Title: Basket Case
Author: Carl Hiaasen
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
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.
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 ihost.net.
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.georgevreilly.com at GitHub Pages.
I migrated most of the dasBlog content into a more Acrylamid-friendly …continue.
Title: Watership Down
Author: Richard Adams
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
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.
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 fucked up.
This is not how I expected tonight …continue.
Title: Hunted on the Fens
Author: Joy Ellis
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Joffe Books
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.
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.
Title: Flashman and the Angel of the Lord
Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Keywords: historical fiction, humor
Reading period: 27 August–4 September, 2016
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.
Title: In For The Kill
Author: John Lutz
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
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.
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.
- I may write, but it is not mandatory,
- 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.
I haven’t tried it yet but I think it might be effective for …continue.
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),
Schismatrix Plus (Bruce Sterling).