10 November 2009

What I'm Reading ...

I finished Michael Crighton's Airframe.  Worth a read if you see it a second-hand book store.  Some parts of this airline accident/investigation thriller are a bit contrived, but overall, MC hits the mark.  Crighton left this earth entirely too soon.  Love or hate his politics -- I'm conflicted -- he wrote fiction with a lucidity that is missing around these parts frequently.

I read Tuesday Morning Quarterback this evening.  Easterbrook is clear, erudite and funny: a good combination.  A highlight or two...

Unified Field Theory of Creep: Kevin Ong of Forest Hills, N.Y., notes that on Nov. 3, IHOP began serving "holiday hotcakes" -- eggnog or gingerbread pancakes. "Surely, the holidays they were referring to were Election Day and Veterans Day," Ong writes. IHOP will sell eggnog pancakes "for a limited time only." You mean they won't be offered for all eternity? Steve Langley of Wrentham, Mass., notes that, as reported by The Boston Globe, Republican House Whip Eric Cantor declared he opposed health care reform because "jobs and the economy" must come first "in this holiday season." The statement was made on Nov. 5. Happy Armistice Day!

... and ...

Before you feel too refreshed, David Rosenfeld of Baltimore points out this article about Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon's spending $4,500 in tax money to have two police officers accompany her last summer as bodyguards on her vacation in Miami. You know how dangerous those Florida beaches can be! This seems such a transparent abuse of public funds -- the bodyguards were not present to protect Mayor Dixon from terrorists disguised as bartenders, they were there to make her seem important -- that TMQ can't understand why a mayor vacationing with two bodyguards was not national news. Have we reached the point at which we assume it is normal for government officials to abuse public money? And the $4,500 was just the officers' travel expenses: They were also receiving pay and benefits to sightsee, rather than to work to reduce Baltimore's crime rate. The officers' travel funds included $1,900 for 10 days of rental car -- that's $190 a day, which is absurdly high. Hertz quotes 10 days of a Lincoln Town Car, for pickup at Miami International Airport next July, at $1,078 all inclusive. Ten days of a Chevy Impapa, the sort of car a public official ought to ride in, is quoted at $890, all inclusive. Baltimore is in terrible fiscal condition, with cutbacks in essential services, and the mayor is wasting taxpayers' money on a couple of guys to carry her luggage. Meanwhile, Nathan Nailling of Floyd, Ark., reports, "ESPN showed Tim Tebow being escorted by five Florida state troopers as he entered the stadium Saturday."

Finally, if you're interested in Iran and sanctions, Foreign Policy Magazine has the full rollout.  I just printed it out myself so it'll get read in the next few days.  Check it out here.

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