Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Couple More Violette Malan Books

Went over to the library and read a couple of Violette Malan books.

The first one, The Sleeping God, was the first one in her mercenary sword and sorcery series. Fun world, interesting setup, tense situation. Unfortunately, it turns out that there were a couple of annoying pieces of cognitive dissonance.

Early in the novel, a young girl traveling with the mercenary couple as her bodyguards notices the look of love in the hero’s eyes when he looks at the heroine, and figures she doesn’t have to worry about him putting the moves on her. Later in the novel, there’s a casual revelation that, oh, yeah, both the mercenaries sleep with other people when they feel like it. So… in retrospect, not a heartwarming scene. When you consider that the young woman references this look of love later on, as the reference point for her hopes for her own budding romance with a nice young man, it gets a lot ickier.

Later, after a lot of “meant by the gods” type stuff as they tangle with a hugely powerful evil from beyond the world, it’s revealed that no transcendence will occur and that humans will use ordinary human resources to deal with it — except that this is then supposed to evoke transcendent emotions in us. Nope. Noopers.

The other book I read was her first published one, The Stone Mirror. There’s a sequel coming out in the next year or so, but you shouldn’t read anything about it. (The publisher blurb for Book Two is a massive spoiler for Book One.)

Anyway, it turns out that a big important personage in the elven world has been exiled to our world for some time, with no memory of his real past and capabilities. His enemies are after him, and his friends are trying to help him, but nobody knows everything that’s going on. It’s a fastmoving book of adventure, action, intrigue, love, and pretty scenery, with enough difference from the usual fairyworlds to make it interesting.


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It Could Happen to You, Local Edition

The ladies upstairs who play the lottery every week? Yeah, they just won a big prize. How big? Multiple thousands for everybody.

The hilarious thing is that they actually won a few days back, but had been forgetting to check the numbers.

Needless to say that, after turning it in at lunchtime, a good number of these ladies are out lunching for the rest of the day… going to see their financial planners… watching out for those meteors and lightning strikes that are a lot more probable…. 🙂

Alas, as a student of the mathematical probabilities, I’ve never gotten into the lottery thing. So if you’re wondering if I got in on this, the answer is no. Ah, the fickle finger of fate!

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Why I Don’t Like Misattributions

If somebody obscure has written something deathless, he should get the deathless credit.

What’s more, there’s been some fairly famous poems that suffered from this. “High Flight” has an exhibit at the Air Force Museum, because it suffered for years from misattribution to various famous poets and pilots, and to “Anon.” Gratitude for the poem demands gratitude to the actual poet.

So yeah, that whole Baconian flick is kinda amusing; but it also is a rabbit punch against Shakespeare as a man and a poet, and against the many great commoners who wrote great English poetry, despite never going to college, or having wealth and rich friends. The fact that Bacondom is largely the invention of Americans is one of the odder facets of our republic.

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What Is It with Rural Luring of Strangers to Their Death?

Hoosier true crime history is creepycreepy. It’s freakin’ weird, how often some Indiana woman or man has set up a murderous trap for random strangers. And now, they’ve done it again, using a Craigslist job offer?

Well, no. But that’s what I thought at first.

Actually it happened in the OTHER Noble County, the one that’s in Ohio instead of Indiana. The one that’s on the whole other side of the state from Indiana. 🙂 But maybe the guy who did it is from Indiana? (Sigh. “Another beautiful theory ruined by cold hard fact.”)

Ohio is strong on murder ballads, but a bit weak on actual evil serial killers. Mr. Dahmer was probably our worst, and he went elsewhere to do his dirty work. Of course, this may be more of a function of Ohio serial killers not getting caught.

But yeah, this whole Craigslist thing strongly reminded me of the infamous female Hoosier serial killer, Belle Gunness. She was even more psycho than Leif Eriksson’s half-sister, Freydis Eiriksdottir, and she probably got away with it all.

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Sir Francis Drake Didn’t Say It.

Apparently one of those misattributed quotes is going around. In this case, a fairly obvious one.

Sir Francis Drake didn’t come up with the “Disturb us, O Lord” poem. It doesn’t sound Elizabethan in its theology or its scansion or its word choices. It doesn’t appear to have been quoted anywhere until 1961, a fairly unlikely occurrence in a world full of Drake fans. There are longer versions which sound even less Elizabethan. It’s a modern poem, and I seriously doubt it was ever meant to be connected with Drake in any way. (And “wilder seas” is one of those phrases created or much loved by the Victorians.)

In its first detectable appearance, (in The Minister’s Manual, Vol. 37, a sermon helper for the year 1962), the prayer ran “Stir us, O Lord,” and it was apparently written or compiled by a gentleman named M.K.W. Heicher. How it got associated with Drake, I have no idea.

At any rate, it had a vogue in the Anglican Communion during the 80’s, at which point people were misattributing the prayer to the Rev. Desmond Tutu. (But he’s not famous enough for misattribution now, I guess.) Some seem to think Tutu adapted Drake. But if he did use this prayer, he probably got it straight from his 1962 Ministers Manual.

Sigh. This is right up there with the idea that “Dream anyway” was composed by Mother Teresa, or that “Do not stand by the grave and weep” is an ancient Celtic poem.

Here’s an Elizabethan Protestant preacher’s actual style, from his propaganda book written for Drake, The World Encompassed. Take it away, Master Francis Fletcher:

“…. we safely with ioyfull minds and thankfull hearts to God, arrived at Plimoth, the place of our first setting forth, after we had spent 2 yeares 10 moneths and some few odde daies beside, in seeing the wonders of the Lord in the deep, in discouering so many admirable things, in going through with so many strange adventures, in escaping out of so many dangers, and ouercomming so many difficulties in this our encompassing of this neather globe, and passing round about the world, which we haue related.

“Soli rerum maximarum Effectori,
Soli totius mundi Gubernatori,
Soli suorum Conservatori,
Soli Deo sit semper Gloria.”


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Things I Was Right About, But Couldn’t Figure How to Prove….

I never really believed the “reading is always processed in the audial part of the brain” theory.

Folks from Georgetown do some messin’ about with brains.

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Ai Weiwei

One of China’s Internet celebrities speaks out about his experiences in a Chinese prison as a political prisoner. We also learn how the Chinese people are supporting him.

Via Instapundit.

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