Karmic Retributiuon

           So my karmic adventure for the week.  Karma because Monday evening I forgot to take my sleeping medication because I was reading this awesome three book fictionalized history series about Alexander the Great ($3.99 sale at Bookbub). So at 3:30 am I know I’m not getting any sleep, so I go into work, clear off my deck and e-mail in sick.
          So yesterday, after a couple hours of sleep, I did all kinds of housework; kitchen, bathroom, floors, etc. Not merely because it was desperately needed, but because I needed to stay up and moving to get back on a regular sleep schedule. Toward the end of it all at about 6:30 pm, I wash all the rugs and put them out to hang dry on the balcony.
          Immediately after which I discover I have locked myself out on the balcony.
          Each of my doors have two very old locks, probably original from when this place was built. One of the locks is in the door knob and sometimes they can flip themselves. I have known about this since the first week I was here and locked myself out. So I have always been very careful about carrying my keys all the time.
          Except this time.
          I knocked my my neighbor’s door (we share the same balcony, though there is a five foot separating wall between her half and mine). But she didn’t answer and I figured she wasn’t home.
          Fuck.
          So I’m on a second story balcony, alternately screaming for help, trying to either flip the latch with a plastic plant label or trying to force the door by slamming my shoulder into it (ha), screaming for help, considering how to climb down, and screaming for help for at least 15 minutes.
          Finally, her downstairs neighbor comes around wondering what the hell is going on. Fortunately, she is very nice and offers to call the property management company.
          The problem with the dogs loose inside, I don’t just need a locksmith, I need to climb down and be at the front door when a locksmith jimmies it because I don’t know what Pilot is going to do with a complete stranger essentially breaking into my house. Taeda (the pit) would just run and hide, but I couldn’t predict what Pilot would do.
         So the downstairs neighbor calls the property management company, who makes her call a locksmith because it’s after hours. The locksmith is not a problem (though it’s $60 I really can’t afford), it’s me being at the front door when he opens it that’s the problem. So the downstairs neighbor called the property management company back to just send one of their on-call guys out with a ladder so I can get down, but their messaging service is just hearing “locked out” and sending her to the locksmith.
          Finally, my upstairs neighbor (with whom I share the balcony) cracks her door open and, Thank the Gods, lets me come through her apartment and hang out while I wait for the locksmith.
          To do so, I have to clamber my fat butt over the wall. Grace not included.
          Though with all my screaming she also called the cops before she opened the door (which I can understand), so I had to go out and explain and apologize to them. (They were very nice about it.)
         Of course, all this is after I have not showered for a couple days (I had Monday off) and have spent all day cleaning, so I’m politely trying to be both grateful and keep everyone five feet away because I stink.
          So the locksmith comes out, after struggling (because the locks are so old) gets the front door open while I reassure Pilot that I’m here. Pilot comes out and is perfectly happy to meet a stranger locksmith person (she is always very happy to meet people while we’re walking outside or when she is with me, I just could not predict what she would have done had I not been there) who thinks she’s beautiful and cute and “Oh we would have gotten along just fine!”
         Moreover, in utter adorableness, Taeda has come to the front door and keeps peeking around it to see what is going on.
          So that was my price for placing fun reading over work: $60 and a heap ton of embarrassment.
         And this morning when I tried to lock the door from the outside, I discovered the locksmith had broken the lock and when I called the company, they said, in essence, “tough shit.”
        But the books were great.
        And I need to figure out something nice to thank my neighbors for their trouble.

More Books

IdesofMarch

It was good while I was reading it. I enjoyed it. But in the end it did not leave much of an impression on me. This seems to be less a story than a character study of Julius Caesar, following him through the last months/weeks of his life in epistolary (letters, diaries, etc.) form. Historically, it’s a bit of a mess, the timing of some events have been shifted for more dramatic structure (I guess) and some characters are alive when the real people, who potentially should have had more of an effect on what was happening, were not. One gets the sense that this was Wilder’s pet project, his ode to Julius Ceasar, rather than a fully structured and more accurate historical novel. But as an ode, as a character study of Caesar himself at that point in his life, of why he was so disregarding of his safety, it is excellent and worth the read.

 

IronKing

To my shame, I had never heard of Druon or “The Accursed Kings” series until I got this novel cheap off Bookbub. And what a delightful surprise it is. The Iron King is historically accurate, its characters fleshed out and fun to read about, the drama intense in a story that, yet again, Hollywood could not have invented.

This book is the first of the series about the downfall of the Capetian Dynasty. This book is the beginning of the end. When Phillip of the Fair arrested the Templars in order to seize their treasure, he burned the leaders when they refused to sign confessions to the usual trumped up charges of heresy and sodomy wrung out of them after years (seriously, seven years) of torture. Druon uses the legend (not proven, but it started circulating shortly after their burning) of the Templar curse; that supposedly the Grand Master cursed Phillip and his family unto the 13th generation, his Keeper of the Seal (who trumped up the charges) and his puppet Pope in Avignon to give the novel the extra kick and create the theme. Hence “the Accursed Kings.”

But the truth is everything was in place for Phillip’s downfall before the Templars burned. The downfall of society when the worst aspects of “courtly love” were acted on by the brides of Phillip’s three sons. They committed adultery (or at least two of them did, enabled by the third), and were outted by Isabelle, Phillip’s daughter and consort of Edward II of England. (It has been noted that after that incident, the romances of the troubadours pretty much vanished from the landscape.) Obviously, this throws the characters and the country into some serious personal and political turmoil.

Which of course is always fun. I loved it, and am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

 

Smoke

I have known of the YouTube series, “The Order of the Good Death” and her very funny and informative videos for years now. I did not discover she had written a book of her experiences in the mortuary industry until very recently. Of course, I immediately bought it.

This is fascinating book that swings easily from the rude realities of death to humorous anecdotes to poignant moments to pondering and personal insights and revelations.

Doughty is not merely a good storyteller, she also asks some of the “big questions” without harping on them or trying to “sound deep” herself. Often they come up in the course of the weirdness of her job. She is self effacing, acknowledges her initial naivete and mistakes, and guides us through the odd world of those who handle the dead.

It’s not anymore overtly “graphic” than a CSI episode, so if you can handle that, you can handle this book, which is definitely worth the read.

 

ArtinBlood

A decent mystery marred by the fact that Sherlock is seriously off his game. Sherlock is allowed *one* “Oh, I have been so stupid!” moment, not three or four of them. This means the mystery was actually not good enough to keep the character truly occupied, so the writer was reduced to PIS (Plot Induced Stupidity) to keep it going. However, the characterizations were good and enjoyably carried the story.

So it’s not bad, but it’s not great either.

 

Rescue Artist

One could almost call this the companion book Hupt’s The Museum of the Missing. In fact, the current front cover of the paperback for Hupt book is a picture of the crime scene of the case the Rescue Artist is constructed around: The 1994 theft of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. (Or one of them, at least.)

This is the police’s point of view, particularly how one detective who had become very experienced in recovering stolen art. This is how he infiltrated (for the umpteenth time) the world of stolen art and recovered The Scream. During the course of telling that story, we learn how this officer got into the game of recovering stolen art and the cases he was involved in. We learn about the odd world of stolen art, the mindset of the thieves (not nearly as meticulous, complex or even thinking long term as Hollywood imagines), to the odd places great works of art can end up (such as being used for currency in a heroin deal in Turkey). The existence of the fabled Thomas Crown/Dr. No connoisseur who would steal for their private enjoyment is debated. The stereotype is dismissed by the cynical police, but not by people in the world of art itself.

It’s a fascinating look into the world of stolen art from the people’s point of view, including interviews not only from police and members of the art dealing world, but criminals involved in art theft. (There is also a good, short, biography of Munch, his mindset, and how he came to paint The Scream.)

Restoree

So obviously as you can tell from the cover, not exactly hard SciFi here. It’s an interesting story of a human suddenly thrust into the political machinations of the ruling class of a different world. Taken at face value, it’s an entertaining, enjoyable book.

However, the characters were a bit flat and there were some parts that irked me. First, how the heroine is suddenly transformed from Plain Jane into the most beautifulist alien ev-VAR! At this jaded point, it’s a kind of sexist cliché (See: Twilight series). Second, the sexist world, bordering on neanderthal, she’s had fallen into and was perfectly happy in. Don’t get me wrong, she does have a vital, pivotal role in the story and plays it ably, especially considering her complete lack of cultural knowledge. But one can’t get over the fact that women are “claimed” by men practically on sight and their reason to exist in this society is to crank out kids. And the heroine is fine with that, because the man who claimed her is hot and sexy.

Now, I don’t define a “strong heroine” as necessarily one who has a sword in her hand. A strong woman can be a strong heroine without being an action hero. But when you looked at the overall picture of the world she just fell into by chance, *yeek*.

McCaffrey’s world building is interesting; what parts of society have advanced and what have not. She explains the advances by saying they were borrowed from their conquerors, though that doesn’t explain the medical advances or why someone who has undergone reconstructive surgery after injury is considered horrible. I mean, they’re still writing with stylus on permanent slabs of metal, but have extremely advanced medical technology? *head quirk*

But if you do not spend too much time pondering the deeper implications, it’s still an enjoyable romp.

 

I’ve also been reading Pirot mysteries in the interim for some light reading; some fantastic (Murder on the Orient Express, Cat Among the Pigeons), some not so much (One, Two, Buckle My Shoe-the ending for that came completely out of left field, she didn’t incorporate any, or at least enough, clues into the story).

 

 

Jimmy Carter: The U.S. is “an Oligarchy with Unlimited Political Bribery”

 

The Supreme Court case the host is referring to is this one:

SCOTUS May Overturn McDonnall Conviction

“The Supreme Court seems poised to overturn the conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnall on political corruption charges.”

“Chief Justice John Roberts said it was “extraordinary” that dozens of former White House attorneys from Democratic and Republican administrations submitted legal papers saying that upholding McDonnell’s conviction would cripple the ability of elected officials to do their jobs.”

Get that? “If you stop us from being bribed, we can’t do our jobs!” That’s both Republicans and Democrats. Can you believe it? Can you believe that corruption in this country has become so blatant that any elected official would make, not side comment when they thought the mike was off, but an official position paper to the Supreme Court of the United States demanding the “right” to be bribed.

And SCOTUS is already inclined that way.

We have legalized corruption so much it would make Richard Nixon stretch his eyes.

All the shenanigans around voting rolls and polling places and such across multiple states  is proof that voters are losing what little power remains to them.

Iowa

Nevada

Texas

Wisconsin

Washington

New York  (A voter purge and polling places opening late.)

Arizona (And this is on top of the greatly reduced polling places in minority-heavy counties)

Pennsylvania

And I can tell you that people in California have also found they have been purged from the rolls. A couple weeks ago a friend of mine in Culver City, who has lived at the same address for 16 years as a registered Democrat and voted in every election in that time (he used to work for the city, so he keeps his eye on all elections down to the municipal level), checked his registration status and found he had been dropped from the rolls.

Is Hillary Clinton going to fight to end the oligarchy and return the government to the hands of the people?

No, she’s not. (And mind you, those are just the campaign contributions. Not the speech money.) She is way too invested in the system.

Only one candidate will.