Wednesday, January 31, 2007
"Many of us end up like Father McKenzie in the 'Eleanor Rigby' Beatles song, who is writing a sermon that no one is going to hear," he suggests. "Some of us are going to be embraced by the mainstream media, but the majority of us remain in the dark, remain in the loneliness."
You could just as easily make the dubious case that people who become professors are lonely outcasts, given how few people read the articles they write.
You can read the whole article here.
Until my next post I'll be bemoaning the sad state of my dark melancholy life both online and offline.
Rich the Lonely Outcast
Monday, January 29, 2007
At last, a bumper sticker for both parties. FINALLY, someone has come out with a 100% bipartisan political bumper sticker. The hottest selling bumper sticker comes from New York state.
"RUN HILLARY RUN"
Democrats put it on the rear bumper.
Republicans put it on the front bumper.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
"The Last Messages" tells the story of a fictitious information-technology executive in Finland who resigns from his job and travels throughout Europe and India, keeping in touch with his friends and relatives only through text messages.
His messages, and the replies — roughly 1,000 altogether — are listed in chronological order in the 332-page novel written by Finnish author Hannu Luntiala. The texts are rife with grammatical errors and abbreviations commonly used in regular SMS traffic.
Wonder if they will eventually offer a version of the novel for reading on cell phones.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
How much money have we spent on becoming energy independent versus invading and occupying Iraq? The answer tells you which one is the real priority.
Speaking of Iraq, Fred Kaplan over at Slate does a very good job of explaining what the President doesn't get about Iraq. Though, once again, neither the President, nor the Iraq hawk Kaplan, call it a "civil war." It still remains merely "sectarian violence."
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
You can read Part One here.
You can read Part Two here.
Having posted Walcott's poem Volcano, about being an ideal reader, then seeing this essay, really got me thinking about what it means to be a good reader of literature. There are some books that I read years ago, that I did not "get" and thought the whole world was wrong to praise. I have returned to those same books later on only to be startled at my own cluelessness. Then there are the books I return to and see and experience things in them that I did not before. Then there are those that I loved and now find rather limp and even immature.
I have changed as a reader, as I have changed as a person. I do know that I've become a better reader. As good as I'd like to believe I am, I still feel a certain insecurity when having read a book for the first time that I have not understood it, the way I should, the way the writer meant it to be. You want to meet the writer on his or her own terms, at the same time that you want the wholly edifying broad experience that reading can provide. What happens when the terms can't be understood or the experience is a let-down?
Just as writers write from their own perspective ("dramatising their belief"), readers read from their own perspective. Conflict is inevitable. But I don't penalize critics like Michiko Kakutani or James Wood if they don't respond to particular writers. I know them as critics, so I don't have a problem with them being "corrective critics" as Smith would put it. They are articulating their specific views of art. Regardless, they can provide a good guide to What to Read. You learn to trust certain critics about certain types of books and not to trust them about others. But knowing that (knowing a critic, knowing types of literature) takes time. A lot of time. You have to practice at being a reader.
Which brings us back to what it means to be an ideal reader of literature. Which brings us to an impossible goal: but for lovers of literature a dream. It remains a dream because we can no more be an ideal reader than there can be an ideal or "perfect" book. The book you loved in high school or college or at 25 no longer fires you up the way it did, the way another book does now. The reader you were is not the reader you are now. You are now another writer's ideal reader.
You play games, listing your ideal "desert island" books. You make them, yet acknowledge how unsatisfying the final list is, and how the list you made in your 20's, is not the same as the one you made in your 30's, and are sure will be different from the one you will make in your 60's. But we do it anyway, getting a glimpse into our own tastes as readers, marking our own development as readers. Striving to understand everything a great book has to offer us about the human experience.
Read on, my friends.
Friday, January 19, 2007
The prime minister, who, like Pinter, is a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, used his speech at the ceremony to call for a change in the West's attitude towards the conflict. "If we want the western world and especially Europe to be seen as a model of tolerance and peace, we have to change our minds and leave behind us anything but bombs."
Last year Pinter won the Nobel. You can read his speech here.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Dear blog author:
We recently came across your site, honesterrors.blogspot.com, while searching for bloggers who blog about the hit tv show American Idol, now starting its sixth season.
A small group of us have started a new site called American Idol Bloggers. Our intent is to bring American Idol bloggers closer together, and make a positive contribution to the Internet community.
Would you be interested in joining American Idol Bloggers? Please take a few minutes to have a look at what we are trying to do, and if you are interested, there is a sign up page to get the ball rolling. We would greatly appreciate your support in this endeavour.
If you do not feel that your blog would be a good fit for American Idol Bloggers, but are an American Iool fan, come visit us and one of our member bloggers. You can also check our FAQ Section to learn more about American Idol Bloggers.
We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you on American Idol Bloggers.
Craig Cantin Please note: you will receive this email no more than twice. If you do not respond to this email, we will send out a second and final email in approximately 3 weeks time. If you respond, by joining or by declining the invitation, we will not intentionally send this invite a second time. You can join or visit American Idol Bloggers at any time, but we do not believe in spam, and will not intentionally send this invite more than twice. If you have any concerns regarding our anti-spam policy, please do not hesitate to contact us.
American Idol Bloggers
Please note: you will receive this email no more than twice. If you do not respond to this email, we will send out a second and final email in approximately 3 weeks time. If you respond, by joining or by declining the invitation, we will not intentionally send this invite a second time. You can join or visit American Idol Bloggers at any time, but we do not believe in spam, and will not intentionally send this invite more than twice. If you have any concerns regarding our anti-spam policy, please do not hesitate to contact us.
You can join or visit American Idol Bloggers at any time, but we do not believe in spam, and will not intentionally send this invite more than twice. If you have any concerns regarding our anti-spam policy, please do not hesitate to contact us.
I went to the site American Idol Bloggers. The purveyors of this site, who say they do not believe in spam, clearly do not believe in actually reading blog posts that mention American Idol. In my defense, I should have been more explicit in my denunciation of the show and the publishing business' attempt to mimic it. American Idol has been denounced very cleverly and intelligently here.
But what they hell, I'll throw in my own positive contribution to the Internet community:
American Idol sucks because it promotes mediocrity by finding the blandest, most inoffensive, singers, to sing the schmaltziest trite songs that will keep corporate music and corporate radio alive and well to the detriment of all things new and vibrant. It also continues a long tradition of the music business making gobs of money while the singers they employ get little to nothing.
They let all those singers compete on television and in front of live studio audiences for the chance to land a contract with a record company. These shows rake in millions in advertising revenue, providing large profits to the producers and the network. Meanwhile, all of the singers, who do all of the performing (that is, the real work), get nothing more than a few minutes in the spotlight plus some criticism from a panel of so-called "judges" of musical expertise. The only person who has a shot at making money is the winner of this contest. And even that's not guaranteed, because if the album doesn't sell, well, then no money.
Personally, I don't care if people want to watch this garbage. That's the beauty of the free market. People can watch garbage or they can watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Office or Frontline. If they think bitchy Simon Cowell, bumbling Paula Abdul, and the former bassist for Journey Randy Jackson can judge talent, well, then so be it. I do admit that I once owned a few Paula Abdul albums while I was in college. But in my defense I was doing a lot of heavy drinking in those days. It was also around this time that I believed Ayn Rand was some sort of visionary, W. Axl Rose a true god, and that Cocoa Puffs, Skittles, and Pepsi were all a great source of nutrition. We all make mistakes, especially in our youth, and especially under the influence of gallons of alcohol.
So let me state this as unequivocally as possible: American Idol's success condemns the taste of our age. There are many people and things whose success condemns the taste of our age. From Fox News to Michael Bolton, to Andrea Bocelli, to Whitney Houston, to Metallica's career post-And Justice for All... to Rush Limbaugh. It just shows that even the clueless and willfully ignorant are entitled to their heroes, too.
If publishing wants to try the same thing, then best of luck pandering to the lowest of expectations. It was Mencken who said "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public." I don't mind a good mindless page-turner every once in awhile. But I doubt the likes of Joyce, Woolf, Hemingway, Morrison, Pinter, Beckett, Algren, Sebald, and Erdrich could have ever survived an American Idol-style competition to win a publishing contract. If that makes me a snob, then so be it. That's where my tastes reside. I can live with that.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
His web site is here.
You can buy stuff here.
Personally, I'd thought it might be best if he ran for governor of Illinois in 2010, after Blagojevich had created enough pent-up desire for real change. Obama would then get executive experience, and then run for President in 2016...But the thing is that he needs to strike when the iron is hot. Now seems to be the best time for him, with Bush leaving office in 2008, and the Republican party having done such a wonderful job botching the War on Islamic Terrorists, the War in Iraq, Medicare, and the Federal Budget.
So climb aboard the Obama Express!...And watch for things to get ugly. Afterall, this is politics.
but lions roared at his funeral
from the Zurich zoo.
Was it Trieste or Zurich?
No matter. These are legends, as much
as the death of Joyce is a legend,
or the strong rumour that Conrad
is dead, and that Victory is ironic.
On the edge of the night-horizon
from this beach house on the cliffs
there are now, till dawn,
two glares from the miles-out-
at-sea derricks; they are like
the glow of the cigar
and the glow of the volcano
at Victory's end.
One could abandon writing
for the slow-burning signals
of the great, to be, instead,
their ideal reader, ruminative,
voracious, making the love of masterpieces
superior to attempting
to repeat or outdo them,
and be the greatest reader in the world.
At least it requires awe,
which has been lost to our time;
so many people have seen everything,
so many people can predict,
so many refuse to enter the silence
of victory, the indolence
that burns at the core,
so many are no more than
erect ash, like the cigar,
so many take thunder for granted.
How common is the lightning,
how lost the leviathans
we no longer look for!
There were giants in those days.
In those days they made good cigars.
I must read more carefully.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
It’s January, so I expect snow. Afterall, if I’ve got to put up with the cold weather, then I want the snow to go with it. The packing snow, the kind of snow that’s good for snowballs, snowmen, and snow forts.
Instead, what do I get? Ice storms. Lovely. The kind that do this to our trees:
This is the view from our small front porch. Notice the walkway from the driveway. Branches that jut out from the trunk of the tree from over my head should not be touching the ground. We had an ice storm storm a month ago and a few branches snapped off our trees back then. That pretty much put the whole back yard off-limits (there are 12 trees there) until the ice melted. And now it's off-limits again.
Oh, sure, we had a an inch or two of good snow on Sunday. (For those of you not familiar with winter, an inch or two of packing snow is not enough to have any real fun. Yes, as many of you who are familiar will point out, packing snow is a royal pain to shovel because it's heavier.) Then that nice dusting was followed by an ice storm overnight.
I know, I know. I shouldn’t be complaining. This winter has been mild. Which means it’s much better for our heating bills. And probably better as far as getting used to living through winter again.
But it's not exactly the Winter Wonderland I signed up for.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Substitute "Islamism" or "Radical Islam" or "Fascist Islam" for "Communism." Eerie, isn't it?
You can read Dr. King's entire "Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence" speech here.
Friday, January 12, 2007
I'm not a fan of American Idol, mostly because I can't stand the music produced on the show. But my tastes don't happen to run toward that end of the pop spectrum.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
His solution: increase our armed force presence in a country, according to the New York Times, that doesn't want the increase. But even the authors of the article will not call it a Civil War. So it's not just our own President who is suffering form a big case of denial. The so-called "National Paper of Record" is, too.
On PBS, Retired General William Odom pointed out that our president hasn't defined the enemy we're fighting, nor the terms of victory, nor identified the conflicts within the Iraq itself, nor made any tactical changes. The Shia and Sunnis are fighting each other and the Kurds are trying to stay out of it.
Bush says we can't pull out now because that would lead to chaos and upheaval. This is a lie. There is already chaos and upheaval. With over 600,000 Iraqi civilians dead and over one million Iraqi refugees since the U.S. and the Coalition of the Willing invaded nearly four years ago, could things get worse? It is not out of the realm of possibility. But at least then the U.S. will no longer be a factor. And there is plenty of evidence that our presence there is making things worse.
Bush won't talk to Iran and Syria, claiming they want chaos in Iraq. This is another lie. Iran wants a Shia government in Iraq. They do not want chaos next door. Syria has been overwhelmed with Iraqi refugees for some time now. They would benefit from a stable Iraq.
You can't solve a problem without accepting the facts as they are. Until then, look for more of the same in Iraq.
Our Congressmen could rein him in. But other than voting on a non-binding resolution against a troop increase, that looks to be about it.
"The Democrats may control Congress but they can't block the president this time without potentially being accused of losing the war. I think an awful lot of this is staging for the next time," the 2008 presidential and congressional elections, said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
This is more wrong-headed thinking. We won the war against Saddam Hussein. But we can't "win" in the Iraqi Civil War that's taking place. There is nothing for the U. S. to win. We've given the Iraqis the right to self-determination. Unfortunately, whether they do that through bullets and bombs or through the ballot box is up to them.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
"Somebody just asked me over the weekend," Hadda recalls, " 'Don't you think that if so-and-so had had psychiatric care, he would not have been as great an artist?' This is an absolutely pervasive idea: that mental health somehow blunts creativity. I hear it all the time."
That notion, she says, "can be personally destructive to people" who could benefit from therapy, "but feel that they will cease to be themselves. It's a very old idea: that madness and creativity go together. Which they often do, but the opposite isn't necessarily true. I know there are a lot of mad people who are not creative. Most of them, I think."
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Wealth made no difference in either his task or his character. The first time he had awakened in a gilded crib, Jesus wondered if he would be changed. But the story was the same except for a slight variation that he first denied, then acknowledged and at last found he could accept without bitterness: All of them–his disciples, the multitudes, even his tormenters–liked him better rich.
The charges stem from a bribe solicited in exchange for a zoning change. When a developer requested a zoning change on a particular piece of property in Troutman's ward, her response, according to the Federal government, was, "What do I get out of it?" So she was given $5,000 and the zoning change was made.
The Sun-Times also provides a short history of the most recent Chicago Aldermen who have been convicted on corruption charges of one form or another. Though I couldn't disagree more strongly with this side article that says Troutman is a throwback of sorts. If anything, the Hired Trucking scandal has shown that political patronage for friends and family is as prevalent as it's ever been in the Windy City.
Those that know me (born and raised in the Chicago area), know that I have an acute junkie-type interest in Chicago politics, its corruption especially. Chicago, for whatever reason, continues to produce some of the most brazen, unapologetic, and theatrically corrupt politicians and deal-makers. It never ceases to fascinate me. That Barack Obama managed to launch his politic career from there (where it seems everyone is neck-deep in corruption of one form or another) with only being brushed lightly by impropriety, is a miracle.
Monday, January 8, 2007
What I found to be of particular interest was this paragraph:
Two Penthouse magazine books, “Between the Sheets: A Collection of Erotic Bedtime Stories” and “26 Nights: A Sexual Adventure,” were released in download-only audio versions in 2002, but like the books’ temptresses, they have had long legs. Sales remained so brisk that in 2006 “Between the Sheets” was the bestselling download-only title on Audible. So in August, four years after they were first recorded, Random House Audio released both titles on CD. With 7 of the top 10 download-only sellers on Audible in the erotica genre, the company has been a trailblazer in the category, albeit a conflicted one.
So, once again, porn and erotica are leading the way in an emerging market on the Internet. Though it also shows that the sound of words remains fundamental to the composition of a book. To me, there are some books that always read aloud better than inside my head. Judging by sales on Audible.com, erotica always sounds good aloud.
Saturday, January 6, 2007
Those records were part of the public record. It's how investigators found out how often Monica Lewinsky visited President Clinton during that neverending investigation known as Whitewater. You remember, the one about the land deal gone bad and a failed S&L in Arkansas that became an investigation into Clinton's sexual behavior and resulted in impeachment. Because as we've learned this past decade, according to the Republican party and the Main Stream Media, lying about a blowjob is an impeachable offense, while lying about WMDs in Iraq, misleading a nation into war, spying on the country's citizens without legal authority, authorizing torture, and suspending habeas corpus for so-called "enemy combatants" are not.
Well, those visitation records can no longer be viewed thanks to President Bush. Looks like the Abramoff scandal was reaching the highest office in the government. And we can't allow that now, can we?
Why all this need for speech? Long after we’ve fully retooled for printed silence, we still feel residual meaning in the wake of how things sound. Speech and writing share some major neural circuitry, much of it auditory. All readers, even the fast ones, subvocalize. That’s why so many writers — like Flaubert, shouting his sentences in his gueuloir — test the rightness of their words out loud.
Friday, January 5, 2007
And if this is any indication of what President Bush continues to believe he can get away with (searching any piece of mail in exigent circumstances, whatever that means), then Congress will have its hands full just maintaining oversight.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
The machine electronically stores 2.5 million books that can then be printed and bound in less than seven minutes is to be launched early next year. It prints in any language and has an upper limit of 550 pages.
Some have predicted that the day will come when bookstores contain nothing but sample copies of books and machines like the Espresso. You would pick out the books you want to buy, inform the store clerk, and the clerk would then have the books printed and bound for you on the spot.
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Now comes word, according to the New York Times, that Iraqis are having a very difficult time getting refugee status.
Many Iraqis who worked for Americans have already fled the capital or the country, and many plead for help or asylum on a daily basis. Of some 40 nationalities seeking asylum in European countries in the first half of 2006, Iraqis ranked first with more than 8,100 applications, according to the United Nations.
Remarkably few apply for refugee status in the United States, mainly because most Iraqis, even those who have worked for the United States government here, simply assume that getting American status is all but impossible. Iraqis cannot apply directly for refugee status in the American Embassy in Baghdad.
Another interpreter, Amar, who did not want his full name used, went to at least 10 embassies during a trip to Jordan last fall, but found only blank faces. He counts his sacrifice for America in bones and skin. He is missing a finger, an eye and part of his skull, after a large bomb exploded next to his Humvee last year. He has received two threats to his life. Two bodyguards accompany him everywhere. He stays in three different houses to confuse potential attackers.
So many things about this war have been mismanaged. It only seems to get worse.
Happy New Year.