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About Binker

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    Dallas, Texas

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  • Location
    Dallas, Texas
  • Current Book
    Munich by Robert Harris
  1. what is everyone doing?

    I realize this is an unpopular position, but I'm a big believer in gun rights, although I do not own any and probably won't. I cannot imagine the circumstances in which guns would be a lot more limited than they are now in the U.S.. The big issue I think is that people with untreated mental illnesses or drug or alcohol abuse problems also have free access to guns, so there are many proposals to prohibit them from obtaining guns. But nowhere in the U.S. is a list kept of people who have these problems and as a civil libertarian, I would not want such a list kept. So how would a back ground search for those issues be performed? And many of the shooters--particularly school shooters--are using guns that belong to family members who wouldn't be excluded by such a list. I think those people should be in a lot of trouble if their guns are used in that way, but the authorities hesitate to do it since they are in their own circle of hell having a child or grandchild who did something like that and may also be dead. The gun manufacturers are beginning to be able to make guns that will only work with the fingerprint of the purchaser, which would help a lot, I think, but the technology isn't quite advanced enough.
  2. The Mercy Seat

    As one of the only people I know who is opposed to the death penalty even if the person is guilty (which, to me, is an odd place for people to draw the line, but that's often where they draw it), I just had to go order this. I had to pre-order it which made me worried that the author was not an American, but she is. In my experience, even Americans who aren't from Louisiana have a hard time writing about Louisiana, but it sounds like Winthrop does a good job. I will report in when I finally read this (it's supposed to be auto-delivered on May 8).
  3. Viccie, did you know it's the first book in a Triology called "Winternight Trilogy." You've got Christmas covered for several years if your daughter is a patient reader. Which I am not. I'm not really a patient anything.
  4. Not surprisingly, given how much our tastes overlap, I loved The Night Circus, too. Going to order it now.
  5. what is everyone doing?

    I'm pretty sure I have a lot of potential entries for that list. One of the things I enjoy about BGO is that writing a review helps cement the book in my mind. Failing that, reading the review of others reminds me of the book.
  6. Munich

    I got it and read it and didn't like it as much as his other books. I am a big Churchill fan, which means I'm less of a Chamberlain fan, so maybe that was it. But I also read it in fits and starts so that's more likely explanation.
  7. Great recommendation! Already ordered it on my tablet. Odd what is available here and what is not.
  8. This has been getting all sorts of excited-sounding publicity and so I decided that I needed a break from my more intellectual reading for a good old murder mystery. The main character is an agoraphobic following a traumatic car wreck with her husband and daughter. She self-medicates generously with alcohol. She and her husband are living apart and their daughter is with him, but she talks to them with some frequency. As she's looking out her windows, watching and taking pictures of her neighbors, she sees a new neighbor murdered. She thinks. But when she reports it to the police, the family insists that the neighbor, whom they produce and who is not the woman seen murdered, is fine. Everyone of course believes them and thinks the alcoholic agoraphorbic has made it up either on purpose or by accident. The story has twists and turns which are theoretically believable, but didn't feel like they could be true. The pacing was brisk with some chapters only being a few pages long. And I zipped right through it, eager to see how everything would be resolved. But I don't think I can really recommend it strongly unless you like this kind of thing. Apparently a lot of people do because it has been optioned into a movie.
  9. I appear to be on a physics kick, even though that's not really my thing. And space really isn't my thing because the study of space inevitably reveals that I, personally, am not the center of the universe. And I don't like that. But I liked this book. In 1916, Einstein posited the existence of gravitational waves resulting from the collisions of black holes and ever since then, scientists have tried to set up an experiment that would record those waves. They would manifest themselves as sound, but so far away that the sounds would be extremely faint, not detectable with then-current instrumentation. Finally, the U.S. National Science Foundation funded two enormous installations called "LIGOs," one in Washington State and one in Louisiana, that should be able to hear that ringing if it ever made its way to Earth. It took a long time and a lot of work and several scientists had their reputations shredded in the process, but the installations were built. You should read the book to see if they were able to hear the waves, but I have spoilered the answer below if you can't wait.
  10. I just happened across this at a friend's home where I am staying and loved it. She is witty and her story is so poignant that it was almost un-put-downable. The drawings are very well done and add to the story, as they should, this being a graphic novel and all. I already loved the author for the Bechdel test. Now I love her more.
  11. Dubliners

    At a friend's near-constant urging over the last year, I have finally read "The Dead." I thought it was one of the most moving and powerful things I've ever read, remarkable in every way, especially since it is so short. I was in tears at the end. I don't know what made me hesitate to read it. I must have thought it was something about ghosts or something similarly wrong. My friend now wants me to watch the movie, but I don't think I will until I've read it a few more times and maybe not then. Some of my mental images are so strong, particular the image of Gretta Conroy standing on the stairs, listening to "The Lass of Aughrim," that I cannot imagine wanting to see someone else's version of what it looked like. On the other hand, I hear that the movie is wonderful and that the song, with which I am not familiar, is beautiful. I have read a few of the other stories, all of which were excellent, but none of them moved me as this one did.
  12. Sing Unburied Sing

    I liked this book quite a bit at the beginning, but ended up really not liking the end. If I change my mind, I will come back and explain why. As I mentioned in my post under "Currently Reading," this book is being discussed in a Facebook group sponsored by National Public Radio and the New York Times Book Group, so I decided to try it and see if I found the discussion illuminating. More on that later. In the meantime, I will say that the actions of the character in the book rang very true to me. Most of the people of the age and race that were described in the book would, I expect, have acted just as the author portrayed them, with the possible exception of Mam, who was a bit more involved with voodoo than I would expect a black woman of her age and class to be (I would expect a MUCH stronger Christian fundamentalism). But I may be naive about these things. On the other hand, they did not consistently talk, either out loud or in their heads, the way I would expect. Leonie uses the words "succor" and "moue," when I doubt she would know either of those words and when the rest of her language is very slangy and grammatically poor. People do talk the way she usually talks--I've heard it my whole life--but they don't then usually use words like "succor" and "moue." She also loves her images, which I often did as well, but they are sometimes not as wonderful as she thinks. At one point Jojo comments that the sky, which is heavy with rain clouds, looks like a "silver colander full to leak." Colanders have holes all over them and so never get so full that they are going to leak. I'm not sure how that image survived a good editor. Whenever vocabulary and image issues occurred, it always brought me up short and took me out of the story, which I don't consider a sign of strong writing. I didn't mind the ghostly presences in the book, but I found their involvement at the end to be very off-putting and Kayla's magic dispersal of them over-the-top. In the Facebook discussion, many people were put off by the ghosts altogether, not just in the ending. And many, many, many people were put off by what a terrible mother Leonie is. She is, in fact, a terrible mother and she doesn't seem to have the ability to make herself better. Even her desire to be better arises because she wishes her children wanted her more, not because she wants to do better by them. I do think that society in general is shocked by bad mothers, but not bothered at all by bad fathers, which I find infuriating (similarly, good fathers are praised to the skies, but good mothers are merely meeting expectations). That attitude is probably showing up in the comments. That being said, the commenters often then say that they couldn't continue reading the book, with only a few discussing the underlying reasons. The discussion of underlying reasons, including the murder of Leonie's brother, her addiction to opiods (and to Michael), and her extreme youth when Jojo was born and conceived are all certainly contributing explanations and worthy of discussion. Overall, I very much liked this book, but didn't end up loving it as much as I thought I would, even as I was reading it.
  13. A Gentleman in Moscow

    That has happened to me before, too. Just a BGO quirk.
  14. A Gentleman in Moscow

    I merged this with my previous post on the book, Viccie. I have forgotten a lot of the moderator jobs, but found this easier than others. I loved this book and recommended it to everyone, including my daughter, and pretty much everyone read it. I was having lunch with my daughter and her boyfriend and my daughter said that she had a friend who thanked her for the recommendation. Then she asked me if I had read it. I laughed and reminded her that I was the one who had recommended it to her. Then she said, "That's right! You are indirectly responsible for at least 20 people reading this book!" I attended a Christmas part of a friend's book club, where we were invited to read a Christmas-themed reading. I picked a few pages of A Christmas Carol (of course). The host picked the reading from A Gentleman in Moscow where the man from Germany (or Prussia, maybe) and a Russian debate which country caused Christmas to be celebrated the best. The whole group laughed. Many moments like that, even as there were moments of great sadness.
  15. The Quantum Ten

    I'm glad both of you were able to get your hands on it. I hope you like it as much as I did.