Monday, January 30, 2012

Mercy Blade by Faith Hunter

Getting close to being caught up with this series, finally. I have to go grab the fourth book, Raven Cursed, at the library tomorrow.

Jane is still working under contract with the master of New Orleans, Leo Pellisier, when the recently "outed" werewolves and werepanthers bring a delegation to the city. The panthers appear to be friendly, while the wolves are openly hostile, having been banned from the city a century ago for violating their own laws against infecting humans with the lycanthropy disease.

Leo asks Jane to meet with "a persona non grata" with his authority to warn him away at a remote location. Jane assumes that it's a were, and heads to the meet, but encounters an entire pack of werewolves who are ready to rumble. When they attack her, the person she was really supposed to meet comes to her aid, and rescues her from the pack. His name is Girrard DiMercy, and he once was the "mercy blade" for the vampire clans in the city, the one responsible for killing the vampires who did not escape the madness that lasts for a time after a new vampire has risen from the grave. Jane is not sure what Girrard is, as he's not one of the well-known supernatural types, and he remains mysterious throughout most of the book.

Jane's relationship with Rick LaFleur has gotten very serious, and she begins to worry about him when he disappears into an undercover assignment, and doesn't contact her at all for several days, but she's got her hands full with preparations for a diplomatic meeting between the werecats and the vampires, while the negotiations with the witches are still ongoing. Unsurprisingly, the meeting at vampire central rapidly dissolves into a bloodbath, with the uninvited werewolves crashing the party and starting a brawl, and the female werepanther, Safia, ending up murdered, apparently by one or more of Leo's minions. The prime suspects include Bruiser, Leo's prime blood servant and head of security, with whom Jane has had a seriously flirtatious relationship, which gets even more "touchy" when he moves in with her, seeking sanctuary from the police and supernatural politics.

So, Jane has to unravel the whodunnit, clear Bruiser's name, get rid of the werewolf thugs, find and rescue Rick, all without revealing her skinwalking nature to anyone. Plenty of action, good plot twists, and some self-discovery on her part. The ending has really got me wondering if the series will be seeking a new venue, maybe heading to the countryside instead of the urban landscape.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

My friend, Scott, is now two for two on recommending new, intriguing authors for me to read. The first one he told me about was Patrick Rothfuss, whom I've really enjoyed. I thought when I saw the title of this one that it was going to be some sort of retelling of Gaelic myth, but it turned out that Lynch has created an interesting and rather exciting new world, with this first tale centered around the island city of Camorr.

It's got a bit of that Oliver Twist flavor at first, as the protagonist, Locke Lamora, is an orphan purchased by the Thiefmaker, who is sold to the blind priest known as Chains when it turns out that Locke is just a little more than he bargained for. Chains is not actually blind, but is running a con on worshipers at the Temple of Perelandro. He has recruited his own select small band of boys to train in more ambitious and devious ploys than the pickpockets and second-story men that infest Camorra.

Chains teaches Locke and his other proteges all of the scholarly and noble arts, as well as sending them off to be trained in various forms of combat, and to other temples of the Twelve Gods, to learn the customs and secret rituals of the other temples, so they may pass unheeded and unhindered in their business around the city. Camorr's underbelly is ruled by Capa Barsava, a ruthless ruler of all of the Right People, as the criminals call themselves, who has established a Secret Peace with the ruler of Camorr, Duke Nicovante. As long as the thieves do not steal from the nobility, they are free to molest all of the lower and middle class at will.

The action moves smoothly back and forth between Locke's adventures as the leader of the Gentlemen Bastards, the gang he leads after Chains passes away (we never find out when or how this happened), and his early indoctrination by the cunning false priest. When an interloper known as the Gray King begins to kill, one by one, all of Capa Barsava's gang leaders, Locke is drawn into a game far more deadly than the scams he and his friends have begun to ply upon the unsuspecting noble dons of the city.

The Gray King has, in his service, one of the infamous bondmages of Karthain, a group so powerful that none dare cross them, as they seem to have a Hells Angels motto of "mess with one of us, you mess with all of us." The Gray King selects Locke to be an unwitting dupe in his schemes to dethrone Barsava and to wreak a horrible vengeance on the nobles of the city as well, and Locke's Gentlemen Bastards are in for the caper and fight of their lives. Locke's current scam also gets him crossways with the mysterious leader of the Duke's secret police, the Spider, and he needs to avoid the webs spun to catch him by that shadowy entity in the midst of chaos.

Very brutal, with a richly imagined new world, complete with mysterious magics, vanished ancient races and their ruins, and a whole host of fun new characters.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Phantasm by Phaedra Weldon

I've been puttering along, enjoying this series bit by bit, until I bit into Phantasm. I found it confusing, with many twists inserted into the plot, for no apparent reason, and it turned into a bit of soap opera.

For example, Zoe has had a serious relationship building with Detective Daniel for the first two books, but he got seriously freaked out at the end of Spectre when he saw her, in her Wraith incarnation, releasing the ghost of a murdered policeman. Instead of dealing with this in a constructive fashion, Zoe and Daniel don't communicate at all, and she flirts with former undercover cop, Joe, who is a bit more sanguine about the supernatural, and then ends up having wild monkey sex with Dags (Darren) after a death-defying battle scene. Joe and Rhonda are apparently living (and sleeping?) together, but Rhonda has been in love with Dags all along, and Zoe's impulsive behavior sends all of the gang's personal relationships into a death spiral.

Various factions within the spiritual community are constantly trying to kill, capture, suborn, or influence Zoe in one way or another, and her erstwhile enemies become allies, for a time, then enemies again...It's just too much crazy stuff going on for me to follow.

Near the end, when Daniel has been driven insane by being overshadowed by The Horror (the main bogey man in this book), he ends up killing his supervisor in a street shootout, though Zoe was his real target, as he's become convinced that she's the devil incarnate. At that point, Zoe and TC (the spirit entity that's caused her so much grief from the beginning) team up to wipe Daniel's memories, so he will no longer remember what she has done. If they could do this, why didn't they do it right after they found out he was confined in a mental institution for his paranoia? Too much semi-convenient discovery of new abilities.

Deeply flawed, it leaves me wondering whether I'll bother reading the next book, Revenant.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rule 34 by Charles Stross

If William Gibson had waited twenty years to write Neuromancer, it might have turned out to be very much like Rule 34. Gibson had no idea what kind of odd things might crawl out of cyberspace in a couple of decades, but Stross seems to capture a near future that's far too real for comfort. The story takes place in the same milieu as Halting State, not too much later, but doesn't seem to have many of the same characters.

There are several separate story lines and characters that Stross follows from beginning until the end, when he weaves all of the strands back together again. It's a little confusing on that score, as well as trying to learn the new slang that all of the characters spout so naturally.

Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh is the head of the Rule 34 squad, which is tasked with monitoring the internet and heading off memes that can mutate from harmless fetishes and amusements to criminal activities. When some ex-cons turn up dead, in various locations around Europe, some disturbing coincidences and their manner of death leads Liz to believe that there's a common entity and purpose behind the bizzare killings.

A muslim immigrant from India, named Anwar, has just been released from jail on probation. He needs to keep his nose clean, not associating with the petty criminals, including his brother-in-law, who got him involved in dubious undertakings to begin with. One of his old friends, and sometime lovers, Adam, puts him onto a job lead, working as a part-time consul for a breakaway republic of Kyrgiztan, Przewalsk. Unfortunately, though the job appears to be quite proper, Anwar soon finds himself involved in some unsavory activities, and realizes that the entire consulate may be a huge scam.

A representative of The Organization (like a high tech mafia), who goes by the name of The Toymaker, arrives in Edinburgh to interview executives for a new operation he's begun. Unfortunately, both candidates for the position are among the recently deceased, and he suspects "enemy action".

So what do a bunch of spammers' murders have to do with the economy of Kyrgiztan and the plots of The Organization? You'll have to read through this tortuously twisty book to find out. Very imaginative vintage Stross, though he paints a rather dismal view of the digital future.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Amazon Legion by Tom Kratman

In The Amazon Legion, Carrera is desperate for more troops, and proposes a novel experiment, especially for the male-centric culture of Balboa, training up a legion of women warriors, and another one consisting solely of homosexual males.

Most of the book has as its protagonist Maria Fuentes, a young woman of impeccable family, who gets herself in the family way by trusting the blandishments of a young man of good family. When he denies being the father, she is disgraced and runs away to raise the baby on her own. This doesn't work out too well, as she is repeatedly victimized in the underbelly of Balboan society. A chance meeting with Carrera, however, puts her on track to apply for the new Amazon Legion where, if she succeeds, she and her daughter will be taken care of, and once again feel part of a family.

We follow Maria through her training, which is about as brutal as basic in the U.S. Marine Corps, aside from some minor modifications made to account for the relative strength and endurance of female troops as compared to males.  After she graduates from basic, she goes on to a form of OCS intended to turn her into the equivalent of a noncommissioned officer in the Legion.

When the Taurans finally lose patience with Balboa, and attack, we get to tag along with Maria and her Amazons on some fairly normal military missions, and also a long sojourn as a guerilla fighter against the invaders. As we've come to expect from these stories, there's plenty of blood and gore to go around.

I loved the Heinlein The Moon is a Harsh Mistress tribute, naming the mountain camp Camp Bernardo O'Higgins.

One great quote:
"All the courses and books in the world on building self-esteem are largely exercises in learning how to be a bad judge of character."

Kratman spends a great deal of time in this novel expounding on the idea that social experimentation, in the form of attempting to integrate gay soldiers and female soldiers into the general military population, has serious consequences and repercussions upon fighting effectiveness and morale. There are quite a few discussions, as well, on the subject of "why we fight".

More good reading in the ongoing saga of Terra Nova by Kratman, though I can't determine whether this amounts to a side plot, with the main action still to be published in a new installment.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spectre by Phaedra Weldon

The second novel in the Zoe Martinique Investigations series seems just slightly less dark than the first one. Zoe has mostly recovered from her adventures in becoming a Wraith, aside from having lost her voice completely, though she's picked up enough sign language to compensate for it, mostly. She's become romantically involved with Detective Daniel Frasier, but between the injuries he sustained in the last battle and his innately chivalrous nature, they haven't consummated their attraction yet.

Her mysterious client, Maharba, contacts Zoe with a "make-up" assignment, sending her to a political fundraiser for Congressman March Knowles, asking her to listen in on any meetings he might have with a certain businessman (very similar to her first troublesome assignment for Maharba). Fortuitously, Daniel is also attending the fundraiser, to keep an eye on things for the Atlanta PD, so she gets all prettied up and it looks for a bit as if she might have a lovely night on the town with her beau.

Unfortunately, when she goes out of body to listen in on the meeting, a woman is murdered in the restroom where she's left her body resting, and things begin to be complicated.

There are a couple of magic-using factions that are vying for power, and they've begun a cycle of violence aimed at possessing for their sides five objects of power called Eidolons, which have been secretly held by five different astral travelers for decades. Zoe and Daniel, and an undercover detective named Joe, who was coincidentally the same person who helped Zoe revive after she ended up on a slab in the morgue in Wraith, must try to unravel the plots and counterplots.

Zoe gains a few new mystical abilities, finds out more than she bargained for about her family and friends, and remains sexually frustrated to the bitter end. Still a fun series.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Retrieval Artist books, by Rusch, came highly recommended by Orson Scott Card, one of my favorite authors. I've had the third one on my shelves for a while, and finally broke down and bought the first one in the series for my Nook just before Christmas. In The Disappeared, we are introduced to a world where humans have spread out into the solar system and beyond, occupying Mars, Luna, and some enclaves in other solar systems already inhabited by several races of aliens.

From a hard science fiction standpoint, there's nothing really interesting in this novel, just the usual space yachts and laser guns, and people seem to live on the Moon in more or less the same manner as more mundane locations. The interesting concepts here relate to how our society relates to the alien societies with which it must interact.

The timing of my reading the book ended up somewhat topical, as the Iraqi government's refusal to allow our military and contract personnel immunity from prosecution under their laws had a great deal to do with the timing of our troop withdrawal there in the waning days of 2011. In The Disappeared, the real conflict is generated by seeing what happens when our ideas about justice, crime and punishment come into conflict with the legal systems of alien cultures.

On various worlds where humans have been allowed to settle, there are at least three different races who, first, consider different acts to be criminal than we do, and second, punish those acts in ways we seldom, if ever, consider. The Disty punish crimes by brutal acts of murder and dismemberment (in a sort of pour encourager les autres way). The Rev require repayment for a crime by the criminal working at slave labor for twenty years or more. The Wygnans take, by force if necessary, the first-born child of the offender, who is then raised as a Wygnan, not a human, and will never return to human culture nor see her family ever again.

Understandably, people who run afoul of the justice system of these races will go to great lengths to avoid punishment, sometimes taking advantage of a disappearance agency, which relocates them and establishes a completely new, untraceable identity for them. The Disappeared is the story of what happens when the largest of those agencies is sold to new owners who decide that there's a great deal of money to be made by selling the information about the people in their files to the aliens, and turning the perps over to them.

A pretty good start, and worth following up on.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

In honor of the fact that I saw the trailer for the new movie, John Carter, the other night, I bring you a true golden oldie, in this first book of the Barsoom series by Burroughs. This story was first serialized in All-Story Magazine in 1912, and later published under its current title. Burroughs begins the tale with a type of preface which seems to have been a stock gimmick in those days, claiming that he received a manuscript in a secretive fashion after the passing of John Carter from this world, containing the story. I wonder if Joseph Smith read the pulps, it might explain a lot.

John Carter is a protagonist who claims to have no recollection of his antecedents, remembering only having been a soldier for many years, most recently fighting in the Civil War. After the defeat of the Confederacy, he and a fellow combatant head for Arizona to prospect for gold. They discover a large lode, but when his buddy heads back to town to file the claim, he is ambushed by Indians, and Carter's attempt to rescue him ends with Carter fleeing for his life, taking refuge in a cave, where he is somehow mysteriously (astral projection, anyone?) transported to the surface of Mars.

He is captured by a tribe of four-armed green barbarians, but manages to improve his status when he fells one of the warriors with one blow, so is awarded provisional status as a member of the tribe. The green martians have just made the pilgrimage to one of their egg incubation sites, where they claim their young after a five year interval, and so Carter is fortunately able to learn the language with the young martians, as well as study the martial arts, being cared for by a member of the entourage of one of their chieftains, Tars Tarkas.

The green martians are beings without the finer sentiments of love, affection, kindness or compassion, but Carter is able to impress them by his skills in winning the loyalty of the traditional riding beasts, the thoats, and of the beast set to guard him, a toad-like dog analogue, Woola, with his affectionate treatment of the animals.

The tribes have long been at war with other tribes of green martians, as well as the other races of Mars, including the red martians, who are more civilized, and who guard the ancient technologies of Barsoom, preserved from a time before the seas of Mars dried up. When the daughter of the ruler of the largest group of red martians, Dejah Thoris, from the city of Helium, is captured by the green tribes, Carter is smitten by her beauty, and becomes her protector against the cruelty of the green men.

I had no idea the sentiment had been around for so long, but Burroughs, in an early passage, says: "In one respect at least the Martians are a happy people; they have no lawyers."

In his attempt to help Dejah escape the clutches of her captors, and traverse the harsh Barsoomian lands to return to her people, Carter has many wild adventures, however improbable. A true classic.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blood Cross by Faith Hunter

Skinwalker Jane Yellowrock is still hanging out in New Orleans, with a contract from the vampire council to track down and deliver the final death to rogue vampires and the old rogue who is creating them. Her witch friend, Molly, is staying at the house with her while her sorcerous husband is away in South America, along with Molly's two children, Evan Jr. and Angie, who has some serious witchy talents of her own, even though she's nowhere near puberty, the traditional age for the manifestation of such things.

Vampire politics are always tense, but they seem even more intense than usual when Jane attends a party in the Warehouse District with Master Vamp Leonard Pellissier's human servant, George "Bruiser" Dumas. Long-held clan alliances are fraying, and some clan leaders are hoping to change the balance of power, to rule in Leo's stead soon.

Jane's Beast hasn't mated in quite some time, and neither has Jane, so the sexual tension ratchets up in an odd potential love triangle between Bruiser, Jane and Rick LaFleur, NOPD detective. Killing two bats with one stone, perhaps, Jane convinces Rick to allow her to use the police files to investigate the city's vampire history, and discovers that a number of witch children have disappeared in New Orleans over a long period of time, with no serious investigation by the authorities. There's a certain segment of the population that believes that witches aren't fully human, and so, often their cases aren't really followed up thoroughly. But Rick, and a few others on the force, are not prejudiced, and hope Jane can help them bring closure to these cases.

There's a fairly significant side plot where Jane seeks counsel from a Cherokee shaman woman, grandmotherly type, and goes through a sweat lodge ritual to purge herself of weakness. This leaves her well-prepared for the coming battle with those who are kidnapping and sacrificing the witch children, who, coincidentally, turn out to be the same group of vampires who are plotting the overthrow of clan Pellissier.

Jane seems to grow less secretive with her friends in this book, and perhaps begins to trust some of her allies, discovering that she can't always go it alone.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Downpour by Kat Richardson

Downpour is the sixth book in the Greywalker series, and Richardson has indeed allowed Harper Blaine to chase after lesser monsters for a time. This is a good thing, as after she was shot at the end of the last book, she's lost stamina, and a certain amount of her Grey manipulating abilities, though perhaps has gained some more subtle arcane skills. The saga continues to be a little dark, but as one might expect from a setting in the western rain forest zone, gets pretty wet, as well.

While investigating a witness for a lawyer friend in a mundane case, Harper encounters the ghost of a man who has been murdered and his car disposed of by dumping it in the middle of Lake Crescent, near Port Angeles. For better or worse, Harper is still the chosen agent of the Guardian Beast of the Grey, and it's up to her to remedy disturbances in that realm.

The lake area has long been a center and source of magical power, and two major ley lines cross there. But  one of the ley lines has come unglued when its anchor was removed, and the resulting flailing around of the untethered end has resulted in a free for all situation for the magic users, magic creatures, and other denizens of this sleepy little resort area.

Richardson weaves a lot of local flavor into this tale, and spent a significant amount of time in the area researching its history. Harper and Quinton take their relationship to a whole new level, which may foreshadow a more active role for him in future installments. In place of the Egyptian mythos that we saw in Labyrinth, she adds an element of Chinese mysticism to this story. Will she continue to have Harper roam farther and farther afield, or will we return to her old stomping grounds in the next novel?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Of Thee I Zing by Laura Ingraham

My mom is a big fan of Laura Ingraham, so I thought I might check out her book, though I've seldom seen or listened to her in the media. I think it's possible that she's channeling Andy Rooney at the moment, as it mostly reminds me of his curmudgeonly rants on Sixty Minutes over the years. Some of her observations of our cultural craziness are spot on, but some of them fall a bit short of the mark, and descend into mere snark.

For example, when she criticizes church goers who spend more on a latte than they put in the collection plate, it's definitely a sign of the times, "The father pulled out his billfold and after flipping past several twenties, dropped exactly one dollar into the basket. Let me get this straight. Six dollars for a drink. One dollar for Jesus. I hope their barista will save them a place in Paradise." but when she goes on a rant about the use of modern musical instruments in worship services, she merely sounds like a cranky old woman. Every era in Christian history has made use of whatever instruments they had to sing praises, and there's no point in trying to hold on to the traditions of the 1950s forever, it's just counterproductive and drives off younger believers.

I did get a chortle out of her attack on a new vegan tradition, "The vegans among us have made a recent habit of serving a 'Tofurkey' on the big day...Anything that has the consistency of curds is not likely to reemble a turkey when it comes out of the oven. It looks more like a smoking, spongy brown helmet."

She hammers pretty heavily on the kids wearing baggy pants, "on the ground", and the increasingly slutty styles for preadolsescent girls, bad behavior on airplanes, horrible manners, and sexting, among other symptoms of the times.

I rather liked her approach to attending late evening neighborhood parties.

"Occasionally, I'll stop by the parties to check out the spread (to be polite). Then once I get home, I go up to my room, get into my PJs, and call the cops."

She's almost as bad as the warehouse club lunch crowd she criticizes.

A mixed bag, but if you enjoy a bit of sarcasm aimed at pop culture, worth a few hours investment.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cast in Silence by Michelle Sagara

I thought I knew where this novel was going, but very near the end, it went sharply off in a new direction. Not a bad direction, just unexpected.

Kaylin receives a message from the lord of the fief of Barren, where she spent some time after leaving the fief of Nightshade. Barren has some dirt on Kaylin's past, and threatens to reveal it to her new friends on the right side of the Ablayne River, if she doesn't come to visit.

There are quite a few flashbacks in this one. The message was delivered by a woman called Morse, who taught Kaylin (then known as Eliana) most of what she knows about killing. Barren used Kaylin as one of his assassins, removing troublesome folks from the fief, until he sent her on a suicidal quest to kill the Lord of Hawks, in the city of Elantra.

Through the flashbacks, we learn how Kaylin first arrived in Barren, how she survived there, and even get some insight into her early life, when her mother was still alive. We also learn quite a bit more about the nature of the fiefs, the towers and castles at the hearts of the seven fiefs, and their creation by the Old Ones.

There is a theme that runs through this book about the nature of love, belonging, and dealing with abandonment and guilt. It's a bit heavy for entertainment in a fantasy novel, but every author should get their chance to say what's on their mind, right?

The battle with the shadows, the Outcaste dragon, and the evil at the heart of the seventh fief is still coming, and being well set up in this installment. I definitely need to put the next two books on a library hold request.

Monday, January 2, 2012

No Apology by Mitt Romney

I find myself wondering, as I often do after reading a political manifesto from an "active" candidate for office, whether the book was written by the candidate, and all of its facts, figures and opinions are internalized and part of the real package, or if it's been ghostwritten, and we're merely seeing the product of his handlers' marketing efforts. The only way to tell, I suppose, is to see what happens after they reach office, whether their actions turn out to be consistent with what was written. If former governor Romney actually knows all of the subjects in his book as thoroughly as is written, I'm impressed.

If you want to just cut to the chase, and not bother getting fully educated, you can turn to the epilogue and read the summary, but I think the whole thing is worth reading, in any case.

Romney is a strong supporter of private enterprise, as one might suspect, given his business background before entering politics. One thing he says:

"It has been my experience that almost always government is far less productive than enterprises in the private sector. That's why private companies build roads for governments and make equipment for the military. It's also part of the reason why FedEx and UPS can make a profit shipping and delivering packages while the U.S. Postal Service loses money, even with its inherent competitive advantages."

He talks a bit about the process of "creative destruction", wherein old industries become obsolete, and innovation results in new industries, where workers are now employed. Too much of the efforts of our government and labor unions are spent protecting old industries, discouraging competition, rather than embracing change and encouraging new development, in his opinion.

Romney was also opposed to the federal government's takeover of General Motors, and the sweetheart deal the auto workers unions received, and believes its alleged return to private management is a myth. "A CEO of an automotive industry corporation told me that in spite of what is said in public, the government is calling the shots on every major decision at GM, including which plants to expand and which to close. Management by politicians is a losing proposition."

He identifies the things that are currently draining our economy:

"Wasteful spending by government drains capital that could otherwise fuel growth. Excessive taxation and outmoded regulation are economic brakes. Efforts to impose unions, restrict competition, and limit trade retard innovation and productivity. Frivolous and excessive litigation burdens businesses and discourages invention. And annually draining hundreds of billions of dollars from our economy to buy foreign oil slows down our economic growth."

On the great Social Security "trust fund" fraud:

Suppose two grandparents created a trust fund appointed a bank as trustee, and instructed the bank to invest the proceeds of the trust fund so as to provide for their grand children's education. Suppose further that the bank used the proceeds for its own purposes, so that when the grandchildren turned eighteen, there was no money for them to go to college. What would happen to the bankers responsible for misusing the money? They would go to jail. But what has happened to the people responsible for the looming bankruptcy of Social Security? They keep returning to Congress every two years."


Romney appears to be a proponent of an effective educational system, saying that it's one of the key factors in maintaining America's productivity and economic growth, as well as individual success. He talks about how life is a bit like the old TV game show, Let's Make a Deal:

"All of us necessarily make 'deals' that have either fortunate or unfortunate consequences. But in life, you often know what lies behind the curtain before you have to make your choice. If you choose to stay in school and get a high-school diploma, for example, your lifetime income will be $400,000 greater than if you drop out. If you choose to go to college and get a bachelor's degree, you income will be $1,700,000 greater...A high-school dropout is more likely to go on welfare, become divorced, and spend time in prison....Choosing education is a very good decision..."

He mentions a phenomenon I've seen over and over again in local politics:

"When citizens vote to reduce education revenues or the state cuts back on funds, the education officials typically make the cuts where the voters will feel them most - in sports, music, arts, libraries and computers. You simply don't see administrators being fired or (admin) salaries being cut across the board."

One thing that always puzzled me a bit, when my teacher friends said it, was that the result of the testing regime begun with the No Child Left Behind act, forced them to "teach to the test."

Mitt addresses that idea here:

"Yet when I went online and personally took the exam that Massachusetts now administers to prospective high-school graduates, I discovered that 'teaching to the test' can only mean teaching the fundamentals of math, algebra, geometry, calculus, reading comprehension, and English composition. If giving students these skills is 'teaching to the test,' then I'm all for it - our kids can't succeed in life without these basic literacy and numeracy skills."

If you want a good picture of what Romney believes, and how he may govern if elected President, this is probably a good start. It certainly is better than the debates' limited format, and media soundbites.