Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#12 in a series)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door, by Brian Krebs.

Blogger, with occasional Krebs.

Blogger, with occasional Krebs.

I actually haven’t read the book yet. (It is at the top of the pile.) But Krebs did a signing here in Austin last night, and he came across as a really nice affable guy. I didn’t get a chance to talk with him much: I’d estimate there were 150 people there for the signing, many of whom were purchasing multiple copies of the book, so time was limited. But he signed everyone’s book, and even posed for photos with those who wanted, and in general it was just a swell experience. Based on that, I have few qualms about recommending that you purchase the book.

After action report: Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Monday, November 17th, 2014

I’ve sort of hinted at this, but now the full story can be told.

Mike the Musicologist and I went on a road trip to Oklahoma the weekend of November 8th.

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Thank you, folks!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

I made a few pennies off of Amazon referrals this month, so thank you, my readers, for making purchases and helping fight off entropy for a little while longer.

I hope the person who ordered Young Men and Fire likes it as much as I did. And whoever ordered the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic 2 Inch PVC Figure Mystery Pack, good for you.

What am I going to buy with my Amazon earnings? Well, I already spent most of them on FloFost. I want to assure you, however, that one thing I will not be purchasing is this:

That does remind me, however: with the holiday season coming up, I need to dig out that Harlequin NASCAR Christmas romance collection and do a “Quaint and Curious” entry on it.

A double handful of food related randomness.

Monday, October 20th, 2014

During one of my dinner conversations over the weekend, the subject of “Family Affair” came up for reasons I have forgotten. (I don’t think the initial discussion started out with Anissa Jones, but Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, what a sad death.)

In the course of the conversation, I stumbled across this: The Family Affair Cookbook. I’m sure Ms. Garver is a very nice person, but when I think “Family Affair”, I don’t really think “food”. Then again, the show did go off the air when I was six…

Something else that came out of another dinner conversation: does anyone remember The Magic Pan? Yes, it was a chain (owned by Quaker Oats?!) and I don’t believe there was ever one in Austin. There was one in the Galleria in Houston; I ate there a couple of times, and have fond memories of it.

Googling to see if there were any Magic Pans left (spoiler: no) turned up a few links I want to immortalize for reference purposes:

Magic Pan recipes from Uncle Phaedrus. Actually, the whole Uncle Phaedrus website is probably bookmark worthy; if you’re anything like me, you have to kind of like a guy who combines food and Sherlock Holmes.

By way of Uncle Phaedrus, here’s a file that contains some of the Magic Pan master recipes. Just in case you have a steam kettle and want to make 17 pounds of Beef Bourguignon.

The Crepe Cookbook by Paulette Fono and Maria Stacho on Amazon. (Paulette Fono and her husband Lazlo opened the first Magic Pan in Ghirardelli Square.) I kind of want this (even if it doesn’t have any Magic Pan recipes after 1971) but I don’t want it $43.61 worth. Also, I am still prohibited from purchasing cookbooks.

Crepe Cookery by Mable Hoffman, which is at least more reasonably priced.

The Magic Pan Project appears to be offline.

This guy likes the VillaWare V5225 Crepe Maker. If you want to buy one, more power to you. But there’s no way I’m going to cook $90 worth of crepes. And I’m also a subscriber to Alton Brown’s theory of avoiding single-purpose kitchen gadgets.

Damn. Now I’m hungry, and there’s no way for me to get crepes. I think Crepes Mille may still be on South Congress, but there’s no way for me to get there on my dinner break. Flip Happy Crepes is closed (I really do hope they get the brick and mortar thing figured out.) The Original Pancake House has some crepes, but not a whole lot, and they close at 2.

Anybody got any other crepe sources in Austin? (I am aware of that company that sells pre-made crepes at HEB, though I’m blanking on the name right now.)

(Crossposted to the SDC Logbook, because that’s just the kind of hairball I am.)

Random notes: October 13, 2014.

Monday, October 13th, 2014

The New York Times may have killed their chess column. Or perhaps not.

Greg “Three Cups of Tea” Mortenson is trying to make a comeback. (Previously.)

The WP also has a longish story about the Navy silencer scandal, covered previously here.

At one pretrial hearing, a defense attorney for the auto mechanic, Mark S. Landersman of Temecula, Calif., accused the Navy of impeding the investigation by destroying a secret stash of automatic rifles that the silencers were designed to fit. Prosecutors immediately objected to further discussion in open court, calling it a classified matter.
The destroyed weapons were part of a stockpile of about 1,600 AK-47-style rifles that the U.S. military had collected overseas and stored in a warehouse in Pennsylvania, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

I really don’t have much to say, but the thought of a warehouse full of “AK-47 style rifles” brings a goofy smile to my face.

TMQ Watch: October 7, 2014.

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Now that we’ve finished banging our heads against the wall (for reasons that will become apparent shortly), let’s jump into this week’s TMQ

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Quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore (#2 in a series).

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

This one is a little unusual.

I find Erle Stanley Gardner (or, as he is often called, “ErleStanleyGardnerTheCreatorOfPerryMason”, all one word) to be a fascinating person.

I’m not very well read in the Perry Mason books; I should perhaps give them another try, but it seems to me that Gardner’s style in those books was somewhat arch and stilted. I think I’ve read a couple of the A.A. Fair books that my mother had lying around the house when I was younger, but I don’t really recall those.

I’m more interested in Gardner as a non-fiction writer. I’ve written about this elsewhere, but his book The Court of Last Resort (based in part on his experiences with the organization of the same name) contains what I believe is some of the smartest and sanest writing about crime and criminal justice ever. There are things in there (especially about drug policy) that still hold up nearly 60 years after the book was written.

Lawrence and I have periodically discussed the idea of putting together a collection of Gardner non-fiction firsts. In addition to his writing about criminal justice, he also wrote about exploring Baja by jeep, Hunting Lost Mines by Helicopter, and other outdoors subjects. Copies of his non-fiction books show up pretty regularly on the Internet auction sites, sometimes even signed, but I have yet to find one that’s in good enough condition to justify Heritage’s minimum $15 price.

I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so fascinated by Gardner: he was certainly a hellaciously smart man, and no slouch as a lawyer, but he was also a serious outdoorsman, and he blended both sides of his character well. (The “Court of Last Resort” actually got started around the campfire one night on one of Gardner’s Baja trips; one of his campfire companions was the publisher of Argosy, who listened to Gardner’s account of the Lindley case and promised him space in the magazine for any additional cases where Gardner felt an innocent man had been convicted.)

(As a side note, we could really use a contemporary “Court of Last Resort”. We could also use more public intellectuals like Erle Stanley Gardner.)

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Last weekend, I was poking around at one of the Half-Price Books locations and found something that intrigued me: two bound volumes of the American Rifleman from 1971 and 1973. This is close to the time when I started reading AR (Dad had a stack of old ones in the garage, and I was a precocious child), and I still have a fondness for the magazine of that era.

So I started flipping through the bound volumes, and ran across this cover story from the May 1971 issue:

esg_ar

“Well. Well well well. Well.” said I.

(I apologize for the kind of crappy photo. These bound volumes run at about two ox-stunning units, and are very hard to get on a scanner.)

The cover story is a tribute to Gardner, who was also an NRA member, and who had passed away about a year previously. The two guns on the cover were donated by his wife to the NRA Museum. The handgun is a Colt Single Action Army in .45 Colt; it and the leather were given to him by a client in a shooting case. (Gardner won an acquittal.) The rifle is an early Weatherby in .300 Weatherby Magnum, using a Mauser action (instead of the Weatherby Mark V action used in later rifles).

There are a few interesting bits of trivia in the AR tribute that I wasn’t aware of:

  • Gardner was so accurate with a rifle that he gave up using firearms for hunting for a long period of time. Instead, he did his deer hunting with a bow and arrow.
  • In his 70s, Gardner set out to prove that a person with a .22 handgun could survive indefinitely on the small game he could harvest “within 300, 200, or even 100 miles of Los Angeles.” This became a three-part article for Sports Afield. (I dare you to try that today.)
  • “He had a habit of racking .22 tubular-magazine rifles with the magazines pulled partway out.” He also liked inexpensive guns, probably (as the article notes) because his guns were working guns for his ranch, not safe queens.
  • Gardner invented “archery golf”: “Players were allowed so many shots with a bow and arrow to get up to a hole – actually, a paper sack on a pole. Each player then made the hole by shooting an arrow through the paper sack.”

What I find even more interesting than the tribute is that the American Rifleman also reprinted a Gardner essay: “Why Gun Registration Can’t Cut Crime”. I can’t find it online, but it is in another essay collection, Cops on the Campus and Crime in the Streets.

There is an old expression which somehow indicates the subconscious thinking of the American people. It starts out, “There ought to be a law against…”
Whenever the American people want to stop something they want a law prohibiting the thing they want stopped, as if laws in themselves were a solution.

Gardner’s essay goes on from there, outlining the flaws in gun registration laws. (Why would a criminal register their guns? How do you deal with the registration information and keep it secure?)

We aren’t going to disarm the criminal. We may as well make up our minds to that right at the start. We can try to do it, but the criminal is going to be armed. The man who needs a gun in order to perpetrate a holdup is going to have a gun.

I’m used to finding that people whose work I generally like have big blind spots in certain areas, especially guns. It perhaps should not have come as a surprise, but it is refreshing to me that Gardner was as wise and sane about gun politics as he was about other aspects of criminal justice.

All we want to do is photograph your brains.

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

A brief consumer note for my readers. Many of you know of my interests in neurology, books, and photography.

Please do not purchase this book for me.

Thank you.

Instead of actual content…

Friday, September 12th, 2014

…I give you a very silly quiz from the WP:

Is this a line from ‘The Great Gatsby’ or a New York Times profile of Lena Dunham?

I have never seen an episode of “Girls” (since I refuse to have cable). However, I still got a perfect score on the quiz. Which says something: either about my knowledge of Gatsby or about how silly this quiz actually is, I do not know.

Oh, what the heck, I’ll throw this one in, too:

http://www.lingscars.com/

I sent this to Lawrence with the suggestion that it might be worse than Bello De Soto’s website: Lawrence doesn’t think so, and I’m still trying to make up my mind.

There are so many things that push it towards legendary badness for me: the chicken walking around on the live Twitter feed (why?), the auto-play Chinese karaoke (ditto?), the spinning chat avatars, gratuitous abuse of the blink tag…

On the other hand, it hasn’t actually crashed any browser I’ve tried it on so far. On the gripping hand, it is an actually up and (apparently) functional website, as opposed to an archive of one…

You want sad? I’ll give you sad.

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Very often the president would stride briskly out of the White House, with Tad at his side trying to keep up, and march four blocks down to 1207 New York Avenue, to Stuntz’s Fancy Store, a magical little toy shop. The owner, Joseph Stuntz, was a retired French soldier who carved wooden toy soldiers in a tiny back room. Sometimes Lincoln showed up alone at Stuntz’s and bought toy soldiers for Tad for Christmas. “I want to give him all the toys I did not have and all the toys I would have given the boy who went away,” Lincoln told the master toy maker.

The Last Lincolns, page 49 (paperback).

Inside the White House, workmen were making last minute repairs, preparing the executive mansion for the new president. In a second-floor bedroom they found something unexpected — the vast collection of Tad Lincoln’s toy soldiers. These were the beautiful, hand-carved figurines Abraham Lincoln had purchased for his son at Stuntz’s toy store. They were Tad’s favorite playthings, but he had left them behind, probably because he could not bear to see them again. He was no longer the president’s son. He was just Tad Lincoln.

–ibid., page 71

Quote of the day

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Lincoln, Robert Todd, xi, 3, 4, 22, 210.
See also Jinxy McDeath;
Presidential Angel of Death

—index entry in Charles Lachman’s The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family.

(Explained.)

(I just started reading Lachman’s book yesterday. For some reason, I found Chapter 2, about Willie, Tad, and the president’s relationship with the boys, really hard to get through. You want sad? That’s a sad sundae with sad sauce and chopped sad sprinkled over it.)

Obit watch: August 29, 2014.

Friday, August 29th, 2014

This has been circulating for a couple of days, but I wanted to wait until I was able to confirm it.

Jeremiah Healy, mystery writer.

I haven’t read any of the John Francis Cuddy mysteries, though they’ve been on my radar. Healy did one of the essays for In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero; it was…interesting. (That’s shorthand for “There was some good stuff in it, but I also had issues.”)

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).