Nacho Perez, Private Eye–Now Available

Four hard-boiled detective short stories set in contemporary San Antonio, Texas. Nacho Perez, a former Marine drill instructor, uses his fists and his gun to get to the bottom of his cases. But he takes his lumps along the way.

As a bonus, the collection ends with a flash-fiction detective story set in a futuristic New York City. The outcome turns on Asimov’s First Law of Robotics.

Now available on Amazon.

Nacho Perez Cover

Note:  AT&T still has not shown up to repair my line, but my Internet service has become intermittent, which is an improvement.

Who Knew Disney Didn’t Tell the Whole Truth About Johnny Appleseed?

John Chapman, known to American children as Johnny Appleseed, really did exist and really did plant many acres of apple trees in what was then the frontier.  But that’s not the whole story:

Starting in 1792, the Ohio Company of Associates made a deal with potential settlers: anyone willing to form a permanent homestead on the wilderness beyond Ohio’s first permanent settlement would be granted 100 acres of land. To prove their homesteads to be permanent, settlers were required to plant 50 apple trees and 20 peach trees in three years, since an average apple tree took roughly ten years to bear fruit. 

Ever the savvy businessman, Chapman realized that if he could do the difficult work of planting these orchards, he could turn them around for profit to incoming frontiersmen. Wandering from Pennsylvania to Illinois, Chapman would advance just ahead of settlers, cultivating orchards that he would sell them when they arrived, and then head to more undeveloped land. 

Disney didn’t tell me Johnny Appleseed was a real estate speculator.  And there’s something else Disney didn’t tell me.  The apples weren’t for eating.  They were far too bitter.

It wasn’t that Chapman—or the frontier settlers—didn’t have the knowledge necessary for grafting, but like New Englanders, they found that their effort was better spent planting apples for drinking, not for eating. Apple cider provided those on the frontier with a safe, stable source of drink, and in a time and place where water could be full of dangerous bacteria, cider could be imbibed without worry. Cider was a huge part of frontier life, which Howard Means, author of Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story, describes as being lived “through an alcoholic haze.” Transplanted New Englanders on the frontier drank a reported 10.52 ounces of hard cider per day (for comparison, the average American today drinks 20 ounces of water a day). “Hard cider,” Means writes, “was as much a part of the dining table as meat or bread.”

Maybe it’s just as well that Disney left some things for kids to learn after they grew up.

The Derivation of the Word “Ampersand”

The [term “ampersand”] did not appear until the 1830s when “&” was the 27th letter of the English alphabet. The mark concluded the alphabet with “X, Y, Z, and per se and” with “and per se” meaning “and by itself.”  This final phrase was slurred by English school children during recitation and reborn as “ampersand.”

This sounds like one of those stories that are too cute to be true, but for the moment I assume it to be accurate.

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture is a process whereby law-enforcement authorities take and sell your property without ever convicting, or even charging, you with a crime.  Civil libertarians complain that abuse of the process is increasing, and now there is evidence that some police departments have wish lists of property they would like to take from the citizenry.  The potential for corruption in such a system screams out.

• One city attorney called his legal documents a “masterpiece of deception” and has won 96 percent of his forfeiture cases.

• An assistant district attorney takes property, even from owners who have been acquitted, because “people are not found innocent, they are found not guilty.”

• One government official doesn’t want to disclose information about civil forfeiture, because it might become a “bullet-point for people that are trying to fight the program.”

• A prosecutor teaches other attorneys how to take property from innocent people. He even offers this piece of advice, “IF IN DOUBT…TAKE IT!”

Here is a videoclip of a seminar for public officials in which civil asset forfeiture is discussed.  The video is long and not all of it is relevant, so start listening at about the 1 hour, 27 minute point and continue for about 15 minutes:

It’s hard to believe that this practice exists in this country.  It’s not consistent with that we were taught to believe America stands for and is something one would expect to see in a banana republic.

Nacho Perez Short Story Collection Available Soon

Four hard-boiled detective short stories set in contemporary San Antonio, Texas. Nacho Perez, a former Marine drill instructor, uses his fists and his gun to get to the bottom of his cases. But he takes his lumps along the way.

As a bonus, the collection ends with a flash-fiction detective story set in a futuristic New York City. The outcome turns on Asimov’s First Law of Robotics.

This collection has been uploaded to Amazon and will be available as soon as Amazon processes it.

Nacho Perez--cover

 

Update: Now available on Amazon.