Dragon Tattoo

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Prior to my vacation my book consultant (and wonderful friend), Heather told me she was reading a book called the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and that it was really really good. A few days later she told me that she was one hundred and fifty pages into the book and said that she had it all figured out and didn’t want to waste her time reading the rest of the book (644 pages).

This sounded intriguing (by the way Heather has a way of making everything sound intriguing) so I got my hands on a copy of the book and started reading it towards the end of my trip. It’s a story about Mickael Blomkvist who is a publisher for Millenium, a political magazine in Sweden.

Mikael has gotten himself into some trouble based on a article he wrote for his magazine and decides to take some time off from his job because of a pending prison sentence. While off he accepts an offer from an elderly gentleman, Henrik Vanger, a multimillionaire CEO who wants him to write an autobiography about his life and while doing so hopefully solve the mystery behind the disappearance of his niece some forty years earlier. Mikael partners up with a female research expert named Lisbeth Salander in an effort to solve the mystery. I will not tell you any more about the story except that I couldn’t put the book down.

After doing a little research on the internet I was happy to see that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first in a trilogy of books written by author Stieg Larsson, but sad to see that he died in 2004 and that his books became best sellers post humorously. Upon reading more about the author it seems that in real life he was witness to a gang rape of a fifteen year old girl and never forgave himself for not helping her, thus the theme of sexual violence against women in his books.

So check it out if you are looking for something interesting to read and by the way I will bet all of my money that there is no way that Heather figured out what happened one hundred and fifty pages into the book, no way !

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Weirdness In Wisconsin, Coming To Ohio?

The old saying is that “elections have consequences.”  That truism is playing out in Wisconsin, where Republicans were swept into control of statewide offices in November.  Wisconsin Democrats and their supporters are trying to thwart the Republicans’ agenda — to the point where Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate have high-tailed it out of the state to prevent the Senate from achieving the quorum it needs to conduct business.

The key issue at present is public employee unions.  New Governor Scott Walker and Republican legislators want to change the collective bargaining rights of most public employees and require those employees to pay half of their pension costs and 12.8 percent of their health care costs.  Wisconsin is facing significant budget shortfalls, and the measures are expected to save $300 million during the next two-year budget cycle.  Public employees, their unions, and Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature adamantly oppose these efforts.  Public employees have flooded the Wisconsin capitol building to protest; many were teachers who called in “sick” to participate.  Meanwhile, stout-hearted Democratic state senators boarded a bus and fled Wisconsin so they would be beyond the jurisdiction of the Senate Sergeant at Arms.  The Democratic senators who skedaddled have been found at a Best Western resort in Rockford, Illinois.

It tells you a lot about the power of public employee unions in the Democratic party that they can prevail upon elected officials to engage in such a petulant and embarrassing stunt.  And it tells you even more about the sweet deal that public employees must have in the Badger State if paying only half of their pension costs and less than 13 percent of their health care costs causes them to prevail upon their Democratic allies to go to the mattresses.  Most private sector workers I know would be thrilled to have their employers paying half of their pension contributions and 87 percent of health care costs.  And who do you suppose is paying for the sumptuous lodging at the Rockford Best Western?

This drama will be reenacted elsewhere, as cash-strapped states look to employee costs as a place to achieve savings.  The issue may be coming to a head soon here in Ohio, where a bill attempting to overhaul collective bargaining for public employees is working its way through the legislative process.  Yesterday there were large rallies for and against the measure at the Ohio Statehouse.