Philip K. Dick was one of the most important science fiction authors of the 20th century. His novels explored issues of identity, religion, metaphysics, and politics in a way that few authors, including so-called “literary” authors, ever did. During his lifetime, he published more than 40 novels, and 100 short stories. He won the prestigious Hugo Award for his classic novel The Man in the High Castle in 1962, and the John W Campbell Award for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said in 1974. His novels and stories have inspired at least ten movies, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Total Recall, and Minority Report. In the years since his untimely death from a stroke in 1982, his reputation has only increased, and his works have gained a respectable following among academics and mainstream literary critics. The Library of America has published three volumes of his work.
When it was announced last year that an unpublished manuscript had been discovered among his papers, it sent shockwaves through the literary community. Now that the novel has been published, however, one can’t help but feel a sting of disappointment. [Read more →]
One of the things you discover when dealing with a spouse’s treatment for cancer is that there’s always either a “but” or an “and” with this example of why I really am torn between my “No God but Tiffany and Snooki is her prophet!” or “God is just a perverted, evil sonofabitch!” She sleeps a lot, and I brood. Brooding is not the best way to write; yet, sometimes it seems you should. This week is one of them…
Now, I don’t like Ross Douthat particularly. Since David Brooks is the Times approach to William F. Buckley only nicer, Douthat is their George Will, only tieless and with a
beard. To the left of Fox, to the right of sense most of the time, but when he’s right, he’s right and articulate. He has a pretty accurate take on the middle east and the current unpleasantness directed at the United States by the latest outbreak of Jeffersonian democracy. He proposes that we need to avoid the cringing and the condescending in our analysis of what’s going on and what our alternatives are going forward. Yes, the video is awful on all counts, and the irrational reaction of the mobs really makes the whole Arab Spring thing seem more like the First Directorate of the French Revolution as opposed to some Islamic Renaisance. But, that’s not what’s happening here — this is realpolitik played by the Islamic power players. From our perspective, these guys may seem to be totally loony, but we’re watching different factions play out. There are grievances against us in the Arab world — some valid, some debatable, some batshit insane — and we need to acknowledge that, deal with it like adults and make some adult choices. Douthat is less than optimistic about that particular future. [Read more →]
There is a website called 90 Days, 90 Reasons, which features powerful, persuasive essays by famous people, explaining why the current president, Barack Obama, should be re-elected. I was so moved by some of these essays, that I decided to compose a submission myself. Unfortunately, despite the fact that my Dark Knight Rises review got almost 60 Facebook likes, I am apparently not famous enough to be included. This, despite the fact that my essay is as persuasive and powerful and whatever the opposite of cynical is as any of the essays that have been published so far.
Despite the lack of interest, I feel it would be a disservice to the world to not post my essay somewhere, so I’m posting it here. I hope it persuades you to do the right thing.
Reason #1: Tee Are You Ess Tee
The reason that you should vote for Barack Obama for reelection can be boiled down to one word: I trust Barack Obama. And where our government is concerned, there is nothing more important than trust. Obama understands this. That is why he has worked hard to earn our trust, and he hasn’t stopped earning that trust. [Read more →]
I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:
Emperor’s Decree No. 911: We should always remember 9/11, but not with patriotic pep rallies and not with fist-pumping; for, on this day, the extremist obsessions and narrow-minded religious views of a few arrogant, evil bastards resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people at the Word Trade Center in New York City, in a horrific crash in Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, in Washington, DC. On this day, trembling fathers wept into phones, saying goodbye to their children and wives, having given up, knowing that there was no way down or out, fighting not to sound terrified through the line — knowing that this final goodbye was worth trading away a last, useless burst of hope. On this day, wives did the same, fighting preservation instincts for a few seconds’ contact with their husbands and babies. And on this day, horrible circumstances made men and women who were just doing their duty into legends of self-sacrifice. This is the day when a thousand stories of strength and courage were passionately written, only to be sucked down in a cascade of molten metal and poison dust, never to be read by anyone. This was the day on which a new generation of children learned that grown-ups could actually take civilian life and expect sainthood in return.
This was the day of Allah’s misery. This was the day that, if God can cry, there must have been a hurricane in heaven — his tears like bullets in raging winds; angels covering their heads with trembling wings — for a humankind that had turned him into a goal line to be crossed; a prize to be quibbled over; a concept for which to slaughter; a cause for torture and alienation. [Read more →]
The United States of America, the world’s greatest force for good, has lately been using drones to bomb the crap out of Muslims in the Middle East. Drones are especially convenient tools because they are light, maneuverable, and unmanned. The government — the government that works for me, and you (if you’re an American), and does what it does for your benefit — has only increased the number of drones it’s used in those areas in which it is fighting kinetic military actions.
Some people have expressed concern that these drones that we’re using to bomb the crap out of Muslims aren’t only hitting those that our government has deemed to be the *bad* ones. Official numbers are difficult to come by, because they don’t exist, but some have estimated that, well, a significant number of innocent, non-terrorist Muslims, have been killed in drone strikes.
Well, the Associated Press has used some impressive journalism to discover that those people are full of beans. [Read more →]
Recently I started a daily ritual of watching Euronews after dinner. I’m not sure why I find the channel so absorbing, as when I actually lived in Europe I found it incredibly dull. And not dull in a smug, irritating BBC way but just… soul-crushingly boring, as is characteristic of anything that begins with the chilling prefix “Euro-”. Perhaps it’s only now, after years spent in a land where the news is delivered exclusively by pompous, Botoxed egomaniacs that I can appreciate the channel’s relatively understated style. Or then again, maybe I’m just digging the stuff I can see in the backgrounds. [Read more →]
Gore Vidal is not the chronicler but the fictionalizer of American history. The twin capitals of the nation warranted titles of their own, in his estimation. The one was Washington DC. The other was Hollywood. I ascribe not even the tarnished Golden State as the residence of Hollywood. Instead this bucolic appellation that once meant a modest agricultural hamlet now describes an ethereal thoughtscape that hovers above and beyond terrestrial boundaries. Hollywood rests on a state of mind, not a mere State of the Union as the existence of Bollywood and other imitators attests. It is a factory town and it’s one produce is Dreams. Tony Montana was well advised. “Don’t get high on your own supply.” Mark Wahlberg should have listened. [Read more →]
A tsunami of outrage has swept the nation and the globe. Another crime has been catalogued, another provocation that threatens to stir benevolent goatherds to strike at jumbo jets, of which they are pastorally ignorant. We speak of the ritual desecrations committed by American troops as they relieved themselves on a pile of defenseless, deceased, Taleban jihadis. A cry goes up that piss has no place in war. Patton would disagree but we need no more to rubbish the assertion than to recall that those who think piss has no place in war likewise think blood can be excised from it. That scrum includes, among other bigwigs, a young candidate for President who thought “smart diplomacy” a sound replacement for smart bombs. I wonder whatever became of that guy? But we have no time for trivia as the wars, under whatever management, have continued at least through this morning. [Read more →]
Jerry Harvey, expert on management dysfunction and organizational behavior, has a classic finding called The Abilene Paradox. Basically, it discusses our inability to deconflict — agreement. We may all “want to do X but there are hidden voices saying, We should do Y because…” His story involves the disruption of a family afternoon in north Texas in the summer because his mother in law figured that he and his wife were probably bored. This resulted in a four hour car trip over beat up roads in a beat up, unairconditioned car to a Rexall Drug Store and Lunch Counter in Abilene. It was hot, it was dusty, it was a lot like the Texas in The Last Picture Show. When they finally got home and collapsed in the living room, there was dead silence punctuated by gas and burps from that fine Rexall Lunch Counter cusine for about 45 mintues. As Harvey tells the story, realizing that he was a trained social scientist with a PhD in Organizational Psychology and Behavior, felt compelled “to make a behavioral intervention.” So, he said, “That was fun now, wasn’t it?” To which his father-in-law responded by looking at him and visibly questioning the wisdom of letting his daughter marry this clown and then saying as only someone who’s from Texas or at least spent a lot of time there can say it, “SSSSHHHEEEEIIITTTT –that was awful.” The family did a post mortem, and when their reasoning got exposed — Momma thought the kids were bored and wouldn’t want to eat left overs, the kids didn’t want to deny Momma anything, Papa wasn’t going to push back against eveyone else so…the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and in the early 70s, the road to Abilene was paved with kind thoughts and care for other people’s feelings. Book is a classic, and I recommend it to anyone — Harvey is one of my heroes along with Keith Richards, Guy Clark and Kierkegaard. [Read more →]
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved,
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
[Read more →]
Lately I’ve been chasing my father all over Hell – figuratively speaking. I don’t expect to catch him; he died seven years ago, taking with him some secrets I wish I could have asked him about, and others that I know I couldn’t have. He left behind some intriguing clues about himself, but remained something of a mystery to the end. [Read more →]
Where there is suspicion there is hope. Anything less than defiantly blind credulity must be taken as something of a triumph, especially amongst the young. If you want to see suspicion in all its varied glory make this a habit: whenever you meet a young jew (and it comes up) ask, are you a Zionist Jew or an Anti-Zionist Jew? If immediate suspicion is in the jewish character it seems to have been mostly boiled out of the semite undergrad. Mostly, as with all questions these days, you will receive the quizzical expression of a kitten nursing a cigarette. They are not used to new questions, these pupae, without getting the answers in advance, and presume you have begun speaking a foreign language. Possibly fictional. For some reason the usual method of fence straddling is likewise not employed. It is that expression, Zionist. They know they have heard it and it is not good. “But it does seem to have something to do with jews, which I am,” so they are at least hesitant to join in the hoots, the damnation of the bankers, the presumption of their jewishness, the denunciation of Israel and the perpetual explanations of how the jews are at the root of it all.
Given the givens of our day, as I said, this is triumphal and all opportunities must be explored. [Read more →]
Thursday “fun” link.
Libya’s esteemed leader gets escorted to Hell. (Not for the faint of heart, btw).
Gilad Schalit is a free man today and he became a man in the custody and care of Hamas. Schalit was a nineteen-year old jew from a nation of jews, stolen like a comely goat from his post, as he was a soldier; a jewish soldier from a nation of jewish sodiers. As far as can be divined, the raid that claimed him was conceived and launched, involving months of tunneling by many hands, for the very purpose of capturing a jewish soldier and ransoming prisoners from the jewish jail. Schalit was of no consequence personally. He was just a jew.
For five years Schalit has paid the price for that crime. As yet we have no word from him as to what conditions he was kept. Almost certainly those were far better than exist in Palestinian jails in Gaza and the West Bank, which are filled mostly with “collaborators”, either with jews (and just the allegation of this can get one killed in the street) or the other entity. In Gaza, Hamas jails those with sympathy to Fatah. In the West Bank, Fatah jails those favorable to Hamas but in either case a five year sentence would be grueling and would show a mark or two. Schalit seems to have been kept in marketable condition as befits his status, not as prisoner of war or justice, but as a commodity. [Read more →]
From the producers of that whole “health care reform” thing that was going to save everyone money, and “green energy subsidies,” and the endless wars in the Middle East, and the policy of frisking children and cancer patients at the airport, and the program that sold guns to Mexican drug cartels, and attacks on medical marijuana patients, and the same people who haven’t passed a budget in two years, and, well, fill in whatever nonsense you want, comes an exciting new program!
American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.
There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
Do you feel safer?
Not to be confused with this.