Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Hope may finally be dawning.

Friday evening, we had four friends come over and help us move furniture out of the old house, then unload two pickup loads at the new townhouse. Back to the old place to spend one last night there, and on Saturday morning (as Tolkien once said) "they have begun to arrive", as a procession of friends came by and helped us with the last of the heavy stuff. We loaded two very large trailers full, plus the beds of three pickup trucks, and trundled across town to unload much of it at the new place, and the remainder at our rented storage (which I'm really going to have to work hard to clear out before too long).

And still, and yet, we are not done with the move. I need to finish clearing out the garage of tools and miscellany after church today, then we'll do a final cleaning and some touchup painting, and should be ready for the closing of the deal on Friday.

Friday, March 20, 2015

America: Imagine a World Without Her by Dinesh D'Souza

Heh. I have an old colleague whose last name is D'Souza. When I first typed the title this post, I had his name as the author of this book, rather than Dinesh D'Souza. The mind works in mysterious ways.

D'Souza does a pretty good rebuttal of the Progressive view of America, as quoted below,

"According to the progressive critique, America was found in an original act of piracy; the early settlers came from abroad and stole the country from the native Indians. Then America was built by theft; white Americans stole the labor of African Americans by enslaving them for 250 years. The theft continued through nearly a century of segregation, discrimination, and Jim Crow. The borders of America were also extended by theft; America stole half of Mexico in the Mexican War. Moreover, America's economic system, capitalism, is based on theft since it confers unjust profits on a few and deprives the majority of workers of their "fair share." Finally, American foreign policy is based on theft, what historian William Appleman Williams termed "empire as a way of life." America's actions abroad are aimed at plundering other people's land and resources so that we can continue to enjoy an outsized standard of living compared to the rest of the world."

As an unabashed, patriotic, white cismale American capitalist, I can say for my part that he was pretty much preaching to the choir while he demolished these premises one by one. Without Western capitalism and Judeo Christian values, not to mention technology and modern medicine, far more of the people on planet Earth would still be living lives "nasty, brutish, and short".

I wish I had the energy to do a more thorough discussion. It was a very good read.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Around the Web

A book review over on Pajamas Media.

More audiobooks

So, we're still not doing too well on choosing audiobooks to keep us entertained and awake on long car trips. Our most recent attempts were An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin, which was at its very best an education in the world of art auctions, and at its worst, a modern Valley of the Dolls. We gave up after a half dozen chapters.

The other selection was A Good Fall by Ha Jin, a collection of short stories by an acclaimed author. Acclaimed and $5 will buy you a cup of coffee. The stories were very odd, and after just two of them we turned it off.

Hoping to fare better on our next trip.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Still too quiet

Life continues to interfere with blogging, and even with reading, for that matter. Might get a couple of short posts up late in the week.

In case you've been wondering what's going on, it's been a winter of real estate madness. We've lived in our current home, an old Victorian built in 1932, for 19 years, and accumulated 19 years worth of "stuff" along with our memories. So, when the house sold after a short time on the market, we have spent hundreds of hours "triaging" what stays in our lives and what needs to go away, and have rented a storage shed and searched for and rented a townhome in the last few weeks, then taken load after load to various destinations. Many mornings on the way to work I stop at the storage place with a pickup truck full of boxes, and in the evenings this week we've been madly packing boxes and hauling them to the new place we'll be living in after this weekend.

Things should settle down some after we close on the house at the end of the month, though that may be a foolishly optimistic thought, as I already have some oral surgery scheduled for the first week in April, and I'm sure other events will fill my days. To add to the fun, I'll be covering work responsibilities for a colleague who is going home to India for a month, starting the 25th.

Hmm...might be a while before the next lengthy review gets posted.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Madness in Solidar by L.E. Modesitt

 Once again, the story jumps time periods by four centuries, to a time when the Collegium is in decline, a Rex who is considered to be mad rules Solidar, and the passing of the old Maitre has left his replacement, Alastar, blindly attempting to figure out the political scene so that he can create order from chaos.

Did you ever notice how some actors, no matter what role they are playing, end up playing themselves, over and over again? Hugh Grant, the prototypical bumbling, oblivious, yet well-meaning Englishman, comes immediately to mind. It seems to me recently that all of Modesitt's leading men in the Imager series have begun to sound alike, and their lady love foils, who all seem to be highly intelligent, strong-willed, and with personalities that anchor or reign in the protagonists, Rhen, Quaeryt, and Alastar, begin to blend together into one archetype, as well.

The Rex wants to raise tariffs. The High Holders and factors oppose him. The army supports him against the High Holders and wants to see the power of the Collegium eliminated. There may also be a coup or two in the wings.

Modesitt is such a good writer that he can make the tale enjoyable and entertaining, despite the fact that nothing really all that new happens here.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ford County by John Grisham

I recently picked up the audio book of Ford County, hoping it would keep me entertained and awake on a long trip. The most enjoyable audio book I ever listened to was Playing for Pizza, by Grisham, while several others by other authors nearly put me to sleep - a bad thing on the interstate.

Ford County is a series of vignettes describing life, or perhaps low life, in a rural county down South. At best, they displayed a dark humor, and for the most part were terribly depressing to listen to, though Grisham is a masterful writer. The only one that had a "happy" ending involved a "hero" that one could barely cheer for, as he is a lawyer who robs his clients, divorces his wife, abandons his children, and runs away from all his problems.

If you like to be darkly amused by stupid and bad behavior, you'll enjoy these, but I finally had to turn it off and listen to the radio instead.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Low Midnight by Carrie Vaughn

I just got the joke in the title of this book - the showdown doesn't happen at High Noon, but...Low Midnight. A little slow.

Cormac Bennet is finally off parole, and this story switches to his narrative, instead of Kitty's. A nice change, one would think.

Cormac and his resident ghost travel to the hinterlands of Colorado to speak with the aunt of the witch who gave Kitty her books of spells, hoping that she can help translate the code in which it is written. The aunt decides to test Cormac by setting him a hundred year old mystery to solve regarding a pair of dueling sorcerers in the Wild West. Along the way, Cormac encounters some low lifes from his past, and that of his bounty hunting father's.

A somewhat anticlimactic battle eventually occurs when the thugs get in Cormac's way, and the overall plot arc of this series moves minutely forward. The underlying theme still remains, as it does in most female written urban fantasy these days, about the importance of relying on your friends, and slowly realizing how important they are to you.


Friday, March 6, 2015

The Future Falls by Tanya Huff

Due to the busy-ness in my life right now, I'm not going to write a long-winded essay about the latest in the Gale Aunties series by Huff. Huff is a superb and well-established author who writes very readable fiction. BUT...this particular iteration of the series spends most of its time going nowhere, while indulging in maudlin whining from the main character, Charlie (Charlotte) about the unable-to-be-consummated love affair between herself, and Jack the Dragon Prince. The plot should have been about the existential threat of global extinction posed by the asteroid which is about to strike Earth, and about the characters and their friends doing everything in their power to stop it, but instead it was mostly about interpersonal power juggling and emotional foolishness. I still love Huff's writing, and it was vastly entertaining, but if you're looking for adventure, it ain't here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Start Your Own Restaurant and More by Jacqueline Lynn

 My apologies to the author of this book, who did a marvelous job of describing and analyzing all phases of the process of starting a restaurant, from a pizza parlor to a bakery and more. I began reading it when I was considering buying a restaurant, but when that deal didn't happen, I lacked the motivation to motor my way on to the end of the book. If you're curious about such things as how many place settings of silverware you need per "top" in the dining room, and the ins and outs of choosing suppliers and determining staffing needs, this is an excellent resource.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Still Alive and Well

Nothing to report on the literary front. I have three books in various stages of read-ness, which I cannot seem to complete. The sale of our home of twenty years, packing, and attempting to find a rental home are keeping me way too busy.