July 9th, 2007

10-F

Ten random things: July 9

Ten civil townships:

  1. Stafford Township, Minn.
  2. Wayne Township, N.J.
  3. Doylestown Township, Penn.
  4. Oxford Township, Mich.
  5. Kayenta Township, Navajo Nation
  6. Oak Park Township, Ill.
  7. Colerain Township, Ohio
  8. Lawrence Township, Ind.
  9. Langley Township, B.C.
  10. Smithtown Township, N.Y.

A civil township is a form of municipal government. What a township does varies widely from state to state. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for example, townships are pretty important and perform a large number of municipal functions, whereas in Illinois -- the suburban Chicago parts of Illinois, at any rate, where almost everything is incorporated as a city or village -- they don't seem to do much of anything.

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books

Book dump: June

These are the books I read in June. Not a particularly productive month, though two of the titles were rather dense, so I needed extra time to digest them.

Agents of Atlas by Jeff Parker and Leonard Kirk
A team of top secret operatives who originally worked together in the 1950s regroups to help one of their own uncover a widespread conspiracy masterminded by their oldest enemy. This is a fun work of metafiction, featuring characters originally published in the 1950s by Atlas Comics, which eventually evolved into Marvel Comics. Parker does a fine job modernizing these old characters without turning them "grim 'n' gritty," and Kirk's clean lines and solid storytelling skills add a lot to the charm of the book.
 
The Yiddish oliceman's Union by Michael Chabon
Chabon's long-awaited follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a gritty detective novel set in an Alaska that was colonized by European Jews after Israel was defeated in the Six-Day War. A good mystery, a vividly imagined alternate history, and appealing characters made this a pleasure to read.</cite>
 
The Thumpin': How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to Be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution by Naftali Bendavid
An entertaining look at how the Democratic Party managed to win control of both Houses of Congress in the 2006 elections. I think Bendavid is a little too stry-eyed when it comes to Emanuel, and I disagreed with his mostly unqualified admiration of how Emanuel and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee backed certain candidates in the primaries, which I personally don't approve of. But as a logtime Democrat and, more importantly, as someone who worked for the DCCC back in 1994, when the Dems lost control of Congress (it wasn't my fault! I swear!), it was fun to read.
 
The Annotated Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen with annotations by David M. Shapard
I usually don't list re-reads, but I'm making an exception in this because a) it had been 22 years since I last read it, and b) the annotations added enough new content to justify it. The annotations were excellent -- I came away with a much better understanding of the society Jane Austen wrote about and lived in. One minor quibble: so that it could be printed as a standard-sized trade paperback, the annotations were presented on the page opposite the text, a format I found somewhat difficult to read. I think the reader would have been better served with an oversized volume with the annotations in the margins, as was done in Martin Gardner's superb annotated editions of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
 
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