URLs du Jour


  • Here's a stupid idea from Lauren Stiller Rikleen, writing in the Washington Post:
    With another highly credentialed spouse preparing to enter the White House, it is time to negotiate a clearer role for the first lady -- one that has a job description and a salary appropriate to the range of responsibilities that come with being the president's spouse.
    This would give a whole new meaning to "serving at the pleasure of the President". How do you fire the first lady? Can Lauren Stiller Rikleen even spell "accountability"?

  • Bastiat watch: Caroline Baum notes that Obama's goal of creating 3 million jobs via a $750 billion stimulus package is an instance of Bastiat's broken-window fallacy. But even on face value, that's $250,000 per job, which is not a lot of bang per buck. (Via Robert Stacy McCain.)

    Jacob Sullum also invokes Bastiat in talking about Obama's "job fetish":

    Obama's job fetish is apparent even when he talks about spontaneous economic activity. "Businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs," he declared in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. In a free market, businesses exist because they provide goods or services that people value. A business that makes job creation its overriding goal will not be employing anyone for long.
    Forecast: an extended period of economic foolishness, broken only by brief glimpses of sanity.

  • If you followed the regulation/FCC links a couple days ago, you'll also want to check Adam Thierer's analysis of Larry Lessig's proposal to "reboot" the FCC. Adam points out that, while Lessig's FCC-destruction is exhilarating, his proposed replacement—eh, not so much.

  • Memories of the ice storm brought back by the Rochester (NH) Police Log:
    Friday, Dec. 12

    6:25 a.m. -- Trees come down on Washington Street, Whitehall Road and Pine Street. The ice storm has arrived.

    10:20 a.m. -- A line for gas forms on North Main Street.

    1:49 p.m. -- Meanwhile, normal life goes on, with an ex-girlfriend reportedly punching a man in the face several times.

    2:59 p.m. -- Janet Street residents have blocked the road, sparking complaint, but it is due to a live wire being down.

    3:39 p.m. -- Cars hoping for gas get snarled lining up at Cumberland Farms on Knight Street. Police arrive quickly, but everything is OK.

    4:03 p.m. -- On Second Street, a tree falls on a dog, which promptly bites the hand trying to free it. A man goes to Frisbie; the ACO helps out, and the dog is on a gurney bound for Portsmouth.

    4:04 p.m. -- A gas truck arrives at the Ten Rod Getty, but motorists in a line won't give an inch.

    Saturday, Dec. 13

    8:21 p.m. -- A man on the "bracelet" it is reported, has discovered that he can't be monitored due to the power cut. Now he is drinking, doing drugs and threatening people, it's alleged.

    9:05 p.m. -- Home Depot says it is getting a shipment of generators, but gauges that demand will far outstrip supply. There is concern about what could happen.

    Sunday, Dec. 14

    11:35 p.m. -- Police check on a suspicious car on Secretariat Way. It is a local resident trying to stay warm.


[Amazon Link]

This is the 2001 entry in James Lee Burke's series about Texas attorney Billy Bob Holland. Yes, I have some catching up to do.

Billy Bob has gone up to Montana to visit his friend, Doc Voss, who lives amidst the spectacular scenery with his 16-year-old daughter Maisey. You'd think he'd be able to catch a break up there, but Billy Bob attracts trouble, and troubled people. There's a bunch of bikers, a neo-Nazi militia leader, an alcoholic mystery writer with a coke-fiend actress wife, a mafia bigwig, a mysterious female doctor whose ex-husband and son were murdered, another mysterious Native American woman, some ATF guys, a loquacious-but-cantakerous sheriff and … did I miss anyone? Oh yeah, there's the psycho rodeo cowboy who blames Billy Bob for the death of his sister. And more.

Most people in James Lee Burke's books are haunted, Billy Bob more so than most: the ghost of L. Q. Navarro, who Billy Bob accidentally killed years back, occasionally pops up to discuss ongoing events.

Probably more than anyone else I read, Burke is given to colorful vividness:

That night dry lightning rippled through the thunderclouds that sealed the Blackfoot Valley. The wind was up and the trees shook along the riverbank and I coulds see pine needles scattering on the surface of the water. I walked through Doc's fields, restless and irritable and discontent, a nameless fear trembling like a crystal goblet in my breast. The Appaloosa and thoroughbred in Doc's pasture nickered in the darkness and I could smell river dam and pine gum and wildflowers and wet stone and woodsmoke in the air, as though the four seasons of the year had come together at once and formed a dead zone under clouds that pulsed with light but gave no rain. I wished for earsplitting thunder to roll through the mountains or high winds to tear at barn roofs. I wished for the hand of God to destroy the airless vacuum in which I seemed to be caught.

You are there.

Burke also peppers his books with dialogue that nobody in my experience actually speaks, but one kind of wishes they did. Here's the sheriff, put out at Billy Bob:

"I think your mama put you outdoors before the glue was dry, son. I really do," he replied.

Good stuff.

Last Modified 2012-10-09 8:17 AM EDT