Article: Westar Energy plan would raise rates on residential customers, decrease those of large businesses

Westar Energy plan would raise rates on residential customers, decrease those of large businesses

One of the many reasons l left Wichita in the mid 90s was the sky high electric rates. Today the rate in the KC metro area has met and exceeded that rate. Giving big business a rate cut on the backs of residential customers should not be allowed.

Book Review: The Beekeeper’s Apparentice by King (3.5 Stars)

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King

3.5 out of 5 stars

Read in August 2010

An enjoyable variation on the Holmes theme.  I discerned the major mystery and hidden mastermind behind it early (as I usually do), but missed the connection to the earlier mystery.

The characterization was better than most mystery novels I’ve read.  I especially enjoyed the fugue of an intelligent deductive teenage woman (Mary Russell) juxtaposed with a retired bored (and lonely) Sherlock Holmes.  The usual suspects cameoed:  Mrs. Hudson; Dr. Watson; Mycroft; and, even Lastrade (TNG version).

I may continue with the series, when I need a break from my normal heavier, layered reading.

Book Review: The Big Sleep by Chandler (4 Stars)

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

4 out of 5 stars

Read in June 2009

My first foray into the crime fiction genre.  I liked private investigator Philip Marlowe.  An intelligent, patient, witty guy treading water in the morass of 1930s Los Angeles society, both high and low.  Amazing how closely connected the upper and lower strata actually are.

Marlowe accepted a job from a very wealthy elderly General, to investigate and thwart a blackmail attempt concerning his daughter.  But blackmail wasn’t what was on everyone’s mind.

It’s hard to review mysteries, or crime, fiction without spoilers.  So I won’t despoil your enjoyment of this classic.  I do highly recommend it though.

Book Review: Unbroken by Hillenbrand (4 Stars)

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

4 out of 5 stars

Read in June 2013

Unbroken was the May (and unexpectedly June) 2013 selection for Stranger Than Fiction book discussion group sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library. I covered all the bases on this one, trying to get my husband to read along with me, but alas his health took a turn for the worse during this time, so the hardcover edition I checked out from the library for him sat gathering dust.  Meanwhile, I alternated between the ebook edition, checked out through the library’s Overdrive app on my Android smartphone, and the audiobook on CD (also checked out from the library).  I much prefer listening to non-fiction than reading it.  Nothing puts me to sleep faster than non-fiction, but I  soon became ensnared by the riveting, nearly unbelievable facts, told in Unbroken.

Earlier this year, I joined the Stranger Than Fiction book group because I felt I needed to expand my reading horizons.  I often find myself in a repetitive reading rut, gorging on epic fantasy or the occasional fun space opera, but nothing much else of substance.  The only non-fiction I regularly imbibe in are technical manuals for the software I support at work.  I’ve read so many of those, I think I could do technical writing in my sleep.

Unbroken often made me wince, and cry, and despair for an end to the torture and cruelty.   I learned things about the Pacific conflict during World War II that I did not learn in school, nor from countless war movies I’ve watched over the last three decades.  On the one hand, I’m appalled at the treatment of our POWs by the Japanese.  On the other, I’m disappointed in our education system for focusing too much time on the European theater (because we have a collective societal racial bias towards the Western World?).

Some of the discussion questions from our group meeting follow:

What made it so Louie could survive?

One reader began discussing something he’d read about varying levels of testosterone.   We discussed Mac’s panicky eating of all the chocolate, where one of us quipped ‘death by chocolate’ and immediately retracted by stating ‘How dare I?’ because none of us knows how we would react in a similar situation.

What did you find most remarkable about three survivors on the ocean?

Our discussion leader’s immediate answer was ‘not eating Mac.’  Forty-seven days on a raft, half of their body weight lost, he asked us if we would consider cannibalism?  He further went on to define two different types of cannibalism: necro and homicidal.  I jumped in to this discussion, stating that after reading The Terror by Dan Simmons, I’d never, ever resort to cannibalism.  Some discussion resulted in the medical research and reasoning for why it is never a good idea to eat your fellow-man.

In the 30s and 40s, were Germany and Japan’s acts of mass atrocities the worst in history? What causes a society to stoop to this? Do we all carry this capacity for cruelty around inside of us?

Discussion resulted about authoritarian or totalitarian regimes and people being like sheep (even today) and preferring to be led around and told what to do.  Our leader provided a quote from Conservatives Without Conscience by John Dean.  I don’t have the exact words from my notes, but something about they ‘like being in charge’ and the ‘followers like feeling safe.’  One reader talked about sociopaths and psychopaths making up 20% of the population (now and then).  Another reader mentioned an experiment conducted in the 60s or 70s where a group of people were divided up in to prisoners and guards and another study about blue and brown-eyed people.

Louie appeared to be the beneficiary of several miracles: his escape from the plane; the bullets missing all occupants of the raft during several strafing runs; and, singing angels in the clouds overhead.  Someone made mention of the Best Years of Our Lives movie.

Would Louie have been justified in plotting to kill the Bird?  Would that have been moral? Would he have felt better had he returned to Japan?

His anger is justifiable and understandable, a normal reaction to being wronged.  Our discussion leader quoted several passages from a Guideposts article written by the author: “The Power of Forgiveness”  Another reader compared Unbroken to the movies “The Grey” and “Life of Pi.”

∞ ∞ ∞

Next month we read Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose.

Article: For Modern Jurors, Being On A Case Means Being Offline

For Modern Jurors, Being On A Case Means Being Offline

I realized the other day that my day job (and often my night and weekend job) in the legal industry reached the quarter century mark. And the last time l sat as a juror, I didn’t even own a cell phone (early 90s). Times have changed quite dramatically.

Article: Cybertruth: Disable Java? Tech experts say yes

Cybertruth: Disable Java? Tech experts say yes

I tried living without Java enabled in my browser but it prevented me from using nearly all my regular sites. lf this truly is the next battlefield, then developers need to convert or switch to a more secure alternative.