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March 27, 2016

Sunday Morning Book Thread 03-27-2016: Life Out Of Death [OregonMuse]


cat reading book.jpg
Everybody Likes To Read

Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. Welcome to AoSHQ's uuuge, stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The Sunday Morning Book Thread is the only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required. And when I type up the book thread, my pinkies remain elevated the whole time, that's how classy it is.

“‎Since I could only take six books per visit from the library, I had to time it right, or I'd be stuck on Sundays rereading the five Reader's Digest Condensed Books sitting on our red laquered living room shelf.”
― Randy Susan Meyers


A Possible Solution For Pixy-Banning?

For a variety of reasons relating to internet privacy considerations, I decided to fork over the dough for a VPN connection. And for those of you who know even less than I do about internet topography, the internet knows you by your IP address, which is assigned to you by whatever ISP you signed up with. If you point your browser at sites such as whatismyipaddress.com, you may be surprised to see a little map where your home is located and info about what ISP you're with. It's kind of unsettling the first time you see it. So, what a VPN (virtual private network) does is add a layer of security by giving you a completely different IP address than the one your ISP gave to you. So I signed up with https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/ and so far, it's working pretty well. It occured to me that this might be a possible solution for those of you who have been pixy-banned. With my VPN, I get a whole new IP address, and not only that, I get to choose what part of the country my IP will be traced to. Right now, if you do an nslookup on my IP address, it thinks I'm using some ISP I've never heard of in New Jersey, which is 3000 miles away from where I actually am.

The downside to this is that if I go to an online retail store and the site attempts to tell me about brick-and-mortar locations near where I live, it won't even be close.

Here's a comparison of the various VPNs that are out there. Competition has driven the price down.

And I know this solution works, because I had to use it myself. I had to restart my computer and the VPN gave me a new IP. I discovered that, oh crap, none of my comments were showing up on the morning thread. I was getting no error messages, no warning, the comments just didn't appear. Pixybanned! So I disconnected the VPN, reconnected, got yet another IP, and now my comments post just fine.

My VPN costs $40 per year. But it has a 30-day trial version for $7. I suggest you do the trial version first, see if it fixes your pixy-banning, and if it doesn't, you can easily cancel and all you're out is $7. But if it does, if you find that you're now able to post comments on AoSHQ that stay put, then you've got a decision to make, whether that's going to be worth $40 per year.


A Rehash Of Grim History

This item was already written and finished before Friday when Obama started yammering about how there's little difference between communism and capitalism.

My church's denomination has sister churches in the former Soviet bloc countries of Eastern Europe and the Ukraine. I've met pastors from these churches at our annual denominational meeting, and inevitably, the conversation turns to American politics. And to a man, these pastors are all, like, "Why is the most successful country on earth trying to commit suicide by implementing a failed economic system? Listen to us: we've already TRIED socialism. IT DOESN'T WORK!! When are you stupid Americans going to wake up?!"

Also: "You know all that 'it takes a village' rhetoric that Hillary likes to spew? You Americans should know that we used to hear that crap in the Ukraine all the time back in the commie days, and take it from us, it's all bullsh*t."

Now, those who are telling me this are ministers of the Gospel, and they are uniformly kind and gracious men. So I've obviously spiced up the language here a bit. But I wanted to capture their sense of bafflement and incredulity that the most successful country in history is so determined go down a path that they've already learned from bitter experience leads nowhere but to economic ruin.

I was reminded of this when Amazon suggested this book to me, Memories of Poland, Lessons From Growing Up Under Communism by Paylie Roberts, an immigrant from Poland:

The author was born into communism (in Poland) and experienced that life until about the age of six when her family immigrated to the United States. With this background she has a unique perspective on the realities of living in a socialist/communistic society. She discusses the parallels of that life with what is occurring in the United States today. There are numerous examples that describe how and why we are losing our freedoms and hard-fought liberties. The author discusses the consequences and harsh realities of what this will lead to based on history and human nature. At a time when so many believe that socialist solutions are the ideal, this book is a welcome reality check to those notions.

Unlike many who write on this topic, the author offers solutions on how each of us can help to course correct, and also prepare to survive and overcome what she believes is an inevitable economic collapse and dawn of of an oppressive government.

The author is probably more optimistic than I. She may think we've taken a wrong path, one on which we can back up until we can take the right one. Me, I think a better way our current situation is that we're on a burning airplane in a nosedive: 3 engines have failed, the 4th is sputtering, and the attempts to effect fire control and emergency engine repairs are being actively resisted by a good percentage of the passengers as well as some of the flight crew.

By the way, these men I referred to, these ministers of the Gospel, when I hear them tell their stories, I am just astounded by their courage, cheerfulness, and faith under the most adverse circumstances, dealing with daily deprivations, governmental corruption, and hostile scrutiny that I can barely imagine, and I am reminded how much of America's prosperity and security I take for granted. I am not worthy to be in the same room with these guys.

But I am also reminded that out of death comes life. And on that note, happy Easter to all. He. Is. Risen.


The Joys of Abstinence

According to the Church's liturgical calendar, we've just concluded the season of Lent, during which it's a tradition to give something up and avoid it entirely for the duration of its 40 days duration. So author Susan Hill decided to give up buying books for her personal library, not only for Lent, but for an entire year:

Hill, best known for the novel, “The Woman in Black,” tells the story of her year without new books in “Howards End is on the Landing,” a 2009 memoir that just entered my house – yes, as a new book – when I got a copy for my birthday.

The title of Hill’s book was inspired by an autumn afternoon when she went looking for “Howards End” in her sprawling home library – not finding it at first, but coming across all sorts of other volumes on her shelves that she had never read, or forgotten she’d owned, or wanted to read for a second time. Those discoveries prompted a plan: For the next 12 months, Hill would add no new books to her house, focusing instead on reading – or rereading – the books she already owned.

Has that ever happened to you, seeing a book on your shelf and thinking, "now, whenever did I buy THIS book?" I must confess I have dozens of e-books on both of my tablets, and I have no idea how many of them came to be there. Oh, I know most of them were likely from some BookBub freebie or 99 cent deal, and based on some now-forgotten moron recommendation of the book thread, but I have no memory of when I acquired them. I keep telling myself I need to stop this pointless acquisition and just read what I already have, but then I see a deal for yet another "must have" book, and off I go again.

Coming across these "mystery" books in your collection is like finding some long-forgotten item in the back of the refrigerator, only the discovery is a lot less unpleasant.


Matt Helm Is Back In Town

From Friday's good things thread:

731 491 ... They have started releasing the Matt Helm books for e-readers. At least for Kindle. Not sure if the entire series has come out yet. They aren't exactly inexpensive but not bad. I still have all my ancient paperback copies.

Posted by: JTB at March 25, 2016 10:37 PM (FvdPb)

Looks like 20 out of the 27 MH novels are included in this Kindle release. Amazon says:

Originally released in the era of the James Bond novels, these novels have been out of print and unavailable for almost 20 years. They were considered grittier and more realistic than Bond, garnering them critical praise and an ardent audience.

The first in the series is Matt Helm - Death of a Citizen:

Matt Helm, one-time special agent for the American government during the Second World War, has left behind his violent past to raise a family in Santa Fe, New Mexico. When a former colleague turns rogue and kidnaps his daughter, Helm is forced to return to his former life as a deadly and relentless assassin.

The Kindle prices for these reprints are not bad. The first in the series can be purchased for #2.99, but most of the rest go for $7.99. Or, die-hard Matt Helm fans can buy all 20 for $129.80.


Another Genre I've Never Heard Of Before

This book came up in one of my daily BookPerk e-mails and I had to laugh out loud. That cover looks ridiculous. I almost expect to hear that cat say "meow" in Bob Newhart's voice.

It actually looks like a housecat. Maybe it's gone feral:

When a mysterious vision promises a land filled with prey and shelter, a group of brave young cats leave their harsh mountain territory in search of a better home. But great dangers await—and threaten to divide them.

Wait, isn't this just a rehash of Richard Adams' Watership Down, only with felines instead of rabbits?

The story follows a warren of Berkshire rabbits fleeing the destruction of their home by a land developer. As they search for a safe haven, skirting danger at every turn...

Yep, sounds like it. But, there's more:

Adams has crafted a touching, involving world...As much about freedom, ethics, and human nature as it is about a bunch of bunnies looking for a warm hidey-hole and some mates

So Adams was using animals to say stuff about humans. Don't know if these cat books are the same, my guess, probably not, they're most likely just adventure stories. Some other observations:

1. The author of this Warrior Cats series is "Erin Hunter", whose name is attached to dozens of books in this genre. I wondered how a single author could crank out books at such a rate, but one of the publisher reviews remarked that these books are produced by a consortium of writers. Which makes sense. So "Erin Hunter" is just like her more famous nom de plume siblings Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon.

2. These Kindle books ain't cheap. I'd expect novels in this genre to be in the $1.99-$2.99 range, but these are more like $4.99-$7.99.

3. That's most likely because they aren't being written by indie authors and self-published, rather, this is a product of the behemoth MSM publishing combine, HarperCollins.

4. I'd like to disguise myself as a marketing/sales guy, sneak into HarperCollins HQ, and pitch a series about hunky, shape-shifting bear-men and the BBWs who love them.


Moron Recommendations

'Ette Anna Puma sent me a link to The Tin Lizzie Troop, Glendon Swathout's 1972 novel about the 1916 "Punitive Expedition" against Mexican Revolutionary leader Pancho Villa, who then controlled much of northeastern Mexico"

It was an infamous day when, under a scorching Mexican sun, the United States Cavalry went into action mounted not on fine, sleek horseflesh but in Model T Fords. This is the story of events leading up to and beyond that memorable day when bandits raided a U.S. outpost. The time was 1916, during the Punitive Expedition, when some 100,000 National Guardsmen were mobilized to defend America. Among them were six members of the Philadelphia Light Horse, a men's military club to which only the most well-born and wealthy scions of the most well-born and wealthy were elected.

I think this would have been a fun book to make into a movie, and I'm apparently not the only one:

The Tin Lizzie Troop was almost made into a movie by the late actor Paul Newman, who was set to direct this comic Western for his film production company, First Artists, back in 1979. Anthony Perkins was to play the lead role...and location scouting had been done in Arizona just before Warner Brothers pulled the financing plug.

Oh, well.


___________

Another recommendation I received via e-mail this week is for The Hunting Trip: A Novel of Love and War by William E. Butterworth, who is perhaps better known as W E B Griffin, and this one looks to be a bit different from his usual stuff. I'm just going to copy and paste the e-mail because I'm lazy:

In this, his latest work, self-described as a Tale of Love and War (but probably more accurately described as a Tale of Lust and Cold War), he delves into a far more comedic vein. His protagonist spends time in the Army CIC in Berlin, becomes a expert in every small arm in the Army inventory, and winds up in a sleepy little town in Mississippi after his discharge. The hunting trip itself is a thinly disguised subterfuge for some of the town's elite citizens to spend time with other elite citizens' spouses. Overall, a rollicking good 'tour de farce'.


Books by Morons

Moronette 'votermom' is putting together a list of moron authors over on the Goodreads site which is intended to be accessible to non-members. Here is the list she has compiled so far. Let her know if there's an author she's missing. You can send e-mail to her at votermom at gmail.


___________

Occasional moronette commenter 'delayna' has a book out she'd like you to read. It's called Gone With the Zombies, and despite what the title suggests, it's not a zombie apocalypse/dystopian future story, it's a humorous murder mystery set at a convention of zombie fans. The King of Zombie Fiction gets invited to a snooty literary symposium, and thousands of his fans show up in costume. And it's all fun and games until someone gets murdered, which in this case is the King of Zombie Fiction himself. And it falls on Jamie Oglethorpe, who has just started her new job as a custom tailor and fashion designer, to solve the murder. With thousands of suspects. By Monday.

Available on Kindle for 99 cents.


___________

Lurker 'Patty Jay' has written a short story which she published at the Liberty Island conservative writers' site. The link to the story, about a time not so far into the future, where old Soviet flush toilets are envied in the West, is here.


___________

Don't forget the AoSHQ reading group on Goodreads. It's meant to support horde writers and to talk about the great books that come up on the book thread. It's called AoSHQ Moron Horde and the link to it is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.

___________

So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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