May 11th, 2013

Jack Campbell, _The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Guardian_

Oh, SPOILERS! Seriously. Go away if you don't like spoilers.

It turns out that I don't really care if something is incredibly predictable and displays an overly simplistic view of politics, as long as I like the participants and think they are basically good human beings. Jack returns home with two living (but heavily sedated) Kicks, their enormous ship (which seems to be haunted), a bunch of Dancers and their ships. There's a detour through a bunch of traps that almost snaps shut on them, but Jack decides to hand all the intelligence briefings over to a green-haired engineer with superior pattern matching skills and she saves the day by figuring out the Really Bad Thing just in time.

They get home, and by this point, Alliance politicians are not longer actually that scary, but starting to seem like unusually argumentative paper dolls. The Dancers want to go to Kansas, so Geary, Desjani, assorted others on the Dauntless, go Home, where they encounter a Very Silly Occupying Force. (Fins!)

It is not actually a spoiler, if you have any brains at all, to tell you that the two Kicks die. I mean, duh. The image Dr. Nasr paints for Jack is very, very cartoonish. I sort of liked that he brought coffee to that meeting -- it's the kind of thing that would stereotypically involve alcohol.

It's comic-book fun, if you like that kind of thing, and apparently I do, at least when the right author is producing it.

_The End of Negotiable Instruments_, James Steven Rogers (kindle, but NOT for the e-ink reader)

Subtitled: Bringing Payment Systems Law Out of the Past_

I bought his first book in paper, because I was too chicken to shell out over $70 for the kindle edition, not knowing if I was going to hate the author. Short form: I don't hate the author, but it turns out I may have actually enjoyed his first book more than this one. Not really what I was expecting.

In any event, the professor takes a tour of what the law actually says in UCC articles 3 and 4, and how it is (and is not) taught in law schools and used in courts. He thinks article 3 should go away, and article 4 should be heavily revised (because actual check collection practices now bear little resemblance to the law as written). He makes a very solid case both for that project -- and that it probably won't happen any time soon.

I could wish there had been a bit more background on the whole grocery store/check cashing thing. You can _still_ cash a lot of checks (for a fee) at some grocery stores, which Rogers acknowledges as a business that some stores might be in. I seem to remember that some grocery stores would cash personal checks and even third party checks, for regular customers -- but that would have been quite a while ago, and the practice was vestigial even then. I can sort of see why authors of law texts trying to explain negotiability might want to use grocery store check cashing as an example and while Rogers is right to mock these examples when set in 2007, a little background might have explained where (or rather when) this stuff parachuted in from.

But you know, this topic has scope problems already, given that the project that led to this book sort of produced the previous book.

I'm toying with the idea of reading some other books on more specific aspects of payment systems history (how _did_ Visa/Mastercard get going? I mean, I remember it happening, but I have no idea what that was like in the banks. And Rogers refers very elliptically to a thing in the 1970s/80s where there was an attempt to rewrite payment systems law that failed spectacularly. Again, very vague recollections with no details).

Oh, and the formatting on this thing means you cannot read it on a kindle _reader_, only on tablets, computers and so forth. Not even on an iPhone. I was _so pissed_. It made it a lot less accessible, it had some ridiculous typos in it and reading on an active screen kept giving me a screaming headache. When I read stuff on the web, or play games, I'm constantly looking away from the thing I'm attending to (when I play games with a little too much concentration, I get the same headache). But when I read a book, I don't look up and on an active screen, that _hurts_. I perceived no value in presenting the book this way and I doubt I will ever buy another book with this particular limitation; I'd rather read it in paper. Or, for that matter, just another book.

I would _like_ to hate Oxford University Press for doing this to me, but it is actually too hard for me to hate all of OUP for this. I just hope they stop.