Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Glenn Beck's Overton Window Please Let it End

I'ma try to finish this tedious tome today. As I mentioned last time, I skimmed ahead, so I know nothing interesting happens, not in these last chapters and not anywhere else in the book.

That this pile of over-written bog-standard conspiracy crap garnered as many five star reviews on Amazon as it has is a sign of the coming Apocalypse, that's all I have to say.

Chapter 35

Noah meets Molly for lunch. Nothing happens, except we hear about how TSA loves to harass Freedom Fighting Americans, who are 100% not terrorists.

Chapter 36-37

The TSA part was because Molly needs to fly to Las Vegas, and how can she, when she'll be harassed and arrested by Security because Noah's Daddy knows who she is?

Noah has a brilliant plan. No, it's not flying her to Las Vegas in one of his private jets. (Beck's ghost writer apparently doesn't understand what the mega-wealthy are actually like.)

Nope, he disguises her as Natalie Portman, and then uses his rich-boy power to get her through Security that way.

I have to admit, my first reaction here was, who the fuck-word is Natalie Portman? Wikipedia tells me she was in one of the Star Wars episodes I didn't see, which makes sense (I guess) because Molly gets them out of a stick spot in these hijinx by quoting Star Wars.

The sticky spot? She's wearing...gasp...a crucifix, and the Star Wars Geek running security knows that Portman is Jewish.

There's some casual nastiness about what Science Fiction fans look like here, by the way: Geek is overweight and wearing ill-fitting clothing, and has a bad haircut.

"The force is strong with this one," Molly says. The Geek melts under her sexiness and deep knowledge of Star Wars.

They get aboard the flight and Molly falls asleep. While she's sleeping, Noah browses through her things, reading her notebook, and generally acting badly. But this is so Beck's ghost writer can tell us (again) that Molly is reading the Original Works of the Founding Fathers, who are perfect, also filled wit humility, not like That President Obama.

Chapter 38

Kearns and Danny are driving to meet their terrorists.

Along the way, Danny explains his theory about how various terrorist attacks, including the Sept 11 attack, are all just False Flags. And so this attack on Vegas is probably one too. Kearns objects, saying that if that were true he would know about it. Danny calls him a naive little kitten.

Not exactly in those words.

Chapter 39

More Deep Thoughts from Noah as he reads through Molly's notebook, which is filled with quotations from the Founding Fathers. More conspiracy whackiness. My boredom is at Peak Beck.

Chapter 40

Kearns and Danny prepare to meet the terrorists. Danny has to explain to Kearns how to approach bad guys, because Kearns never learned that in all his years as a Super-Secret Agent for the FBI.

Chapter 41

Kearns and Danny sell the nuclear weapon to the terrorists. Then they start shooting the terrorists, for reasons that aren't especially clear. This is the worst-run sting I've ever seen in fiction.

But before they shoot the terrorists, they let them load the weapon into their truck, so one terrorist gets away with the bomb.

But Danny and Kearns get aboard as the truck drives away, which the terrorist doesn't notice, because he's an idiot.

Chapter 42

Noah and Molly have rented a car and are driving at top speed toward the location Danny sent to everyone. Why? I guess Molly thinks she needs to help Danny? It's not really clear. Molly is driving, because Noah never learned. (I don't actually know why Molly is driving. Probably so Noah can tell her to slow down, a lot.)

Chapter 43

Danny calls 911 from the back of the speeding Truck o'Terrorist. I'm not sure why. I mean, does he honestly think Emergency Services will fly out here to the middle of the desert to rescue him?

But no fear! 911 is in on the Big Conspiracy. Danny and Kearns are on their own.

Meanwhile Kearns has found his Super-Secret Contact, the only one who knows Kearns is REALLY from the FBI, dead in the back of the truck.

Danny has to point out to him what this means -- this is ANOTHER false-flag operation, like 9/11, and he and Kearns are the scapegoats.

Their solution?

They set off the nuclear weapon.

I mean, what? (A) Is that really their best option? Why not, idk, shoot it out with the sole remaining terrorist when he stops for gas or whatever? Also (B) how is setting off the nuclear weapon here, instead of actually in Vegas, going to help their cause? It's still a terrorist setting off a NUCLEAR WEAPON. Besides which (C) what makes them think some idiot in the White House won't decide this is a first strike? Touching off the destruction of the entire planet?

But that's what they do, exploding themselves and I guess the surrounding 40 or 50 square miles in a blaze of glory.

Chapter 45

Noah and Molly are still driving. They are having a fight about who is more committed to this Fight for Freedom, blah blah blah, when Molly sees police lights behind them.

Noah flings himself out of the car so that he can fling himself in front of the police cars and let Molly get away (she's determined to get to Danny and stop whatever is happening -- she doesn't know it's a nuclear weapon, but she knows it's a Big False Flag).

He stops the police by standing in the middle of the road with his hands raised. They all stop, instead of one stopping and the rest going on after Molly.

Then, as they're all facing him down with their scary weapons, the nuclear bomb explodes.

Chapter 46

Noah gets interrogated. Not very interestingly. We learn nothing new. (If the repetition in the book had been trimmed away, it would be about six chapters long.)

Chapter 47

Noah's daddy interrupts the interrogation. He makes yet another endless speech, again saying nothing new. "Useless eaters," "Saul Alinksy," "democracy is a sham," "people are sheep," blah blah blah.

Then he announces that he must find out what Noah is made of.

Chapter 48

Noah gets tortured some more, with his father watching.  Again, it's very boring torture. Near its end, inspired by Molly, Noah recites some Social Darwinist doggerel his father taught him when he was a boy. This convinces his father, for some reason, that Noah is his True Son and Worth Trusting.


Noah's locked up in a repurposed prison, doing various clerical jobs for his father, but unable to do them in a convincing manner. His daddy is thinking of locking him up good.


The guy who fetches him his meals slips him Molly's bracelet, and tells him to do a certain job -- basically leave his computer logged on.

He also slips him a note from Molly: "We are everywhere. I'll see you soon. The fight begins tomorrow."

THE END (thank God)

So apparently in the next book, The Eye of Moloch, which I am not going to read, we still don't get to the concentration camps.

I have to say, this is the least scary Supervillain ever. Apparently what he wants to do is bring peace and prosperity to America by managing the economy.

The bastard.

Also though he wants to stop Good Christian Patriots from having AK-47s, collecting rain water, smoking cigarettes, homeschooling their kids, and refusing vaccinations for their babies.

So totally evil, yeah.

I have to say this book was a lot more boring than I expected. Lots of propaganda and lies, but it was all Conspiracy Nut lies and propaganda, and frankly, who cares.

I'll look for something less idiotic next time.


No matter what lies get pushed by Trump supporters, this is the truth

Also this

Vote the GOP out in 2020. Also, maybe don't vote for GOP-lite? Warren is looking better every day.

Problems with Capitalism

Thread for anyone who supports civil debate with Nazis

This was fun, in a grim sort of way

I can't tell you how many times I've been dismissed because, obviously, no one living in Arkansas can possibly be worth listening to:

More lies from the Right, or Don't Listen to the Screeching about Antifa:

Monday, April 29, 2019

My Kid Does Art

This is from the Kid's figure drawing class.

I love the light here.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Glenn Beck's Overton Window Ch 27-34

You'll remember that Beck left us with the promise of hearing Kearns' life story.

But that was a fake! I swear this novel reads like a first-draft written by a 15 year old and never revised.

Chapter 27

This chapter starts out as if we're going to hear all about Kearns, but instead Beck abruptly quits that story, when Danny demands to stop at a bar/brothel. He wants a beer, he says.

Kearns goes along with this, letting Danny go into the bar by himself to get a beer (Kearns doesn't drink, obviously). Only a few chapters ago he basically took Danny hostage. Now he lets him wander off into a bar by himself.

Where Danny borrows the phone from a stripper and sends a text message to Molly, warning her to keep everyone away from Las Vegas, since that's where the Big Job is going to go down.

Chapter 28

Noah wakes up, after being kept unconscious for almost two days, by someone, to find himself in his father's custody. And his father wants to see him.

I can see that Beck means this to be a scary moment. I can see that Beck wants us to see Noah's daddy as an evil monster. Frankly, though, he's the most boring villain I've ever met. The meanest thing we've seen him do so far is fire someone for checking her watch. Ooo, scary.

Also, all he does is talk and give lengthy presentations to people in boardrooms about the eeevil plan they have to take control of America. Beck has us watch this presentation three times. It never gets more convincing or more interesting.

Chapter 29

Back to Danny and Kearns. They're driving out to meet the terrorists again, and maybe actually sell them the bomb this time. Kearns can't use Mapquest, so he gives Danny access to internet. He also conveniently leaves the room so that Danny can send out another warning out, this time to the whole group of Freedom Fighters. Why didn't he send this last night? Who knows.

He also sends them the location of the meeting with the terrorists. I guess he couldn't have sent that the night before.

Whatever. Kearns has a casual attitude toward security for a high-caliber spy, is all I'm saying.

Chapter 30

Noah meets with his dad. Also, his dad's doctor gave him a bottle of methadone pills, to help him "come down" from whatever he was drugged with by Molly's team. This seems unlikely to me, but okay.

Noah's daddy tells him they found him by tracking his cell phone. Which took 40 hours. Okay.

Also, Noah is shocked to find that you can find people by tracking their cell phones. This is what I mean by inconsistency of character.  Noah is suddenly a naive idiot again, despite being a mastermind ninja fighter only a few chapters ago.

Noah's daddy has a big reveal for him -- Molly is not what she seems.

Apparently this is news to Noah, even though we just spent several chapters establishing that Molly is part of a secret cabal of freedom fights. But Noah's daddy gives him a lengthy presentation (of course) establishing that Molly has been to college, that she shoots guns, that she goes to political rallies with her mother and Danny Bailey.

Then Noah's daddy drops the bombshell: Molly got the job in the mailroom to spy on them.

Now I think even less of Noah's daddy than I did before. He's running an evil empire, but he doesn't bother to do security checks on the people who have access to his files? Okay.

Also, and this is really queasy-making, Noah's daddy establishes that Molly deliberately cut her hair and wore clothing to make herself look like Noah's mommy. Because she knew Noah would find that hot.

I know now more about Glenn Beck's kink than I really wanted to, frankly.

Chapter 31

Noah and his daddy have a private meeting. This is so Noah's Daddy can explain his plan yet again, though once again he doesn't explain it, just talks endlessly about how America is a big mistake, people aren't equal and can't be treated as if they're equal, and how most people are "useless eaters," not to mention evil. A story about a Turkish girl being buried alive by her family in an honor killing is put forth of proof of this.

Noah's daddy points out that in most cultures this girl would have been raped by the time she was sixteen. He means most other cultures, not America, where girls and women never get raped. But in any case, what this has to do with his point or the plot of the book, I don't know. Maybe Beck just wants us to see why Noah's daddy would think he should run the world? Because "most people" are useless eaters who rape and kill children?

I have no idea. This chapter is really incoherent.

Noah's daddy ends by saying that America's government is corrupt, so it's time to overthrow it and establish a new government.

The new government starts tomorrow, Noah's daddy says dramatically, and it will not fail.

Noah's daddy reminds me of those guys who corner you on long bus rides to tell you all about the dangers of vaccinations and drinking diet sodas. But we're supposed to believe he's a super-intelligent evil villain who is about to take over the country.

Chapter 32

Noah, appalled by his father's behavior, flees the building (after first asking several people where he can find Molly, because that won't leave a trail for his father to follow). Someone tells him Molly's mom is in the hospital. So he heads there.

Chapter 33

Luckily Noah used to date a neurologist at the hospital. Luckily.

She gets him in to see Molly's mom, who has just awakened and is asking to see him.

Chapter 34

Molly's mom has been beat up and also poisoned. By Noah's daddy's people, we're meant to assume, I guess? That's never made clear. She's dying, but first she needs to tell Noah some important things.

(1) He needs to find Molly and protect her. That's his job.
(2) Also, he needs to read Ephesians 6:12
(3) Also, Molly's mom knew his mom, before he was even born. So she knows what his mom would want him to do, which is save the world by protecting Molly. At least, I think this is what this part means. Who knows.

Noah rushes off to find Molly.

Ephesians 6:12, in case you're interested:
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
I guess this is meant to refer to Noah's daddy? Or maybe the US Government in general. Obama was president, remember. A dark ruler.

Who knows. Sometimes Beck acts as if the US Government is important and worth preserving, sometimes he acts as if the government is literally Satan, and we need to kill it with fire.

I guess he means people like the Freedom Fighters, who are the true heirs of the Founding Fathers, should be running the government, instead of those terrible corrupt elected officials, who pass things like tax codes and business regulations, and insist on funding public schools.

You know. People who actually govern.

I've skimmed ahead, by the way, and no, we don't get to the concentration camps in this book. Apparently there's a sequel, if you can believe that. Aargh.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


If your "hot take" on trans kids is that your kid wanted to be a puppy when they were three, maybe shut up and sit down.

Sure, kids pretend. My kid had this little routine he would do every morning, between the ages of about fifteen months and three years old. "Ask me what I am today!" he would order.

"What are you today?" I would reply. (It was like a little liturgy.)

"I'm a wolf!" he would declare.

Or: "I'm a kitty!"

And then for the rest of the day, intermittently, he howled or mewed or (when he was a lemur) leaped about the room.

Do I need to explain how this is different from being trans?

Because I will.

One is a game. The kid is playing, and you are playing, and we all know it's a game.

A game doesn't cause your child pain. My kid never suffered depression because he wasn't a kitty. He didn't need therapy to understand why he persistently mourned the absence of his kitty body. He didn't require medication because not having a kitty body made him so miserable. He didn't feel, persistently and endlessly and for years, that he was a cat, that this human body was not his own, that this human body was trying to kill him.

Trans is not a kid getting up one morning and deciding they're an attack helicopter, or whatever ever so funny joke you've decided to make about my child.

Trans is the persistent conviction that your body is the wrong gender, often accompanied by crippling dysphoria, or to the point that your life is misery.

If you can't -- or won't -- understand what that is like, then do us all a favor, and keep your bigoted, ugly, ignorant, hate-filled opinion to yourself.


Image result for trans rights are human rights

(Also, just FYI, since some of you are apparently unable to do even the most basic research, no one is giving a three year old surgery -- "cutting off [her] dick," as I saw one charming loser put it -- or HRT, or whatever. When we accept our small child's gender, we're talking social acceptance.: social transition. We use the right pronouns. We help them negotiate the world. We don't try to force them to be what they are not, and we certainly don't do that because we have some conviction of what they "really" are.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

...and Here's Rod!

Rod Dreher is a little late on the screechy bandwagon, but here he is explaining to you why "Easter Worshipers" is persecution of the very worst kind and just more evidence that Christians are the most abused group ever and also liberals are Satan.

I saw a headline today discussing the "Easter Bombings" in Sri Lanka. No doubt that too is more persecution of Good American Christians. I mean, Easter didn't get bombed, amirite?

If you want to know why no one takes the screeching of MAGA Americans seriously, here you are.

Monday, April 22, 2019


So for a brief moment this morning MAGA Americans were losing their damn minds because a couple of politicians said that those killed in Sri Lanka yesterday were "Easter worshipers."

"How much do they hate Christians?" one demanded. "They can't even say our name!"

"Yeah! We don't worship EASTER. Say it RIGHT: we're Christian worshipers."

I asked if by that he meant that they worshiped Christians, and he blocked me.

Such delicate flowers, these fellas.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Chag Sameach

Last night was our Seder. Theoretically, tonight should be the second Seder, but we've never done that.

Uncle Charger and the Kid's roommate, Clover, came down to celebrate with us. Despite the somewhat grim nature of the Passover holiday, which is about remembering that Jews were slaves in Egypt, and celebrating their escape from that slavery, it's always been one of my favorites of the holiday.

I think Rosh Hashanah is my favorite, and then Passover, and then Hanukkah. We almost never celebrate Purim, or that might be one of my favorites as well.

The Seder, though, with its set form and yearly rituals (one of the questions our Haggadah asks, for instance, is for everyone to tell how their ancestors came to America -- retelling these stories each year, with new stories as new people join our table, this is very comforting), and the fairly terrible food (the food of affliction), it makes me happy every year.

This year the food was

  • a roast chicken and 
  • grilled asparagus
  • Matzo ball soup (all of these were excellent) 
  • potato kugel (okay) 
  • brownies of afflication (brownies made with matzo-based cake flour)
  • gefilte fish (I am not a fan)
  • also KFP wine, which Uncle Charger brought, and which was excellent -- wine from Israel, instead of the grape-jelly-flavored KFP wine which is all that is available here in the fort.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Glenn Beck's Overton Window Chapters 21-26

I'll be honest with y'all, this part of the book is really, really, really boring. If I'd been Beck's Ghost Writer's Editor, most of this would have been cut.

Chapter 20

You'll remember when we last left Noah and Molly, they'd just found out about the Big Conspiracy to Take Over America By...Somebody I Guess It Was Noah's Daddy? I Don't Know.

Why would a PR firm want to take over the country? Surely there's more money in letting -- say -- Donald Trump take over the country, and then snookering him into looting the place for you.

Whatever. Molly takes Noah to see "how the other half lives," except that's more like 90% these days, but okay, and also, that's not where she actually takes him. Instead they go through a Sekrit Doorway into a Sekrit Hiding Place, one of the Freedom Fighter's hideouts. It has all these elaborate rooms, all built "with love and ingenuity."

How can Noah tell that? Well, he just can.

There are bookshelves. These contain all sorts of books, including the worst of Orson Scott Card, a John Birch society handbook, and a pile of men's adventure novels survivalist guides.

Hollis in one of them loading his own ammo, because it is tastier that way (I'm not kidding, that's the explanation we get, just like homemade cookies are tastier than storebought, ammo you load yoursef is better because...homemade, I guess?)

Also there a boardroom sort of place where some of the Freedom Fighters are cosplaying Founding Fathers. It turns out, just like in Fahrenheit 451, each Freedom Fighter memorizes some text written by the Founding Fathers, so that it will Not Be Lost From History.

Why don't they just buy some copies of the books? Yeah, I don't know either.

Molly recites the most common bit from Thomas Paine, the part about the summer soldier. Noah has never heard this before. Because he didn't grow up in the USA and wasn't educated in an American school.

That's the thing about Noah. Sometimes -- as in the opening chapters -- he's an utter dope, both stupid and ignorant. And sometimes, as when he gave that little speech in the bar, he's super competent, highly educated, and brilliant.

And then back to being an dumber than a box of hammers. "Thomas Paine? Who's he?"

Also, he's read Dale Carneige. I mean, oh, my God.

Molly fetches Noah some sweet tea. There's some chat about it being sweet tea. Because she's from the South. In case you forgot.

Then they argue about the 2nd Amendment, basically so Beck's Ghost Writer can make all the bone-headed points every gun nut makes.

Then -- plot twist! -- Noah passes out. THE TEA WAS ROOFIED.

Oh, Molly. Weren't you just trying to bone this guy last night? You heartless slut.

Chapter 22

Back to Kearns and Danny. Apparently Danny's going to do some undercover mission with a fake nuclear bomb. Kearns back there in Chapter 16-17 seemed to be working for the FBI. In fact, as I recall, he had a government jet at his command.

But now he claims to be working all on his own. He's been "out in the cold" so long, only one guy still knows he works for the government.

It must be the guy who has the keys to the jet.

Also they eat breakfast in a farmhouse. Why? I don't know. I'm not even sure why this chapter is in the book. Maybe so Glenn Beck's ghostwriter can say "out in the cold," thus demonstrating to you that he knows all about Real Spy Stuff.

Chapter 23

Kearns and Danny make a phone call to set up the meet. The guys they're going to sell the fake nuclear weapon fanboy all over Danny. Because he's a big YouTube star and terrorists planning to blow up things with nuclear weapons love YouTube stars.

(Is Danny supposed to be Rush Limbaugh? Or Louder with Crowder? Or Alex Jones? IDK, and this is so stupid I don't care.)

Chapter 24

Kearns and Danny drive to the meet. On the way, Kearns stops the car so Danny can see what stars look like outside a city. Apparently Danny, though he is a famous YouTube Star and Freedom Fighter, has never left the city, or at least never looked up when he was outside a city.

Kearns says it's important to know the stars are there. Because stars = heaven.


They get to the meet, which is being held in someone's garage, apparently, and uh-oh, trouble: only four of the five guys they're supposed to meet are there.

I think this is another plot twist?

Chapter 25

But apparently not, because they all sit down to talk. Missing Fifth Guy is away on a business trip. (Didn't they just set up the meet like 90 minutes ago?)

There is some chat about Zionist bankers.

(Side note: This is one problem with this book. Danny starts out being cast as a bad guy. Now, apparently, he's a good guy, sort of? But a dupe of Kearns, who is a good guy, maybe? And they're setting up these guys, who are buying nuclear weapons, so...bad guys? But no one's character is consistent, and every now and then someone who is supposed to be one of the heroes will say something about Zionist bankers or global conspiracy or some other coded (barely coded) speech for Them Evil Jews. It's hard to know how Beck's Ghost Writer means us to read all this. Or if he or Beck even understands what they're saying.)

After the anti-Semitic bonding is done with, Kearns shows them the bomb.

Why did he need Danny here again? You got me.

And then -- plot twist! -- we find out who the terrorists are going to blow up, with a fucking nuclear weapon: the Senate Majority Leader.

Why would you need a nuclear weapon to do this? How would you get a nuclear weapon into the office of such a person?

Who knows, who cares. I'm guessing Beck is planning to use this as his Reichstag Fire, to kick off Martial Law and Concentration Camps and the Death of America, but we're 60% through the book. I mean, come on.

Frankly, it should have started with the nuclear weapon. If we're going to actually explode this weapon, I mean.

Chapter 26

Kearns and Danny drive away, not having sold the nuclear weapon to the terrorist fanboys. Kearns thinks the fanboys are up to no good -- maybe the missing one ISN'T away on business, but is planning to ambush them.

Or something.

Apparently there's going to be another meet tomorrow, to actually sell them the weapon (why? Why not sell it to them tonight? What idiot wrote this book), but first we have to hear Kearns' life story.

Danny literally asks for it. "We've got a long drive," he says.

The next chapter seems to be Kearns's life story. What the actual F.

More in a few days, if I can stand it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


This is nice -- not the theft, I mean, the recovery

This is a trailer, more or less, but so cool

Erik Loomis is an American hero

A quiz! (I honestly don't know what to make of this.)

Researching something else and came across this guy -- the American prison system is legalized slavery, and we shouldn't ever forget that

See also this

I've seen this happen to too many people.

I don't know who's pushing this 4% number, but every white nationalist on FB has been screeching it lately

Who really erases history:

Also, I want this crow to come hang around my office and talk to me:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

What I'm Reading

Arkady Martine, A Memory Called Empire

I read about this book on several SF blogs I follow, and saw it mentioned by I don't know how many people on Twitter -- everyone raving about it -- so when I spotted it among the new purchases at my library I snatched it up.

The raves weren't wrong. This is a wonderful book.

It is not an easy read. If it hadn't been for all those accolades, in fact, I probably would not have pushed past the first 20 pages, which are dense and require a lot of faith on the part of the reader. This, as the title suggests, is a book about complex politics. It's a science fiction book, obviously, so they're alien politics. And the cultures involved, though human, are weirdly human. (Though this is one of the best parts of the book, once you're past those first few pages.)

There's also a f/f romance, and a delightful friendship, or rather more than one, and and wonderful writing.

And there's an index/glossary/list of characters at the back of the book, thank God.  As with Russian novels, I read this one with two bookmarks, one in the index, and one to mark my place in the text.

Highly recommended.

Mary Norris, Greek to Me

In a world in which I was obscenely wealthy, or at least one in which I didn't have to earn a living and universities were free, here is what I would do with my life: first I would get a PhD in Greek. Then I would get one in Latin. Then I would get one in Linguistics. Then I would get one in Anthropology. (Probably cultural anthropology, though physical anthropology and linguistic anthropology both hold their attractions.) Then...

My point is, when I saw this book, Greek to Me, on the shelf at my library, I snatched it up with small squeaks of delight. Mary Norris worked as a copy editor at the New Yorker for years; during her tenure there, the magazine paid for her to take classes in both modern and classical Greek (can you hear me burning with envy from way over here?). She also traveled extensively in Greece on her extensive vacations. Five and six week vacations. This is apparently what the world used to be like. (Burning with envy.)

This book is a collection of essays about her experiences: with the languages; of her travels in Greece; about her reading classical Greek and modern Greek texts; about her life in general. The essays are hit and miss, but you can skip the ones you don't like so much and go on to the ones more to your taste. (I did.)

Mette Ivie Harrison, Mira, Mirror

Image result for mette ivie harrison Mira, MirrorMy initial impression, as I read through the first pages of this YA novel, was that it was going to be a retelling of Snow White from the point of view of the mirror.

But Harrison subverts our expectations at every turn. It's true we're in the point of view of the mirror, very soon. But Snow White gets barely a mention, and the horrific betrays the mirror commits (and some of them are so horrific I almost stopped reading) turn the plot in new directions, mainly due to the surprising strength of the two young women who are the main characters, and the love and strength of the father of one of the young women.

I don't want to give spoilers, and I can only recommend this one like 98%, because the ending doesn't entirely work, I think; but the rest of it is very, very good. The rest of it is work reading despite the ending. And I'm certainly going to look for more of this writer's work.

Lori Gottlieb, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

This is a memoir, or maybe creative non-fiction. Gottlieb is a therapist who finds herself in need of therapy. This book is a narrative of her therapy, and also a narrative of her work as a therapist with several patients. (She got permission from the patients, and also changed a number of details, but this still seems a little unethical to me. I know I wouldn't want my therapist writing books about what happens in my therapy sessions. But she did get permission from her clients, so.)

It's a good book, and beside being entertaining and skillfully constructed, with plot-lines and character arcs and dramatic reveals (Gottlieb's initial career was as a story editor in Hollywood) it actually has something to say about the human psyche -- what we do with trauma, how it fucks us up, what we can do about that, why therapy works.

You kind of have to be interested in that, in trauma and fucked-up-edness and what to do about it for this book to be really good; but it's also good in the way reading Freud is, for the deep dive into the human mind.

It's also the story of a certain sort of life (a middle and then upper class woman) in a certain time (late 20th to early 21st century) in a certain place (Southern California/Hollywood). That part is also worth reading.

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

A fer days ago, you might remember, Pete Buttigieg told us his ten favorite books. The internet being what it is, people immediately began to mock him, especially for his first choice, James Joyce's Ulysses, which I also think is one of the most overrated books on the planet, but never mind, that's not the point of this post.

The point of this post is someone on the Twitter then claimed that he would rather read Ulysses over and over than read any graphic novel.

Apparently he was joking, but Twitter being Twitter people lost their damn minds. 

That's not the point of this story either. The point is, his tweet got like 700 responses, most of them recommendations for brilliant graphic novels, and one of which was Bechdel's Fun Home, which I hadn't read in a long while.

So I re-read that yesterday. I'd forgotten what a large part Ulysses plays in it, by the way. Deeply ironic!

This is Bechdel's big breakaway work, the one that made her famous, and for good reason. It's brilliant. Brilliant structure, brilliant art, brilliantly written. It's autobiographical, the story of Alison's father and their family -- mostly the father and Alison, both of whom are gay, and the two houses that stand as metaphors for their lives, the immense Victorian house her father spends most of his life restoring, and the funeral home (the "fun" home) where her father works part time "restoring" bodies, preparing them for their viewing.

The book covers Alison's life from early childhood through early adulthood. There's a companion novel about her mother, Are You My Mother? which is also brilliant, though in a different way. If you haven't read these, you should. And well before you read Ulysses (or Uselesslys, as we call it around our house).

Naomi Novik, Spinning Silver

I've read this one before, but it's been nominated for a Hugo, so I read it again. Even better this time.

This is an excellent and ripping yarn, filled with engaging characters (lots of them women characters), re-imagined and sometimes inverted myths and fairytales, mixed in with Jewish shtetl life and a high stakes plot.

Very readable, as Novik's books always are. If I was voting for the Hugo's this year, this one would be high on my list.


...speaking of uneducated potatoes!

It's our man Glenn!


To show you the depth of lunacy we're reaching on the Right, I posted on FB yesterday about Notre Dame burning, sharing this photograph of the cathedral:

Image may contain: indoor

Almost everyone replied with their grief, or some story about how their students came to them for comfort.

But this uneducated potato --

“My heart has not even skipped a beat knowing that an ancient church I've never seen in my entire life except for in Disney movies has caught on fire….don't let this distract you from the fact that thousands of people perished in 9/11 and we now know who is too blame and still have not rose against the tyranny of the government and the one's who really own this country."
Bless his heart.

Some Good News

The damage to Notre Dame was not complete -- it did not "burn to the ground" -- though it was bad enough.

Those fighting the fire managed to save many of its treasures.

And not only were the Rose Windows saved, so were many of the other windows.

The worst damage was to the part where the fire started -- the part being rebuilt. Which makes sense.

It will take years to rebuild, but the rebuilding can include what earlier generations did not: fire prevention technology:

Any reconstruction of Notre Dame will surely involve fire engineering to protect the iconic building from any future fire, according to Professor Guillermo Rein, Professor of Fire Science, Imperial College London.
He added that fire engineers will then consider a combination of layers of protection (prevention, detection, evacuation, compartmentation, suppression and endurance).“Note that the previous timber roof that burnt last night was relying only on one single layer: prevention,” he said.
“The roof was known to be flammable, but they avoided the arrival of ignition sources. Unfortunately, it seems that the renovation works might have brought the ignition source which might have caused the accidental initial fire. I think the roof space had no detection, difficult evacuation, no compartmentation, no suppression, and no endurance.”

So yes, the source of the fire was an accident caused during the construction work. Not terrorism. Not a 'sign' about Christianity's collapse, or the decadent West, or what Islam is going to do to us all.

That won't stop the MAGA Americans, though, who are taking no pleasure in finding their hateful predictions are wrong:

Monday, April 15, 2019


Here is how to respond to something so terrible:

And here:

Not spreading lies.

Not engaging in hateful nonsense.

Responding to loss with beauty and grief.


While the cathedral was still burning, while most of us were filled with shock and grief, those on the Right began their old attempts to gin up a holy war.

Over at Rod Dreher's hate-blog, he hinted that the fire might have been caused by terrorism. Of course, his readership took that hint and ran.

More than one has suggested that no matter what anyone says -- even if those on the scene report (as they are reporting) that the fire was caused by a construction accident, "we" should not believe "them." They want an excuse to hate immigrants.

No, let's be blunt. They want an excuse to kill immigrants.

And others are nearly as bad. This fire is a "sign," it means something about the "end" of Christianity.

Oh my God.

This is why it's important to understand logic and reason. This is why you have to be so careful with your sources. If you're getting your information from uneducated potatoes or hate-mongers like Dreher and Fox News, I'm sure this accident being a "sign" sounds very reasonable.

Honestly, I wanted one minute to sit and grieve the loss of all that art and beauty. Instead I had to be smacked in the face with hate and bullshit, yet again.

It's not the end of Christianity. It's a deluge of willful ignorance, swamping my beloved country.

Our leader chips in:

A museum.

Earlier, he gave advice to Parisian firemen -- why didn't they fly over the cathedral and "waterbomb" it?

Securite Civile claps back:

Sunday, April 14, 2019

What is the University?

Or, I guess, why is the university? That's what I'm really thinking about here.

Is it to provide a ticket to a job? That's how it's often sold, as if the university is some sort of elaborate vending machine. Get this degree, get a well-paying job.

To be clear, I'm not opposed to people getting good jobs with decent pay. And certainly one reason I've encouraged my kid to get a degree is that he'll be more employable with one than without one.

But is that why we educate people? So that they can have jobs? Is that why universities exist?

Because if that is what a university is for, then the MAGA Americans and Evangelical parents who send their kids to my school are right. They don't need to study silly subjects like literature and humanities and Spanish. We shouldn't even be a university. We should be a trade school. You should send your kid to school to learn nursing, or welding, or automotive repair, or how to repair motherboards, or accounting -- whatever skillset their future job will require -- stamp their certificate, and put them in the workplace.

Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with schools like that.

My father went to a school like that. He got an excellent job as a chemical engineer, worked for NASA on the moon landings and the shuttle program, and then later became a vice president for an oil company. He did very well financially.

Are schools like that universities?

They really aren't. Do we want all of our schools to be those schools?

That's something we need to decide. And I'm not talking about losing skillsets. If we just need, for instance, to teach people geology, or how to speak Spanish, there are much better ways to teach that than in a university.

I'm talking about the liberal arts education, which is why we built the university, back in 1100 AD (a bit earlier in some places, a bit later in others). Liberal was the key word then, and in order to make someone liberal -- able to be a free man -- we taught him the seven arts: grammar, logic, rhetoric, math, geometry, music, and astronomy.

Over the time, we've changed the arts part of the liberal arts; but we still have this idea. We still have a notion that there is a certain curriculum (a course, a route) people need to take if they are to be able to think and reason like free human beings.

What is that curriculum, that route?

(1) You've got to learn to reason -- that is, you've got to know how to build an argument based on logic, without fallacies; you've got to know the difference between a good source and a bad source, and how to select evidence to support your argument accordingly. You've got to be willing to make decisions based on what this evidence shows you.

(2) You've got to learn how science works -- what constitutes proof, what a theory is, how we "know" something as opposed to how we simply think we know something, what the scientific method is, what data is and isn't, how science reacts when the evidence changes. You've got to be able to read and understand scientific papers. You've got to be able to make decisions based on what scientific evidence says.

(3) You've got to know how to read literature and how to look at art and how to listen to music. You have to know what literature, art, and music are. You have to understand why this matter.

(4) You must know math, enough to be scientifically and economically literate.

(5) You must be able to communicate, both in speech and in writing, lucidly and effectively, about all of these things. You must be able to persuade, with logic and evidence, but also with pathos.

(6) You must know history -- what has happened, why it happened. Also, you must know philosophy, psychology, and economics. Without these, history cannot possibly be understood.

(7) You must know at least two languages other than your own well enough to read and speak fluently.

That's a liberal arts education, and that's the basics. 

And that's what is being steadily stripped away from our universities, in a quest to make them "competitive."

Competitive with what? Well, with the trade-school type universities, for one; but mostly here 'competitive' means 'affordable.'

It's no secret that a university education has become unaffordable for all but the obscenely wealthy. My kid's education is costing, with room and board, just under $20,000 a year. He has a small scholarship, and because he went to an in-state school, we get a tuition rebate. He doesn't have a car, he lives on grits and apples, and he has a roommate. That is simply how much it costs.

In our case, the kid's grandparents started a college fund, which is paying most of the cost. (I buy groceries sometimes, and I bought the kid's laptop.) But many, many students end up working full-time, as well as taking out massive loans.

Image result for universities cartoon

So you can see why there's a big push to pare down the curriculum -- to make it easier for students to complete it more quickly and more easily.

More quickly, so as to need fewer semesters in college and thus fewer loans.

More easily, because someone working full-time has no time to study.

This is all understandable.

What do we lose, though, when we turn the university into a trade school? When we pare away three hours of required history here, six hours of required humanities there, the political science requirement, the upper-level science requirement...

We graduate engineers who can build a bridge -- which is good! We need bridges! -- but who can't tell a good source from a bad source when they click on an internet link.

We graduate dental hygienists who are lovely people and wonderful at cleaning teeth, which again is a skill we need, but who will vote against a bill to put fluoride in our drinking water because they can't reading a scientific paper and evaluate its claims, so they listen to what their friends on FB say about it.

We graduate marketing majors who never took a history or a political science class, much less a philosophy class, so when a politician tells them immigrants are 'animals,' why, they see nothing alarming in such speech.

We create a country filled with people watching Fox News and reading absolutely nonsense (see Rod Dreher) who honestly can't tell that what they're reading is propaganda -- who can't tell facts from bullshit, and don't even want to try.

When my kid was little, his teachers asked him what church we went to. (This is a standard question in the South, as all y'all from the South know.) He came home and asked me. Amusing myself, I told him to tell his teacher we go to the church of books.

"Oh," the teacher said when the kid repeated this. "Are y'all Mormons?"

Oh my God.

But my point was, I do go to the church of books. My faith is this: I believe that education is our only hope. It's the only thing that has ever done any good, the only thing made this world any better. 

Not always. Not every time.

But it's the one thing that does work.

Only if we do it right, though. And here in the USA, especially lately, we're doing every damn thing we can to make sure we do it exactly wrong.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Rich and the Poor Alike Are Allowed to Post $12,000 Bail

I've been thinking about this story.

Image result for comics bail bondsIt's the Guardian, so no paywall, and you can click through, but the basics are this: It's Austin, Texas. A woman is waiting for her food at a food truck, as you do in Austin. Another woman, Gina Guidry, approaches, asking for money.

This is fairly common in my city, so I imagine it's fairly common in Austin as well. People usually have a riff -- their kid has diabetes and they need money for insulin, or their car is out of gas, or they don't have money for groceries. Maybe it's true, maybe they want to buy meth. I don't know, and I don't care. I always give them a couple of bucks.

But if you don't, that's fine. We all do our own moral calculus.

This person at the food truck didn't. And Guidry started yelling in her face, and then grabbed a dollar out of her hand. So the woman called the police.

The police show up. Guidry has gone nowhere. She still hanging out by the food truck, which tells you, I think, a lot about Guidry's mental and emotional capacity. The woman points her out: "That's her. She took my dollar."

The police arrested Guidry, and charged her with a felony. Sure, it was only a dollar, but "theft from the person" is a felony in Texas.

Also the bail for that is $12,000. Which obviously Guidry doesn't have.

So Guidry is being held in jail, awaiting trial -- which as we know means she can be held for years -- at the expense of the state, at the expense of what we can guess is her already fragile mental health, and toward what end?

I'm not saying whoever this woman who called the police on Guidry was wrong. It sounds like Guidry is probably not firing on all cylinders, and I'm sure the experience was terrifying for the woman who was attacked.

But putting people in jail because they are poor and damaged is surely not the best we can do as a society. And keeping them in jail for years because they are poor and damaged, so that we can then give them a trial and sentence them to -- what? What is the appropriate sentence for grabbing a dollar out of another woman's hand?

I'll add, also, that this story only happens because our economy is so broken. If we had resources for the poor, the addicted, and the damaged, Guidry wouldn't be wandering the streets begging for dollars, or screaming in women's faces at taco trucks. And if she was, there would be places we could take her that aren't Texas jails.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Real Life Drama at the delagar Household

The two cats converge on my chair, where I am busily writing my novel, my earphones on, Steve Earle singing about laying his guitar down in my ears. They are staring intently upwards.

This is never a good sign.

I twist around in the chair toward the window to see what has caught their attention.

Holy hell, it's wasp.

I leap from the chair, spilling my laptop and coffee and dignity. Two minutes later, the wasp is smashed, the dog has fled in terror and the cats are watching me from the Way High Up.

"Why did you let a wasp in the house?" I demand of them. "What kind of cats are you?"

They regard me with disdain. Obviously wasps are my department.

Cold Hard Truth

Fact-checking Trump's many, many lies is pointless.

MAGA Americans -- and those who get their "news" from the National Review, or Fox News, or similar sources -- could not possibly care less that Trump is lying. They do not care about evidence, they do not care about reliable sources, they do not care what is objectively true or objective false. They care about hearing things that reinforce their smug and delusional worldview.

And the rest of us already know that if Trump is talking, he is lying.

The best move any serious news outlet could make would be to ignore Trump as much as possible, while covering the serious contenders for the 2020 election.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Watching Legally Blonde

So I was watching Legally Blonde on Netflix last night, partly because I had vicious insomnia and partly because so many people were talking about it Twitter, and there's this one scene where Elle is talking to wossname, the guy she's in love with (or thinks she's in love with) and thinks she wants to marry.

He says law school is a lot of work, and she agrees and wow, it'll be hard to handle the workload and this prestigious internship they're all competing for in the fall. Wossname smile patronizingly and says, "Oh, Elle."

She asks what he means, and he says well, come on. It's not like you really have a chance at getting that internship.

It's an epiphany for her -- that even though she's always made straight A's, even though she scored higher than he did on the LSAT, even though she got into Harvard Law on her own, while he had to use his father's influence to get in -- even so, he still thinks he's smarter than she is.

That made me go hah, because I remember so many of those exact moments, with my older brother; and my younger brother (not with my youngest brother); and guys I dated, and guys in my classes -- all of whom I was regularly outscoring on exams, all of whom I was surpassing academically in every way, all of whom I could outwit in arguments, all of whom I knew more than in many fields. Yet every one of them was sure they were smarter than me. I remember pointing out to one of these guys that cars were so dangerous because of the high speed, how the mass of objects within the car impacted at immense force when the car stopped unexpected in an accident. This is simply physics. "That's what does the damage," I told him. "That impact. That's why you should wear your seatbelt."

"Oh, bullshit," he said to me -- certain I was wrong. Why? Because he was male and I was female and obviously that meant I was wrong.

Then there was the guy in Greek class, a student of around my age who kept arguing with me about translations, this despite the fact that I was always right and that I always got higher grades on the exams than he did. (He finally got so pissed off he dropped the class.)

And my brother, who took took the same math class I did in college (finite math*) the year after I did, who was sure that if I could make an A in the class, obviously he didn't even need to study. (He flunked the class, do I need to add? Finite math ain't calculus, but you do need to pay some attention.)

And so many male students in my classes, who don't bother to read the texts, since if it's something a girl is teaching, pssh, how hard can it be?

And so on.

At this point, it doesn't bother me. Hard heads don't learn. Their loss. But it does make me roll my eyes when people worry about the poor men and how hard life is for them these days. As if.

*I love finite math.

New Post on Cooking with Delagar

Because I knew you wanted the recipe: Rum Raisin Soda Bread

Review of Attack the Block over on my Patreon

New post up on my Patreon! It's a review of Attack the Block, and you can read it for free.

Also, a reminder! For only $3/month, you can read a new chapter of my novel and tons of other content every week, while also supporting a working artist. What a deal!

Saturday, April 06, 2019

A List

These are the Household Chores, in the order of I Hates Them to I Don't Minds Them To I Likes Them Well Enough

1. Cleaning the Bathroom (duh, who likes this one)
2. Cleaning the cat boxes
3. Vacuuming
4. Putting away laundry
5. Mowing the lawn/raking the leaves
6. Taking the car to get its oil changed
7. Scrubbing pots and pans
8. Scrubbing the kitchen floor
9. Scrubbing the stove and counters in the kitchen
10. Unloading the dishwasher
11. Loading the dishwasher
12. Doing the laundry
13. Cooking
14. Buying groceries
15. Taking the dog for his walk

What I really like to do, as all y'all know, is sit in my chair and read SF fiction novels, also write science fiction novels, also drink coffee. Anything that interferes with that is an irritant and an annoyance. But some things are less annoying than others.

For instance, I just made soda bread with rum-soaked raisins in it. Because a writer's gotta eat, after all.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Glenn Beck's Overton Window Chapters 16-20

More of this stupid book. We still don't get to concentration camps. What even the hell is this book about?

Chapter 16

Some guy named Stuart Kearns from the FBI shows up to ask for one of the people who got arrested. Glenn Beck's ghost writer plays it like it's a big mystery who he's here to see, but I guessed right away it was Danny Bailey, so I won't even pretend it was suspenseful. Stuart is a kind of a jerk, and I don't know if we're supposed to know he's a jerk or think he's a world-weary tough guy. He's been married like six times, he doesn't get along with other law enforcement officers, blah blah, all the cliches.

Anyway, he reads Danny's files, and we find out Danny's back story, which is also filled with cliches, except that Danny has been investigated by a Joint Commission on Terrorism for things he'd said on his "ham radio show," which, seriously, oh my God.

Also, Stuart ruminates about how, these days, "even the most liberal of politicians" are fine with "preventive detention" for terrorism suspects, which he then goes on to define as "indefinite incarceration" for "thought crimes." This makes me hopeful that we're about to get to the concentration camp part of the book, but nope.

Chapter 17

Instead, Stuart and Danny take a plane ride together. It's a chartered plane, so Stuart can smoke. Apparently this is important, since the Ghost Writer spends a couple of pages on it. (I think the point is that non-smoking planes are an infringement on AMERICAN LIBERTY, but who knows.)

Then Stuart tells Danny that they want him to do something. I am entirely confused about what. I think infiltrate a Terrorist Group? I don't know, because most of the rest of the chapter is spent watching a video Danny made where he dressed up like Colonel Sanders and talked his way into some Congressman's office. This is supposed to prove something, or maybe it's supposed to be funny? It sets up the really hilarious punchline that ends that chapter.

"That's good," Stuart says.

"Oh, Stuart," Danny says, "that's not just good. That's finger-licking good."

(Me: Oh, my God.)

Chapter 18

Back in Noah's palatial apartment, he wakes up to the scent of bacon cooking. Molly has made him breakfast, as a good women does. (And of course it's bacon. What is it with conservatives and bacon?)

There's a charming little breakfast scene where she's too stupid to do the crossword puzzle, so he has to help her out.

Then they go for a walk in Central Park, and stop for coffee, and she asks him what his PR firm would suggest for her group, Patriots R Us. He gives her the usual dumb talking points Conservatives are always suggesting -- a flat tax, Immigration Reform so that The Good Immigrants Can Come and Not the Bad Ones, Cut Spending.

Then he asks what her Patriots R Us Group meant by "saving the country." Saving it from who? he asks.

And she says, very meaningfully, "You know."

Suspenseful music.

Noah claims he doesn't know. She points out there was a meeting at Noah's daddy's firm yesterday. Noah agrees, but says he wasn't there, which sure isn't how I remember that chapter, but okay. Molly asks him to find out what happened.

No, says Noah.

Fine, then I'm leaving forever, says Molly, and gets up and walks away.

Chapter 19

Noah caves, and takes Molly into the Bat Cave through the Sekrit Back Entrance.

Yeah, I'm not kidding. The Most Powerful Man in the world has a Sekrit Back Entrance to his office, and the motherfucker isn't even guarded. You go into it through a department store elevator.

That makes perfect sense, Glenn Beck's Ghost Writer.

Once they're up in the Bat Cave, that's not guarded either. They just walk right in, and all the notes and PowerPoints from the meeting all still lying around the meeting room, as it would be, for a Top Sekrit Meeting like that.

So they power up the PowerPoint and read through the Top Sekrit Plans.

At one point, the Power Point helpfully Explains what the Overton Window is, which is lucky, since Molly is too ignorant to have ever heard of it. Noah explains, with examples.

“And this Overton Window, it’s used all the time?” 
“All the time, everywhere you look. We never let a good crisis go to waste, and if no crisis exists, it’s easy enough to make one. Saddam’s on the verge of getting nuclear weapons, so we have to invade before he wipes out Cleveland. If we don’t all get vaccinated one hundred thousand people will die in a super swine-flu pandemic. And how about fuel prices? Once you’ve paid five dollars for a gallon of gas, three-fifty suddenly sounds like a real bargain. Now they’re telling us that if we don’t pass this worldwide carbon tax right now the world will soon be underwater."

Then the PowerPoint reaches the real dastardly plan:

  • Consolidation of media outlets to a new internationalism.
  • Gather all power to the Executive Branch!
  • Reinforce collectivism and Social Justice!
  • Expand the malleable voter base by granting voting rights to certain groups like ex-felons, migrants, and Puerto Ricans! Label dissenters as racists!
  • Set beneficial globalization against terrorism, climate change, debt crises, and human rights
  • Abandon the dollar! Adopt an international currency!
Abandon the dollar! It's demonic!

Then they come to the end of the slides, which is one single phrase: Casus belli.

"Oh noes," Molly says, and flees.

Chapter 20

Outside, and I kid you not, they see a storm is coming. Noah once again hails a cab, because he's not the son of the richest and most powerful man in the world, and they drive around talking about this huge secret while the cab driver definitely doesn't eavesdrop.

Noah says the Casus Belli hasn't happened, so she should just calm down.

She says it has -- the financial collapse is the Cause of War. (Remember this book was published in 2010, so written in 2009, just after the financial collapse of 2008. The Big Talking point among Conservatives then was that Obama was destroying the world with the Bail-out.)

“They’ve doubled the national debt since 2000," Molly said, "and now with these bailouts, all those trillions of dollars more—that’s our future they just stole, right in front of our eyes. They didn’t even pretend to use that money to pay for anything real, most of it went offshore. They didn’t help any real people; they just paid themselves and covered their gambling debts on Wall Street.” 
Noah says they'll be okay, meaning he will be okay, since he's his daddy's boy, and that since he loves Molly, she'll be okay. But Molly says no one will be okay.

We are now 50% of the way through the book.

I am starting to think we are not going to get to the concentration camps in this book.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Glenn Beck's Overton Window Chapters 13-

God, this book. I'll just warn you, we don't get to the concentration camps in this section either, so feel free to skip this bit if you like.

Why can't conservatives write? And why do conservatives want to read this crap? This piece of overwritten drivel has almost 600 5 star reviews on Amazon.

Chapter 13

Noah wakes up in the paddy wagon, Molly cradling his head in her lap. Aw, isn't that sweet? She's such a nurturing woman.

Among other things, this tells me Glenn Beck's ghost writer has never taken a knock in the head. If you're knocked unconscious for longer than a few seconds, you've got serious brain damage. But Noah's Just Fine. Maybe he doesn't have a brain. That would explain a great deal.

Anyway, he ends up in a cell with about sixty other guys, some of them guys from the Freedom Fighters Bar, or whatever it was called, I'm far too bored to go back and check. No one has read him his rights yet. Plus also no one has searched him, or taken away any of his stuff, including his class ring. So we also know that Glenn Beck's Ghost Writer has also never been taken into custody.

Blah blah blah, Noah -- for some reason him and no one else -- gets yanked out of the cell and threatened with about six different felony charges, but luckily his lawyer shows up right then, and says he's pulled strings and has arranged to get everything dropped.

But meanwhile. Noah has seen, through the window in the interview room (luckily the interview room has a window) all the infiltrators from the Freedom Fighters Bar, including the one who shot at Danny, standing in a big circle laughing and chatting with several police officers. (One of them is wearing a Confederate Flag patch, because of course the Real Racists are Progressives Pretending to be Conservatives.) OH NOES. It is a False Flag!

He cries about this to his lawyer, who shrugs. So what, his lawyer says. Grow up, you big baby.

"News flash, son: there’s no Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, and no Legal Fairy who cares about what you think you saw. Injustice exists in this world, and while you’re lucky enough to be insulated from the worst of it, most people aren’t.” He patted Noah on the arm. “Your righteous indignation is noted and filed. Now let's get out of here." 

But Noah refuses to leave unless the lawyer gets everyone else from the Freedom Fighters' Bar off the hook too. So the lawyer agrees to do that, though it means getting Noah's daddy involved. Fine, Noah says. Go ahead.

Chapter 14

Noah gets out of jail. Out on the street, he meets up first with Hollis, who thanks him humbly. Noah asks him what time it is, and Hollis -- I kid you fucking not -- tells time by the stars for him.

I mean oh my God. Give me a fucking break. I know Hollis is supposed to be this Magical Middle American Wise Man, but (a) who the actual fuck tells time by the stars these days and (b) he's in New York city now, not Arkansas, so the stars will be different and (c) PLEASE.

Anyway. Then Molly's mama and Molly come up to be grateful also and Noah gives them a ride home in his limo. He tells them he doesn't always ride around in a limo. I'm wondering why he doesn't. He's the son of the richest man in the USA, after all. Why would he ever ride in anything else (a) and also (b) where are his bodyguards?

Anyway, he drops Molly's mom at her hotel and he and Molly stop at a restaurant where he orders curbside meals that they eat in the limo, chicken and waffles, which he calls "Al Sharptons," not racist at all. Molly is from the South but she has never heard of chicken and waffles.  Okay.

Noah tells Molly about his Dad's life. His daddy, as it turns out, is a Rhodes Scholar, just like Bill Clinton, and also a disciple of Edward Bernays -- the Jewish Svengali who started the whole eeevil practice of PR. (See, Jews really DO control everything!)

I bet you didn't know that Goebels had Bernays' book on his nightstand! Noah tells Molly, who is appropriately awed.

Bernays…believed it was the responsibility of the elites in society to manipulate the general public into decisions they weren’t smart enough to make on their own, by whatever means necessary. His vision for this country, for the world, really, was a huge, benevolent nanny state, a plutocracy, where the people would be spoon-fed in every aspect of their simple, dreary lives. He’d show them how to vote, what to eat, what to love and hate, what to think, and when to think it. And, God help us all, my father took those lessons to heart 

At this point, Noah abruptly changes the subject and says, oh, and also my mom was at Woodstock. I've seen her in the movie. She's naked and making out with this guy. Even more abruptly, Molly climbs into his lap and asks to come home with him.


Yeah, you got me. But that's what happens.

Chapter 15

In this chapter, we find out Noah lives in a big fancy apartment and that he's very odd.

He takes Molly home with him. It's a very big apartment, across the street from the French Embassy. Molly is such a hick that she thinks the French embassy is his apartment. Also they meet the ex-governor of New York in the lobby. Noah is fancy and rich, get it?

He send her to his spare room to sleep, but she comes to his bedroom, dressed in nothing but his old lacrosse shirt, cuddles up under the covers and throws her bare leg over him.

"Don't tease the panther," he tells her.

She is obviously coming on to him. But he just keeps reading his book. And she just goes to sleep.

I have no idea what the scene is supposed to mean. Noah is a gentleman? Molly is... stupid?

It's a bizarre scene, and this is not how humans behave.

We are 40% of the way through the book, according to my Kindle. Here's hoping something happens soon.

Monday, April 01, 2019

What I'm Reading Now

Ann Leckie, The Raven Tower

Ann Leckie wrote the award-winning and deservedly famous Imperial Radch Trilogy. This is a stand-alone book, told in what appears at first to be the second person (spoilers: it's actually from the point of view of a god).

The god is one of many in this fantasy world, in which the gods are able to act in the world, but only in limited ways -- acting uses their strength, which can be renewed through offerings and sacrifices and apparently other less clear ways. And they cause actions by speaking, and what they say becomes truth, so that they must be careful what they say, since if they say something that's impossible, their strength can be sucked away, in an attempt to make the thing true.

The god of Strength and Patience, who is speaking this story, is relating what they think is the story of Eolo, the aid to the heir to the Lease of the Raven (another god). The heir, Mawat, is a sulky, brilliant, and bad-tempered young man. He has been summoned back from the wars because his father is dying, and arrives to find his uncle on the Bench (the throne, more or less).

Ah, Hamlet, we are thinking. And yes, Leckie has Hamlet as her starting point. But what a brilliant version of Fantasy Hamlet this is.

Eolo, a trans man, is more active than Shakespeare's Horatio, and a great deal more interesting as a character. Tikaz, the Ophelia figure, is so much more interesting and active than Ophelia. And using a god as our narrator is a brilliant move.

The god takes us back and forth through history, weaving the past into the present so that we understand not just this story, but how this story came to be, this world's panoramic history.

I'm not a big fan of fantasy, as all y'all know, but this one's worth the read.

Jenna Glass, The Women's War

This is a science fiction novel which combines the intrigue of British court history with magic with the Handmaid's Tale with a Romance novel. The basic plot is that, in a Handmaid's style world, an oppressed but brilliant woman casts a spell putting women's fertility more or less in their control -- women no longer conceive children unless they sincerely want a child. Some side effects appear, including one giving women who have been raped the ability to do death magic.

For all its derivative nature, this novel is pretty good. That's probably due to the character development -- Glass is quite good at switching point of view while keeping us on board, so that we'll get an understanding of a situation from one character's point of view, and then another understanding of the situation from another character's point of view. This not only helps develop the characters, it gives us a deeper understanding of the political situation in this fantasy universe.

Also Glass avoids demonizing even her villains -- we may not like what they're doing, but we understand entirely why they do it. Their motives as not "BWAHAHA I'M EVIL," but legitimate (if flawed) motives.

The main characters, all women, are also very well done. I particularly enjoyed Ellin, a character based loosely on Queen Elizabeth I. The novel is about 900 pages long, but I was never bored once.

Elizabeth Klehfoth, All These Beautiful Strangers

If you like stories set in prep schools for obscenely rich and somewhat sociopathic adolescents, this book's for you.

The plot here concerns an adolescent, Charlie Calloway, whose mother has disappeared, and the mystery around that death. What happened to the mother? Is she dead? Did Charlie's father kill her? Did she run away?

There's also, as we soon learn, another murder in the back story of all these people. Charlie is the prime detective sorting out both murder mysteries, as well as another mystery involving her school.

Given that Charlie, like her father and most of the people around here, is deeply damaged, to the point of being a sociopath, it's hard to really care much about what happens to her, or her mother, or anyone in the book.

If you like stories about prep schools, this one might be for you. The mystery is pretty good, and the writing is nice enough.

Mary Adkins, When You Read This

I'm a sucker for epistolary novels, or anything like epistolary novels, so this book was an automatic read. It consists of emails and letters and blog posts written by (1) a woman who has died of lung cancer before the book begins (2) the woman's angry, high-achieving older sister and (3) the woman's business partner and her best friend (4) an intern working for the business, which is a PR firm.

This book is a lot of fun, despite the grim subject matter, but it's also somehow very lightweight? You would think a book about someone dying of cancer and everyone else mourning that person would be a serious book. This one never really gets beyond the surface.

An entertaining read, but don't expect it to teach you anything.

Seanan McGuire, In an Absent Dream

McGuire has been doing a series of novellas about portal fantasies, or rather about the children who go through these portals, their particular adventures, and what becomes of them afterwards. All of the children are students at the Wayward Children Boarding school, so what we're getting in these novellas is their individual back stories.

The most famous (infamous) portal fantasy is either C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe, or Alice in Wonderland. The kid like Alice in Wonderland a lot. I read it, but didn't like it all that much. Neither of us liked any of C. S. Lewis's books.

My favorite portal book is Sarah Rees Brennan's In Other Lands.

McGuire, in this novella and her others, addresses some of the problems that might occur in the real world if children did vanish through portals into fantasy worlds and then return.

This, like her other books, is short and crisply written, and maybe a bit too brief. We're interested in the characters, but there's really not room for the story to develop fully. That said, I'll read as many of these as she'll publish, apparently.

This one is about Lundy, the character from Wayward Children Boarding School who is aging backwards -- growing one day younger every month (or year? I forget which) and the portal world she visited.