Friday, August 17, 2018

Booknote: Ghosts: a Natural History

Roger Clarke, Ghosts: a Natural History: 500 Years of Searching for Proof. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-250-05357-2.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: ghosts, paranormal, history
Format: hardcover
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County Public Library

This book just did not keep my attention. I barely got through it. After reading Ghostland (link to my review), this book seemed like a good choice. The book promises a natural history of ghosts, but to be honest, it was more a collection of ghost and haunting stories than an actual history per se. The book contains 18 chapters plus a chronology and a list for further reading. It also includes some illustrations.

According to the author, this is what the book is about. Too bad it did not deliver:

"Discussion has drifted away-- thank goodness-- from efforts to prove or disprove the existence of ghosts. That idea belongs to 1880s London. In a basic sense, ghosts exist because people constantly report that they see them. This is not a book about whether ghosts exists or not. This is a book about what we see when we see a ghost, and the stories that we tell each other about them" (17).

The author opens the book by telling  of his own experiences as a child with  ghosts and the paranormal. He was the youngest person to join the Society for Psychical Research (Wikipedia link; official website link) in 1980. So he sounds just like the right person to write this book, except he is not. He takes a most interesting topic and presents it in the most boring and soporific way possible. Ghost stories often keep you up at night. This book is an excellent cure for insomnia. The stories overall are not that interesting, and some of them just get bogged down in excessive and  mundane minutiae. In the end, the book had potential, but it is just not a good read at all. This is one I say you should skip.

1 out of 5 stars.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Signs the Economy Is Bad: August 10, 2018 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.

A lot has been happening since the previous post in this series, so let's get on with it.

  • The Bad Economy in the big national news, including dispatches from the "War of Tariffs": 
    • Apparently the United States has been at war in Afghanistan for about 17 years or so now. Anyhow, read more about the real cost of that mostly taken for granted conflict. Story via Big Think
    • That big 12 billion bailout aid package the Pendejo In Chief is setting up for those suckers poor farmers that will suffer in the War of Tariffs (I covered that last week)? Well, turns out it might not be as helpful after all, and in fact, it could very well make some things worse. Story via The Rural Blog
    • A lot of pundits are saying the economy is fine, however, the consumer prices have been  inching up at "a rate of inflation that suggests Americans are earning less than a year ago. . . ". Story via Lexington Herald Leader
    • Here is a look at slaughterhouse employment across the U.S. It is hard work often for low pay in seriously bad working conditions. Also an industry that often loves to hire immigrant workers, including undocumented ones. Story via The Daily Yonder.
    • Bankruptcies are rising among senior citizens. I do find it hard to be sympathetic given that generation pretty much has done so much to fuck up the nation and the generations that came after them. The new study "places blame squarely at the feet of a hollowed-out safety net and policy changes that have left people without adequate retirement savings, paying huge out-of-pocket medical expenses, and seeing their funds dwindle due to the student loan crisis that many people mistakenly believe affects only younger generations." Story via TruthDig. This is pretty much another one of those time bombs that is about to explode. Again, who hollowed out the safety nets and changed policies? Pretty much them and the politicians they put in place. Basically a case of the past coming to haunt them. 
    • Tariffs on newsprint are hurting newspapers across the nation. Story via The Rural Blog. This I can attest to as the local news rag we receive at home (mainly because The Better Half insists on reading print) decided to reduce the size of the newspaper from three sections to two during most days of the week as well as the number of pages. However, they are still charging the same rate for less content. 
  • In health and the Bad Economy: 
    • Why are Americans in general so fat? Well, according to these 7 charts, it is very easy to see why. One reason? “In America, the unhealthiest foods are the tastiest foods, the cheapest foods, the largest-portion foods.” Story via Vox.
    • I am sure you have heard of or seen advertising for a variety of coupons and "savings programs" for prescriptions. On the surface, they sound great. In reality, they may not be as helpful, especially since the insurance companies are finding ways to basically counter them and stick it to you anyhow. Story via UPI.
    • Meanwhile, abroad, the U.S. is making a nice racket to profit from TB (tuberculosis) epidemics in poor countries. And if you think this is just a Party of Stupid thing, think again. A former Obama administration official is teaming up with the current administration to make it happen. There is a reason Democrats are pretty much Republican-Lite. Story via Boing Boing.
  • Education and the Bad Economy: 
    •  In a bit of news of the obvious, a writer at The Guardian opines that a PhD should be about improving the world, not chasing academic kudos. I laughed because yes, it should be, but that idea is like unilateral disarmament. No one is going to be first to say there will be less emphasis on things like chasing citations, impact factors, and publishing obscure articles no one outside their niche field gives a shit about in "prestigious" journals.
  • The Bad Economy  hitting rural areas: 
    •  In Appalachia, natural gas is basically decimating coal. The "War on Coal" that McConnell keeps whining about (and the local yokels keep believing in) is not so much that the coal industry is strangled by environmental rules or other boogeymen; a large part of the reason the industry is declining is other sources of energy are cheaper. There's the capitalism right there that the Party of Stupid loves to cite. Story via The Rural Blog.
    • A new report reveals that rural customers pay more for crappy Internet. In many areas, the only thing you can get is shitty DSL, if at all. I am "fortunate" I can get cable Internet, but it is still pretty crappy. Story via The Rural Blog.
    • Rural manufacturers are desperate to find workers. Among the results is towns are giving tax incentives to said manufacturers. However, keep in mind manufacturers are only as loyal as the next tax incentive, which means as soon as they get a break someplace else they will happily leave and decimate local economies, a lesson I wish more rural towns would freaking learn so they'd work on other ways to diversify and develop local economies instead of waiting for some factory to just save the town. Story via The Rural Blog.
  • The Bad Economy in some states: 
    • In Kentucky, where they are big fans of the Pendejo In Chief, employers are opposed to his tariffs. Despite that, the Pendejo In Chief remains seriously popular in the state. Again, I quote an old Puerto Rican saying, "sarna con gusto no pica" ("mange that you delight in does not itch."). In other words, this is what Kentuckians willingly, proudly, and gladly voted for. Story via The Lexington Herald Leader.
    • Also in Kentucky, that religious boondoggle known as the Ark Encounter is facing decreasing ticket sales. This is actually a piece of good news. Story via Fortune. Hat tip to Pharyngula.
    • In California, they are exploiting prison labor to fight the wildfires. Why pay professionals, or heck, even minimum wage when you can get prison labor to do it. Story via Vox
    • In Arkansas, they are basically running a good old fashioned debtors' prison. Story via The Lexington Herald Leader.
    • In Texas, rural libraries are important community centers, yet they struggle to stay open. Story via KERA. Hat tip to InfoDocket.
  • Meanwhile, back in the U.S. colony: 
    •  Puerto Rico tried to quietly raise the official death number due to Hurricane Maria from 64 to 1,427. Story via The Guardian. The whole thing with  the number has been one big combination of incompetence, corruption, and lawsuits as reporters and others sued to get accurate numbers and the local government did its best to keep the numbers low so as not to look bad. That FEMA and other federal agencies have botched so much did not help either.
    • And the island's government announced they are making the GWU report finally available to the public. Story via Latino Rebels
    • And as if things were not bad enough, the government is also gutting the safety net in order to appease the colonial overlords. Medicaid is getting cuts. Story via Salon.

How are the Uber Rich Doing?
  • Well, for the most part, the rich are the ones who use services like Uber  and Lyft. Not only that but they are also the assholes who prevent cities and localities from developing public transportation. Story via Grist.
  • If you are rich and have some money and time to burn, you can take a high end butchering class so you can learn how to "process" your hunting kills. They even teach you how to cook it. But as I said. this is not for just any Joe Six Pack. Story via Salon
  • According to the BBC, apparently rich people doing tourism are the only ones able to save the planet. So I guess I can say fuck it to the recycling. 
  • However, there may be some bad news for the uber rich as climate change is targeting things they care about. The latest victim? Champagne. The horror. Story via Grist.
This week we are opening up a new feature here in Signs the Economy is Bad:

Hustling Every Day

In this feature we will look at unique, inventive, original, or somewhat out of the way things people do in the Bad Economy to earn a buck or two. These can be full time jobs or gigs or side hustles. Things are bad out there, so you have to hustle every day to get a buck or two:

  • You try to sell some of your junk online with an app or two to make some extra money. Here are some hints that may or not be helpful via Wallet Hacks
  • Teachers, given how shitty they get paid and treated in the U.S., definitely need a few side hustles: 
    • Wallet Hack suggests 12 "perfect" hustles for teachers. I would question the definition of "perfect" in this list, but hey, desperate times and all that. 
    • Many teachers are turning to crowdfunding to get money to pay for school supplies for their classrooms, since as we all know, society chooses to not pay teachers decent salaries let alone fund schools properly. Hey, with enough funds, a teacher could even pay to give his or her students a field trip. Story via Vox
  • You could always get a job as a foreclosure boat tour operator. I had no idea this was a thing: taking potential buyers of distressed properties on boat tours to see said properties. The job does also include doing some evictions. Story via Daily Intelligencer
  • In Michigan, a man is offering an "Amish Uber." Basically he gives rides for five bucks or so in his horse and buggy. Story via Boing Boing.
  • You can always do like this man in Japan and rent yourself by the hour (as long as it does not involve physical contact). He can give you advice, be a friendly listening ear, and mentor younger people. Story vi CNN. On a side note, I am about that guy's age. I am wondering if I could do a similar side hustle here. 
  • If you are a nice, muscular lady, and you need a side hustle, maybe you could consider the wonderful world of Female Muscle Worship. Yes, men (and maybe a woman or two) will pay you to flex your muscles, look fierce, and be dominant. According to the article, this is also becoming an increasing option for bodybuilder women whose days in the competition circuit may be passing. Story via VICE.

Media Notes: Roundup for July 2018

These are the movies and series on DVD and/or online I watched during July 2018.

Movies and films (links to for basic information unless noted otherwise). Some of these I watched via or other online source. The DVDs come from the public library (unless noted otherwise):

  • John Wick (2014. Action. Thriller. Crime and mob). An entry in the genre of "fucking with the wrong guy who was just minding his business." A bunch of punks decide to steal John Wick's very nice muscle car. They also beat him up, and they kill his new puppy dog. Did we mention Wick is also recently widowed, and the dog was the last gift from her to him? Well, soon, the lead punk, son of a Russian mafioso who knows Wick very well, finds out who Wick really is, and the hell on earth that is now coming because Wick, an extremely skilled hitman, is coming for them all for killing his dog. Great action film. Very well done. Keanu Reeves performed a great character, and the cast is memorable too including appearances by Willem Dafoe and John Leguizamo. Overall, I enjoyed this one. I will be looking for the sequel. DVD borrowed from Madison County (KY) Public Library. 
  • Mr. Holmes (2015. Mystery. Drama). Sherlock Holmes is retired now; he is now 93 years old, and his last case made him decide to retire to the country to do beekeeping and live a quiet life decades ago. Around this time, he takes a trip to Japan seeking a medicinal plant. However, the memory of the case still haunts him, and he gets to work on solving it, remembering it in the right way, and not just as another story Watson wrote.  In this story, the great detective is portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen. The movie is bittersweet, very well made, and it captures the spirit of the great detective well. Overall, a great film. DVD borrowed from the Madison County (KY) Public Library.
  • Curandero (2005. Horror. Mystery. Spanish language film). Based on a script by Robert Rodriguez, the Curandero is the son of a small town healer (curandero) who struggles with accepting his gift and fate after his father passes away. Reluctantly, he gets involved in a case chasing a drug lord who is also a black magic master. The premise sounds pretty good, but it is a fairly slow film at times.  The gore is actually fairly minimal. However, I found the ending to be pretty satisfying. It was OK. Via
  • Class of 1999 (1990. Action. Horror. Science Fiction). By 1999, public schools in major cities are controlled by gangs, and some of those cities become free fire zones where not even cops go in. A Department of Educational Defense forms, and they intend to retake the schools with the help of Megatech. They send new teachers to one of the schools, cyborgs, programmed to teach and discipline. And then things get way out of hand as the students need to save themselves. A very 90s kind of film with a silly premise (though maybe not that silly up to a point). The movie had a decent cast including Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach, and Pam Grier. It was entertaining enough, especially in the early parts. Via 
  • Carnivore (2000. Horror.) This is bad, and I do not mean "so bad it is good" bad. It is just plain bad. Here is the IMDB description: "A government experiment goes totally wrong as a creature confined in a hidden lab inside and abandoned house escapes. Afterwards, some teens show up to have a little fun in the house, not knowing that the beast is loose and watching them." The acting was bad. The plot was total nonsense, and overall the setting was as cheap as you can get. The creature is not particularly impressive neither. The end does leave an opening for a sequel, but it is not one I would look forward to. This is one to skip; whoever ordered this for the library should be shamed. By the way, the sound quality on the DVD leaves a lot to be desired too. Via DVD from Berea branch of Madison County (KY) Public Library.  
  • 7 Assassins (2013. Action. Adventure). The movie description: "When gold goes missing in ancient China, royal guards entrusted with its recovery realize they are not the only people in pursuit." Plot is a bit more complex. Gold gets stolen by Tie Yun, a rebel leader opposing the Qing dynasty. He gets ambushed by a bandit who may or not be working for the Qing Prince; her loyalties are not totally well placed. Tie Yun manages to escape capture, and with the help of some retired assassins and warriors, goes on the offensive to take down the prince, get back the gold, and rid the land of the prince's corruption. A very nice story, even if some parts take a bit to follow. Good action and martial arts sequences. Solid characters. Note movie is in Chinese, but you can get subtitles in English or Spanish. Overall, I liked this one. Via DVD from the public library. 

Television and other series (basic show information links via Wikipedia unless noted otherwise). Some of these come in DVD from the public library. Others may be via YouTube, which, as noted before, I keep finding all sorts of other old shows in it, often full episodes.

  • Supermarket Sweep (Game show. 1965-2003). I continue watching the 1990s run hosted by David Ruprecht, which ran on Lifetime Channel, on YouTube this month. You can see last month's roundup for my additional comments on this show. An interesting thing of watching this is some of the products and promotions they feature are very 90s kind of things, references some younger folks might miss now. It is still nice easy clean fun to watch. Watched 7 episodes.
  • Iron Chef (Japan). (1993-2001). I keep watching these via YouTube. This month I watched:
    • Tuna Battle 2. Featuring Takashi Mera as challenger, a chef that wields "the longest knife in Japan." 
    • Tomato Battle 2. Franco Canzoniere, a Roman cooking specialist, challenges Iron Chef Italian Kobe.  
    • "The Legend of Michiba." Special episode highlighting the career of Iron Chef Japanese Rokusaburo Michiba. Michiba was the first of three Japanese cooking Iron Chefs the show had. The other two were Nakamura and Morimoto.  
    • "Ayu (Sweetfish) Battle 3." With Michiba out on health leave, Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai cooks against Chef Omino, a young traditional Japanese cooking chef.  
    • "Ayu (Sweetfish) Battle." By now, Iron Chef Michiba as long retired. Iron Chef Japanese Morimoto is settling in, but this is early in his tenure, and he needs to focus more on Japanese elements versus just the neo-Japanese of New York. So to challenge, Michiba sends in his right hand man from his restaurant (who was also his assistant back in the days of Kitchen Stadium) Kenichi Miyanaga.  
    • "Swallow's Nest Battle." Li Jinlun, a Cantonese chef battles Chen Kenichi, the Chinese Iron Chef, whose specialty is Szechuan cooking. 
  • Mobsters (Documentary. true Crime. biography. 2007-2012). I continue watching episodes of this series via YouTube here and there. See the June roundup for previous commentary on the series overall. 
    • "Sam 'Mad Sam' DeStefano" (Season 4, Episode 3, 2012). A ruthless and very violent mobster with the Chicago Outfit. DeStefano was also a mentor to Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the Las Vegas enforcer (portrayed by Joe Pesci in the film Casino). 
    • "Joseph 'Mad Dog' Sullivan" (Season 4, Episode 1, 2012). The Irish hitman who also lived a double life as a man walking the (mostly) straight and narrow with his wife and kids. He was a gun for hire, mainly for the Genovese crime family. Eventually put in prison for life, Sullivan is one of the few mobsters who lived to tell the tale, and he does speak from prison as part of the documentary. He passed away in 2017. 
    • "The Gambinos" (Season 1, Episode 14, 2007). An extra long episode (1 hour and almost 30 minutes) presenting the history of this Mafia family from Carlo Gambino, the man who made the family to Paul Castellano to John Gotti, who eventually brought it down with his attention seeking ways. 
    • "Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano" (Season 1, Episode 4, 2007). Profile of Gravano, who was the Gambino crime family underboss under John Gotti. Gravano went on to become government witness, helping the government to send at least 30 mafiosi to jail including John Gotti. 

Booknote: The Infographic Guide to the Bible: the Old Testament

Hillary Thompson,, The Infographic Guide to the Bible: the Old Testament. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2017. ISBN: 978-1-5072-0487-0.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: religious studies, Bible, reference, infographics
Format: paperback
Source: Berea branch  of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

As the title indicates, it is a guide to the Old Testament in infographics. If you find it difficult to get
through some of the slow parts of the Old Testament, or if you need a refresher on the important parts, this can be a good book for  you. It is visually appealing and easy to read.

The book contains 50 infographics covering people, places, events, and other bits of information. A sampling of topics include:

  • Noah's Ark: By the numbers
  • The 7 Sacred Feasts of Israel
  • The 12 Judges of Israel
  • 5 Enigmatic Old Testament Characters
  • 6 Little-Known Women of the Old Testament
As it states in the book's introduction:

"Whether you're looking to supplement your Bible study, find a quick and easy reference for a religious education course, or simply brush up on Old Testament facts, this handy guide covers a broad range of topics in comprehensive yet concise charts, lists, and graphs" (8).

The word "comprehensive" may be a bit generous; this book does not cover every single detail. It does cover major topics, and it covers those pretty well.

This is a good selection for public and academic libraries.Whether you are religious or not, it is a pretty good reference source. I did try to see if there was a volume for the New Testament, but I did not find one. That would be a good idea to publish. Meanwhile, I really liked this one. I have read the Bible cover to cover, though it has been a while. I feel this book gave me a nice basic review for the Old Testament highlights.

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Booknote: The Godfather

Mario Puzo, The Godfather. Grand Haven, MI: Brilliance Corporation, 1986.

Genre: fiction
Subgenre: audiobooks, crime, Mafia, Mob, organized crime
Format: online audio/audio cassette
Source: Found on YouTube randomly (I then tracked down the exact edition).

I recently finished rereading The Godfather. I checked this blog and my journals and realized I had never written a review of the book, so here we go.

This time I found an audio version. The Godfather is a favorite novel of mine, and rereading it reminded me of all the side stories Puzo has in the book. The movie, which I also love, is a great adaptation, but part of the reason the movie is great is that it distilled the essence of the book so well. The movie left a lot out from the book. Having said that, the book is still an entertaining read, and the additional stories add some more detail to the main plot line, some more than others. For instance, Johnny Fontane has a whole side story, and so does Lucy Mancini.

The novel is also very rich in details; Puzo has the ability to immerse the reader in the world of the Corleones. Granted it is very romanticized, but it is an alluring world, at least until you look
underneath the surface. Still it makes for great escapist fiction, which is why I find it comforting and enjoy rereading it every so often.

If all you know of The Godfather is the film, great as the film is, you really should read the book. It really expands and fleshes out the characters and adds richness of detail. On the other hand, if you have read the book but not seen the movie, what are you waiting for? There are reasons why the film is a big part of popular culture. Plus watching the film having read the book will give you a better appreciation of both works and how they tell and weave stories.

As for this audio version, the narrator had a nice, smooth reading voice. The audiobook dramatizes the story, so you get different voices as the characters speak. Overall, it was well done. For me, it was relaxing to have someone read the book for me. Note the edition is unabridged, so you get the full book.

Still, after all this time, 5 out of 5 stars.

P.S. Since I know Millennials and young people today can be impatient, and find something like reading a long book hard, and watching a long old movie is hard too, here is a quick video to help you guys out. I saw this recently, and I found it overall very amusing, even if not perfect:

Friday, July 27, 2018

Signs the economy is bad: July 27, 2018 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.

Another week, and another set of signs the economy is bad. This week, the big news is the Pendejo In Chief announced he is getting $12 billion dollars to "help farmers" minimize the impact of the tariffs he imposed and the Chinese retaliated on. Story via BBC. So for, starters, here is a bit of humor on that; actually, this is barely satire basically:

So let's see what else is going on in the bad economy:

  • News related to the Pendejo in Chief and the Party of Stupid: 
    • Naturally, the suckers casualties are those supporters of the Pendejo In Chief and the Party of Stupid. Story via AlterNet. However, those folks are holding on firm to their man, so sympathy for those people is going to be scarce around here. They are getting what they voted for.
    • Well, the trade conflict with Mexico is speeding the process of toppling the U.S. as a top wheat supplier. The Mexicans like much of the world just figure they can get their wheat someplace else. Story via Reuters. 
    • As for much of the rest of Latin America, they are seeking closer trade ties. Story via Al Jazeera.  Again, don't get mad. Just work around the assholes trying to impede business and progress.
    • Like drinking Coca Cola? The price may be going up thanks to the Pendejo In Chief's tariffs on aluminum and steel according to Coca Cola. Story via UPI. 
    • Like lobsters? You may want to consider eating something else if you live outside the  U.S. since the Pendejo In Chief is also working to destroy the lobster industry. If you live  in the U.S., lobster could get cheaper, at least until those fishermen start going out of business. Story via The Boston Globe. A hat tip to Juanita Jean's.
    • Some tariffs may be hurting the Chinese. Here is a story of a soybean importer declaring insolvency as a result. Story via UPI. However, the Chinese are patient overall, and let's be honest, they've been around the block a lot longer than the U.S. So odds may be in their favor long term.
    • And speaking of China, the tariff wars also mean China may cool down on investing in the U.S. Read why this is a big deal over at The Conversation.
    • Having a hard time keeping score in the tariff wars? Here is a handy guide to the disputes, via UPI.
    • On the  positive, because you can often find a silver lining someplace if you look hard enough, the U.S. will have a 2.5 billion surplus of meat (and that is on top of the already existing surplus of dairy being turned into a surplus of cheese). Why? Well, thanks to the tariffs war, the U.S. is not able to export as much beef as before. Story via Vox. So, what's the positive? Maybe the prices on things like meat and cheese go down in U.S. grocery stores, and you might be able to finally afford buying steak instead of chuck once in a while. 
    • At the end of the day, even the Pendejo In Chief gets at least a small sting out of this. Turns out that Mr. "America First" has his campaign flags made in China, and again, as a result of the tariffs war, those flags and banners are about to get more expensive. Story via The Guardian
    • Fuck, the Pendejo In Chief is so hooked on China that even when he holds a celebration of American made products at the White House he still features spoons made in China for the snacks. Story via Inc.
  • Layoffs this week: 
  • In airline fuckery news, American Airlines offers some good news, but it depends on what you define as "good news."  Story via Inc. I am still avoiding flights.
  • In other signs the economy is bad: 
  •  So, who is doing well in the bad economy? The defense and war industries are: 
  • Also big this  week, a stupid story about some economist at Forbes making shit out of his ass about how libraries should be closed to save tax money.  The pushback was so bad that Forbes was shamed, and they deleted the article and made a half ass not really an apology. However, you can read about the whole soap opera via Big Think here, and you can see a good sample reply here via Vox.
 Finally, for this week, I am trying out a new feature: "Great Debates of Our Time."

 Today's question is: are milks like soy milk and almond milk really "milk"? Read about it via the Food Politics blog.

Booknote: Big Nate: Revenge of the Cream Puffs

Lincoln Peirce, Big Nate: Revenge of the Cream Puffs. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016.  ISBN: 978-1-4494-6228-4.

Genre: comics and graphic novels
Subgenre: humor, children/YA
Format: paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

This is a collection of Big Nate comics. The main storyline in the collection is about Nate and his baseball team, known by the embarrassing name of Cream Puffs. When the big game comes, they lose their star pitcher. Their hopes now lie in their most unlikely player. In addition, the book features other stories such as Nate and his friends attempting to write a romance novel, Nate doing Yo Mama jokes, and him trying to enjoy his summer away from school.

This is a light and entertaining collection with good humor and amusing moments. It is easy to read, and it will often make you smile. If you enjoy the comic from newspapers, you'll likely enjoy the book as well.

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Signs the economy is bad: July 20, 2018 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.

We made it to another Friday, and here we go again. Let's see what has been going on:

The Pendejo In Chief, the Party of Stupid, and the Bad Economy, or how are those guys fucking up things this week:

  •  They got the IRS to basically no longer require political nonprofits to disclose their donors, making it harder to follow the money. Via AlterNet
  • The Pendejo In Chief is crying poverty as he says the U.S. cannot afford to take care of its veterans, unless there are more tax cuts for the wealthy. Story via The Daily Intelligencer.
  • The Pendejo In Chief's tariffs means others retaliate, like the Chinese. Yet another example, the Chinese retaliated with their  own tariffs on U.S. pork. One part of the pork that was very good for the U.S. was selling offal (things like snouts, pigs' feet, hearts, entrails, etc., which Americans usually do not eat but the Chinese love to eat) to the Chinese. Well, with  tariffs, all of a sudden those offal sellers, many of whom were likely very happy to vote for the Party of Stupid, are now up the creek trying to find where to sell their wares.  Story via Reuters.
  • In more federal Party of Stupid fuckery, Ben Carson, the Pendejo In Chief's HUD secretary, wants to raise rents for people in public housing, including the elderly and disabled, because. . . fuck 'em, that's why. Story via  Boing Boing.
  • Meanwhile, back in the U.S. colony, FEMA is rejecting thousands of appeals for housing aid in Puerto Rico. Reason? Many people cannot prove they owned a home. Gee, that  would not  have anything to do with  that hurricane, would it? Oh, and by the way, a year later, it is hurricane season again. Story via The Week.
  • The GAO reports that summer food programs face challenges, especially  in rural areas. Story  via The Rural Blog.

The bad economy in education:

The bad economy in health and medicine:

  •  As usual, Americans get gouged by the health care system as well as  by health insurance companies. Meanwhile, those same companies' priority is to make profits for their shareholders. Story via Salon. If a few people need to die to make a buck or two, hey, it is the American way. Americans firmly believe they cannot have universal health care  because it would mean having to  help some poor person who is less fortunate. We can't have that shit happening. Fuck that deadbeat Americans say. 
  • And if you want to complain about bad service from a doctor or hospital, well fuck you too. Doctors and hospitals do not want that, and they will sue you if you dare post a  negative review online. Story via USA Today.
  • Not only are  health insurance companies ripping you off, they are scooping  up all the private data and personal information on you they can find anywhere from social media to your shopping habits. Why? So they can better discriminate against you in terms of health coverage later. Story via AlterNet
The Bad Economy in the business world:

Finally, a couple of Bad Economy trivia items:

  • Did you know that testosterone makes guys buy more luxury and fancy products? It's their way of preening basically. Story via The Washington Post.  So the bigger the car, the watch, the jewelry, likely the bigger the douchebag. I must not have inherited that gene because personally I do not give a shit about luxury goods. 
  • And finally, turns out that the group least likely to use the Ashley Madison philandering service are liberals. Who is MORE likely to use it? Conservatives, with Libertarians ranking the  highest. Imagine that. Story via Pacific Standard.

Booknote: Uncle John's Old Faithful 30th Anniversary Bathroom Reader

Bathroom Reader's Institute, Uncle John's Old Faithful 30th Anniversary Bathroom Reader. San Diego, CA: Portable Press, 2017.  ISBN: 978-1-68412-086-4.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: trivia, miscellaneous, bathroom reading, humor
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley

The series is 30 years old, and it remains strong and entertaining. As with  other book in the series, the contents are arranged by length to meet your bathroom reading needs.

  • Short: a quick read
  • Medium: 2 to 3 pages
  • Long: for the extended visits
  • Extended: for those leg-numbing experiences
Subjects covered in the book include:
  • New York City
  • Toilet tech
  • Good squirrels gone bad
  • Teaching awards
  • Celebrity couplings
 The above subjects are only a small sampling of what the book offers. The authors strive to provide a vast range of subjects and topics from serious (but not too serious) to entertaining to funny. Through it all, you also learn a thing or two along the way. As the authors state:

"Speaking of  fun, that's the main ingredient we try to put in every one of our books. Sure, we love to pass along interesting facts and odd stories-- and a few of our articles tend to fall on the 'serious'  side-- but in the end, our job is to entertain you. If  you become smarter along the way then. . . you're welcome."

The authors are successful in this regard. You'll feel your time in the bathroom was amusing as well as productive on reading this book. It is a book you can pick up and read here or there when you need a little something to read. Overall, I really liked it is a good addition to the series.

4 out of 5 stars.

Booknote: The Man Who Made Lists

Joshua C. Kendall, The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget's Thesaurus. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2008.   ISBN: 978-0-399-154621.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: biography, history, bibliophilia
Format: hardcover
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

This is a biography of Peter Roget, the creator of the book we know as Roget's Thesaurus. Roget basically spent his life in and out working on the book. Roget suffered much in life losing his father early on; he had an extremely controlling mother, and there were other issues. As a way to escape his reality, he created his own world in lists. Since childhood, he wanted to classify the world around him. He would continue working on those lists throughout his life, and those lists of words and concepts would be the basis of his thesaurus. Roget would grow up, go on to college, become a doctor of medicine, and eventually a lecturer.

Roget's life was interesting at times, but it was not really that remarkable. There are parts of the book that  can be very slow and monotone. However, the book also provides a great look at the times he lived  in. In addition, over time, Roget meets various interesting people as well. We also get a look at how science progressed over time. Charles Darwin was a contemporary of Peter Roget, and eventually Roget would live to see Darwin's works published and the new theories of evolution rise to prominence (he himself remained a creationist sadly).

Overall, the book has its strengths and weaknesses. It is strong in showing the history of its time. It's weak because often there is too much minutiae that is just not so interesting. Still it is an interesting book overall culminating with the publication of the Thesaurus, the book that would eventually make him famous. In the end, I liked the book.

3 out of 5 stars.

* * * * *

Additional  reading notes:

A bit on what Roget was doing:

"With his word lists, Peter simultaneously created both a replica of the real world as well as a private imaginary world-- what contemporary psychologists call a 'paracosm'" (40).

Thomas Gray's six Latin maxims. Roget relied on these in writing his travelogue in adolescence"

  1. "See whatever is to be seen.
  2. You should see whatever I have not seen.
  3. Write down and describe, as faithfully as possible, whatever you see.
  4. To write is not to admire, since you are not a painter, paint everything with words.
  5. Whenever you can, abandon the footpaths, the worn crossroads of travelers.
  6. Correct whatever can be corrected" (62-63).