Razzmatazz

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Christopher Moore's latest is a sequel to his 2019 novel about post-WW2 San Francisco, Noir. It contains Moore's usual dollops of ribald comedy and supernatural hijinx. Also present are some plain old science fiction touches.

(One downside: I read Noir over two years ago. Sue me, but my aging brain didn't remember that much about the characters or plot. And this book takes off pretty much immediately after that one's finish.)

Let's see: the previous book's protagonist, bartender Sammy, is back, as is his main squeeze, Stilton ("the Cheese"). Sammy is roped into investigating a couple of murders most foul, preying on the sexually-offbeat denizens of Frisco. And the Cheese has her own secretive project in the works, driven by the friendly little fella that arrived from Roswell, New Mexico in Noir. And there are a host of other colorful characters involved in their own dramas. I didn't try to keep track of them all, but I still had a good time.

I am a sucker for loving pastiches like this (page 11):

A low ghost of cigarette smoke hung in the air over about forty tables where dames, only dames, in dresses or men's suits, were paired up, looking sad and urgent as, up on the stage, a skinny dame in white tux and tails with a painted-on mustache squeezed out a slow song about lost love in a sultry alto. The joint looked like some daffy Sapphic goddess had sprinkled an abandoned coal mine with melancholy lesbians, then taken a powder in a puff of smoke.

Or this (page 257):

She laughed. She had a nice laugh. The kind of laugh that made you want to take her to a Marx Brothers movie, buy her a Coke, and watch her shoot it out her nose.
All in all, a fine read. A little long (I assume padded out to publishing contract demands.) I'd recommend reading Noir and Razzmatazz consecutively, if that's an option.

URLs du Jour

2022-06-26

Mr. Ramirez draws it: The babies are smiling.

[Babies are smiling]

  • Just a tad of good news. Gas Buddy's Gas Station Price Charts show (as I type) US average gas prices down 13¢/gal from the high of $5.03 back on June 14.

    I haven't noticed any big hoopla about this welcome news. I suspect there's two reasons:

    1. It screws up Democrat narrative that high gas prices are due to Putin and Big Oil Greed. Did Putin pull out of Ukraine in the past twelve days? Did oil companies magically get less greedy?
    2. But it also screws up the Republican talking point that says it's all due to Biden's incompetent overspending. Guess what? Biden did not suddenly become competent over the past twelve days, and Uncle Stupid is still in drunken-sailor mode, spendingwise.

    Maybe you could credit the Fed. Or it could be just good old supply and demand. But since neither one of those explanations benefit either party politically, not offering up any easy scapegoats, you won't hear about this on the nightly news.


  • Another reliable headline template: "Biden's    adjective    Hypocrisy on    noun phrase   " Heather Mac Donald notes (however) Biden's Green Hypocrisy on High Gas Prices.

    If there were any lingering doubt that climate-change policy is empty virtue-signaling, President Joe Biden dispelled it on Wednesday when he called on Congress to lift the federal gasoline tax. This desperate pitch is just the latest move in the White House’s increasingly panicked campaign to lower the cost of tanking up. Biden also asked state officials to pause their own local gasoline taxes.

    But if climate change “poses an existential threat”—as a White House press release asserted in April 2021—then high gas prices are a boon, since they discourage, in the most efficient way possible, the consumption of fossil fuels. You don’t reduce demand by lowering the price of a good but by raising it. For decades, the most sophisticated environmentalists have argued for a carbon tax, imposed at the point of extraction and then passed on to the consumer. A carbon tax helps solve the so-called externality problem of carbon consumption, according to which the environmental cost of greenhouse-gas use is not reflected in the price of gas and thus is not borne by the user. Carbon taxes shift some of the costs of carbon use back on to the consumer, mobilizing price signals in the service of environmentalism.

    Candidate Joe Biden supported a carbon tax during the 2020 presidential primary. In November 2021, he promised to back a Democratic bill that would impose a rising surcharge on carbon. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for a carbon tax during her confirmation hearing: “We cannot solve the climate crisis without effective carbon pricing,” she said.

    We'd all be better off if they had just said "Hey, I just want to get elected/confirmed. Could you simply assume I just said something that would make that happen?"


  • Ugh. Nothing worse that desperate progressive grunts. Charles C. W. Cooke has been listening to them, and concludes Progressives’ Grunts Are Growing Desperate.

    Confused, alarmed, and unbalanced by the changing world around them, America’s erstwhile progressive class has been eventually reduced to the grunt. The proximate stimulus doesn’t matter a great deal, for, whatever the question, the answer is always the same: “Racism! Sexism! LGBT!” Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, a little paralysis will do the movement good?

    “Abortion bans,” the ACLU tweeted recently, “disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous & other people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, young people, those working to make ends meet, people with disabilities.” Quite why this is so — or, in the case of “the LGBTQ community,” how it is so — was not explained. The words were just snapped carelessly together, like Freudian Duplo. In the distant past, an argument might have been stapled on, but not now, when everything is everything — when slogans have replaced expostulation and ideas have been melded into pink noise. Like Shakespeare’s Thomas Mowbray, progressive America may at long last have run out of gas, leaving its participants to confess in desperation that, “The language I have learned these forty years / My native English, now I must forego / And now my tongue’s use is to me no more / Than an unstringed viol or a harp.”

    "Freudian Duplo". What a diss! They haven't even worked themselves up to Freudian Lego yet!

    It's NRPlus, so I hope you're all paid up and can check out the rest.


  • Threatening to fail me on a Libertarian Purity Test. Chris Freiman explains: There Are No Libertarian Objections to Open Borders.

    Some people claim to uphold libertarian principles but reject open borders. I’m going to explain why this isn’t a consistent position.

    To begin, try to imagine a self-professed libertarian who asserts that the state should prohibit people from congregating at their church on Easter. It’s obvious that this claim isn’t consistent with libertarian principles—the prohibition would violate private property rights and freedom of association. And if you reject either of those rights, you’re not a libertarian because they’re definitional features of libertarianism.

    Similarly, prohibiting someone from immigrating to the United States (for instance) violates private property rights and freedom of association. An American’s freedom to hire an immigrant to work in the business she owns is protected by her private property rights as well as her freedom to associate with the immigrant and the immigrant’s freedom to associate with her. The same goes for decisions to reside or congregate with people from other countries.

    Freiman deals (briefly) with common libertarian objections to open borders. I'm not totally for open borders, but I'm not sure how to phrase my objections.


  • Confused on the concept. You might have heard that the airlines are having difficulty with their schedules. The Antiplanner noted some sloppy language from the guy who's supposed to be taking care of this: Buttigieg “Forced” to Drive.

    Supporters of subsidies to Amtrak and mass transit often say that, due to the lack of such subsidies, Americans have been “forced to drive.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg experienced this earlier this week when his flight was cancelled and he was “forced to drive from Washington DC to New York.” If only the nation had spent billions of dollars subsidizing intercity passenger trains between DC and New York, he wouldn’t have been forced to drive.

    Wait a minute: the nation has spent billions of dollars subsidizing passenger trains between DC and New York. So why was Buttigieg forced to drive? For that matter, why was he flying if Amtrak’s high-speed Acela is so good?

    I wish someone had asked Pete about that. Unfortunately, he seems to keep himself pretty well insulated from impudent questioners.


  • Something Pun Salad has been harping on. And it finally gets some respect from the jolly green progressives at WIRED, specifically Matt Simon: The Nightmare Politics and Sticky Science of Hacking the Climate.

    Simon briefly summarizes the two approaches to mitigating climate change via geoengineering: removal of atmospheric carbon and planetary albedo change (see Neal Stephenson's Termination Shock).

    Altering the climate will affect every nation on Earth. We all share one atmosphere. So who gets to make such a momentous decision? “One has to include the key different stakeholders that will be impacted in different ways. It is very easy to say this—it's extremely difficult to do it,” Pasztor says. “But that's what we need to do. And so the international community needs to start serious conversations about how one actually does that.”

    Yet it’s hard to imagine (ideally) getting buy-in from all the nations of the world, much less the competing political and cultural factions within those nations. The United Nations tried in 2019 with a resolution calling for more research of geoengineering, but the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil blocked it. Even within a single country, this idea can be contentious. For example, last year Sweden rejected a small-scale test of stratospheric aerosols. It is, perhaps alarmingly, easier to imagine a rogue state from going it alone, or an eccentric billionaire taking it upon themselves.

    It's WIRED, so Simon embraces the only path acceptable to the green theologians: doing "what's necessary: dramatically slashing greenhouse gas emissions." Never mind that this will also have plenty of unintended consequences.

    Also I'm miffed that Simon failed to mention my favored climate change solution: artificial photosynthesis. Although that is imaginary right now, I don't see any theoretical reason that we (by which I mean: someone a lot smarter than I am) can't come up with molecular machines that take sunlight, water, and atmospheric carbon dioxide, producing oxygen and sugar. And doing it far more efficiently than our natural photosynthesizers, plants.