Quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore (#3 in a series).

June 21st, 2015

I’ve been taking a bit of a break from Half-Price recently.

It wasn’t just that I was trying to save money for my trip, though that was part of it. (And I hope to have the report up in the next few days.) It was also that I kept going and not coming out with anything I wanted. The few things I did find that I wanted were somewhat overpriced in my opinion.

So I bided my time. Mom wanted to go last week to sell some books at the South Half-Price, so we went. And the drought broke: I picked up a stack of African hunting books (Peter Capstick’s Africa: A Return To The Long Grass, Robert Ruark’s Africa, and the Capstick library edition of Kill or Be Killed: The Rambling Reminiscences of an Amateur Hunter) for reasonable money.

(I miss Capstick. And yes, this does mean you will probably hear me ramble some more about Ruark. But not in this post.)

Emboldened by my recent success, I bopped over to the central Half-Price this afternoon. It isn’t a bad way to kill some time in an air-conditioned environment. And the latest entry in this series fell into my hands…

===

Back when I was taking “Modern Revolutions” at St. Ed’s (and if you’re out there somewhere, Dr. Sanchez, I hope you’re having a wonderful life), I noticed that Kermit Roosevelt Jr. seemed to pop up in a lot of places in the Middle East during the 1950s. I believe I made the observation in class that someone really needed to write a good biography of Kim, especially now that a lot of older material has been declassified.

I actually got that wish late in 2013 (though the book was a Christmas 2014 present from my beloved and indulgent sister) with the publication of Hugh Wilford’s excellent book, America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East. It isn’t exactly a biography of Kim, but it does contain a lot of biographical material about Kim, his cousin Archie, and Miles Copeland Jr. (another interesting guy, but I’ll come back to him).

I wasn’t really aware, until I read Wilford’s book, that Archie was almost as deeply involved with the CIA and the Middle East as Kim was. So when I saw this on the shelf at Half-Price today, I pulled it down for a closer look.

archie_cover

It isn’t a great copy: Lawrence would probably turn his nose up at it, as the dust jacket has a few small tears and some shelf wear. I wouldn’t call it much better than “Good”, and you can get copies on Amazon in “Very Good” condition for $2.50 or so (plus shipping). I paid $10 plus tax for this one; I do believe it is a first printing from 1988, two years before Archie died. Maybe I am a sucker, but it has one thing going for it that the other copies don’t:

lucky_signature

“For Douglas Brinkley–
With great admiration, a book I think you will enjoy – by someone I wish you could have met-
Fondly-
Lucky Roosevelt
Aug. 1997″

Lucky Roosevelt was Archie’s wife, to whom the book is dedicated.

It may not be much to other people, but it pushes a couple of my buttons. And I leave you with the quote of the day:

I have always found yogurt an excellent preventative against bacterial dysentery.

Now I’d like to find a copy of Kim’s book, Countercoup, at a reasonable price. And maybe copies of Copeland’s books, though Wilford states that they have something of a passing resemblance to the truth.

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#S of a series)

June 20th, 2015

Blayne Williams is an officer with the Austin Police Department.

Officer Williams has what might be called a “colorful” history. He was fired in October of 2013 after an incident at a local hotel. Last November, the arbitrator overturned Williams’ firing, reducing it to a 15-day suspension.

Previously, in 2011, Officer Williams was suspended for 90 days after he got into a physical altercation with an HEB employee while he was off duty. He was also charged with “assault on an elderly person”, but that charge was dismissed “and eventually wiped from his record after he completed probation and had the charge expunged”.

The hook now is that Officer Williams is suing. Why? He claims the police department “wrongly passed him up for promotion”. Yes, I kid you not: a guy who has been suspended twice in four years and was almost fired is claiming he should have been promoted to either corporal or detective.

Oh, by the way: in addition to his suit against the city, Officer Williams already has a lawsuit pending in federal court, claiming his firing over the cellphone incident was in retaliation for discrimination claims he’d filed previously.

Hand to God, people, I don’t make this stuff up.

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#R of a series)

June 18th, 2015

I would have sworn that I wrote about APD lieutenant Jason Disher back in October, but I can’t find it now. This one may have gotten past me.

Anyway, Lt. Disher was having an affair with a woman who was married. This was a long lasting affair: Disher told a detective “eight or nine years”. At some point, according to Disher, the woman’s husband “started harassing him and making threatening phone calls”. The detective issued an arrest warrant for the husband.

The woman Disher was having the affair with later came forward and said Disher’s claims that led to the warrant were false. There was an investigation, and Disher was fired.

Old news? Not so fast; if you’ve been hanging around here long enough, you can guess what happened next.

Yes! The arbitrator overturned Disher’s firing! The Statesman doesn’t go into detail on the reasons, and I hesitate to speculate. But isn’t it interesting…

Disher told investigators he was aware that some of the information in the husband’s arrest affidavit was not true, but he made no effort to have it corrected.

Obit watch: June 18, 2015.

June 18th, 2015

Nelson Doubleday Jr., heir to the Doubleday publishing empire and former owner of the New York Mets.

I was going to let this go by, but there were a couple of things in the NYT obit that tickled my fancy:

Mr. Doubleday was an avid outdoorsman, fond of practical jokes and not particularly bookish. He enjoyed playing golf; hunting at his plantation near Beaufort, S.C.; sailing the world on his yacht, Mandalay; and heading off to annual pheasant-hunting trips in Somerset, England. In the 1960s and ’70s, he invested in two hockey teams, the California Golden Seals and the New York Islanders. On his daily drive into Manhattan, he chatted with a group of fellow CB radio enthusiasts who called themselves the Cuckoo’s Nest Convoy. His handle was Bookworm.

Obit watch: June 16, 2015.

June 16th, 2015

Blaze Starr, noted “burlesque performer” and paramour of Louisiana governor Earl Long, has passed away at the age of 83.

Edited to add: better WP obit.

Their affair was an open secret until the governor’s wife had him committed to a mental hospital in Texas in 1959. Long was released after several days, then returned to New Orleans, where he “received redheaded Blaze Starr, his favorite Bourbon Street stripper, at 2:30 a.m.,” according to Time magazine.
“At week’s end,” the magazine added, “six doctors gravely warned Long that he would risk his life if he undertook any more strenuous activity.”
He died a year later.

Today’s bulletin from the Department of WTF?! (#7 in a series)

June 16th, 2015

The FBI and Justice Department are investigating members of the front office of the St. Louis Cardinals to determine whether the organization hacked the computer network of the Houston Astros in order to steal player personnel information.

I was going to make a “how parenthetic do you have to be” joke, but the Astros are actually doing okay this year. The Times story seems to be spinning it as the Cardinals being worried about their secrets being compromised:

Investigators believe Cardinals officials, concerned that Mr. Luhnow had taken their idea and proprietary baseball information to the Astros, examined a master list of passwords used by Mr. Luhnow and the other officials who had joined the Astros when they worked for the Cardinals. The Cardinals officials are believed to have used those passwords to gain access to the Astros’ network, law enforcement officials said.

“Luhnow” is Jeff Luhnow, the current Astros general manager and previously a high-ranking member of the Cardinals management team.

I care very little about baseball, but this should be fascinating to watch. As the papers note, this is the first known instance where one team attempted to hack another team’s computer network for competitive advantage. Ignoring the possibility of some people being convicted of actual Federal crimes, what’s MLB going to do about this? Lifetime bans for anyone proven to be involved?

Firing watch.

June 15th, 2015

Bud Black out as San Diego Padres manager.

Since he was hired following the 2006 season, Black had never taken the Padres to the playoffs. In 2010, they went from an apparent stranglehold on the NL West title, to losing 10 consecutive games, to official elimination on the final day of the regular season.

Black was 649-713 over roughly eight seasons.

Obit watch: June 11, 2015.

June 11th, 2015

It seems like all I’m doing this week is posting obituaries. I could do with a week where good people don’t die.

Ornette Coleman, noted jazz musician.

Christopher Lee: NYT. WP. A/V Club.

Not exactly an obit, but:

Spain gave its greatest writer, Miguel de Cervantes, a formal burial Thursday nearly 400 hundred years after his death, unveiling a funeral monument holding recently unearthed bone fragments believed to include those of the author of “Don Quixote.”

Edited to add: A/V Club obit for Ornette Coleman.

Lawrence challenged me to find some Coleman on YouTube that isn’t “unlistenable” (his word, not mine). I’ve never really acquired the ability to appreciate jazz, but I like this well enough.

Obit watch: June 10, 2015.

June 10th, 2015

Vincent Musetto passed away yesterday. NYT. NY Post.

I’ve written about Mr. Musetto before. For those who don’t remember, he was a long-time employee of the NY Post, and the man behind one of the greatest headlines in the history of newspapers:

Obit watch: June 9, 2015.

June 9th, 2015

Vincent Bugliosi, former LA County deputy DA, the man who prosecuted Charles Manson, and co-author (with Curt Gentry) of Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

(I’m back home now and slowly dipping my toes into the water. After action report to come soon-ish.)

I’ll be your huckleberry…

June 5th, 2015

huckleberry

…cheesecake, that is.

I’m on the road, so expect sporadic updates. I would say that I’m in an undisclosed location, but it turns out my hotel is within a very short walk of a certain university. I didn’t plan it that way (it also happens to be the convention hotel), but it does amuse me how this worked out.

One more photo. I took this last night, after I finished dinner and while I was waiting for the hotel shuttle.

power

The time has come…

May 29th, 2015

…to purchase a nice holster.

Hmmmmm. You can get a Dragon Leatherworks Quantum for a Browning Hi-Power…