Monday, December 22, 2014

An AnnaSaurus Rex Christmas Special. Presenting... (Possibly NSFW)

Abraham Lincoln: Fuck Lord of the Moon by: Catherine DeVore

Source: Purchased. It was worth every penny of the $2.99 for this review.

Review by: AnnaSaurus Rex

Awwwww shit bitches that’s right! Annasaurus Rex is BACK and better than ever! Sure, I took a short hiatus (to get my podcast up and running! [Type Omaha] Go listen and subscribe! K Thx luvu byyyyeee) but I was hoisted out of retirement by the glory that is Abraham Lincoln: Fuck Lord of the Moon.

If that title isn’t enough, we only have to wait until the second sentence for the phrase “ninja training” to be dropped. So. Mr. Lincoln was president and all that. Civil War. Etcetera. However, all that was a big Numero DOS on his list of important shit. 

What could be number one you ask? Why, fighting the emperor of Japan in a moon fortress that is accessed via an under-mountain “Pool of Dreams” of course! I mean honestly, did you really not see that coming?

Also, it turns out the rumors are true. I am woman enough to admit when I’m wrong. It turns out the conspiracy theorists were right. Lincoln faked his assassination due to aforementioned moon fight. There, I said it. Let us not dwell on past mistakes. Moving on.

Not only is our 16th president trained in the ancient ways of the ninja, but he also has magical loins. MAAAAAAAGICAL LOINS! Winky faces and elbow nudging all around – Mary was a lucky lady, amirite?

So President Lincoln fakes his assassination. Bee-tee-dubs, JWB was totes in on it, him and Abe were BFF 4 lyfe. Peas and motherfucking carrots, motherfucker! Anyway. Our boy then jumps over to Japan and promptly has vigorous sex with his former…ahem…sparring partner (and I quote – My tongue began to spar with hers).

(Aside: I am normally on board for the insanity of these pieces of but I can NOT believe a woman would ever say, without any sense of irony or patronization, “Your power is great! You should share it with the world!” after a quickie. Sorry-not sorry, that shit is CRAY.)

Next up, Mr. President goes to the moon via magical dream pool with five sexy lady assassins. They meet up with the Evil Emperor. And I quote:
“No, I will not bow before you! I am Abraham Lincoln and I shall stand before you tall and proud!” As I spoke, my birthmark flared with energy and my prick leaped to life. I threw aside my kimono and brandished my cock toward Emperor Komei like a samurai swinging a sword of watered steel.”**
**Please note that this quote does not improve with context.

But by now it’s that time again – TWIST! 

(Side bar: Why does all erotica seem to have a bizarre plot twist? Is the erotica not enough? WHAT ARE YOU SEARCHING FOR PEOPLE?!) 

The Emperor whips out HIS cock and the lady assassins are helpless and can only collapse and masturbate! Is this where the phrase “dick measuring contest” comes from? HISTORY!

Now it’s time for the climax – no, not that one – the fight sequence! Guys. GUUUUUUYYYZZZZ. The Emperor and Lincoln fight. WITH THEIR DICKS. And they glow like lightsabers. It’s Vader and Skywalker sparring in the Death Star during The Empire Strikes Back but…it’s this. THEIR DICKS ACTUALLY GLOW RED AND BLUE. Da fuck?!

Anyway, the Emperor loses, which apparently drains away any and all animosity because he submits readily to oral and anal sex with our Mr. President. Hey, he was into it! Then he went back to Earth and now ABE RULES THE MOON AS AN AGELESS GOD! MWAHAHAH! MANIACAL LAUGHTER. Ahem. Pardon me.

I could try to sum it all up, but perhaps Abe says it best at the end:
 Remember: Though you might not see me, I am always watching from afar.-Abraham Lincoln, Fuck Lord of the Moon
 And just like that, I got a new signature line for my Gmail.

Overall, Abe Lincoln: Fuck Lord gets nine out of twelve inches.

Until next time, dear readers.

--Annasaurus Rex, Lit Lord of Erotica

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Salon: Part Deux: On the Nativity and the First Amendment

With Christmas upon us I feel the need to address something that I have endless fascination with and endless frustration.

The First Amendment. Specifically (you guessed it!) the two religion clauses found within. In case you slept through high school civics the relevant text reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
So, quick breakdown. The two clauses are known as (1) the Establishment clause ( law respecting an establishment of religion...) and (2) the Free Exercise clause (...[no law] prohibiting the free exercise thereof...). So the government may neither endorse a religion nor prevent people from practicing their religion as they like (with certain exceptions that the Supreme Court has found, but let's set that aside so we don't get too deep in the weeds). 

So, the reason I bring all this up is that I recently ran across a blog post (one of thousands, no doubt) entitled Born in a Stable and Still Being Bullied. I'm not in the habit of responding to other people's posts on my blog, but I think that this common misconception of the law is something that as an attorney I have something of a duty to educate about. 

The Down Low
There are two cases that are key when interpreting the First Amendment in regards to religious holiday displays. The first is Lynch v. Donnelly (1984) the issue was whether or not a Nativity scene sponsored by the city in a Christmas display was a violation of the Establishment Clause. The Nativity scene was surrounded by secular symbols such as Christmas trees and candy canes and was located on private property owned by a local non-profit.

The Court found that it was not a violation of the Establishment Clause because it met what is known as The Lemon Test, (again, we'll skip that to stay out of the weeds, but I encourage you to follow the link and learn about it) but in a concurring opinion Justice O'Connor set forth a clarification on the interpretation of the Establishment Clause. The most relevant part reads: 
”Government endorsement or disapproval of religion is unconstitutional. ... [e]ndorsement sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.
Five years later the Supreme Court considered Allegheny v. ACLU (1989), which concerned two recurring religious displays on public property. The first was a Nativity scene that was erected and prominently displayed on the 'Grand Staircase' of the county courthouse. The second was located outside the City-County building, included a menorah, a Christmas tree, and a sign, which read, “During this holiday season, the City of Pittsburgh salutes liberty. Let these festive lights remind us that we are the keepers of the flame of liberty and our legacy of freedom.”

The Court ruled that the Nativity scene was unconstitutional because it stood alone in a position of prominence and therefore constituted a government endorsement of religion. The majority stated: 
“No viewer could reasonably think that it occupies this location without the support and approval of the government. Thus, by permitting the 'display of the crèche in this particular setting', the county sends an unmistakable message that is supports and promotes the Christian praise to God that is the creche's religious message.”
The menorah and the sign were found to be constitutional because of the particular setting of the display the secular symbol of the Christmas tree was the prominent point of the display and the sign celebrating liberty diminished the possibility that a reasonable observer would see the display as an endorsement of any religion. The Court stated that the city's overall display must be understood as conveying the city's secular recognition of different traditions for celebrating the winter-holiday season. 

What does it all mean?
I'm glad you asked. What it boils down to is that government bodies that are displaying only a Nativity scene in a place of prominence, on public land is in violation of the Constitution. 

But Christians just want to celebrate our faith, why does the government want to crush our spirit? Personally, I don't think that the government (or rational reasonable people of other faiths or non-faiths) want to crush anyone's spirit or poop on anyone's religious traditions. However, to maintain the integrity of the First Amendment and to respect the wide variety of belief systems that are found in the U.S., governments have a responsibility to all citizens to ensure that they are not acting in ways that endorse a particular religion. 

Private citizens (and corporations) are more than welcome to set up whatever religious symbols they feel drawn to on their private property with no interference from the government. In fact the Free Exercise clause prohibits interference from the government on that point.

The First Amendment is not about political correctness. Separation of church and state is not 'mumbo-jumbo'. It's the law of the land. It's about ensuring the freedom of (and from) religion for all citizens - including Christians. It's about not being marginalized by your government no matter what you choose to believe in (or not). 

With that I'd like to wish everyone the warmest of holidays and the hopefulness that you are happy, healthy, and surrounded by loved ones always, not just during the holiday season.

Thoughts, Readers? Questions? As always, respectful dissent always encouraged.

Sunday Salon: Grinchiness

Time // 11:49 A.M. EST

Place // My usual perch on the couch. I don't blog from a desk.

Feeling // Grinchy. I'm not a big fan of Christmas. I eschew much of the stress but it's impossible to escape all of it. Why can't we remember to celebrate family, friends, and togetherness (and food) year round without the need to spend ridiculous amounts of money for things that we don't need? In my defense I think that my general dislike comes from years of mental-illness related meltdowns by family members during the holidays. Carry on with your merriment.

Visited // Santa yesterday at one of the local malls. Talk about a special kind of hell. Lines lines lines! Bitchy parents, unruly kids. At least we got a good picture of The Girl on Santa's lap. (See: 'Feeling')

Reading // I just finished four satisfying books in a row. Moritary is currently out and well worth the read. I also read a book called Boo by: Neil Smith that isn't due out until May, but bloggers - I highly recommend it. Also, Our Endless Numbered Days by: Claire Fuller was a fascinating read. I'm not sure what's next. I'll figure it out by the end of the day.

Watching // The Girl make a giant mess with glitter glue. My idea. Way to go, mom.

Well, this has certainly been a cheery Sunday Salon. How was your week, Readers?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Flowchart: Get your Stephen King on!

If you've been around for any length of time you know I have a fairly serious... um, obsession? with Stephen King. I thought that it was time to go ahead and share my wealth of knowledge with those that are uninitiated or less initiated. So in the spirit of Book Riot's Margaret Atwood Reading Pathway, I decided to make you, dear Reader, a flowchart.

Note: There are two stories (novellas, really) that I recommend in Different Seasons for those not wanting the night terrors, they are 'Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption' and 'The Body'.

Edit: I noticed I don't have fear ratings on Mr. Mercedes or Joyland... I think both of those are probably just a little spooky.


Do you have favorite Stephen King books, Reader? I've left off a few of my favorites, but the chart was getting too complicated too quickly.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday: The Ark

The Ark by: Annabel Smith

Source: Author in exchange for honest review consideration.
Synopsis: (Goodreads)
The year is 2041. As rapidly dwindling oil supplies wreak havoc worldwide a team of scientists and their families abandon their homes and retreat into a bunker known as The Ark, alongside five billion plant seeds that hold the key to the future of life on Earth. But The Ark’s sanctuary comes at a price.

When their charismatic leader’s hidden agenda is revealed it becomes impossible to know who to trust. Those locked out of The Ark become increasingly desperate to enter, while those within begin to yearn for escape.

The Ark delves into the fears and concerns raised by the environmental predicament facing the world today, exploring human nature in desperate times. At its heart it asks: can our moral compass ever return to true north after a period in which every decision might be a matter of life and death and the only imperative is survival?

What do you get when you combine a brilliant dystopian novel with a unique, cutting edge epistolary style of storytelling? Why Annabel Smith's The Ark, of course. Smith takes novel writing and the technology that we have available to us for storytelling to a whole new level. 

But let's start with the general things about the book that I loved anyway. It's another well written piece of literary dystopian fiction that while quite different from St. Mandel's Station Eleven, shows a similar command of the genre. Smith takes an idea that could have easily fallen into the general tropes of apocalypse/dystopian genre fiction and makes it literature. There are deeper themes to explore, more than what is just presented on the surface. The epistolary format in which it's written allows for expert pacing in unfolding what exactly is going on inside (and outside) the ark. 

This book written in the usual manner would be more than enough for me to have enjoyed it thoroughly and highly recommend it, but Smith's use of the e-book to create an interactive experience really just puts the whole thing over the top in uniqueness. If possible I would highly recommend reading this on an iPad or other such tablet device (I know, it sounds like bizarre advice) - if not, you can still interact with the novel by visiting the website. 

Brilliant writing, brilliant idea on taking a story to a new level. 

What say you, Reader? How do you feel about a whole new reading experience? Are you open to it?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Let's Talk About It Tuesday: The Children Act

The Children Act by: Ian McEwan

Source: Generously sent by Shannon at River City Reading and Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books.
Synopsis: (Goodreads)
Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts.

But Fiona's professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears. She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses.

McEwan's The Children Act is a fascinating novel with themes that sit at the intersection of law and freedom. Being an attorney I was most interested in what Fiona's ruling would be on the case set forth in the book.

While McEwan's novel is set in British courts, the set of facts that is brought forth in the novel is one that American courts have to grapple with all too often as well. Adam, a seventeen year old Jehovah's Witness (born and bred) is diagnosed with a common form of leukemia. A simple blood transfusion is virtually all that is needed to save the boy's life. Without it, he will surely die. Yet Adam, weeks from his eighteenth birthday, wants to refuse the transfusion. The issue? Can the law compel a minor (so close to the age of majority) to accept life saving medical treatment against his wishes and the wishes of his parents? 

Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists have always fascinated me in a morbid way because of their refusal to accept modern medical treatment, even in dire situations where lives are at stake. In the U.S., courts have consistently held that a competent adult has the right to refuse life-saving medical treatment and the Supreme Court has upheld it several times as a liberty interest under the Due Process Clause.

However, as you may suspect, juvenile and family courts don't deal with competent adults, they deal with minors. When dealing with decisions about a child's well-being and the law in the U.S., courts nearly always use the 'best interest of the child' standard. So even though it's well established that parents have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit, (Wisconsin v. Yoder, if you're interested) it's not a right that is absolute. In the seminal case Prince v. Massachusetts, Justice Rutledge wrote for the majority:
"Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves."
But with the 'best interest of the child' standard there are many factors that courts will consider and they vary greatly state to state. Currently (and historically) there are hundreds if not thousands of cases where the courts have overruled the parent's aversion to treatment for young minor children. However, the older the child is, the more likely the court will give his or her opinion weight. What makes the case in The Children Act so very close is Adam's age and at the crux of the situation is truly his maturity level.

There were two cases that I could find that dealt with similar situations. In both cases the court held that despite the fact that the minors were very close to the age of majority, it was also deemed necessary that the court evaluate the maturity of the children in considering their wishes. In the end the courts ruled that it was acceptable to provide life-saving blood transfusions over the objections of the 17 year old patients and their parents.

At the same time I ran across a case of a 12 year old who was considered a 'mature minor' by the hospital, the hospital's ethics committee opted not to pursue a court order to force life-saving treatment on the child and she subsequently died.

Clearly, I find this to be a fascinating point of law. I've run on too long with my legal history and background here but I still want to talk about the actual book a bit. The half concerning Fiona's rationale in reaching her ruling is extraordinary. McEwan's prose brings through simple truths about the law with his usual eloquence.
"This court is a court of law, not of morals, and our task has been to find, and our duty is then to apply, the relevant principles of law to the situation before us - a situation which is unique."
It is a truth known to those in the legal profession that too often the law is not about morality or justice, the law is about... the law.

The second half of the novel was disappointing. I didn't particularly care about Fiona's marital problems or strife and I found some of her actions at the end to be incongruous with the character that she displayed at the beginning.

Overall this is a fascinating novel, though I would have liked to see more on Adam's case and less on Fiona's personal life. Highly recommended to people interested in the place where law and religion intersect and general fans of McEwan. It's not Atonement, but it's still an excellent read.

Edit: I should add that Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books has a most excellent review that doesn't focus so heavily on the legal aspect here.

Any interest in this one Reader? What do you think if you've read it? How do you feel about the state of U.S. jurisprudence regarding forced treatment of children over the religious objections of the parents? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Mysteries: Lives in Ruins

Lives in Ruins by: Marilyn Johnson

Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review consideration.
Synopsis: (Goodreads)
Pompeii, Machu Picchu, the Valley of the Kings, the Parthenon—the names of these legendary archaeological sites conjure up romance and mystery. The news is full of archaeology: treasures found (British king under parking lot) and treasures lost (looters, bulldozers, natural disaster, and war). Archaeological research tantalizes us with possibilities (are modern humans really part Neandertal?). Where are the archaeologists behind these stories? What kind of work do they actually do, and why does it matter?

Marilyn Johnson’s Lives in Ruins is a look at the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Johnson digs and drinks alongside archaeologists, chases them through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and even Machu Picchu, and excavates their lives. Her subjects share stories we rarely read in history books, about slaves and Ice Age hunters, ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution, children of the first century, Chinese woman warriors, sunken fleets, mummies.

What drives these archaeologists is not the money (meager) or the jobs (scarce) or the working conditions (dangerous), but their passion for the stories that would otherwise be buried and lost.

Reading this book in my unemployment made me feel a little bit better about the legal job market. Lives in Ruins is an entertaining, laymen's look behind what it is archeologists actually do, how they live, and why. 

The market is scarce and it seems that even the most talented and respected archeologists of our times are forced to live on a mere pittance and the passion for what they do. I particularly enjoyed the variety of sites and scholars that Johnson chose for this book, it gave a broad overview of the field. She states at the beginning of the book that she takes liberties with the jargon of archeologists and as a lay reader I supremely appreciated it. I feel that this probably made for a more compact and readable book, though, Lives in Ruins should not be mistaken for a scholarly analysis of archeology. 

I found Johnson's stories to be exciting and with my own wanderlust it made me wish I could afford (personally and monetarily) to sign up for a little field school and get out on a dig. Though anyone that knows me could attest to the fact I'd be completely miserable. (I dislike the outdoors, heavy lifting, and general physical discomfort - perhaps I'll stick to my tours.) So while Johnson does a service in de-romanticizing archeology down from the level of Indiana Jones, there is still an element of romance in her storytelling, or perhaps it could be the passion of the people whose stories that she tells which shine through the pages.

Overall a very enjoyable read. Recommended to Indiana Jones fans, those with a general interest in archeology (but little knowledge of it), and people with a love of history and travel. 

What about you, Reader? How do you like your non-fiction? Is it okay for it to be a bit casual if it makes it more readable without sacrificing facts or truth? Do you think that you'd dig this book? (Hahahaha, get it?)