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Author Archives: damonjwalker

John Sandford’s ‘Lucas Davenport’ Series

I am re-reading one of John Sandford’s excellent police procedurals centered around Minneapolis detective Lucas Davenport. Lucas may be my favorite character in popular fiction and the books are great because, over and above the mysteries, he is surrounded by an entertaining group of realistic characters.

The interplay between Sandford’s people, and his good eye and wry wit when describing people and situations is reason enough to dive into this great series. By all means, start with Rules of Prey. It is the first of what is now a 26-book series and you want to follow along as Lucas and those close to him change and grow, and…

The one I am re-reading is Night Prey and, while I know who the killer is, I don’t remember exactly how they put the case together and catch him. (Give me a break. I read it more than twenty years ago for the first time.) I am just in the mood to be entertained and this is doing the trick.

Night Prey cover

Here is an excerpt to show you how well Sandford plies his trade:

“You cleared the domestic on Dupont,” Lucas asked. [He is talking to Det. Sloan]
“Yeah, with the hammer and chisel.”
“Hurts to think about it.” Lucas grinned.

“Got it right between the eyes,” Sloan said, impressed. He’d never had a hammer-and-chisel job before, and novelty wasn’t that common in murder. Most of it was a half-drunk guy scratching his ass and saying, Jesus, she got me really pissed, you know? Sloan went on. “She waited until he was asleep, and whack. Actually, whack, whack, whack. The chisel went all the way through to the mattress. She pulled it out, put it in the dishwasher, turned the dishwasher on, and called 911. Makes me think twice about going to sleep at night. You catch your old lady staring at you…”

“Any defense? Long-term abuse?”

“Not so far. So far, she says it was hot inside, and she got tired of him laying there snoring and farting. You know Donovan up in the prosecutor’s office?”
“Yeah.”
“Says he of taken a plea to second if it’s been only one whack,” Sloan said. “With whack-whack-whack, he’s gotta go for first degree.”

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Is Fox News Guilty of Extortion?

On July 24, 2016 the Sunday edition of The New York Times carried an article disclosing a significant pattern of sexual harassment at Fox News, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation media empire.

Headlined At Fox News, Kisses, Innuendo, Propositions and Fears of Reprisal the piece focuses on Rudi Bakhtiar, who “came to Fox News Channel’s New York headquarters with a command of foreign policy, an appealing personality and a delivery that easily switched between light and serious.

Rudi-Bakhtiar

I remember Rudi Bakhtiar from her days on camera at CNN. I was very disappointed when she moved to Fox News because I don’t, for the most part, watch it.
 
When I read that they had dropped her I couldn’t believe it. I should have suspected something like this because she was an excellent newscaster, very sharp and fluid. Seemingly knowledgeable about everything she addressed (i.e. not just a copy reader). And she was a stunning presence on the screen.
 
If there is any substance to what is alleged in this article, I don’t see why Fox News wouldn’t be the subject of a RICO investigation. This would be a sustained pattern of extortion. Just because it is not money, doesn’t mean that the victim is not being extorted. In fact, in this case, it deals with something more precious than money.

 

 

The Sad State of Presidential Politics

I can think of no better symbol of how low our national politics have sunk than the current structure of convention coverage. We have gone from Walter Cronkite, Eric Severeid, Huntley/Brinkley, Frank McGee and Roger Mudd, to:
 
Bill Mahr, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Seth Myers and Stephen Colbert.

John Oliver

colbert2

Comedian Stephen Colbert.

 

I have nothing aginst these guys, who are all very talented and entertaining. But the personnel fits the product… a joke.
 
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Posted by on July 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Cortez at the Pacific Ocean

One of my all-time favorite poems is John Keats’ “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer,” where he expresses the moment of discovery of something unimagined.

The final image is a simile comparing Keats’ awe with that of Hernando Cortez and his men and how they must have felt when they topped a mountain in Darien (now called Panama) and were the first Europeans to sight the awesome power of the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific-Ocean_-2.jpg

From ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ – BY JOHN KEATS

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

 
 

Le Lac Superieur

Lake Superior, in the United States, is considered the largest fresh-water lake in the world, when considering total surface area (31,700 square miles) . It is not only the largest lake in North America, but its water volume exceeds the total of all the other Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan & Erie) combined.
Lake Superior
The name Lake Superior was Anglicized by the British from the French designation “le lac superieur” meaning “the highest lake.” French explorers gave it that appellation since it extended geographically North of the others.

 
The true name of this massive glacial inland sea is, in Ojibwa Gichigami, or to the Anishaabe, Gichiami, depending on which group of the Ojibwa/Algonquin people you consult. I first heard this as a wee lad when my mother would read to me of a hero who live with his grandmother, Nokomis.

Hiawatha Granger Lithograph

Illustration by Felix Octavius CarrF. O. C.Darley (June 23, 1822 – March 27, 1888)

From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha

By the shore of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.
All the air was full of freshness,
All the earth was bright and joyous,
And before him, through the sunshine,
Westward toward the neighboring forest
Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo,
Passed the bees, the honey-makers,
Burning, singing in the sunshine.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

At the Threshold?

We are individuals, each our own person in various ways. We perceive pain differently. What may be agony to one person is, for another, a tolerable discomfort to be conquered.

While I do some cycling for exercise, I look at what the riders on each year’s version of the Tour de France endure (2,000+ miles over 23 days; sprints at 50-60 MPH mixed with endless rides up the mountains of the Alps and the Pyrenees) and I simply don’t see how they do it.

We have different tolerances for alcohol, noise, crowds, disorder. This is all part of what makes us a species with remarkably varied levels of tolerance.

Today, when checking the news wires, I was struck by another area in which we seemingly have vast differences in taste and tolerance – the level at which we judge someone to be a stark-raving lunatic.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

JFK Throws Out First Pitch – April 8, 1962

The Atlantic has released a 50-picture trove of photographs of John F. Kennedy, from before and during his presidency. Below is JFK getting ready to throw out the ball to start the American League season on April 8, 1962.
What I find particularly interesting is that on Kennedy’s immediate left is Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen (R-IL) who was, at that time, the Minority Leader in the Senate. Can you imagine, in this day and time, a president and the Senate leader of the opposite party (whether Minority or Majority) choosing to sit together through an entire baseball game?
We have become a fractious and infantile society. I think the greatest influence on our political climate, over the last 20 years, has been the World Wrestling Federation.
President John F. Kennedy opening the American League season at a Washington Senators game, April 8, 1962.

President John F. Kennedy opening the American League season at a Washington Senators game, April 8, 1962.

 

 

You can view the entire collection at: http://www.theatlantic.com/special-report/jfk/

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2013 in Look Back In History

 

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