Book Review: Fire Touched

 

I know it’s been a long time since I put out a book review. Forgive me?

The opinions presented are my own. I’m not getting paid for this review. I bought my own copy and read it pretty much as fast as I could.

This week, the latest entry in Patricia Briggs‘s “Mercy Thompson” series came out. I’ve been following this series since the 3rd book was new (and the Alpha and Omega series from the beginning). So for those not familiar with the world: Mercy is a VW mechanic whose Native American heritage shows up in the form of being able to turn into a coyote; her husband is the Alpha of the werewolf pack in the Tri-Cities area of Washington state; due to circumstances that would take multiple novels to fully explain, the Faerie races have declared war on the United States Government; the werewolves are trying very hard to stay neutral in this war with limited success.

This particular installment begins when Mercy wakes with an uneasy feeling. Little does she know that by nightfall, she will be on the evening news after the pack defeats a troll on a bridge, and she makes an interesting declaration. You can check out the first chapter here. Or get your own digital copy here.

Let’s be clear. This novel is a bit of a departure from the tone of the series. The first half or so is pretty amusing, since Mercy does have a rather wicked sense of humor. However, lacking is that tear-jerker climax about 70-80% of the way through the book. This is a book that is primarily concerned with the plot arc. It establishes certain facts that will assuredly be important in the next books. It ties certain short stories into the larger plot. Bonus appearance by Baba Yaga! This is not the place to pick up the story, but it is a decent read.

And I do seriously wonder how Mercy’s lavender plant will turn out. It could be very interesting indeed.

In closing: a little bit of TPP; a few NSA, FBI, encryption, and privacy items for you; exercise and your brain; a bit of political stuff (psst! He’s right behind you!); Vegas judges; I notice Generation X is missing from these graphs; and bonus kittens.

Next Time… on Dragonballlllll Zeeeeeee!

Normally my Picture This posts are pictures I actually took myself. This is an exception.

This handsome fellow is Vegeta, Prince of a nearly extinct race of space-faring warriors called the Saiyans. He never bothered to have himself crowned king after his father died during the destruction of his home planet.

And this is his son, Trunks. Well, strictly speaking it’s his son from an alternate future, come back to help keep the Earth from being destroyed by androids.

The other day I realized that Trunks is drawn with Vegeta’s face and purple hair. They even have the same charming scowl. Here, the resemblance is easier to see this way:

At least he has his mother’s eyes.

In Closing: Same Old Story; checking my privilege; yeah, that helps; deserving; and painting a 737.

Blood from a Turnip

This morning when I woke up, I had 67 email messages in my inbox. Over 60 were asking for donations: this candidate, that political movement, charities and whatnot. There were more in my spam folder, and yet more that had already been filtered to a “political” folder.” Another half dozen begging messages or so have arrived every hour since then. More than a few have tried to guilt me into giving, imploring me to help unlock matching funds, defeat political bad guys, or simply implying that my lack of giving must surely be a mistake. Yes, I did a bunch more “unsubscribes” today. Part of me wishes I had thought to add up the minimum recommended donations for each one of these emails.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that I have a total 80 begging emails today — remember, that’s just today, and that’s a bare minimum. And let’s say that on average each one asked for “only $5.” In real life, some asked for only $3, and others asked for $20. So, 80 emails times $5 each is $400.

Yeah, not gonna happen.

I do declare, I have no use for Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or Reince Priebus.

EDIT: 4 more emails asking for contributions arrived while I was writing this post!

For the record, the other emails were almost exclusively asking me to buy stuff. At least I would have something at the end of that transaction.

In Closing: hush now; Japan has always had a knack for making things smaller; let’s do this over the Holidays and hope nobody asks a bunch of questions; well, being forced to buy a product from highly profitable corporations is better than nothing, I guess; Unintended Result; nothing to hide, in a world where buying gardening supplies can get you a SWAT raid; and thank goodness Radley Balko is out there telling the truth.

10 Observations on the New Star Wars Movie, No Spoilers

Image from IMDB, so please visit them. Yes, I actually paid money to see it. In 3D no less. So in no particular order, my observations:

  1. Dear Directors of 3D Films and Trailers: If you could please stop making it appear that things are aimed right at my head, I’d appreciate it! — Thanks!
  2. It turns out that nurses “long ago in a galaxy far away” use pretty much the same therapeutic communication that nurses use here on this planet.
  3. There is nothing in The Force Awakens that suggests the Zahn Trilogy didn’t happen. However, the Extended Universe might no longer be canon.
  4. There are details of the soundtrack that I am distinctly unhappy about. Williams uses a 19th century technique that pairs characters and/or events with thematic material. I was ok with “Luke’s Theme” becoming “the Skywalker Theme,” but now it’s just the “Rebels doing cool stuff theme.” Best moments of the soundtrack were the strategic usage of “Leia’s Theme” and “Kenobi’s Theme” (also known as the “crazy old powerful Jedi wizard theme”).
  5. All those things you suspect? Yeah, probably true.
  6. I would love to be wrong about this one, but it sure looked to me like the right corner of Harrison Ford’s mouth droops a little bit.
  7. J.J. Abrams knows how to play up a scene for maximum suspense, before doing the obvious thing.
  8. Of course there’s a trash compactor!
  9. Droids are good at comic relief. And it’s amazing how small an astromech can be these days!
  10. Nice set up for the sequel. Hope they don’t screw it up.

In Closing: TPP is still not good; Department of Homeland Stasiliars; obvious; sandwiches. I hope to put together something soon about the current proposal to make the No-Fly List into a No-Gun-Buy List — a proposal that only got traction after a mass shooting happened to be perpetrated by a Muslim instead of an angry and/or crazy white man.

Hindsight

Apparently, former Fed chief Ben Bernanke has a new book about how he saved Christmas the economy. That means a bunch of econ bloggers and Serious People have to say something about it. The NYT Sunday Book Review likes it, although they called it “a bit of a slog.” You can buy your own copy here.

In Closing: least of our worries; unfortunately I don’t see a way to solve this problem; I bet we laugh at this fashion trend a decade from now; yeah that’s a problem; breaking the rules; maybe you could have educated the patient up front?; and voting.

Is that the best you can do?

Today I came upon this image:

I agree that the news media often choose not to report things that are important in favor of things that get ratings. However, the list of “what you should know about” is focused on environmental issues and barely gives lip service to other important things the media isn’t covering. Here’s a few things you should know about that might not make your evening news:

  • The TPP isn’t dead yet; if it gets ratified, you will have fewer rights and corporations will be more powerful. Heck, you might not even know the TPP was a thing if you relied on the evening news.
  • The cops can use devices that force your cell phone to tell them where you are — unless a judge catches them.
  • You aren’t imagining. You are working harder for less.
  • Those politicians out there trying to earn votes for an election over a year from now are mostly bought and paid for by special interests.
  • There’s probably a kid that died in your metropolitan area, too.
  • There are multiple humanitarian crises going on in the world right now.
  • Over 40,000 Americans commit suicide each year. That works out to one every 13 minutes, and one a day in my city. You might be able to do something about that.
  • Since the list was a bit food centric, here’s a food item: Congress doesn’t think you need to know where your meat was raised.

And that’s just a short list.

In Closing: Liverpool; ramen; resume; then she should find a job that doesn’t require her to do things that conflict with her religion (oh, you thought I was talking about that marriage license thing?); not having the desired effect on his image;

Thoughts on the State of the Union Address

The President characterized the Trans Pacific Partnership as “Americans writing the rules.” It would have been more accurate to say corporations writing the rules. I did like how he dealt with Republican clapping when he announced that he’d run his last election. I wonder if maybe he didn’t ask Senator Franken for some tips on dealing with hecklers. Here’s somebody who actually knows something about economics talking about some of the President’s tax ideas. I do hope his college proposal doesn’t just extend the time when youngsters have the security of not having to necessarily have any skills.

The Republican rebutting the President (whose voice I find patronizing and annoying, but that’s on me) called Keystone XL a “jobs” bill when it is nothing of the sort. And once more I ask: if this stuff is so great and it’s going to create so many jobs, how come the Canadians are letting us ship it here rather than processing it there?

On good and bad habits: it’s apparently easier to do yoga while sober (I’ve never done it drunk, so I don’t know); thinking and doing; America isn’t the only nation that has a racism problem; healthy eating tips; avoiding salt doesn’t necessarily have to be one of those tips.

In Closing: fair housing and Ferguson; sensible; pointlessly gendered; 100 students; not a bad simplified explanation of how viruses work; the boy who rode his bike; and exploding kittens.

Big Bad Shorties

It’s the Food: It turns out that people do pay attention to nutrition labels. That’s a good thing, because soon and very soon obesity will overtake tobacco as the #1 killer of Americans. Have some truth in comic form.

Zombies!!: Well sure, they aren’t allowed to try and collect it, but they can still claim you owe it!

Act Two is Coming to Ferguson: The grand jury will speak soon. And it looks like the police are prepared for anything that happens… by which I mean that they are heavily armed in a manner that is itself inflammatory.

On Privacy, not Piracy: Americans are aware of how little privacy they may have.

A few last election items: Yeah, voters are disappointed in Democrats. Yeah Republicans simply “lost less.” And yeah, anybody who wants to win in 2016 better pay attention to how things are going for normal Americans.

And Finally: It would appear that I am the one person in America that does not give a single **** about Kim Kardashian’s ass.

Only Shorties Left Alive

Ok, I know why some of you are here: to get your sweet sweet dose of NSA links.

Turns out not: There’s no shortage of STEM workers. There may, however, be a shortage of STEM workers who want to work for crappy wages.

Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me: Which of these inventions is likely to be fake? Two teenage girls invent new bomb detector that could revolutionize getting around their home town, teenage boy makes browser plugin that allows you to see who a politician’s major contributors are with a simple mouse-over, or Egyptian military invents a gadget that can detect AIDS and Hepatitis C without taking blood samples? Regrettably, I cannot promise that Carl Kassel will record your voicemail message.

Sick of Politics and November is So Far Away: Pelosi thinks immigration reform is now a longshot (because hey, we can’t have a Democratic Kenyan President signing that into law or something). Republicans don’t like it when President Obama does things that President Bush and President Reagan did frequently. Maybe Senator McCain shouldn’t talk about ISIS anymore. And the Koch agenda.

A Couple Items on Abortion: Southern Beale points out that abortion restrictions don’t keep women from getting abortions, just from getting safe ones. And someone I’ve not had the chance to link to in a long time, MahaBarbara on “What If Banks, Not Abortion Clinics, Needed Buffer Zones?”

Have you ever wondered what these signs mean?: In short, the higher the number, the more dangerous it could be.

I’ve said it before: In areas where schools push the high school start time back, student traffic accidents dropped 70%. Oh yeah, and their grades improved.

Have you read this one yet?: It’s been making the rounds, just want to make sure everybody’s seen it.

And finally: A gun safety ad that doesn’t involve a made up tragedy.