-- "William Morrison" (Joseph Samachson), Mel Oliver and Space Rover on Mars (Gnome Press, 1954)
Incoming: Just one book this week.
- Charles Ardai, The Nice Guys. Movie tie-in from Hard Case Crime. "Holland March is a private eye with a defective nose and a broken arm. Jackson Healy is the tough guy who put him in a cast. Not the two most likely men to team up to hunt for a missing girl, or look into the suspicious death of a beautiful porn star, or go up against a conspiracy of the rich and powerful that stretches from Detroit to Washington, D.C. Hell, they're not the most likely pair to team up to do anything. but there you go." Based on a screenplay by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) and Anthony Bagarozzi; the two are reportedly writing a script for Doc Savage to feature Dwayne Johnson but production has not yet started because Black wants the film to be set in the 1930s and Sony wants it to be set in modern times. Anyway, I have not yet seen The Nice Guys, a 2016 flick which features Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling). Have you?
College Bribery Scandal: My question is why? Why go to all the bother of hundreds of thousands of dollars to bribe athletic directors or to have ringers take SATs? These parents could easily afford to get their kids into an elite college the old-fashioned way -- by donating money directly to the school. It may not be ethical, but it is legal. ( There are rumors that Fred Trump donated money to Wharton before his son Donald was admitted, but there is no hard evidence of that. It should be noted that Donald attended the Wharton Undergraduate School at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a B.S. in Economics; he did not attend the Wharton Graduate School, which would have earned him a M.B.A. Trump is careful to claim "Wharton" and allow others to assume he went to the Graduate school. BTW, Trump transferred to Wharton from Fordham in his junior year and (although his records have not been released), he was not the stellar student he claimed to be; there's no record of his being named to the Dean's List, for example. Trump has donated millions to the University of Pennsylvania and Don, Jr., Ivanka, and Tiffany all graduated from the school. See, he did it the old-fashioned way and did not have to resort to open bribery.)
Anyway, the parents who got caught up in this scandal have revealed themselves not only to identify as the privileged elite, they've revealed themselves to be just plain dumb.
Christchurch: 50 dead, 35 injured including 13 in critical condition. A terrible, terrible story. And at least in the ancient Greek tradition, a true tragedy. Classically, a tragedy is an event brought on by one's own character flaw, whether it be pride, or lust, or ignorance, or whatever. The character flaw here is an inability to use common sense in instituting gun laws. New Zealand's Prime Minister is now vowing (unspecific) changes to the country's gun laws, opening a public debate that will most likely lead to a ban on assault rifles at the very least.
In America there have been 1,983 mass shootings since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. 2,367 persons killed. 8,154 wounded. Those figures were good as of two days ago -- who knows what today might bring. Mass shootings are just the tip of the iceberg; according to the CDC, there were 39,000 gun-related deaths in 2016 alone. Mass shooting represented just 2% of the 2016 figure. Some 14,000 of those deaths were homicides and 23,000 were suicides. This year with less than three months in, there have been 58 mass shootings leaving 185 dead and 89 wounded. Remember that wounded can mean different things; wounded can mean wounded and recovered or it could mean wounded and your quality of life is significantly changed permanently.
One-third of Americans own guns and less than 3% of American adults own half of the guns in private hands.
Weak-willed and short-sighted politicians, gobs of corporate money, and intensive lobbying have prevented us from having sensible gun laws. Instead we have the weakest gun regulations in the industrialized world and by magnitudes the greatest incidence of gun violence. On the bright (?) side of things...
WE'RE NUMBER ONE!!!
Nobody wants to ban all guns, but common sense gun regulations can save lives.
Collusion Confusion: Our Blowhard-in-Chief has pronounced NBC and Saturday Night Live of collusion with Russia and suggested the FCC should investigate. Mr. Thin Skin evidently cannot grasp the meaning, intent, or actual words in the First Amendment. His first, and only, reaction to anything is to threaten, bluster, and badmouth anything that bruises his ego. I suggest that if he really wants SNL and the late-night comedians to cease making fun of him, he should stop making it so damned easy.
Today in History: The great art theft at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum took place in 1990. Purely by coincidence I toured the museum just a few weeks earlier and publicly expressed my admiration for Rembrandt's "Storm on the Sea of Galilee," one of the masterpieces stolen in the heist. I spent the next two weeks working out an alibi.
Twenty-five years earlier on this date Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov became the first person to walk in space. Kudos to him and to all the brave men and women, no matter what nationality, who have helped mankind move beyond this small blue orb. Every achievement in space, from creating a satellite communications system to walking on the moon to sending a space craft beyond our solar system, helps define us as humans -- we are the race that aspires. Lately America has been lackadaisical about space exploration but that seems to be turning around. Forget about a "Space Force" -- we already have one embedded in our military. Let's concentrate on the scientific, medical, economical importance of space. The stars await!
Florida Man: It may not be finger lickin' good but it's something. In Lake Worth, Florida Man was recently recorded on security footage repeatedly licking a doorbell. This particular Florida Man remains unidentified but wouldn't it be a hoot if his name was Avon, as in "Avon calling"? No word on what was on the doorbell to make it so tasty.
61-year-old Terrance Dolan was in a motorcycle accident and was suffering from head trauma when EMTs got to him. But Terrance isn't Florida Man. Paramedic and EMT Kendal Billings of Ocala is when in the ambulance with Dolan he punched him in the head, turning a wound whose bleeding was controlled into a profusely bleeding one. Billings said he was aiming for the victim's chest but might have gotten his face instead.
An unnamed Florida Man's taste for spicy saved his life in a Winter Garden Taco Bell. He got up from his table to get some packets of hot sauce just before a car driven by a 77-year-old man jumped a curb, smashed through a wall, and crashed into the man's table.
A Homosassa Florida Woman was arrested fro crystal meth this week. Of course her name was Crystal.
There's a serial Florida Man bra thief in Vero Beach. An unidentified black male Florida Man has been going into the Victoria's Secret at the Indian River Mall and stuffing multiple bras into a black trash bag -- emptying display cases -- and then exiting the mall. And why would this Florida Man steal from Victoria? It's a secret.
Our last connection with the mythic.
My mother remembers the day as a girl
she jumped across a little spruce
that now overtops the sandstone house
where she still lives, her face delights
at the thought of her years translated
into wood so tall, into so mighty
a peer of the birds and the wind.
Too, the old farmer still stout of step
treads through the orchard he has outlasted
but for some hollow-trunked much-lopped
apples and Bartlett pears. The dogwood
planted to mark my birth flowers each April,
a soundless explosion. We tell its story
time after time: the drizzling day
the fragile sapling that had to be stalked.
At the back of our acre here, my wife and I,
freshly moved in, freshly together,
transplanted two hemlocks that guarded our door
gloomily, green gnomes a meter high.
One died, gray as sagebrush next spring.
The other lives on and someday will dominate
this view no longer mine, its great
lazy feathery hemlock limbs down-drooping,
its tent-shaped caverns resinous and deep.
Then may I return, an old man, a trespasser,
and remember and marvel to see
our small, deed, that hurried day,
so amplified, like a story through layers of air
told over and over, spreading.
-- John Updike