Posts Tagged ‘books’

William O. Douglas – enigma?

Mon ,26/11/2018

So just finished my second Justice Douglas biography, Independent Journey by James F. Simon (1980), published not too long after Douglas’ passing in 1975. I had read Wild Bill: The Legend and Life of William O. Douglas by Bruce Allen Murphy (2003) immediately prior.

I had heard about the later book originally via a New Republic article some years ago, a book review by Judge Richard Posner. But after having read it, and the second book having mentioned the earlier bio in the end credits, I really felt I needed to read the earlier book. You see, while certainly Murphy’s book is an amazing example of dedicated scholarship – it largely focuses on Douglas’ personal shortcomings – and while there are many, many such egregious examples of them, Simon’s earlier book provides a much better balance of the actual SUPREME COURT activity Douglas engaged in and in some cases, led. Murphy spends so much time uncovering all the personal flaws, problems and misdeeds of Douglas that he largely blows off most of the Court stuff (why he wrote the book, hello?). Unlike Simon’s book, which tells a lot of detail behind two huge cases for example (Brown v. Board of Education in the 50’s and Roe v. Wade just before the end of Douglas’ career) – Murphy doesn’t really deal much with either one, if at all.

Ultimately, The Nation sums it up best for me in talking about both books and then about Douglas the man. Because so many of the *results* Douglas wanted to see (or helped bring about as part of the Warren Court or earlier as Chairman of the SEC) – are still RIGHT. So as bad a human being as he was in many, many circumstances, The Nation still makes the best final statement of him to me: “If more present-day Justices and judges embraced William O. Douglas’s ideals, constitutional liberties would be far safer than they are.” (and throw in environmental protection too, because while not part of his jurisprudence, he was d*** right on that one and way ahead of his time.



Wed ,24/01/2018

Ursula K. Le Guin, acclaimed for her fantasy fiction, is dead at 88



Fri ,21/07/2017

SPOILER – watch the trailer first

This is an interesting concept for a C&H movie, that will of course never get made (at least while Bill Watterson is still alive, anyway) – except – that I believe it leaves behind a key essential point (if not THE essential point) of C&H – tragic comedy.

Throughout the comic, we are always confronted by Calvin’s underlying struggle to fit in, while his personality, likes and dislikes and the fact that he’s six, serve to nearly always defeat him to varying degrees. Yes, for the most part his parents never step in, and Suzie tries early on, but figures him out pretty quick and then just tolerates him after that.

So Hobbes is all that’s left – and while he proves a true friend time and time again no matter what Calvin does – and he’s not always an unforgiving one – he’s in the end a figment of Calvin’s imagination – or possibly a projection of what Calvin knows he could be – but doesn’t really want to.

Just turning it into a psycho-pseudo horror story (scary or not) misses the comedy (which brings back the reader, strip after strip, despite the comedy usually being at Calvin’s expense) and only tells one part of Calvin’s complexity. Having read several Bill Watterson interviews, one thing he says several times is that he expected Calvin might have a tough adulthood, when his preferred lifestyle was going to evaporate right before his eyes and likely make him pretty sad. Maybe so – but even if Calvin got past that, I don’t think his imagination would consume him in the end – I think he might just lose it – which could be even worse, really….. 🙁


From one curmudgeon to another….

Mon ,02/01/2017

Well stated, sir! 🙂

America’s perfect curmudgeon runs sweet bookstore, is like totally awesome


Get yours yet?

Tue ,22/11/2016

Got mine yesterday – woo hoo!

The Art of Atari

Inside The Art of Atari (pre-release book review)



Tue ,30/08/2016

this has been a craptastic year for beloved celebs – RIP, Mr. Wonka…and GOOD DAY, SIR!

Gene Wilder Dies at 83; Star of ‘Willy Wonka’ and ‘Young Frankenstein’




Sat ,23/04/2016

(finally) a new Alex Verus book has come out, Burned. And like all the previous ones, I ripped through this once as fast as I could, because these are great books! Continued character development is strong and believable, although I hope Mr. Jacka gives poor Alex a break in the next one (it’s likely another year-long wait, sigh). Anyway, you can read my posts about the previous books, or just get out there and start reading the entire series already!

Other voices linked from here.


Metatropolis – great read!

Sun ,04/10/2015

Finished the John Scalzi-edited anthology Metatroplis a few days ago. This is an anthology he started by asking the writers to collaborate around a common theme – the future of cities and the dystopian, unusual or unpredictable forms they may take in the coming decades.

This is a great read – all good stories but to me the jewel (acknowledged by editor Scalzi directly in the comments before it) is the final story – ‘To Hie from Far Cilenia‘ by Karl Schroeder– it takes cyberpunk and effectively ‘overlays’ it on the real world we live in – truly an innovative story and i’d be surprised if elements of it aren’t already happening….I will definitely have to seek out some of that guy’s writing!

Anyway, definitely recommended!


The White Whale speaks the truth! :)

Mon ,06/07/2015



PKD, revisited.

Tue ,14/04/2015

So having had to travel to TX over the past two weeks for work has given me time to read a few books (on the plane and in the hotel). So I revisited a couple PKD books, namely The Man in the High Castle, Radio Free Albemuth and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (upon which Blade Runner was based).

It was interesting, because I haven’t read The Man in the High Castle for many, many years, and was inspired given the recent Amazon-produced trailer of a likely upcoming miniseries based on the book. I have to say, that while the story is good and the research done to create the book was extensive (tells the story of what might have happened had the Germans and Japanese won WWII) – I was left a bit disappointed. The ending just ‘ends’ (to me anyway) and i’m not sure what to make of it. Still, a good read though.

Radio Free Albemuth is another interesting one, because it wasn’t published in Dick’s lifetime, the manuscript only surfaced after he passed away. I had read it originally before Bush became president, and after 9/11 sadly to me, some of its predictions actually came to pass – albeit in a more reduced fashion (and unlike President Fremont in the book – Bush actually LEFT office when his term was up). This book is also different because PKD is an actual character in it – half the book is told from his perspective – half from the other central character’s perspective. Each largely thinks the other is crazy – although both may be partially nuts, it’s hard to tell. The ending is not unlike that of A Scanner Darkly – where there is only a dim hope for the future – but hope nonetheless….

Finally, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. I have only read this book possibly 3 times (vs. the bazillion times i’ve seen Blade Runner). So I knew about but enjoyed rediscovering the several key plot points that are missing from the movie (Mercerism, Buster Friendly, everyone trying to own a real animal but often prevented because of persistent fallout – this is hinted at in the movie but never really talked about) – and chickenheads (william sanderson’s character). But I think the movie is actually somewhat more human and touching than the book, which left me a bit cold this time around. But given that the book repeatedly emphasizes the androids have no feelings (the movie is quite the opposite) I guess that’s no surprise.

It was good to revisit all three but I guess the perspective of time (and ever more sci-books read since) means I just feel differently about them this time around? PKD is still one of my fave sci-fi guys but I guess I’ve moved beyond him a little bit, too?