Noir

[Amazon Link]

Another risqué romp from Christopher Moore, this one set in 1947 San Francisco. Although the title says "noir", Moore semi-apologizes for it in a revealing afterword: he knows it has little to do with hard-boiled private eyes, scheming deadly dames, artful plays of shadow and light, helpless schlemiels trapped in a relentless storyline of inevitable doom…

Where was I? Oh, yeah: Moore describes the book's genre as "Damon Runyon meets Bugs Bunny". Accurate, and as near as I can tell, this genre consists of one book, this one.

A gorgeous dame walks into a bar… and the bartender hero, Sammy, is immediately smitten. The course of that true love is complicated by … well, many things. For one thing, the upcoming gathering at Bohemian Grove, where (as all conspiracy loons know) the true rulers of the world gather to wear togas and worship huge concrete owls. Trying to make an impression on the Bohemians is an Air Force General from … oh, oh … Roswell, New Mexico. He's got something for show and tell!

But that's not all. Sammy has an idea for a get-rich-quick scheme based on Chinatown's desire for venomous snake pee. That doesn't work out well. Humorless men in black suits appear.

And at certain points in the book an initially-unnamed character takes over from Sammy's first-person narration. The identity of the narrator may surprise you!

So it's a lot of fun. Also long. As in padded-to-meet-the-contracted-word-count long. That's forgiveable with Moore, because he makes the words funny.

URLs du Jour

2020-04-07

  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson has some good news about Coronavirus Emergency Measures: American Culture Resists Central Planning.

    Efforts at imposing social and economic regimentation on American life are producing results that are very American, meaning that there is a relatively high level of noncompliance, not only with “social distancing” guidelines but also with heavy-handed government efforts to command and control the private economy. The Scandinavian countries are having a different experience, a more Scandinavian one. (As the Swedish journalist Lisa Bjurwald puts it, buttoned-down and emotionally remote Swedes “were practicing the coronavirus lifestyle long before the virus hit.”) Socialist or nationalist, Left or Right, the powers that be in Washington bark orders all day — but they are barking those orders at Americans. Good luck.

    Emergencies, of course, eventually end. At the end of the Great War, there was an effort among progressives to keep alive the “war socialism” of the Wilson years as a new norm in American life. That was roundly rejected. A smaller version of the same story played out after World War II. Already, we are hearing from the Left and the Right a great deal of wishful thinking about maintaining certain emergency measures associated with this epidemic once the plague has passed. The Left wants to expand unemployment benefits, paid leave, and the like, while the Right is more fixated on the fact that Chinese factories make a lot of cheap paper goods and ibuprofen.

    There always seem to be plenty of people who want to nudge us ever further down the Road to Serfdom. (As KDW puts it: "when everybody is in the army and the army runs everything".)


  • The Federalist's Chuck Devore has a related observation: Freedom Means Letting People Make Risk Calculations About Coronavirus.

    Every few years the nation’s civil engineers produce a slick “Infrastructure Report Card.” In 2017, the report card gave America a “D+” and recommended spending an additional $1.5 trillion over a decade on top of the $1.8 trillion already committed on roads, bridges, airports, water systems and other infrastructure. If we didn’t, the engineers warned of more road deaths, failing dams, and a cost to families of about $3,400 annually in lost productivity.

    But America isn’t an engineer-ocracy, as a result, the nation’s infrastructure grade will probably always be below average. Neither is America a doctor-ocracy, even though during this time we are giving our medical professionals more attention and resources than usual, as we’re afraid of a new and deadly virus.

    There's no shortage of people who think they can make better decisions about your life than you can yourself, and are willing to "nudge"—or shove—you into agreement.


  • At Reason, Robby Soave explains Why You Shouldn’t Trust Anyone Who Claims 80 Percent of America’s Drugs Come From China.

    While reading about the COVID-19 outbreak, you've probably encountered this particularly shocking statistic at one time or another: 80 percent of America's pharmaceutical drug supply comes from China.

    It's a statistic that has made the rounds in right-wing publications for a while—offered as proof that China-heavy global supply chains are putting Americans at risk—but it has also popped up in mainstream outlets, including in pieces published in Politico and The Atlantic. Wherever it is deployed, the stat carries an unstated implication: What if China decides to cut us off in the middle of a pandemic? Could America face a dramatic shortage of key pharmaceutical drugs at the moment when we are most in need? And that distorted claim that says America has been too reliant on China has been seized by politicians like Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) as evidence that globalization has undermined America's pandemic response.

    Robby does a heroic amount of research to try to track down the origins of this factoid. It's a horrible tale of a mutating meme! One that evolves to fit the priors of whoever repeats it!


  • A (Canadian) guy named Cathal Kelly writes in the (Canadian) Globe and Mail, triggering our Google LFOD News Alert. He has some advice for the President. Get with the program, Trump: Sports as we know them are over.

    Specifically, Trump said he thought the NFL season could go off as scheduled. But will it?

    News update – football is no longer okay. Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California, was asked Saturday if he is on the the same kickoff schedule as the President.

    "I'm not anticipating that happening in this state,” Newsom said.

    That’s three teams (Chargers, Rams and 49ers) out. Seattle and the New York area are virus epicentres, so add the Jets, Giants and Seahawks to that list. All the live-free-or-die types – Cowboys, Titans, every single Floridian who doesn’t live in Miami – form the other camp.

    Cathal takes a properly Canadian attitude of contempt toward LFOD. Well, that's why we're not Canadian.