Category Archives: book

Cover image of Ponzimonium"

Well that only took forever

I don’t like to hate on government agencies, especially the underfed and underfunded. This, however, is annoying to me…

The United State Government Publishing1 Office lets you buy books and pamphlets the various parts of the United States (but not the States themselves) have reduced to written form. I have bought several copies of the official text of the Constitution from them for ready reference.

Some publications just go to show that there is a certain amount of stodge that always goes with government, such as the bizzare choice of smiley face on this document about bridge inspections. It make it look a little untrustworthy to me, like “It’s OK, really (wink)”.

Anyway, I wanted badly to read this entertainingly titled Ebook on investment frauds from a sometime Commissioner of the CFTC with a mullet that is supposedly available free. Well:

  1. There are two entries for this media on the GPO’s website, for some reason.
  2. The PDF link in the one is bad.
  3. I can’t find the “Add to Cart” link mentioned, even if logged in to my account.

Anyway, after fussing around (I didn’t call them up, because when I reported a spelling mistake in their ecommerce user management, it took over a month to get a reply. And it still isn’t fixed. As before, underfunded) I found a link to the PDF and EPUB files on their… FTP server.

Anyway, go here:

  1. Ex-Government Printing Office. I understand the name change, but the older one was headed by the supremely titled “Public Printer of the United States”. The new one is run by a “Director”. Boring!! 

The Commies are coming?

I was born far too late to have lived through either of the “Red scares”, but that doesn’t mean their detritus isn’t available for me to find. Here is one example:


The publisher of this one is far from “lost”: The American Bar Association is still around, probably as strong as ever. Their “Standing Committee on Education against Communism”, however, appears to no longer exist.

Do note the “bar” in the ABA’s logo, though.

Incorrect book cover art is nothing new

A commenter1 on the Awful Library Books blog once pointed out that a certain print-on-demand publisher of old public domain books had published a classical book, I think it was Wuthering Heights, with a picture of a bicycle on the cover. This was evident nonsense to them since bicycles had nothing to do with the story. I am taking their word for it since I haven’t read that novel.

However, in browzing Project Gutenberg for material to read, I ran across two Horatio Alger books that exhibited the same problem. Yes I read those. Someday I will get a grand spreadsheet together to exhibit just how formulaic they are. Anyway…

Continue reading

A wet phone book

To my great annoyance, I did not get any mail today, but what I did find down the roadside at the base of my mailbox was…

a wet paperback phone book, about an inch (2.5 cm) from a company I don’t even get service(s) from.

Besides the waste of paper, is that the best way they could deliver it, throwing it on the ground and letting it get rained on?

As my grand mother would be saying, “they get more shiftless all the time”.

Seeing Things at Night – a study of titulature and coverture

I have previously mentioned patronizing Project Gutenberg for interesting and entertaining out of copyright works. This one I’ve no comment on the contents of, but am quite struck by the name and cover of.

First, the name. It’s deceptive. It sounds normal at first, but then becomes a quandary. How can you see things at night when, presumably, all is dark? Is it an oxymoron, or a suggestion of a light source?

Second, the cover design. This is what really took my attention. It has a quality that I can’t really explain. The orange on black lettering, the strange font (note the shape of the letter G) and the arching text combine to make me almost frightened of it, like it was designed for Halloween. I wish the contents of the book were as interesting as the cover is.

A nasty breakfast; or, merry tricks. A story of the Heptameron.

The Heptameron of Margaret of Navarra is a collection of 72 stories of various human dramas and comedies she (Margaret) had heard of as the queen of Navarra in the early to mid 1500s. Navarra is a little former country essentially on the border between France and Spain. Most involve misadventures of love and sex, but some are more general. Since there are 72 stores in this book (there were supposed to be 100, but she died before getting that far), so I’m only going to pick on the ones that I think are the best. This one, number 52, is one of the more amusing ones, probably because we can imagine doing something similar ourselves:

IN the time of the last Duke Charles there was at Alençon [French town] an advocate [lawyer] named Antoine Bacheret, a merry companion, and fond of breakfasting o’ mornings. One day, as he was sitting before his door, he saw a gentleman pass whose name was Monsieur de la Tireliere. He had come on foot upon business he had in town, and the day being cold, he had not forgotten to take with him his great robe, lined with foxskin. Seeing the advocate, who was much such a man as himself, he asked him how he was getting on, and observed that a good breakfast would not be amiss. The advocate replied that a breakfast would be found soon enough, provided some one could be found to pay for it. Thereupon La Tireliere took him by the arm, saying, “Come along, gaffer, perhaps we shall fall in with some fool who will pay for us both.”

There happened to be behind them an apothecary’s [pharmacist] man, a cunning and inventive young fellow, whom the advocate was perpetually making game of. That moment the thought of having his revenge came into his head, and without going more than ten steps out of his way, he found behind a house a fine big sir reverence, well and duly frozen, which he wrapped up so neatly in paper that it might be taken for a small sugar-loaf. He then looked out for his men, and passing them like a person in great haste, entered a house, and let fall the sugar-loaf from his sleeve, as if inadvertently. The advocate picked it up with great glee, and said to La Tireliere, “This clever fellow shall pay our scot; but let us be off quickly for fear he comes back.”

The pair having entered a cabaret [restaurant], the advocate said to the servant girl, “Make us a good fire, and give us good bread and good wine, and something nice with it;” for he fancied he had wherewithal to pay [at the time, sugar was rare and expensive]. They were served to their liking; but as they grew warm with eating and drinking, the sugar-loaf, which the advocate carried in his bosom, began to thaw, and gave out such a stench that, thinking it came from elsewhere, he said to the servant, “You have the most fetid and stinking house I ever was in.” La Tireliere, who had his share of this fine perfume, said the same thing. The servant, incensed at thus being accused of sluttishness [slovenliness, not promiscuity], replied, “By St. Peter, my masters, the house is so neat and clean that there is no nastiness in it but what you have brought in with you.” The two friends rose from table, spitting and holding their noses, and stood near the fire; and presently, while warming himself, the advocate took his handkerchief out of his bosom, disgustingly smeared with the syrup of the melted sugar-loaf, which he produced with it. You may well believe that the servant made fine fun of them after the insult they had offered her, and that the advocate was sorely confounded at finding himself the dupe of an apothecary’s man, whom he had always made the butt of his wit. The servant, instead of taking pity on them, made them pay as handsomely as they had been served; and said that no doubt they must be greatly intoxicated, since they had drunk both by nose and mouth. The poor wights slunk away with their shame and their cost.

They were no sooner in the street than they saw the apothecary’s man going about and asking every one if they had seen a loaf of sugar wrapped up in paper. They tried to avoid him, but he shouted to the advocate, “Monsieur, if you have my loaf of sugar I beg you will give it back to me; for it is a double sin to rob a poor servant.” His shouts brought many people to the spot out of curiosity to witness the dispute; and the real state of the case was so well verified, that the apothecary’s man was as glad to have been robbed as the others were vexed at having committed such a nasty theft. They comforted themselves, however, with the hope of one day giving him tit for tat.

The like often happens, ladies, to those who take pleasure in such tricks. If the gentleman had not wanted to eat at another’s expense, he would not have had such a nasty draught at his own. It is true that my story is not very decorous, but you gave me permission to speak the truth. I have done so, to show that when a deceiver is deceived no one is sorry for it.

Source is here. Bracketed words are my explanations.