Heavy Breathing? I don’t often get to review these: Sparkling Passion is exceptional!

This is a cut&paste of a review done for Bella Forro and her romance novel, as it appears on Amazon and elsewhere.

Romance. Extremely well done, sexy (for adults only); a compelling read.

five stars

Forro’s work is in a genre that is a little unusual for this reviewer, so the star count was (as it often is) a tough decision. Until I realized I’d done a ‘fast first peek’ and read three chapters, only stopping because of an appointment I could not possibly reschedule.

I am aware of this genre mostly from earlier experience with Lynda Simmons, who wrote for one of the Harlequin titles as Linda Simons (they already had a Simmons.) Lynda is now a successful novelist (Island Girl, for an example) under her own name. Forro is roughly her equal in the romance field. To add to the interest, the chief characters get chapters told from their own point of view. And, both viewpoints are believable. Add to this real social knowledge of clothes, makeup, fine dining, whatever.

The story has the predictable love interest, conflict, reconciliation. There is desire and frustration. However, the plot details are clever and unique, and utterly convincing. I’ll give you a few quotes:

“I couldn’t say why, but I reached forward and slipped my hand into his, not sure why or what I was even trying to say in doing it. He seemed surprised, and at least distracted from what was in front of us long enough to tip his head toward me, so I could see the length of his eyelashes and the flash of that heat in his eyes I had seen the night before.”

“…front of my building — disappearing inside to my own room, to tug off these clothes and pull on a pair of cotton shorts and a tank top and crash for a few hours before I had to endure a Monday morning from hell — when Will pulled open my door and I was stepping out into a garage that hosted nothing but beautiful, imported cars. There were so many reasons I shouldn’t be there.”

I should mention that there are a couple of sub-plots that have a surprise interconnection. This is a well-thought-out story. If romance novels are escapist literature, this one will take you in for sure. My personal guidelines, when doing any review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. Five stars it is, and an extremely recommended sexy romance.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

Why Not Manslaughter?

Today’s post is about the killing of a man by a police officer, apparently by accident.

First, a tiny childish rant on my part. Today’s hotlink will be to the Metro newspaper. The Toronto Star now forces me to use their eReader, to which I have legal access via a print subscriptions. However, I can’t give you a hotlink to the content.
The MetroNews (an on-subway, in-mall free paper) has the same content, often, and is open.

Now for the story. Here are some quotes, not in order:

Payne said he told a distressed Cavanagh that the accidental shot could have happened to anyone on the team. So the claim is, accidental shooting. One shot from a sub-machine gun.

Osawe was shot once in the back at close range by the weapon carried by Const. David Cavanagh, a fatal shooting that an Ontario court judge later deemed accidental.

The constable involved, David Cavanagh, was not near the victim. He was across the room.

Bozzer said he saw Osawe’s left hand sliding under a dresser and thought he might be reaching for a gun. Bozzer then kicked Osawe’s shoulder and pinned his left knee on Osawe to secure him, as he continued to resist calls to put his hands on his back, he testified.

At that moment, with Cavanagh behind him, Bozzer heard the gunshot. The entire struggle happened in a matter of seconds, he said.

Osawe was shot in the back while pinned down. It was deemed that the discharge of the submachine gun firearm was accidental.

Now for the dumb questions.

  • If I accidentally shot a dog, would I not be charged with discharging a firearm illegally?
  • If I accidentally ran over a police officer, would I not be charged with manslaughter?
  • Do we accept the gradual shifting of law enforcement, including our ever more empowered spy chiefs, toward a police state?
  • If I were to comment that carding has been stopped, without being stopped, would that lead you to suspect that Toronto has a police chief independent of civil control?
  • Is there a separate set of law and law enforcement for police officers?

I might note that the accidental discharge of the firearm happened to hit the victim in the spine. It did not go into the floor or ceiling. Does aiming constitute intent?

Carbon Tax: why will this work?

Today’s dumb question is above.

Canada has, via the Federal government, unilaterally given the provinces not much time to come up with some form of CO2 tax. Presumably generators of this gas will be taxed.

So far as I can see, this will increase prices, probably by a few percent.

Now for the dumb questions:

  • Will I drive less, run my house cooler, because prices go up?
  • Will I tolerate warmer mall stores in Summer?
  • Will the enormous CO2 cost of the proposed natural gas liquefaction project stop it from being profitable?
  • Will the ‘oil sands’ (really, tar sands, everyone, eh?) become uneconomic?

I submit that the answers are no, no, no, and ‘already are uneconomic.’

The final dumb question is the same as the first one:

Why will a carbon tax reduce our CO2 emissions? What have I missed here?

A Sobering thought about Nuclear

Here you will find an excellent New Yorker summary of a book about nuclear weapons policy in the United States of America. I will not give quotations; you can read it (or not) for yourself. I will draw a few obvious conclusions.

  • There have been many false nuclear attack scares. Both for the Russians and for the Americans.
  • There have been many accidents. Warheads falling into back yards.
  • There have been many near-disasters. A missile damaged by a fallen socket (not the wrench, just the socket) which could have blown away much of Arkansas.
  • There have been massive overstatements of the Soviet missile advantage.
  • The American military used this to increase their budgets.
  • Every attempt to get an advantage, numerical or technical or social, in the USA, has had a mirror action taken by the ‘other side.’
  • The so-called football is a very complex device that sets going a very complex chain of events that cannot be recalled or cancelled. The chain of events has no parameters, however: it can only launch an all-out nuclear attack (by the USA on ‘our’ side, and by them, on ‘their’ side.)
  • The situation is insane.

You will be told that the Russians walked away from a plutonium reprocessing agreement with the Americans. You may not be told that the Americans decided not to follow it themselves because mixing the plutonium with more ordinary reactor fuel turned out to be expensive. The Russians did, once again, a mirror reaction.

Now we may witness the minor miracle of a man whose main claim to fame, at least today, is how he spoke about a woman in a recorded ‘locker room’ conversation. That several accusing grope-ees have added their chorus doesn’t bother this person. He simply calls them liars. He calls his bankruptcies clever business practice. He calls his opponent a criminal.

The minor miracle is that this man might become president of the United States of America. The US President has access to the nuclear football, and is not answerable to anyone before (or after) pressing the button.

This person of interest, this candidate for US President, is Donald Trump.

The Car: Stuart Larner

This is a cut&paste of a review I did on Amazon. Full text follows:

The Car     Stuart Larner

pictures and diagrams; car experiences, explanations in sonnets (!)

four stars

Really unusual works are hard to rate.  So as always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let’s get to my task: to describe this work to you.

Larner can do social commentary, as in Checking One Out, where the author slyly comments on the owners trying to sell a used car. “Inside seems strange, their car scent makes me cough. /Well-spruced today, but some days not at all.” The sellers’ home and vehicle are gently mentioned in a similar vein.

There are insights into British motoring, more than just calling the trunk ‘the boot’ and jack et cetera ‘breakdown tools.’ This is a fun walk into another culture, at least for this Canadian reader.

There are explanations that range from almost-praying that a car will start, to details of how essential parts work. For example, the cooling system diagram is from a Model T Ford. Much of the technology mentioned is from the simpler era where interested folk like myself actually understood how ignition, timing (and other things, like suspension) worked.

If you’re scrolling for the tiny carps, stop here. There is the odd phrase which I didn’t get. That’s it. Back to  the good stuff.

A favourite here is Epithalamium, which includes this: “The starter cranks its bridal march for this: /The well-groomed air drawing your vapour veil. /Both mists co-mingling in one tingling kiss /To share a breath that burns as you exhale.”

For a bizarre and fascinating explanation, turn to The Right Gear, which is told from the point of view of a cog.

I should mention the images included in this book. They are all credited at the end. All are appropriate for the sonnet each accompanies. It is clear that the author chose these images with care. They vary from photos of cars, of car components, to diagrams of engines, carburetors, ignition systems.

Fittingly, the volume ends with The Garden of Remembrance – a scrap yard.

Back to the star count. This is my standard boilerplate:
My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent.

Larner’s sonnets vary from literary to mechanical description. The images are all relevant. The work is imho unique. So is it best in genre? Worst in genre?

If you’re looking for some car nostalgia, this book is for you. If you’re looking to explain the automobile to a relative neophyte, this will definitely help. Four stars seems a fair rating for a general audience; your personal rating may well be higher.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

Joseph Spuckler, and poetry

Joseph Spuckler is, well, a character. His eMail is something like evilcyclist. He is an activist for road safety and cycling.

He is much more than this. You can find out by looking at his web page here. He does literary reviews, a lot of them.

I found out about Spuckler from another writer, who suggested (most persuasively) that I could benefit from a literary review by him. Since this particular writer, Inge. H. Borg, has been very helpful to me in the past, I hoped that I could get a decent review from Joseph.

My wish has been granted. You can find Mr. Spuckler’s review of Cold Comes Through here. Please do have a look.

And allow me to thank him for his kind and thoughtful review.

Free Trade, and David Olive

I have often lauded David Olive, Toronto Star columnist, in this blog. It is with trepidation that I beg to differ with his Saturday Star column entitled,
Word must accept the realities of globalization.

I certainly agree with the title statement. I don’t agree that, once those realities are accepted, that we should go on accepting the presently natural outcome of reality. We need to change how things work, and globalization is one of those things.

NAFTA may have made a trade bonanza for the USA, but it did not make one, imho, for Canada. Even the US numbers are suspect, as for an example, the Vogue trade which was entirely intra-company: bra parts were sent to Mexico, and sewn bras were sent back. This was recorded as trade, instead of lost jobs in the USA. And, if my recall is correct, the Mexicans working in the maquiladoras were there because NAFTA ended their farm subsidies; ex-farmers got to live in makeshift shacks while working in modern factories. Asked what would happen if labour got cheaper, the spokesperson said, ‘If it gets cheaper in Bangladesh, we’ll move there in a heartbeat.’ Guess where the Rana Plaza disaster was.

To add insult to injury, factories in Bangladesh relocate at a whim to cheaper labour in the same country. Villages that became work towns became unemployment slums.

Canada lost major industries. Stelco. Caterpillar. GM workers accepted new pension plans for hires to (apparently) keep jobs in the country. Fingers crossed, anyone?

As Noam Chomsky pointed out, they are not really trade deals. They are agreements that allow the means of production to be moved at corporate will.

Olive thinks global trade has improved the human condition overall. This may be correct; the workers in Bangladesh were willing to risk bad buildings because they needed the pay (that was threatened to be withheld should they not enter the cracked building.) So we can deduce that their lot at that time was ‘better’ than before free trade. To quote David Olive, extreme poverty worldwide has been decreasing. To look at our own streets, extreme poverty at home has been increasing.

We are importing cheap goods produced by cheap labour in cheaply enforced ‘working conditions’. We are also importing their standard of living, instead of exporting ours.

Olive mentions the value of inflation in his article. (I am not sure if I am indebted to Krugman or Keynes for the next observation.) Inflation is favourable to business. Consider a small enterprise. I purchase supplies, rent facilities, manufacture finished goods, and sell them. Here’s how inflation affects me:

  • input stock gains apparent value while I get ready to use it.
  • output product gains apparent value by inflating before I sell it.
  • rent is fixed for long periods.
  • if the labour market is favourable (to me) I don’t need to keep up with inflation there.

Thus my theoretical small business likes inflation. It helps the bottom line.

Suppose instead that I am a worker in such a small business. Here’s how inflation affects me:

  • prices go up.
  • my salary does not go up.

Suppose I am retired, on a defined benefit plan even. Here’s how inflation affects me:

  • prices go up.
  • my pension does not go up. Nor my annuity. My RRIF goes down.

Inflation is a benefit to the business owner. Not to the citizen.

Now let’s have a look at free trade.

We have a trade deficit. Our Canadian government is having an orgasm because it is only $1.9 billion for August 2016. The United Stated of America has a trade deficit. It was $40.73 billion in August 2016. Mexico has a trade deficit of 1.91 billion (USD) for August 2016.

China has a trade surplus of $52.05 billion for August, 2016.

Bangladesh has a trade deficit largely because it imports energy. Australia’s trade deficit is narrowing because of gold exports, but it is a deficit.

Germany has a trade surplus of 19.5 billion Euros for July 2016.

I think that’s enough to suggest a pattern. North America as a whole is accumulating debt by buying more goods than we sell. Canada and the United States are exporting jobs. Manufacturing jobs. Call centre jobs. Any job that can’t be done more cheaply offshore.

Free trade has added manufacturing jobs to the list. Simple as that.

Olive argues that only free trade can keep us on a growth curve. The idea is, sell into markets that are growing.

I think this is a misunderstanding. It is not possible for an entire planet to ‘grow’ in real terms without limit. A single business growing at a fixed above-zero rate against inflation would eventually own the universe. It’s not possible to grow above inflation forever.

But we keep pretending that we can. We import what we can’t afford and borrow to do it. We then lose our jobs because our local knitting firm can’t compete.

Now for the cynical part of this post.

What happens when, say, a major store chain decides to switch from a local garment supplier to one in, say, Bangladesh?

Local jobs are lost. Trade numbers shift against our country. Foreign workers get jobs at, of course, lower wages and protections than here.
The company makes more profit. The displaced workers go on welfare or EI until that runs out. The extra cash goes into the bonus pool and possibly stock dividends. The company distributes cash and stock options to its directors and top executives.

In short, the rich (here) get richer and the poor (here) get poorer.

That’s the reality of globalization that we should be outraged by.
That’s the reality of globalization that we should be working against.
That’s the reality of globalization that we should not accept.

I apologize to David Olive for using his, as usual, thoughtful column and for attacking some of his main points. I respect Mr. Olive. I am not comfortable with the idea of letting globalization grow our domestic inequality.

There are other dimensions to globalization, with patents and copyrights working to add to the situation. All the workers and companies who actually build/assemble a computer or phone are likely to get one third of its net sale price, while the patent holder gets two thirds just for owning the patent, and can license the patent in another city, province, or country at the drop of a hat.

Again, jobs elsewhere, bonus pool and stock dividends (for the rich) at home.

No dumb question this time. Have a nice day.

Electric Shock

I wonder about electric cars. So I did a small amount of research on Ontario Power Generation.

We have some 17,048 megawatts (mw) of total generating capacity. At the moment I visited their web page, we were generating (and using) some 9,030 mw. The breakdown in capacity is interesting; I’ll give it below in current  (max) mw for each class of energy.

  • Nuclear (Pickering and Darlington)   5,937   (6606)
  • Hydro-electric (falling water)             2,996   (7438)
  • Thermal (biomass mostly)                    48   (2458)
  • Total overall                                       9,030 (17,048)

I don’t care if the numbers add up perfectly, it’s close enough to make some observations.

  1. Nuclear is running close to capacity. That’s as expected: nuclear is the most difficult to ramp up and shut down. Response time is in days, weeks, or months.
  2. Thermal can be more or less ignored. It’s mostly biomass.
  3. Hydro-electric is well below full exploitation.
  4. There are no numbers for wind or solar provided.

I think we’re about to refurbish some nuclear. It isn’t clear to me that we need a lot more nuclear capacity. Falling water is subject to surprises, and global warming could create drought in strategic watersheds, leaving the generators there dry.

The net here is that most of our power, in Ontario, Canada, comes from nuclear and the rest comes from falling water.

Now for my foray into the logic (or lack of it) on electric cars.

Electric heat is essentially 100% efficient. Natural gas furnaces can approach this. However, those who heat their homes with electricity will tell you that their bills are very large, much worse than even oil heat at some 80% efficiency, and very much worse than natural gas heating.

From this I make some deductions.

  • Ontario electricity, generated by nuclear and falling water, is a lot more expensive than natural gas when heating the same home. Heat is energy.
  • Electric cars must overcome this basic difference in energy cost. Gasoline engines are about 30% efficient. Apparently at high r.p.m. some 20% of engine power is simply used to ‘pump’ fuel in and exhaust out.
  • Apparently, the deed has been done. Here you will find that the average gasoline engine gets about 20% of the energy available to the wheels, whereas the average electric car gets about 60% of the energy there.

Given an electric per calorie cost of about triple that of gasoline or natural gas, we can see that the electric car is after all in the ballpark to be as cheap to run.


  • The electric car costs a lot more, and today, weighs more for the same cargo capacity.
  • The electric car has a short range away from charging stations.
  • Nobody really knows how expensive replacing electric car batteries will be.
  • There are environmental concerns re the manufacturing of electric cars. Lead in the batteries, or large NiMH batteries, whatever: storing a lot of electricity has proven difficult (witness the Dreamliner and Samsung problems.)

I don’t think electric cars are appropriate. Let the rich and the super-green drive them while the science catches up to the cost and battery numbers.

If you’re driving one of these, thank you. I’ll follow after the trail has been safely blazed. I hope you’re not shocked.