Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, September 3, 2018


Openers:  With a serious effort James Bond bent his attention once more on the little yellow book in his hand,  On its outside the book bore a simple but pleasing legend, "Do you want your salary increased by 300 [pounds] per annum?"  Its price was one shilling.  James had just finished reading two pages of crisp paragraphs instructing him to look his boss in the face, to cultivate a dynamic personality, and to radiate an atmosphere of efficiency.  He now arrived at a subtler matter.  "There is a time for frankness, there is a time for discretion," the little yellow book informed him.  "A strong man does not always blurt out all he knows."  James let the little book close and, rraising his head, gazed out over a blue expanse of ocean.  A horrible suspicion assailed him, that he was not a strong man.  A strong man would have been in command of the present situation, not a victim to it.  For the sixtieth time that morning James rehearsed his wrongs.

 -- Despite the fact that in the opening paragraph of this story we meet Bond...James Bond, the author is Christie...Agatha Christie, and the story is "The Rajah's Emerald," written long before Ian Fleming created 007.

August Incoming:

  • [Edgar Cayce], Edgar Cayce:  Modern Prophet.  An omnibus of four books about Cayce:  Edgar Cayce on Prophecy by Mary Ellen Carter, with the editorship of Hugh Lynn Cayce, 1968; Edgar Cayce on Religion and Psychic Experience by Harmon Hartzell Bro, Ph.D., under the editorship of Hugh Lynn Cayce, 1970; Edgar Cayce on Mysteries of the Mind by Henry Reed, under the editorship of Charles Thomas Cayce, 1987; and Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation by Noel Langly, under the editorship of Hugh Lynn Cayce, 1967.  Pure bushwah, of course, but -- as I have noted before, I'm a sucker for this sort of thing.
  • Max Allan Collins, Better Dead.  A Nate Heller historical mystery.  This time Nate's working for Senator Joseph McCarthy.  There's a reason why Collins received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America and was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, The Year's Best Science Fiction:  Eleventh Annual Collection (1994) and The Year' s Best Science Fiction:  Twenty-First Annual Collection (2004).  Dozois' annual collections have been the gold standard for years.  These include 23 stories from 1993 and 22 stories from 2003, respectively, along with comprehensive looks at the years in question.  When Dozois passed away earlier this year science fiction had lost one of its most distinguished editors.
  • Terence Flaherty, Dead Stick. An Owen Keane mystery, nominated for an Edgar Award.  (Coincidentally, my nephew's son is named Owen Keane.)
  • Gary Gygax, Dangerous Journeys:  The Anubis Murders.  Gaming tie-in fantasy/mystery.
  • W. A. Harbinson, Projekt Saucer, Book Two:  Genesis.  SF/UFO/horror novel.  It had some good reviews.
  • David Hartwell, editor, The Science Fiction Century.  Science fiction anthology with 45 stories.  Like Dozois, Hartwell had been a major influence in the field and his editorial taste was superb.
  • David Morrell, Murder as a Fine Art.  Historical mystery, the first in the series featuring Thomas de Quincy, winner of both a Macavity Award and a Nero Award.
  • Stuart Neville, Collusion.  Thriller, the second book in the Belfast series.
  • Stuart Palmer, Unhappy Hooligan.  Mystery from an author who should not be forgotten.
  • "Dell Shannon" (Elizabeth Linington), Blood Count.  The 37th Luis Mendoza police procedural.  
  • Stanley Wiater, Matthew R. Bradley, & Paul Stuve, editors, The Twilight and Other Zones:  The Dark Worlds of Richard Matheson.  A look at the man and his writings.  Did you know that he wrote some Christmas songs recorded by major artists?

Labor Day:  "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is the creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."  -- US Department of Labor

Organized labor has fought for better wages, reasonable working hours, and safer working conditions.  It has worked to stop child labor and to provide medical benefits to workers, as well as providing aid to workers injured on the job.  Labor has played a strong role in the fight for civil rights as well in the the promulgation of Kennedy's and Johnson's domestic programs in the Sixties.

Labor has also received a bad rap.  Corruption and greed entered many unions.  Public support waned and right-leaning forces began to chip away at labor's achievements.  This past week saw President Trump cancelling a raise for civilian federal workers, citing budgetary constraints.  (This is the same Trump whose tax plan provides a boondoggle for the nation's wealthiest.)

Neither runaway labor nor runaway management is good for the country.  What's needed is an adversarial partnership between the two, with both parties providing reasonable concessions for the greater good.  Will we see that partnership in the near future, or have the waters been too poisoned?  Time will tell.

STEMMinist:  The STEMMinist movement was founded by Dr. Caroline Ford to encourage girls and young women to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine.  In January of this year, Dr. Ford started the online STEMMinist Book Club, now with over 1700 members from 25 countries.  Among the books already chosen are Inferior:  The True Power of Women and the Science That Shows It by Angela Saini, Stop Fixing Women by Caroline Fox, and Testosterone Rex:  Myths of Sex, Science and Society by Cordelia Fine.  If you have a daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, aunt, neighbor, student, friend, or co-worker who has expressed wistful interest in the sciences, you may want to suggest this book club and the support which comes with it.

Accident Prone Koala?:  Cats are supposed to have nine lives.  Koalas?  Not so much.  Unless you're a certain "large male adult" koala in Happy Valley, South Australia, who had to be rescued three separate times by Fauna Rescue of South Australia.  (You'd think after saving him three times, the Aussies would have given the koala a proper name.)  In January 2016 the koala was found at the bottom of a tree, barely responsive.  It took a week at Fauna Rescue before he could be released back in the wild.  Then in November of that year, he was hit by a car and spent more time in Fauna Rescue care before being declared fit for release.  Then this past July, Fauna Rescue was called out to South Australia Power Networks substation and there he was, the very same koala.  This time he had his head stuck in a fence.  No one is sure how he got stuck.  Indeed, some speculate that this koala is a few eucalyptus leaves shy of a tree but I'm sure there's a kinder explanation.  Perhaps he just missed his Fauna Rescue buddies and wanted to see them again.

Florida Man:  Florida Man Joseph Sireci, 47, of Port St. Lucie, was arrested for battery after giving his girlfriend a "wet willy."  

**Florida Man and Florida Justice saunter off into the sunset, hand in hand** 

Florida Lizard:  A 6-foot Asian water monitor lizard, weighing perhaps as much as 150 pounds, has been terrorizing a Florida family by staking out their back yard and by scratching at their back door.  Asian water monitors can turn aggressive and their mouths carry illness-causing bacteria, though perhaps not as fatal as those of the more familiar monitor lizard.  The lizard also has long nasty claws and is 'terrifying to look at."  The family has a four-year-old and a two-year-old child, both of whom are now forbidden to go into the back yard.  Authorities have also suggested that pets stay out of the yard.

The wily (and very fast) lizard has thus far eluded all attempts to capture it.

On This Day:  In 1777, the United States flag was flown for the first time in battle at the Battle of Cooch's Bridge, Delaware.  (Despite the flag, the Americans were routed.)   Six years later to the day, the american Revolutionary War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

Today's Poem:


Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This city now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God!  The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

-- William Wordsworth