George V. Reilly

Review: Basket Case

Title: Basket Case
Author: Carl Hiaasen
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Copyright: 2002
Pages: 336
Keywords: crime, humor
Reading period: 28–31 December, 2016

Basket Case, like most of Hiaasen’s novels, is a humorous crime caper set in Florida. Quick-witted but neurotic reporter Jack Tagger has been exiled to the obituary department for mouthing off too often. When Jimmy Stoma, lead singer of the Slut Puppies, dies in an apparent accident, Tagger senses a potential story and a chance for a comeback. But he has to get the story before it gets taken away from him.

Hiaasen, himself a journalist, also uses the novel to explore journalism as a career and to rant continue.

Blog Cleanup

I started this blog 14 years ago, in February 2003, on EraBlog, a long-defunct platform. Many of my early posts expressed outrage at the imminent Iraq War. Within a couple of years, I had moved to running dasBlog on my own website, hosted at

I wrote a lot of posts over the next decade. With rare exception, most posts were composed offline as re­Struc­tured­Text and saved in a repository. There was no formal schema and most posts did not know their permalink.

In late 2014, I moved to the Acrylamid static blog generator and I hosted www.georgevreil­ at GitHub Pages. I migrated most of the dasBlog content into a more Acrylamid-friendly continue.

Review: Watership Down

Title: Watership Down
Author: Richard Adams
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Avon
Copyright: 1972
Pages: 476
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 28 December, 2016–1 January, 2017

Upon hearing of Richard Adams’ recent death, I reread Watership Down for the first time in many years. I first read it not long after Penguin published it in paperback. I believe that I was given the book for my ninth birthday in 1974, or perhaps for my tenth, but I think it was my ninth. Certainly the giver was my godfather, my Uncle Gabriel, who also gave me The Lord of the Rings and the Titus Groan nov­el­s—other books which I reread many times.

I’m happy to continue.

Election Night 2016

As I write this, it’s 2320 PST on Election Night 2016. Trump has 248 votes in the Electoral College, Clinton has 218; 270 votes are needed to win. It’s not over yet—­sev­er­al key swing states have yet to de­clar­e—but it’s likely that I will wake up to headlines about President-Elect Trump.

What. The. Fuck! America!? How could we do this? How!?

The most unsuitable, un­qual­i­fied, unfit party nominee ever to run for US President is closing in on victory. One of the most qualified candidates ever is trailing in the polls and is unlikely to win. How did this happen?

This is the US’s Brexit moment. We failed. We fucked up. This is not how I expected tonight continue.

Review: Hunted on the Fens

Title: Hunted on the Fens
Author: Joy Ellis
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Joffe Books
Copyright: 2016
Pages: 291
Keywords: police procedural
Reading period: 14 August–7 September, 2016

DI Nikki Galena and her team have been targeted by someone with a vicious grudge. One copper is dead, another is badly injured, Galena has been hounded out of her home, and civilians have been hurt too. The cops have no idea who’s behind it.

The story is over­wrought but the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion was good and the story was en­ter­tain­ing.

Alembic: Data Migrations

We use Alembic to perform schema migrations whenever we add (or drop) tables or columns from our databases. It’s less well known that Alembic can also perform data migrations, updating existing data in tables.

Here’s an example adapted from a migration I put together this afternoon. I added a non-NULL Boolean stooge column to the old_timers table, with a default value of FALSE. I wanted to update certain rows to have stooge=TRUE as part of the migration. The following works with PostgreSQL.

Note the server_de­fault=sa.false() in the de­c­la­ra­tion of the stooge column, which is needed to initially set all instances of stooge=FALSE. I then declare a table which has only the two columns continue.

Review: Flashman and the Angel of the Lord

Title: Flashman and the Angel of the Lord
Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Plume
Copyright: 1994
Pages: 400
Keywords: historical fiction, humor
Reading period: 27 August–4 September, 2016
Flashman Papers X: 1858–59

Flashman and the Angel of the Lord finds Flashy back in America where everybody wants him to be the aide-de-camp to the abo­li­tion­ist John Brown, who’s plotting a raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry. The Un­der­ground Railroad want him to help Brown to start a slave rebellion; Kuklos (a proto KKK) want Brown to start a civil war to cause disunion; and finally the secret service want Flashman to sabotage Brown so as to continue.

Review: In For The Kill

Title: In For The Kill
Author: John Lutz
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Pinnacle
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 477
Keywords: thriller
Reading period: 20 Aug–3 Sep, 2016

The “Butcher” is leaving dis­mem­bered corpses of women all over New York City and he seems to want to get Frank Quinn’s goat. Quinn is a former police captain, who’s been called back from retirement along with two of his former team members, Pearl, his ex-girlfriend, and the slovenly Fedderman. The “Butcher” is brilliant and the body count is climbing.

While the book is properly sus­pense­ful, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief at the notion that the NYPD would have little more than Quinn’s tiny team working on such a major continue.

Productivity Hack: Do Nothing

I read an in­ter­est­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty hack: Writing or Nothing. It’s attributed to Raymond Chandler who set himself the goal of writing for four hours every day but often found himself goofing off. To curb himself of this, he set two rules about how he could spend those four hours.

  1. I may write, but it is not mandatory,
  2. Not do anything else.

The first rule is simple. The second is the key. If he’s not writing, he may not do anything else. No reading, no bill paying, no modern dis­trac­tions like surfing the web or playing a game on a phone. Self-enforced idleness. Nothing else.

I haven’t tried it yet but I think it might be effective for continue.

Kindle Monthly Deals: $3.99 or Less

Every month, Amazon offers hundreds of Kindle ebooks at $3.99 or less. As well as the dross, there are always a number of books that are great value at such a price. I just bought several from the September crop, including Bloodchild (Octavia Butler), The Con­fes­sions of Nat Turner (William Styron), Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet (Charlie Holmberg), Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence (Doris Pilkington), and Schis­ma­trix Plus (Bruce Sterling).

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