Hot Money

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This is not exactly a typical Dick Francis book. The protagonist, Ian, is the estranged son of a wealthy but cantankerous patriarch, Malcolm. Malcolm's fifth wife has just been murdered, and Malcolm fears (correctly) that he's next. Ian gets dragooned into playing detective, and he needs to sort through the motives and alibis of a host of stepbrothers, stepsisters, and stepmothers. And Malcolm seems determined on irrationally squandering his fortune, enraging his would-be heirs.

It sounds almost as if we're in Agatha Christie-land here, and that could have happened, but Francis has a good conservative eye for character and its flaws. Most of the family is in various states of dysfunction, crippled by jealousy, greed, and resentment; Francis does a fine job of painting each character as a real person, not simply a plot device.

In short, another good novel from Dick Francis.

Last Modified 2024-02-01 5:35 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2008-05-11 Update

Oscar Levant famously said, "Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you'll find the real tinsel underneath." Oscar did not weigh in on politics, but if he had, one suspects he'd still be searching in vain for the real tinsel.

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"Barack Obama" phony836,000+628,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony227,000+20,000
"John McCain" phony198,000+12,000

  • A huge hit bump for Barry this week, but this thing happens to the Google on occasion; I suspect he'll be back in normal range soon.

  • We should mention the recent poll performed by the Pew Research Center, which just went out and asked (among other things): "Do you think of X as phony or not?" The "yes" results:


    At one of the NYT blogs, Andrew Kohut breaks down the phony-perceptions between Obama and McCain by age among registered voters. I detect a trend, and I bet you can too:

     All Voters18-2930-4950-6465+

    Kohut sees an incoming demographic wave of young Democrats. Depressing news for Republicans.

  • An article in the St. Petersburg Times details the woes of Democratic Blue Dog Superdelegates, who don't much like either Obama or Clinton. Congressman (and Superdelegate) Tim Mahoney is interviewed:

    "You don't want to do anything that's just not natural, whether it's taking a shot or going bowling," Mahoney said. "There's one group of people you can't kid, and that's rural America. People out in Okeechobee and Highland counties, they see phony a mile away. You either play there or you don't."

    Mahoney probably should have thought through his remarks a little better; there are almost certainly non-rural voters in his district who might resent the implication that they can't see phony a mile away.

    Also, as the article points out, Mahoney is currently occupying the seat once held by noted GOP pervert Mark Foley for over 10 years. An honest politician would have pointed out that voters in his district aren't demonstrably good at phony-spotting at all.

  • David Paul Kuhn at Politico sees an upcoming "train wreck" for Democrats on May 20; Obama looks to go over the 2025-delegate mark, which according to current rules would clinch the nomination for him. But:

    “We don’t accept 2,025. It is not the real number because that does not include Florida and Michigan,” said Howard Wolfson, one of Clinton’s two chief strategists. “It’s a phony number.”

    OK. If Hillary's not going to put her lot in with economists on economic issues, why should her strategists put their lot in with party rules and arithmetic?

Last Modified 2014-12-01 11:01 AM EDT

Experimental Results


This week's test of the Sunday Basic Cable Movie Actor Theory:

  • 1:00AM on AMC: Force 10 From Navarone (Harrison Ford)
  • 3:30AM on AMC: Patriot Games (Harrison Ford)
  • 6:30AM on TNT: Blood Work (Clint Eastwood)
  • 9:00AM on USA: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Harrison Ford)
  • 9:00AM on TNT: Absolute Power (Clint Eastwood)
  • 11:35AM on USA: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Harrison Ford)
  • 2:00PM on TNT: Air Force One (Harrison Ford)
  • 2:05PM on USA: Raiders of the Lost Ark (Harrison Ford)
  • 8:00PM & 11:00PM on SPIKE: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Harrison Ford)
  • 8:00PM & 10:30PM on FX: I, Robot (Will Smith)
Theory status: unrefuted for twelve consecutive weeks.


  • I think there may be a new Harrison Ford movie coming out or something.

  • Also, our emergency backup movie, The Hunt for Red October has a midnight showing on Bravo. Although Bravo was not one of the channels included in the original theory statement.

  • This is the first Sunday since February 24 (when I started checking) that I was unable to find a Bruce Willis movie.