Patterico's Pontifications


What I’m Reading These Days

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:53 pm

As I indicated yesterday, I’m a little bored with politics lately. I thought I’d share a couple of books I’m reading.

One is an excellent book I heard about from Doug McIntyre of KABC. It’s titled The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity.

The thesis of the book is that ex-presidents often come together and put politics aside after they leave office, because they recognize the enormous responsibilities and pressures of the job. But the book is perhaps more interesting because it is an account of presidential politics since Truman, with a focus on the personalities involved. You get to learn about Hoover’s and Eisenhower’s relationship with Truman. There are accounts of the battles and friendships among Reagan, Ford, and Nixon. I’ve learned a lot about 20th century presidential politics that I didn’t know. For example, since I was a kid during Watergate, I admit I didn’t realize precisely how Ford became President. I knew he was Nixon’s vice president and took over after Nixon’s resignation, of course — but I didn’t realize that he was appointed by Nixon after Spiro Agnew resigned under the threat of prosecution for taking bribes as a governor . . . or that Ford was not Nixon’s first choice, but was chosen by Nixon because John Connally would not be approved by Democrats in Congress. It’s a well done and captivating book and I highly recommend it.

I have also started Mark Twain’s travel book The Innocents Abroad. It’s 99 cents on your Kindle [UPDATE: or, as Smock Puppet points out, free here if you can figure out how to download it and get it on your device]. Twain’s style is hilarious. For example, here he is on the wonderful sense of satisfaction we all feel when other people are seasick and we are not:

I knew what was the matter with them. They were seasick. And I was glad of it. We all like to see people seasick when we are not, ourselves.

Finally, I am looking forward to reading the latest Bernie Rhoderbarr book from Lawrence Block, The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons (Bernie Rhodenbarr). In my opinion, Block is the only mystery writer on par with Michael Connelly. It’s Block, so it has to be good.

P.S. After reading some of The Presidents Club, I went looking for YouTube clips of Nixon tapes. I found this amusing bit where Nixon, Haldeman, and others are discussing Archie Bunker and homosexuality, from May 13, 1971. Takeaway lines from Nixon: “Sure, Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates. . . . Do you know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. The last six.”

Ah, Oval Office banter. And he knew he was taping himself. What a maroon.

81 Responses to “What I’m Reading These Days”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. Just finishing Robert Novak’s “The Prince of Darkness”, which I picked up at the used book store. Very entertaining and enlightening book.

    Colonel Haiku (bc027c)

  3. I liked the Matt Scudder stories. A lot.

    It’s been a long time, but I still remember the very last word I read by Block. “My name is Matt and I’m an alcoholic.” Thing is, though, remembering is not the same as learning. 😉

    nk (dbc370)

  4. Does he still write that he served time in Joliet for tearing the tag off a mattress on his bio on the jacket?

    nk (dbc370)

  5. I don’t read enough, mostly skim:

    You don’t need to be a genius to have thoughts worth consideration.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  6. Recently I reread Robert Penn Warren’s classic All The King’s Men. It is a beautifully written and timeless political drama. It shows how little politics and humans craving and using/abusing power have changed over the decades.

    Also, I just started reading Stoner by John Williams, which was highly recommended to me by a master reader I trust. It came out in 1965 but I’d never read it or even heard of it before. It’s going to prove to be a real gem I think.

    elissa (5b28d4)

  7. Teasing the import of interpersonal interactions from a workaholic’s unreflective account:

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  8. I am re- reading Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, by Larry Hodges.

    mg (31009b)

  9. Reading One Fish Two Fish Red Fish, Blue Fish to my nephew was the best.

    mg (31009b)

  10. After Agnew resigned, leaders of both parties in both houses of Congress went to Nixon and told him that Ford was the only candidate that they’d accept.

    Which means that Ford and Rockefeller are the only President/VP pair in this country’s history who weren’t elected to office, and let’s hope that never happens again!

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  11. An understanding of the President’s Club can be found in this gem from The Wire where Baltimore’s mayor-elect is told a parable by a former mayor.

    (rated: PG)

    Kevin M (536c5d)

  12. I was reading Red Fortress, which is the story of the Kremlin,

    narciso (3fec35)

  13. Via Ace, thanks to Emory University’s newly released study, we can be now be fully assured that reading really does boost brain function… so there’s that.

    Dana (9a8f57)

  14. But no one here mentions reading a novel.

    Kevin M (536c5d)

  15. Well there was a financial thriller, Prince of Risk, some time back

    narciso (3fec35)

  16. i can whole heatedly recommend this book, even if i do have to give it back to the local library tomorrow.

    it’s a collection of short stories, so it’s easier to read in bits & pieces, if that’s an issue for you.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  17. Right now I’m reading The Towns of Italy in the later Middle Ages. It’s a compilation of translated original documents. Apparently Medieval Italy was quite a different place from the rest of Europe. I’m also reading The Civilization Of The Rennaissance In Italy.

    I recently finished Legions of Rome by Stephen Dando-Collins. He had previously written entire books about individual legions for which he had sufficient sources. The Roman army was a modern military in several ways, but one similarity is that it ran on paperwork. He didn’t have enough to write entire books about all the Imperial legions, but he had enough to summarize their activities and accomplishments from the time they were originally founded until they were either disbanded, destroyed in battle, or until the paper trail ran out in 410 AD.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  18. Mark Twain’s travel book The Innocents Abroad. It’s 99 cents on your Kindle.

    It’s also expired copyright. Ergo, it’s free if anyone has epub’d it — which, being Twain, is kind of a given:


    Smock Puppet, Gadfy, Racist-Sexist Thug, and Bon Vivant All In One Package (225d0d)

  19. Some time ago, I read Donald Kagan’s take on Thucydides, the ‘impartial’ historian of the Pelopenessian war, yes about as impartial as
    Arthur Schlesinger, you see he took pains to hide the fact, that Pericles was at fault in that conflict, and blamed figures like Cleon, who was
    the Nixon, to the former’s Kennedy.

    narciso (3fec35)

  20. I’m also rereading Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939 by Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

    It’s interesting to read how everyone; supporters, detractors, and foreign observers of Roosevelt’s New Deal saw a lot of similarities between it and the corporatist economic policies of the Italian fascists. Roosevelt’s contemporaries didn’t really draw many comparisons to Hitler’s Germany because they felt Naziism was too revolutionary and so extreme as to be proto-Bolshevik. Besides, Hitler had only become chancellor of Germany essentially a month prior to FDR’s inauguration on 4 March 1933. Mussolini had been PM in Italy since 1922 and had a track record.

    It’s also interesting to read about the differences Roosevelt’s contemporaries saw between the New Deal and Fascism. Largely because FDR’s self-proclaimed successor, Prom Queen, his collectivist economic and social agenda and his use of propaganda if far closer to fascism than Roosevelt dared to go with the New Deal.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  21. narciso, Thucydides was impartial to the extent that as an Athenian he was far more inclined to see the Spartan P.O.V. than most other Athenians. The Athenian playwright Euripedes was widely seen as anti-war because of his works such as The Trojan Women. Yet he heartily hated the Spartans. Thucydides, not so much. Thucydides did hate Cleon, but he had been exiled for losing a battle. He lost to the Spartan Brasidas, but Thucydides at least had respect for Brasidas if not admiration for his abilities, but Thucydides heartily hated the Athenian demagogues who exiled him.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  22. I suppose, it was a ill considered conflict on both parts, as for the battle of Syracuse, that was ‘one bridge too far’ now reading Sallust, and his tales of the Jugurthan wars, are more like our current circumstances.

    narciso (3fec35)

  23. Also, I take issue with the notion that Pericles was at fault. In what way? He sent ambassadors to Sparta to try to head off the war. Archidamus II, the king of Sparta agreed that that war with Athens would be ruinous. But one of the Ephors whose name escapes me roused the war party and Archidamus was over ruled. He lamented that he feared their war would be their children’s inheritance.

    It’s true that Pericles devised the Athenian strategy of avoiding pitched hoplite battle. But then he might have pulled it off had he survived the plague. Which is really the only fault I can find with Pericles. He should have realized that you couldn’t evacuate the entire rural population of Attica and bring them inside the walls of Athens for months at a time during the height of Summer in Greece. The city couldn’t support them, and it certainly didn’t have the sanitation facilities. Hence the plague.

    But I doubt any other Athenian could have done better.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  24. But no one here mentions reading a novel.

    What a novel idea… 😀

    Smock Puppet, Gadfly, Racist-Sexist Thug, and Bon Vivant All In One Package (225d0d)

  25. Syracuse wasn’t Pericles’ idea. He had been dead 15 years when someone came up with that stupid idea. That someone was Alcibiades, I believe. If it wasn’t his original idea, he sure popularized it and got it through the assembly.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  26. True, I’m speaking generally to the nature of the conflict, which was as nonsensical as Europe and the US, fighting over the Caribbean,

    narciso (3fec35)

  27. On a lighter note, Stuart Wood’s Stone Barrington series, are light read.

    narciso (3fec35)

  28. Among Greeks, Thucydides is taught more for the language, classic Attic, than for the history. The comparison to Schlessinger is appropriate — like Xenophon he is a viewed as a contemporary journalist/diarist more than as a historian. But Greeks are hard to please — in the same breath they critique Herodotus for not having been there. 😉

    nk (dbc370)

  29. Among those things I envy about Rico, beginning with work ethic, he’s taking the time to read Innocents Abroad.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  30. I don’t see how Pericles was at fault for that. I think he might have grasped something of the nature of the war to come. He did after all negotiate to end the First Peloponnesian War with Archidamus II in 446. That was supposed to guarantee 30 years of peace. But then the Spartans voted to go to war a scant 15 years later. And as I mentioned, Pericles sent envoys to try to plead for peace in Sparta but to no avail. He clearly knew that the best they could hope for was a stalemate essentially, and that one side would wear itself out first. His strategy, and had he lived it might have worked, was to make sure it was the Spartans who wore themselves out first.

    I’m sure that Archidamus II also grasped the nature of the war to come, which is why he advised against it. He told the Spartan citizen’s that Athens had land, grain, and manpower that was far out of their reach and it wouldn’t be easy to beat them. But the hotheads prevailed.

    Bradidas actually apologized to his troops for his people having the “wrong idea” about war with Athens. The Athenians thought it would just be a matter of a couple of seasons campaigning, razing the Attic countryside, and eventually the Athenian hoplites would come out and fight. Then the Spartans would beat them, and the war would be over. But Brasidas said that the Spartans (well, that one Spartan at least) came to learn that the war was going to be a long drawn out affair and even while he was talking to his troops the end wasn’t in sight.

    Also, among Sparta’s allies there were city states that were true enemies of Athens. Corinth and Thebes first among these. I don’t think, much as he wanted to, Pericles could have kept Sparta out of the war with these Greek powers pushing for war. Don’t forget, Thebes attacked Athen’s ally Plataea long before Sparta marched into Attica so eager were they for war.

    I just don’t see how Pericles can be at fault for starting the war or for the nature of that war. Except maybe for building the Long Walls. Which kept the Spartans out, otherwise the Athenians would have lost the war in an afternoon. And it kept the disease in, which killed Pericles and wiped out at least a quarter of the population. Which ultimately doomed Athens to defeat 20 plus years later.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  31. Pericles was the nicest guy

    a lot of people don’t know that but he was really a very kind and thoughtful person

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  32. Gary Corby’s got this rather whimsical series, with Socrates’s brother, Nicolaus, who is commissioned by Pericles as an investigator, in the run up to the Golden Age.

    narciso (3fec35)

  33. The Greek wars leading up to and including the Pelopponesian included tactics such as raiding an enemy city-state’s surrounding agriculture and tearing up fields. And since so much of Greek agriculture relied upon olive trees and it took so long for them to be reestablished, that that is how the symbolism of an olive branch for peace originated.

    SPQR (768505)

  34. 31. Pericles was the nicest guy

    a lot of people don’t know that but he was really a very kind and thoughtful person

    Comment by happyfeet (8ce051) — 1/12/2014 @ 7:21 pm

    He invented the cinnabon.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  35. I wonder what Nixon said in that 14-second beeped-out section. Sounds like it must be some personal anecdote about his own positive experiences with homosexuals.

    I also wonder what he meant by the Pasadena scandal. Google doesn’t seem to know about it.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  36. It takes a long time for an olive tree to grow.

    But once grown it’s really tough to kill an olive tree. The damage Greek armies did to the farmland of their adversaries was mostly symbolic.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  37. I really am awed by how much you all know of the classics.

    Here we go.

    I was hoping for more stability from the Chinese. This could be very bad for the vulnerable Japanese.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  38. well I’ve only read them in translation, as with Tolstoy and Lermontov, ‘War and Piece’ was a long slog in deed,

    narciso (3fec35)

  39. He invented the cinnabon.

    Pericles was a giver. It was just who he was.

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  40. He was also very pious. He razed Melos, killed all the men, and sold the women and children into slavery, for refusing to contribute to the Acropolis temples’ building fund.

    nk (dbc370)

  41. Just finished Gene Wolfe’s latest novel “The Land Across” (purchased through Patterico’s Amazon link, pat myself on the back). If you’re a fan of Wolfe it’s essential; if you’ve never read him it might not be the best place to start, but it’s a fascinating read — could a book with an ambulatory severed hand be anything less?
    Currently reading Volume 1 of Isaac Asimov’s memoirs: “In Memory Yet Green”. It’s fascinating and very well-written (TRANSLATION: Asimov’s legendary ego is on full display, but in a charming way). Concurrently reading (re-reading for the first time since I was 14) Asimov’s “I, Robot” collection of linked stories. Mostly solid ideas presented in a style that creaks with all of the excesses of pulp fiction (adverbs, adjectives and exclamation points!!!).
    Coming next, a novel! “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin. I’ve owned a copy for years; now that the movie version is about to be released (on Valentine’s Day, I believe) I figured it was about time to finally read it. Literary Timeslip Fantasy is, I suppose, the best description.
    I’ve read one Lawrence Block novel, “Lucky At Cards”; original (and in my opinion, BETTER) title “The Sex Shuffle” under the pseudonym Sheldon Lord. It’s solid and entertaining, although I hardly needed a noir crime-thriller to tell me that curvaceous redheads are lowdown grifters at heart (well, DUH!).

    Icy (951dcd)

  42. 41. He was also very pious. He razed Melos, killed all the men, and sold the women and children into slavery, for refusing to contribute to the Acropolis temples’ building fund.

    Comment by nk (dbc370) — 1/12/2014 @ 8:05 pm


    Pericles died in 429 BC. The Athenians didn’t get around to razing Melos until 415. And they razed Melos to the ground because they tried to stay neutral in the war. Athens would no longer tolerate that at that point in the Pelopponesian War.

    You were either with Athens, as a subject tributary state, or you were against Athens.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  43. Long before Jurassic Park, more in the vein of Looker and other works;

    narciso (3fec35)

  44. My Google works better than Milhouse’s Google.

    Contained in the “Fund Crisis” section: “A disgruntled Warren supporter from Pasadena leaked the Fund story to several reporters.”

    Icy (951dcd)

  45. I just read this over at PowerLine:
    Iranian news sources say examination of leaked Snowden files prove that the world is under infiltration by aliens, including the “tall white” who resemble “The Silence” from Dr. Who.
    No wonder so much in the news seems out of this world.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  46. You are leaving out one of the most important things. Pericles made peace with Persia. About 449 BCE.

    In return Persia secretly supplied money, which was used to build the Parthenon which Pericles also used to build popularity.

    There was one condition: The building could not be used for idol worship. (Mordechai, from the book of Esther, was second to the king at the time, after the execution of Haman.)

    The whole agreement was secret and did not become known for about 70 years.

    Sammy Finkelman (28600b)

  47. I’m gonna buy the whole entire Tales of the City for so my friend F can read it, and I’ll probably re-read what I’ve read and plus the newer stuff.

    It’s Dickensian, don’tcha know. Plus when you read his stories it makes you feel a wee lil better about the west coast being a thing.

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  48. That’s why I don’t read much fiction, Doc. Whoever is making up the news is a lot more creative than the people writing novels.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  49. They’re not aliens, they’re jinn. You’d think the Iranians, of all people, would get that right.

    nk (dbc370)

  50. Iranians are not advancing in a forward progression

    they’re like Americans except they have special cucumbers

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  51. My Google works better than Milhouse’s Google.

    Contained in the “Fund Crisis” section: “A disgruntled Warren supporter from Pasadena leaked the Fund story to several reporters.”

    Um, what are you talking about? This has nothing to do with it.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  52. 46. Shouldn’t this be obvious?

    It’s Russian disinformation, intended for the Iranian government, which managed to get printed and seen by the public.

    Maybe the Iranians are not scared of The Unioted states, or Russia or China, but maybe they’ll be scared of these powerful evil aliens from outer space who once supported the Nazis, if Putin can get the mullahs to believe in them.

    Sammy Finkelman (28600b)

  53. The USA Trilogy by Dos Passos. Before that I was reading Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner, a really interesting book about the Bureau of Reclamation’s penchant for mindless dam-building and the detrimental effects of that penchant on the development of the western states.

    Leviticus (6a67b8)

  54. Of course, you can’t see the Silenc, unless you’re looking at them, than you forget them, they are apparently why Nixon kept the tapes.

    narciso (3fec35)

  55. 50. Comment by nk (dbc370) — 1/12/2014 @ 8:52 pm

    They’re not aliens, they’re jinn. You’d think the Iranians, of all people, would get that right.

    The source is what supposedly the Russians discovered among Snowden’s documents – it’s an FSB Report – so they have to be extraterrestrials.

    Atheists – and they used to be atheists when they were the KGB – can’t have jinns.

    Interesting FARS describes Snowden as an “ex-patriot” when they probably mean “expatriate.”

    Sammy Finkelman (28600b)

  56. And an e.e. cummings collection.

    Leviticus (6a67b8)

  57. 52. Comment by Milhouse (b95258) — 1/12/2014 @ 9:03 pm

    Um, what are you talking about? This has nothing to do with it.

    He means what led up to the 1952 “Checkers” speech.

    Sammy Finkelman (28600b)

  58. mindless dam-building is the best cause it’s spontaneous and fun

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  59. Um, what are you talking about? This has nothing to do with it.

    He means what led up to the 1952 “Checkers” speech.

    Yes, but what has that got to do with this Pasadena scandal that Nixon mentions?

    Milhouse (b95258)

  60. a politician is an arse upon/which everyone has sat except a man

    Leviticus (6a67b8)

  61. Hard to disagree with the chap.

    AZ Bob (ade845)

  62. “He means what led up to the 1952 “Checkers” speech.”


    Yes, but what has that got to do with this Pasadena scandal that Nixon mentions?

    Icy is saying they’re the same thing and that’s what Nixon calls it.

    Sammy Finkelman (28600b)

  63. Nixon liked to put it to Pat Nixon, vigorously – as opposed to dabbling with man-anus

    “there’s just more there – she’s got more to offer,” Nixon would say

    in this way he prefigured the sentiments of daddy duck, with whom Sarah Palin is well-pleased

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  64. Here’s something I’ve been reading these days. Actually, I’ve been reading it for years. It’s a blog about a guy trying to build a retirement home on a property he owns in the hills above Avila Beach in San Louis Obispo county.

    He’s been trying since August 12th 2009. Guess how it’s going?

    I read it so I can feel really good about not living in Kali. Some of the Highlights.

    « December 2012 | Home | February 2013 »

    Archive for January, 2013

    The summary of events leading up to my Coastal Commission hearing

    January 1st, 2013

    I have spent a long time detailing in my blog all the ins and outs of my attempt to get a permit to build my house at Avila Beach. Here is a quick summary of the most important events:

    Summary of Events

    The Coastal Commission Votes 7-3 to Deny My Minor Use Permit

    January 10th, 2013

    January 10th, 2013 was my hearing in front of the full Coastal Commission, three years after my wife and I originally applied for a minor use permit to build a house at Cave Landing. The hearing was in the Veterans Hall in Pismo Beach, about 2 miles from our current house in Avila Valley, and a little further from the proposed house at Cave Landing.

    It was an interesting, if not particularly fun experience. Judi and I sat in the audience, along with Dave Watson, Bonnie Neely, Greg Sanders, John Flynn, Rick Gorman, Lenny Grant, Robert Malone, Jeff Emrick, and Todd Smith.

    …The horse trading was over public access to my property – which hadn’t been an issue with the Coastal staff at all until two weeks ago. One edge of my property is on Cave Landing Road, and that is fenced with a locked gate and marked “No Trespassing”. Bob Howard originally put up the fence (he thinks) about 35 years ago. Recently people have been jumping over the fence on the lot next to mine, crossing to my lot, and then hiking up the very steep cell phone company easement road to the top of Ontario Ridge (which I also own).

    There are five problems with unfettered public access to all of my property at Cave Landing Ranch…

    1. Privacy. I do not want people hiking up and down on my driveway, or anywhere else at all they might want to go on my property, without me being able to restrict them at all. Nobody would want that at their house. I own 37 acres – surely the Coastal Commission would let me keep some of it private?

    Heh. You’re in Kali, dude. What are you smoking?

    2. Fencing. I need to be able to fence at least part of my yard. My wife has two dogs, and they will run away without a fence, and then my wife will be inconsolable. This is not good.

    3. Dangerous Trail. Once past my 500 ft. long driveway, the cell phone easement road (that the Commission wants as a public trail) turns into a steep climb for about 800 ft. that is very dangerous. I don’t want people to be hurt on this steep hillside, especially when there are good alternate routes nearby.

    4. Liability. I am legally liable for anyone who gets injured on my property. Because of the steep trail this is a very real possibility.

    5. Potential new visual impacts. This is actually the biggest problem. Right now the Coastal Commission claims that I need to hide my house from anyone on public trails, public roads, or the proposed (but nonexistent) public parking lot. I am afraid that this will be expanded to include my own driveway, since the Coastal Commission wants that as a public trail. It is impossible to hide a house from it’s own driveway.

    …The Commissioners spent a lot of time on the public trails issue, and they had a hard time understanding my position. That is partially my fault, and I didn’t make my argument clearly, but it is also the fault of the Coastal staff, since this issue had only been raised by the staff two weeks ago.

    The Commissioners seemed to be angry that I had even brought up the earlier vested rights argument, and they spent some time complaining about that.

    Commissioner Steve Blank had read my blog, and he didn’t like that I had criticized the Coastal Commission and the staff publicly. He read portions of my blog into the record, and he spent some time lecturing me about my intellectual and ethical inferiority. He may be right, but I personally disagree.

    Commissioner Esther Sanchez asked the staff if there was a way to force me to give my property up for a public trail. The Coastal staff explained that I was willing to give my part of my property for a public trail, but that I was unwilling to give my my driveway, and that there was no legal way for the Commission to force me to give up my property if I didn’t do it voluntarily. Ms. Sanchez then lectured me on my lack of public spirit.

    …Commissioner Wendy Mitchell also criticised my understanding of the Coastal Commission process, saying that the Commissioners represent all the people of California, and thus my narrow legal property rights had to be balanced against her more complete understanding of the interests of the public.

    …My lawyers were sitting right behind me, and I could hear them gasp during the Commissioners various lectures of me. Afterwords they couldn’t believe how composed and unaffected I was by the unjudicial conduct of the Commission. Personally, I couldn’t care less if the Commissioners want to call me names. I just want to build my house and live there quietly. If I have to be called names in public to get a permit then so be it.

    I said nothing during the entire 2 1/2 hour hearing.

    The Commissioners voted 7-3 to deny the permit (mostly citing the size of the house), and we left the hearing. We went to a local bar and had a few drinks, even though it was only 3:00 pm, and I don’t normally drink alcohol. It had been a very hard day.

    Cave Landing Update

    July 3rd, 2013

    Several of my friends have asked me recently about what is going on with my attempt to build a single family house at Cave Landing, in San Luis Obispo County, California.

    In July 2011 the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission approved by land use permit to build my house by a 5-0 vote. No issues of visual impact or public access were raised during this public hearing.

    In January 2013, after three years of me trying to get a land use permit to build my house, the California Coastal Commission (in my fifth public hearing) decided that the mere sight of my house above Cave Landing Road was a “visual impact” that could not be mitigated, and so they denied my permit.

    During the January 2013 hearing, various Coastal Commissioners tried to extort public access to all of my property in exchange for a land use permit for me to build a smaller house than what I wanted. I refused their extortion attempt, an so in retaliation they denied my permit completely by a 7-3 vote.

    …This being California, of course I sued the California Coastal Commission in Superior Court in San Luis Obispo. By the rules of this sort of lawsuit, the Coastal Commission has six months to prepare an administrative report that explains their decision. Right now I am waiting for this report.

    …However, my life continues to go on. Directly because of the decision by the Coastal Commission, my partners and I decided to open a new office in Austin, Texas, and to hire all of our new employees outside of the madness that is California. The Austin office is going great. The quality of the employees we have been able to hire is really extraordinary. We can now recruit smart capable people from all over the county because they all want to move to Austin to live and work.

    I can vouch for that. I used to work for a defense contractor in San Diego. We tried and failed to recruit software engineers from all over the country. They’d laugh at the software engineering managers who’d call them (I’d hear it on speaker phone) because there was no way we could pay them enough to duplicate the kind of life they could afford to live elsewhere. The only place we could consistently recruit from was the SF bay area, which is even more insane than other places in Kali.

    My wife and I have also decided to spend less and less time in California while the lawsuit is pending. Eventually we will probably move to Austin Texas ourselves – unless I win the lawsuit against the Coastal Commission. If I win I will finally be able to build my house at Cave Landing and I will be able to retire and live in peace and quiet at my favorite place in the world – Avila Beach, California.

    The Coastal Commission staff finishes the Revised Findings

    August 4th, 2013

    When the Coastal Commissioners go off track and make up stuff during the hearing outside of the staff report, like they did on my permit hearing, then the Coastal Commission staff has up to 6 months to rewrite the original staff report to try to match whatever craziness happened during the hearing. This rewrite is called the “Revised Findings”.

    We have been waiting since the January 10th, 2013 hearing to see what staff would do for the “Revised Findings” in my case. The Commissioners had ended up voting 7-3 on a motion to deny my CDP (Coastal Development Permit) as modified by the Coastal staff because the seven Commissioners said that my house was too big. Also during the hearing the Commissioners had complained about my criticizing them in this blog, and Esther Sanchez in particular had tried to get me to agree to allow public access to all of my property (which I declined to do). Dayna Bochco had also lectured me about my narrow minded attitude concerning my own private property, and that she had to consider the rights of all the people of California and not just my property rights. I personally said nothing. How was all of this going to end up in the “Revised Findings”? The answer turned out that the staff just ignored all of the crazy stuff and wrote a report that was actually very low key in nature.

    Greg & John rebut the Coastal Commission Revised Findings

    August 12th, 2013

    By law the Coastal Commission has to give you 10 workings days notice to respond to any public vote that they plan to take. The Coastal Commission also has to vote to accept any staff report. Therefore, we had only 10 days to write our response to the “Revised Findings” report that the Coastal Commission staff took six months to write.

    …Fortunately for me and Judi, our lawyers John Flynn and Greg Sanders are much more competent than me when it comes to writing rebuttals to staff reports. Today they finished their letter and they overnighted it to the Coastal Commission office in Santa Cruz.

    …The Coastal Commission can’t just act on a whim. (Well, actually the Coastal Commission can act on a whim, but it isn’t legal for them to do so).

    In other words, the Coastal Commission can’t be arbitrary and capricious – they must follow the law and give factual reasons for their decisions. And for their decision about my permit, they didn’t follow the law and give evidence.

    The Coastal Commission has to also follow their own procedures – which they also didn’t do in my case.

    I feel very confident how I will do in court, thanks to the great work by Greg and John.

    I attend my 7th public hearing in my quest to get a building permit

    August 15th, 2013

    This time I had to attend the California Coastal Commission meeting in Santa Cruz. The staff had revised their findings from the January 10th public hearing to reflect the decision that the Coastal Commissioners made back then. The commissioners had to vote to approve the revised findings

    …The next step is that my lawyers have a lawsuit settlement meeting in September with the Coastal Commission lawyers (who are from the State Attorney General’s Office – because that is who actually pays their salaries).

    I have no idea what will happen in the settlement meeting in September because I have no experience at all with this.

    It sure take an enormous amount of time and money to try to get a building permit in California. At this point I am closing in on 4 years and several hundred thousand dollars and there is no guarantee that I will ever get a permit.

    At least now that the revised findings have been approved I now know the exact basis in law that the Coastal Commission staff claims that my SLO County building permit violated. But only after four years do I finally get told what SLO County supposedly did wrong! And of course, my lawsuit says that SLO County was right, and the Coastal Commission was wrong – but I didn’t know for sure until today what the Coastal Commission actually claimed.

    Nothing resulted from the settlement meeting.

    Judge Tangeman sets the court calendar

    December 5th, 2013

    Judge Martin Tangeman set the hearing date and briefing schedule today for my lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission.

    Opening brief is due February 10, 2014 from my lawyers.

    Opposition brief is due March 10, 2014 from the California Attorney General.

    Reply brief is due March 24, 2014 from may lawyers.

    The actual court hearing will be on April 21, 2014. I am told the hearing is usually very quick, certainly less than one afternoon.

    Compared to the California Coastal Commission, the SLO County Superior Court is a model of efficiency.

    If you’ve ever been to places like San Louis Obispo or Santa Barbara counties, they’re beautiful places. The people running them though, like the people running the state, are insane. It’s hardly worth going to visit. They need to be quarantined.

    Steve57 (f8d67f)

  65. Milhouse:

    Yes, but what has that got to do with this Pasadena scandal that Nixon mentions?

    Icy is saying they’re the same thing and that’s what Nixon calls it.

    That makes less than no sense at all.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  66. Nixon liked to put it to Pat Nixon, vigorously – as opposed to dabbling with man-anus

    “there’s just more there – she’s got more to offer,” Nixon would say

    Maybe so, but from the context of what comes before and after the 14-second bleep he had to have been saying something semi-positive about the homosexual urge, or about homosexuals who stay decently in the closet.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  67. What I’ve been reading recently is Seanan McGuire’s urban fantasy series, with the Shakespearean titles. She’s very good at it.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  68. maybe if we shake the tree we can get some grant money for further study

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  69. 66. Comment by Milhouse (b95258) — 1/12/2014 @ 9:39 pm

    That makes less than no sense at all.

    You may be right. It started from a story in the New York Post, and they first heard of it when their train had pulled out of Pomona, California, according to “In the Arena” Nixon’s 1990 book.

    But that’s what I think Icy is saying, though.

    Sammy Finkelman (28600b)

  70. Mrs Gramps’ aunt got me hooked on Lee Childs (Reacher series) while recuperating from shoulder surgery. Interesting concept and light reads.

    Tom Clancy was always a treat, don’t know who will fill that hole…. He had a knack for making reality show up in his books… beforehand. If one read Debt of Honor, using a commercial airliner as a missile would not have been surprised by the methods of the 9/11 terrorists. I’m still waiting for the plots of “Sum of All Fears” and “Executive Orders” to surface in reality. Bad s**t.

    Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris was very good. Those who think the acrimony of today’s politics is new needs to read this.

    And blending history and fiction is Patrick O’Brien’s “Master and Commander” series: The world of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars as seen through the eyes of the fictional Captain Jack Aubry. He wrote 20 of them, the 21st was in progress when he died (O’Brien, not Aubry). O’Brien used the archives of the RN to accurately portray various campaigns and actions into which he inserted his fictional characters. They describe a very hard life.

    I see Nelson Demille has released a new one, a spruce up of an earlier work; I’ll have to check it out. “The Charm School” was a thought provoker.

    Right now I’m reading “A Cruel and Shocking Act” by Philip Shenon, a rather detailed work on the Kennedy Assassination and the inner workings of the Warren Commission. I’m about 140 pages into the 550 page work and already find much stuff that didn’t get much public exposure. Shocked! But no big conspiracy claims.. just Washington, DC business as usual. So far. Long way to go.

    gramps, the original (64b8ca)

  71. You may be right. It started from a story in the New York Post, and they first heard of it when their train had pulled out of Pomona, California, according to “In the Arena” Nixon’s 1990 book.

    What did? The Pasadena scandal he mentions in the tape? And whose train? A Post reporter’s?

    But that’s what I think Icy is saying, though.

    No, I don’t think it can possibly be. What connection could there be between that scandal and the Checkers speech?

    Milhouse (b95258)

  72. The Aubrey/Maturin books are excellent.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  73. I work here is done.

    Icy (951dcd)

  74. Takeaway lines from Nixon: “Sure, Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates. . . . Do you know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. The last six.”

    In this age of increasingly nonsensical politically correct speech, I admit that the guys-in-the-locker-room banter of Nixon strikes me as amusing. Even more so when pondering what he’d have said about one of his successors, Obama. Or the first president in US history who has a life story pockmarked with reports of homosexuality that go beyond unrealistic innuendo. Knowing Obama, his ego will soar even further if he begins to think he can now proclaim, “hey, I’m more similar to the great Greek philosophers Aristotle and Socrates than some may realize!” He might gloat about that to some of his buddies, past and current:, April 2011: Everyone knows or is either related to everyone in Hawaii. It’s kind of like the Kevin Bacon game where everyone is only separated by about six people. So when the news broke that Bobby Titcomb, Obama’s friend in Hawaii, was arrested for prostitution, I contacted my sources to find out what they know about him. It turns out Titcomb, well known for being connected to the seedier side of Hawaii (as evidenced by his arrest for soliciting prostitution,) was overheard recently bragging at a party about how he brings “fish and poi” to the White House for the president….when he said it he winked and snickered about how he never gets searched.

    On another occasion, a friend of Titcomb’s related that it is common knowledge that Titcomb is (allegedly) the president’s weed supplier. Titcomb is a flight attendant for American Airlines., September 2013: President Obama’s high school best friend, who at one time was ‘like a brother’ to him, has been accused of brutally raping and beating a woman, it emerged today. Keith Kiyoshi Kakugawa, 54, from Eureka, California, was arrested at his home last Sunday and booked into Humboldt County Jail on suspicion of false imprisonment, sexual penetration by force, oral copulation by force and battery.

    The arrest is the latest in a long list of convictions for Kakugawa, who was close friends with the President when they both attended Panahou High School. The 54-year-old has been in and out of prison, mainly for possession and dealing of cocaine, and spent some time living on the streets due to alcohol and drug problems.

    As for books, a few days ago I came across a somewhat dated piece, “Arrogance,” by Bernard Goldberg about the bias of the media. What the book’s analysis points out is more glaringly obvious today, in the age of Obama, or 10 years since “Arrogance” was published.

    Mark (58ea35)

  75. Well, that is an absolutely fascinating Nixon tape. Thank you for linking to it. What a slice of history!

    Bob Ellison (c67160)

  76. Finished reading “The Burglar Who Counted The Spoons” and it’s another wonderful Bernie Rhodenbarr novel that has two major twists – which I won’t reveal! But the twists are fun and interesting, making for a very good read.

    David Crowley (970d6c)

  77. Does anyone know how to get from dropbox to a kindle? I got a paperwhite for Christmas

    FLBuckeye (03ccfd)

  78. I watched about half the video and did not get too the quoted remarks.

    This is basically Nixon encountering the show “All in the Family” H.R. Haldeman explains it to him, Nixon reviews the episode he saw. It is kind of funny.

    The captions are very valuable, even though it seems you could actually hear every word. But it makes it a great deal easier.

    Sammy Finkelman (e40e85)

  79. One of the things I didn’t get around to doing is giving some examples of what I am reading

    Also some interesting non-political things I found, like that study about Vitamin E and Alzheimers – it’s not such a big puzzle why it only works for about six months when someone reaches a certain level of deterioration or why adding a second drug negates the effect.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

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