Dead Run

[Amazon Link]

Number three in P. J. Tracy's Monkeewrench series, which my sister recommended. Summary: I didn't like it as much as the first two.

It's clear from Chapter One that something nasty is going on in the remote village of Four Corners, Wisconsin. A milk truck overturns because of careless driving on a bumpy road, and… hey, wait a minute, that's not milk at all!

Also, down the road a bit (sorry, my Wisconsin geography is weak), a kid diving to retrieve his beer in an abandoned quarry is startled to find… eek, corpses!

Into all this drops three women: Grace and Annie from the Monkeewrench software company, and Sharon, a cop from the first book, now an FBI agent. They're on their way to Green Bay, but have taken a detour to view an unspecified attraction. (Spoiler: this.) But their car breaks down, they need to walk for help, they witness brutal murders, they get chased by the same guys,…

It's an interesting departure from the first two books in the series, which were murder mysteries, a tad gimmicky, but that's OK. This one is more like Lee Child, a massive conspiracy threatening the lives of thousands. (But also gimmicky, because the pulse-pounding climax depends mightily on the sheer coincidence of genius hackers just happening to be in the area when needed.)

The writing style seems to have taken a turn for the worse here, too, with pointless floweriness cropping up throughout, when you just want to say "get on with it already." But I'll keep reading the series.

URLs du Jour

2017-01-09

Where are the world's most expensive coffee beans plucked from? Answer below, and be prepared to say "Ewwww!"

  • Ever wonder what to think about global warming? Kevin D. Williamson is here for you, friend, with "What to Think about Global Warming".

    Given the stakes in the global-warming debate — trillions of dollars in economic costs and/or climatic catastrophe — conservatives should not simply dismiss the Copenhagen talks, even though the revelations of Climategate may tempt us to do so. The debate is polarized, and it is natural to throw one’s lot in with one camp or another — The World Is Ending vs. Global Warming Is a Hoax — but there are more than two propositions to consider. And those propositions are not mostly scientific in character, but political.

    Kevin—I call him Kevin—goes through Propositions One through Six, in "increasing order of unlikeliness".

    All I ask: a "solution" that doesn't make us worse off than the problem.

  • Nat Hentoff died, one of those rare birds who came to his opinions as an individual, not to get along as a member of one tribe or another. There are a lot of tributes out there, but I liked Jesse Walker's.

    Hentoff was less likely to be called a liberal later in life. That's partly because his brand of free-speech absolutism was growing less common on the left, and it's partly because of his heterodoxy on abortion. (Hentoff was pro-life, arguing against abortion on the same grounds that he argued against capital punishment and war. Or, at least, against some wars—he eventually rended his seamless garment to support interventions in Rwanda and Iraq.) But you couldn't really cast him as a man of the right either: Besides his intense distrust for the police agencies that conservatives tend to revere, he was a longtime democratic socialist who held onto a lot of his leftist economic ideas in old age. It's not even quite right to call him an ACLU liberal, because he kept butting heads with the ACLU. (The nation's most prominent civil libertarian organization wasn't always civil libertarian enough for him.) Best to think of him as his own man, with at least a couple of views to offend pretty much anyone.

    That's a good goal to shoot for. If I haven't offended you yet, keep reading.

  • James Lileks' The Bleat is a weekday stop for me, a tour of his quick and witty observations on life in Minneapolis. Today's entry contains his reaction to Rogue One.

    The Empire continues to make questionable tactical decisions, such as poorly-defended access points to entire planets, easily recognizable data-centers, failure to observe sensible distances between Star Destroyers, and the Rebel Alliance continues to burn through their X-Wing fleet at an alarming rate; it’s a wonder they had anything left for that run on the Death Star. But these were passing thoughts that didn’t interfere with the enjoyment, and the gratitude.

    As many folks have observed over the years: there's no OSHA in the Galactic Empire.

  • Via GeekPress: "Daredevil Japanese Photographer Explores Urban Landscapes From A New Perspective". Who could resist that? Consumer notes: (1) not all urban; (2) not all show daredevilishness; (3) who cares if the guy is Japanse? But they're nearly all impressive pictures.

  • OK, if you've been wondering since that opening teaser: the "World's most expensive coffee beans [are] plucked from elephant excrement". You're welcome.

    They have a website, where it's put more delicately: "An artisanal process whereby the finest Arabica coffee cherries have been naturally refined by rescued elephants." 35 grams of Black Ivory coffee will set you back 73 US Dollars. (But free shipping.)

    Intriguing! But sticking with Folgers here at Pun Salad Manor, thankyouverymuch.