Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for March 15th, 2011

Recall in WI continues to gain steam

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Folks, this is encouraging news for those of us in Wisconsin who can’t abide what Governor Scott Walker and 18 of the 19 state Senate Republicans have done to our state since the first of this year.

Note that the writer of this article is Markos Moulitas, who owns the Daily Kos; he is obviously a partisan Democrat, yet this is a non-partisan article that explains where the polling lies currently in the eight districts where active recall efforts are occurring at present.  This article also states that the Democrats have already obtained 45% of the signatures in two weeks to recall all eight Republican state Senators eligible to be recalled right now.

The two guys that look like they’ll definitely lose are Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke.  But after that, things get tougher for the Dems . . . or do they?

This particular story says that Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, is currently beating a generic Dem. challenger by 8%.  However, the guy who’d challenge her is already known — it’s Sheldon Wasserman, who is a former Assemblymen (Wisconsin’s lower house), and he only lost to her by about 1000 votes in 2008.

My thought here is that the students at Marquette most likely were not polled as they mostly have cell phones (and anything from a dormitory which might be a landline probably wouldn’t be polled anyway), and I know those students are fired up.   I believe every Democratic activist on campus and off in Milwaukee has told every student who attends any college or university in Wisconsin to make sure to file for an absentee ballot to vote in these recall elections — and they certainly would do so for those students in residence at Marquette who live out of state (or even elsewhere in the state where no recall is occurring).  Getting an absentee ballot is quite legal, and asking for one in advance, while rare, isn’t unheard of — often it’s soldiers who get these — and in any event, getting the information in advance as to how to request an absentee ballot is always a good idea whether you’re in a recall district or not.

Anyway, my hunch is that the polling is really wrong regarding Ms. Darling.  As stated, she only won by about 1000 votes the last time she ran; people are enraged now, and many Republicans are mad at her because she was the person who ran the committee in the state Senate which let that awful “budget repair bill” out of the committee and into the whole Senate.  Note that it’s not just Democrats and Independents who are furious with her; many rank-and-file Republicans are angry, too, because she’s the one who had all the power in the world — she could’ve stopped this very easily early on, saying that this bill was too much, too soon, or at any rate took too much power away from the Senate/legislative branch and gave it to Walker and the executive branch instead.  But she didn’t.

My hunch remains that Alberta Darling will be the first one recalled, and that she will be recalled because she screwed up so badly by refusing to just kill the bill at the committee level.

And all the Dems need is three Rs to lose their seats . . . as Markos Moulitsas says, the Dems are in striking distance of six of these seats right now (including Alberta Darling’s), with only Mary Lazich and Glenn Grothman, for the moment, appearing safe.

But what that doesn’t reflect is this: Grothman, providing they get the signatures to force him to a recall, and Lazich too, may be primaried by other Republicans.  Meaning they may well be gone when it comes time to a general election against a Democrat or Independent; if they aren’t gone by then, my hunch would be an Independent would be likely to knock off Grothman or Lazich because once again, people are furious and people want some legislators who will really represent them at the state level — not just rubber stamp legislation because Scott Walker tells them to do so.

Until these polls start asking in those two districts whether other Republicans or perhaps a conservative-leaning Independent has a shot against Grothman or Lazich, I will continue to believe that even in these “reddest of the red” Republican districts, those Senators are likely to end up going home for good.  Because you cannot underestimate the fury in Wisconsin, and as John Nichols and another commentator (a woman who works for Grit-TV; sorry, I can’t recall her name) recently said on Ed Schultz’s MSNBC show, “The only thing that trumps big money is a fired-up populace, especially at the grass-roots level.”  (Then both of them, Nichols and the other lady, said that they have never seen an electorate more fired-up across the entire state of Wisconsin than what we have right now.  And that in their opinions, it’s likely all eight of these Senators will face recall elections.)

Finally, here is Moulitsas’s opinion regarding Scott Walker’s fate:

As for Walker, state law requires an elected official to have served one year before being recalled, which means the governor has a reprieve until January 2012. But it’s pretty clear he’ll get his turn.

And it will be fitting, because Walker has done more to activate Democrats than anyone since George W. Bush scurried back to Texas.

I agree with him, and wish to once again state for the record that many other Republican state Senators who were elected in 2010 will be recalled and replaced (by Dems or possibly Independents, and maybe even a different Republican or two in the “reddest” districts) along with Walker, including my own state Senator, Van Wanggaard, because they have refused to listen to their own constituents and that, my friends, is a no-no that’s way too big to ignore.

I can’t wait to sign the recall petitions.  (Hurry up, November!)

Japanese People do not loot after earthquake, tsunami

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Folks, this is truly astonishing.  After the 9.0 earthquake in Japan last weekend, and the tsunami/wall of water that devastated many communities, you’d think the Japanese people would be in turmoil.  That they’d be so upset that they wouldn’t care what they did nor how they did it . . . in short, that there would be riots, and perhaps even looting.

But there isn’t.

Why is that?

Well, Ed West is wondering the same thing, here:

As he says:

This is quite unusual among human cultures, and it’s unlikely it would be the case in Britain. During the 2007 floods in the West Country abandoned cars were broken into and free packs of bottled water were stolen. There was looting in Chile after the earthquake last year – so much so that troops were sent in; in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina saw looting on a shocking scale.

While Mr. West does not have an answer to this unusual, yet welcome phenomenon (there being no known rioting or looting in Japan despite extreme devastation in many areas, including at least one coastal town completely wiped off the map by the tsunami), I’m glad it’s occurred.  It’s amazing that this has happened, and I hope it continues.

Note that right now, as of 9:56 CDT, the workers at the Fukishima Nuclear Plant have been evacuated as the radiation levels have become so high that they’d not have survived if they’d stayed.  Over fifty workers had tried to shut that plant down by cooling it down, but their efforts have failed . . . all we can do now is hope the altruism shown by world governments, as well as the stoicism and self-belief shown by the people of Japan, will continue as things could be even worse unless that plant somehow cools down by itself (as now no workers can help in the effort, it would literally have to be either equipment failure that actually helps the plant cool down or perhaps an act of God that stops the plant from exploding or imploding to the point radiation levels do not rise).

I’ve been following this situation and I will continue to do so; the only reason I hadn’t yet blogged about it is because of the plethora of blogs I’ve seen all over the Web.  I have at least a few friends in Japan and several friends of Japanese extraction who are American . . . I wish I knew what to do besides saying my prayers are with them, because that sounds so clichéd that it’s almost meaningless/worthless.

Yet I do hope for the best and will continue to do so, as I strongly suspect most people around the world are doing the same.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 15, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Book Reviews: Taking a Second Look

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Sometimes it warrants taking a second look at a book; here’s a few books I’ve looked at in the past few years more than once after a review, and why.

First, the only book review I’ve ever had with more than one negative comment at Shiny Book Review was David Drake’s WHAT DISTANT DEEPS (which you can easily find here: I’d said that I didn’t understand why the hero, Captain Daniel Leary, didn’t seem to understand that his best friend and confidante, Adele Mundy, wanted more from him than that and I somewhat took the easy way out in refusing to define what I was talking about.  This called many people to tell me, publicly or privately, that I didn’t know what the (bleep) I was talking about . . . anyway, that review requires more explication, which I’m now going to provide.

Adele Mundy is a very complex woman, and I think David Drake has done a great job in adding to her character through eight RCN (Royal Cinnabar Navy) books thus far.  But she has a lot of built-in tension, and all of the references back to her family (which were murdered, horribly, by political enemies) make it clear she wants more from Daniel Leary than he’s capable of providing.

My problem was that I’d clearly said at first this was a romantic thing that she wanted.  This really wasn’t it, so I went back and softened this slightly — now in the review I say that “Mundy . . . cannot make Move One” due to her own background — but that, too, wasn’t enough.

Several folks who wrote to me pointed to things author Drake pointed out in his personal blog or at the Baen’s Bar Web site (go to and you can find the links from there), but I believe you find what meaning is there from the text alone.  And that meaning in this case shows tension for Adele Mundy every time she thinks about Daniel Leary . . . yet the fact is Adele really doesn’t seem interested in romance with Leary or anyone.  So then the problem becomes, rather than romantic love, what, truly, is it that Adele wants from Daniel Leary?

The Greeks had three different words for what we’d all lump in as one word — “love.”  The closest to what Adele seems to want from Leary is philios, the love of a friend or brother, yet this might not be the true and complete reading (the only thing I am sure of is that Adele does not want eros, or physical love, from Daniel Leary).  Philios is a type of intellectual love where a very smart person can appreciate someone else for his intellect or learning or perhaps even for his high compassion for others, but only on the intellectual or friendship planes.

Then there’s agape, which is a deeper love of friendship than philios, though it can have elements of philios in it (and sometimes even eros as well).  Agape is more of a spiritual love than philios; it also can be thought of as the love of God or Deity, though to my mind that’s not really what the Greeks were about.  (My hunch is that the Greeks didn’t really have a great word for the love of the Deity, so they threw it in with the love one person had for another person that was unconditional — because agape is definitely considered an unconditional love, and aren’t we supposed to love the Deity unconditionally?)

At any rate, Adele clearly wants philios, and probably agape too, from Daniel Mundy.  He’s more than a brother, more than a friend, but can never be a lover due to her own background.  I did not explain this well in my review and I’m sorry.

The next book that I looked at again, this time at the request of the author in question (Troy CLE), was OLIVION’S FAVORITES (available at here: ).  This was a book that I’d received through the Amazon Vine program and, quite frankly, did not understand at all the first time I read it.  Troy CLE’s universe started with THE MARVELOUS EFFECT (available from here: ), a really fun book about a good African-American kid, Louis Proof, but I hadn’t read that book and had no idea that book even existed when I read OLIVION’S FAVORITES.

Now, here was the deal with OLIVION’S FAVORITES.  CLE’s strategy was to write this book — which actually is “part 1 1/2” of the MARVELOUS WORLD series (being the book that in sequence overlapped somewhat with the first book of the series, THE MARVELOUS EFFECT) — because so very much happened to Louis (and his friends Cyndi and Devon) that he couldn’t depict in THE MARVELOUS EFFECT that he really felt it needed to be told as a story by itself.  Making things a little more difficult, in the ARC version I got, there was absolutely nothing depicting anything that had happened in THE MARVELOUS EFFECT (nothing before this one section, which CLE had to take out of the previous book, at any rate), so I had to view OLIVION’S FAVORITES only on its own merits.  But I still didn’t get it and said so, giving it initially only two stars (though three for kids).

At this point, author CLE asked me to please read THE MARVELOUS EFFECT, because he thought I’d enjoy it and he also thought it would help me understand what was going on with OLIVION’S FAVORITES.   Since he asked nicely — and since I really, really don’t like dinging authors for things that they can’t help anyway (it wasn’t his fault there weren’t any explanatory notes in the ARC) — I went to read THE MARVELOUS EFFECT as I felt I could at least do that much.  

I was floored.  

THE MARVELOUS EFFECT, in short, was a whole lot of fun.  I enjoyed it very much, giving it four stars and a strong recommendation at Amazon for both kids and adults.

So at this point, I decided it wouldn’t hurt anything to re-read OLIVION’S FAVORITES and understood it far, far better; I still didn’t like it to the level of THE MARVELOUS EFFECT, but at least it was comprehensible and had some funny moments — I actually revised my review, said why I was revising it, and gave it three stars (and 3.5 for kids) and a qualified recommendation (my qualifier was this: please read the first book before this one or you’ll be like me the first time around — hopelessly lost).

There’s only been two other books I have re-reviewed like this (rather than writing two reviews at different places at the same time, these are reviews written on different days with more depth the second time around), the first being THE CRUCIBLE OF EMPIRE by Eric Flint and K.D. Wentworth (reviewed at SBR, with that review here: ), but the reason for that review was much different.  There, I was unhappy with my first review at because I felt I hadn’t sufficient length to discuss the book, nor why I enjoyed it so very much; with Shiny Book Review in existence by then, I was able to take my further insights to SBR and review THE CRUCIBLE OF EMPIRE to my heart’s content. 

I also did this with David P. Clark’s GERMS, GENES AND CIVILIZATION, mostly because my first review at was a blurb and I felt I could do far, far better.  Clark’s book required more of me than most books (even those on the economy and politics such as the recently-reviewed THE PREDATOR STATE which can be difficult to understand through the first fifteen readings or so), which is why I jumped at the chance to re-review it once I had the chance.  Clark’s book is a rarity in that it’s not too technical to understand; the reason I’d wanted to do better is to explain it in a historical context, rather than just blurbing it as I did the first time . . . I was far more pleased with my second effort, which is here at SBR:

So while it doesn’t happen often, sometimes I do indeed have second thoughts about a book I’ve reviewed, and in general I will try to do something about it (whether it’s writing a new blog like this, or writing a whole new review if I think that’s warranted, I’ll try to make things right).

Now for the real question — does anyone else ever do this?  (Or is it just another of my random quirks?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 15, 2011 at 9:01 pm