peteg's blog

Evan Ratliff: The Mastermind.

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Kindle. This is heroic reportage about a deeply weird individual: Paul Le Roux, Zimbabwean, South African, sometime Australian, computer geek turned gangster. He's the man who did what Ross Ulbricht set out to do: liquidating (in meatspace! for real!) the people he thought wronged him. Strangely it seems likely that the latter will get a far heavier sentence than the former. This writeup also reminded me of Andrew O'Hagan's on Craig Wright, but there's far less doubt that Le Roux is the real deal.

Briefly, Le Roux hit on a likely-legal get-rich-quick scheme: he opened an online pharmacy (RX Limited) targeting the U.S.A., with doctors there signing the prescriptions and similarly local pharmacies filling them. His edge was in shipping only uncontrolled substances, which should have left him beyond the reach of the Feds. A morally bankrupt operation, sure, but on Ratliff's telling not illegal; I kept thinking the health professionals should have taken more care in their roles.

The strange part is that Le Roux took the massive proceeds ($US300M+) of this quasi-legit business to finance criminal operations in a reverse Michael Corleone; he was the man who would be king with boys from Brazil. (I feel like we saw many of the same movies.) Even more strangely, it appears he didn't execute any particular thing well beyond his original RX Limited cashcow. The incompetency of the Fed in the legal proceedings against the online pharmacies is breathtaking, and it is perplexing that they have used Le Roux to round up his underlings.

Alan Feuer brought it to my attention; he publicised Le Roux's testimony about a year ago. Ratliff told most of the juiciest bits in a series of articles for Atavist back in 2016.

The Caine Mutiny

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Queeg! In brief battle-scar(r)ed US Navy captain Bogart is found wanting in a large storm and deposed by his underlings. The latter half is lawyer José Ferrer having some fun, including a Nicholson-esque "you can't handle the truth" conclusion. Like the previous thing I saw him in (Whirlpool) there is much amateur diagnosis of mental disorders. Fred MacMurray is solid as the Judas, a proxy for the book's author. Subplot lead Robert Francis is a bit wooden. The peppy music gets annoying fast. It's a bit overegged and undercooked; the IMDB trivia suggests there was a larger movie trying to get out, and it is likely that would have been superior.

Watching this I realised Bogey would have been perfect playing Nixon.