Saturday, February 07, 2009

Informed Commentary

Down below there's a post on 20 movie sequels that are better than the originals.  Over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, Ivan G. Shreve, Jr., offers some informed commentary.

E-book Update

Elgan: Here comes the e-book revolution: "February 7, 2009 (Computerworld) At what temperature do electronic books catch fire? We're going to find out sometime this year. E-book sales are about to ignite.

On Monday, is expected to unveil a new version of its Kindle reader. It will probably be a lot better and a little cheaper than the first version. But the real news already broke this week: A company spokesman announced that Amazon plans to offer Kindle books on cell phones.

This news countered Google's announcement that the 1.5 million public domain books available on its Google Book Search offering will soon be available (free, of course) via a new cell phone application."

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

Wanna Get Away?

The man who helps people disappear - Times Online: "As the world’s number one “privacy expert”, Ahearn is in such demand that his website, (aka, with its useful subsections entitled “Keys to Disappearing”, “Offshore Information”, etc, gets up to 90 hits a day. “For a lot of people, disappearing is just one of those ‘what-if’ fantasies, but out of those 90, around half a dozen will contact me seriously wanting advice on how to start over some place else.”

As the recession deepened, Ahearn began receiving so many e-mails from people who wanted to disappear, or insulate their dwindling assets, he has just published an 80-page guide called How to Disappear and Fall off the Grid... which can be downloaded for $19.99 (�14) from his website. “We’re selling around 40 a week, most of them to people who work in the finance sector or related industries in America, the UK, all over Europe and Russia.”"

A Day in the Life of Donald Hamilton

Understanding Adobe - "Ed Crocker | For The New Mexican

2/1/2009 - 2/1/09

Donald Hamilton, for those who may not know, died in 2007 in Sweden at the age of 91. Don was one of the 'hard-boiled' writers of mystery and noir who is often listed alongside Spillane, Prather and MacDonald. Among his early works were westerns, of which The Big Country is the most famous, but Don was most widely known for the Matt Helm thrillers whose secret-agent hero has been called the American James Bond. The first book in that series was entitled Death of a Citizen."

Paris Hilton, Scrapbooker

Paris Hilton Does Scrapbooking! From Scrapbooks etc.�: "Paris Hilton made a stunning revelation last week: She scrapbooks.

“I have always loved scrapbooking since I was a little girl,” Hilton admitted. “I always make scrapbooks for my friends and my boyfriends, and it’s just something I’ve been doing for years.”

Hilton was at the Craft and Hobby Association trade show in Anaheim, Calif., to unveil her new scrapbooking line, the Creativity Collection, which she developed with Wooky Entertainment, a Canadian manufacturer of creative activities for the teen and tween market."

A Day in the Life of Donald Hamilton

Very interesting article if you're a fan of Hamilton's work, as I certainly am. Click here.

Hat tip to Jeremy Duns of the spynovels list.

Gator Update (Druggie Edition) - Local - Alligator wrangling just part of the job: "Police encountered a small alligator when they searched the home of two accused drug dealers.

Halton police say they also ran into pythons and boa constrictors when they searched the Prospect Street home of the suspects yesterday morning."

I have no idea how many times I've posted articles about alligators being found at the homes of accused drug dealers, but they keep on coming.

Quote of the Day on my Google Homepage

At least half the mystery novels published violate the law that the solution, once revealed, must seem to be inevitable.
- Raymond Chandler


Friday, February 06, 2009

James Whitmore, R. I. P.

James Whitmore dies at 87; veteran actor brought American icons to life - Los Angeles Times: "James Whitmore, the veteran Tony- and Emmy-winning actor who brought American icons Will Rogers, Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt to life in one-man shows, died Friday. He was 87.

Whitmore died of lung cancer at his home in Malibu, said his son, Steve. He was diagnosed with the disease a week before Thanksgiving.

'He cared about acting; his whole life was dedicated to the theater and to movies,' said actor David Huddleston, a longtime friend who appeared in Whitmore's 1964 movie 'Black Like Me' and did a couple of plays with him. 'I asked James Cagney one time to tell me the best thing you can about acting. He said never to get caught at it. That's kind of how I'd sum up Jim Whitmore.'"

This Time, Tennessee Leads the Way

Man competent enough to be declared insane :
Local News : Knoxville News Sentinel
: "A diagnosed schizophrenic accused of attacking Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers is medicated enough to be mentally competent enough to be declared insane, according to a Thursday hearing."

Hat tip to Rusty Burke.

Life Imitates "Art"

Re-enactor Is Indicted in Shooting of a Yankee - "The mysterious shooting of a would-be Yankee cavalryman from the Bronx during the filming of a Civil War re-enactment in Virginia in September has been solved, according to the authorities, with the indictment of a latter-day Johnny Reb who, they say, accidentally fired a .44-caliber ball from an 1860 Army Colt pistol that was supposed to be empty."

They should read that classic novel Murder in the Mist by Willard Scott.

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris Hilton shilling for cheap hosiery?  Say it ain't so!  Photo right here.

Hat tip to Kara Boulden.

No Comment Department

Teste Touch is a Gigantic Interactive NutSack � "The Teste Touch is an interactive art exhibit that’s got some serious balls. These giant size testicles react to touch and temperature. They can retract and ascend. It takes a big sack to attempt to create the world’s largest balls and get school credit for it."

Video at the link, which is via Dave Barry's blog.

Into the Blue

Seeing Red: Tweak Your Brain With Colors | Wired Science from "For an all-natural brain boost, skip the pills and hit the colors.

In the latest and most authoritative study on color's cognitive effects, test subjects given attention-demanding tasks did best when primed with the color red. Asked to be creative, they responded best to blue."

Link via Neatorama.

20 Movie Sequels that were Better than the Originals

20 sequels that were better than the original - Times Online: "Whenever a movie sequel is announced, the cry that Hollywood has run out of ideas won't be far behind: But which are the follow-ups that buck the trend?"

Update: For some informed commentary, click here.

Forgotten Books: AFTERNOON OF A LOSER -- Tom Pace

How'd you like to have gotten this blurb on your first novel? "The best first mystery novel I've read in the thirty years since The Big Sleep" -- Ross Macdonald. Wow. However, I have to say that Afternoon of a Loser, while a dandy book, doesn't quite live up to that commentary.

It's the story of a couple of cousins, Sam and Mark Donaldson. Mark has just been released from prison after serving 9 years for a murder he says he didn't commit. In the meantime, Sam has married Mark's ex-wife, the woman for whom lots of people believe Mark took the fall. Maybe even Sam believes that, because if Mark's innocent, who's guilty?

The setting is central Florida, not far from the Sebring race track, where Tom and Mack both once drove. There are some fine racing scenes and plenty of other well-done local color. Lots of tension and suspense, too. In fact, this book is so good that reading it is almost like finding a John D. MacDonald novel you've never read before. (MacDonald gave Pace a rave blurb for a later book.)

I suspect that Afternoon of a Loser is a truly forgotten book and that very few people other than me remember reading it forty years ago in its first edition. It's well worth picking up if you see it lying around in some dusty bookstore.

Scream Blacula Scream

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Happy Birthday, Claude King!

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Hardware Store Offers Bush Job as Greeter |
NBC Dallas-Fort Worth
: "Many may be familiar with the Wal-Mart greeter; the kind smiling individual standing at the opening of one of those mega-stores, ready to say hello. But DFW residents who know their nuts and bolts also know Elliott's Hardware's greeting force, who're often the perfect sage to ask, 'Where can I find a plunger?' as you walk into the store in pants wet up to your ankles.

Now Elliott's has their sights set on a very specific candidate for adding to their greeting group: Former President George W Bush."

Python Update

The Nature Conservancy in Florida - Stopping a Burmese Python Invasion: "The Nature Conservancy’s Florida Keys “Python Patrol” grew stronger when 12 new snake catchers were trained January 26 to respond to sightings called in by the Keys-wide Eyes and Ears patrol.

This task force of patrollers and responders is fighting an invasion of Burmese pythons into the Florida Keys, first discovered in April 2007 on Friday the 13th.

The Burmese pythons have swum more than 6 miles to the Florida Keys from Florida's Everglades National Park — infested with a population of more than 10,000 snakes. The problem started more than 10 years ago because of a few released pets."

Hat tip to Angela Crider.

Snuggie Update: Awesome or useless? | RedEye | Home

The Snuggie: Awesome or useless? | RedEye | Home

I report, you decide.

New Issue of Gumshoe Review Now On-Line

Gumshoe February 2009

GPS Update

GPS-Laced Footballs to Offer Keen Play by Play: Discovery News: "Jan. 30, 2009 -- Of all the plays that could befall her beloved Pittsburgh Steelers during Sunday's Super Bowl game against the Arizona Cardinals, the one kind that really irks Priya Narasimhan is when she can't see the ball.

That's one impetus behind an engineering project she's overseeing at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to embed footballs with satellite-based positioning sensors."

And You Thought Snow and Ice were Bad

Crocodiles feared to be roaming floodwaters in northeastern Australia -- "SYDNEY (AP) — As if torrents washing through homes and sweeping away furniture wasn't scary enough. Authorities in storm-battered northeastern Australia warned residents Wednesday to beware of crocodiles roaming the floodwaters covering large parts of Queensland."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston may ban tall-tree planting under lines | Top stories | - Houston Chronicle: "For years, utility companies admonished people to “look before you dig” when getting ready for a backyard project. City Council on Wednesday may add a little direction to that for those planting trees: Look up.

A proposed ordinance before council would prohibit the planting of tall trees, including live oaks, under power lines. The measure originally was intended to strengthen existing rules to protect trees in public rights of way from being cut down or hacked up by developers.

But the proposed ban on planting live oaks under electric lines — a last-minute addition to the measure — has a vocal group of tree lovers dismayed. Their main complaint centers on the live oak’s usefulness for hiding power lines."

Paging Conan

Giant snake: Fossil of 43-foot super snake Titanoboa found in Colombia - Los Angeles Times: "Researchers excavating a coal mine in South America have found the fossilized remains of the mother of all snakes, a nightmarish tropical behemoth as long as a school bus and as heavy as a Volkswagen Beetle."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wild West Monday Promo


Check it out.

And the Seventh Seal Was Opened

Vivica A. Fox To Host TV Land's 'The Cougar' - Starpulse Entertainment News Blog: "Vivica A. FoxVivica A. Fox will host the upcoming TV Land original series 'The Cougar,' a one-hour elimination dating series set to premiere in April on TV Land PRIME.

Executive produced by Mike Fleiss ('The Bachelor') and Warner Horizon Television, 'The Cougar' is an eight-episode series in which an accomplished, beautiful and sexy woman hunts for love from a pool of eligible younger men."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Record-Breaking Breasts | NBC New York: "But Hershey was forced to settle with her FFF mosquito bites because 'the state of Texas has limits on the amount of silicone that can be injected into breast implants,' noted ABC. Reading this, we found ourselves impressed by Texas, because we didn't think it was the kind of state to impose limits on such things, what with the Dallas Cowboys cherleaders and the state priding itself on everything being bigger there and whatnot.

But, as Hershey discovered through diligent research, they have no such restraint in Brazil! And so now, after a ninth surgery, she's the proud owner of both a 38KKK bust (according to Britain's Daily Star) and the world record for largest breasts. We wonder if Guinness has a category for worst back pain."

Thanks to David Cranmer for the link.

Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue?

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Peggy Sue got where?: "Buddy Holly died 50 years ago, but his music lives on, including his hit Peggy Sue. But who was it about and what's it like to be immortalised in a popular song? Caroline Frost meets the real Peggy Sue."

Karin TarQwyn, Pet Detective

Pet detective specializes in finding lost dogs (w/video) | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "Submitted by Karin TarQwyn

Karin TarQwyn is one of the few licensed private detectives in the country who specializes in finding lost dogs.

A pampered Dachshund named Dazzle slips under a backyard fence in Pearland and scampers off for an adventure as fast as her short legs can take her.

And now she’s a lost dog with her frantic owner Gerry Thornton looking everywhere.

Enter pet detective Karin TarQwyn. She is one of the few licensed private detectives in the country who specializes in finding lost dogs. In the four years in the business, she’s been involved in more than 1,500 cases."

World's Largest Sundial?

Light thrown on Pantheon - Science - NZ Herald News: "A New Zealand researcher has found - 2000 years after it was built - that the ancient Roman temple known as the Pantheon may play the role of a colossal sundial.

The temple in Rome, completed in AD128, is a cylindrical chamber topped by a domed roof with a skylight in the top which lets through a dramatic shaft of sunlight.

But New Scientist reported Otago University's Professor Robert Hannah - an expert in Roman art, 'archaeo-astronomy' and ancient calendar systems - has discovered the Pantheon may have been more than just a temple."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Duncanville council member wants to re-evaluate red-light camera policy | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Breaking News for Dallas-Fort Worth | Dallas Morning News: "A Duncanville City Council member wants to re-evaluate how the city issues citations to red-light runners and make it easier for suspected violators to request a jury trial.

Paul Ford questions the nearly 45,000 citations issued in 2008 at four intersections monitored by cameras. Compared with Duncanville's population of 38,500, he said, the number of citations seems excessive."

Mike Ripley's L:atest Shots Magazine Column Now On-Line

Lots of news, as usual. Click here.

Black Moon Rising

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Super Bowl pitch for adultery finds market in Houston | Front page | - Houston Chronicle: "Football fans are used to outrageous ads on Super Bowl Sunday, but a 30-second pitch for adultery had Monday-morning quarterbacks buzzing.

“Infidelity is a form of betrayal, and the idea of portraying betrayal as an answer to relationship problems is mind-boggling,” said family therapist Tim Louis in Houston.

He was referring to the $250,000 spot for, an online dating service for married folk.

The ad, deemed inappropriate by NFL and NBC officials, ran only in Texas. It showed a couple celebrating their anniversary at a white tablecloth restaurant. The man blew his nose, answered his cell phone, then stood up to leave in the middle of dessert."

Just What the World Needs. . .

. . . More poison frogs.

Ten new species of amphibian discovered in Colombia - Telegraph: "A spiky orange rain frog and three poison frogs are among 10 new species of amphibian discovered in Colombia, scientists have revealed."

Janet Evanovich Could Have Told Them This

Plums 'are new super-food and full of disease-fighting antioxidants' | Mail Online: "Plums are being heralded as the new 'super-food' by scientists. They found the purple fruit matched or exceeded blueberries in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help prevent disease.

Researcher Dr David Byrne, of AgriLife Research, said tests revealed one plum contains about the same amount of antioxidants as a handful of blueberries."

Santo vs. the Martians

Monday, February 02, 2009

Thuglit Issue #29 Now On-Line

Thuglit Issue #29

Looks like a great line-up, as it usually is. Check it out.

Looks Like I Got out of the Job Market Just in Time

Is a GED More Valuable Than a PhD? | Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace | AlterNet: "For six years, Rebekah slaved at Boston University for her PhD in American Studies. Her plan: work in New York as a museum curator. She pictured chatty, engrossing interviews with like-minded creative types. “Everyone would be so pleased” with her PhD, she thought. Yet eight months after graduating, Rebekah is unemployed and considering a gig at a public library that requires only a GED."

Somewhere the Four Horsemen are Saddling Up

CBS picks up arranged-marriage series--The Live Feed: "CBS is treading into potentially controversial reality TV territory again.

The network has ordered a new series from the producers of 'Top Chef' that puts lovelorn singles into arranged marriages.

The show introduces four adults age approximately 25-45 who are anxious to get married but have been unsuccessful in their search for a mate. Their friends and family select a spouse for them, and the newly paired couple exchange marital vows. The series follows their marriages."

Archaeology Update

Albania: Ancient wreck hunt in once forbidden sea - International Herald Tribune: "SARANDA, Albania: Once Europe's most forbidding coast, this sparkling stretch of the Ionian Sea is slowly revealing lost treasures that date back 2,500 years and shipwrecks from ancient times.

Over the past two summers, a research ship carrying U.S. and Albanian experts has combed the waters off southern Albania inch by inch, using scanning equipment and submersible robots to seek ancient wrecks. In what organizers say is the first archaelogical survey of Albania's seabed, at least five sites were located, which could fill in blanks on ancient shipbuilding techniques."

A Long, Long Time Ago . . .

He Knew what the Decision Would Be

City must rehire officer | | FLORIDA TODAY: "An appeals court denied West Melbourne's request for a rehearing in a lawsuit won by a former police officer who was fired for calls made to a psychic hot line.

In a one-sentence decision, the 5th District Court of Appeal denied the appeal for a rehearing filed by the city Dec. 22 after the court determined former police Officer Bryon Park should have been reinstated with back pay in September 1998. The lawsuit has been the subject of 10 years of legal wrangling.

Park, a nine-year veteran of the department, was making $33,000 a year when he was fired. Without factoring in cost-of-living adjustments and other benefits, back pay could top $330,000, according to his attorney's calculations."

Santo vs. the Vampire Women

Sunday, February 01, 2009

John the Toilet , R. I. P.

John the toilet laid to rest at Utah restaurant | "CENTERVILLE, Utah — John, a porcelain commode gunned down in an accidental shooting at a fast food restaurant's bathroom, has died. His age was not immediately known.

The toilet was shattered by a bullet Jan. 12 when a man's gun fell from its holster as he was pulling up his pants, police said. Police do not plan to file criminal charges in connection with the incident.

Christian Martinez, manager of the Carl's Jr. where John was gunned down, held a memorial service Friday at the restaurant. He gave away bottles of John's favorite toilet cleaner, Kaboom Bowl Blaster, to the eatery's first 50 patrons.

A Bountiful flower shop provided a large floral arrangement."

Hat tip to Rusty Burke.

A Book about Handwriting

Michael Dirda - Michael Dirda on 'Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting' by Kitty Burns Florey - "As Kitty Burns Florey points out in her highly enjoyable Script and Scribble, clear and readable handwriting does matter: 'The TV drama ER often tackles the issue: in one 2007 episode, Dr. Izzie Stevens tells the interns she's supervising, 'Penmanship saves lives! Is that a 7, or is that a 9? If I have to ask myself that in the middle of an emergency, your patient is dead. You killed him. With your handwriting. Think about that!' '"

Hat tip to Rusty Burke.

A Review

An early review of the new Sheriff Rhodes book is up at Meritorious Mysteries. Check it out.

Top 10 Modern Mysteries - Top 10 Modern Mysteries: "Mysteries tap the imagination, fuel speculation and invite the attention of conspiracy theorists. While there are numerous ancient mysteries, they don’t excite us the same way these top 10 modern mysteries do; perhaps because we can relate to them easier if they’re closer to our own time. It is that ability to relate, to feel some connection, that not only feeds the mystery, but -- accurately or not -- also seems to hint that a solution is within reach. 

Thus, our criteria for our top 10 modern mysteries does not necessarily concern unsolved mysteries, but the enduring public fascination with the mystery itself as well as the implications of the possible answers (even if conventional wisdom suggests the mystery has more than adequately been solved)."


Extinct ibex is resurrected by cloning - Telegraph: "The Pyrenean ibex, a form of wild mountain goat, was officially declared extinct in 2000 when the last-known animal of its kind was found dead in northern Spain.

Shortly before its death, scientists preserved skin samples of the goat, a subspecies of the Spanish ibex that live in mountain ranges across the country, in liquid nitrogen.

Using DNA taken from these skin samples, the scientists were able to replace the genetic material in eggs from domestic goats, to clone a female Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo as they are known. It is the first time an extinct animal has been cloned.

Sadly, the newborn ibex kid died shortly after birth due to physical defects in its lungs. Other cloned animals, including sheep, have been born with similar lung defects."

Turtle Update: Mystery Solved?

Researchers may have found origin of turtle's mysterious shell: "Turtles have lived a long time without changing much.

They've had a broad top shell and smaller bottom one for something like 216 million years, as they evolved into sea-living giants and little turtles in ponds.

But the shell has always been a puzzle. How does an animal evolve a shell?"

Foxy Brown