Monthly Archives: December 2012

Book review: The Causes of the Civil War

The Causes of the Civil WarThe Causes of the Civil War by Kenneth Milton Stampp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a collection of abridgements of source documents and later periodical and magazine articles, all concerning the, duh, causes of the Civil War. Stampp seemed to be focused primarily on the most provocative writings from both “sides,” antebellum and postbellum. Thus there’s scarcely a mention of, say, Stephen Douglas, but we are blessed (ahem) with a screamingly funny discussion of the Southerner as an emerging being, the “Tropic Nordic,” alas whose full flowering was never reached, cut down by the War.

There is virtually nothing in this text to suggest that any sort of compromise was possible, and that as time went on more and more people on both sides of the divide lost any interest they might have otherwise had in reaching such a compromise anyway. To read this book and no others is to take the War coming as inevitable as the sun rising or the tide changing. And perhaps it was

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Okay. I wanted a copy of all the book reviews I write at to pop through to this particular blog. Only I can’t seem to get it to work.

I did get it to work on my “main” blog, at least for a bit. But I really don’t want them there. I want them here. Phooey.

In theory, the next post is how you can get it done manually. Which, since all else has now apparently failed, if it works that’s what I’ll do. Not getting this or that particular “app” to work is a fact of my life. There’s always the chance the “app” in question is somehow not working, but if you had to go “all in,” you’d be better off choosing me as the cause rather than not. Que, sera, sera.

Edit/Update: It works, barring only the minor business of adding a post title. And since I’ll want to stick a tag on those book review posts that I cross-post, that’s a mere bagatelle, since GR is obviously not supplying those whether or not said app works. The only downside, I suppose, is remembering to actually do it. But as forgetful as I am of all the truly important details of my life, this type of thing I never forget. Or almost never.

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Incoherent mumbling

Embarrassment # 1: I have yet to check in on that request I made at Goodreads regarding getting the CSV file they excrete digested properly by MS Access. Good gravy, how much time did I spend writing the silly thing? I s’pose I wrote it as much for myself as any other reason. Having a document that sets forth in detail all the rooty-tooty/twisty-turnys involved in getting done what is needed can only be a good thing. But…I did ask for help. And for all I know was offered some. So, I’ll have to check in today. And offer a groveling apology

Embarrassment # 2: Sometimes [Only sometimes? Eh, let’s put that discussion on hold for now, worthwhile as it might otherwise be.] I can be a grade A turd. How much am I paying for using again? That would be, umm, zero, right? As in nothing. As in moocher, freebie, tragedy of the commons zero. Indeedly do, that’s the answer.

Yet, I was all set to climb up on my high horse, the one equipped with a 2×4 embedded into the saddle, so’s it’ll slide right up yer rectum and help along that feeling of righteous indignation, which along with caffeine, lack of sleep and what may or may not be an incipient mental breakdown would doubtless have fueled this post.

And had that post been written:

  • None of it would have been fair
  • Very little of it would have made all that much sense
  • And, yup, mebee just mebee I should have ASKED if what I was trying to do (and in all honesty would still like to) is in fact possible
    • Which I didn’t do and have yet to do
    • And, duh, I guess I should

I suppose I should be slightly reassured that, incipient mental breakdown or no, there are in fact still a few functioning circuit breakers in my skull, that’ll throw when I overload the antique and very likely defective wiring in my skull, and stop dead in its tracks such a mountain of nonsense.

So, circuit breaker reset. And, curiously, all that has occurred in this post up until this point should simply be declared an extended meander. Technically, none of it is the subject I planned to discuss, high horsey or no. But it is going to be most of the text. Bit of a dilemma. But the meander gets the chop right now.

Here’s what I’m trying to do:

Actually, forget it. I’m bored to tears w/this whole business. Save it for later.

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Nordic Tropics or Tropic Nordics or…

whatever. This is from a few pages I scanned from The Causes of the Civil War, which should show up at some point or another in my “drafts” as a written review. But I was afraid if I didn’t strike while the iron was, umm, luke-warm I’d forget all about this quite amusing twaddle. And boy is it something else, I’ll say that for it.

Whaddaya call it Skydrive said I could embed it, but no dice on WordPress. But it is a link to a publicly accessible PDF document, three pages long IIRC.

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GR-CSV Export to MS Access

Note: this is a reprint of a message I posted on the suggestion page at I hold little hope of any help for the goofy series of problems I brought in large part upon myself, but figured I might as well ask. And at least a “no,” would confirm my suspicions that there’s not much to be done. And I’ll certainly bear no one any ill-will when the “no” is forthcoming.

It *seemed* like a good idea at the time. I figured I could bring my book data down every once in a while, play around w/it, and maybe generate some reports if and when I felt ambitious.

Anyway, I’ve gotten the export to work, but only after a fair amount of tweaking. The biggest (and weirdest) problem is that the CSV file automatically sticks an “=” sign just before both ISBNs in the file. And this makes Access go “KABOOM,” and not show any of the fields in most records after the equal sign. Here’s an example of what it looks like: Image 1

What I’ve been doing is opening the CSV file in notepad and < ctrl >H-ing out the equal signs, Taking [ ,=” ] and replacing it w/[ ,” ] globally. Image 2, a couple of those pesky “=” signs circled. In Access, I have to play around with the file specs, so it looks right… Image 3, s/b fairly self-explanatory.

And, taa-daa, here it is, working Image 4.

I realize:

(a) this is something I cooked up entirely on my own, and if I had known it was going to be half the pain it actually became, I’d never have started it

(b) it is my own fault I’ve been too lazy to play around inside Access, even though I *THINK* I could set all the changes I make manually (barring the equal signs) somehow to work automatically w/any one particular import without also upsetting the program defaults (which I want to keep as is)

(c) I can’t imagine the GR staff has been buried under a tsunami of requests for something like this, since everybody I talk to about the program seems to preface the words “MS Access” with some adjectives I probably shouldn’t repeat here

But…I’ll ask anyway: Is there any way I can get this done, while at the same time making my life a bit easier? As in, I guess, customizing the CSV export? Or perhaps something else?



PS: The booklists in the images are sorted by GR’s own Book ID. So if there’s any issue with that first title, it is just that somebody at GR gave it a very low number, in fact the only three digit Book ID I’ve seen, personally. Interesting choice, I guess.

PPS: Believe it or not, I tried to keep this post as short as I could. I could have talked about the linked table I have from Access to Excel and the other linked table I have from Excel back to Access…only way I could figure to split book title/series name/series volume into separate fields.

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I’m mystified. And wrong not once but twice.

First I post something making fun of Quebec’s proposed right to murder, err, die, law.

Then I have a good chuckle and issue a mea culpa that the glorious Commonwealth of Massachusetts had an initiative on the ballot in November that pretty much did the same thing, but also gussied it up in a pretty cover of hypocritical slime stating how wonderful and fantastic this would be.

I also figured the initiative was a slam-dunk to pass. And I figured wrong. It failed. The only thing I can figure is that either (a) physician groups were afraid malpractice rates would zoom higher than they are now, or (b) the Senile Old Man (a/k/a the Catholic Church) roused himself from his near permanent stupor, popped his dentures in, and went to bat against this. And phrased his opposition in a way that actually made sense to his dwindling but still rather large flock.

I honestly don’t find either explanation entirely satisfactory, but the facts is what they is. It went down in flames. Note: I’m assuming that site has its numbers right, and mebee 51%/49% means there’s always next time. Also, they put the winning figure by county on top, which initially confused the living crap out of me, since I just assumed a Yes/No order. No, that would probably make too much sense.

So, do I retract my previous mea culpa or issue another one? Actually, dunno and don’t care. Still just a tad disappointed that this “sanctity of life” crap pwnz “unplug granny,” at least for now.

And, yes, I was in favor and voted that way. Part of me thinks that anything which coarsens human life can’t be all bad, and part of me would personally want the plug yanked the very instant my brain goes flatline, fuck whatever my heart and lungs are doing.


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Timesheet/Journal-whining about my ignorance

Hadn’t planned on doing this via embedding, but I’m curious. Of course, WP is gonna rip & strip the HTML to shreds anyhoo.

Funny, since there’s another file on skydrive similar to this. Didn’t realize I’d whined about this issue before.

Basically, my attempt at pseudo-randomness is obviously down the pooper. But I guess I’m gonna have to say “Close enough for gov’t. work,” and live with it.

EDIT: Well, at least they let me have a link. I was more than half expecting the whole thing disappearing. Both files are PDF, both are public. You just can’t read them without clicking on the link first.

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