10 Lb. Penalty

[Amazon Link]

About 20 years ago—this is before I started keeping track of such things—I realized that I'd read a lot of Dick Francis novels haphazardly. So, probably due to some undiagnosed OCD-like mental quirk, I made a list, in chronological order, of his novels up until that point in time, and resolved to read through them, one by one. This involved a bit of re-reading, but that's OK. (I think that was the genesis of my bookpicker system.)

And now I've finished that "little" project by re-reading 10 Lb. Penalty, published in 1997. Mr. Francis went on to write seven more books, some co-authored with his son Felix, but I caught those as they came out.

10 Lb. Penalty is a goodie. It has an unusually young Francis hero, Benedict Juliard, who's only 17 when the book opens. And it opens inauspiciously for him, as he's getting fired from his dream job with a horse trainer, wrongfully accused of drug abuse.

But that turns out to be a scam orchestrated by his father, George. George is standing for Parliament in England's "Hoopwestern" district. And he wants Benedict to help out, mainly to demonstrate to the voters that he has a family.

Unsurprisingly, since it's a Dick Francis novel, there are dark doings afoot. George stepped on a few feet to grab his party's nomination, and at least two of those feet aim to do him harm. Benedict, because he's a Dick Francis hero, turns out to be invaluable in detecting and thwarting these efforts.

In addition to the usual mix of danger and action, there's a lot of subtext here about father-son relationships, and the process of growing up, realizing that you might not be able to achieve your childhood goals, figuring out how to bounce back from that to have a good life anyway. Wise and moving.


Last Modified 2018-07-03 3:51 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2018-04-25

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 13:3 is another example of oral fixation:

    3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
        but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

    So do that first thing, avoid the second, I guess.


  • We track down Kevin D. Williamson so you don't have to. He's at the Weekly Standard with a description of How They Do 'Journalism' at New York Magazine. Spoiler: not well.

    In my recent Wall Street Journal essay on the politics of Twitter mobs, I noted that the episode was accompanied by a great deal of sloppy journalism—remarkably lazy journalism. Of all the mostly denunciatory articles about me that appeared in the big-name press (at least four in the New York Times alone) not a single writer of any of them bothered to ask me about my views on the subjects in question: abortion and capital punishment. Naturally, practically all of them got it wrong (see the corrections) never having bothered to perform the characteristic act of journalism and, you know, ask a question or two.

    KDW offered New York magazine a free essay describing his views on the abortion-punishment issue. They turned it down. The only way you'll hear KDW in New York is through the hostile filter of its editors.


  • Bernie Sanders wants to guarantee a job to every American who wants one. What does David Harsanyi think about that? Well, that Democrats’ Universal Job Plan Would Be A Socialist Disaster.

    One imagines that a quixotic proposal like this polls quite well. I mean, who doesn’t want everyone to have a job? You don’t possess a skill-set that enables you to find productive work? You don’t want to learn a new trade? You don’t want to attain a better education? You have no interest in moving to an area where your work might be in demand? You don’t want to start your career with a lower wage even if the long-term prospects of doing so might be worthwhile? Don’t worry. The government’s got an incentive-destroying job opportunity just for you.

    So: an absurdly expensive program that would destroy important signals in the labor market. What's not to like?


  • At Reason, Ronald Bailey brings us some good news: Global Warming Likely to Be 30 to 45 Percent Lower Than Climate Models Project.

    How much lower? [Researchers Nicholas Lewis's and Judith Curry's] median ECS estimate of 1.66°C (5–95% uncertainty range: 1.15–2.7°C) is derived using globally complete temperature data. The comparable estimate for 31 current generation computer climate simulation models cited by the IPCC is 3.1°C. In other words, the models are running almost two times hotter than the analysis of historical data suggests that future temperatures will be.

    Well, it's not good news for everyone. This doesn't help those making the argument that we need immediate massive, global controls over energy production, accompanied by huge coerced rich-to-poor income transfers. Too bad for them.


  • Mental Floss says It's Official: Uranus Smells Like Farts.

    Poor Uranus: After years of being the butt of many schoolyard jokes, the planet's odor lives up to the unfortunate name. According to a new study by researchers at the University of Oxford and other institutions, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the upper layer of Uranus's atmosphere consists largely of hydrogen sulfide—the same compound that gives farts their putrid stench.

    Next up, the discovery that the next planet out has an atmosphere that generates harmonious audio vibrations. Yes: Nep Tunes.

    Disturbing fact: searching for "Uranus" on Amazon displays a number of non-astronomical items.