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December 18, 2022

Sunday Morning Book Thread - 12-18-2022 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]


Welcome to the prestigious, internationally acclaimed, stately, and illustrious Sunday Morning Book Thread! The place where all readers are welcome, regardless of whatever guilty pleasure we feel like reading ("I can't conceive of a reason to waste a dollar on this book. Getting stupider is not one of my life goals." -- NLurker). Here is where we can discuss, argue, bicker, quibble, consider, debate, confabulate, converse, and jaw about our latest fancy in reading material, even if it's nothing more than the lyrics to "The Twelve Days of Christmas." As always, pants are required, especially if you are wearing these pants...

So relax, find yourself a warm kitty (or warm puppy--I won't judge) to curl up in your lap, perform some quality assurance on those Christmas cookies (someone's gotta do it!), and crack open a new book. What are YOU reading this fine morning?


Today's pic is from the Billy Graham Library. Mostly I picked it because I just liked the décor. If you happen to browse the Billy Graham Library website, you can see what events are upcoming, such as a book signing with former Vice President Mike Pence (*gag*). (This event occurred on Dec 13. I wonder if anyone showed up...) You can also take a virtual tour of the facility.


University Presses, like a lot of publishing outlets, are struggling these days. Unlike a mainstream publisher, a university press relies a lot more on patronage (in the old sense of the word) and subsidies to exist. Their main function seems to be as an outlet for academics to publish their most recent research. Though as we all know, today's university research--especially in the humanities and social sciences--is jam-packed with Leftism.

As anyone who's been in academia knows, the real coin of the realm is reputation and prestige. One way to achieve that is to publish your research in the most prestigious publications or have a book published through a prestigious university press. I have it on pretty good authority that there is a distinct hierarchy in academic publications. Assistant Professors need to publish in international journals if at all possible, as that will gain them recognition in their field and lead to promotion to Associate Professor. Associate Professors (mid-career faculty) need to publish chapters in books and serve as peer-reviewers. Full Professors are "the elite" within their field and are often publishing their own books.

However, university presses, being so reliant on external funding rather than direct purchases, come and go. If a university cannot support their own press, it's likely to collapse. This almost happened to my own university about ten years ago. There was enough hue and cry of support, though, that they reconsidered and as far as I know we still have our own in-house university press. The most prestigious are probably Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. Within the United States, Chicago University Press seems to be the premiere academic publisher.

What say you? Any good books from University Presses that you can recommend? There are a couple in today's Books By Morons section...

(Thanks to OrangeEnt for inspiring today's topic! On a side note, I was a proofreader on a professor's book a long, long time ago. It was published through Southern Illinois University Press.)



His grammar is never definitive
When he's tense he'll parse your dimunitive
But a dangled participle
Will hardly cause a ripple
He'll use it to split your infinitive

Muldoon, S. (2017). Muldoon's library of limericks: Volume 1. Muldoon Publishing.



If anyone is looking for last-minute Christmas gifts, a Book by a Moron is a great way to support your favorite Moron author and also provide excellent reading materials to your loved ones.

unsung.jpg My wife and I just published a book about Navy EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) warriors and their families; we are splitting 50% of profit from sales with Navy Special Operations Foundation and EOD Warrior Foundation, both 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that serve the families of deceased and wounded EOD warriors from all four branches of the military. We spent 2+ years interviewing these folks who served in Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world; my wife interviewed family members (spouses, parents, adult children, siblings) because they constitute the "support" system for the operators.

ADM Frank Morneau wrote this in the foreword to the book: "I always believed it would be a matter of time until this book, or one like it, would be written about these men, and I could not be more grateful to Dr. Paula Greene and Joseph Shaffer for accomplishing this undertaking. The history of the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Force, and their story, is not well known to the American public. And until now, when their story has been told, it has been told with a Hollywood 'thrill seeker' or 'stuntman' persona cast upon them which could not be more fictitious. This book brings the history and reality of this community of heroes to the reader in not only their own words, but the words of their families."

Ammo Grrrll (aka, Susan Vass) at Powerline wrote this in her column on Friday, 12/2/2022: "I thought perhaps [this book] was some sort of little monograph. Boy, 'wrong' does not begin to cover that assumption. UNSUNG is a work of such exquisite, thorough and painstaking scholarship and compassion that it almost defies description. It is not a breezy novel that can be tossed off in a sitting and forgotten. The heart and soul of the book are the dozens of in-depth interviews with the extraordinary men and women of the EOD, including the experiences of their families. You need to read these vignettes a few at a time and linger over the mind-boggling personal sacrifices--stories told in the participants' own words. These men--and their families--will live in your head for some time to come."

We self-published because, as you know, the length of time it takes for "traditional" publishers to complete a book is a couple of years and because of the timely nature of the interviews, we simply did not want to wait that long.

Here's the link to the book at Amazon: UNSUNG: Quiet Voices of the US Navy's EOD Warriors and Their Families: Shaffer III, Joseph E., Greene, Dr. Paula Kapp: 9798358155909: Amazon.com: Books

Thanks in advance for helping us spread the word about the book.




wray-johnson-books.jpg I am a long-time lurker (I think; that is, I've never commented). I am also a retired Air Commando (USAF Special Operations) and military historian (PhD, Florida State University). I'm loath to recommend my own books but I think some of the morons might enjoy them. They are a trilogy of sorts. My first book is Vietnam and American Doctrine for Small Wars. As a special operator specializing in anti-/counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, my first book was about why the US military has had such difficulty coming to grips with insurgency and other forms of conflict less than general war (my preferred term is therefore small wars). My second book, co-authored with a friend and former colleague, is Airpower in Small Wars: Fighting Insurgents and Terrorists. This book examines why air forces have specifically had difficulty coming to grips with insurgency, etc. (with a pointed emphasis on why the USAF has really struggled with the phenomenon). Finally, my most recent book is Biplanes at War: US Marine Corps Aviation in the Small Wars Era, 1915-1934, which examines how Marine Corps aviation got it right between the world wars (adaptation and innovation) and modern air forces could learn from their experience. Like I said, a trilogy of sorts.

Anyway, all of the books received good reviews although, I confess, the third book about the Marines is a little dense as I was trying (subtlety) to bring it all together.

Two of the books are by university presses (and include endnotes) and one is from the largest publishing house in Asia (I was in a hurry to get it out).


Wray R. Johnson


red-wolf-exile.jpg I have a new work out, freshly published on all the usual sites (but I provide the Amazon one for convenience).

The new book is :
Red Wolf: Exile Part One
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BPQ651WF

It's one of my favorite tropes -- the survival story a la Robinson Crusoe, only in this case it is someone yanked away to an alternate timeline where history went a little differently. Lots of adventure, intrigue, and combat macrame! Also the vital importance of a young lady, suddenly transported to different interdimensional coordinates, knowing parkour...

I'm publishing this in segments at roughly six-week intervals, and this is the first one of the first book. The other two are all written and ready to go. The plan is for this to be a trilogy but you never know, those blasted characters think they get a vote too.

Many thanks,

Sabrina Chase

More Books by Morons can be found HERE!



I read The Genetic Lottery by Kathryn Paige Harden, a prof of Clinical Psychology at UT Austin. I read some reviews and it sounded like an interesting exploration of an idea first discussed by Charles Murray; the extent to which genetics determines IQ and how to structure society as a result.

Harden admits she's a lefty, and parts of the book are marred by her inability to inject politics, but those aside, it's a pretty good exploration of the different schools of thought on this topic. These include:

1) Genetics is determinative. Almost nobody believes this is the only important thing, so it's a bit of a red herring.

2) Genetics is irrelevant. Almost nobody believes this either, but it's very popular to say so in academia, because they are concerned it genetics will be misused. While that's an obvious concern, science doesn't work this way, and I dismiss academics who say it.

3) Both factors are important, but as time goes by, it is becoming easier to identify the genetic factors which affect IQ, of which there are many.

To her credit, Harden endorses 3), even though it costs her among her so-called scientist colleagues....

Much of the book is spent laying the foundation for her support of the mixed hypothesis, but then she uses that foundation to explore how we should arrange society to be the most fair, even for those who lose out in the genetic lottery.

While she makes some good points, she starts losing her way when it becomes clear that shess endorsing almost a big government approach to Harrison Bergeron style handicapping. (That's a bit overstated, but true in its essence.) She tries to dismiss "merit" as something unearned, which is true in the sense that you don't pick your parents, but not in the sense that high IQ alone is enough to succeed. Where she really goes off the rails is in understanding that society as a whole benefits when its top performers are nurtured and allowed to flourish, and that there is an opportunity cost to dumping endless resources into a fool's errand of trying to level everyone to the extent possible.

As an example, in my on NoVa county, we spend enormous sums to provide individual teachers to special needs students, while shortchanging the resources for the top students. I've seen it personally.

To be clear, nobody thinks we shouldn't educate those who lost out in the genetic lottery, but it's a fools errand to try and cancel out nature entirely.

In summary (finally, they sighed) it's an interesting exploration of a very important topic, but I disagree with her conclusions. Nonetheless, as an introduction to the issues, it's worth reading.

Posted by: Archimedes at December 11, 2022 09:16 AM (eOEVl)

Comment: IQ is most likely a function of natural genetic ability combined with a nurturing environment that stimulates imagination, curiosity, and learning. In the education field, many prominent educators reject the idea of a "fixed" IQ in favor of a "growth mindset," meaning it's possible to increase your initial IQ through study and practice, at least up to your natural limit. Not everyone can be an Einstein, but it's likely that IQ is quite flexible within a standard deviation or so. It's just a matter of immersing yourself in an environment that allows you to flourish. Unfortunately, the modern education system is NOT such an environment...


In Cinema Speculation, Xploitation movie fanboy Tarantino takes a flamethrower to movie critics: "It would appear most critics writing for newspapers and magazines set themselves up as superior to the films they were paid to review. Which I could never understand, because judging from their writing, that was clearly not the case. They looked down on films that gave pleasure, and on the film-makers who had an understanding of the audience that they did not.

As a kid who loved movies and paid to see pretty much everything, I just thought they were snide assholes. Today as a much older and wiser man, I realize the extent of how unhappy they must have been. They wrote with the demeanor of somebody who hates their life, or at least hates their job."

On critic Kenneth Turan: "He didn't just run me over, he drove around the block to run me over. When you share an antagonism with one critic for as long as Kenny and me, you end up having a strange personal connection with each other."

Posted by: All Hail Eris, Sans-Culottes (except for the Book Thread) at December 11, 2022 09:40 AM (Dc2NZ)

Comment: It's far easier to be a critic than a creator. As we've seen with the rise of the internet, just about everyone has an opinion about something or other, regardless of how well that opinion is developed or thought out. Tarantino's comments apply equally well to book critics, video game critics, food critics, etc.


Robinson Crusoe was a favorite book as a kid. When I picked it up as an adult I don't know how I managed the early 18th century writing as a kid. I have loved survival / last man / prepper based books since forever.

Posted by: polynikes at December 11, 2022 10:51 AM (E1m1K)

Comment: One of my coworkers asked me for a suggestion for an adventure story. I had forgotten all about Robinson Crusoe. One of these days I'll have to get around to reading it. Or at least reading The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe by Peter Clines, which adds a Lovecraftian twist to the classic tale.


This week I picked up a new release; a hard science fiction book by John Van Stry: Summer's End. Absolutely loved it. It has kind of a Robert A. Heinlein feel to it.

It's the tale of a young man who was involved in the gangs, but has turned away from that and has trained as an engineer. Family politics and shenanigans means he needs to get out into space or his life is in danger because he's a political inconvenience to a powerful family member. He takes a contract with a hauling company to get off planet and try to be out of the way. That doesn't quite work out like he expected.

Tech level is pre-FTL. There are many colonies in the solar system. Much competition exists, and the need for economic efficiencies to allow one to succeed in spite of bean-counters will appeal to anyone who has dealt with that sort of reality.

Piracy, crime (organized and unorganized) exists, as do corrupt politics and bribes. All of these give a feel of legitimacy to the work.

The story itself is quite entertaining with good plot development and changes, and you'll find yourself actually caring about the characters (always a good sign.)

Definitely worth your time.

Posted by: Grumpy and Recalcitrant at December 11, 2022 02:08 PM (nRMeC)

Comment: I decided to include this recommendation because Grumpy was kind enough to send me a *long* list of recommendations of other, related series that he thought I would enjoy. I will have to check these out some day. Nothing like tacking on a few more dozen books to the TBR pile...*sigh*

More Moron-recommended reading material can be found HERE! (533 Moron-recommended books so far!)



  • MYST: The Book of Atrus by Rand Miller, Robyn Miller, and David Wingrove -- The backstory behind one of the bestselling computer games of the 1990s, known for its challenging puzzles and rich graphics (for that time!)
  • MYST: The Book of Ti'Ana by Rand Miller and David Wingrove -- Even more backstory, this time relating to the D'Ni world and culture...
  • A Science Fiction Argosy edited by Damon Knight -- A fine collection of classic science fiction stories by Isaac Asimov, Cordwainer Smith, Alfred Bester, Larry Niven, L. Sprague de Camp and many, many other authors.

That's about all I have for this week. Thank you for all of your kind words regarding the Sunday Morning Book Thread. This is a very special place. You are very special people (in all the best ways!). The kindness, generosity, and wisdom of the Moron Horde knows no bounds. Let's keep reading!

If you have any suggestions for improvement, reading recommendations, or writing projects that you'd like to see on the Sunday Morning Book Thread, you can send them to perfessor dot squirrel at-sign gmail dot com. Your feedback is always appreciated! You can also take a virtual tour of OUR library at libib.com/u/perfessorsquirrel. Since I added sections for AoSHQ, I now consider it OUR library, rather than my own personal fiefdom...

PREVIOUS SUNDAY MORNING BOOK THREAD - 12-11-22 (NOTE: Do NOT comment on old threads!)


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