Off the Grid

(Monkeewrench #6)

[Amazon Link]

My discerning sister pointed me to P. J. Tracy's Monkeewrench series a couple of years back, and here we are already at number six in the series. This one is a pretty good entry. As usual, it follows Minneapolis police detectives Magozzi and Roselth, as well as the super-hackers at the Monkeewrench software firm.

Except one of the Monkeewrenchers, Grace, is sailing (platonically) with ex-FBI agent Smith off the Florida coast. She's relaxed her usual paranoia a bit, but to no avail when a couple of assassins board the boat looking to murder Smith. Grace saves him, but they take this as a signal that they might be in a spot of danger.

Meanwhile, up in Minnesota, a bunch of Native American girls have been abducted from their reservation by Minneapolis Somali criminals. This results in an unusually grisly and unsettling murder. Which results in more carnage carried out by a dying ex-Marine. Wot?

So, it kept my interest even though (as seems usual with successful authors in this genre) it seemed padded out to a contractually-obligated 300 pages.

Given the rather obvious involvement of unsavory Somalis, I kept waiting for one of those 24/Designated Survivor twists where the swarthy immigrants were revealed to be mere puppets of right-wing big-business white guys.

No spoilers, though.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:13 has a surprising relevance to current events:

    13 Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk,
        and so the innocent escape trouble.

    Trapped, that is, unless you have a cushy "comedy" gig at TBS, ranting unfunny gutter-language insults.

  • At Reason, Ronald Bailey notes Trump's Crony Capitalism: Energy Division.

    Who you gonna call when your business is being outcompeted and you're going bust? The feds, of course. President Donald Trump obliged his cronies in the electric power and coal industries today by ordering the Department of Energy (DOE) to take "immediate steps" to save the companies from going bankrupt. Those immediate steps will result in consumers having to pay higher power bills.

    I think (like even some honest liberals) that nuclear power needs to be part of the energy picture. But this ain't the way, Mr. President.

  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week points out: Great Oaks Have Deep Roots. Which refers to Jonah's impressive, late, father-in-law. But Jonah also notes the pop-cultural double standard between (say) Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee, and observes:

    The key difference is that liberals dominate the commanding heights of the culture. When Tom Friedman heaps praise on an evil and authoritarian regime, it’s seen as a thoughtful exercise in creative thinking and analysis. Joy Ann Reid can be guilty of precisely the kind of rhetoric that serves as proof of bigotry when it comes from conservatives, because she’s on the side of social justice. Ta-Nehisi Coates can write sweeping denunciations of white people — and it’s speaking truth to power or some such. They can get away with it not because their arguments are less radical or their jokes less offensive but because the gatekeeping institutions of our culture are largely on their side.

    Do I find it frustrating? Of course. Does the double standard vex me? Yes, I’m terribly vexed. But here’s the thing: If you’re only willing to hold your principles on the condition that people you hate hold them too, they’re not really principles.

    There, I've boldfaced the important bit.

    At a certain point, you just have to be satisfied with being right about everything, all the time.

  • A totally-unsurprising result from the latest foray into regulatory nirvana: Google Emerges as Early Winner From Europe’s New Data Privacy Law. [Possibly WSJ-paywalled.]

    GDPR, the European Union’s new privacy law, is drawing advertising money toward Google’s online-ad services and away from competitors that are straining to show they’re complying with the sweeping regulation.

    As libertarians have long pointed out (see, for example, this Tim Carney article from 2006): big business loves regulation.

  • Veronique de Rugy's column approaches the same issue from a different angle: Air Travel Protectionists' Wings Clipped by Open Skies Agreements

    Though competition is great for consumers — as they get more and better goods and services for less money — some companies dislike the constant pressure it creates for them to stay ahead. When that's the case, it's no surprise when they call on the government to squash annoying competitors. Case in point: the big three U.S. airlines' attempts to limit the pressure by Persian Gulf carriers on their price and quality. Apparently, flying the friendly sky is all about U.S. airlines making money on the backs of their captive consumers.

    This is one of those (unfortunately too-rare) cases where competition won. So, yay!