Live and Let Die

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

By coincidence, I read this short book concurrently with the (very long) novel Gone With the Wind. My copy of Live and Let Die has (according to Amazon's "Look Inside the Book" function) three occurrences of that N-word, including the original title of Chapter Five. Both books make heavy use of their black characters' dialect. ("Don' ack mad at me, honey. Ah was fixin tuh treat yuh tonight. Take yuh tuh Smalls Par'dise, mebbe. See dem high-yallers shakin' 'n truckin,")

Yeah. That sort of thing would not fly today, I'm pretty sure. Live and Let Die is from 1954, GWtW from 1936. Times change. That said:

Bond is tasked with tracking down Communist agent (and master criminal) "Mr. Big", who's financing Soviet spying activities in America with gold smuggled in from the Caribbean. Mr. Big is big in Harlem, and he keeps his criminal empire in line via voodoo and the extra-sensory perceptive powers of "Solitaire", a beautiful maiden Mr. Big keeps as his slave.

Bond teams up with CIA agent Felix Leiter to investigate. This works out not at all well for Felix. (The book's details on that were repurposed for a different Bond movie.) Bond survives a series of encounters with Big and his gang, but it's a near thing. (It doesn't help that Big really seems to have Bond outsmarted and outgunned nearly all the way through the book.) There is a slam-bang final encounter. Which, spoiler alert, Bond survives.

URLs du Jour


  • George, the Memory Hole doesn't seem to be working that well. Not as long as people can take screenshots, as demonstrated in Mollie Hemingway's tweet.

    I don't attach much significance to the quote itself. It's a prime example of "nutpicking"; you can always find people, left, right, and center, who will make embarrassing statements off the cuff that they regret a few milliseconds later. (Or not, if they really are nuts.)

    The real scandal lies with NBC news. They would not (of course) hesitate to publicize an equivalent comment from an immigration restrictionist. We'd have a name, a place, a time, and probably video of the picked-nut. And it would echo through the airwaves and interwebs of ABC, CBS, NPR, NYT, WaPo, …

    So Mollie has it exactly right: someone at NBC realized, at some point: Hey, that makes our friends look bad. Can't have that. [Flushing sound effect]

    We may never know who said this, or the "foundation" of which he or she was a "founding member". If NBC News reported that, Google can't find it (as I type), so those inconvenient facts seem to have been successfully deleted from reality.

    So the Memory Hole is partially functioning. Orwell would be happy to hear that.

    [Well, no, he probably wouldn't.]

  • Nice try, railroad unions. Eric Boehm describes How Railroad Unions Almost Broke the Economy.

    Freight railroads and unions representing nearly 125,000 workers reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract that, for now, averts the possibility of an economically catastrophic strike.

    The deal itself still needs to be ratified by union members before it becomes binding—and before the possibility of a strike that could have disrupted billions of dollars of daily commerce is put off for good—but both the unions and the Association of American Railroads, which represents the industry, have praised the deal. The details of the contract are not public, but the unions reportedly scored several of their top priorities, including graduated pay increases of 24 percent that will be doled out over several years and an average lump sum payment of $11,000 to all union members (a major carrot to get workers to approve the new deal). Much of the brinksmanship on display over the past week, however, had to do with a demand for paid medical leave—a demand that even the Biden administration opposed for being "too costly"—which was reportedly left out of the final deal.

    That a strike was avoided is undeniably the most important thing, given the high economic stakes. But how we got to the brink of a major railroad strike is a fascinating, if convoluted, story as well—one that involves unions overplaying their hand in what they believed to be a favorable political environment, only to discover that Democratic politicians were not prepared to play ball.

    Click through for the "fascinating, if convoluted, story".

  • My guess is we'll have another six years of Senator Maggie. At Reason, Jacob Sullum pays attention to some flip-flopping in my little state: A Senate Candidate's Belated Acknowledgment of Biden's Victory Is a Reality Check for a Trump-Dominated GOP.

    During a debate last month, Don Bolduc, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general who was seeking the Republican nomination to oppose Sen. Maggie Hassan (D–N.H.) in November, unambiguously asserted that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election. "I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Trump won the election, and, damn it, I stand by my letter," Bolduc said, eliciting cheers and applause from the audience. "I'm not switching horses, baby. This is it."

    Yesterday, two days after Bolduc won the Republican Senate nomination, he suddenly renounced that reality-defying position. "I've done a lot of research on this," he said on Fox News, "and I've spent the past couple weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state from every party, and I have come to the conclusion—and I want to be definitive on this—the election was not stolen….Elections have consequences, and, unfortunately, President Biden is the legitimate president of this country."

    Ed Mosca at Granite Grok is pretty steamed at what he calls Bolduc's "massive unforced mistake". His suggestion on what Bolduc should have said instead (essentially): "Hey, I was just talking about Zuckerbucks and Hunter Biden's laptop." I don't think that would have meshed well with Bolduc's previous "not switching horses" rhetoric either.

    Granite Grok enthusiastically endorsed Bolduc in the primary. Dunno if that made a difference, but I'll point out that he only won by fewer than 2,000 votes, 1.3 percentage points. So it's not too far-fetched.

    My prediction in the headline could be totally wrong. If you want proof of my bad guesses in the past, see (roughly) everything I wrote about Donald Trump's chances in 2016.

  • LFOD Watch I. The intrepid Boston Globe reporter Brian MacQuarrie traveled up to the Queen City to find out about the Free State phenomenon, and reports: For this New Hampshire family, ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than a motto. There's an interesting interview with Tyler and Sara Brown, who bailed from New York last year. But I was more interested in MacQuarrie's looking-for-Free-Staters-under-the-bed language, emphasis added:

    Already, there are 25 known and likely members in the state House of Representatives, according to progressive tracking groups, and a number of other representatives are suspected of sympathizing with the movement.

    Damn! I mean… damn! I'm not old enough to remember McCarthyism, but I was told that it was pretty paranoid about card-carrying ("known") Communists, and for those not carrying cards, there were plenty of "suspected" Commies, not to mention "likely" fellow travellers. It's … interesting to see that sort of rhetoric repurposed for the 21st century. Except now we're going after libertarians, so I'm sure it's OK.

  • LFOD Watch II. The Google LFOD News Alert also drew my attention to Emily Apter, writing at a site called e-flux, with a truly daunting headline: Live Free or Die? Psychopolitical Infrastructures of Denialism. [footnotes elided]

    When approached from the angle of political theory, the Todestrieb of Covid-denialism aligns with the logic of “live free or die” libertarianism. New Hampshire’s official motto was adopted in 1945 and borrowed from a toast (“Live free or die: Death is not the Worst of Evils”) made by Revolutionary War hero General John Stark, who himself was borrowing it from the French Revolutionary slogan “Vivre libre ou mourir.” Under conditions of pandemia, this libertarian rallying cry is weaponized in a paroxysm of individual choicism that gains energy and positive reinforcement from in-group identification and the community support-structures of fellow denialists. One could say, then, that pandemia denialism produces a singular community; a company of Lockean self-property owners, possessive individualists whose ego-ideal is based on the kind of self-sufficing “ownness” (Eigenheit) that Max Stirner outlined in his controversial 1844 book The Ego and its Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigentum). Stirner’s theory of the ego was castigated by Marx as little more than a smokescreen for petty bourgeois individualism and self-interest, but Marx was short-sighted in dismissing its potential for the kind of anarchist individualism that we see animating entrepreneurial philosophy in the tech industry. Nor could he forsee its importance for Freud’s theory of das Ich, of the ego as a subjective agency that, in misrecognizing itself, and engaging in a dreamlike distortion of reality to justify its own ends, enables grandiose fantasies of self-possession. Psychosis, as Freud would note in this instance, becomes a way of making good on the loss of reality.

    Shorter: whoa, them folks is cray-zee!

    Ms. Apter makes it somewhat easier on her thesis by quoting extensively from Pastor Greg Locke of the Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Who really is cray-zee. See my comments above about "nutpicking".