Wow.

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From The 2016 Washington Post Travel photo contest.

For an even better look, click through the link, scroll forward to #7 and go full screen. Wow.

 

At long last…

…Kate1

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and Liam1

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are free on Barnes & Noble. Click through the images to download to your Nook.

Soundtrack for this post:

How Geography is Destiny

 

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Brisk, well written, continent by continent (excluding Australia) survey of how geography is destiny, beginning with Putin going down on his knees every night to ask God why He didn’t put mountains in Ukraine. I really liked the way Marshall organized it, too. The first chapter is Russia and how so much of their actions are dictated by the eternal quest for a warm-water port, the second is China’s equally eternal quest of finding water routes unobstructed by the island archipelago likes of the Philippines and Japan, Russia and South Korea, all except Russia firm American allies, although Russia has as much interest in keeping China within bounds as the US does.

The third chapter is about good old US, and it had not previously occurred to me that geography is why we are who we are. I mean, yeah, I understand about the insulating effect of being between two oceans, but Marshall says that if someone had sat down and drawn the perfect base for world domination, they would have come up with, you guessed it, US. Partly this is because of all that wonderful farmland but it’s also partly because we’re home to the world’s longest navigable rivers, so we can get all that grain to market.

He lays out why the entire continent of Africa is becoming a Chinese colony, and the chapter on India and Pakistan is a pocket history of the region and it will not cheer you to learn that, again, geography dictates that nothing is resolved there anytime soon, or ever. One Indian politician is even on record as saying they ought to just nuke Pakistan and deal with the literal and figurative fallout so India can move on without the Pakistani thorn in their sides. Jesus. Marshall is also amusingly shirty about the Arab Spring, which he pretty conclusively demonstrates was romanticized by Western writers into a transformative event that was no such thing on the ground.

Marshall is a BBC journalist who knows how to get to the meat of the story in efficient, competent prose that still makes for enthralling read. Not a needless word anywhere. Highly recommended.


My other Goodreads reviews here.

Yet another destination for the bucket list.

From Atlas Obscura, the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts, which provides limited, supervised visitation rights to the fun work of the previous unheard of (by me, at any rate) Folly Cove Designers. Like these:

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Novik figured out a way to tether Napoleon that Metternich himself would have envied

 

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I’m slightly annoyed that Novik left the introduction of one of her greatest characters to the last book in the series–I’m talking about Temeraire and Izkierka’s egg, Ning, who has some, I must say, very sensible ideas about war.

“Certainly the war must be halted,” Temeraire said. “That is precisely why we mean to defeat Napoleon.”

“That would stop this war,” the dragonet said. “But I am quite certain that it would not end all war. I dare say you and your allies would all quarrel among yourselves straightaway, and start a new one.”…

“I would be very happy to see war come to an end, myself, although a neat little skirmish now and then, with a prize after, no-one could really object to, I think,” Temeraire said. “But I should like to know a great deal how you suppose anyone should accomplish that.”

“Well, I don’t know, yet,” the dragonet said, “but I mean to find a way: just because the business will be difficult is no excuse for not making the attempt.”

Certainly not. And Novik figured out a way to tether Napoleon that Metternich himself would have envied–the restoration of the Bourbons was never going to end well–although Novik makes you fully understand Laurence’s mixed emotions for that solution.

And then what? The war is over, and Laurence and Temeraire’s partnership was entirely predicated on war. Ah, but Novik’s got an answer for that, too.

A satisfying albeit slightly melancholy ending to a truly wonderfully written series about the Napoleonic War, with dragons. I can’t recommend it enough, and l’ll be first in line for Novik’s next book, whatever it is about.

The History of Kate Shugak in 20 Objects – 19

Warning: Spoilers spoken here.

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It’s the Super Cub. Has to be. It’s basic transportation in Bush Alaska and in Kate19 it is also the murder weapon. (And even if you took all that away, there is that fabulous Head of Zeus cover above. Although if you’re taking off from an unfrozen lake you really should be on floats, not skis.)

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This is my Dad in his Super Cub, Five-Zero-Papa, also known as The Hem’roid, because that’s what the Super Cub gives you when you spend a lot of time in the air in one. Dad was 6’4″ tall so he didn’t really climb into The Hem’roid so much as he put it on. If you were riding behind him, forget about seeing anything ahead, but he was always great about flying circles around anything he spotted that he knew you’d want to see out the side window, a black bear sow trying frantically to push her three cubs up a tree to get them away from the big bad airplane making noise overhead, two grizzlies slapping salmon out of the Theodore River, five moose sitting close together in a MatSu willow thicket, saving energy until the snow melted and the willow budded and there would be something for them to eat again.

If you’re an Alaskan pilot (more than 1 out of 100 of us are, have to be, 99 percent of the state has no roads) and you have a Super Cub there is almost nowhere you can’t land and almost no amount or kind of freight you can’t carry. I once saw a Super Cub take off down Seldovia Bay with 4X8 sheets of plywood strapped to both floats. Although Dad did quit hunting moose when he got The Hem’roid, because you can fit a whole caribou into the back of a Super Cub, whereas hauling out a moose takes more than one trip. Even as big an asshole as he was, Finn Grant was no dummy when it came to planes. Neither was his killer.

Thanks to Arlene for her great comment on cellphones and Ginger’s on the M4, but Megan and Susan have it this month.HoZ Kate20.jpg

 

Next month, an object from Bad Blood, the twentieth Kate Shugak mystery and a shameless ripoff of Romeo and Juliet. Please put your suggestions for said object in the comments below, and thanks!