Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book review - Storm Front

This is John Sandford's latest Virgil Flowers mystery. It starts with the theft of an important archaeological find which may have important religious history implications. The thief tries to auction the relic off to the highest bidder and suddenly we have a cast of characters that include the Mossad, Hezbollah, a couple of Discovery Channel adventurers and an attractive local female criminal. It's just the kind of charlie foxtrot that typify a Flowers novel. More of a comedy than suspense, I can see this as a screenplay for the small screen. Probably not one of the more intense Sandford stories but entertaining none the less. It's a good, light read for an intercontinental flight.


There is a lady I worked with that keeps an email list and sends out news about company retirees. Usually it is an obituary. The other day she send out a notice about the death of a 96 year old retiree. I knew his name but never really worked with him. (he was in accounting and I was in engineering) His obituary let us know that the was a B 26 pilot in WW II and completed 66 missions over Europe, Africa and Italy. Yes, that is not a misprint. 66 missions!

Monday, October 14, 2013

No Good Deed Etc.

Wal Mart stores in NW Louisiana made the decision to honor EBT cards even though they could not confirm the balance remaining on the cards due to the recent system failure. They didn't want to deny food to their shoppers.  It didn't take long for word to spread and shoppers emptied the shelves. These were not shoppers in a panic, but thugs who thought they could get something for nothing. When the system went back on line and people were caught with more than the card could pay for, they left their carts and Wal Mart employees had a fun time re-stocking the shelves.

These people belong to the same class that loot stores in times of disaster and spend their Hurricane Katrina money on bling. They were raised in a system that failed to teach them personal integrity. They are Obama voters.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Park Service Brown Shirts

The news has been full lately of the tactics used by National Park Service rangers to enforce the government shutdown. The vision of friendly guides with Smokey the Bear hats has pretty much been replaced with Gestapo tactics. The nadir for me was the idea that they would prevent foreign tourists from leaving their hotel in Yellowstone Park giving the tourists, who didn't speak English well, the idea that they were under arrest.

How, you ask, can this happen? Aren't most of these guys nice upstanding family men? Well, go do a little study on the Milgram Experiment and the Stanford Prison Study. I have blogged about these before in relation to the TSA, but it applies to the NPS just as well. Good people, when given complete authority over someone else or are ordered to perform an onerous task by someone in authority, will behave counter to their moral compass. The ultimate example is Nazi Germany but you can see it in everyday life in fraternity hazings, police brutality and now the National Park Service.

We do not live in Russia where a passport and permission was required to travel within the country. It is time for Americans to exercise their First Amendment right to free travel and perform a little civil disobedience by stepping around the barrycades.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review - The Quest

Nelson DeMille is one of my favorite authors. Therefore, I looked forward to reading this new novel about a search for the Holy Grail. But in reading the forward, I found out that this was a book he first wrote 40 years ago. He made some editorial changes to it and re-released it. It is a total snooze. The characters are not interesting and the location (Ethiopia) has nothing to recommend it. Give this one a pass.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Bridge

Do you like current day crime dramas with quirky characters, unpredictable plot twists and gritty drama? If so, go take a look at The Bridge. The Bridge is an FX Network (the same folks who brought you Justified, Sons of Anarchy and The Americans) crime drama about two detectives, one from Mexico and the other from El Paso, Texas as they join forces to solve crimes that span the border. The pilot featured a dead body placed exactly on the border between the two countries. Soon they discover that it is really two bodies that have been cut in half and placed together.

You will probably recognize Diane Kruger as the El Paso detective. She is socially inept, only sees things in black and white and continually makes social gaffes. Her Ciudad Juarez counterpart is one of the few non-corrupt policemen but he has a philandering habit. Other characters are the gruff and grizzled lieutenant, the dope head newspaper reporter with a lesbian sidekick, a rich widow with a cross border tunnel and a desert living hermit who rescues abused women. The plot is unpredictable and several plot lines are woven together to keep you thinking.

The first season has ended but it is available for download on Amazon Instant Video. I predict that you will find it hard to stop watching.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review - Damned if You Do

This is the latest of the Jesse Stone novels with Michael Brandman as the approved ghost writer for Robert Parker. I like the Jesse Stone series but Brandman's writing does not bring out the angst and latent alcoholism of the main character. Brandman has a background in screen writing and it is evident in this novel. There is a lot of short, clipped dialog that makes the reading go fast but has little depth.

In this story, Jesse's investigation of a young girls murder takes him to a clash between rival gangs. While he is handling that, he is also bringing the wrath of God down on the heads of the operators of a retirement home who drug their residents, one of whom is a friend of Jesse.

It's a fast read and good entertainment but don't look for anything much deeper than that.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Head Count

Looks like 6 murderers and druggies lost their heads over in The Kingdom last month raising their year to date total to 64.