One of the nice things about writing on a blog is the freedom to write about whatever you want. After all, there's really no money in this so when I recommend a book to my regular readers, you know it's because I like it.
Writer David Simon spent the entire year of 1988 with the Homicide squads of the Baltimore police department. As a crime reporter with the Baltimore Sun, Simon was familiar with crime in the city.
As police procedurals go, this is the best. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a true crime novel needs to read this book. This is the antithesis of every formulaic murder mystery you have ever read. People kill one another over money, drugs, dirty looks or for no reason at all. The book drives home the stark reality of knowing these 36 detectives will not have a shortage of work. During the year in question, 234 people were murdered in the city. David Simon manages to sort through these victims as he follows the detectives and show you the murders that matter. Every one does of course, every body that falls will be worked as hard as possible to change the names on the tally board from red to black. However, even within this select group of victims, there are murders that matter. These are the Red Balls. It is the illusion of tears and nothing more, the rainwater that collects in small beads and runs to the hollows of her face. The dark brown eyes are fixed wide, staring across wet pavement; jet black braids of hair surround the deep brown skin, high cheekbones and a pert, upturned nose. The lips are parted and curled in a slight, vague frown. She is beautiful, even now.... Her upper body is partially wrapped in a red vinyl raincoat. Her pants are a yellow print, but they are dirty and smudged. The front of her blouse and the nylon jacket beneath the raincoat are both ripped, both blotted red where the life ran out of her. A single ligature mark--the deep impression of a rope or cord--travels the entire circumference of her neck, crisscrossing just below the base of the skull. Above her right arm is a blue cloth satchel, set upright on the pavement and crammed with library books, some papers, a cheap camera and a cosmetic case containing makeup in bright reds, blues and purples--exaggerated, girlish colors that suggest amusement more than allure. She is eleven years old. (Simon 59)
Simon manages to capture how even men hardened by their constant exposure to violence and death are galvanized to action by the murder of 11 year old Latonya Wallace. His writing draws you into the frustration felt by lead detective Tom Pelligrini as he leads an investigation that grinds on in an endless quest for the killer. The book ebbs and flows around his crusade. Other cases are worked, other suspects in other murders arrested and still this one dogs the new guy on the shift. The reader's heart breaks with Pelligrini's as the case wears him down.
What will draw you in and keep you interested is the gritty realism of the book. In places, the dialogue is so truthful, so raw, that you would swear someone like Elmore Leonard is writing it. The humor is black but necessary to what these men do. Surprisingly, you catch yourself being drawn back by the realization that this isn't fiction; this is real. The murders are real, the detectives are real, and most importantly the work they do is real.
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets is probably as close as a layman can get to understanding what it is to be a police officer. David Simon succeeds by immersing the reader in this closed world and giving you just the barest sense of what it means to speak for the dead. Go find a copy and read it.
I enjoy Sony's Playstation consoles. I've owned both the PS1 and PS2 but it looks like that's where it will stop. Sony has announced the pricepoint for their new console and it is $499 for the 20 GB version and $599 for the 60GB upgraded version. The new system is slated for release by the end of 2006. Of course, it's loaded: It has Sony's propietary Cell chip, a Blue Ray disc player and the ability to go online.
I imagine we will see a similar response to this new system that we saw with Microsoft's Xbox. Too few will initially be produced for the demand and those will sell for even more outrageous amounts on Ebay because some people must have every new gadget as soon as it comes out. Hoenstly, bragging rights for having the hottest game console are not worth what people will shell out for this system
As for me, I will have to let it slide. Even if I played as often as I wanted to, I just can't see spending that kind of money on a game console. It's true that it's loaded with every feature gamers want but all I really ask of a game console is that it play. I'm not interested in buying this fully loaded box and paying for a bunch of options I don't want and won't have the time to use . Maybe I should just go into the attic and pull out my old Atari 2600. All it did was play games and that was enough.
Wind farms are massive collections of windmills used to generate electricity. As this technology now becomes economically feasible, it can be used to lessen America's dependence on natural gas or coal for producing electricity. Some people think there is a drawback to their use, however. In this story on CNN, some environmentalists are worried about migratory birds flying into the large blades of the windmills. I empathize with their position but I feel the positive effects of this technology outweigh the risks to the birds. Electricity created with wind power does not pollute and is environmentally friendly. Losing birds in the process is a downside that is acceptable.
At this site, you can read about the battle over the proposed Nantucket windfarm. The main complaint here, once you work your way through the fluff of the opponents, seems to be that a proposed offshore windfarm in Nantucket Sound would threaten the view and lower property rates. Ruin the view? That seems to pale in comparison to helping the Northeast avoid another blackout.
Lots of people pay lip service to wanting clean, renewable energy but then turn into NIMBY's (Not In My Back Yard) when theory becomes reality. These aren't prisons we're talking about. These are windmills. They look fine on farms and in Holland and they'll look pretty good offshore in Texas and Maryland. After all, the developers have to put them where the wind is, not where it is convenient.