Monday, December 29, 2014


If you read all these links you'll be the smartest person on your block, guaranteed.

*** Twitter has been a hummin' lately over the Rolling Stone article about a supposed gang rape at the University of Virginia. That blew up real fast, and in trying to get up to speed on it, I read this from Slate and found it very informative.

And you know that 1-in-4 college women raped statistic going around? The article shows how it came about and how whacked out it is.

*** Some people have some serious coin: Most expensive books of 2014.

*** Why raising beef can be good for the planet.

*** A bullet that has the ability to change directions. It may have once seemed like an idea out of a sci-fi movie, but it has now become a reality – thanks to the U.S military.

As they say, you can run, but you'll just die tired.

*** And if you’re into politics, a couple friends of mine have essays in this: The Plains Political Tradition.

From the RCJ: Nathan Sanderson, a historian and member of Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s cabinet, wrote an essay titled “The Roots of West River Republicanism” for the recently released second volume of “The Plains Political Tradition,” a book published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Sanderson, who serves as Daugaard’s director of policy and operations, has a doctorate in history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

*** Love him or hate him, Tom Coburn made his mark in the U.S. Senate. And didn't stop until the last gavel pounded.

*** I've followed Michelle Bachmann's congressional career only nominally and don't consider myself a fan or a critic, mostly just an interested bystander. Regardless of your feelings about her, if you have any, Roll Call has a pretty fair and interesting take on her retirement.

*** If you feeling like creeping through Albert Einstein’s love letters to his sweetie, check this out.

*** Baseball's popularity waning? I think not and neither does Forbes.

*** Baseball also has the biggest media company you never heard of.

*** Retiring Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley shares his favorite books after 33 years of reviews.

*** I’ve been hearing get things about The Book of Strange New Things.

*** In case you were looking for a new book to read, the best of Penguin Random House.

*** Heard this Junior Brown song the other day and got a kick out of it: I gotta get up early just to say goodnight to you.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hot Springs writer sees angels

Joseph Bottum, a much more famous writer just down the road from me, emailed on Christmas Eve with the following:
Among my usual flood of Christmas writing, I thought you might be interested in this particular one, just out this morning. It is, I think, the most mystical thing I’ve ever written—a description of angel voices singing “high in the wind, across a western meadow frozen stiff and covered with the fallen snow.”
All blessings in this blessed season.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Finished: 'The Secret Servant' & 'Storm Front'

I'm either a fast reader or a slow blog poster, or a little of both, but I had two recently-finished books to post about (don't finish a sentence with a preposition).

Continuing to knock off Daniel Silva's books, the latest being The Secret Servant. I like Silva because he brings personal knowledge and good connections to make his international espionage thrillers very realistic. He was a Middle East correspondent for UPI and also worked for CNN. He's married to NBC reporter Jamie Gangel (pictured).

TSS is the seventh in the Gabriel Allon series, in Wiki's words:
In this entry in the series, Gabriel Allon, the master art restorer and sometime officer of Israeli intelligence, had just prevailed in his blood-soaked duel with Saudi terrorist financier Zizi al-Bakari. Now Gabriel is summoned once more by his masters to undertake what appears to be a routine assignment: travel to Amsterdam to purge the archives of a murdered Dutch terrorism analyst who also happened to be an asset of Israeli intelligence. But once in Amsterdam, Gabriel soon discovers a terrorist conspiracy festering in the city’s Islamic underground: a plot that is about to explode on the other side of the English Channel, in the middle of London.
I gave it a 7-minus on the Haugenometer. Goodreads scored it 4.21 out of 5; and Amazon 4.5 of 5.

If you like CIA/Mossad/terrorist action with interesting characters and settings, you'll like.

If you like Minnesota cops/Mossad/blondes skinny dipping, you'll like John Sandford's Storm Front, the seventh novel in the Virgil Flowers series.

While I'm a big fan of Virgil's boss, Lucas Davenport, who plays bit parts in these novels, I really enjoy Flowers: soft-hearted, walleye-catching, skirt-chaser. The setting is Mankato, MN, and the plot, while sometimes confusing me with all its characters, kept me guessing until the end.

Amazon recaps:
An ancient relic is unearthed during an archaeological dig. A Minnesota college professor is keeping a secret that could change the world’s history as we know it. For Virgil Flowers, the link between the two is inescapable—and his investigation, more dangerous and far-reaching than he can possibly imagine.
I gave it a 7, Goodreads a 3.83, and Amazon a 4.