An Incovenient Book by Glenn Beck

Sean Hannity is an obnoxious blowhard. Rush Limbaugh, as Al Franken so aptly put it, is A Big, Fat, Stupid Idiot. Glenn Beck, on the other hand, is a very funny guy. Although, I don't agree with everything he has ever said, anymore than I agree with Hannity or Limbaugh, or even Al Franken, for that matter, I can appreciate Beck as a comedian.

Of course, this book isn't about comedy, it's about political statements, all of which exposes his own predominately right-wing stance on issues. The book starts out with a disparaging dig at those who believe in "global warming", and ends with some very insightful comments on illegal immigration. In between is much of what is the usual diatribe against the left from the typical right-winger, but it is much easier to read coming from Beck, interspersed as it is with some self-deprecating commentary, and a dead-on viewpoint of how political correctness is a bunch of hogwash.

Some of it is somewhat naive, but hardly misunderstandable, given his avowed faith in the inherent honesty and forthrightness of human nature. I think the view he takes on minimum wage is particularly naive, given that those same kinds of entrepreneurs who are hurt by the existence of a mandatory minimum wage are the ones who also hire illegal immigrants at wages that are even substandard to that minimum wage.

Of course, in the end, it's all about money. You can pay $26 for this book or pay $35 for Al Franken's most recent book. Both are entertainingly funny, but both are also filled with as much indoctrination as possible to convince you not only are they right, but other side is just full of so much crap. Personally, I can't side with either one of them on all the issues, but that doesn't prevent me from objectively reading their books.

I give this one 7 stars.


Why Does Santa Wear Red? by Meera Lester

This little gem is alternatingly entertaining and sometimes a little boring. Being the kind of person that adores trivia, I picked it up to browse and was sucked in by the subject matter. But unless you want to know every aspect and every recipe for any traditional treats of the season, you might just want to keep it at the browsing level.

There isn't anything inherently wrong with the author's style, but a really good author, I've always said, can make you want to read, even if the subject matter is uninteresting. (David Halberstam, an historian of whom I've read much of his work, comes to mind.) But taken at its basest form, the book is still entertaining.

I give it 5 stars.


These Aren't My Pants by Daniel Butler and Alan Ray

Everybody does it. Paul Harvey often points out idiot criminals in his daily commentary. Any book compiled book of lists usually has a collection of some dumb crooks. When I was younger, there was a columnist in one of my father's NRA magazines who ended his column each month with a list of the stupidest of the month.

There seems to be an entire series of this particular book, but so far this is the only one I've found. And it is well worth the $2 I paid for it at the used book store. Daniel Butler, et. al., don't even need to clarify to make these stories laugh out loud hilarious. Some people are deserving of the Darwin Awards, if you've ever read any of those. I think there ought to be a special award for the dumbest crooks of the year, too.

Just by committing some of the acts contained herein should get them a special room at the jailhouse. One where the hardened criminals get to come by and point and laugh. Cruel? Probably. Unusual? Definitely. But it would be therapeutic, that's for sure.

Give this one 7 stars.


How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove

Being a lover of history in general, it was quite natural for me to find the science fiction subgenre of alternate history so appealing. One of the reasons was the number of good writers out there who write on the subject so well. Harry Turtledove was not my first foray into the genre (that honor goes to Philip K. Dick, author of The Man in the High Castle), but it was his work that kept me coming back to him. The first was The Guns of the South, a story totally unrelated to this one, in which the South was able to win the Civil War due to the intervention of mercenaries from the future bringing them AK47s.

Here, circumstances which had led to the North's victory in the real world did not happen the same way, and the South was ultimately successful in separating themselves and becoming an independent nation. That is the previous history, before the novel starts. At the beginning, Mexico has sold portions of its country to the Confederate States, giving the CSA a border that extends from Texas all the way to the Pacific.

People in the USA are not pleased with this and are chomping at the bit to go to war over th situation. What is really interesting is that most, if not all the characters are real people from the time period, including a Lincoln who was not assassinated, but had been unceremoniously voted out of office after the loss of the first Civil War. Many of these characters are entertaining to say the least. How Turtledove depicts Theodore Roosevelt is the most entertaing part of the book for me.

It is a disservice to give away the ending, I suppose, but in this case, I don't see how it could be a big surprise, since about 10 follow up sequels have been published. Over the course of the next couple of years, I hope to get around to reading and reviewing them too.

I rate this one 8 stars


Lost America by Troy Paiva

"Why," you may ask, "are you reveiwing a glorified coffee table book?" To which I would respond, "well, why not?" The writing is not on par with that of Friedrich Nietzsche, but then you will notice (if you backtrack the whole blog) my reading has not including Nietzsche. Nor for that matter anything even remotely resembling Nietzsche.

On the surface, the writing is not even comparable to, say, Stephen King. Of couse, if it were, the damn thing would be too big to put on something so fragile as a coffee table. But then, one doesn't pick up a coffee table book to read. One picks up a coffee table book to look at the pictures. In that respect, this is one of the best.

The scope here is limited to the southwest portion of America. The furthest east the photographs seem to go is western New Mexico, and they are predominently Californian in content. I have no idea how Paiva accomplished the lighting in most of his pictures, but they leave one with a feeling of haunted places, and somehow nostalgic for a bygone era. His eye must be keen, because I can visualize the places without his peculiar lighting andimagine them to be just run-of-the-mill deserted places.

As for the writing, it is not very well done, as I said, but that should not deter you from checking the book out simply for its splendid photography.

Give this one 6½ stars.

Rapid Update

Over the next few days, I will be adding at least one, and sometimes more book reports. I have been tied up with work, and even though I have continued reading, albeit at a slower pace, I haven't had time to update the website. Beassured I haven't taken a speed reading course. LOL


The Worst of Sports by Jesse Lamovsky; et. al.

The Worst of Sports is an entertaining ride into the lows of professional and college sports. The blunders from quotes of supposedly educated men. The weaselly tricks that some people will go to to eke out a win. The flubs when well thought out plays go awry. All of this is here and more.

There is a section on what are truly the worst trades in the business. There is a great section on the best come from behind wins, although here it is a derisive lambasting of the team who suffered defeat from those worst comeback losses. And at the end of the book is a list of many ignoble records that were not addressed in detail in the book. (My favorite: The Dallas Cowboys have the record for most consecutive losses. Take that, Cowboy fans!)

All of it is in digest form, we're not talking extremely long in depth analysis of each subject. It would make a great book to read while you are in the bathroom. Or if you choose to read it all in one sitting, because the style is so reader-friendly, it could probably be accomplished in a few hours.

I give this one 8 stars.