The Girl on the Train

[Amazon Link]

Leant to me by one of Mrs. Salad's co-workers. Very kind of her. It's a suspense novel. I'll try to avoid spoilers.

The protagonist and main narrator is Rachel. She's a mess: divorced, alcoholic, compulsive liar, a whiner, and overweight. And also recently unemployed! Can't imagine why.

But in order to deceive her compassionate landlord, and also to fill up her empty life, she takes the train into London on weekdays. She peers out the window into the backyard of a cozy couple, who she names "Jess" and "Jason". She makes up an entire fantasy about them. They happen to live just a few doors down where Rachel used to live with ex-hubby Tom, who now shares the house with new wife Anna. Dickensian!

But then a number of unsettling things happen: Rachel witnesses behavior that's completely at odds with her idyllic notions of Jess and Jason. She gets blackout drunk one Saturday night, and can't remember what happened the day after, but she's wounded and filthy. And the news is filled with stories of an apparent lurid crime!

It's very much a page-turner. I figured out whodunit quite a while before the shocking revelation is made, but that's OK.

They made it into a movie, starring Emily Blunt as Rachel. It's hard to see how it could be bad, but the critical consensus is… it's bad. I might watch it anyway; Lisa Kudrow is in it, playing "Martha", someone I'm pretty sure is not in the book.

URLs du Jour

2017-06-30

Proverbs 24:23-25 strikes me as a bit of bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping:

23 These also are sayings of the wise:
    To show partiality in judging is not good:
24 Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,”
    will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations.
25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty,
    and rich blessing will come on them.

Unfortunately, James Comey was not paying attention to this last year. Now he's picking up soda cans by the freeway.

■ My Google LFOD alert was triggered by New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse's column in the Concord Monitor: A real ‘Live free or die’ session.

New Hampshire continues to hold true to its motto, first coined by Revolutionary War General John Stark, “Live free or die.” As we gather together next week to celebrate our nation’s enduring freedom on the Fourth of July, we are reminded that this motto can take on many different meanings.

Translation: people ignore and obfuscate the motto's perfectly plain meaning as necessary to justify whatever political position they're currently taking.

But Chuck's column is his defense/explication of the NH Senate's actions over the past year. Example: "We’ve also taken steps to launch the Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission in Laconia to bring in new ideas for the Laconia State School property." Yes, that's the kind of thing General Stark had in mind!

But Chuck tries valiantly to tie in the motto once again:

Our state motto takes on so many different meanings, but ultimately emphasizes the importance of our freedom from oppression and perhaps overstates the need for consistent, measured practicality.

I am in awe of anyone who can read the four words "Live Free or Die", and see anything at all about "consistent, measured practicality", let alone an overstatement about "consistent, measured practicality".

Go back to Salem, Chuck. You've had one too many.

■ But my Google LFOD alert was also triggered by an article by Aaron Keller, at a site called "Law Newz": 'DAMN, SH*T, ASS!’ State Parole Board Caught Swearing At Inmates. Yes, that's our State Parole Board.

New Hampshire is a state known for having beautiful mountains, no income tax, no sales tax, no mandatory seatbelt laws, huge state-run liquor stores in highway rest areas, a tough stance on drugs and alcohol, and a “live free or die” mentality.

Yeah, that's us. So?

Add to the list of the state’s various attributes the following:  the state’s adult parole board, which has the “sole authority to grant parole to a New Hampshire state prison inmate” or to “revoke the parole privilege of any person in its custody and recommit that person to the prison” under state administrative rules, got nailed by New Hampshire Public Radio for using strong and profane language in hearings.

Second link above corrected to point to NHPR story. Unfortunately, no board member actually said "Damn, Shit, Ass"; these are from three separate quotes.

I'm trying hard to be outraged by this, and failing. Some parole board members are insufficiently respectful toward convicted criminals? Boo hoo. But the "Law Newz" article does have some amusing snark about our state.

■ At NRO, David French explains: Why Trump’s Vengeful Tweeting Matters. The occasion being, in case you missed it, our President's reference to MSNBC hosts "low I.Q. Crazy Mika [Brzezinski], along with Psycho Joe [Scarborough]", and blood, and plastic surgery, etc.

A conservative can fight for tax reform, celebrate military victories over ISIS in Mosul, and applaud Trump’s judicial appointments while also condemning Trump’s vile tweets and criticizing his impulsiveness and lack of discipline. A good conservative can even step back and take a longer view, resolving to fight for the cultural values that tribalism degrades. Presidents matter not just because of their policies but also because of their impact on the character of the people they govern. Conservatives knew that once. Do they still?

Well, some do, some don't. But I know that when Trump exits the presidency, he'd be a pretty good pick for the New Hampshire State Parole Board.

■ Good news from Ashe Schow, writing at the Federalist: Trump Administration Signals End To Campus Star Chambers.

For years, college campuses across the country have been conducting witch hunts to expel or punish men accused of sexual assault. Those may soon be coming to an end, thanks to the Trump administration.

Unfortunately, many colleges will probably do the witch hunt thing anyway; it's in their grievance-mongering DNA. But there are judicial remedies for that sort of thing, and at least the Federal Government won't be providing encouragement.

■ At Reason, Matt Welch notes the Fox Hosts for Legalizing Heroin. (Specifically, Kennedy and Kat Timpf.)

This isn't Kennedy's first time making the on-air case for heroin legalization—back in March 2013, when then-host John Stossel talked about how he once struggled with legalizing hard drugs, but then concluded that owning one's body is a "powerful" counter-argument, the non-drug-using former MTV VJ replied "amen," and added: "having drugs be illegal is downright deadly. It's dangerous. And, you know, Ron Paul always made a good point, which was, let's say heroin was made legal right now, like who really wants to go out and jack their vein with heroin?" And in September of last year, when our own Katherine Mangu-Ward reacted to a story about elephant tranquilizers getting cut into smack by saying "this is why we want to legalize heroin now because it would save lives," Kennedy replied "Yes, absolutely. But instead, the problem here is, you know, not that legislators and…city council members are going to wake up and smell the cat food and realize that prohibition is directly leading to death."

I've developed the unfortunate habit of watching the local TV news, which devotes a huge chunk of each broadcast to inducing moral panic on the drug issue; they call this theme "State of Addiction" (Get it?)

■ Nancy MacLean's taxpayer-funded hatchet job on James M. Buchanan gets raked over the coals by David Bernstein: Some dubious claims in Nancy MacLean’s ‘Democracy in Chains’ and Some dubious claims in Nancy MacLean’s ‘Democracy in Chains,’ continued. From the former:

When the book arrived, I eagerly looked for her sources supporting the notion that modern libertarianism owes a massive debt to [slavery fan John C.] Calhoun, a theme on which she spends her entire prologue; later in the book, she claims that the libertarian cause traces its lineage to Calhoun. It turns out that she cites two articles noting similarities between Calhoun’s theories of political economy and modern public choice theory, and also cites to two pages of Murray Rothbard’s 1970 book, “Power and Market.” To put the two pages from Rothbard in perspective, I have in front of me a volume with the entire run of the New Individualist Review, a pioneering libertarian academic journal published at the University of Chicago in the 1960s. The index has multiple citations to Mill, Friedman, Hayek, Hobbes, Montesquieu, von Humboldt, Smith, Rand and other classical liberal and libertarian luminaries. Calhoun, meanwhile, does not appear in the index. Not once.

Do historians have their version of the Ig Nobel Prize? If so, Prof MacLean would seem to have a lock on it.

@JonahNRO eschews the citation-quibbling and puts it into context: Nancy MacLean’s Ideologically Motivated Shortcuts.

Indeed, this is all downstream of the century-old effort to turn Herbert Spencer into some kind of monster because he opposed governmental social engineering. The idea seems to be that because the statists are good, anyone who opposes them must be evil.

The contemporary liberal obsession with claiming that their ideological opponents must be somehow in league with, or modern-day reincarnations of, Klansmen and slavers is just another manifestation of this old, self-indulgent smear. It’s a bit like MacLean set out to reach that destination. When she realized she couldn’t get there by conventional navigation, she put a magnet marked “Calhoun!” or “Slavery!” next to her compass, and that did the trick.

Indeed.


Last Modified 2017-06-30 6:34 AM EST