Thursday, January 04, 2007

This Woman Is A Rocket Scientist

No, it isn't a joke.

Summer Williams: Cheerleader. Aerospace Engineer for NASA.

The heads of geeks everywhere are exploding.


I just finished Jan Burke's Bloodlines, and all I can say is:

Dayum. I am in awe.

A large cast of characters that might have been confusing in lesser hands, a timeline that spans decades, a protagonist that doesn't make her appearance until almost halfway through the was like watching someone walk a tightrope while juggling chainsaws and talking on a cell phone. Drunk. And yet, by god, Jan Burke pulls it off and makes it look easy.

I bow down.

(crossposted to the comments section of Jan's blog)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cojones Bigger Than My Whole Head

New York Daily News:

Diving onto subway tracks, a Harlem father saved the life of a stranger yesterday when he pinned the flailing man between the rails just seconds before a 370-ton train roared over their entwined bodies.

"Please, sir, don't move," Wesley Autrey, 50, said as he shoved his body against Cameron Hollopeter, who had tumbled off the platform after suffering a seizure. "If you move, one of us is going to lose a leg or die."

The men, who were jammed face-to-face in a 2-foot depression between the tracks, were unharmed by the No. 1 train that screamed over them, just inches away.


Transit officials said the train operator reported to the rail control center that he saw a person on the roadbed upon entering the station. He made an emergency stop and found the men under the second car of the 10-car train.

"Am I dead?" Hollopeter asked, according to the man who saved his life. "Am I dead?"

"I said, 'No, we're under the train,'" Autrey recalled.

"'You're touching me. You feel me touching you? We're very much alive.'"

Autrey, who was trapped under the train for 20 minutes before workers turned off the power, said he could hear his daughters screaming.

"My daddy!" they hollered. "My daddy!"

Witnesses said Autrey began shouting at straphangers to be quiet so he could pass a message to his kids. The platform grew silent.

"Let my daughters know that I'm okay and that the man is okay!" he shouted, as onlookers broke into applause.

After the power was turned off, Autrey crawled to safety and used a step on the back of one of the subway cars to climb to safety. He emerged with grime on his right sleeve, hip and back. He said a grease stain on his hat came from being grazed by the bottom of the train.


Somebody Call Dave Robicheaux

La. mayor-elect's death ruled suicide: WESTLAKE, La. - Relatives of the town's first black mayor-elect, found shot to death three days before he was to take office, called for a state police investigation after the local coroner ruled his death a suicide.
Gerald Washington's body was found Saturday night in the parking lot of his former high school. He had been shot once in the chest, and a pistol was nearby, investigators said.
The Calcasieu Parish coroner and sheriff said Tuesday that their investigations had determined the 57-year-old former refinery worker and councilman had committed suicide.
There was no immediate indication of a motive, and no suicide note was found, but the handgun soot 'on the wound and in the depths of the wound' indicates that the gun barrel was touching Washington's torso when it went off, said Dr. Terry Welke, the coroner. 'That is what is usually seen in a self-inflicted gunshot wound,' he said.

Or, you know, somebody else jamming the gun against your body when they pull the trigger.

The mayor-elect's family did not accept the results, and asked for a state police investigation, Sheriff Tony Mancuso said.

Ya think?

'It is always hard for family members to believe a loved one caused their own death, and it was no different for the Washington family,' Mancuso said. 'When I met with them yesterday, I offered to turn this investigation over to the state police.

At that time, they indicated it was not necessary. However, this morning, they called to request that state police handle the investigation."

Let's see, black man in Louisiana with apparently everything to live for "shoots himself" for no apparent reason. Nope, nothing at all suspicious about that, move along, nothing to see here....

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Thank You, Gerald So!

So I'm catching up on all the bloggy goodness I've missed over the holidays, when what to my wondering eyes should appear...

Seems that Mystery Maven Gerald So, the Fiction Editor for The Thrilling Detective Web Site and moderator of the discussion lists DetecToday, Spenser's Sneakers, and CrimeSeen, has named The Devil's Right Hand one of his Best of 2006:

Rhoades's Jack Keller is the first hero in a long while to walk in the footsteps of Spenser and Elvis Cole and not be overshadowed.

Wow....that's quite a compliment. Thank you, Gerald!

Dems Refuse to Be Chumps, WaPo Disapproves

Well, one of my New Year's resolutions was not to get as pissed off over what I read in the papers. But it's hard to do when stuff like this is out there to make me crazy.

Today on, the so-called liberal Post takes the Democrats to task for supposedly reneging on pledges of bi-partisanship:

As they prepare to take control of Congress this week and face up to campaign pledges to restore bipartisanship and openness, Democrats are planning to largely sideline Republicans from the first burst of lawmaking...

Instead of allowing Republicans to fully participate in deliberations, as promised after the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, Democrats now say they will use House rules to prevent the opposition from offering alternative measures, assuring speedy passage of the bills and allowing their party to trumpet early victories.

You know, sort of like the Republicans have been doing since 1994.

Of course, they ignore the possible reasons for this, as set out in this quote from the New York Times:

Republicans are hoping Democrats stick to their guns and allow the minority a stronger voice on legislation. The opposition leadership said it would take the opportunity to put forward initiatives that could be potentially troublesome for newly elected Democrats in Republican-leaning districts who within months will have to defend their hard-won seats.

“There are going to be days when we will offer alternatives in ways that are going to be very appealing to Democrats in districts the president carried just two years ago,” said Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, who will be the second-ranking House Republican in the 110th Congress.

Republicans see the ability to force tough votes — which they avoided in the majority by stifling Democratic alternatives — as having two potential benefits: It can put vulnerable Democrats on record with positions that might not be popular at home, or it can fracture the untested Democratic majority.

IOW, the Republicans have indicated that they intend to take the olive branch and beat the Democrats over the head with it. But in the minds of the Beltway pundits, it's the Democrats who are being big meanies when they refuse to let it happen.

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 --The Year In Preview

The Latest Newspaper Column:

OK, I've got all my gear lined up. I've got my Tarot cards, I've got my Magic 8-Ball, I've even got my chicken entrails.
That means it's time once again for your Humble Columnist's fearless predictions for 2007:
January: The new Democratic-controlled Congress takes power.
In the first 100 hours, they enact the security recommendations of the 9/11 commission, raise the minimum wage, enact comprehensive lobbying reform, cut the interest rate on student loans in half, pass a bill to allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients, and broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds.
The mainstream media pronounce Speaker Pelosi's tenure a "failure" because, explains NBC's Judy Woodruff, "that's just what we do these days. Otherwise, Michelle Malkin and Sean Hannity might get mad, and we can't have that."
February: Sunni and Shiite militias take to the streets in open sectarian conflict, each group seizing command of key government ministries. When asked if this constitutes civil war in Iraq, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow twirls his parasol and answers, "Fiddle-dee-dee! There isn't going to be any war!"
March: Failed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a joint awards ceremony with former FEMA Director Michael "Brownie" Brown. "You guys did a heckuva a job," President Bush tells the award recipients. The moment is widely considered the low point in both men's careers.
April: Rising sea levels cause several inhabited islands in the South Pacific to sink beneath the surface of the ocean. In an interview, Vice President Dick Cheney announces that global warming is in its "last throes" before shooting the interviewer in the face.
May: As casualties, both American and Iraqi, reach their highest levels ever in the bloodiest month of sectarian conflict in the Middle East, President Bush does a skit at the National Press Club Dinner where he peers under tables and the podium, chuckling, "No civil war here! No civil war under here!" The national press pronounces it "the funniest thing since the Marx Brothers" and denounces those who call the joke callous and insensitive as "anti-fun nanny-state liberals."
June: In a college commencement address, Sen. John Kerry asks, "How many Bush administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb? Give up? None! They can't admit that it's dark!" Six weeks of media furor ensue over Kerry's use of the words "give up" and whether he meant that as an "insult to the troops."
July: The National Political Humorists' Guild issues an open letter to John Kerry pleading with him not to attempt any more jokes.
August: A leaked Pentagon report states that Iraq has "definitely been in a state of civil war" since late 2006. When asked about the report and whether the administration has changed its opinion about the Iraqi situation, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow replies that the president hasn't read the report. When a reporter notes that the Pentagon sent the report to the White House in March, Snow accuses him of partisanship. "Everyone knows the partisan bias of calendars, so asking about the passage of time is clearly a partisan question," Snow asserts to the dumbfounded White House Press Corps.
September: A Congressional investigation turns up shocking evidence that Vice President Cheney's staff had, since mid-2006, been cruising the streets kidnapping hobos and bringing them to the vice president so he could shoot them in the face. "After that guy in Texas, well, it just got good to him," one witness testifies.
Republican pundits and bloggers denounce the Democratic Party over the Cheney story, claiming that, while the story is admittedly completely true, the Democrats are at fault for withholding it until September for maximum political effect. "Can you prove they didn't do that?" Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina triumphantly asks Wolf Blitzer. When Blitzer asks McHenry how releasing the story in September 2007 creates any kind of political timing, McHenry rolls his eyes and calls Blitzer "another one of those calendar-obsessed liberals."
November: Sunni and Shiite forces don blue and gray uniforms, pick up muskets, and start marching in line to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Dixie." The Bush White House finally admits, "Well, maybe you might call what's going on in Iraq a civil war." "Finally!" exclaims radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, doffing his wool uniform. "We were beginning to wonder what it would take before those bozos finally admitted it. Oh, by the way, death to America."
December: Melting of the polar ice caps causes Santa's Workshop to plunge to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. George W. Bush predicts that in the future, the death by drowning of Santa and all his reindeer and the subsequent cancellation of Christmas will be regarded by historians as "just a comma."
Well, there you have it. Not a pretty picture, I'll admit, but don't blame me, blame the future. I don't create it, I just predict it.
Now, can someone tell me how to get leftover chicken entrails out of the rug?