The Burglar in the Closet: Lawrence Block

My last review was of a book by Nancy Kress, a Writer’s Digest columnist. Today’s book was also written by a former columnist for the same magazine, Lawrence Block.

I have been a fan of Block’s, a repeat Edgar Award writer, for many years.

His Bernie Rhodenbarr “burglar” series was probably my least favourite of his several serials. Recently, I re-read his 2nd entry in the series, “The Burglar in the Closet.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I remember his other series. Either I or this work haven’t aged well. The writing is a bit too “loose,” with too many coincidences and self-expository passages to make it a good read.

The reader would do well to try Block’s “Scudder” series, or even the “Evan Tanner” offerings.

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Seal attacks kayaker with octopus

Seal attacks kayaker with octopus

By Euan McKirdy, CNN

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/09/26/asia/new-zealand-octopus-seal-kayak-attack-intl/index.html

(CNN)Well, that was a slap in the face.

An Instagram user has uploaded video that shows a seal swimming up from the depths, armed with an octopus, which it flings across the face of an unsuspecting kayaker.
Geo-tagged off the coast of Kaikoura on New Zealand’s South Island, paddler Kyle Mulinder, along with a number of other kayakers, is seen on the footage watching a seal swim underwater, hunting the octopus.
As they chat about the seal, it can be seen surfacing next to Mulinder’s kayak, before launching out of the water, prey in mouth, to deliver an almighty slap to the Kiwi.
Mulinder is momentarily taken aback by the attack before shouting out in surprise.

His friend, Taiyo Masuda, told CNN it was a “beautiful day (and) seals were swimming and enjoying sun on the rocks.
“Right around lunchtime, several seals started to swim around. We just thought they were refreshing their body, yet apparently they were seeking more of food.
“One seal swims right next to us, having an octopus in his mouth, pops right up of the surface next to us, then tries to chew up the leg but ended up slapping our face!
“We instantly started laughing, we certainly got surprised. We are all adventure guys but we don’t encounter that every day! Such a raw moment, brought us so much laughter to all of us all day long… What a day to remember!”

The octopus stuck around — literally — suctioning onto the bottom of Mulinder’s kayak until it was prized off by a fellow kayaker’s oar. It then disappeared underwater.

Because you can’t choose your family ….

These six — yes, six — siblings of a Republican congressman just endorsed his opponent

These six — yes, six — siblings of a Republican congressman just endorsed his opponent
The Gosar siblings said their brother, who has long drawn headlines for his far-right views, and his politics were simply too much for them to stomach

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., speaks during a bus tour stop in Paulden, Ariz., on Aug. 24. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Caitlin O’HaraCaitlin O’Hara / Bloomberg
Washington Post
Eli Rosenberg
September 22, 2018
1:03 PM EDT

Families are complicated, their private tensions and political disagreements often kept under wraps.

That’s not the case with Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., whose opponent in the midterm election just got a boost from Gosar’s siblings.

Six of them.

The brothers and sisters — Tim, Jennifer, Gaston, Joan, Grace and David — appeared in campaign advertisements for David Brill, the Democrat hoping to unseat Gosar in Arizona’s 4th Congressional District in the upcoming midterm election.

The Gosar siblings framed their endorsement of Brill as a matter of values, saying their brother, who has long drawn headlines for his far-right views, and his politics were simply too much for them to stomach.

“We gotta stand up for our good name,” said brother David Gosar in the advertisement. “This is not who we are.”

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“I couldn’t be quiet any longer, nor should any of us be,” said sister Grace Gosar.

“I think my brother has traded a lot of the values we had at our kitchen table,” said another sister, Joan.

In an interview with The Washington Post, David Gosar, 57, a lawyer in Jackson, Wyoming, said he felt obligated to speak out against his brother because of his views, though he wished it weren’t the case.

“There isn’t a kooky, crazy, nutty thing that he isn’t a part of,” he said. “What are we supposed to do?”

I think my brother has traded a lot of the values we had at our kitchen table

David said he doesn’t talk to his brother much anymore. The split came around the time of his congressional run, when, David said, his brother told him he believed the “birther” theory that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate is fake. (A 2010 clip from Politico quotes Paul Gosar as declining to say whether he believed Obama was born in the United States, saying it was “for the courts and for other people to decide.”)

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, you have to be kidding me,’ and then he went and got elected,” David Gosar said. “I’m not going to break bread with a racist.”

Paul Gosar did not respond to a request for comment sent to his spokeswoman.

Gosar, who became a congressman in 2013, has drawn coverage for his extreme rhetoric in recent years.

In January, he drew bipartisan rebukes after he said that he asked the Capitol Police and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to check IDs at the State of the Union to arrest and deport any undocumented immigrants in attendance.

At least one senator, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., planned to bring an undocumented “dreamer” to the speech as a guest.

The next month, Gosar said FBI and Department of Justice officials such as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and former FBI Director James Comey should face “treason” charges due to developments in the Russia investigation.

This summer, he spoke at a rally in London for one of Britain’s most notorious anti-Muslim campaigners, Tommy Robinson, drawing rebukes from Muslim-American groups.

But perhaps his most notorious moment came in 2017 in an interview with Vice News, when he spread a baseless conspiracy theory that the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that summer had been “created by the left.”

He also brought up the common right-wing falsehood that the liberal philanthropist and financier George Soros, who survived the Holocaust, had collaborated with Nazis.

Seven siblings — there are ten in total, including Paul — responded at the time by writing a letter to the Kingman Daily Miner, a newspaper in Gosar’s district, decrying his comments in blunt terms.

“We are aghast that Paul has sunk so low that he now spews the most despicable slander against an 87-year-old man without a shred of proof,” the letter said. “Those aren’t our family values or the values of the small Wyoming town we grew up in … It is extremely upsetting to have to call you out on this, Paul, but you’ve forced our hand with your deceit and anti-Semitic dog whistle.”

Pete Gosar, who was the seventh signee of the letter, ran for governor of Wyoming as a Democrat in 2014.

Brill’s ads, of which there are at least three, were filmed in Jackson and Laramie, Wyoming. Brill’s team reached out to the Gosar siblings after seeing some of their criticism on social media, according to the Phoenix New Times.

A doctor and a businessman before he decided to run for office, Brill has campaigned on a public health option like Medicare available to all and a platform of lowering the national debt, according to the Arizona Republic.

Those aren’t our family values or the values of the small Wyoming town we grew up in … It is extremely upsetting to have to call you out on this, Paul, but you’ve forced our hand with your deceit and anti-Semitic dog whistle

He faces an uphill battle for the seat; Gosar trounced his Democratic opponent in the deep-red district in 2016, receiving 71.5 percent of the votes. The counties that make up Gosar’s district voted heavily for Donald Trump.

Family members who split with their political kin tend to draw attention and media coverage and are often sought by opposing campaigns.

In the recent election cycle, the son of retiring Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia made waves when he endorsed the Democrat running to replace him in August. In the Wisconsin race to replace Paul Ryan, the brother of Democrat Randy Bryce endorsed his Republican opponent in an advertisement by an conservative group.

David Gosar said that Paul Gosar’s politics have caused a strain in the family, which hails from the small town of Pinedale, Wyoming.

In one of the ads, Grace Gosar, a doctor, says, “It would be difficult to see my brother as anything but a racist.” David Gosar said that their parents, who are in their 80s, are Republicans and support his brother. And David says he’s disappointed in the other three siblings who didn’t stand with them for the advertisement.

He said he’s also upset by people who tell him that there’s something wrong with breaking with his family or who make the situation into a joke.

“This is serious stuff, and I’m tired of people making light of it. This is causing serious damage to the country,” he said. “If you can’t speak out against your family, then don’t be a hypocrite and speak out against someone else’s family member.”

Nancy Kress: Beggars in Spain

I’ve always admired Nancy Kress’ columns in Writer’s Digest. This is the first book of hers I’ve read.

And it’s really, really good! Set in the future where gene modification allows a select group of people not to need sleep, they find that they also become super intelligent and never age.

Society struggles to accommodate this new “species” and conflict ensues.

Good read! Part of a trilogy, so I’m looking forward to the next two.