Force of Nature

[Amazon Link]

Another compulsive page turner from C.J. Box. It's not a guilty pleasure, but a proud one: Mr. Box is a very fine writer.

The book starts out with a humorous, but also gruesome, discovery: an inept fly fisherman (who got into the sport to meet girls, with no success) is casting in the Twelve Sleep River, when a seemingly abandoned drift boat floats down toward him. He manages to stop it, only to find three very dead bodies and a lot of blood.

We back up to discover the cause: Joe Pickett's friend, Nate Romanowski, acting in self-defense. We know from reading the previous book in the series (and I suggest that people read the series in order) that Nate has been hiding out from a shadowy group of assassins who want to kill him, and also just about anyone who knows him. Their lethal ruthlessness is demonstrated throughout.

Why? Well, we find out along the way, also with revelations about Nate's back story. (An Air Force Academy cadet? Hm, did not see that coming.)

This is billed on the cover as a "Joe Pickett Novel", and Joe's a major presence here, but I'm not sure that Nate's exploits don't get more pages. That's OK. Joe is torn three ways: between his loyalty to his friend, his desire to stay on the right side of the law, and the safety of his family. His course here is as perilous as Nate's, in its own way.

URLs du Jour

2017-11-22

Proverbs 18:6 shows very little respect for the First Amendment, which protects the speech of both fools and sages:

6 The lips of fools bring them strife,
    and their mouths invite a beating.

I've always wondered about the provenance of the famed grade-school taunt "You're pleading for a beating." There it is.


■ Megan McArdle comments on the undoing of "Net Neutrality" rules by the FCC, and doesn't see the big deal, because The Internet Had Already Lost Its Neutrality.

The internet will be filled today with denunciations of this move, threats of a dark future in which our access to content will be controlled by a few powerful companies. And sure, that may happen. But in fact, it may already have happened, led not by ISPs, but by the very companies that were fighting so hard for net neutrality.

Consider what happened to the Daily Stormer, the neo-Nazi publication, after Charlottesville. One by one, hosting companies refused to permit its content on their servers. The group was forced to effectively flee the country, and then other countries, too, shut it down.

One of my Progressive Facebook friends is a major cheerleader for "Net Neutrality", and also cheered the banishment of the neo-Nazi site. I didn't have the heart to ask him to square that circle.


■ Tyler Cowen is also copacetic about the regulatory demise: The End of Net Neutrality Isn't the End of the World.

Eliminating net neutrality is, in the best and worst case scenarios, either necessary to keep the internet up and running, or will lead to a dystopian future where a few major corporations control our thoughts. The more prosaic reality, however, is that a world without net neutrality will work just fine. I am therefore not incensed (or very excited) about the Federal Communications Commission proposal released Tuesday that will move away from net neutrality.

Tyler admits he used to be in favor of "Net Neutrality", but has changed his mind.

(I am nowhere near as smart as Tyler, but I always thought "Net Neutrality" was a focus-grouped buzzphrase to avoid the more obvious "Government Regulation of the Internet".


[Amazon Link]

■ Peter Suderman interviews Aaron Carroll, the author of The Bad Food Bible, which I've placed on my Things-To-Read list from the title alone. At Reason: You Don’t Have Listen to the Government. Eat the Foods You Like.

Reason: Something I really appreciate about your book is that it's not moralistic or restrictive. Although you do issue some warnings about certain behaviors to avoid, a big part of your message is that it's actually fine to consume most food and beverages. It's a book that repeatedly says, sure, it's okay to eat or drink that, at least in moderation.

That's quite a bit different from a lot of the diet advice we see, which tends to be heavily restrictive and focused on what you should avoid consuming. And it's also different than the moralism found in a lot of hand-me-down health wisdom, which is all about which foods are inherently good and which are inherently bad.

What's the appeal of restrictive diet moralism? Why does it persist—and in many cases spread? It can't be because it's pleasurable to eat that way!

Aaron Carroll: For as long as I can remember, nutritional advice has always been about telling me I'm doing something wrong. It was always telling me I was eating the wrong things. Don't eat cholesterol. Don't eat fat. Don't eat carbs. You have to eat something.

I think there are likely a few reasons for this. One is that some people think that making people feel shame is a motivating factor. Another is that we tend to think that being overweight or obese is somehow your "fault" and that you, therefore, are to "blame". Too often we equate being overweight with a moral failing.

We also shouldn't discount the financial drivers. There's lots of money to be made by making people feel afraid, and it certainly works in food.

As the cliché goes: you can add years to your life via healthy eating, but those added years come at the wrong end.


■ At NRO, Deroy Murdock reads the open letter from "high net worth individuals, many in the top 1%" who oppose the current tax reform legislation and implore Congress: "Do not cut our taxes." And Murdock has a Modest Proposal, the Higher-rate Optional (H.O.T.) Tax, which would Let the Guilty Rich Soak Themselves.

Congress should add the H.O.T. tax to the legislation now coursing through Capitol Hill. It would be simple, fair, and voluntary. Any taxpayer who feels undertaxed could fill the H.O.T. line on IRS Form 1040 with whatever higher tax rate makes her happy, multiply by taxable income, and submit that larger total.

I like it. But there's already a mechanism in place for voluntary contributions to Your Federal Government.