Two more brief book reviewlets

Today is super exciting.  It is Friday, and yet I am home with my wife and son, who I get to spend an entire day with, and none of the three of us have to go to work or school!  Friday is always one of my days off, the boy is out because his school is doing parent/teacher conferences today (ours was last night; I was gratified to learn that, insofar as such things exist at my kid’s school, he’s in the high reading group) and my wife took the day off because my wife never takes days off and as it turns out if she doesn’t take every Friday off for the rest of the year she’s going to lose a lot of vacation days for no good reason.  So we’re all home!  I got up and had a cup of coffee and now I don’t need to hustle to get to work!

It’s exciting.

Anyway, I’ve been reading a lot in the last couple of days and there are more books I want you to know about:


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First, let’s talk about Corey J. White’s Killing Gravity, a book billed as book one of the “Voidwitch Saga,” which is awesome because my main takeaway from this little novella is that I want a lot more of it.  Tor has absolutely been killing it with their novella imprint; these are short books but I have most of a bookshelf dedicated to them already and I’m getting to the point where if I find out a new one is out I buy it instantly without further investigation.  I’ve never done that with an imprint before.

Anyway, Killing Gravity is compared to Firefly on the cover but I don’t find that to be an especially apt comparison; I think for most people what they look for in a Firefly lookalike is the sense of humor and this book is emphatically not funny.  It’s a 160-page exercise in tone and badassery and gene modification and bioimplants and psychic assassins and shadowy corporations and lots and lots of psychokinetic murder and oh there’s also sort of a flying squirrel?  But it’s not funny.  That’s not a complaint; most books don’t have to be funny to be good, but you do have to be funny to remind someone of Firefly.   The prose is a particular standout here; this is one of those books where it’s so distinctively written that it almost doesn’t matter what it’s about– the writing is that good– but it’s an awesome setting and a cool story too and I really want to see more of it.  (EDIT:  March of 2018!)


518d7K+AT4LThe second book I just read this morning, and will almost certainly take you less than an hour to get through cover to cover.  You Have the Right to Remain Innocent isn’t so much a good book as an important one.

The premise of the book’s pretty damn straightforward, and the author isn’t especially subtle about making the point over and over again: don’t talk to cops.  Don’t talk to cops, don’t talk to cops, don’t talk to cops.  Don’t talk to cops if you’re innocent, don’t talk to cops if you’re guilty, don’t talk to cops at all unless you have your lawyer sitting right next to you, in which case your lawyer will tell you not to talk to the cops, or unless you’re telling the cops clearly and unambiguously that you will say not one word until that lawyer is sitting next to you.

Sounds pretty simple, right?  That’s not really a book all by itself, but this is America and folks need to be constantly reminded of simple shit like this, so the book is full of examples of the cops and prosecutors fucking innocent people over who were stupid enough to “head down to the station to get things cleared up” and ended up in jail for crimes they didn’t commit.

Don’t talk to cops.  If that statement isn’t obvious to you, read the book a couple of times until it sinks in.

In case anyone was wondering where I stood

Punch Nazis.

I don’t care.

Punch them every time they show their faces in public.  Chase them away from cameras and microphones.  Do whatever the fuck you want to them.  If they want these things to not happen, they can stop being Nazis.  There’s plenty of room to be an asshole without being a Nazi.  Dox them, call their bosses, drive them entirely from public life.

We fought a fucking war over this.  Hell, we fought two.  We won both.  There is no place in civilized society for these fuckers and if I have my way there never will be again.

Tear down monuments to the Confederacy.  Vandalism?  Fuck vandalism.  Every monument to the Confederacy or any Confederate figure on public land in this country should be torn down, melted, refashioned into sewer pipes and sent to Flint.

Never fucking again.

Call your Senators

Pure anecdata, and I just said this on Twitter but sometimes I like to say things in more than one place: I just called both of my Senators, one a Democrat and one a Republican, and told their staffers that I needed them both to vote against the Senate healthcare bill.  Also said to the Democrat’s staffer (who sounded exhausted) that I expected him to do literally everything in his power to oppose it.

I got through to the Democrat’s office on the first try.  It took four to get through to the Republican’s office.  And damn near every single response to this tweet by Todd Young is anti-AHCA.  It’s amazing:

There’s a lot of weasel words in there, but I’m choosing to take a bit of solace in the fact that it’s not a full-throated endorsement of the bill.

This bill will hurt literally every person living in this country.  Every single one.  Get on the phones, folks, and make your voices heard.  The DC Senate switchboard is (202) 224-3121, but I find more luck getting ahold of actual people by calling the local offices.

Syria and the limits of my knowledge

SIRIA_-_TURCHIA_-_RUSSIA_-_pace_paese.jpgI’ve kinda had my head in the ground for the last couple of days; I’m sort of still there, as it’s taken me a good five or six minutes just to write this sentence.  It’s been a shitty few days to be an American, or at least to be a sane one.

(It’s been a worse few days to be a Syrian; I hope that I didn’t need to clarify that, but I’m going to anyway.)

I’ve been very clear here on multiple occasions about how I feel about how this country should treat Syrian refugees.  What I’ve been less clear on– in fact, I don’t know that I’ve really addressed it at all– is how we should treat Syria.  There’s a good reason for that; I know when I’m in over my fucking head, and this is absolutely one of those times.  Even before we get into “Should America take a side in the Syrian civil war?” there is the very important “Can America do anything about the Syrian civil war?”  There is also the minor fact that the Russians are involved and anything we do with Syria runs the risk of provoking Russia, which is something I suspect all of us would like to avoid.

I don’t know what to do about this, except for the part that is both relatively uncomplicated and morally clear: we should accept every refugee from this conflict that we possibly can.  Period.  I don’t have the tiniest idea what the hell to do about the rest of it.  I don’t feel bad about that.  I’m a fucking furniture salesman from Indiana.  There are people for whom figuring this shit out is their jobs.

Which, speaking of that: another thing I am absolutely certain of is that none of the gang of scam artists, poltroons and quarterwits currently occupying the White House have the vaguest fucking clue what to do, and I don’t trust them even the tiniest little bit to get any aspect of this shit right.  Barack Obama went to Congress to authorize military action and they turned him down; the shitgibbon fires fifty Tomahawk missiles at an airport, warning the Syrians and the Russians first but not bothering to notify Congress, and somehow fails to even disable the airport.

That is a failure of such epic proportions that it simply had to be intentional.  The point was to make a bunch of noise and waste a bunch of money but not to actually do anything worthwhile.  I suspect when Obama asked for Congress to authorize military action this was not what he had in mind.  Was what he wanted the right thing to do?  I have no idea.  I know that I trust Obama’s judgment infinitely more than I do the shitgibbon’s.  But that doesn’t mean he was right either.  For all I know there may very well be no way to cut this particular Gordian knot.


Fuck ’em for the stolen Supreme Court seat, too.  Which doesn’t really fit in this post but I’m including it anyway because it’s my blog.

On denial

pen-solidarity-fistI won’t say his name.  You’re never going to see it in print on this site again.  I have found a silver lining to being at work tomorrow; I will be nowhere near a television set at any point between about eight in the morning and 8:45 or so at night, and so there is absolutely no chance that I will even accidentally catch any part of the inauguration or the address itself.

Yesterday, I watched a portion of Al Franken’s gentle questioning of useless rich idiot Betsy Devos at her confirmation hearing.  I was not surprised but that didn’t keep me from being horrified.  The woman knows nothing; a college sophomore Ed major would have been embarrassed to answer those questions as poorly as she did.  Hell, I’d expect anyone who has been reading this site for more than a year to be able to do a better job just out of osmosis.  At one point this afternoon, I found myself wondering if Franken has Presidential aspirations, and then spent a moment being quietly horrified at the fact that I thought it was a halfway decent idea.

(He’ll be 69 in 2020.  Nah.)

Which of these sentences, if any, is hyperbole?  This is a genuine question.  I don’t know for sure that any of them is:

  • Tomorrow is America’s worst day since September 11, 2001.
  • Tomorrow is America’s worst day since December 7, 1941.
  • Tomorrow is America’s worst day since April 12, 1861.

I suspect that right now only the first is inarguable, and the rest hyperbolic.  I wonder how long I’ll feel that way.  Hopefully at least a few months.  We have made the biggest mistake our country has ever made.  I just hope not too many people die before we find a way to correct it.

(I also, for the record, think that there is a nonzero chance that impeachment proceedings are begun damn near immediately– by the Republicans, who we would obviously need in order to pull such a thing off.  This would effectively be a legal coup by the Republican establishment.  I cannot say that I wouldn’t welcome it.  For all that I despise Mike Pence and everything he has ever stood for, he has principles.  The shitgibbon has none.)

(Yes, that was a Hamilton reference.)