Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Thursday, May 28, 2009
A Question for Judge Sotomayor
Given that you, ma'am, have determined that judicial wisdom is racially or experientially relative with this quote:
    I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
Could you please elaborate on the complete hierarchy of wisdom and jurisprudence in your worldview. For example, where do blacks and Asian-ancestored people fall? Are they above white males (probably) but below Hispanics? Also, how do substrata within the ethnic groups fall, for example Korean versus Pakistani or Mexican (Aztec-influenced) versus Guatamalan (more Mayan in identity)? Aside from national origin, are there other hardship modifiers to calculate, such as physical handicaps or socio-economic upbringing? For example, does a Caribbean with a limp trump the son of a Panamanian business leader?

As a white male blogger and hence probably less wise than a well-trained golden retriever, I'd like the complete scale to make sure we're not settling for someone who is limited to the middle of the wisdom scale.

Monday, May 25, 2009
Book Report: On Monday We Killed Them All by John D. MacDonald (1961)
Wow, if I'd known this first edition paperback was so valuable, perhaps I would not have cracked the spine. Internet prices for it range between $30 and $200. Who am I kidding? This is a John D. MacDonald book. My first of the year, I might add.

A small town cop picks his brother-in-law up at prison, where he's served a five year sentence for manslaughter. The brother-in-law, like the wife, comes from the hill country, so he's tough, but he's also mean unlike the wife of the cop. It puts the cop in a bind, because the wife hopes the brother will reform and the cop knows he won't and that he's planning something. Something that starts with a prisonbreak.

As always, it's a quick, engaging read from MacDonald. The characters are complex and the moral and philosophical questions require the characters to wrestle with their lives and their identities. I thought the end was a bit abrupt, though, and simplistic, but it does give the novel a compelling title.

Books mentioned in this review:

On Monday We Killed Them All

Sunday, May 24, 2009
Book Report: Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse by John Wesley, Rawles (2006)
Set in the near future, this book describes an internal collapse of the United States scenario where hyperinflation triggers looting, rioting, and general lawlessness throughout the country. A group of survivalists meet up at the Idaho farm of the group's leader to weather the storm and ultimately help revive the United States.

I know this book gets a lot of cachet amongst the gunbloggers and Heinleinists out there, but as a novel, it's a little weak. Okay, it reads like someone explaining his Twilight: 2000. We get the history of the preceding years of the group, their training, a rundown of their individual skills (scores), the preparation to the home in complete detail, and then the party assembles. Various members show up and debrief with their exciting stories of escape, presented not as narrative nor as flashbacks but as people debriefing. Then other members with unique and desirable skills show up. Then a couple of things happen where they defend the compound. Then they get some missions outside the compound, and the characters equip--in lavish detail--and go on the mission. Then the missions become disjointed, and we get an end that probably is intended as homage to Atlas Shrugged.

I bought the extended version of the book, so I might have paid extra for more exposition, particularly the preparatory work at the beginning that would disengage a casual reader. The book is chock full of good survival ideas, but the narrative lacks in pretty fundamental areas. It's readable, though, so I guess that's a testament to Rawles's writing ability.

Books mentioned in this review:

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."