February 2, 2016

Southern California Geology

Brand new: "Roadside Geology of Southern California." And only $22.

Since Mountain Press started the Roadside Geology series forty years ago, southern Californians have been waiting for an RG of their own. During those four decades which were punctuated by jarring earthquakes and landslides geologists continued to unravel the complexity of the Golden State, where some of the most dramatic and diverse geology in the world erupts, crashes, and collides. With dazzling color maps, diagrams, and photographs, Roadside Geology of Southern California takes advantage of this newfound knowledge, combining the latest science with accessible stories about the rocks and landscapes visible from winding two-lane byways as well as from the region s vast network of highways.

Join Arthur Sylvester, an award-winning UC Santa Barbara geologist, and Elizabeth O Black Gans, a geologist-illustrator, as they motor through mountains and deserts to explore the iconic features of the SoCal landscape, from boulder piles in Joshua Tree National Park and brilliant white dunes in the Channel Islands to tar seeps along the rugged coast and youthful cinder cones in the Mojave Desert. Whether you want to find precious gemstones, ponder the mysteries of the Salton Sea, or straddle the boundary between the North American and Pacific Plates, be sure to bring this book along as your tour guide.

permalink | February 2, 2016 at 12:48 PM | Comments (2)

November 24, 2015

Good Deal On Kindles This Week

$50 for a Kindle this week. That's the version with "special offers" which is nothing more than a static ad that appears as your screen saver after you've stopped reading. If that's too much for you, $20 more gets you a Kindle without that.

Even the somewhat nicer Paperwhite Kindle is available for $100 ($20 off).

permalink | November 24, 2015 at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

April 9, 2015

Hugo and Nebula Nominees for 2014

The Hugo nominees have been recently announced and the Nebula nominees were announced in February. In the Best Novel category the two lists agree on two books:


The other Hugo nominees for Best Novel are:


The other Nebula nominees for Best Novel are:

permalink | April 9, 2015 at 09:11 AM | Comments (2)

November 4, 2014

Seen In Brea

DSCN6346
The man is reading an actual hardback copy of The Godfather that still has its dustjacket
! Photo by Ric.

permalink | November 4, 2014 at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

August 4, 2014

It Was 100 Years Ago Today

That Germany invaded neutral Belgium. Germany had already occupied Lichtenstein (which was also neutral), but that didn't create as much brouhaha.

Completely by coincidence, I'm reading The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman which I picked up because, like most average Americans of my generation who are not history majors, I wasn't taught much about World War I because history books just needed to touch on it in order to establish the basis for all the calamities that beset us through the rest of the 20th century right up to Iraq and Syria today. We heard about Sarajevo, skipped to the Americans declaring war, then skipped right to Versailles.

The Guns of August focuses on only the period from late July to September in 1914, the time during which multiple nations combined to produce one of the greatest clusterfucks of all history. Immense ignorance, bigotry, and prejudice combined with rigid 19th century views on warfare and new technology in a grand exercise of utter pointlessness.

I haven't finished the book, but I'm to the point where the Germans are just 40km outside of Paris. The only clear heads in the entire book are: Winston Churchill, King Albert I and the Belgians. Everybody else (and I mean everybody) went into the war with their heads up their asses, kept them there, and wondered why their shots always missed. The Russians - the effing Russians - had the biggest army in the world, but they had no plans for supplying the army and no plans for troop transport once they got outside the mother country's borders. So they went as far as they could walk and then got wiped out by the Germans. France appreciated the effort.

permalink | August 4, 2014 at 09:57 AM | Comments (1)

July 21, 2014

Chicago Family May Pick Up The Joseph Wambaugh House

Maybe. Maybe not. It's in Thunderbird Estates in Rancho Mirage. The Desert Sun says it was Joseph Wambaugh's house. They also say that the original asking price was $12 million, but it sold for only $4.2 million. Joseph Wambaugh is a popular and entertaining writer who's written several famous books, but the one you want to know about is one of his less popular novels: The Secrets of Harry Bright, which is set in the desert in a little town called Mineral Springs with a small police department. Just south of Mineral Springs, across the freeway is Palm Springs. When the story's action is anywhere south of the 10, the geography is entirely accurate. But the town of Mineral Springs exists in some fictional geography with hills, canyons, roads and buildings that do not match Desert Hot Springs. Nevertheless, it's Desert Hot Springs. Sorta.

UPDATED:
70555 Thunderbird Mesa Dr Rancho Mirage CA 92270
This is the former Wambaugh house
. The listing says an offer has been accepted on the property.

You can't get correct punctuation even with $4.2 million:

Motivated Seller! If spectacular views & privacy are important to you, look no further. Here you will find world-class living at this private, hilltop desert estate w/ ideal year round weather & over 100 nearby golf courses. Located in the exclusive gated community of Thunderbird Heights, this custom built compound with a 6100 sq ft, 4 bdrm, 4.5 bath main home & a stunning 2000 sq ft, 3 bdrm, 3 bath casita will surely please the most discriminating buyer. No expense was spared in creating this must see property. Elevators, motor court, pool, 2 spas, manicured grounds, 20' waterfall, rock formed lagoon, misting system, extensive water features & a putting green w/ sand trap are just few of the many amenities in this one-of-a-kind estate. The main home features a master retreat w/ gym, tanning & spa rooms. Perched up on its own hilltop, and nested against the bighorn sheep preserve, ensures complete privacy and security within it's gated 3.29 acres. The panoramic views are breathtaking!

permalink | July 21, 2014 at 07:49 PM | Comments (3)

May 24, 2014

Scribd for eBooks

Until this morning I knew Scribd only as that service that allows one to embed a readable PDF document within a web page. But they sent me some commercial email this morning to let me know they have added the entire For Dummies series to their collection (how's that for some pinpoint marketing!). And I'm all like "your collection, what?" I thought maybe somebody had gone bankrupt and now the Dummy books were magically public domain.

But no! It turns out Scribd has a subscription eBook service. They started it in October 2013 (had to find that on Wikipedia - Scribd ain't gonna tell ya), so maybe I can excuse myself for not hearing about it until now.

For $9/month you get to read as many of their eBooks as you want. This is not Project Gutenberg. Scribd is offering current books with living authors who get real royalties (if they negotiated the right deal). Browse here. They claim 100,160 titles in Fiction & Literature, their biggest category.

They've got apps for iOS and Android, but you can also read books in any browser. Offline or on.

If you have used the eBook service offered by Riverside County Public Library you may have found the selection disappointing and the unavailability of most books (because there's a limit on the number of copies of any one title that can be checked out simultaneously) frustrating. If you have a library card with the Rancho Mirage Public Library feel free to leave a comment telling us about how rich their eBook collection is.

For $9/month you get past the public library limitations and you spend a lot less than if you bought all your eBooks.

permalink | May 24, 2014 at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2014

The Significance of LGBT Pulp Fiction at PS Library


The Significance of LGBT Pulp Fiction

On April 29, 2014, the Palm Springs Public Library, in partnership with the ONE Archives Foundation, will present author Katherine V. Forrest in conversation with ONE board member Dr. Christopher Freeman. They will be discussing the significance of LGBT Pulp Fiction and its impact on writers today.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Palm Springs Public Library
Learning Center
300 S. Sunrise Way,
Palm Springs, CA

The lecture is FREE and open to the public, but seating is limited.

permalink | April 21, 2014 at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2014

Exporting DHS History To The World!

The Desert Hot Springs Historical Society now has a retail page on their website where you can buy books on the history of Desert Hot Springs. Right now there are three:

  • Postcards from the Desert: A Brief History of Desert Hot Springs by the DHS Historical Society itself
  • Celebrities in Hiding by Audrey Moe
  • The Waters of Comfort: The Story of Desert Hot Springs by John Hunt

permalink | February 16, 2014 at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2014

The Really, Really Final Book In The "Tales Of The City" Series Hits The Shelves Today

The Days of Anna Madrigal - $19.88 for the paperback at Amazon. Less for the Kindle edition, more for the hardback. In this book, Anna Madrigal, now 92 years old, journeys to Burning Man.

Much to my surprise, a Flickr search for "Armistead Maupin 'Burning Man'" turns up exactly one photo.
Armistead Maupin at Burning Man

Photo by Ed.

permalink | January 21, 2014 at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2013

In Support Of Reading

Sexy Men Read. A blog. Scroll into it far enough and you'll find the NSFW bits. This could have a powerful effect on adolescents who eschew books.

permalink | December 23, 2013 at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2013

Barbara Branden Dead At Age 84

She died this past Wednesday. She was the author of the biography The Passion of Ayn Randand had been living in West Hollywood.

permalink | December 14, 2013 at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

November 7, 2013

Arthur C. Clarke

If you're in Colombo, Sri Lanka, you may be able to visit the workspace of the late Arthur C. Clarke which is left pretty much unchanged since his death five years ago.

permalink | November 7, 2013 at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2013

Litographs

I had never heard of Litographs before today. They've taken the text of a hundred books and used it to create designs on t-shirts, tote bags and posters. Here, for example, is A Tale Of Two Cities (should I have warned "spoiler alert?"):
A Tale Of Two Cities t-shirt - Litographs

And here it is close up:
Litographs - A Tale Of Two Cities

Their browsing interface is like Facebook, an infinite page that keeps growing longer and longer. That works for Facebook, but gets irritating when you are trying to shop, I think. Here are the hundred titles:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, A Christmas Carol, A Doll's House, A Little Princess, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, A Tale of Two Cities, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Adventures of Pinocchio, Aesop's Fables, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Anna Karenina, Around the World in 80 Days, Crime and Punishment, Don Quixote, Dracula, Dubliners, Emma, Five Weeks in a Balloon, Frankenstein, Great Expectations, Grimms' Fairy Tales, Gulliver's Travels, Heart of Darkness, Jane Eyre, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Just So Stories, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Leaves of Grass, Les Miserables, Little Women, Madame Bovary, Moby Dick, Notes from Underground, Oliver Twist, On the Origin of Species, Opticks, Paradise Lost, Persuasion, Peter Pan, Poems by T S Eliot, Poke the Box, Pride and Prejudice, Principles of Geology, Pygmalion, Robinson Crusoe, Sense and Sensibility, Siddhartha, Tarzan of the Apes, Tess of the D'urbervilles, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Aeneid, The Age of Innocence, The Arabian Nights, The Art of War, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The Bible, The Canterbury Tales, The Chemical History of a Candle, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Divine Comedy, The Great Gatsby, The History of Creation, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Iliad, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Invisible Man, The Island of Dr Moreau, The Jungle Book, The Kama Sutra, The Last Unicorn, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, The Metamorphosis, The Mysterious Island, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, The Odyssey, The Phantom of the Opera, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, The Prince, The Republic, The Scarlet Letter, The Secret Garden, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Three Musketeers, The Time Machine, The Torah, The War of the Worlds, The Wind in the Willows, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Think and Grow Rich, This Side of Paradise, Treasure Island, Ulysses, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Walden, War and Peace, White Fang, and Wuthering Heights.

Non-English novels are rendered in translation, even The Notebooks Of Leonardo Da Vinci and The Torah.

You will note they have Pinocchio. I'm sure that if someone wanted to buy a lot of those, Dot Reed would be willing to award them to deserving people at City Council meetings.

permalink | October 21, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2013

L.A. Noir

I have just finished L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City by John Buntin. The skeleton of the book is the parallel biographies of William Parker, LAPD Chief from 1950 until his death in 1966, and Mickey Cohen, L.A. mobster who died in 1976. John Buntin fleshes out that skeletal frame with the sprawling story of 20th century Los Angeles and everything it touched. It's a history of the LAPD through the Rodney King riots and the story of the mob throughout the United States in the last century. It's politics in the LAPD, City of Los Angeles and State of California. It's a history of racism in the United States as well as a history of the advances of civil liberties from an era when courts generally considered the 4th amendment to the U.S. Constitution to apply only to the federal government to the radical changes that began to come in the 1950s. Until the courts decided otherwise, it was considered 100% legal to hide (without a warrant) a Dictaphone in someone's house to record all conversations because it was technically not wiretapping (the breaking and entering part of the process was just overlooked). It's the Chandlers at the L.A. Times versus William Randolph Hearst.

Both William Parker and Mickey Cohen came to Los Angeles as children around 1920-ish; Cohen from Brooklyn and Parker from Deadwood, but their histories didn't begin to directly interact until Parker became Chief in 1950. Prior to that, Parker, who had joined the LAPD in 1927 and was instrumental in crafting the civil service protections that allowed the LAPD to function fairly freely of political control by city hall until those protections were reduced after the Rodney King riots. His LAPD career was interrupted only by his service in the Marines in World War II where his duties included de-Nazification of police agencies in Europe.

I listened to the audiobook version. Up to now I've been very impressed with the skill of the various narrators of audiobooks. Kirby Heyborne, narrator of L.A. Noir, is the first exception. He mispronounces a few words that most English speakers are familiar with ("Sardinia" for example), but his biggest howler was pronouncing "lunged" as though it were the past tense of "lung" (as if that were possible) instead of the past tense of "lunge." My moment of visuo-lingual confusion was pretty messy. Also, he renders all female voices so they sound like an 11-year old boy pretending to be a girl.

I was able to mostly overlook those flaws. The book itself will give you a non-standard view of the story how Los Angeles came to be what it is.

permalink | September 14, 2013 at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2013

Boston compared to Detroit

An op-ed by Tom Keane in the Boston Globe. In 1980 Detroit and Boston were similar. Population had dropped. They both suffered from white flight to the suburbs. Crime soared. Properties sat vacant.

Since then Boston's population has climbed, it has a large middle class population, and property values are headed for the sky again. What made the difference? Keane says it comes down "to one key essential: public safety." He says that from 1980 to the present "crime in Boston dropped precipitously, thanks in large measure to a series of crime-fighting reforms dubbed the 'Boston Miracle.' Boston was soon being called one of the nation's safest big cities."

I moved to Boston in 1980 (but I'm not ready to attribute all of Boston's improvements to that fact) and while it did get safer while I lived there, I don't recall anyone referring to a "Boston Miracle," nor do I remember any talk about crime-fighting reforms. I do recall that every time I dealt with Boston Police (I was always the innocent victim of some crime, never the perp) the great majority of the cops were incompetent or rude to me or both. I avoided dealing with them as much as possible.

Public safety undoubtedly played a role in Boston's recovery, but I think Mr. Keane is overlooking other major influences on it, especially the economy. Detroit's economy was based mostly on traditional American heavy industry. Boston's was mostly education (including medicine) and the arts. The high-tech industry grew out of that. Boston's old traditional industries (shoes, export/import) died away long before Detroit's heavy industries, so Boston didn't have to deal with that over the last 30 years.

Googling "Boston Miracle" shows me that the term came into use after I left Boston and referred to programs that began in the mid 1990s including Operation Ceasefire: Boston Gun Project which was a complex operation that focused on "a small number of chronically offending gang-involved youth responsible for much of Boston's youth homicide problem." Credit is given to David Kennedy and he's published a book about it entitled Don't Shoot

permalink | July 23, 2013 at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2013

The Best L.A. Novel

L.A. Weekly has been running a tournament-style competition to determine "The Best L.A. Novel." They sorted the novels into four "regions:"

HOLLYWOOD

REBELS & OUTCASTS

NOIR

LOST SOULS

And the winner is...If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes beating out Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis.

permalink | July 12, 2013 at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

July 1, 2013

Palm Springs Life reviews Audrey Moe's Celebrities in Hiding

Here's the review. The book is "about some of the world's biggest entertainment, political, and business luminaries who spent time in the desert north of Interstate 10."

"'When I wrote it,' Moe says, 'I tried to bring out aspects of celebrities that are not generally known or perceived about them.'"

Here's the book on Amazon.

permalink | July 1, 2013 at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)

April 30, 2013

Have You Read Stand On Zanzibar?

Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner was published in 1968 and won the Hugo Award. I read it half a gazillion years ago, forgetting most of the details. The setting of the novel was 2010 and now we are able to marvel at Brunner's amazingly accurate predictive capability which, it is now obvious, was far beyond that of any other science fiction author.

Other books by John Brunner. Brunner died in 1995.

permalink | April 30, 2013 at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2013

Book Recommendation

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.

Barbara Demick is currently the Beijing bureau chief for the L.A. Times. In 2001 the Times posted her in Seoul where she began to interview defectors from North Korea. Her book focuses on six individuals who managed to get to South Korea, but also traces the stories of their families, co-workers and acquaintances. First published in 2005, the book covers the period from the late 1980s through early 2000s and, therefore, includes the death of Kim Il Sung and the famine of the '90s. Calling it "the famine of the '90s" is actually understating it. It was the regression and collapse of the economy to almost zero. Without subsidized fuel from China and the USSR, the electrical system came to a stop. Factories stopped. The health care system completely collapsed. Trains could only run sporadically, if at all. 10% to 20% of the population died.

This well written book gives you a very close and personal view of those who sat and watched helplessly as their families died around them and who still (some of them at least) continued to believe Kim Jong Il's socialism was the best economic system in the world.

The book has a website.

permalink | March 12, 2013 at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)