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March 19, 2017

Sunday Morning Book Thread 03-19-2017

Einsiedeln Library_525.jpgEinsiedeln Switzerland Benedictine Monastery Library

Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes. Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, where men are men, all the 'ettes are hotties, safe spaces are underneath your house and are used as protection against actual dangers, like natural disasters, or a Trump's executive orders, and special snowflakes melt. And unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's these pants. Except that the 70s called, and they want their pants back.

“When I began writing The Night Bookmobile, it was a story about a woman's secret life as a reader. As I worked it also became a story about the claims that books place on their readers, the imbalance between our inner and outer lives, a cautionary tale of the seductions of the written word. It became a vision of the afterlife as a library, of heaven as a funky old camper filled with everything you've ever read. What is this heaven? What is it we desire from the hours, weeks, lifetimes we devote to books? What would you sacrifice to sit in that comfy chair with perfect light for an afternoon in eternity, reading the perfect book, forever?”

― Audrey Niffenegger, The Night Bookmobile

And this is the book Ms. Niffenegger wrote. It's actually a graphic novel, which takes bibliophilia to a whole new level:

Audrey Niffenegger, the New York Times bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, has crafted her first graphic novel after the success of her two critically acclaimed “novels-in-pictures.” First serialized as a weekly column in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, The Night Bookmobile tells the story of a wistful woman who one night encounters a mysterious disappearing library on wheels that contains every book she has ever read. Seeing her history and most intimate self in this library, she embarks on a search for the bookmobile. But her search turns into an obsession, as she longs to be reunited with her own collection and memories.

Next Sunday Is International De-Lurk Day

As of this month, I've been been doing the book thread for five years. It seemed somehow appropriate to make a note of this, and I think the best way to do that is to encourage all you lurkers and lurkettes (and I know you're out there, because I get e-mail from you) to give back what you've been given. That is, if you've enjoyed a book that you first heard about on the book thread, I think you can assume that you might know of a book or two that the rest of us would like to hear about. The value of the book thread is in the comments, where books are recommended, de-recommended, and generally discussed. So the more, the merrier.

So this is what I'd like you lurkers and lurkettes to do:

1. Either read a new book or pick an old one you've already read.

2. Write up a short review, what you liked about it, what you didn't like about it, what worked, what didn't, etc. It doesn't have to be big and fancy, a brief paragraph would be fine.

3. Select an anonymous nick-name ("nic") for yourself, hopefully one that isn't already being used by someone else. And if you've been lurking regularly, you should pretty much know who the regulars are.

4. Post your review under your anonymous nic.

5. You don't have to worry about me asking you to do this again until next year.

And that's all. You don't have to stick around, or reply to comments if you don't want to. After de-lurking, you can certainly re-lurk, and that's fine. And don't worry about what anybody says. After all, we're all morons.

A Forgotten War

I knew that prior to the outbreak of WWII, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, but I didn't know much else. And then earlier this week, I ran across this BookBub $1.99 special, Prevail: The Inspiring Story of Ethiopia's Victory over Mussolini's Invasion, 19351941

It was the war that changed everything, and yet it’s been mostly forgotten: in 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia. It dominated newspaper headlines and newsreels. It inspired mass marches in Harlem, a play on Broadway, and independence movements in Africa. As the British Navy sailed into the Mediterranean for a white-knuckle showdown with Italian ships, riots broke out in major cities all over the United States.

Italian planes dropped poison gas on Ethiopian troops, bombed Red Cross hospitals, and committed atrocities that were never deemed worthy of a war crimes tribunal. But unlike the many other depressing tales of Africa that crowd book shelves, this is a gripping thriller, a rousing tale of real-life heroism in which the Ethiopians come back from near destruction and win.

So the Ethiopians kicked the fascist Eye-talians in they hiney. That's good to know.

And unfortunately, the BookBub deal is now over. But you can get a used hardback for about $9.

Or, for 99 cents, you can pick up To Abyssinia, Through an Unknown Land: An Account of a Journey Through Unexplored Regions of British East Africa by Lake Rudolf to the Kingdom of Menelek by Chauncey Hugh Stigand, who explored that part of the world in the Victorian era. About this book, Teddy Roosevelt wrote:

"Captain Stigand is one of the most noted of recent African big game hunters and explorers, and he is also a field naturalist of unusual powers. ... Captain Stigand has written a book which ought to appeal to every believer in vigor and hardihood, to every lover of wilderness adventure, and to every man who values at their proper worth the observations of an excellent field naturalist."

Stigand was killed in action in 1919, while fighting to suppress a Sudanese uprising.

Free Books

I hardly ever go to the Reason.com site, because every time I do, I usually end up reading something by Nick Gillespie that just irritates me to no end, and makes me think, "Wow, what a d*ck." So I decided long ago that it's a waste of time to sift through all the irritating crap to find the occasional nugget of gold. Thankfully, CBD did the sifting for me, and came up with a limited time offer from the Cato Institute, to wit, three free books:

Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis

Michael Tanner examines the growing national debt and its dire implications for our future and explains why a looming financial meltdown may be far worse than anyone expects. Many politicians on the left and right know entitlements are unsustainable but fear the consequences of reforming them. In contrast, Tanner offers effective reforms to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—changes that will improve our lives as well as prevent a fiscal meltdown.

I predict that news stories on the national debt will suddenly be popular again.

The Cult of the Presidency

In The Cult of the Presidency, Gene Healy demonstrates how this has become the source of much of our political woe and some of the gravest threats to our liberties, and details how the president’s role needs to return to its properly defined constitutional limits, with its powers held in check by Congress and the courts.

I agree that an unbridled executive is indeed a threat to the republic, and that this has been demonstrated throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Furthermore, I firmly believe that this country does, in fact, need a full discussion of this topic with much debate, followed by a comprehensive set of traditional constitutional limitations reiterated and agreed to by both parties, which should then be scheduled for implementation just after Donald Trump leaves office.

Wait, strike all that. In light of recent events, where an arbitrary judge arbitrarly slapping an arbitrary TRO on PDT's lawful executive order, it's not going to do any good to dismantle the cult of the presidency if all we're going to do is replace it with a cult of the judiciary. How would that be any better? Thomas Jefferson once said.

"The great object of my fear is the Federal Judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting with noiseless foot and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step and holding what it gains, is engulfing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which feeds them."
--Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1821. ME 15:326

And since I copied this from another source, I must admit I don't know what the reference "ME 15:326" means.

An EO from Trump is out there for everybody to see (thanks to the MSM), while a court decision (a) doesn't get as much publicity and (b) frequently has implications that are only noticeable over the long term. Personally, I'd like to crank it back to 1803 and revisit the whole 'judicial review' thing established by Marbury v. Madison, but that's probably just crazy talk.

Perhaps this book, How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary by Edward Vieira, would be more appropriate:

The focal point of the book is the illegitimacy of Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), whereby the federal courts bullied the State of Texas and other sovereign states decrying their prohibition of sodomy as unconstitutional. Public morality statutes of this sort serve a purpose. Somehow, the right to sodomy was hidden in "the penumbras and emanations" of the Ninth Amendment. All the other previous judges just looked over it apparently. Sarcasm! As Justice Scalia, the voice of reason and dissent has exclaimed, "Day by day, case by case, this court is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize."

This book was written in 2004. Its protestations against the Lawrence v. Texas decision nowadays would most likely be considered a hate crime. We've changed bigly in just 13 years.

Cato Institutes Pocket Constitution

With over 6 million copies in print, the Cato Institute’s Pocket Constitution—containing both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States—is one of the most popular editions available of our nation’s founding documents.

Always good to have these documents handy.

To get these books in pdf, epub, or mobi formats, you need to go to the promotional page and then fill out your e-mail address on a form. Don't know if it actually does anything with your e-mail address, but as soon as you enter it, it displays links to the books.

Books By Morons

Short story author Lisa Mathisen has just released her latest collection, Glimpse vo. 6 (Spirit). The stories in this volume are very spiritually-themed, Christian-oriented. Lisa says "there is some take no prisoners regarding intelligent design, sovereignty of Jesus and pro-life. I think a lot of the conservative morons might like it too."

Lisa also says:

“It is my intention and hope that Christians will find encouragement and fellowship in SPIRIT. The most important thing to remember is you're not walking alone. Everyone has felt the same highs and lows in their Christian walk. Just hang on tight and keep going.”

I've read some of the stories in this volume, and I was surprised at how dusty the room became all of a sudden.

Here is a promo video for this book.

Also available is Ms. Mathisen's last book of short-stories, which I never got around to telling you about when it was first released last November, Glimpse vol. 5 (Creature). Fun stories about animals. I especially liked the one about the honey bee having to get clearance from flight control at the hive to drop off her load of pollen.

Which reminds me of this book, A Bee Is Born by Harald Doering, a book which endlessly fascinated me when I was in grade school. I checked it out of the local library numerous times. Lots of great photographs of bees, including some cool shots from inside the hive. I think Doering, who spent his entire life studying bees, is the scientist who figured out that bees communicate by dancing and wiggling their butts at each other.


I got an e-mail this week from longtime lurker Robert Zimmerman (no, not *that* Robert Zimmerman) who has written about space exploration.

Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8: The First Manned Mission to Another World

It was Christmas Eve 1968. And the astronauts of Apollo 8 - Commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders - were participants in a mission that took them faster (24,000 mph) and farther from the earth (240,000 miles) than any human had ever traveled. Apollo 8 was the mission that broke humanity's absolute bond to the earth: it was the first manned vehicle to leave the earth's orbit. Confined within a tiny spaceship, the astronauts were aided in their journey by a computer less powerful than one of today's handheld calculators. Their mission was not only a triumph of engineering, but also an enduring moment in history. The words these three men spoke from lunar orbit reverberated through American society, changing our culture in ways no one predicted.

Yes, back then, they had to make do with primitive technology, i.e. stuff that was scarcely better than an adept nerd with a slide rule. As such, what the NASA engineers did was absolutely astounding.

Available in pdf, epub, and mobi, for $5.99.

Mr. Zimmerman is also the author of a policy paper, Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry, which makes a number of recommendations for any American space program. He likes more capitalism, and less government interference. He says:

Make sure especially that you take a look at my announcement post, presently at the top of the page at Behind the Black (http://behindtheblack.com/). The table from "Capitalism in Space" that I post there is devastating to the pork-laden SLS/Orion project pushed by Congress. Private space has produced 10 times the rockets/spacecraft in half the time for about a quarter the price.

And what a big surprise that is.


And another lurking moron author, Jerry Jay Caroll, has resurfaced with a new novel, The Horror Writer:

Horror writer Thom Hearn runs a fiction factory that pumps out bestsellers like Jimmy Dean does sausages. He’s got fame and fortune, but where’s the respect? He’s a sensitive guy and it hurts nobody admits they read the books or see the movies except dumb teenagers. Then he gets invited to a conference for big shots. His ego is soothed until he’s told somebody made a big mistake. And then characters from his books begin showing up. The homicidal maniac wants to kill him…slowly.

Mr. Carroll used to be a journalist, but I don't hold it against him. He reported for the SF Chronicle, the newspaper I used to read when I was growing up in the SF Bay Area. I actually remember seeing his by-line back in the day, so when his e-mail showed up in my inbox, I knew exactly who he was. I guess that makes us kind of like blood brothers, or something.

He is also the author of Inhuman Beings (which has been described as a cross between Raymond Chandler and Philip K. Dick) and Top Dog, which is about a Wall Street shark who awakes one day and finds himself in the body of a dog and caught up in the cosmic battle of Good vs. Evil. Kind of a Kafka/Tolkien mash-up.


Moron author naturalfake announces that after much hassle, his comic novel 'Wearing the Cat - The Complete Novel' (the hilarious misadventures of a satyritic naval dentist) has been published as a paperback, in two volumes:

Wearing the Cat - Vol. 1
Wearing the Cat - Vol. 2


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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posted by OregonMuse at 08:55 AM

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