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About Binker

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    Dallas, Texas

Profile Information

  • Location
    Dallas, Texas
  • Current Book
    The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
  1. His Bloody Project

    I have the same problem. I posted on FB about my parents' anniversary and I could not make it stop correcting to "parent's." I was mortified and not one person commented on it, either because they didn't notice or they wanted to spare me. Not sure which.
  2. Problems with posting

    It does that to me, too, and I'm not sure what my password is. But if I wait long enough, it appears to heal itself. I now have a new password memorizer site, so I'm hopeful that I won't need to try to remember or re-create it again.
  3. Didn't realize I'd duplicated, so thank you!
  4. I am currently staying at a friend's house while she is in Africa, while my house is being readied to sell for what I hope is a LOT of money. Her 27-year old daughter, whom I've known most of her life, stays in a cottage (but less cute than that sounds) at the back of the property, but we usually see each other in the evenings to watch "Game of Thrones" or chat while she is playing a video game that I can't remember the name of. The daughter is friends with this author, who is a professor of English at a well-known college in Boston (not Harvard, which is sometimes called a "college outside of Boston" by those who are trying to feign embarrassment at coming right out and saying that's where they went to college, but everyone knows). She loves this book and suggested I read it. You can imagine that my hopes were not high, but I enjoyed the book a lot. There are two intersecting plot lines, one of a woman who has studied magic and realizes that a friend of hers has a magical knife and the other of a woman who has a magical talent for finding things looking for a special item at the behest of a client. I never got the 2 women mixed up and I thought the plot was easy to follow and engaging. I looked forward to getting back to the book when I had to be away for something as hum drum as work. While there were definitely scary and upsetting moments, there were also some very funny asides or comments that I enjoyed. I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in this kind of fantasy. Apparently some people were put off by the ending, but I was not. The objection was that not everything was resolved clearly.
  5. In 1989, Stephen Jay Gould published Wonderful Life about the discoveries in the Burgess Shale in Canada. His central theory was that the evolution of life forms was entirely a matter of chance and if you "rewind the tape of life" completely different events would occur. He also developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which says that life forms continue in about the same level for long periods of time, punctuated by big explosions of evolutionary changes. For many years, the evolutionary science world followed both of his points of view. But then scientific studies began to show that convergent evolution (where organisms independently evolve similar traits) is much more common than previously realized and extremely common when the underlying organisms are relatively close together on the evolutionary tree. And so perhaps that suggests that if your rewind the tape of life, pretty much the same thing will happen. At the end, he finally decides that there's something to both points of view. He's probably right, but that's not quite the huge sea change in evolutionary theory that I had expected. Still, the writing was engaging and interesting and I recommend the book if you like evolutionary biology. Which I do.
  6. I mentioned that I had read this book and ordered if for my brother, but never posted the full review. This was an engrossing read. It details the worldwide smuggling of reptiles, much of which went through my hometown of Miami from where (whence?) the titular "Lizard King" operated his smuggling operations. I just could not put it down. I think it was good no matter what, but it particularly spoke to me since I lived in Miami while some of this was going on and we were very much a family that focused on animals and reptiles (snakes on the back patio, a turtle pen in the side yard, etc.). I sent it to my brother, who is not much of a reader, but has been forced to be because of his cancer treatment and he also devoured it. He said that he knew a few of the characters, especially the government inspectors, one of whom used to come inspect his falconry arrangements in the back yard. He said he also was periodically hired when people purchased imported birds to go check on them in their warehouses to make sure that what was purchased was what was being provided and that these warehouses were in the area where the Lizard King operated as well (which was pretty far north of where we lived). I follow several snake pages on Facebook (What Kind of Snake is this? North Texas and similar pages for Central Texas and Florida plus a general Snake Identification page that is worldwide). On one of them, someone posted about what a great book this was. And she was right. If you have any interest in reptiles or smuggling or unbelievably brazen crimes (eg: smuggling snakes in liquid cocaine for a 2 for 1 smuggling, although not sure the snakes survived), you will really enjoy this book.
  7. Currently Reading

    The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk. I'm about half-way through, which suggests that I will finish it. I don't like to post on this thread until I'm certain I will finish a book. Although I have often found Pamuk's books start out in a very engaging way and end in a slog, I am hopeful that this book will be different.
  8. what is everyone doing?

    I thought he wasn't going to go to Houston because of the problems his visit would cause, which seemed abnormally thoughtful for him, so maybe I was wrong. He did, however, manage to get a great FEMA manager in, someone with knowledge and experience. I'm not sure how that happened, but I'm glad it did. As I say, the pictures look awful, but it's nowhere near the disaster of Katrina, in part because Houston is above sea level. Maybe not a lot above, but New Orleans is way below. I just checked and Trump is going to Corpus Christi, which was near landfall, but didn't get particularly hammered, and Austin, which got a good-ish amount of rain, but not flooded and not much wind. There are pictures of Melania in huge high heels that people are mocking as not very effective "gator stompers," but if that's the worst gaffe, I will be thrilled.
  9. what is everyone doing?

    Here's a report from someone in Houston from another website I vist: A few of observations commenting from Houston right now a few hours later: 1) I don't mean to trivialize it when people lose their homes, but right now 97% of Houston has power and a higher percentage have completely dry homes. All told our very complex system of drainage, water sheds, canals, and doctrine of "flood the streets, not the homes" has functioned extraordinarily well given the circumstances 2) Driving around this morning, most of the flooded streets in my area have subsided and it is currently not raining really hard 3) Most of the damage and flooding of people's home you are seeing on cable news is in Dickinson TX, which is almost an hour away from Houston proper and right next to the Gulf of Mexico. This would be like saying "flooding in New York City" for flooding that took place in Princeton, NJ 4) The shots on TV you are seeing in Houston proper of flooding is almost all freeways and roads, which are designed to channel water away from property in a pinch (this being a pinch) 5) The population of Houston has doubled since I was born and concerns about unchecked development are real (great example: the Addicks Barker dam is releasing water into a neighborhood--why is there a neighborhood next to the Addicks-Barker dam release valve zone?) 6) All told, this is nowhere near the catastrophe that Katrina was and frankly for a lot of people it's less than Ike in 2008 (which got almost no coverage because Ike hit during the absolute peak of the financial crisis 7) People second guessing the no evacuation order lack knowledge of local history and are completely wrong
  10. what is everyone doing?

    Sorry everyone. We are fine in Dallas, just got some very lovely rain from the outermost bands of the storm. The gulf coast and particularly Houston are a very different story. I have many friends and some family in that area. Many went elsewhere, usually to family further inland and just have to wonder what they are going to find when they get back. Salt water intrusion is particularly bad because it kills all the plants. Our daughter's boyfriend's family lives in Houston and sent me pictures of the (fresh) water climbing up their front and back yards (I think you call them gardens), but so far, they haven't flooded, although some neighbors have. The electricity is out, but they have a generator. It will take quite some time to recover and the stupid storm doesn't show signs of moving much except to the East (where we also have loved ones) or being drained. There was one radar where the body of the storm had a long skinny trail of storms out into the Gulf of Mexico and more than anything, it looked like a straw through which the storm was sucking up moisture to dump onto Houston.
  11. what is everyone doing?

    I just went to the rooftop bar at the restaurant across the street from my office and watched the eclipse using my special eclipse-watching glasses. We only had about 75% coverage, but it was an easy trip, interesting viewing even at less than a full eclipse, and a relaxing way to view it. The people who traveled to see the eclipse "in totality," which appears to be 80% of the people in the United States, had a harder job of it. We get a full eclipse here in Dallas in 7 years, so I didn't much mind skipping traveling to see this one.
  12. The Darker Side of Austen

    And her husband, who merits some spell-casting himself.
  13. I've never liked it either and I've read it 3 times. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, hoping for a different result, then this book has driven me insane. Daisy and Gatsby particularly didn't seem like real people at all.
  14. I finished this book last week and thought it was wonderful. There was a point where I thought I had accidentally started reading a Bronte book, but I like that better than grim end-of-the-world books, so I didn't object. I had very little trouble following who was speaking, only infrequently having to go back and figure out exactly who was who in a conversation. I am pretty literate in Spanish, so that didn't bother me at all. But I could certainly see how someone who was not literate in Spanish would have foundered. At least on the internet version, they ought to offer translations. That being said, it reminded me of the beginning of War and Peace, where everyone is speaking French because that's what the Russian aristocrats did and Tolstoy wanted us to understand that important fact. In that part of Texas at that time (and probably still), most everyone can operate at some level in both languages. It felt very real to me. I plan on reading the next 2 books. I've told everyone that what finally made me read Cormac McCarthy was an online book discussion group where most of the other readers are from the U.K. This elicits laughter and admiration for you all.
  15. I am so glad you persevered! A lot of people (including Mr. Hobgoblin) love As I Lay Dying, so maybe go there. I didn't love it. I just re-read Absalom, Absalom and I'm afraid I don't recommend it, even though Quentin and Shreve are 2 of the narrators. I think I read The Unvanquished in High School and Luna really liked Flags in the Dust.