gone from the Noggle Library. Crazy.

On the other hand, my grandmother called and offered me an omnibus edition of five Agatha Christie novels. So I’m not cleaning the Noggle Library out ad fast as I feared.

Book Report: The Hobbit Adapted by Charles Dixon and Sean Deming / Illustrated by David Wenzel (1990)

Book coverIt’s been almost ten years since I read The Lord of the Rings. At that time, I said:

This is not a comic book nor a 20th century American thriller.

This, on the other hand, is a graphic novel adaptation of the one book that became three movies in the 21st century. It is a prequel of sorts to the Lord of the Rings, as Bilbo Baggins very early gets the ring and meets Gollum as part of a dwarf quest to slay a dragon (Smaug, come on, you already know the story) and reclaim their ancestral lands.

I probably have the actual text around here somewhere and will get to it one of these decades; however, this does provide a little context to the overall story kind of like I had to read the Cliff’s Notes version of A Tale of Two Cities back in high school.

I was a little surprised, though, that the death of the dragon comes two-thirds of the way through the book, and the remainder is the dwarves trying to hold off other groups who want to get the dragon’s loot. I wondered if the movies captured this, but given that it ends in a great battle that would have been very cinematic, I will guess they did. It’s not like they would have trimmed any material to make it into a trilogy.

At any rate, I read it over the course of a couple nights and enjoyed it enough. It’s funny; it’s been on my to-read shelves for a long time–I didn’t find it listed in my Good Book Hunting posts which I’ve been doing for a long time–awaiting the moment when I would want to read it, and that came up this month. I have not had comic books on my side table in a long time–I’m mourning the closure of the Comic Cave last summer, and after a short play that had also been languishing on my (Deathtrap), it was the time to read the book. I seem to go through cycles of knocking out thin, quick reads to move them from the to-read to the read shelf and then I feel the need to read one of the thick books on my shelf. I’m still coming down from Barnaby Rudge and will probably focus on thinner books for the nonce.

Its Source and Origin A Mystery

From the article Corona beer brand is impacted by the coronavirus news:

We’d like to take a moment to repeat: The coronavirus has nothing to do with Corona the beer; the virus is named after the Latin word for crown thanks to an exterior structure that features little crown-like spikes, while the beer is named for the Sun’s corona.

The sun’s corona? Named for the Latin word for crown.

Completely different etimologies there.

(Link via Instapundit.)

Eight Years Later,

In 2012, I posted a list of the top 100 movies of the year and made a quiz of it, identifying which I had seen.

Back then, the total was two.

Eight years on, the total is now five as I have seen The Dark Knight Rises, Ted, and John Carter.

Looking over the list, I might make out another dozen that I would be interested in seeing in the next decade, assuming that the DVDs are still available on the 2 for $1 shelf at the local video store. And that I end up going back to the video store regularly before it finally converts to a full-time CBD distributor and eventually closes.

The Old Neighborhood

Firearm violence not far from the old homestead in Casinoport: Woman shot, killed at community center by co-worker who was ‘angry’ about being sent home from work:

More information has been released into the deadly shooting at a St. Louis County community center.

The shooting happened at the Maryland Heights Community Center Monday around 8:10 p.m. One woman was killed, and the suspected gunman was injured after he fired his gun at an officer. That officer returned fire. The officer was not injured.

My beautiful wife sang with the community choir there, and I attended one or two meetings of a writer’s group there.

So, as with many local crime stories of this ilk, I checked to see if I know anyone involved. Apparently not, but sometimes it is the case.

In the new neighborhood, I’m running with a different crowd and am more likely to recognize people who appear in the local society pages or who buy ballparks.

Book Report: Deathtrap by Ira Levin (1979)

Book coverI saw the film version of this in a high school class. What was it? Drama? Media? I forget. What I do remember, though, is that it was a two day event, and the first day ended at almost the end of the first act, and I explained what I thought the trick was, and my friend and locker partner thought I had seen it. So I will spare you the spoiler and will just mention the basic plot.

A thriller playwright who sometimes does playwriting seminars hasn’t had a hit in a while, and although he doesn’t explicitly lament writer’s block, he’s really not cooking anything up. He receives a play in the mail from a student at one of these seminars and discovers it’s quite good, so he invites the student to his house down in Connecticut to–co-write the play? Murder the student and take it for his own? The playwright’s wife is unsure.

So it’s a thriller with twists and whatnot, and it’s only a two act play, so it’s pretty quick reading. I enjoyed it even though I knew the twist. And I seem to recall enough from the movie to know it departs some from the play. Which is pretty good. I’m not sure if I’ll pretty instantly remember much in thirty years of what I’m reading in 2020.

Book Report: Ramblings of an Old Guy by Randall L. Boyd (2016)

Book coverI bought this collection of poetry earlier this month at Main Street Books in St. Charles on the date weekend my beautiful wife and I shared. When we go somewhere on vacation, as you know, gentle reader, we like to visit used book stores in the area. However, St. Charles has but Main Street Books which is mostly new books but has a couple of shelves of used books upstairs. I did not buy any used books this trip, but I did buy three new books at full price.

This is one of them, and it’s the first I have read as I could read it while watching football. The XFL and St. Louis Battlehawks have extended my browse-a-book-whilst-watching season, and this book was good for that.

The book collects poems from across almost fifty years (I believe the earliest is 1973), but most of them come from 2015 and 2016. It describes, fairly narratively, betrayal of a lover/spouse, a brush with death, and some basic slice-of-life narratives.

However, they poems are not very good. They tend toward straightforward narratives or laundry lists of words that have no real depth nor metaphor behind them. I mean, I feel for the poet, but mostly it’s sympathy for the things he’s expressing rather than anything the poetry itself evokes. The poems are often free verse, with only a few employing end rhymes, so I don’t feel the sort-of affection that I have for Grandma poetry you find in Ideals magazine.

Still, it’s better than Collections of Madness.

Your mileage may vary.

Moving Against One Man, One Vote, Once

Republicans want to make it harder for citizen petitions to change the constitution:

Now Republican lawmakers are pushing back, especially on citizen changes to the state constitution, which they can’t reverse without voter consent.

Among legislation floated this session are resolutions that would require petitions to get a higher percentage of votes to pass a constitutional amendment.

Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, filed one such resolution. It would ask voters to raise the bar on themselves and require a two-thirds majority to pass future constitutional amendments.

“The percentage to pass right now is 50 percent plus one,” Sater said. “I think that is entirely too low. I think if it’s such a good idea, it needs to be an overwhelming vote in favor of it.”

As you might expect, gentle reader, I agree.

Whenever I go into the library, I’m approached by petition signature gatherers, and I don’t sign any of them whether I support the cause or not. The petition method of amending the state constitution is ripe for, well, not abuse, but certainly gaming for a favorable permanent outcome. Proponents of a measure gather signatures from supporters, people who think it’s a good idea, or people who think the people should have a vote on an issue one way or another, and then the measure gets put on a ballot for a low turnout election day, wherein its supporters all turn out and normal people skip because they don’t want to miss work to vote on Fire Protection District officials and a constitutional amendment. And the item passes, and it’s part of the constitution forever.

Not to mention the impact that the Secretary of State can have on these measures; I’ve written in the old days about what Democrat Robin Carnahan used to do to ballot initiatives (Robin Carnahan: Ghostwriter and Convenient Technicalities amongst others).

So I am not a fan of this process as it is. I understand the rationale for it, but groups and, dare I say it, special interests can too easily game this system. Raising the bar for constitutional amendments would certainly stifle some of the gaming and emphasize the importance of changing the constitution, for Pete’s sake.

Remember, gentle reader, if you matriculated from school which still had a Civics class, that to change the U.S. Constitution, you have to get two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the states to approve the amendment. Ever heard of the Equal Rights Amendment? It passed Congress but fell a few states short of actually amending the constitution.

The United States Constitution sees this process as a bulwark against the passions of the populace (building a better republic, natch). It would behoove the state of Missouri to have both the ballot initiative process that protects the population from the passions of focused special interest groups who game it.

Book Report: Project Pope by Clifford Simak (1981)

Book coverAfter I listened to Augustine: Philosopher and Saint, I thought about picking up some of the primary texts I have lying around. Instead, I picked up this science fiction book because it was on the shelves where I thought I had last seen the Augustine, and it has a little bit of religious theme to it. So almost the same.

In it, a doctor on the run joins a journalist on a trip to End of Nothing, a planet way out of the way that features Vatican-17, a research center/church built by robots a thousand years ago where they find room for themselves amongst the human partners in the endeavor. The robots, inspired by their human creators, are looking for one true faith and have created a super computer they call the Pope to crunch the data provided by many alien races and human “listeners” who are mystics or projectors who travel to other places outside their bodies. Over the centuries, factions have developed between those who favor promulgating the faith and those who seek knowledge as the stepping stone to true faith.

When one of the listeners visits “Heaven”–a location that matches common but not biblical depictions of heaven–everything comes to a head as the rival factions vie for power.

You know, when I read classical science fiction–not the modern stuff, and not so much the late Cold War US vs the Soviets in Space–I experience a sense of wonder that I don’t get from other genre fiction, including fantasy. Anything can happen, and I feel transported in a way I don’t with men’s adventure paperbacks, thrillers, or even historical fiction or literature. So I should really read more science fiction–it’s not as though I lack it on my shelves–but somehow I end up grabbing a different kind of book, and I lose that sense of wonder.

Perhaps I should read more science fiction. Please, someone, remind me of this in a week or so.

So, yeah, recommended.

I haven’t read much Simak (City and Mastodonia in the last decade), but he’s a fallen Wisconsin boy (fallen because he was born in Wisconsin but ended up in Minneapolis). In researching this post, I did learn that I bought twp copies of Mastodonia over the years (one in October 2010 and another a year later in October 2011). So I’ll have to be careful not to pluck the second copy from my shelves in 2029 and read it again. Because, by that time, I expect to have about 20% more books on my to-read shelves than I do now. Please, someone, if you see me picking Mastodonia up again, remind me.

Multiclassing Vs. Dual-Classing

Clayton Andrews is an example of multiclassing:

Clayton Andrews doesn’t fit the stereotype for pitchers. He keeps it loose before he pitches, he’s 5 feet, 6 inches tall, and he plays in the outfield on his off days.

“I don’t really have time to be just sitting around and not doing much,” the Milwaukee Brewers prospect said.

Although most baseball players are told to concentrate on one position when they reach high school, the left-handed Andrews was encouraged to express his two-way skill set throughout his career.

Rick Ankiel, on the other hand, is an example of dual-classing:

Ankiel was a pitcher with the Cardinals from 1999 until 2001, when he found himself unable to throw strikes consistently. After trying to regain his pitching form in the minor leagues and briefly returning to the majors in 2004, he switched to the outfield in early 2005. For two and a half years, he honed his skills as a hitter and fielder in the Cardinals’ minor-league system. He returned to the Cardinals on August 9, 2007.

I know, I’m an old school gamer. Kids these days only know multiclassing.

The Source of That Thing Daddy Always Says: “Happy Birthday To Me”

Sometimes, when something favorable appears or happens, I am prone to saying “Happy birthday to me.”

The source, like so many of the catchphrases I spout, comes from turn of the century beer commercial that I saw over and over again when watching hockey games on television with my beautiful wife.

To be honest, repeating catch phrases or brand taglines from things my children have seen is so very unsatisfying.

And although I might not be Golden Corral age yet, I am getting close to that young lady is cute age.

Like “Trump” But With A British Accent

Meghan and Harry reportedly barred from using ‘Sussex Royal’ label going forward:

According to the Daily Mail, the two had hoped to leverage “Sussex Royal” into not just a new website but a “global trademark for a range of items and activities, including clothing, stationery, books and teaching materials” and a new charitable organization with the name. The pair began using the term in early 2019 after their branch-off from Prince William and Kate Middleton’s household, Kensington Royal.

Kind of how you got Trump steaks, Trump University, Trump Homes, et cetera.

However, Meg and Har’s venture would be really classy and not mockable because they’re right-thinking folk.

Wherein The Internet Educates Brian J., Again

The night before last, my wife read something to me that had the word “bungalow” in it, and I said that you really don’t hear about bungalows except in California.

Then, yesterday, someone linked to and quoted an article about black families leaving Chicago, and the first paragraph is all like:

Hardis White, 78, could hardly wait to break out of suburbia.

He dressed in a flannel shirt, jeans and a Bears cap, strode out of the rectangular bungalow he shares with his wife and daughter and folded his tall frame behind the wheel of his silver Nissan sedan.

So I was all like, wut?

So I read up on bungalows and learned more about the architectural style. There’s even a Milwaukee bungalow style, which I’ve undoubtedly seen a bunch of.

But I guess I read a lot of detective fiction set in California where vics, perps, and sometimes detectives live in bungalows. Which is why I was mistaken.

But a reminder that sometimes this little Internet thingy can be a force for education and not just political poo fights.

On Augustine: Philosopher and Saint by Professor Phillip Cary (2005)

Book coverAfter finishing Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation, I was very pleased to find that I owned this audio course about Augustine by the same professor. This course, though, was in the original shrink wrap which means I paid full price for it or at the very least paid The Teaching Company directly for it when it was on sale. So I leapt right into it.

The series is only 12 lectures, half the size of the Luther series, and it follows the same pattern with biography, historical context, and then theology, albeit abbreviated by the brevity of the series. Which, I guess, is redundant since both those words share a root.

The lectures include:

  1. Church Father
  2. Church Platonist
  3. Confessions–The Search for Wisdom
  4. Confessions–Love and Tears
  5. Confessions–The Road Home
  6. Augustine’s Career as a Christian Writer
  7. Faith, Love, and Grace
  8. Evil, Free Will, Original Sin, and Predestination
  9. Signs and Sacraments
  10. The Inner Self
  11. The Trinity and the Soul
  12. The City of God

The course emphasizes the influence of Platonism on Augustine and, hence, a lot of Christian thinkers. It shares a lot of content with the Luther series, of course, where the thinkers overlap. More than the other series, though, this book reminded me how much of Augustine’s writings I have scattered amongst the Nogglestead library and made me want to read the translated primary sources that I have available.

For something to read between men’s adventure paperbacks, I would guess.

At any rate, another course that I’m glad I listened to. Which means I should change up topic matter to keep the theology from becoming repetitive and stale.

Environmentalist Activists, Fabulists Left Out

Amid the actual economic repercussions from a disease outbreak (Cathay Pacific flags “significant” drop in H1 profit, capacity cuts due to coronavirus, Singapore downgrades 2020 economic forecast amid coronavirus outbreak, Japan manufacturers remain pessimistic as coronavirus fears grow, etc.), academics remind us that climate change might someday have a cataclysmic economic impact:

A shocking new study says extreme weather events caused by climate change could result in an economic recession “the likes of which we’ve never seen before.”

The research, published in Nature Energy, notes that financial markets are not taking into account the risks that catastrophic events such as floods, droughts and other extreme weather events will have on the economy.

“If the market doesn’t do a better job of accounting for climate, we could have a recession — the likes of which we’ve never seen before,” the study’s author, University of California, Davis accounting professor Paul Griffin, said in a statement.

Griffin added the amount of “unpriced risk” in the energy market is significant, noting this is what caused the Great Recession. “Right now, energy companies shoulder much of that risk. The market needs to better assess risk, and factor a risk of extreme weather into securities prices,” he explained.

You know the only way to avoid the economic impacts of climate change? Economic impacts–taxes and new economic incentives/subsidies/fees–that benefit climate change activists and governments.

Let’s just see how well humanity does after the current actual threat before we move onto ones that we make up.

(Coronovirus links via Instapundit.)