Refusal

[Amazon Link]

As we know, the writing of Dick Francis novels has been taken over by his son, Felix. In fact, the "official" title of this book is Dick Francis's Refusal, but that seems a little silly to me. It might seem silly to Felix as well: this title doesn't appear on his book page, at least not as I type. The page otherwise seems definitive. What's the deal?

And, after I was less than thrilled with Felix's previous DF novel Bloodline, I had kind of thought I would stop reading his efforts. But I saw this on the remainder display at Barnes & Noble, and (as you'll notice over there on the Amazon pic) there's a little red toothy circle that says: "Sid Halley RETURNS".

Well, OK. I like Sid a lot. Let's see what Felix does with him.

It turns out Sid is in retirement from his previous job as a racing investigator. He's now married to a molecular biologist, they have an adored six-year-old daughter, and he's making a decent living as an investment advisor. But (of course) that would make a pretty dull book. Out of nowhere, an old friend calls him to investigate some races that exhibited odd betting behavior on the "Tote" (Britspeak for "parimutuel"). Could the races have been fixed, without the notice of racing officials? Sid is reluctant but agrees to check the list his friend provides.

Well, before you can say "watch out, Sid", the friend is dead, an "apparent suicide". And a mysterious phone call threatens Sid unless he writes a note to the racing officials saying "Nope, nothing shady going on as far as I can tell."

Sid soon finds himself up against a very nasty guy, who's not shy about utilizing every nasty tactic in the extortionist's cookbook: kidnapping, dognapping, arson, frameups, physical violence, and more. Could Sid be, at last, outmatched?

Well, no.

URLs du Jour

2017-03-23

■ Proverbs 28:17 has an interesting take on self-punishment:

Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder will seek refuge in the grave; let no one hold them back.

I am not sure how well this squares with the story of King David and Uriah the Hittite.

■ Daniel Payne of the Federalist has perhaps the least shocking news of the past few days: Cosmopolitan Doesn’t Understand How The Constitution Works.

Jill Filipovic’s latest essay at Cosmopolitan is like the Lernaean Hydra: it is almost impossible to know where or how to strike it, given its multi-headed absurdities. Every so often—really, quite often—there comes along a piece of political literature that is almost impossible to wrangle. Conceptually, factually, logically, aesthetically—everything about it is a total mess. This is what Filipovic has written and a number of Cosmo editors inexplicably, indefensibly green-lit.

Ms Filipovic's essay is entitled "9 Reasons Constitutional Originalism Is Bullsh*t", asterisk in the original. As the nice Hispanic lady at the health screening told me about my blood pressure: "Ees not good."

■ Another Gorsuch-related item: the Washington Free Beacon's Chandler Gill is (I hope) well-paid to watch CNN and report on stuff like this: CNN Analyst: Gorsuch ‘Knows so Much More About Everything He’s Being Asked Than the Senators’'

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Tuesday evening that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has a "tremendous advantage" in his confirmation hearing because he "knows so much more about everything he's being asked" than the senators posing him questions.

Well, who can expect senators to know about that Constitutional Law stuff? I mean, it's not as if they took an oath to support and defend… oh, wait a minute.

■ At Reason, A. Barton Hinkle notes that there's no Goldilocks Zone for folks opposed to fiscal sanity: Apparently Tax and Spending Cuts are Either Too Small or Too Big, but Never Just Right. Sample:

The combined budgets of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, complained one critic in Slate, "total under $300 million, which is less than 0.01 percent of the total federal budget." The Washington Post took this tack as well. When White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the administration did not want to ask a coal miner or a single mom to pay for programs on the chopping block, the paper's fact-checker retorted with "A Coal Miner's Plight: Paying for Public Broadcasting Is Less Than a Dollar of His Taxes."

Although some cuts are trivial, others are so major that they condemn us to (as previously noted) "a world where the only infrastructure is megacities connected by Fury Roads".

■ Ben Shapiro, writing at NR: To Promise Free Things Is to Lie. A headline that should be posted above every politician's desk, at eye level.

Democratic politics is riven by a central conflict: the conflict between truth and desire. People generally want things; they want government to give them those things. Conservatives aren’t wrong when they say they can’t compete with Santa Claus — it’s far harder to draw voters to your side by telling them they won’t get something than by telling them that they’ll get real estate on the moon.

Shapiro doesn't exempt Trump and the Republicans. In fact, he specifically goes after them. Good for him.

■ Can't get that song out of your head? USA Today has news you can use: Here's how to get that song out of your head.

A  2016 study found pop songs and some classic rock standards often are big culprits. British researchers found instances of Involuntary Musical Imagery — aka earworms — are produced from songs with easy-to-remember melodies, fast tempos and repetition among other characteristics.  The study found three of the most common earworm-inducing songs were by Lady Gaga, but Katy Perry, Queen, KylIe Minogue and yes, Journey, also made the list.

I do not know any Lady Gaga songs. I'm old. For me, it's pretty much the drum solo from "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", all the time.

■ And this is Pun Salad, so let me try embedding the latest xkcd;

[Color Pattern]

I am also partial to the verse I learned many years ago:

When an eel rushes out,
And he bites off your snout,
That's a Moray

Moan. See you tomorrow.