Habeas at Bagram

Hilzoy has a good discussion about Habeas in a War Zone. I found myself nodding along with it throughout– war zones shouldn’t ordinarily have Habeus Corpus, but we shouldn’t be flying people from outside the war zone into it just to dodge the hard parts of international and domestic law.

Childe Morgan by Katherine Kurtz

Childe Morgan by Katherine Kurtz is the second book in the Childe Morgan interlude series. (It’s the sequel to In the King’s Service.) The book follows In the King’s Service by about five years; Alric is born and we see quite a bit more of his parent’s life.

Again, Kenneth and Alyce are the heroes of the book. Kenneth continues to be a good “Gwynedd through the eyes of a human” viewpoint. His bravery and loyalty to the crown continue to define him and make a strong backbone for his character.

Alyce continues to be the core Deryni presence, occasionally translating or performing magic. Despite her central role, she seems to be edged out of the center of the plot. Her relationships are interesting; a web of friends and family, and of course her relationship to her eldest son, Morgan. Her role seems less vibrant this time, but that may be due to the chains of motherhood, at least in part.

Despite the title, Morgan doesn’t get POV scenes– which is something of a relief, given his youth. He’s a bit precocious, but seems like the few four year olds I know in many ways. Donal Haldane remains a conflicted character. He’s very well written– I empathized with him quite a bit, even though he has to burden people heavily in his service. There are a few short scenes with other characters emphasized; Michon gets several POV scenes to keep us informed about the Camberian Council’s doings.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, but it seemed a lot less focused than many of the earlier books. Several short asides are introduced to setup elements in other books– while they are handled well, they are still somewhat distracting. The back cover has several quotes which apply well to this book too– it’s a subtler book of intrigue with less emphasis on action.

I wouldn’t suggest this book (or this series) as the first Deryni books, but it is a great continuation if you love the world and want to see more of it. I look forward to the next book. I expect it will be something like ten years later and feature Morgan as the POV character… but I wouldn’t put it past her to trick me.

Cooking Recently

I’ve been in a cooking mood quite a bit more recently. I attribute it to two things: a new cookbook and joining a CSA.

The new cookbook is How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. (Site) I’ve been cooking with it since Christmas, but I’m slowly reading more of it as I go. I made some decent Crepes with cinnamon apple stuffing recently, enjoyed making Birds in the Nest for another breakfast, and am enjoying slowly exploring its pages. It has a lot of handy asides about lots of useful and interesting topics– while they’re almost always perfectly placed for the dish I’m cooking, I know I’ll want to find them again another day, and I’m not sure how they’ll work out. Sauces are prominent– something I hadn’t experimented with much, and very splashy and easy.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s a lot like buying from a Farmer’s Market, but on a subscription basis. Basically, you pay a fee and they harvest and box up veggies for you to pick up once a week. It’s a very slick system– while you don’t pick what you get, they give you a good mix. It’s great for getting fresh ripe veggies and fruit, and very good at pushing us to try new things. Each week they include a newsletter with recipes matching the veggies of the week. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the variation in winter– I suspect summer will be awesome. The CSA I signed up with is T&D Willey Farms in Madera. They have a lot of pick up spots in town; ours is close to our way home– no more than 2 minutes out of line.

The Magican’s Book

The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller

This book is an interesting look at CS Lewis, Narnia, and is a great example of how to look at a book. The author shares her memories and experiences with Narnia, and mixes in bits of interview and first hand research to round it out.

I learned quite a bit about CS Lewis and his friends (including Tolkien). I had no idea that he whipped out the Chronicles so quickly, and during such a stressful time in his life. The author’s efforts reveal a much more complete vision of Lewis– fortunately not all worshipful or intended to drag an idol into the mud.

It moved quickly and was as interesting to read as a novel, which counts as high praise from me.

California Governance

This post talks about organizing a Constitutional Convention for our near ungovernable state. It’s interesting, and an even more dramatic proposal than my posts last year imagined (1, 2). [Reforming the legislature by dramatically amending it via ballot initiative.]

I agree it’s an appealing thought. I also suspect that as soon as they came together it would spiral out of control, with capture by existing interests and the forces of moderation preventing a substantial fix.

Since I scribbled down my original idea, I keep noticing editorials and articles talking about ungovernable California. Our current budget crisis isn’t unique– it happens during most recessions– but it is huge and stubbornly resistant to compromise. I wonder if smaller, less completely ideologically aligned districts would be a successful first step in correcting it.