The Week In Review

I hope you had a merry Christmas. Let’s get started.

Following up on his contemptible attack on Israel at the UN last week, President Obama sent Secretary Kerry out to blame the Israelis for ongoing Middle East discord. Best Secretary Kerry quote: “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace.” The Secretary claimed that Israel has abandoned the two-state solution, neglecting to mention that everything Israel has tried to gain peace has resulted in ever more numerous attacks. The idea that it is Israel stymieing a peace deal is ridiculous on its face, but anti-semites are gonna hate.

President Obama ordered 35 Russian diplomats expelled and leveled sanctions against several others in response to RIS cyber intrusions during the election. Then, on Friday, a Russian cyber penetration of laptop belonging to a Vermont power company, Burlington Electric was discovered (albeit, the laptop was not connected to the grid). Hm. Looks like Russia might be our biggest geopolitical foe after all.

Meanwhile, Russia closed the Anglo-American school and brokered a cease-fire in Syria. But Mr. Putin seems to be waiting for the succession on January 20th. I honestly don’t know who I am more aghast at, President Obama for engaging in so much lame duck action without consulting with his successor (after years of inaction), or PEON* Trump, for signaling—repeatedly signaling—that he is fine with RIS cyber attacks on our political system (and I say that last while fully aware that if not for DNC malfeasance, there could have been no scandal).

Quite the tempest brewed up on Christmas day over the RNC’s annual Christmas message. Personally, I would have never gotten the subtext that the Republicans were calling PEON Trump a “King” if the twitter outrage mob hadn’t told me. Of course, I’m hobbled by not being not much good at faking outrage.

In other PEON news, a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned rather than perform at the inauguration. And some leftists are pushing a boycott of the Rockettes because they have enough volunteers to perform at the same event. The young singer, Jackie Evancho, who will be performing at the inaugural has been relentlessly targeted by leftists for supporting the “racist, homophobic” PEON—only Miss Evancho isn’t backing down. She says she’s used to being a target, as her sister is transgender. Oh yeah—her music sales are booming, too.

As 2016 draws to a close, a fair number of celebrities have passed away. George Michael died on Christmas day. Carrie Fisher followed on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack a few days earlier. Like many men my age (and likely a few women as well), I had a tremendous crush on her back in the early 80s. Rumor has it she drowned in moonlight and was strangled by her own bra. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, followed her on Wednesday. Robert Hulseman, inventor of the Red Solo cup, died on the 21st. I’ll stop there, but enough famous(ish) people died this week to fill a post of their own.

I read the posts by  associate professor of politics and global studies George Ciccariello-Maher expressing a desire for white genocide. He’s an idiot—but he absolutely has the right to be.  See my post on “Hate Speech.”

President Obama expressed confidence that he would have won had he been allowed to run for a third term. (Of course, that suggests he knows that Mrs. Clinton was a bad candidate, doesn’t it?) He may well be right. Since he won reelection in 2012—following four years of demonstrated incompetence—my faith in the American electorate is…well, let’s say “sketchy.” That the two primary choices this last election were Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump hasn’t exactly repaired that opinion.

The great Dr. Thomas Sowell posted his final article this week. At 86, he’s certainly entitled to enjoy his retirement, but I will miss his wisdom dearly. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you read his books. Basic Economics is an excellent primer for the layman. The Housing Boom and Bust does a first rate job of explaining how everything went so wrong with the housing market and the economy in 2008. Really, check out his work.

A Darwin Award winner and runner up tried to rob a gun store. Yes, you read that right.

Last night, Talking Points Memo founder Joshua Marshal accidentally tweeted porn. Hilarity ensued.

Here in LasVegas, the Rio experienced a fire and and major power loss. I suspect Russian hackers. And a major piece of gun control legislation that would have regulated private sales in Nevada will not go into effect, as it turns out to be unenforceable.

Also in Vegas, Amanda Nunes defeated Ronda Rousey by TKO 48 seconds into the first round.

In Sacramento, an Uber driver figured out a young girl was being prostituted and alerted police. She was a 16 year old victim of sex trafficking.

This bodes well. Future murderbot under development.

It is New Year’s Eve. Remember to drink heavily and take foolish chances. Just get someone to hold your beer first.

*As always, a tip of the hat to Kevin Reynolds for inventing the acronym PEON as as an alternative to POETUS.

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Libraries Trimming Collections, and Understandably So

I recently came across the developing fact that libraries are getting rid of books because, well, they’re outdated. Like many folks discovering something new in this clickbait era, my rage meter immediately pinged all the way into the red. How dare they? (“They” being whomever I need to be outraged at about the current outrage.)

Now, if there is one thing the 24-hour news cycle has taught me, it is to govern my passions long enough to get the full story. So, I did a little research.

As it turns out, many libraries are, in fact, reducing the number of volumes they have on hand. Some books are destroyed, some given away or sold, many others are removed to off-site storage. “But why?” you ask? Well, libraries have, at best, limited space (I recommend reading the full post at the link). Volumes of newer research supplant older ones. Some books are eliminated because they just get worn out.

But at universities—which are historically famous for their libraries—the decision to weed is unpopular. Most of us (and I am no exception here) want what we want—and traditionalists want libraries just chock full of dusty volumes. The problem is that the constantly, rapidly accumulating total of research cannot all fit in dead-tree form. Additionally, many younger students, having grown up in the digital age, would rather be able to research on line, rather than track down some elusive volume hidden somewhere in the stacks.

Consequently, many libraries are experimenting with digitalization. As with all experiments, this is a process of trial and error. There are some successes, but there is still skepticism of digital resources in general. And, as noted, there is much rage…most certainly when volumes are being cleared out not for new or more relevant works, but for meeting space (as was the case with UC Santa Cruz)—which would seem to go against the very idea of what a library is for in the first place. But libraries are changing because we, the patrons, are forcing them to.

Digital readers—your Kindle, Nook, iPad, &tc—are changing our reading habits. People who used to regularly visit their local public libraries are making greater use of online sources. And professional librarians are racing to keep up.

Stipulating that libraries don’t actually have access to “L-space,”* and that either collections must be fixed as of a certain point in time or renewed by making space, how does one go about deciding what stays and what goes? Via a process called CREW (Continuous Review Evaluation and Weeding) which is based on MUSTIE (Misleading, Ugly, Superseded, Trivial, Irrelevant,  or can be found Elsewhere). A lot of the decision making process is based on recent usage. For instance, if a book has not been checked out in, say, two years (or five, or ten), a librarian might well conclude there isn’t really a need for it—especially when other users are asking for newer material.

I love libraries. I have long desired a multi-room library of my own, filled with volume after volume of works both great and trivial. I have spent years working to attain that goal. The idea that any library—but especially a university research library might want to clear out books to make room for people to sit and collaborate makes (metaphorical) steam come out of my ears. And I feel an emotional need for there to be some collection of libraries where physical volumes are kept on the shelves even after that day when we succeed in digitizing everything.

Between now and then, I’ll keep beefing up my collection. If there are any libraries in the Vegas area that need to clear out any of there history collections, feel free to give me a call. I’ll help you out with that.

*L-space: that magical nexus that connects all libraries throughout the multiverse, as theorized by the late Terry Pratchett.

Cigar of the Week

The cigar of the week is the Romeo y Julieta 1875 Reserve Bully Sumatra Robusto.

The 1875 is a premium cigar that blends the quality flavors of fine tobaccos from tobacco growing spots, but primarily the Dominican Republic. Rolled in a delicious, dark, select Indonesian shade grown wrapper to make a cigar that displays a beautiful range of flavors, including a hint of spicy zest.

Like other Romeo y Julieta cigars, these premium smokes also burn with a signature white ash and provide the aficionado with a high quality, very smooth smoking experience.

You can pick up a box of 25 for around $110 from Thompson Cigars.

On Comments *UPDATED*

For those of you wondering why your comments haven’t been posting, it turns out that nearly all of them were winding up in the Spam folder. Now that I’m hip to this, I’m spending time sorting through it.

Couple of relevant comments I want to address:

1) If you’ve tried and failed to add the RSS feed, that’s fixed now.

2) If you hit the “Notify” button when you were registering to comment, you may be getting multiple e-mails. There should be an “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of each. If that doesn’t work, let me know.

3) The “Subscribe” link on the lower left right will send out only one e-mail per day (which will notify you of all new posts). If you want to receive updates, that’s the button to click on.

4) A couple folks have asked me about guest posts. If you click over to the main website (using the “Books, Tweets, & More” button) you can contact me concerning what topic you may be interested in posting on.

5) My Twitter handle is @Circle_Bee. There is a link on the main website.

6) If you added a comment and don’t see it attached to the associated post, it’s because the computer and I agreed it was spam. Try posting again.

7) Comments are now open for 7 days only (for each post). Also, in an effort to cut down on spam, you have to be registered and logged in to post a comment.

8) My book is due out in about five weeks. When copyediting is complete, I will post a few sample chapters on the main site.

Thanks.

My best to you and yours,

Sean M. O’Brien

 

Whiskey of the Week

This week’s whiskey…isn’t whiskey.

It is, in point of fact, a brandy. I feel obliged to give a tip of the hat to E&J VS Brandy, as brandy is what one traditionally spikes their egg nog with. Now, I’m aware that some prefer bourbon, and others rum, but when it comes to the Christmas nog I am a brandy man.

So, in celebration of the season, I present to you E&J brandy. Happy nogging.

And I sincerely hope you have had a merry Christmas, one and all.

The Week in Review

Well, it’s been a busy week on all fronts, hasn’t it?

The Electoral College met and cast their votes. Surprising no one (except, possibly, some Hollywood types), Mr. Donald Trump will be the next president.

Mr. Vincent Viola (MG, USA, Ret.) has been tapped to be Sec Army. Mr. Sean Spicer has been tapped as Press Secretary.

I’ve admitted I was a “Never Trump” guy, but I  continue to be pleased by some of the stances he has taken. Cabinet picks being a big one. And his forthright support of Israel being another. Now, if he just doesn’t go wobbly on getting rid of Obamacare

President Obama continues trying to hem in his successor. He has declared tracts of the ocean off-limits to oil-drilling.  Apparently, this is an executive decision that is not easily overturned by a future president (per the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953). And, of course, President Obama gave a hearty “Fuck you!” to Israel this week.

Mr. Clinton spent some time touting his 370 electoral vote landslide from 1992. Of course, as I recall, Mr. Clinton only secured some 43% of the popular vote…and his supporters nonetheless called it a mandate—because it was the Electoral College that mattered.

Another crime suspected of being perpetrated by Trump supporters has been proven a hoax. In this case, the crime occurred, but was executed by, well, this guy. He was a member of the church, and certainly isn’t the racist white man everyone assumed committed the crime. I have reached the point where I assume allhate crimesare either outright hoaxes, or perpetrated by thevictimuntil proven otherwise.

More hubbub on moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The Israeli ambassador called on PEON Trump to do so, angering Democrats. And the left is coming seriously unglued about Mr. Friedman’s nomination. Which just puts me more firmly in support of the nomination.

Contributing to the worsening of race relations, a police officer in Fort Worth saw fit to arrest her two teenage daughters for, as near as I can ascertain, mouthing off and filming him. The woman had called the police to complain that a neighbor had manhandled her seven year old son. Certainly the woman was rude, and at least one of her daughter’s language was…not commendable, but looking at the raw video footage, I’m not sure how this one can be explained away.

We all seem to be suffering from the polar vortex.

Looks like sailors will get to hold on to their traditional ratings and titles after all.

In terrorism news: The Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot. That was just one of several terrorist attacks this week, including Germany, Switzerland, and a hijacking of a Libyan Airlines airplane. The gunman in Switzerland has evidently killed himself, but the terrorist in Germany is still on the loose. It’s looking like the current suspect, a Tunisian refugee named Anis Amri has been arrested several times in the past. Surprising no one, ISIS has claimed credit for the Berlin attack. The suspect was killed by police in a shootout in Milan.

In Syria, the government has retaken control of Aleppo. Not sure how to feel about this. The fascist Ba’ath party has defeated the fascist terrorists. Can I root for both sides to lose?

In Venezuela, the triumph of socialism marches on.

Did you see the video of the fireworks factory fire in Mexico? Evidently the third time in eleven years that this has happened. 29 dead.

A YouTuber named Mr. Adam Saleh, who has a history of perpetrating hoaxes, was thrown off a Delta flight. Looks like Soledad O’Brien (Soledad O’Brien? Doing actual journalism that runs against the narrative? I may have a stroke.) released a series of tweets disputing Mr. Saleh’s claims.

On the subject of leftists acting like children, PEON Trump’s daughter Ivanka was harassed on a Jet Blue flight. For the crime of being his daughter, apparently. Seems much of the media has been trying to turn this into a non-story. My question is, when did this become acceptable behavior?

I’ve never bought into the “War on Christmas” trope, but I am compelled by the evidence to grant that some people really want to be a pain in the ass about it.

MTV posted a video (since removed from YouTube) urging “white guys” to adopt SJW thinking. The backlash caused them to remove it. I was one of the many who saw the video, but if you missed it, here is a transcript.

Favorite Authors, Favorite Books

Do you have a favorite author? The one whose books you’ll read again and again, even though you know the story by heart? I am (like all writers) an avid reader. Over the years I’ve settled in a with a number of authors whose books I just keep coming back to.

As some of you may be trying to find that last-minute Christmas gift for a loved one (or maybe just someone you have to get something for), I thought this was a good time to put together a list of recommendations.

My single, top of the shelf, all time favorite book is Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” But outside of that flyer, my favorite writers are:

Larry Correia Especially his Monster Hunter series.

Eric Flint Mr. Flint’s 1632 series has to be one of the two best expansive universe series available. He has long since invited in other authors to write stories and even entire novels. If you enjoy alt-history fiction and haven’t read any of these, boy are you in for a treat.

C.S. Forrester I first read the Horatio Hornblower series in high school, and many times since. I still have dead tree versions in my library.

W.E.B. Griffin While Mr. Griffin has slipped some in recent years, his series Brotherhood of War and The Corps make for some fantastic military fiction.

Stephen Hunter has created one of the great American heroes with Bob Lee Campbell, who we first meet in “Point of Impact.” If you’ve seen the USA TV series “Shooter,” this is the book it is based on.

Robert B. Parker was one of those authors who just got better with age. I spent my high school years reading his Spenser series.

John Ringo While the Prince Roger series (“March Upcountry,” “March to the Sea,” “March to the Stars,” and “We Few”) may just be my all-time favorite series of books, the truth is, Mr. Ringo has never written anything I didn’t enjoy. His take on zombies (beginning with “Under a Graveyard Sky”) puts all others to shame.

John D. Sanford‘s Prey and Virgil Flowers series make for some of the best crime fiction to be found these days.

Did Jules Verne ever write a bad book?

David Weber The creator of the incomparable Honor Harrington has several offshoots set in that universe, but has generated fans in several other book series as well. HH is the second in my list of all-time best expansive universe series of books.

And, for the kids:

Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene Who’s didn’t love the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew when they were growing up?

Or Donald J. Sobol‘s Encyclopedia Brown?

And aren’t R. L. Stine‘s Goosebumps books perfect gifts for the little ones?

So, who are your favorites? What great authors reside on your library shelf (or in Kindle/Nook/iPad memory)? Feel free to leave a comment.

Cigar of the Week

The cigar of the week is the Gurkha Centurian Double Perfecto.

These medium strength cigars are hand-rolled from Cuban-seed tobaccos grown in the Dominican Republic. They feature fermented dark Connecticut wrappers and are some of the best-tasting cigars you’ll ever have. They have a rich, very creamy taste with just a touch of spice, and a sweet burst of flavor at the finish.

These cigars are perfect for riding your bike on a nice day through your favorite cruising locale (which in my case, would be the Las Vegas Strip).

These are a bit on the high side, but right now you can get a pack of six for ~$30 from Cigar.com. Alternatively, Cigars International has several nice Gurkha sampler packs that include a varied number of the Centurians…and other Gurkhas, too!

Whiskey of the Week

The whiskey of the week is Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7. In all honesty, this is my all time favorite, and could easily be the Whiskey of the Week every week.

This staple of the JD brand is mellowed drop by drop through 10-feet of sugar maple charcoal, then matured in handcrafted barrels of the company’s own making. Old No. 7 has a mix of sweet and oaky flavors that is perfect for sipping, for shots, neat or on the rocks, or with your favorite soda. Habitual readers know my preference, of course.

As an aside, I’ve visited the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg Tennessee several times. I used to make a point of driving up on a weekend every time I had to visit Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. Taking the tour was always a pleasure. When the tour guide would start flapping lid of the vat of sour mash, you could damn near get high off the fumes. If you get the chance, you should make the trip.

But do not go on a Sunday. Despite being in a dry county, the distillery has a special exemption from the state legislature to share out samples…except on Sundays.

And, as always: remember that I’m a drunk,  not an alcoholic. “Alcoholics” go to meetings!