Thursday, April 21, 2011

Achtung!

I notice from the reports I get via Amazon that my e-book titles appear to be available now in the German Kindle store (or as they say it, "Kindle-shop"). Note that these are not, however, German translations. Sehr Gut!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy Series #1)My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Boy, does this book need an editor. There's actually a pretty good mystery here, but it's buried under layers of tedious exposition, unnecessary description, and especially Stieg Larsson's transparent Mary Sue-ism.

For those who aren't familiar with the term, a "Mary Sue" is a derogatory term in fan fiction for a character that is just a little too good to be true, and who is clearly an avatar of the writer. A Mary Sue character's painfully obvious purpose is fantasy fulfillment for said writer.

In this case, the late Stieg Larsson, a middle-aged Swedish magazine writer, has penned a novel about...a middle-aged Swedish magazine writer. Every woman in the book, including the title character, wants to sleep with him, because he's such a nice, mellow, undemanding guy. He solves a mystery that no one else could. After he solves the mystery, he spends a completely unnecessary 100+ more pages getting his revenge against people who were mean to him at the beginning of the book. And so on.

All that said, once the story actually gets going, it's interesting enough to keep you reading. I did finish it, but I doubt that I'll be reading the next two. I'll take a friend's advice and just watch the movies on Netflix.

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 17, 2011

So Government CAN Create Jobs?

Latest Newspaper Column:

Hey, remember when it was an article of faith for Republicans that government couldn’t create jobs?

Remember how back in those days, the speaker of the House, Bawlin’ John Boehner, said in the weekly Republican address to the nation, “Small businesses are the engine of job creation in America; they actually create jobs, the government doesn’t”?

Wow, I remember that like it was just last week. Well, actually, it was two weeks ago, but who’s counting?

Boehner was just following the party line set by former GOP Chairman Michael Steele, who stated unequivocally back during the heated debate over the stimulus bill that “not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job.”

Well, apparently, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham didn’t get that memo. Graham pitched a hissy fit last week over the fact that the recent budget deal that prevented a government shutdown left out a project dear to his heart: a $50,000 study on deepening the port of Charleston.

Now, 50K may not seem like a whole lot of money in a trillion-plus-dollar budget. But the lack of that money sent Graham so ballistic that he threatened to “tie the Senate in knots” and block every one of President Obama’s pending nominations if he didn’t get it back. Reports that he would hold his breath till he turned blue could not be confirmed at press time.

Of course, the actual deepening of the port and the channel would cost a heck of a lot more than 50,000 smackers; in fact, the estimate at this point is $350 million. The $50,000 would just be for the study on whether the port should be deepened to accommodate bigger cargo ships. In my ongoing campaign that I call “I’ll Do It For Half That,” I will answer that question “Yes,” but only if the government sends me $25,000. Cash or cashier’s check preferred.

When questioned as to why this little chunk of pork was worth tying the Senate in knots over, Graham apparently forgot the doctrine that government spending is useless for job creation. Federal spending on the port of Charleston, he asserted, would create jobs.

“If you’re a Republican and you want to create jobs, then you need to invest in infrastructure that will allow us to create jobs,” he said. “How can you create jobs by shutting a port down that 260,000 people depend on?”

It’s just another example of the cognitive dissonance that allowed 114 politicians, almost all of them Republicans, to bitterly oppose the stimulus package, vote against it, wail after it passed that it was the Death of the Republic — then not only to accept stimulus funds for projects in their districts, but to take credit for bringing those projects home and, in some cases, actually attend the ribbon-cutting for those projects.

Because remember, to a tea partier, it’s not “government spending” if money or services flow to them. To a politician, it’s only “pork” or “earmarks” if it goes to someone else’s district. And to all Republicans, it’s “job-killing” if it’s something President Obama wants; it’s “job-creating” if it’s something they want, and never mind the reality.

This may be why, according to a recent poll by the organization Public Policy Polling, “after a little more than three months in charge, House Republicans have fallen so far out of favor with the American public that it’s entirely possible Democrats could take back control of the House next year.”

According to the most recent PPP survey, “43 percent of voters think that House Republicans are doing a worse job now than the Democrats did, compared to only 36 percent who think the GOP has brought an improvement,” and that “46 percent of voters say that if there was an election for Congress today they would vote Democratic, compared to only 41 percent who would vote Republican.”

So, new bosses who look just the same as the old boss, let me ask you the question I heard ad nauseum during the first two years of the Obama Presidency: How’s that change thing workin’ for ya?