Summer Reading, etc.

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Is the Sun Waking Up?

As the Sun moves through its natural 11-year cycle, in which its activity rises and falls, sunspots rise and fall in number, too. Currently, scientists are paying close attention to the sunspot number as it’s key to determining the dates of solar minimum, which is the official start of Solar Cycle 25. This new sunspot activity could be a sign that the Sun is possibly revving up to the new cycle and has passed through minimum.

A solar minimum is only recognizable in hindsight: It could take six to 12 months after the fact to confirm when minimum has actually passed.

Scientists need long-term data to build a picture of the Sun’s overall trends through the solar cycle. Commonly, that means the number we use to compare any given month is the average sunspot number from six months both backward and forward in time — meaning that right now, we can confidently characterize what October 2019 looks like compared to the months before it (there were definitely fewer sunspots!), but not yet what November looks like compared to that.

On May 29, at 3:24 a.m. EST, a relatively small M-class solar flare blazed from these sunspots. It was the first M-class flare since October 2017.


Better to Read on your Happy Hour?

Summer reading reviews

Tough, hard-boiled, and brilliantly suspenseful, The Last Good Kiss is an unforgettable detective story starring C. W. Sughrue, a Montana investigator who kills time by working at a topless bar. Hired to track down a derelict author, he ends up on the trail of a girl missing in Haight-Ashbury for a decade. 

First sentence of the book:

“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bull dog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.”

The book has that alcohol-violence-drugs thing going on. I don’t know that it’s for all readers and the reviews follow that.

The Cold Six Thousand

In this savagely audacious novel, James Ellroy plants a pipe bomb under the America in the 1960s, lights the fuse, and watches the shrapnel fly. On November 22, 1963 three men converge in Dallas. Their job: to clean up the JFK hit’s loose ends and inconvenient witnesses. They are Wayne Tedrow, Jr., a Las Vegas cop with family ties to the lunatic right; Ward J. Littell, a defrocked FBI man turned underworld mouthpiece; and Pete Bondurant, a dope-runner and hit-man who serves as the mob’s emissary to the anti-Castro underground.

This book was recommended to me by the Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Las Vegas in the early 2000’s when I was running the Organized Crime/Grand Jury unit of the Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s Office. I recently revisited the book/story and found it to be as engaging as it was 20 years ago.  As with The Last Good Kiss, it’s a book with a dark, and yet earthy theme. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes.


Burning Books

Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore was the oldest independent science fiction bookstore in America, founded in 1974 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On May 30 the store was attacked by one or more arsonists, and burned to the ground. The event occurred during the ongoing riots and looting.

Striking a blow for social justice and a crippling setback for the forces of repression and racism, the looters of Minneapolis were proud to announce that they burned both Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore and the adjacent Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore to the ground.

From a Reporter at the Scene: “This is a great day and a step forward in liberating the people of Minneapolis from the police tyranny and brutality,” said one anonymous rioter. “Everyone knows these purveyors of paperbacks and mind-numbing dribble are merely puppets and pawns of the police-state peddling their perfidious and pernicious manuscripts to lull the sheeples into compliance,” she said while trying to stuff a gasoline-soaked rag into the throat of a wine bottle filled with gasoline, while she smoked a joint. “Those f____g donut shops will be next. Then the pigs will have nowhere to hide.” She wiped her gas covered hands on her blue jeans, smoothed back her blonde hair to reveal her blue eyes, took a puff on her joint, and smiled. “Remember this is all in the memory of what’s-his-name who was killed by the cops here, I think. Who-hoo! Up the revolution, bro’s!”

22 thoughts on “Summer Reading, etc.

  1. What that “anarchist” person with the “Another World Is Possible” sign fails to recognize (or perhaps acknowledge) is that WE also know another world is possible, and that he and his ilk wouldn’t be in it.

  2. Looks like another couple books I’ll need to check out.
    I doubt those masked idiots have any idea just what fascism is.

  3. It’s time for the roof Koreans to come out. They burned Uncle Hugo’s bookstore in Minneapolis, which was the oldest SF bookstore in the US!

    1. Do I have to be an ethnic Korean to be a “Roof Korean”? The question is a serious one. Could a Korean family adopt me? Is “honorary Korean” an option?

      There were a lot of the animals in Phoenix who were threatening to “break into homes and rape white women”. I just saw it as an opportunity for the off-duty cops to find a place to bed down.

      1. Mmmm……”do I have to be ethnic Korean etc.”……would that be cultural misappropriation or a simple case of self-identification, do you think? I’m a little too old to keep up with the finer points of these social constructs and need some moral guidance.

        1. WWW – as I wrote below, I don’t think that it’s cultural appropriation if you self-identify (gender fungible). If you self-identify as a 15 year old Eskimo lesbian, that’s what you are.

      2. I think when it comes to protecting our families and our livelihoods, it is fair to say “Today we are all Roof Koreans”. But I’m not a Korean. If you like I can ask the Pretty Korean Girl for a judgment on whether you can be an honorary Korean. I suspect the answer will be “yes” seeing as she’s told me “You’re not Asian, you’re a redneck.” I don’t see that the two are mutually incompatible, but it’s also not worth arguing about.

        Anyway, and somewhat surprisingly, PKG was unaware of the “Roof Korean” meme until I sent her a GIF. But she does report that there is considerable pride back home in the ROK regarding the conduct of the Roof Koreans. Actually it sounds like they’ve been mythologized into considerably larger than life, given some of the tales she’s told me. (But maybe they’re true? You’re certainly in a better position to know about that stuff than I.)

        1. During the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, a number of Koreans took their scoped rifles to the roofs of their convenience stores and protected them by shooting inner city people. LAPD was too busy to respond. Two days later the Coroner’s vans came and scooped up the meat. A half hearted investigation couldn’t locate any suspects and the “Legend of the Roof Korean” was born.

          I’ve known a lot of ROK’s and worked with the ROK SEALs at Squadron 56 many years ago. I have many photo with my ROK brothers in uniform. I can’t imagine a situation where they’d find my presence on the roof with them to be “cultural appropriation”. Of course it would devolve into a shooting competition since there was open season (no bag limit).

  4. Apparently it has already started in Portland; my wife just called to tell me she has left downtown.

    I will not write more of my feelings about those people (?) so that nothing is in writing.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

  5. I can recommend these:
    “The Last Lion” biography of Winston Churchill in 3 volumes by William Manchester (Vol 3 by Paul Reid.)
    “The Once and Future King” by TH White. King Arthur with some lovely anachronisms.

    1. If you ever get the chance I highly recommend attending Ellroy’s readings (if he still does them). What a character; and a family entertainer (if your family is the Manson family). He’s a hoot!

      I lived near Vroman’s in Pasadena CA where he ‘performed’ frequently, promoting his latest work (or his ex-wife’s).

      Oh look he’s got a 2019 release:

      I miss browsing a good book store; not sure if they still exist.

      1. I think that Ellroy has retired. He is a national treasure.

        I have a problem with old book stores. I go in, I stay, I buy several books. I go eat lunch, I return, they tell me they’re closing. I take several more books to the cash register. The day is gone.

        1. Just checked, and Ellroy’s website indicates he toured in 2019 (under Appearances). Gives me hope.

  6. Crumley is great, it’s a damn shame he wrote so few books in his lifetime. Of course, his favored town has now become a trendy resort destination, with almost nothing between Beautiful People
    and Rock Bottom, so he’s probably a lot more peaceful not having to see it.

    Leonard is also a solid choice.

    The death of Uncle Hugo’s is a damn shame. Unfortunately, the MPD seems worthless either in time of peace or time of strife.

    1. Crumley is a fun read. And for some of us who have dabbled in that sort of life from time to time, it’s a flashback.

      MPD is worthless.

  7. May I suggest “Days of Rage” by Bryan Burroughs.

    It covered the foot soldiers of the coming revolutionary vanguard of the 1970’s.
    I as amazed how incredibly simplistic, naive and flat out stupidly insane their “political theory” was when it was described by Mr. Burroughs.

    I wished he had reported more on the support network for these revolutionary foot soldiers. He mentioned that Bill Ayers was hiding out in a California beach house, which wasn’t cheap.

    I wonder who is supporting Antifa?

    1. I don’t know who is funding ANTIFA. I’m sure that the DNC is using proxies and then there are big corporate interests who would have preferred that the TPP treaty be implemented. Who is advising Slow Joe Biden? Really. That would be a good hint.

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