Book Review #14

spacehounds-of-ipc

Edward Elmer E.E. (Doc) Smith is arguably the father of the Space Opera genre of science fiction.  His protagonists are the biggest, strongest, fastest, smartest and bravest.  I didn’t use the term ‘heroes’, because he didn’t write them like that.  They might simultaneously be all of the above, but there was always a touch of, “Shucks Ma’am, ‘tweren’t nothin’!”

In one book, the lead captured a rival who had kidnapped his fiancée, and attempted to kill him. At one point, he armed the rival with two .45 caliber automatics; so that they could fight their way through a roomful of someone else’s armed thugs.

Later in the book, the rival warns aggressive underlings not to try anything against him, “Unless you can sneak up behind him with a cannon. He was the one who kicked the door in, and still got off three shots before I fired once.  He was shooting 4 to my 3, and hit every time, where I missed once with my left.”  Even his Japanese valet was described as, “Chain lightning on greased wheels.”

Smith strongly resembled his characters. He got the nickname ‘Doc’ honestly.  He was a food engineer who worked for years for Kellogg’s of Battle Creek.  Aside from his prolific writing, when he wasn’t formulating breakfast cereal that would stop teenage boys from masturbating, he developed a process to get materials like powdered sugar and sprinkles to adhere to donuts and muffins, later giving rise to the likes of Krispy Kreme and Tim Horton’s.

He was a friend and mentor to Robert Heinlein. A line could be drawn from Smith, through Heinlein, up to Gene Rodenberry, who gave us 50 years of Star Trek space opera.

Some of his characters had ‘perception,’ the ability to ‘see’ when eyes couldn’t. Heinlein asked for help in buying a used car.  Doc took the wheel for a test drive.  At one point, he hunkered down and put his ear to the door post, to listen for any suspect vibrations.  He drove several miles without seeing the road, and Heinlein swears he must have had ‘perception.’  He okayed the car, which lasted for years.

The book: Spacehounds Of IPC

The author: E.E. (Doc) Smith

The review:

This is one of Doc’s earliest sci-fi stories, and the one that he was most proud of. It was originally released in 1932, and then re-released again in 1947.  The paperback version I have is from Ace Books, and sold about 1965.

This is the book where he developed what he would use in later series. All space action takes place within the Solar System.  Gravity on space ships is provided by acceleration or deceleration.  No scientific usage was, or has been, proved impossible.

This is where he first wrote of ray-cannons, deflector shields, tractor and presser rays, guillotine planes, and the absorption of attackers’ weapons output and eventually cosmic radiation into massive capacitors, for re-use. He describes a 10-foot flying lizard-being from Jupiter’s South Pole, which became an interstellar race in his later Lensman series.

Like several other authors, he was terribly prescient about technology. This 1930s book describes hand-held walkie-talkies, electronic calculators, computers and direct-beam radios (albeit with vacuum tubes), and view-screens that he identifies as televisions.

It’s a soft, nostalgic look at science and society of almost a century ago. It’s all black and white – us vs. them – good against evil.  The language is upscale technical, and archaic, even for a coot as old as me.  Nothing is OK (or okay); everything is ‘all-x.’

Even among fellow-scientists, relations are somewhat formal, and a young, unmarried couple, stranded alone on Ganymede for six months (but with no guarantee of ever being picked up) managed to keep their hands off each other. Not at all like Captain Kirk, who couldn’t keep it in the Galaxy, much less his pants.

Not as a suggestion, but merely as a question from Jim Wheeler about whether I ever re-read books, I have dug out and am reading stories I first read 40 and 50 years ago. The passage of time has not only changed Society, but matured my outlook and opinions about many things.  Some of them have been quite….interesting.

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DIZZY – MY HEAD IS SPINNING

Grammar Nazi

Oh dear, gentle readers, the decline and fall of proper English usage continues apace. There are more people who know less about the language, and prove it, by writing and publishing their errors.

When I began blogging, lo these many (4) years ago, I had to click to get my output Spellchecked. Now, I don’t even have my fingers raised from the keys, before that dreaded wavy red underline tells me I’ve Miss Spelled mispilled somehow erred – which would be great, if the program actually spelled the correct word.

When I enter text into a translation program, it even tells me that my foreign language words are not spelled ‘correctly’ in English. GrammarCheck is just as bad.  It’s more powerful now, but the code-writers could have used GrammarCheck themselves.

I wrote ‘The Beatles – Let It Be’, and was ‘corrected’ to – let it is.  I typed ‘lay it down’ – and was ‘corrected’ to lie it down.  It wanted me to revise one line to – ‘any idea we were coming had’.  That program may have been upgraded by a Squarehead Kraut, because only the Germans the verb at the end of the sentence put.

Other official, commercial headshakers include:
MSN’s headline that –Seattle sets record four loudest stadium.
a Wikipedia photo, captioned ‘The Chicago L’  It’s an elevated train, Loser!
a crossword puzzle where the clue ‘Classic Chevy’ – equaled ‘TBird’, apparently built by Henry and Edsel Chevrolet.

it hardens back to a time – Only between your ears. I harken (or hearken) back to archaic usage.

beer-swaling hockey nuts – So many illiterate, bladder-emptying jokes…they’re swilling.

Rule could effect record company profits – What is the affect of incorrect usage?

I could really careless about a number – I couldn’t care less about your careless misusage.

She clamored up the stairs – making a lot of noise, as she clambered up the stairs.

Bare with me a while, seems to be an invitation to a party I can’t bear to miss.

warned of their want to cross the road – I want them to know that the correct word is wont. (not won’t)

the couple had a relationship, but only plutonic – Wow, that’s out of this world.

sense you left….your English doesn’t make any since

I’d bend over back words – Like ‘Asshole’? That’s a ‘back word’ for backwards writers.

Toe-headed people like me – More like ass-headed. tow-headed = sandy-colored hair.

I studied Shakespeare and Julia’s Cesar – You just want to pound your head, or a teacher’s.

eats chutes and leaves – Without understanding the joke – or Botany.

a bowl haircut, like Moe from the Three Stugges – A fourth stugge stooge wrote this crap.

a quilt made from old flower sacks – Filled with roses and crysanth krisan more roses. Does anybody besides me remember when flour came in sacks?

They’re being terrorists shouldn’t bother anyone. – Their being a professional writer, should!

a tee-shirt bearing her mid drift – I bear a mid-drift; she was baring her midriff.

did the ice-bucket challenge with a pale of cold milk – Well, a pail of it is white.

Farmers’ Market vendors sell beefstake tomatoes – To vampire killers?

A butcher sells male and peamale bacon

caught in the straight-jacket of social expectations – Go strait to the dictionary!

came to blows with eatchother – Please note the spacebar below

Gourmet salad dressings – tomatow and bealTomato, mixed with things like cranberry and mango. What in Hell is beal?

He wasn’t aloud to carry a gun – He had to keep quiet about what he was allowed to carry

He wrecked havoc – I hate it when someone wrecks my havoc. I just get the detritus and debris randomly distributed, only to find some OCD has wreaked order and neatness with a broom.

The hooker lifted her short skirt to display her wears – But she wears none, so bewares, don’t get caught unawares, in the warehouse, among the softwares and hardwares.

So I od not have to mention it again – It’s odd that they don’t know the correct word is ought.

Ball your eyes out – I would bawl, but at least it’s better than eyeing your balls out.

They’re just etching out a living – There’s no need for eking a living, when you can make etchings.

I’ll leave you with the tale of a reader who reached my site, riding on the search term “Archron, Ohio.” He may have found me, but he’ll never find Akron.

 

More Thoughts On Gun Control

Colt 1911

GUN CONTROL?? WHAT ABOUT ABSENT FATHERS?

Do we want to solve gun violence, or do we just want to engage in useless bluster?

Whenever a terrible shooting takes place, in Toronto, or an American city, the gun control enthusiasts rush to the podium to bang their fist and display their anger.

Recently, US President, Barack Obama reacting to the mass shooting in Oregon that left nine people dead, said: “I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up.

He meant gun laws.

But another display of emotion won’t make gun control work.

The guns are not the problem, but they are an easy target, and politicians, like water, seek the easy course.

If gun control worked, Chicago would not experience the violence that it does. If gun control worked, the Toronto Sun would not have reported, in mid-July, that “The 227 shooting victims so far this year are 31 more than the total for all of 2014.””

Toronto and Chicago have gun control. Murder is also ‘controlled’.  It is illegal!  The problem is deeper and more complicated than the tool that is used.  But it is politically correct to blame the gun.  It is less so, and therefore fraught with political danger, to talk about family breakdown.

An article in The Federalist by Peter Hasson notes: “Violence?  There’s a direct correlation between fatherless children and teen violence.  Suicide?  Fatherless children are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.  Dropping out of school?  71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless families.  Drug use?  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”

How about guns? Two of the strongest correlations with gun homicides are, growing up in a fatherless household and dropping out of school, which is itself directly related to lack of an active or present father.

So what can we do to encourage young people to avoid single parenthood and to encourage responsible fatherhood? How do we keep young men from having to search for belonging and acceptance from other young men in a gang?

We should be as critical of the choices that lead to kids having babies as we are of guns, but politicians mostly recoil in horror when anyone suggests that they try this approach.

What about mental health? Are we willing to address that issue?  In theory the people are, but are politicians willing to make the necessary choices in priorities, and are we willing to stop putting money into parties like the Pan Am Games, and instead, adequately fund mental health programs?

Apparently not!

Too many things have already gone wrong before a young man picks up a gun and attacks his fellow human beings with the intent to kill. It’s a good thing to talk about fathers, mental health, conflict resolution, employment, mentoring, or whatever anyone can come up with towards achieving the common goal of ending gun violence.

The people whose first, and often only ‘solution’, is more gun control, when it clearly doesn’t work, are not to be taken seriously. Murder is illegal, and most guns used in shootings are illegally held under present gun laws.  We want young people to grow up, so let’s be grown-up about real solutions.

***

With many thanks to Gerry Agar, a Toronto Sun columnist and radio talk-show host, for some interesting and lucid thoughts about guns and social violence.

It All Comes Down To The Music

Rock group

The son commented the other day that he was doing some research about The Drowning Pool.

“Oh, I liked that book. I read several of Ross MacDonald’s books when I was young. They were gritty, like Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. I also liked the 1975 movie with Paul Newman, and his wife/actress, Joanne Woodward….”

No, no, he says! I’m talking about a rock group.

Well, of course you are! It all comes down to names for musical groups. (I’d write ‘rock groups’, but there hasn’t been any real ROCK, since about ’85.) Names for groups are like internet domain names. There’s more looking for them, than are available. To get one, especially the one you want, can be difficult – and expensive.

That may explain groups like Finger Eleven, (Is that the one you use to communicate with other drivers?) and Maroon Five. (I can still hear Bugs Bunny cackling, “What a maroon.”, and here’s five of them)

Once upon a time, there was a band called Bush. They went nowhere fast, then quietly disbanded. Many years later, another group of musical young men who had never heard of the original Bush, named their band that. Soon they got a cease and desist order. For over a year they had to operate as Bush-X, till somebody’s palm got greased, or their ego salved.

I suspect the same type of thing is happening with a band named X-Ambassadors, whose tune ‘Renegade’, is being used by Chrysler Motors to promote their Jeep. The band may have to pay Chrysler for promotional consideration, because the commercial has made them nationally famous, and their song is all over every radio station.

Bands are named just about everything you can imagine – and, I imagine, things you can’t imagine. Whenever I check a tag on my WordPress Reader, to ‘see what others are writing’, every one of my usual tags leads to a band. There’s a band called Knives. There’s a band called Sword. There’s also a small city in Ireland called Sword. There’s a band called Handguns. There’s a band called Archon. There’s a band called Kings.

When I was a teenager, there was a group of five young men from the next town over. They had all been friends since before kindergarten. They were all children of merchants, lawyers and real estate agents who could afford to pay for music lessons and new, decent-quality instruments. They studied music, and they practiced, first alone, then together. They garage band-ed for almost ten years.

They would never have made the big time back then, although, nowadays, Justin Bieber proves that anything’s possible. They were good enough to play Thursday nights during the high school summers, at a dance hall on the waterfront in Sauble Beach. They also played Friday and Saturday nights at a smaller dance hall on the Port Elgin beach. It didn’t hurt that the rhythm guitar player’s dad owned it.

Five of my known associates decided that, if the other guys could do it, they could too. Three of them had never taken a lesson. Two of them had never picked up an instrument. Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, trumpet (?), violin (?) and drums – this was before ELO or Chicago. The only song they performed that sounded barely acceptable, was Surfin’ Bird. Check out the original on YouTube.

They practiced/jammed a couple of hours a week for six months. The town paid them ten bucks a head to perform at a summer teen dance in the arena – and they never got another paying gig.

When visions of sugarplums were still dancing through their heads, it was realized that the group would need a name. None of them was creative enough, or egotistical enough to come up with one, so groupies like me were asked for suggestions.

I asked my father, who was just barely into the entertainment industry. Having come through the Big Band Era, he suggested The Kingsmen, or The Coachmen. These weren’t sufficiently ‘with it’ for the swingin’ early ‘60s. The next-town band called themselves “The Comets”, bright, brilliant, showy, unusual, memorable.

Plagiarizing the scientific theme, I never did ask which one of ‘my’ group of geniuses decided to name the band “The Atoms”, tiny, invisible, insignificant, and more common than grass. We’re all lucky that they put their thick glasses, repaired with tape, back on, oiled up their slide rules, and were never heard again.

What are some of the groups, ‘unusually’ named or not, that you    listen(ed) to?

Gun Safety vs. Gun Control

 

Colt 1911

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Government;

Please roll me up in bubble-wrap, and put me in a big box full of non-toxic packing-foam peanuts, so that nothing – not even a bad word – can hurt me.

***

Recently, some Idiot (a woman, as it turns out – just to disprove female claims that all Idiots are male.), managed to get herself shot to death in an American Wal-Mart, when her 2-year-old son reached into her purse, beside him in the shopping cart.

She was described in local papers as “an atomic scientist.”  She was a chemical technician who worked at a power plant.  This is not Big Bang Theory!  She was an ‘atomic scientist’ in the same way a homeless panhandler is a “Charitable Donations Canvasser.”  Still….

In an outpouring of telling others how to run their country and their lives, a Toronto area man sent the following letter to the Toronto Sun, titled More Gun Control:

I just read about the tragic death of a 29-year-old mother in a U.S. Walmart.  She was shot by her two-year-old after the youngster pulled a gun out of his mom’s purse.

I can’t think of any reason why it would be necessary to bring a loaded gun to go shopping.  What a waste of life, not to mention the emotional scars this child is going to have to deal with the rest of his life.

The NRA and its lobbyists need to be muzzled and better gun controls in the U.S. are long overdue.  There’s been too many of these senseless events for far too long.

I agree that it was a sad and preventable occurrence, but this writer leads a far too protected life, and uses way too many hysterical mistakes and lies to justify it.  Even the term “loaded gun” is a loaded term.  Can he think of a reason to bring an ‘unloaded gun’ shopping?  The title is another flag to show his bias.  He doesn’t advocate ‘Greater Gun Safety’.  He demands ‘More Gun Control.’

Through lack of forethought and research, I recently spent a weekend in a dangerous part of Detroit.  This was near Eight Mile, where the white rapper Eminem got street cred by growing up in a tough Negro area.

My motel had an armed security guard patrolling after dark.  My place was quiet, but the downscale motel directly across the street was well known for gunshots and police and ambulance calls.  The pizza shop on Eight Mile had floor-to-ceiling, half-inch thick, bullet-resistant Plexiglas.

The ‘Trade Center’ (more like a cheap flea market) that we went to on Sunday, had signs on the doors which read, “All hoods must be removed on entering”, and “We will provide a security escort to your vehicle, but we will not carry merchandise.”

As an unarmed Canadian tourist, I was very careful where I went, and when.  I can understand and sympathise with local residents who feel the need to carry firearms to protect themselves from gangbangers and drug dealers.

If even the Trade Center management feels the need to provide protective escorts, there must be a good chance that there might actually be someone in the parking lot to protect from.  I might not need a handgun while I’m shopping, but if there’s someone out there who wants to rob/rape/kill me before I get to my car, then I might need the gun when I leave the store.

Just what further “gun control” does this conservative Canadian feel Americans need?  The woman in question underwent a background check, and endured the 10-day waiting period.  She paid for, and enrolled in, a concealed weapon carry permit training session.  She was psychologically stable, and the weapon was duly registered.

Sadly, stupidity still carries the death penalty, and she’s posthumously (there’s no other way) enrolled in the Darwin Award hall of shame.  While she might have been intelligent enough to work at a nuclear generating plant, neither training nor legislation can instill common sense.

To have a loaded gun is one thing.  To have a loaded gun with several children around, including a busy, curious two-year-old, is something else entirely.  The story does not say if the purse was open, but even if it was closed, she was not paying sufficient attention to the child and the gun, sitting side by side.  The gun was not merely loaded, but almost surely must have been cocked, and the safety off.  Little two-year-old hands can’t do these things.

Just what ‘senseless events’ is he referring to, the accidental shooting death of a mother by a young child?  I don’t ever remember hearing of another!  Perhaps he could worry less about the NRA’s somewhat overzealous desire to preserve the legal right to possess firearms, and vent his indignation on gangs and druggies and other criminals who make carrying them seem like a good idea.

And that’s a view on Gun Control vs. Gun Safety from a grumpy, old, unarmed Canadian, north of the border.

Genetic Inheritance

A man in a bar sees a friend at a table,
drinking by himself. Approaching the
friend he comments, “You look terrible.
What’s the problem?” “My mother died in
June,” he said, “and left me $10,000.”
“Gee, that’s tough,” he replied. “Then
in July,” the friend continued, “my
father died, leaving me $50,000.”
“Wow.Two parents gone in two months. No
wonder you’re depressed.” “And last
month my aunt died, and left me $15,000.”
“Three close family members lost in three
months?  How sad.”

“Then this month,” continued the friend, “nothing!”

****

A circus owner walks into a bar to see everyone
crowded around a table watching a little show. On
the table was an upside down pot and a duck tap-
dancing on top of it.  He was so impressed
that he offered to buy the duck from its owner.
After some wheelin’ and dealin’ they settled for
$10,000 for the duck and the pot.

Three days later the circus owner runs back to
the bar in anger, “Your duck is a rip-off! I put
him on the pot before a whole audience and he
didn’t dance a single step!”

“So?” asked the duck’s former owner, “did you
remember to light the candle under the pot?”

****

A group of blondes walk into a bar screaming “51
days.”  They order a round of drinks still
screaming, “51 days.”  The bartender wants to know
what the 51 days is all about but just can’t ask.

A while later, after many drinks the blondes are
still screaming, “51 days,” so the bartender decides
he has to ask.  As he delivers the next round to
the women he says “Ladies I have to know what’s
the 51 days about?”

The blondes replied “We had a jigsaw puzzle and on the
box it said 2-5 years and we did it in 51 days”

****

The first half of our lives is ruined by our
parents, and the second half by our children.

Clarence Darrow

****

This panda walks into a bar. He sits down at a
table. A waiter comes, and the panda orders his
food, and eats it. Then, he pulls out a gun and
blows the brains out of the waiter. When he gets
up and is about to leave, the bartender
yells, “Hey, you just shot my waiter! Where do
you think you’re going?” And the panda says, “I’m
a panda! Look it up!”

So the bartender looks up “panda” in the dictionary.
It reads: “Fur-bearing mammal, lives in Australia.
EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES.”

****

We are born naked, wet and hungry.
Then things get worse.

****

There is a blond driving through the country. She
has just dyed her hair brown because she is sick
of being made fun of. She is really hungry. She
stops at a farmer’s house and says “Hi! If I can
guess how many sheep you have, can I have one?”
Farmer says OK. She quickly counts them and says”91!”

The farmer looks around puzzledly and says
“Ok. Take one.” When the Blond is walking back to
her car the farmer asks “If I can guess your
natural hair color, can I have my dog back?”

 

Book Review #3

This will be a review of Lee Child’s third Jack Reacher novel.  I will do reviews of books other than the Reacher set, I promise.  It’s just that I’ve reached the point in life where I have no need or desire to better my brain, or learn anything.  I read just for fun, and to pass the time.  Many years ago, I kidded the wife about the “Nurse Jane” romance novels she read.  As the son grew up, in his desperation to read anything, he got hooked on several of these series.  Now I denigrate them at my peril.

Both the romantic novels, and my men’s adventure books are one short step up from comic books, and are hardly serious enough prose to base a review on.  They’re not a complete waste of time though.  A surprising number of crossword and Jeopardy answers can be found in their gossamer plots.

The Author – Lee Child

The Book – Tripwire

The Review

Before he died of cancer, the old General who trained Reacher as an MP, started an investigation.  People are dying because a scam-artist from the Viet Nam war still doesn’t want to be found after 30 years, and the General’s daughter is in danger.

I don’t go looking for mistakes, but I’m observant enough that I often find them, especially in print.  Reacher starts the book with two jobs in Key West.  To protect the girl, he needs to get to New York soonest, so he has a stripper drive him in her Porsche to the Miami airport, in the middle of the night.  The book says, the only time she slowed to under 100 MPH, was when she went across the causeway to the mainland.

I drove out to Key West and back once.  It’s a hundred miles of on and off tiny islands, and through small towns, on a narrow, two-lane road, smaller than some English country lanes.  Average speed was about 40 MPH.  To try it at a hundred, almost guarantees that someone dies, and what for?  Why not fly out of the Key West airport?  There are 58 flights to NYC a day, 47 of them direct flights, starting at 7:55 AM.

It gave Reacher a chance to do some role-playing disguise.  If you strut up to the desk at Miami, and buy a one-way ticket with cash, you will be stopped and questioned by police about drug-smuggling.  Reacher looked poor, and non-threatening.

I began to wonder if Lee Child was being paid off for product placement by General Motors.  The heroine drove an Oldsmobile Bravada SUV.  The two contract killers drove either a Chevy Yukon, or a GMC Tahoe.  Child knows that they are the same vehicle, except for badging, but, being a Brit, he called them all Jeeps.

British word-usage was endemic through the book.  The heroine wore trousers instead of slacks or pants.  The missing man studied accountancy, not accounting, and had a passing-out ceremony instead of a graduation.  That sounds like a university party, or an old Victor Borge skit.  Everyone carried mobiles instead of cell phones.  I felt almost at home as Child described a road in New York City which changed names four times as it traveled from one borough, into the next.

In this book, Child seems to have a real fixation on the Hudson River.  He has the General’s home directly across it from West Point, and an old couple’s house 30 miles further up-river.  Three times in one chapter, he has someone approach it and note, “A mile-wide hush in the forest ahead.”  Come on, this isn’t the Mighty Mississippi.  It’s the Hudson, a hundred miles from the mouth; you can almost skip a stone across.

Child often provides a plethora of descriptive detail, usually right where you don’t need it.  When Reacher visited the old couple, Child listed all kinds of flowers, shrubs and trees.  He described a once-wide walkway, now reduced to a narrow trail through the overgrowing bushes.  I looked out my back window at plants the wife and I spent ten years planting, and getting to grow, but now don’t have the time or strength to uproot, or trim back.

This is just an eBook problem.  I was reading, and Reacher passed a homeless bum, but I saw it as burn.  I chalked it up to old eyes, until I saw the word again in the next chapter.  There it was again, burn, not bum.  Kobo has a feature where you can just tap a word on the screen, and it will give you a dictionary meaning.  Sure enough, it defined “BURN.”

Drug dealers in NYC use any gun they can get their hands on, usually obtained through break-ins and theft.  Reacher took down a lookout, a guard and a dealer, to get a handgun, all while he waited for a pizza.  The lookout had a Chinese .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol – odd, but possible in the Big Apple.  The guard had a .38 caliber revolver, which Child had Reacher throw away, because he had been told that they had no stopping power.

Child armed the drug dealer with a 9 MM Steyr GB, rare and expensive even in Europe, their home, but even more rare and expensive in New York.  I guess burglars can’t be choosers.  Later, the evil genius pulled out his handgun and pointed it at our damsel-in-distress.  Child has her describe it as “flat black, but shiny, bedewed with droplets of oil.”  “Flat black” means it has a non-rust coating, and doesn’t need to be oiled on the outside.  That much oil would foul clothing and/or the holster, causing the gun to fall out, and might make it nigh-impossible to hold.

He later reached into his pocket and removed a 1 inch diameter roll of duct tape, with perhaps five yards left on it.  Sounds like more British goods.  Every roll I’ve seen in North America has a 3 inch core.  This book was written in 1997, and Child has Reacher go to an Army Forensic Anthropologist, to absolutely identify the bones of returned Viet Nam MIAs.  This was just as Kathy Reichs was getting started as a writer.  I wonder, which came first, the Chicken-Colonel, or the Bones?

In the end, Reacher jumps in front of one of those puny .38s, and takes a hit, to save the damsel.  He wakes up in the hospital to be told that the powerful pectoral muscles over his sternum stopped the bullet.  There are no muscles over the sternum, and, if there were, they wouldn’t stop a .38 at eight feet.

While these books are as much fun as the drivel I won’t show you, I have trouble with the suspension of disbelief, and had hoped for a little more precision, and fewer plot holes.