Me too. Sort of.

Also of note:

  • Warning: barnyard epithet ahead. Rich Lowry has a theory about Why Joe Biden Lies. And it's pretty simple. To quote the subhed: "He’s a classic bullshitter."

    No news to readers of Pun Salad (for example) or Harry Frankfurt.

    And I did want to point out that it was only three months ago at that same website that Charles C. W. Cooke observed that Joe Biden Is an Asshole, but felt the need to spell Lowry's epithet as "bullsh*t". Times change.

    But on to the excerpt (but, really, RTWT). After quoting from Frankfurt:

    [Frankfurt] adds that the bullshitter “does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”

    So what is Biden’s purpose? Self-valorization, of course — literally from the moment of his birth.

    His stories are almost always supposed to be dramatic, moving, and pointed, with Biden himself the center of the action — overcoming adversity, fighting injustice, righting wrongs, witnessing great events and acts of courage.

    That's a "gifted" link, one of my five for the month, so use it wisely.

  • But it's not just bullshit. J.D. Tuccille adds that There’s Plenty of Evidence of Corruption Around Biden.

    If there's "no evidence" of wrongdoing, as many pundits insist, why is the Republican House majority fooling with an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden's business dealings with his son, Hunter? Well, when talking heads say, "no evidence," they mean "no smoking-gun proof." And they're right; the current case against the president probably wouldn't prevail in court. But there really is evidence of corruption and sleaze around Joe Biden, even if, so far, it doesn't rise to courtroom standards. While impeachment proceedings will likely go nowhere, Americans are entitled to pass their own judgments based on that evidence.

    Judgments have already done been passed here at Pun Salad HQ.

  • But back to bullshittery… My usual disclaimer: Trump is no friend to the truth either. But Mollie Hemingway points out the naked emperor who recently interviewed him: NBC’s Kristen Welker Lied Repeatedly About Democrats’ Extreme Abortion Position.

    Kristen Welker brazenly and repeatedly lied in a bizarre, conspiracy-laden debate with former President Donald Trump on Sunday. The show was her first time as the permanent host of “Meet The Press,” previously hosted by Democrat activist Chuck Todd.

    Welker interrupted her own pre-taped debate with the president to insert her own “fact checks” that were false or were not responsive to actual claims Trump made. For example, she falsely claimed there is no evidence President Biden had pressured Attorney General Merrick Garland to indict his primary political opponent, Trump. In fact, in addition to statements calling for efforts to prevent Trump from running, that pressure campaign was publicly laundered for all the world to see through The New York Times on April 2, 2022, in an article headlined “Garland Faces Growing Pressure as Jan. 6 Investigation Widens.” The article reported that Biden was extremely frustrated by Garland not having indicted Trump and, further, that Biden was telling people he wanted Trump prosecuted. The Times’ White House stenographers said Biden “wanted Mr. Garland to act less like a ponderous judge and more like a prosecutor who is willing to take decisive action.”

    And don't even get Mollie started on the abortion lies.(But she's also disgusted by Trump's response.)

  • You vant lentils, dollink? Ve got lentils on sale! Jim Geraghty treads that fine line between disgust and amusement: Just What Chicago Needs, Government-Owned Grocery Stores.

    The city of Chicago — already doing such a terrific job on handling crime, poverty, homelessness, and unemployment — is exploring the possibility of establishing municipally owned grocery stores.


    Now, no doubt Chicago’s city-run grocery stores would have the same service, efficiency, and quality that Chicago residents have come to expect from the local government of a city ranked 149th in its financial stability, 67th in its education system, 71st in its health-care system, 80th in its public safety, 129th in the quality of its economy, or, credit where it’s due, 37th in its infrastructure and pollution. (That’s out of 149 U.S. cities.)

    Call me crazy, but I think if you had safe streets and no shoplifting and petty theft, grocery stores could thrive in any neighborhood, because people have to eat. The good news is that so far this year, murder is down in Chicago, with “only”435 people killed from the beginning of the year to September 10, compared to 485 people in the same time period last year. The bad news is that overall, major crimes are up 30 percent from the same period last year. Motor-vehicle theft has nearly doubled from last year.

    Jim, you're ‥ not crazy.

  • What will Chicago's People's Revolutionary Food Dispensaries Lack? A safe bet: Umami. But for you non-Chicagoans, that link has more about that wonderful taste.

    What if suddenly there were five cardinal directions, Snow White had the company of eight dwarves, or there were thirteen months in the year? What if a number that seemed eternally fixed became augmented by a quality or quantity that had been hiding in plain sight all along?

    Something like that happened in the culinary sciences not too long ago. For most of history, humans knew and named no more than four taste qualities: sweet, bitter, salty, and sour. But the human tongue distinguishes a fifth one, which remained unknown and unnamed until Kikunae Ikeda, a chemistry professor at the Imperial University of Tokyo, identified it in 1908.

    There's a chart, and a map of how people get their umami on, 'round the world. In the US: ketchup, bacon, barbecue sauce, gravy. How about Russia? "Pass the salted herring, dollink."

Recently on the book blog:

Recently on the movie blog:

Last Modified 2024-01-11 4:47 AM EDT

Every Last Fear

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Apologies if you are not interested in my how-I-came-to-read-this stories. The entire backstory is here, which contains a link pointing to an article claiming the author, Alex Finlay, as one of the "15 Best Debut Authors of 2021". And this book in particular: "From the very first page to the last its [sic] a perfect spine chiller that grabs you and don’t let you go."

Based on the strength of that recommendation, I bought (at a bargain price), Finlay's second book, The Night Shift, which I liked OK, except for finding it a little heavy on the Dickensian coincidence.

So I (eventually) got this debut novel, and was kind of disappointed, especially after all that hype.

The main protagonist is Matt Pine, an NYU film student. Who gets some devastating news: most of his immediate family have met their demise in Mexico: his mom and dad, his sister who was about to enroll at MIT, and six-year-old brother. (That's pretty dark.) The only surviving member is his older brother, Evan. Who was (relatively) safe in prison, having been convicted of the gruesome murder of his (pregnant) high school sweetie years before.

The latest deaths are ruled accidental, but come on.

Matt soon suspects he might be in danger as well, one clue being that he's pushed into oncoming traffic by a mysterious figure with a cleft lip. That does not deter him from… well, actually, he's kind of a passive, not particularly likeable, doofus. He gets interrogated by an FBI agent who's investigating the shady company his dad used to work for. (Could they be involved?) He goes off to Mexico to implore the authorities to release the bodies. (Which it turns out would happened anyway, without his intervention.) Then it's off to small-town Nebraska for the mass funeral. Every step holds peril for him, which he evades by running away.

Red herrings abound. They did not stop me from fingering the actual string-pulling villain about halfway through.

The prose is lackluster and padded, full of pointless detail. Wainscotting? Who cares? Going out for Runza in Nebraska? Yes, I get it, Mr. Finlay: you've been there.

"A small eternity passed…". I wasted way too much time thinking if that could possibly mean anything other than "Look at me, I'm writing here."

Last Modified 2024-01-11 4:47 AM EDT

Emily the Criminal

[3.5 stars] [IMDB Link]

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Alternate title: Looking for Mr. Goodscam.

I decided I shouldn't watch so many Big Dumb Movies. So I watched this free-to-me on Netflix; it's a Little Dumb Movie. And it has Aubrey Plaza in it; she's easier on the (heterosexual male) eyes than Gerard Butler.

She plays the titular Emily. Right off the bat, it appears she's got problems with honesty and temper, as she botches a job interview by failing to disclose a past felony conviction for assault. She has a low-paying catering delivery job, and (as a result) is falling behind on her student loan payments. She's also prone to abusing substances, and making bad decisions.

So when she gets a tip about a gig buying expensive electronics with stolen credit card numbers, she takes a toe-dip into criminality. Her mentor is a charismatic Lebanese guy, Youcef, and he keeps introducing her to riskier schemes with a higher payoff. And (as it develops) a greater chance of violence. As noted above, Emily has a temper, especially when she feels she's been wronged.

It's definitely watchable. But, of course, there's a Deeper Lesson, and the movie beats the viewer over the head with it:

Well I guess five examples is enough, although Google tells of more. If you're looking for a more market-friendly critique, here's Hollywood in Toto:

The film doubles as a critique of modern capitalism, suggesting the current system is “rigged” against its own citizens.

Reality is more complicated, of course, and college graduates shouldn’t expect to lead their best lives in a New York Minute. That explains why the film can’t stick with reality long enough to make us care for the titular “Criminal.”

If you are a John Billingsley or Gina Gershon fan, they have brief roles as soul-crushing, dream-trashing capitalist exploiters.

I was also planning on watching Nomadland, but I think I'll have to watch some more Big Dumb Movies first.

Last Modified 2024-01-11 4:46 AM EDT