’19 A To Z Challenge – N

AtoZ2019letter-n

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good morning readers. I’d like to introduce you to Romulus and Remus’ twin sisters

NOCTEM and NOCTIS

Twin Sisters

Noctem is the prettier of the two, but she hasn’t applied for her language passport yet. She’s still Latin, and hasn’t been accepted into English. She’s a party-girl, who hangs out with the likes of Paris Hilton, and Paris Jackson. Her rallying cry and motto is “carpe noctem,” which means ‘seize the night.’ This is like YOLO. Live tonight as if there will be no tomorrow – you know…. a rave.

Noctis is the hard-working, studious one of the pair. Her name means ‘of the night,’ and, being fair-skinned, that’s when she does her best work. She can be found in libraries, university study halls, and 24-hour, McDonald’s drive-thru’s. She’d get more dates if we could convince her to change the spelling of her name to Noctic, to be more adjectival, like ‘frantic’, or ‘dyspeptic.’ I guess not, though. She has a select group of admirers who appreciate her exotic attraction.

I feel kinda sorry for Noctem. When you ‘carpe diem,’ you seize the entire, 24-hour day, but when you ‘carpe noctem,’ you only get the dark part of it. If you do it right though, that’s all you need. Once a king, always a king, but once a knight is enough. 😆

Book Review #19

The Psychology Of Time Travel

The Book – The Psychology of Time Travel

The Author– Kate Mascarhenas (?)

The Review – Let’s start with the author’s name. It’s really Kate Flynn, but the name on the cover is Mascarhenas. That comes from the same base as ‘mask’, and ‘mascara.’ It’s a Portuguese-language nom de plume, which means “nom de plume.”

In the book, she includes the words ‘quango’ and ‘lanugo,’ neither common, even in Britain. They are valid English words, but seem as if they should be peeking out of a Romance language, like Spanish, or Italian. I’ll properly introduce you to them later.

This is a book – by a woman – for women – about women. It includes the description of an 8-year-old girl’s birthday party, where, “Her blonde ringlets hung down to the tops of her puffed sleeves, and her lacy skirt stood out straight to the side whenever she twirled around, which she did, a lot.”

The story is inhabited almost entirely by females. The only men who show up, are a male police detective and a journalist, who provide information and clues to the young woman investigating a locked-door murder.

The British authoress works in a commentary on racist attitudes in England. Our hardy, mixed-race investigator came to England as a child, from the Seychelles Islands, where she viewed herself as white. Having recently graduated University as an Engineer, she is working for the time-travel Conclave as a volunteer, but the female police constable who interviews her, regards her as colored, and assumes that she is the cleaning woman.

As usual, I was hoping for some temporal paradoxes to be solved, or some Back To The Future III suspense and manoeuvring, to prevent them. Didn’t happen! I was not surprised to not be given, even a vague hint, at how the time-travel process was accomplished, but it was invented by four women.

As a linguist, I was pleased to read that the process was powered by a newly-discovered, transuranic element called Atroposium, aptly-named after Atropos, the Greek Goddess who cut the thread of fate of mortals’ lives. Apparently the stuff was so safe and stable that it could be carried around in charcoal briquette-sized lumps, wrapped in lead foil.

While not described or explained, the time-travel process is so simple that it is used to produce a child’s toy, a Rubik’s-cube-sized box with a hole in the top. Children put candy in, and it disappears, only to return a minute later. What would happen if they stuck their finger in?

The “psychology” of the title is really just the mental stress felt by (female) time-travellers, caused by experiencing history in a non-linear way. Travelling to the past, they meet people that they know are dead. Travelling to the future, the see death certificates and gravestones for people they know are alive.

The detective/heroine goes back several times, to visit her father, who died when she was young. To her, the visits are weeks, or months, apart. I see, from his perspective, that she shows up twice the same afternoon, or on successive days. This grown woman is not his 8-year-old daughter. ‘Go away lady, you’re bothering me.’

I was expecting nothing when I ordered this book, and that’s what I got. No real time travel. No real psychology. It’s a good thing that I got it for free from the library. It had all the panache of a ‘Nurse Jane’ romance novel, full of ‘feelings.’ I feel disappointed and let down. I feel that I’ll need to read and review something with a little more OOMPH. Stay tuned; I’ll see you later.  🙂

THAT GETS MY GOAT

Goat

Two guys are walking through the woods and come across this big deep hole. 

“Wow…that looks deep.” “Sure does… toss a few pebbles in there and see how deep it is.” 

They pick up a few pebbles and throw them in and wait… no noise. 

“Jeeez. That is REALLY deep… here.. throw one of these great big rocks down there. Those should make a noise.” 

They pick up a couple of football-sized rocks and toss them into the hole and wait… and wait. Nothing. 

They look at each other in amazement. One gets a determined look on his face and says, “Hey…over here in the weeds, there’s a railroad tie. Help me carry it over here. When we toss THAT sucker in, it’s GOTTA make some noise.” 

The two drag the heavy tie over to the hole and heave it in. Not a sound comes from the hole. 

Suddenly, out of the nearby woods, a goat appears, running like the wind. It rushes toward the two men, then right past them, running as fast as its legs will carry it. Suddenly it leaps in the air and into the hole. 

The two men are astonished with what they’ve just seen… 

Then, out of the woods comes a farmer who spots the men and ambles over. 

“Hey… you two guys seen my goat out here?” 

“You bet we did! Craziest thing I ever seen! It came running like crazy and just jumped into this hole!” 

“Nah”, says the farmer, “That couldn’t have been MY goat. My goat was chained to a railroad tie.”

***

Scottish Flag

A Scotsman walks into a Glasgow library and says to the chief librarian,

‘Excuse me Miss, dey ye hae ony books on suicide?’

To which she stops doing her tasks, looks at him over the top of her glasses and says, ‘Bugger off, ye’ll no bring it back!’

***

A thoughtful Scottish husband was putting his coat and hat on to make his way down to the local pub.

He turned to his wee wife before leaving and said, “Maggie — put your hat and coat on, lassie.”

She replied, “Aw, Jock, that’s nice, are you taking me tae the pub with you?”

“Nae,” Jock replied. “I’m turning the heat off while I’m out.”

***

A clearly inebriated woman, stark naked, jumped into a taxi in New York City and lay down on the back seat.

The cab driver, an old Jewish gentleman, opened his eyes wide and stared at the woman. He made no attempt to start the cab.

The woman glared back at him and said, “What’s wrong with you, honey? – Haven’t you ever seen a naked woman before?”

The old Jewish driver answered, “Let me tell you sumsing, lady. I vasn’t staring at you like you tink; det vould not be proper vair I come from.”

The drunk woman giggled and responded, “Well,if you’re not staring at my boobs or ass, sweetie, what are you doing then?”

He paused a moment, then told her…”Vell, M’am, I am looking and I am looking, and I am tinking to myself, ’Vair in da hell is dis lady keeping de money to pay for dis ride?’

***

A boy was bagging groceries at a supermarket. One day the store installed a machine for squeezing fresh orange juice. Intrigued, the young man asked if he could be allowed to work the machine, but his request was denied.

Said the store manager, “Sorry, kid, but baggers can’t be juicers.”

—–

One caller to our answering service gave me his name, number and message and then said, “You know my name. What’s yours?”

“4136,” I replied, since we were allowed only to give our operator numbers.

Sounding disappointed, he said, “May I call you by your first digit, or would that be too personal?”

—–

As we stood in formation at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, our Flight Instructor said, “All right! All you dummies fall out.”

As the rest of the squad wandered away, I remained at attention.

The Instructor walked over until he was eye-to-eye with me, and then just raised a single eyebrow.

I smiled and said, “Sure was a lot of ’em, huh sir?”

—–

The chairman of the board of our company called me into his office to tell me the good news. I was being promoted to Vice President of Corporate Research and Planning.

Of course, I was excited, but that didn’t stop me from asking for my new title to be changed to Vice President of Corporate Planning and Research.

“Why?” asked the chairman.

“Because,” I said, “our organization uses abbreviated job titles, and I don’t want be known as VP of CRAP.”

***

 

Book Review #18

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & The Madness Of Crowds

I am ticked off…. or rather, this book is ticked off the reading list challenge that I don’t follow.

It was originally published before I was born – more than a century before. It was first printed in 1841. The copy that I got on an inter-library loan was reprinted in 1980. It had 3 prefaces – the original, a slightly revised version when the author had it reprinted 30 years later, and yet another from the 1980 re-release.

The 1980 instigator was taking a University Psychology course, when he thought he heard the instructor speaking of an old book about The Madness Of Krauts. He didn’t realize that Germans were called Krauts, that far back. A check of the University library showed him his mistake, but since the copyright had long expired, he felt that he could make a little money by having it reprinted.

This book was a disappointment, yet also a delight to me. Even since the ‘70s, there have been great changes and improvements in psychiatry and psychology, but since I only knew of the 1980 publish date, I hoped to get some fairly up-to-date insights into mob behavior. The 1841 composer rendered none of that. He only provided recountings of historical events which were notable for mass delusion.

These included the likes of the monetary bubble, collapse of the Louisiana Investment scam/scandal, the sad failure of the earliest attempt at a German Crusade, and the ongoing hysteria of the witch hunts. While the historical details were interesting enough, he delivered them all with the long-winded panache of someone reciting a Life Insurance actuarial table.

With the German Crusade, 100,000 young men were said to have started out, but only a handful survived, even to reach Constantinople, because of fighting among themselves, and with the armies of states and countries they marched through and denuded for food and drink.

As usual, the section on the witch hunts provided the worst atrocities. It was both a Church and State viewpoint that, “Because of the seriousness of this offence, none who are accused of this horrid crime shall escape torture to make them confess their sins. It is better that a million shall die, than that one witch shall be allowed to escape.”

Even while trying to do good, the well-intentioned did bad. As the witch-hunt frenzy was ebbing, a minor member of British Nobility tried an experiment. He was unconvinced that torture-induced confessions, and especially the naming of other witches, was valid.

He was acquainted and friends with, two Jesuit priests who acted as judges at the torture trials. To convince them of his viewpoint, he used a woman accused and imprisoned as a witch. They all attended the torture chamber, and he acted as interrogator. He had the woman stretched on the rack, and afflicted with the gamut of horrible tortures. Within a day, she admitted that she was a witch. Skillfully using leading questions, he also had her claim that the two Jesuits were wizards, calling them by name.

As they left the building, leaving the poor woman to her undeserved fate, the senior priest said, “It is well that this was done by a friend, rather than by an enemy.” And so, the witch-hunt frenzy slowly died, but not before thousands of innocent people also suffered and died.

This book is old enough to display some of the some of the English language’s spelling shifts. Words like ‘showed’, and ‘shown’ were printed as shewed, and shewn. While it was not what I thought I was getting, still it was an interesting read.

2017 Books Read

That title is a calendar reference, not mathematical. I did not read two thousand and seventeen books – I’ve probably read twice that many in my lifetime – just not all last year.

With the daughter’s power wheel chair missing, the wife’s two knee replacement surgeries, more visits to more doctors, and the discovery of yet another crossword puzzle site, my book reading fell off significantly. From 51 books in last year’s post, I was down to about 25 in 2017.

I also reread a few old sci-fi books that I didn’t count, and a few on the list are 700/800 page – one even 1200 page – super-books, the equivalent of 2 or 3 books each. Here’s what occupied some of my time

Charles E. Gannon -Commander Cantrell In The West Indies

1636 Commander Cantrell in the West Indies

Another in the ‘1632’ series about a modern Tennessee town transported back in time, and how the inhabitants struggle to survive, both politically and literally.  Sadly, it’s all alternate history, and no real action, just a reason to sell another 800-page blah book.

Mark Greany – The Grey Man – On TargetOn Target

The Gray Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the ghost writers for the now-deceased Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Jr. series, this author has one of his own action series about an ex-CIA assassin, forced to go independent.

Tom Clancy’s – Full Force And Effect – On Target

Full Force And EffectUnder Fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Clancy’s name is the one that still attracts readers, but Mark Greaney and Grant Blackwood are two of 3 or 4 contract writers who pump them out.

Lee Child – Night School

Night School

After four years, I’m caught up.  It has been a most enjoyable series.  There will be one more Jack Reacher book this year, one more Dan Brown novel, and one more Ilona Andrews ‘Magic’ book in 2018.

Ilona Andrews – Magic Binds

Magic Binds

I got out of ‘Magic’ Sci-Fi about 30 years ago, but this series has lots of diverse character and plot development, thought and planning, and action.

Steve Perry – Patriot Threat

The Patriot Threat

A Dan Brown type of author, with a wide range of plot ideas, very enjoyable, but with just not quite the same OOMPH.

James Rollins – Blood Line – The Eye Of God

Blood Line

The Eye Of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like Steve Perry, above, a good, solid action/adventure author.

Clive Cussler – Plague Ship

Plague Ship

While not dead, like Clancy, Cussler is old enough that he is co-writing with his son Dirk, and a couple of other commercial writers, as well as establishing the story arc and parameters, and letting them loose.

Will Adams – The Lost Labyrinth

The Lost Labyrinth

A fresh young writer who isn’t likely to die before I do.  His books (so far) are about action and intrigue around Middle Eastern archeological sites.

E.E. (Doc) Smith – Subspace Encounter

Subspace Encounter

A re-read that I downloaded a cover for.  I also re-read his ‘Skylark’ series, The Skylark of Space, Skylark Three, Skylark of Valeron, and Skylark Duquesne.  This year I hope to re-read all 12 of his ‘Family D’Alembert’ series.  While not as prolific as Isaac Asimov, Doc still pumped out almost 50 novels in four different series.

E.C. Tubb – Earth Is Heaven – Melome – Angado – Symbol Of Terra

Earth Is HeavenMelome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AngadoSymbol of Terra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I lost this series about 20 years ago, after reading the first 26 episodes.  I recently thought of it again, and found that there were seven more available on Kindle.  The original author wrote to number 31 before he died.  He left notes for novel number 32, which his estate hired another commercial writer to assemble.  The story arc almost got the hero home to Earth, so he wrote a happily-ever-after finale to this epic tale.  I read four of them in 2017, and plan to finish the other three this year.

James S. A. Corey – Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes

Recommended by BrainRants, this is the first of five books, being made into a television series on SYFY, which I can’t get here in Canada.  The hero ‘acquires’ a slightly outdated destroyer spaceship, and renames it Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse, establishing the whole ’tilting at windmills’ flavor of the story.

Robert Asprin/Linda Evans – Tales Of The Time Scouts II

Tales of the Time Scouts II

Another adventure into the paradoxes of time travel.  This is actually 800 pages of two related stories in one (large) book.

Thomas Cathcart/Daniel Klein – Plato And A Platypus Walk Into A Bar

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar

Another recommended book, although, with apologies, I can’t remember the nice gentleman’s name.  (Stand up Sign in and take a bow.)  This one explores the philosophy and psychology of jokes and humor.  I can’t find its companion, ‘Aristotle And An Aardvark Go To Washington’ in Canada.  I’ll wait till the next time we order something from Amazon, and add it to the order to get free shipping.

Well, that’s (more than) enough about me.  Besides my output, what did you read last year??

You’re Pulling My Leg….Off

Pirate

A man is walking down by the docks, and sees an old man standing at the end of the pier with an eye-patch, peg-leg, and a hook for a hand. He figures this guy’s got some good stories, so he wanders over and asks the man, “Excuse me, but do you mind my asking where you got your peg-leg?”
“Arr, ’tis a good story, matey. I was climbin’ up the rigging, and a rogue wave came along and smashed into the boat. I lost me footing and fell in the water, when a shark came along and bit off me leg.”
“Wow, that’s terrifying! What about your hook?”
“Arr, ’tis a good story, matey. We were sailin’ along when we were boarded by a band of marauders! I got in a sword fight with one of ’em and he cut off me hand, so I had a hook put on.”
“Jeez, that’s horrible! Alright, how about the eye-patch?”
“Arr, ’tis a good story, matey. I was out on the deck one day, with clear blue skies all around. I looked up in the sky, and a seagull came along and he pooped in me eye!”
“So, you lost your eye because a seagull pooped in it?”
“Well, ’twas the first day I had me hook.”

=====*=====

Man goes to the library and approaches the front desk. He asks the librarian: “I was wondering if you had the book I ordered? It’s for men with small penises.”

She replies: “I don’t know if it’s in yet.”

He says: “Yeah, that’s the one.”

=====*=====

If trees screamed, would we be so willing to cut them down?
Maybe, if they screamed all the time.

=====*=====

A man walks into the street and hails a passing taxi. “Perfect timing,” he tells the driver. “You’re just like Frank.”
”Who?” asks the cabbie.
“Frank Fielding. He did everything right. Great tennis player, wonderful golfer, sang like Pavarotti.”
“Sounds like quite a guy.”
“Not only that, he remembered everyone’s birthday, was a wine connoisseur, and could fix anything. And his wardrobe – immaculate! He was the perfect man. No one could measure up to Frank.”
“Amazing. How’d you meet him?”
“Oh, I never met Frank.”
“How do you know so much about him?”
“I married his widow.”

 

Another Line Of One-Liners

Comedy

Santa Claus now has 10 reindeer. He’s taken on Rudolph’s brother, Henry the brown-nose reindeer.
Henry can run as fast as Rudolph, but his depth perception isn’t as good.
***
If your apartment is hit by a dolphin, DO NOT GO OUT TO SEE IF THE DOLPHIN IS OKAY.
That’s how the hurricane tricks you into coming outside.
***
I told my boyfriend we could watch porn for his birthday and do everything that we saw in the video…
He was super psyched, until I fucked the pizza guy.
***
I learned yesterday that a school of piranhas can strip all the flesh off of a child’s body in less than a minute…
On the downside, I lost my job at the aquarium…
***
My sexual desires have been getting out of control…
But it wasn’t until I spanked a statue that I knew I’d hit rock bottom…
***
I have a condition where I feel the need to steal library books.
I should probably get that checked out.
***
What do you call an IT teacher who has sex with his students?
A PDF File.
***
I speak my mind….
Because it hurts to bite my tongue all the time.
***
Calm down! Take a deep breath –
and hold it for 20 minutes
***
What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?
Don’t know, don’t care.
***
I just cancelled my gym membership.
I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.
***
I go to the gym so seldom, I still call it James.
***
EXERCISE??! I thought you said ‘Extra fries.’
***
What do you call a book club that’s been stuck on the same book for years….
….The Church
***
As a kid, I used to stick my tongue out to flirt with girls. My parents disapproved.
As an adult, the girl’s parents disapprove.
***
A man dies and goes to heaven. He meets God and asks him “What is the meaning of life?”
“Well, if I told you, it’d ruin the joke”
***
I got pulled over by a policeman… He came to the window and said “Papers…”
I said ‘scissors, I win!’ and drove off!
He must be desperate for a rematch as he’s been chasing me for ages!
***
We hang our petty thieves, and elect the great ones to public office.
Aesop
***