The Sixth Idea

[Amazon Link]

I continue (on my dear sister's recommendation) in my consumption of the "Monkeewrench" series. The "P. J. Tracy" name stands for a mother/daughter writing team; unfortunately the mom passed away back in 2016, but (apparently) the series will continue with the daughter writing solo.

Although the series is called "Monkeewrench" after the software/hacking company that played a major role in the first book, the fine detectives of the Minneapolis Police Department, Magozzi and Rolseth have really taken over the spotlight in the later books. Monkeewrench's main purpose here is to provide a love interest for Magozzi (Grace) and technological dei ex machina as necessary to move the plot along.

Ah, the plot. It revolves around a decades-old evil US government organization, its origins in the development of the H-bomb, devoted to keeping the lid on a majorly innovative secret weapon: a method to generate destructive electromagnetic pulses at will, knocking out an enemy's electrical infrastructure. And "keeping the lid on" involves murdering anyone who just might be on the verge of blabbing, or finding out, about this. Rough stuff!

This isn't really a spoiler; you get the gist of if in the first few dozen pages.

Unfortunately, the book is below average for the series. It seems heavily padded out to the (no doubt contractually obligated) 350 pages. The plot mover isn't particularly credible, sorry. I have negligible warm feelings toward Our Federal Government, but I'm pretty sure they're not capable of orchestrating this combination of evil ruthlessness and secrecy.

But (anyway) makes the fatal mistake of carrying out some homicides in Minneapolis, drawing the attention of our heroes. Dumb move on their part.

The authors seem to think our current nuclear arsenal doesn't contain H-bombs, by the way. Somebody should have checked that for them.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • At National Review, David French says something kind of profound in his article The Ideological Blindness at the Heart of Media Bias.

    It is consistently interesting to me that mainstream media outlets have somehow convinced themselves of two contradictory things at once: 1) They cannot fairly cover America without a newsroom that more or less looks like America, but 2) they can cover American without a newsroom that thinks like America.

    This simple insight would be a pretty good comeback to those who worship at the altar of type-1 "diversity".

  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein has an explanation as to Why the American Establishment Has Lost Credibility.

    Why? Well consider how the establishment would react if George W. Bush were seated two seats down from David Duke at Willie Nelson's funeral, with Duke given a place of honor. Now consider that Bill Clinton sat two seats away from an equally odious hatemonger, Louis Farrakhan, at Aretha Franklin's funeral. Some Jewish groups expressed dismay, but Clinton acted as if nothing was amiss, as did the rest of the establishment. Former attorney general Eric Holder took a picture next to Farrakhan, and it sure looks posed. But wait, you will say, Farrakhan is black, and because of historical differences in power, black racism and anti-Semitism simply isn't as problematic as white racism as anti-Semitism. That's a fine argument to have in university seminar room. What your average person sees, however, is hypocrisy and double standards. So when the establishment says, "reject Trump, he associates with some dubious characters with dubious connections on the 'alt-right," the establishment makes a fair, if sometimes exaggerated, point. But to the average Trump fan, it sure looks like the establishment is much more concerned with bigotry when it can be connect to conservatives and Trump than when it involves figures who are aligned with left-wing Democratic constituencies.

    Other examples follow. David's bottom line:

    I should emphasize that I agree that Trump has at times promoted bigotry, is a congenital liar, and engages in demeaning and belittling behavior toward his political opponents. Indeed, I think these things are obvious. But much of the country isn't listening when the traditional gatekeepers point this out, and that is, at least in part, the gatekeepers' own fault.

    Too true.

  • James Lileks writes a lot, all of it good, but yesterday's Bleat had something both amusing and insightful, in rebuttal to an article that referred to "undocumented (unprotected) immigrants".

    The term “undocumented” is preferred to illegal, since the latter connotes a stigma, and the former makes it sound as if people who crossed the border without going through the usual channels have every right to be here, but lack the paperwork to prove it. Just as someone who broke into your house would be “unkeyed.”

    Read on for James's reaction to the "unprotected" bit, something (probably) about to become the standard terminology among the herd of independent Progressive minds.

  • This being Pun Salad, we are forced to link to Ephrat Livni's interview with pun-defending James Geary at Quartz: The case for puns as the most elevated display of wit.

    “Despite its bad reputation, punning is, in fact, among the highest displays of wit. Indeed, puns point to the essence of all true wit—the ability to hold in the mind two different ideas about the same thing at the same time,” Geary writes. “And the pun’s primacy is demonstrated by its strategic use in the oldest sacred stories, texts, and myths.”

    Geary claims the Bible contains punning, but no examples are given in the article. I would foresee some translation-based difficulties; funny in Hebrew or Greek, but, sorry, not in English. So my favorite remains:

    Q: What car make did the Apostles drive?

    A: Honda. Because they were all with one Accord.

    There you go.

  • Good news, we have a list of Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Latest Winners. The "Vile Pun" category winner:

    As Sheriff (and choral conductor) Patrick “Pitch-Perfect” McHenry assessed his perfectly mediocre chorus upon the saloon stage (sopranos that could only sing melody, serviceable altos, screechy tenors, and basses dropping the pitch by more than a quarter step), a wrinkled scowl protruded from under his pristine Stetson and he growled, “I don’t like your tone” at his “okay” chorale.

    We'll be here all week.