Chasing Midnight

[Amazon Link]

This is (according to Amazon) number 19 in the Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford series. And—sorry, Randy—I didn't care for it much. In which I seem to agree with a lot of Amazon reviewers, many of them claiming to have been (like me) longtime fans. The 1-star reviews are (as I type) the most common (27%) with only 24% giving it 5 stars.

Ah, well. I'll continue reading the series. Because that's the way I roll. There must be some name for this mental illness quirk, if you know it could you tell me? Maybe it's the sunk cost fallacy?

Anyway: Doc and Tomlinson find themselves on a Gulf Coast island, amidst a conclave of Beluga caviar moguls, environmental activists, and assorted hangers-on. They have odd names: "Odus", "Kahn", "Kazlov", "Umkeo". And (right from the get-go) things go poorly: the island's power is cut, communications with the outside world are jammed, and people start shooting. At Doc, of course. There's a lot of dodging, bobbing, and weaving. Dire threats are issued.

Part of the problem is that White continues a writing device that he's used in the past: start the book in the middle of action (presumably to grab your attention), then introduce the setting and the characters in flashbacks. This didn't work for me.

And I kept reading to the end, but I have to confess: I could barely tell the characters apart, could not figure out their motivations, and I didn't care about the caviar plot driver enough to make sense out of it,

URLs du Jour

2017-04-20

■ We're gonna do a twofer today, for reasons that will become obvious. Proverbs 27:15-16:

A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.

The Proverbalist speaks to us over the millennia, and we respond: I hear you, my brother.

Ladies, feel free to substitute appropriately for your situation. That works, too.

I question the wisdom of whoever decided to break that up into two verses, however.

■ Yesterday, we linked to KDW, who asked whether Trump's "Buy American" policy was "cynical or ignorant". David Harsanyi (in the Federalist) points out that, in any case, Trump’s ‘Buy American. Hire American’ Policy Is Dangerous Nonsense.

“We don’t have a level playing field for our workers,” Donald Trump told a group of workers in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday. Truth is, if we ever leveled the playing field with countries like Mexico and China, the average American worker would be making $3 an hour and spending their pittance on third-world health care and decrepit housing. Please don’t level the playing field, thank you very much.

And then there's …

■ … the estimable Ben Shapiro at NR offers an alternate (but not contradictory) view: Trump’s ‘Hire American, Buy American’ Is Redistribution by Another Name.

This week, President Trump reiterated his commitment to his “hire American, buy American” program — a supposedly crucial element in his “economic nationalist” program. The notion here is threefold: American companies should be forced to hire American labor; government contracts should go to American companies; American producers should be protected from domestic competition by revoking or altering international trade agreements.

All three of these policies have a long, ingloriously stupid history.

Why, yes they do.

■ Unfortunately, politics is more tribal than rational. At Reason, A. Barton Hinkle notes: In Trump Era, Many Political Activists Follow Their Leader, Not Their Principles. And the results can be surprising and depressing:

Even political identity itself is undergoing a shift. The Atlantic reports on recent findings by two political scientists examining the views of the conservative base. Grassroots activists now judge senators with very conservative voting records—such as Jeff Flake of Arizona and Ben Sasse of Nebraska—as moderate, while deeming others with moderate records more conservative.

The researchers posit that this is because Flake and Sasse have sharply criticized Trump—never mind that Trump himself deviates from traditional conservatism on a whole host of issues, from free trade to eminent domain.

There's also the "enemy of my enemy" factor, which notes that Trump is pissing off the right—by which I mean left—people, and picks sides that way. I confess, I'm probably not immune to that myself.

But I would question the "In the Trump Era" qualification. This predates Trump, doesn't it? Or is it worse now?

■ Huzzah! Andrew Klavan is Back from Vacation. And he summarizes what he gathers has been happening in his absence, for example:

After a poison gas attack in Syria, Ivanka Trump apparently got very upset and demanded that Daddy bomb someone right this minute. President Trump, who can never deny his daughter anything because she’s just so hot, unleashed a devastating aerial attack on either Syria or Iraq or Steve Bannon, he always gets those three confused. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un responded, for some reason, by detonating a nuclear device that blew him into the kitchen pantry where he spent the next three days eating a particularly succulent Jop-chae Pork with potato noodles.

Yes, that's the way I remember it too.