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Showing posts from October 24, 2004
Bollettino Rand, Rand, Rand When I was sixteen, my humanities teacher assigned me some huge, indigestible novel by Ayn Rand to do a ‘report’ on. I’m pretty sure it was Atlas Shrugged. Now, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was holding in my hands an aesthetic nullity. By then, I had read enough – Dickens, Dostoevsky, Flaubert – to know what it meant for a novel to be an aesthetic success, and this stuff wasn’t even in the horserace. I was a snobbish teen – I now know that the novel is a capacious form, containing multitudes – art, tracts, comic books, etc. However, my dim memory of the novel was that it went from bad to worse quickly, and that reading it was comparable to staring at water going down the drain for hours at a stretch. Thousands of high school teachers once took it as their task to obliterate the taste for literature from the souls of their charges by assigning either tract novels – Walden Two and Rand’s Fountainhead – or allegories – Brave New World,
Bollettino Mo st confused story of the week goes to this WP article , which says: 1. The explosives probably were looted from Al Qaqaa; 2. That huge amounts of explosives and ammunition have been looted from unguarded sites throughout Iraq in amounts; 3. so, the explosives looted from Al Caca are unimportant. Say what? the media simply neglects to report on how the insurgents acquire the explosives that they use to kill 1,100 American soldiers for a year, and so – when they finally get around to reporting on one looted site – the story is already old hat. The parallel between the way the American press reports things and the way the Bush administration does things is pretty striking. Both are sloppy, ideologically skewed, and buttressed by self-consuming excuses and intermittent aggression. Beginning graf: “The 377 tons of Iraqi explosives whose reported disappearance has dominated the past few days of presidential campaigning represent only a tiny fraction of the
Bollettino Shortly after 9/11, LI interviewed Peter Galbraith for the Austin Statesman (which has recently endorsed Bush, in payback for a piece of legislation the Cox family dearly appreciated – the rollback of the inheritance tax). Galbraith’s brother, James, the economist, lives in Austin. We later interviewed him in connection with another article. James, as an economist, gets tons of respect in this corner, but as an interviewee he sucks – surly, unclear, etc. In contrast, Peter was a joy to talk to. Of the people who supported the war in Iraq, Peter was both the one we respected most and the one who has consistently operated to criticize the occupation from the standpoint of the original reasons he chose to support the invasion. In our opinion, due to his work with the Kurds in the late 80s and his witnessing of the afteraffects of Saddam’s mass murders, he has made a fatal unconscious jump from sympathy for the victim to apologist for Kurdistan. That has prevented him
Bollettino LI’s friend, T.S., is astonished that we went out and voted straight ticket Democrat. What happened? We understand the shock. It is a bit like Thersites pitching in to help Achilles skewer those damn Trojans. Where is the cultivated bitterness, the years – the strata – of hatred for every betrayal organized by the Dems – the trail of tears that leads from the betrayal of the poor in 96, with the signing of the welfare ‘reform’ bill, to the rollover and scratch my belly votes for the credit card companies, in 99, to the Patriot Act herd behavior in 2001? In the 2000 election, LI was confident that we understood Bush. This, in retrospect, was stupid. We saw Gore, the most conservative Democrat since they trumped up somebody to run against Calvin Coolidge; we saw the business culture that Clinton had purposely cultivated in the late nineties, and we suspected that every snake in the grass who called itself a CEO was rolling in wealth pressed out of the very skin of the p
Bollettino My brother was in Florida on a quick a/c job – go in, clean the units, go out, 25 bucks per. He took it basically for the trip, and enjoyed himself the way my brother enjoys himself – taking photos of everything. Well, that and the occasional bar with his ever bar-trending partner on the job. Anyway, he told me, he went to an alligator “preserve” somewhere south of Jacksonville, paid his 5 bucks at the gate, and found a rather fetid place, the air alive with the odor of alligator shit, and to entertain the kiddies a man giving lectures on the savage alligator while bugging some poor chosen specimen. The man got the gator to yawn, fed the creature, scared some kids, and my bro, getting bored with an operation that was, basically, throw a fence around a wallow and charge people to enter, left. The best thing in today’s Times is Natalie Angier’s article about the whole family of crocodilia . Angier is a cute writer. Cute journalism is usually lousy writing, and A
Bollettino A recent article in Psychiatry by Felix Strumwasser has an unexpected resonance in this election year. It begins: “Using puppets, they showed children the following scenario: One puppet, Maxi, puts some chocolate in a box and goes out to play. While he is out, and unknown to him, his puppet mother takes the chocolate out of the box and puts it in the cupboard. The children were then asked where Maxi would look for his chocolate when he comes back into the house. Older children (usually five years and older) answered correctly that Maxi would look in the box (where he had put the chocolate and falsely believes that it still is). But the threeand four-year-oUt answered that he would look in the cupboard (where they know that the chocolate actually is). -Suzanne Cunningham (2000), describing experiments by Wimmer and Perner (1983) on false beliefs "THE preceding description of an experiment on children is just one of many that illustrates how the human mind is
Bollettino It is easy to think that our present Bush is the worst Bush who has ever ruled over us. The citizens of Rome, whenever Nero committed some new jape, no doubt cast their eyes back longingly to the good old days of Caligula. Whenever we find out about Bush’s newest low – from the vacations of August, 2001, while the hijackers were asking directions to the nearest airport, to the Spring of 2002, when political intervention cut off the main American chance to deal a stunning military blow to Al Qaeda, to the mass thefts on behalf of the greediest and worst that are bankrupting the state, to, of course, the web of war crimes and lies that compose the entirety of his current foreign policy – we are tempted to sigh, as many liberals do, that this is the worst president of our lifetime. Yesterday, we picked up a real crime book – Blue Thunder: how the mafia owned and finally murdered Cigarette boat king Donald Aronow, by Thomas Burdick. The book was written in the late eight
Bollettino "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre." LI recommends Thomas de Waal’s article about the Charge of the Light Brigade in Friday’s Financial Times. According to Waal, the Charge went down in history when William Howard Russell, the London Times war correspondent, wrote it up 150 years ago. Russell decided to cast it as a magnificent spectacle of civilization, brought to nought by the barbarity of the enemy. At the time, the vocabulary of propaganda didn’t include the term “terrorist” so beloved of the embedded American reporter. But like your average NYT or WP reporter today, Russell realized that his first job was to lie for the governing classes. That was also priority number 2 and 3. And like his modern day counterparts, he was so steeped in the mendacity and delusion of the governing class himself that he barely recognized his lies as lies. Here’s how Russell described the Charge: "A more fearful spectacle was never witness