Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pop fiction I like

A regular reader may recall that I am no fan of popular fiction. In the post just linked I might have been remiss in failing to note that it isn't just that I categorically dislike popular fiction or believe that it can not be enjoyed (though I do abhor most of it) but that it frustrates me that people mistake such work for real (i.e. great) literature. So I thought I might take a moment to spotlight some pop fiction that I did enjoy.

Namely: Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. While I am aware that this isn't on the level of Dostoevsky or Dickens I did find all three of these books thoroughly enjoyable, for several reasons. First of all, in all three books I could identify with the politics of the author and his fixation on right wing extremism. The second and third books in the series deal with what would be my political fantasy: having a government that violates civil liberties in the name of national security be held to account.

Secondly, as a lifelong fan of the medium of comic books, I appreciated the way that the main character of the series comes across as a super-heroine, with abilities that far surpass that of a normal human being. (This is more apparent in the second and third books.)

And perhaps it has something to do with the genre, because the next most pop fiction success that I can think of that I've enjoyed has been the work of James Ellroy, also a writer of detective fiction (think film noir.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Quote of the day

"Political passions, aroused everywhere, demand their victims." - Albert Einstein, The Quotable Einstein

Thursday, September 20, 2012

More discount book buys

Went back to the book sale today and picked up:

Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind American's Energy Future (hc) by Jeff Goodel - $1.

The Quotable Einstein (hc) edited by Alice Calaprice - $1.

Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire (hc) by Alex Abella - $1.

On the Shoulders of Giants (hc) edited by Stephen Hawking - $1.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Latest discount book buys

Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know - And Doesn't (hc) by Steven Prothero for $1.

Isaac Newton (hc) by James Gleick for $1.

I've already read Religious Literacy before (having checked it out at the library) but will be glad to have it in my collection as a religious primer.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Unspoken class warfare

Although you can turn on Fox News, AM radio or generally listen to Republicans and hear that "class warfare" is being waged by Democrats against the wealthy (in what would have to be the most poorly waged war in human history), I would contend that what constitutes a more real class warfare in America would be the tacit assumptions made by our plutocratic class.

For instance: Corey Robin became fairly livid when Terry Moran of ABC News asked the striking teachers union in Chicago if they "realize how much damage they are doing to their profession." This angered Robin for two basic reasons: (1) the figures Moran used to suggest how greedy the teachers are being are false, and (2) Moran is saying that the teachers make plenty while Moran himself makes much more money, so, in other words, "is what [he] does more valuable than what a teacher does?"

Robin also noted that Moran, who lectured the teachers about the decadence of their salaries, can earn their annual income by giving two speeches.

And there is the hidden assumption: that this is as it should be. That someone like Moran should make so much and that teachers who make so comparatively little are the greedy ones who must selflessly sacrifice for the good of the economy and others (it should be recognized that the teachers aren't simply striking for higher wages.) That someone like Moran, who works in a profession which is populated by persons who were given their cushy jobs by virtue of their aristocratic birth (Megan McCain, Chelsea Clinton, Jenna Bush-Hager, Liz Cheney, Luke Russert, Jonah Goldberg, etc.) and which by its failure to critically examine the claims of government officials helped to launch a war in Iraq which will cost taxpayers trillions (but has been quite lucrative for select individuals and corporations) should scold teachers about how much damage they are doing to their profession when they attempt to stand up to the plutocratic interests that are trying to make their lives worse while further enriching themselves.

And getting back to the belief that Democrats are waging class warfare against the rich, let's take a moment and consider who is leading the charge against the union in Chicago: former Obama administration Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, who, according to Rick Pearlstein, received 12 million dollars from charter school advocates during his 2011 mayoral campaign.

Update: See also Charles Pierce on the strike.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Quote of the day

"[S]upply-side economics: the theory that you actually bring in more revenue by bringing in less" - Bill Maher

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nothing to see here

While the types of persons who get on Fox News, AM radio and conservative print find any given cold day in any given location evidence that global warming is a ridiculous hoax, my community is now having to concern itself with West Nile virus.

Which those communist One World government conspirators known as climatologists have been suggesting will be a consequence of global warming.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been over 1100 reported cases of West Nile virus disease in the US this year, including 42 deaths. If these numbers seem high, they are – in fact, it’s the highest number of reported cases since West Nile was first detected in the US in 1999, and West Nile season has just begun. Given that the peak of West Nile epidemics generally occurs in mid August, and it takes a few weeks for people to fall ill, the CDC expects that number to rise dramatically. But why now?

Though the CDC doesn’t have an official response to that question, the director of the CDC’s Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Division said that ‘unusually warm weather’ may be to blame. So far, 2012 is the hottest year on record in the United States according to the National Climatic Data Center, with record-breaking temperatures and drought a national norm. It’s likely no coincidence that some of the states hit hardest by West Nile are also feeling the brunt of the heat. More than half of cases have been reported from Texas alone, where the scorching heat has left only 12% of the state drought-free. Fifteen heat records were broken in Texas just last week on August 13th.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Something you will never hear from today's demented GOP

"[W]e cannot afford to reduce taxes, reduce income, until we have in sight a program of expenditures that shows that the factors of income and of outgo will be balanced." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Via Corey Robin's essay on the evolution of Republicans from a party of austerity to one of magical underpants gnomes (i.e. step 1: cut taxes, step 2: ???, step 3: profit).