Wild Horses

[Amazon Link]

From 1994, this is probably my second-favorite Dick Francis novel (after Proof).

The narrator, Thomas Lyon, is visiting a dying old friend, a blacksmith who he knew long ago during a brief jockey career. Delirious from drugs and pain, the blacksmith mistakes Thomas for a priest, and incoherently seems to confess to a past crime.

Thomas is an up-and-coming movie director, and he just happens to be in the area making a movie. It just happens to be based on a fictionalized version of past events: the young wife of a horse trainer was found hanged in a stable. Was it murder or suicide? To this day, nobody knows.

But someone's apparently worried that the movie might illuminate how that death occurred. People are threatened, nearly killed. Including, since he's the Dick Francis hero, Thomas. The production is also in peril because the screenwriter doesn't like the changes Thomas is making to his version of the story, and badmouths him to the press.

So Thomas faces daunting odds: how to bring in the movie on time and budget, true to his artistic vision, while at the same time unravelling the mystery of what happened decades ago. Also, while staying alive.

The Phony Campaign

2015-06-28 Update

[phony baloney]

Joe Biden is back, baby, with PredictWise judging him with a 2% shot of being our next president. And so:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2015-06-21
"Jeb Bush" phony 1,240,000 -12,460,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 431,000 +20,000
"Rand Paul" phony 181,000 -8,000
"Donald Trump" phony 179,000 +6,000
"Joe Biden" phony 138,000 -
"Marco Rubio" phony 116,000 -4,000
"Scott Walker" phony 96,200 -1,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 85,800 -400

  • At the Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson wends his way through old Hillary biographies written by her admirers. (Why? Because of "the general principle that you can learn more about someone from his friends than from his enemies.") Andrew marvels at the mental acrobatics as Hillary fans gingerly describe her sleazy behavior.

    The Hillary Paradox consists of two perceptions that are irreconcilable. The first is that Hillary Clinton is a person of uncommon decency, compassionate and deeply committed to justice. The second is that many of her actions over many years are the work of a person who couldn’t possibly be uncommonly decent. How could someone with a wonderful reputation so often behave disreputably?

    I, and probably you, have no problem with jettisoning the first perception. But for Hillary devotees, it's unshakeably tied up with their self-perception.

    Anyway, if you've forgotten the days of bimbo eruptions, White House Travel Office firings, Whitewater, cattle futures, Rose Law billing records, and the rest, Andrew provides a refresher course. If PredictWise is to be believed, there's a very good chance we're headed for more of the same.

  • At the WSJ, Ben Zimmer springboards from this observation:

    When Donald Trump gave a speech announcing his candidacy for president last week, he seemed to utter whatever thoughts popped into his uniquely coiffed head.

    As Mark Plotkin, a contributor to the Hill newspaper, put it, “To say he has ‘no filter’ would be a gigantic understatement.”

    … to a lively entomological history of how the "no filter" terminology was coined and popularized over the years.

    I'm all for "no filter" in theory. In practice, however, would we really want a president who was in the habit of saying the first thing that popped into his head? I see downsides.

  • "America's Liberty" PAC submits a fake ad, good for a chuckle:

    There is also a "Bailout Bush" website (where, beware, the video above autoplays).

    America's Liberty PAC "is a Super PAC created for and dedicated to, electing Senator Rand Paul President of the United States in 2016. It is the only Super PAC endorsed by Senator Paul." There's no mention, as near as I can tell of the Paul connection on the "Bailout Bush" page. But due to the wackiness of campaign finance laws, there is the phony declaration: "Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee."


Last Modified 2015-07-05 8:02 AM EDT