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Friday, June 24, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter 19

Welcome back one and all to our ongoing series on The Overton Window, the book that makes me hate myself almost as much as I hate the authors. Last time Noah ate breakfast and spent a lovely, if absurdly tame, morning with his new love. What happens this week? Well, Noah decides that Molly really is worth violating the trust of his employer and his clients for, and takes her to meet the wizard. Sadly, however, we're forced to pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

As I mentioned I am once again selecting a comment of the week, and this week that "honor" goes to Sassafrass for making me laugh:

"He felt her arms around him, her body yearning against his in the embrace, a knot like hunger inside, heart quickening, cool hands at his back under the warmth of his jacket, searching, pressing him closer still."

Welp, I guess Beck is a defender of our rights to full-on dry hump one another in public. You know, like the FOUNDING FATHERS WOULD HAVE WANTED.

Also, I'm fairly sure that the fridge is a metaphor for the entire book. This narrative is not merely empty, it's really, really fucking empty.

Finally, while I'm not a Kipling scholar, I do have an MA in English Lit, and I imagine that Beck got a cheap thrill out of quoting a staunch anti-Bolshevik (Rudy also demanded that the Indian Swastika emblem be removed from his texts when the Nazis came to power). That said, most lit scholars agree that Kipling is controversial and his poetic meanings often misunderstood, so I have a hard time thinking that Noah "brilliant like a bag of hair" Gardener's interpretation is to be credited as anything more than yet more vile wind issuing from out his ass. But then, I never won a gold star in penmanship, so what the fuck do I know?*

*Nor would I frame such a thing, but then I failed Assclownery 101 in college.

I'm really pleased that Sass reminded us of the virtues of dry humping, particularly as laid out by Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Good stuff. I'd also like to congratulate Ken for pointing out that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. It's always nice to have a reminder. Thanks, folks, and keep at it, because I sure will!

And, with that, let's begin! As always, page/line numbers are in bold, quotes from the book are in block quotes, my commentary is in regular print, and you can navigate the whole series with the provided tag. My footnotes use the traditional star system (e.g. *, **, etc) while references included in the Afterword to the book are noted with numbered parenthetical tags (e.g. (1), (2), etc.). Ah-doo-run-run oh ah-doo-run-run!

Dramatis Personae: In an order determined by my two cats, a box, and an unstable isotope.

Eli Churchill: Former janitor at a volcano lair. Fan of remote telephone booths. Shot in the head by parties unknown.

Beverly Emerson: Mysterious correspondent of Eli Churchill's. Molly's mother.

Noah Gardener: 28 years old. Sets the dating bar "medium-high". Works Vice president at a PR firm. Went to NYU. Is "witty". Frequently forgets where he's going and why. Not good at talking to women. Not really inclined to help out cab drivers. Low tolerance for alcohol. Lost his mother when he was young. Fond of chicken and waffles. Rich as shit. Views himself as a sexual panther. Likes bacon. Considers himself to be good at word games.

Molly "Hottie McPretty" Ross: Dresses like a hippie, but not really. Looks like a free spirit. Perfectly captures the essence of womanhood. Auburn hair. Green eyes. Pale skin. Has a tattoo on her chest. Wears a silver cross around her neck. Lost her father when she was young. Impressed by fancy cars. Cocktease. Possibly suffering from bipolar disorder.

Arthur Gardner Noah's father. Owner of Doyle & Merchant. Megalomaniac. Surprisingly vigorous for a 74 year old man.

Khaled: Lebanese cab driver. Sold out by Noah Gardener.

Hollis: Friend of Molly Ross. Very polite. From the country. May be a Yeti.

Danny Bailey: Some kind of YouTube celebrity. Former lover of Molly Ross. Kind of a dickhead. Loves conspiracy theories and incoherent speeches. Sodomized by inmates following the rally. Once dressed up as Colonel Sanders to infiltrate the United Nations.

Stuart Kearns: FBI agent. Works on homeland security matters. Kinda old and wrinkly.


Chapter 19: In which Noah takes Molly to work, they watch a power point, and I wonder when the book will get even slightly interesting.

Recommended Mood Music:

Page 139, Line 1-6:
"You must be out of your mind," Noah said, under his breath. He was addressing himself directly.

Molly was right behind him, holding tight to his hand as he led her through the aisles and racks of designer skirts and blouses toward the store's back rooms.

"You're doing the right thing," she whispered.

Mentions of skirts and blouses aside, they are indeed on their way to Doyle & Merchant so Noah can prove to Molly that his father is not actually involved in a plot to overthrow the government of the United States. Of course, his father is involved in such an effort, and Noah should realize this, so it's a little murky just what he's hoping to accomplish here. Okay, no, that's not really true: it's pretty clear that what he's hoping to do is drill Molly like the Burgan field. Which is to say, he wants to have sex with her. So, yeah, we get what he's hoping to accomplish, but I don't really see how this course of action is going to get him any closer to that objective. No doubt Noah has a plan, but plans aren't really Noah's strong suit so I wouldn't get my hopes up. Anyway, Noah ponders how he decided to avoid the main entrance of Doyle & Merchant so as to avoid having to sign in, thereby leaving a trace of his presence.

Page 139, Line 9-11:
A private elevator led to Arthur Gardner's suite of offices on the twenty-first floor, and that was the way they'd be going in.

Dramatic this is not as it turns out that Arthur's super-secret private elevator lets him off in... a neighboring "tourist-trendy clothing store". I'll admit I don't have the foggiest notion what the f-ing crap that means, but there you have it. We get a lengthy explanation of how the procedure is to hold your employee ID card above your head as you walk back to the elevator through the clothing store, and then use an electronic keycard to access the elevator. I'm forced to assume that the use of the keycard would be logged by the controlling computer, and thus Noah's "elaborate" countermeasures are all for naught but, whatever. He manages to get them into the elevator and sticks his key in the lock and twists. Which is to say, he activates the elevator.

Page 140, Line 26-32:
"Thank you, Noah."

"I'm not really speaking to you right now."

She touched his chest and put a hand on his shoulder; he looked down into her eyes.

"I hope I'm wrong," she said. "I want to be wrong; you should know that. Now please just decide to forgive me, at least until we're out of here again."

I'm forced to wonder what it is that she hopes she's wrong about, since she's never really spelled it out. But then I remember that she's f-ing bipolar. Ours is not to question why, ours is just to keep her on her meds. Moving on, once again we confront the odd passivity in the language of characters in The Overton Window. See, Molly doesn't ask Noah to forgive her, she asks him to decide to forgive her. These are different things. On the rare occasions when my wife does something that I find objectionable, I pretty much "decide" to forgive her in the first fraction of a second. It's the actual doing of the forgiving that takes time. So, the question is, are the authors trying to signal something to us about Noah and Molly with all this weird language or are they just really bad at storytelling? I suspect the latter, but I would really prefer to believe the former, because it's funnier.

Page 141, Line 3-4:
There was only one way to warrant a blatant breach of business ethics such as this, and that was to attribute his actions to a higher cause.

That sentence only really makes sense if you assume that "a higher cause" is Noah's pet name for his penis. In any case, Noah ponders that if Molly is right he's going to discover an elaborate conspiracy, which would be worth a long set of dire consequences, including "debtor's prison" (Page 141, Line 11-12). That's a bit weird, though, since the U.S. doesn't have debtor's prison. But then he gets to the punchline, if you will.

Page 141, Line 13-20:
If Molly was wrong- and no ifs about it, she was wrong- then he'd be vindicated, she'd be deeply apologetic and sworn to secrecy about this whole fiasco, and there might still be a chance to salvage what remained of the weekend.

A flimsy rationale, maybe, but for the moment if helped him avoid the more troubling thought that after all he'd seen in the last twenty-four hours, deep down he needed to know the truth every bit as much as she did. [emphasis original]

Which is odd since- say it with me- Noah should already know the truth because he was in the damned meeting! And I'm forced to wonder if by "deeply apologetic" what Noah really means is "willing to try anal," because, really, he has not thus far come across as a decent sort of guy. Anyway, the elevator arrives at Arthur's office and the doors pop open to reveal his inner sanctum of business acumen. If the entire building has come to resemble Arthur's brain over the years (Page 32, Line 5-8) I can only assume that this office represents either his prefrontal cortex or his pineal gland, depending on whether your stance is scientific or philosophical. And then Molly has to ruin things by asking a question.

Page 141-142, Line 141: 32, 142: 1-12:
"What is this?" she asked.

She was looking at a marble sculpture on a pedestal in the corner. Noah's father had commissioned it years ago. The figure depicted was a strange amalgamation of two other works of art: the Statue of Liberty and the Colossus of Rhodes. Molly would have known that much by looking; what she'd meant to ask was, What does this mean?

"It's the way my father looks at things... at people, I mean: societies. The law may serve some superficial purpose, but it only goes so far," Noah said, touching the spear in the statue's left hand. "At some point the law needs to be taken away and replaced with force. That's what really gets things done. People ultimately want it that way; they're like sheep, lost without a threat of force to guide them. That's what it means." [emphasis original]

Well, that's an absolute disaster of a passage if I ever saw one. Leaving aside the terrible grammar and dull writing, there's the supernaturally dumb dichotomy between "law" and "force". Consider if you will: does the law normally exist, much less function, without the aid of coercive force? Obviously not, that's why we have police who, in turn, have truncheons, handcuffs and (in the U.S. at least) firearms. Then we can consider the law's ability to seize your assets, your children, and your person under specific circumstances. Then there's the fact that an army is an organized body of men and women used to project force into other territories. Hell, there are theories that argue that the defining quality of the modern state is that it demands, and enforces, a monopoly on the use of legitimated force within its own borders- kind of the "state as protection racket" model. And finally, even in a democratic society, the will of the majority implies the ability to compel obedience from the minority. Ultimately, all forms of authority are based at root on force.* So, when you roll all this together, the implied argument that there's some hard distinction between "law" and "force" is absolutely, phenomenally, and utterly stupid. More than likely what the authors are working off of is the common, but mistaken, notion that it's "law" when it's a policy you agree with and "force" when it's a policy you don't agree with. This is a pleasant self-deception, but nonetheless rather silly. If you're curious what the statue looks like- at least from the back- you have to look no further than the book's cover, which as it happens was chosen by vote. Anyway, Molly digests this moronic account for a moment, and then we're off without any need to ever ponder that statue ever again.**

Page 142, Line 17:
"Let's get this over with," she said.

Ha! That's what she sai- oh. Yeah. It is. Moving on, things are about to get really inexplicable.

Page 142, Line 18-23:
Weekend work was one of the many things his father frowned upon, which led nearly all of the up-and-coming employees to maintain second offices at home. This allowed them to put in the expected seventy-plus hours per week while appearing to comply with company policy. It also meant that, with luck, Noah and Molly would have the place to themselves for the duration of their espionage.

What the f-ing crap is this fresh nonsense? His father, who runs one of the top New York advertising firms, doesn't like it when his employees stay late? Does that sound even remotely plausible to anyone? And when you really think about it, given that Arthur doesn't permit timepieces on the premises (Page 32, Line 1-4), how would anyone know if they were working late? Seriously, this is the most hilariously absurd "workplace" I think I've ever seen depicted in fiction. Regardless, they manage to enter the concert stage that Arthur Gardner uses for his power point presentations and Noah fires up ye olde multimedia facility. He fast forwards through a lot of the material, and then she asks him to wait a moment.

Page 143, Line 15-17:
The heading was "Framework and Foundation: Toward a New Constitution." No names accompanied the headings that followed, only the areas of government that each new attendee supposedly represented.

Right. So, this would be the modern day equivalent of #74 on the Evil Overlord List, only Noah's father wasn't smart enough to actually take the hint. But who are these mysterious attendees? Well, because I love you hate myself I'm going to transcribe exactly what's in the book, with the exception that the bullet points in the book are now dashes because I'm too lazy to use the html for bullet points.

Page 143, Line 18-29:
-Finance / Treasury / Fed / Wall Street / Corporate Axis
-Energy / Environment / Social Services
-Labor / Transportation / Commerce / Regulatory Affairs
-Education / Media Management / Clergy / CONINTELPRO (1) (2) (3)
-FCC / Internet / Public Media Transition
-Control and Preservation of Critical Infrastructure
-Emergency Management / Rapid Response / Contingencies
-Law Enforcement / Homeland Security / USNORTHCOM / NORAD / STRATCOM / Contract Military / Allied Forces
-Continuity of Government
-Casus Belli: Reichstag / Susannah/Unit 131 / Gladio / Northwoods / EXIGENT [emphasis original. Yes, really]

Aaaand yes, you're right: that hash doesn't mean anything. Well, aside from that the authors think that if you want to sound like an official document you can't use any words that aren't nouns or punctuation marks that aren't slashes. And yet, the worst facepalm is yet to come.

Page 143, Line 30:
"Who was in this meeting, do you know?" Molly asked.

Who was in this... ? Are you freaking kidding me? Did you not see the narration, followed by that list? Christ. I suppose she might have wanted the names of specific officials, but isn't that getting ahead of ourselves a bit? And yet, somehow, that's not the facepalm I was referring to.

Page 144, Line 6-11:
He walked toward the screen and pointed to the last entry. "What does this term mean? My Latin's a little rusty."

She glanced up from her notes only for a moment. "Casus Belli. It means an incident that's used to justify a war. Come on, let's keep going." (4)

Okay, so, just to recap- Noah Gardner, man of the world, NYU grad, who apparently loves word puzzles and games (Page 130, Line 18-19) doesn't know what casus belli means? It's just, what do you even do with that? The writing in this book is terrible, just shameful. Anyway, they advance more through the slides and eventually discover a section of the presentation that triggers a security dialog box to appear. Noah enters his password, providing yet more evidence of his efforts to infiltrate Molly's panties, and then we get this.

Page 144-145, Line 144: 32, 145: 1-5:
An hourglass indicator appeared, along with the message: Please Wait ... Content Loading from Remote Storage.

"It'll be a few minutes while this downloads," Noah said. "We keep some of the more sensitive stuff off-site, to guard against the kind of thing we're doing right now."

Wait, let me get this straight: in order to better secure your sensitive documents, you keep them on a remote computer, thus forcing you to move them over (more than likely) unsecured phone lines every time you want them? Rather than, say, on a removable hard disk in your very own safe? That's just dumb. But it makes sense once you realize that the authors needed to slow the already glacial pace of the novel so that they could crap a load of exposition on our faces.

Page 145, Line 10-14:
"What's that box?" she asked [referring to a figure on a power point slide].

"It's called the Overton Window. My father stole the concept form a think tank in the Midwest; it's a way of describing what the public is currently ready to accept on any issue, so you can decide how best to move them toward what you want." (5)

Oh. Good. He's explaining the title. Yay?

Page 145, Line 15-18:
"I don't understand," she said. She was looking at the screen related to national security and law enforcement. Except the heading and the long thick line with an open box near its center, the slide was mostly blank. "How does it work?"

"Please, Noah, crap some more exposition on my face!"

Page 145, Line 19-26:
"The ends of this long line"- Noah walked up to indicate the starting point- "represent the extreme possibilities. At this end of the scale is the unthinkable, and all the way over at the other end is something else you can't imagine ever happening, but in the opposite way. Too much good here, too much evil over there. If we were talking about government, it would be too much liberty at this end- which would be anarchy- and a complete top-down Orwellian tyranny at the other, so no liberty at all. Those in-between points are milestones along the way."

Do you have all that? Of course you do, it's really very simple.

Page 145, Line 27-28:
Molly still looked a little lost in the concept, and she motioned for him to go on.

And Molly is apparently a simpleton. Fortunately, Noah speaks moron*** and he translates it into terms of airline security, comparing the early days when you could just walk onto a flight with nothing more than a ticket to a hypothetical future where airlines are run like maximum security prisons.

Page 146, Line 18-25:
"Let's say tomorrow some idiot makes his way onto a flight with a little tiny homemade explosive of some kind. It'd be all over the news for weeks, whether the guy actually did any damage or not. You get scared, and the TV is telling you that all we have to do is buy some more expensive screening machines, hire some more of the same people who let that nut on the plane in the first place, and give up a little more dignity at the checkpoints, and we'll be safe. That, of course, is a lie, but it has the desired effect." [Noah said] (6)

Doubtless the authors are thinking of the recent business about backscatter x-ray machines. I'm none too thrilled about them myself, but it's important to keep in mind that the fears are a bit overblown. Miraculously, Molly seems to be following Noah's explanation, but the stupid is strong with this one.

Page 146, Line 31:
"Why, though? Why would they want to do that [move to the Overton window]?" [Molly asked]

How about, "Because people want to convince you of things"? Shit, Molly, haven't you ever seen a commercial, much less a political debate? What the authors are describing is really just an approach to rhetoric. Noah, however, lectures her on all the different interests who might want airline security to be raised- conveniently leaving out people who don't want to be killed by terrorists- and we end up with this.

Page 147, Line 6-8:
"Some of your friends last night might say that it's all part of a program to condition the American people to put up their hands and submit to anyone in a uniform."

Nice job, authors. Very subtle. Excellently done. Anyway, they continue by listing a litany of the issues that are amenable to the Overton Window, including along the way vaccination programs. I'm forced to wonder if the authors view any government program as being intended to improve the lives of the citizens, or if they're all just manipulative conspiracies? Some bits in the following paragraph suggest yes, but the bulk of the book argues no. Regardless, Noah decides to go for the summary.

Page 147, Line 24-26:
"I'm [Noah] saying opportunists can attach themselves to our hopes and fears about those things, for profit, and this is one of the tools they use to do that."

Much like poorly written faction. Nevertheless, Noah argues that the whole thing relies on evolution rather than revolution and claims that there's always a prime mover behind these sorts of things.****

Page 148, Line 6-16:
"You know who was one of the biggest lobbyists for this cap-and-trade business, right?"

"Greenpeace?" Molly said.

"Nope. Enron. A lot of powerful people are lining up to cash in on the deal if it happens, but back then it was a huge push at Enron right before the whole company blew up in America's face. Carbon trading was going to be their biggest scam since they shut off the lights in California and held the whole state for ransom. They'd already started trading future on the weather, if you can believe that, but this heist was going to be a thousand times bolder. Back then everybody thought they were joking." (7)

I'd laugh if I didn't want so much to cry. Enron happened because a rush to privatize a critical industry collided with the greed and dishonesty inherent to a radically free market approach to business. They shat all over a variety of industries, but their existence and actions do not make any of those industries inherently dishonest. And don't even get me started on that crack about futures trading- all futures trading is basically gambling, so wagering money on the weather is about as valid as betting it on crop yields.***** Regardless, in the afterword the authors claim that carbon trading is really all about money rather than a measure to reduce atmospheric emissions, and implicate Al Gore (8), the United Nations (9), the Chicago Climate Exchange (10), President Obama (11) and, believe it or not, Fannie Mae (12) in some sort of cabal to profit off of global warming. And that makes sense because, clearly, Al Gore and Fannie Mae have more economic clout than the oil companies, the auto companies, the power companies and... well... basically every other major industry on the planet. Makes perfect sense.

Page 148, Line 29-31:
"So here's a little pop quiz: What do you get when you combine corporate greed with political corruption and sprinkle a few trillion on top?"

The Republican Party?

Page 149, Line 1-2:
"I don't know... fascism?" [Molly answered]

Noah shook his head. "You get Doyle & Merchant's newest client."

Dude, my punchline was funnier.

Page 149, Line 3-5:
The hourglass on the screen had disappeared moments before, and was replaced by a dialog box with two buttons, one labeled HALT and the other PROCEED. [emphasis original]

"Halt" and "proceed"? What f-ing operating system is that? Hey, maybe Arthur did read the evil overlord list. Well, he read #50, anyway. The screens start to show a variety of different timelines illustrating various agendas for various aspects of American life. And then we run smack into something that's just too stupid to be believed.******

Page 149, Line 11-12:
Some of these agendas spanned only a few years, others more than a century.

Right. So, as it turns out, the evil conspiracy has been planning to destroy the U.S. for over 100 years. Riiiiight. Anyway, they watch the various timelines, all appearing on the different screens in a big-ass circle around the room for a while, trying to take it all in.

Page 149, Line 20-22:
It seemed the same realization had come over them both, at the same instant: This wasn't eight separate agendas at all. It was only one.

Good goddamn. I don't care how brilliant Arthur thinks Noah is- these people are slow. Anyway, Noah finally realizes that all of the timelines have endpoints that seem realizable and proceeds to list them for us. As before the bullets are converted into dashes. God help me.

Page 150, Line 3-4:
-Consolidate all media assets behind core concepts of a new internationalism [emphasis original]

A what now? That doesn't mean anything.

Page 150, Line 6-7:
-Education: Deemphasize the individual, reinforce dependence and collectivism, social justice, and "the common good" [emphasis original]

Yeah, god knows we have to put a stop to all that "common good" crap. Why, just the other day all of these prissy dandies who were wearing makeup and had ribbons in their hair were writing up this little pamphlet that started with, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. [emphasis added]" Mighty suspicious, says I.

Page 150, Line 12-13:
-Associate resistance and "constitutional" advocacy with a backward, extremist worldview: gun rights a key. [emphasis original]

Right, so, not only are TEA partiers here the victims of a vast murky conspiracy, the desire to preserve the constitution is suddenly synonymous with gun rights. Good to know.

Page 150, Line 16-20:
-Expand malleable voter base and agenda support by granting voting rights to prison inmates, undocumented migrants, and select U.S. territories, e.g., Puerto Rico. Image as a civil rights issue; label dissenters as racist- invoke reliable analogies: slavery, Nazism, segregation, isolationism. [emphasis original]

Yeah, because it was so much better when we restricted the vote to land-owning white males. Let's deal with these in slightly more detail, shall we? Just because one is guilty of a crime it is not necessarily the case that one loses the vote. We could, of course, make it that way, but that isn't the way our system works right now. So, yes, it is a civil rights issue. Second, if the voter registration laws are written such that undocumented migrants can gain the right to vote, then that's a failure of the law, not a conspiracy. Well, maybe it's a failure of the law- we could have an interesting debate on that point, as it happens. And third, are these assholes seriously picking on Puerto Rico? Look, I'm from Florida and have had a lot of contact with folks from Puerto Rico. Do they have an image problem in the rest of the U.S.? Yes. Are they a territory of the U.S.? As it happens, yes. Have they gotten a raw deal out of that over the last century or so? Yeah, in a lot of ways they have. So, right up until they vote for independence, that means it's not an unreasonable thing to let them freaking vote for Federal offices. As it happens, I wish they'd go the other way, become the 51st state, and become full members of the U.S., but that's just because I love my country. Unlike the schmucks who wrote this shit sandwich. And on an entirely trivial note: I have no idea why the end of that agenda item got a period when none of the others do.

Page 150, Line 23-24:
-Finalize the decline and abandonment of the dollar: new international reserve currency [emphasis original]

Are you f-ing kidding me? How does that even make sense? If you're going to take over a country, would you want its economy in the toilet when you did it? Is Nicolae Carpathia about to enter the room?

Page 150, Line 25-27:
-Synchronize and fully integrate local law enforcement with state, fenderal, and contract military forces, prepare collection/relocation/internment contingencies, systems, and personnel [emphasis original]

Sure. Right. Why not? And FEMA is secretly a front for an alien invasion. I've seen this show- Mulder is right, Scully gets pregnant, whatever.

Page 150, Line 29-30:
The slide devoted to Finance showed a timeline beginning in 1913, and its Window had moved nearly to the end.

This is utter. Freaking. Lunacy. When did the damned Illuminati get into this? Because, let's face it, who the crap else is supposedly planning grand shit like this?

Page 151, Line 5-9:
There's a difference between suspecting a thing and finally knowing it for certain. Noah felt that difference twisting into his stomach. You can hold on to the smallest doubt and take comfort in it, stay in denial, and go on with your carefree life, until one day you're finally cornered by a truth that can no longer be ignored.

Indeed. Face it, Noah: Your father is using power point to write a better thriller than you're living in. And that's some recursive shit right there. Anyway, they finally notice the climactic slide in this multimedia shitstorm.

Page 151, Line 16-22:
Unlike the others, this slide had no Overton Window. EXIGENT was the legend at the far end of the line, and it seemed there would be no question of public acceptance, no need to rally opinion on this front. Whatever it was, it would bring its own consensus.

"Casus Belli," the heading said, and Molly's translation was still fresh in his mind.

An incident used to justify a war. [emphasis original]

This is supposed to be ominous but, let's face it, it's damned near impossible to make anything ominous using power point. Now, as it happens, this brings us to the end of the chapter, and there is a note that I have jotted down at the bottom of the page. That note really sums things up nicely for us all: "I am halfway through the book and want to know: when does the thrilling start? I was promised thrilling. Where is the thrilling?" Indeed, on a page basis we are over halfway through the book and so far absolutely nothing of any interest has happened to anyone. Well, except Khaled, but he's in the neighboring Clancy novel by now, so that doesn't count. But, regardless, that's the end for now.

Come back next time when we "enjoy" a ridiculously short chapter. After this week, it'll be welcome.


* As it happens, when we were first dating my wife and I had a fairly lengthy- and heated- discussion about this aspect of governance. We are such impossible nerds.

** Seriously. That elabroate description of the statue never, ever becomes relevant to the "plot."

*** It's his native language, actually.

**** Right. Totally not a conspiracy theorist.

***** Which, let's face it, is kind of like betting on the weather by proxy.

****** Granted, in this book that happens about once a page, but still.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think Beck had a similar vote for the title? Just imagine what the options were:

"Promoting Public Welfare is for Pussies"

"Love Means Having to Overthrow the Government for Your Bi-Polar Girlfriend"

"Law and Force: A Love Story"

I hope the sequel is somthing like, "Hollis: The Untold Story."

Also being from Florida, don't get the Puerto Rico hate thing either. I firmly believe that if you dislike Puerto Rico, you're also the type of person who enjoys kitten-and-ketchup sandwiches after a hard day of beating your wife and jerking off to pictures of Donald Trump's hairpiece.

Friday, June 24, 2011 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Ken Houghton said...

1913 is code. Founding of the Federal Reserve Bank, so that (1) J. P.Morgan didn't have to bail out the entire country by himself again or (2) things wouldn't get so bad we would have to depend on J. P. Morgan bailing out the country again. It "takes away freedom" and is always mentioned by some idiot econ major (but I repeat myself) as the Real Cause of Anything That Ever Goes Wrong.

Why does everyone blame "weather derivatives" on Enron? We were trying to get them going in the early 1990s, long before Andy Fastow owned 1/3 of the State of Colorado. And while they're moderately useful for farmers (as a proxy for crop yield expectations) they're a major aid to insurance companies with exposure in areas of severe weather (think hurricanes or tsunamis*). Even with ReInsurance having grown so much, an insurance company that has to pay out what the buyers think it's policies covered for a Katrina is not in a great competitive situation. And it would have produced a much better result for the victims than the "well, the water only did a little damage, it was the winds that caused most of the destruction" defense that was used successfully by some of those insurers.

Don't get me started on cap-and-trade, save to say that if the cap in question were to be directed at several Supreme Court justices, air would be better.

*Flash flooding and the like are possible areas, but the hedging cost is probably a rounding error.

Saturday, June 25, 2011 7:45:00 PM  

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