North of Nowhere

[Amazon Link]

I have a number of unread books on the shelf by Steve Hamilton, but (for some obscure reason) they got pushed way down on the to-be-read list. In fact, the last Hamiltonian book I read was way back in 2004, pre-blog.

Fortunately, after a year and a half of retirement, I'm starting to whittle away at the unread pile. And so here's North of Nowhere (2002), the fourth book in Hamilton's series with protagonist Alex McKnight. Alex is an ex-baseball player, an ex-cop, and in this book he's also an ex-private eye, having been disillusioned with the profession in the previous book. (No, I don't remember the details. It was 2004, for Pete's sake!)

Alex is OK with simply running his small rustic cabin-rental business in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. But he is dragooned into attending a poker party at the manse of a local tycoon. Which is rudely interrupted by a trio of gun-wielding thugs, demanding that the tycoon give up some of his ill-gotten riches.

Fine, this is no skin off Alex's nose, right? The tycoon is a major jerk. But things are not what they seem! Were any of the poker players actually in on the heist? Unsurprisingly, Alex is forced to get back into the investigatory game.

A not bad caper, although Hamilton does tend to hammer away at the unspoiled beauty of the UP and Lake Superior for more words than absolutely necessary.

URLs du Jour

2018-01-19

■ Back in the day, everyone was a lot more respectful towards monarchs. Proverbs 16:10 provides an obsequious example:

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
    and his mouth does not betray justice.

It's not as if the Bible isn't full of counterexamples. And advice to the contrary, for example, 1 Samuel 8:10-18:

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Could Murray Rothbard have made things any plainer?

But did the Israelites listen to Sammy? Heck, no.


■ In a preview of an upcoming dead-trees Reason article, a number of thoughtful pundits offer the good news and bad news: Trump Turns One. Katherine Mangu-Ward provides an example of the bad news:

Attorney General Sessions is less a criminal justice reformer than a criminal justice reactionary. During his confirmation hearing, he spoke approvingly of civil asset forfeiture, a practice in which money and other property are taken from people who have not been charged, let alone convicted, of any underlying crime.

A fair-weather federalist, Sessions supports states' rights right up until the moment that states legalize recreational or medicinal marijuana, at which point he thinks Washington should take precedence. He has had a similar response to the rise of sanctuary cities (and states), or jurisdictions that aren't always willing to cooperate with immigration authorities. He also supports strengthening and lengthening sentences for violent and nonviolent offenders alike, and he is skeptical of the idea that increased police oversight is needed.

But at least it was a politically savvy move to pick a guy out of a safe GOP Senate seat… Oh, wait.


■ In the [possibly paywalled] WSJ Best of the Web column, James Freeman describes The Reagan Test

When did President Ronald Reagan realize that his policy mixture of deregulation and tax cuts was increasing American prosperity in the 1980s? “I could tell our economic program was working when they stopped calling it Reaganomics,” he used to say with a chuckle. By this standard our current President is off to a promising start.

Freeman relates the extreme lengths to which pundits and "straight news" outlets are going to credit the current economic good news to Obama policies. (Also doing that: President Obama.)


■ David Harsanyi writes in NRO: Donald Trump’s Greatest Gift Is His Enemies. [He means, specifically, a gift to Trump, not from him.]

Every morning, it seems, President Donald Trump’s most determined opponents awake to find out what sort of obnoxious, fact-challenged, puerile, norm-breaking thing he has offered that day and say to themselves: “Oh, that’s nothing. We can do something dumber than that!”

So the nation wades from one bizarre and nonsensical controversy to another. As I write this, I can’t even recall what topic we were debating last week, but I’m certain it was idiotic. Part of the problem is that those who drive coverage of Trump are obsessed with the president in unhealthy ways, ways that have absolutely nothing to do with policy or governance.

These days, I only watch local TV news (painful enough) and bounce up to the national outlets when I'm feeling particularly masochistic.


■ The Babylon Bee passes along some good news: Paula White Confirms President Trump In Excellent Spiritual Health.

After several serious concerns regarding President Trump’s spiritual health were brought to light in recent weeks, prosperity gospel preacher Paula White examined him and reported that he is in “excellent” spiritual health.

White performed a barrage of examinations on the president’s spiritual health to test his orthodoxy, and confirmed he’s “in perfect spiritual condition.”

“He understands that Christianity is all about the power, money, and prestige it can bring to him, so he’s doing just fine spiritually,” White said. “Any concerns people have about the president’s spiritual health are completely unfounded, and I say this as an expert in using Christianity for personal gain.”

I confess, I didn't know who Paula White was before reading this. But she's chair of President Trump's "Evangelical Advisory Board" (which, yes, is an actual thing). Like Trump, she's on her third spouse. And you can enter into a "partnership" with Paula for a mere $25/$50/$100 per month "recurring committment [sic]". So you'll want to check that out.

The $100/month payment gets you "Paula's Exclusive KJV Bible".


■ Bad news, New Hampshire does not appear on Amazon's short list of 20 candidates to receive Amazon's second headquarters. But (good news) Iowahawk's Tweet du Jour is a chain that handicaps the remaining cities on the list. An appetite-whetting sample: