Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Literary March Madness Round 1 - Part 5

OK! Mushing right into the Third Region of our bracket, we are confronted with several intriguing new match-ups. So far, no #16 has received even a single vote against a #1; will Louise Erdrich (Love Medicine) reverse that trend against James Joyce (Ulysses)? Terry Pratchett earned an upset in the first round - will his co-author of Good Omens, Neil Gaiman, do likewise against Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage)? Lots of excitement still to come!

In other news, polls have officially closed on our first batch of matches. No upsets so far: #1 Jane Austen, #8 Emily Bronte, #4 Mikhail Bulgakov, and #5 Willa Cather have all secured victories and will advance to the second rounds.

Keep voting! Tell your friends to vote! Vote early, vote often!

Joyce v. Erdrich

Spiegelman v. Lewis

Carroll v. Hornby

Maugham v. Gaiman

Monday, March 29, 2010

Literary Madness Round 1 - Part 4

I apologize for any sense of repetition that this blog may be developing, but I'm trying to keep the Literary March Madness matches coming down the tubes as quickly as possible so that we might be able to move on to Rounds 2 and 3 in a timely fashion. Cab suggested that we provide a little more background info for some of our authors, such as links to their works or Wikipedia page or something. I'm not quite sure where to fit this in yet, but I'll try to be a little more helpful in the future.

As for our last batch of matches, well, they're all turning into routes, with Tolstoy, Terry Pratchett, and Harper Lee all leading by wide margins. In other news, Emily Bronte still leads Jhumpa Lahiri by a single vote with only more day of open polls left. The tension! Now, here are some more match-ups from our Second Region to vote on:

Flaubert v. Ellison

Mann v. Lhu Hsun

Balzac v. O'Connor

Nabokov v. Wodehouse

Dostoyevsky v. Diaz

Borges v. Satrapi

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Literary March Madness, Round 1 - Part 3

Thanks to everyone who has been voting in our Literary March Madness! Today we move into the second of our four "regions," but there is still time to vote on some of our earlier matches. It's looking like Jane Austen will win in a cakewalk over Derek Walcott, the Caribbean author of Omeros. A little more surprising to me is Bulgakov's sizable lead over Iris Murdoch. There are several Russian authors in the tournament; is this a sign of things to come? There are a couple of nail-biters going on, too, that could be settled by just one vote: #7 Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) vs. #10 Katherine Mansfield (The Garden Party and other short stories, and an associate of the Bloomsbury Group)and #8 Emily Bronte vs. #9 Jhumpa Lahiri. So keep voting, and if you've already voted, try leaving a comment persuading others to vote your way.

So here's your next round of matches:

Plath v. Pratchett

Tolstoy v. Ha Jin

Calvino v. Lee

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March Madness Round 1 - Part 2

Hawthorne v. Proulx

Burgess v. Mansfield

Bronte v. Winterson

March Madness Round 1

Austen v. Walcott

Bronte v. Lahiri

Bulgakov v. Murdoch

Cather v. Kesey

Literary March Madness Bracket

Literary March Madness

Introducting Literary March Madness 2010!

All last weekend, Robyn and I watched NCAA basketball on TV; or, at least, I watched, while Robyn occupied herself with far more productive manners, such as reading and drinking tea and doing her Library Science homework. By Sunday, however, I think I succeeded in getting her sucked in just a little bit to the Madness of March. Maybe not the basketball part of it, per se, but she at least got into the "bracketology" aspect; she has been participating herself both in Jezebel's "Cake vs. Pie: March Madness" and's "Jane Austen March Madness."

But then came Monday, and both my tournament champion (Kansas) and Robyn's tournament champion (Elinor Dashwood) had been bumped. So we decided that we can make our own damn spreadsheets, thank you very much, and went on to create our own 64-member tournament: Literary March Madness.

The process was simple; we went through our house and found 64 different authors that at least one of us has read and enjoyed, although are a few in the list that are technically library books recently returned. We then divided them into four regions and seeded the regions 1-16. Now we're going to post them here, and invite you and your friends to vote and tell us who our Literary Champion will be.

Some notes and suggestions about you might want to vote. There are a lot of classic authors in the bracket, but not everyone is. We tried to pick writers from a relatively large range; we have authors from different countries, languages, ages, genres, etc. So I don't think it's necessary for you to vote for whom you think the "best" writer is - although that should be something taken into account - or even your personal favorite. But also take into account their personal strengths and weaknesses, how historically important they are, how fond your memories of their stories are, how adroit or indelicate their prose styles are, and whether or not it is raining outside. And remember, upsets are welcome! So, please vote, via blog or Facebook or e-mail, and please leave comments and suggestions for improvement for next year!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Place to Think

I. I may or may not have been looking at employment opportunities at Bard College, in their absurd-looking library.

II. On their HR page* :

"We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."


III. Joel: "Aristotle also said that working for money is a sign of a low soul..."

*In lieu of actual job postings

I hate the Jobless.....ness problem in this country

Q: Can you guess when/where these headlines are from?


"Orders Mortgage Moratorium in Minn. to Stand"

"UNCLE SAM WARNS BANKS TO 'LOOSEN UP' ": Warning that unless they pursued a more liberal credit policy, the government would have to extend it's loaning facilities, Jesse H. Jones, chairman of the Reconstruction Finance corporation, today had called on the nation's bankers to assume a full share in the president's recovery program.

A: The Urbana Daily Courier - Feb 5th & 6th, 1934

Since I've spent the last few weeks posting headlines from the mid-1930's, this is somewhat less of a puzzle. But these approximate concepts could have come just as easily from a current news outlet.

Of course, the financial/employment crises of the 30's brought about comprehensive financial reforms, unemployment and social security programs, the development of labor unions, and the like. Whereas the current (halfhearted) attempts to maintain those programs are met with shrieks of "NAZICOMMUNISM!!!"

This is odd, seeing that in the 30's there were actual Nazis and Communists. Who spent a great deal of time trying to kill one another.

While the Tea Baggers, et. al. don't seem to see what's wrong with fighting tooth and nail against an (incoherently defined) socialist response to the economic crisis, I must admit that that in another respect they've consistently adopted a belief of America's Founding Fathers - Racism:

Tea Party Protesters Shout the N-Word At, Spit on Passing Legislators

It remains to be seen whether their devotion to the 'original' interpretation of the Constitution will extend to re-defining African Americans as 3/5 of a person.

Spring Break! Whooo!

Today is the first day of Spring Break for Champaign Public Schools, and I have been spending it in my underpants watching March Madness. We're planning on taking it easy this break, and may go up to Chicago next weekend. I have never been a big "Cancun" style of Spring Breaker anyways; in four years at Bard, I spent my Spring Breaks in Montreal, New Hampshire, and Vermont (twice). Suffice to say, there were not many people going topless or "Girls Gone Wild" camera crews about. Thankfully.

I don't know about you, but man, my bracket is busted. (Ohio?? Seriously, Ohio??) Last night, Robyn said this to me: "You're a bad gambler. Which is different from being a problem gambler. You're a bad gambler, and you know you're a bad gambler. So I don't really mind." Until I bet our life savings - or Robyn's copy of Jane Eyre from 1943 - on Gonzaga making the Final Four. ("But honey, it's a Sure Thing!")

Speaking of sports.... Robyn's dad wrote us a letter that included the following:

Ask Joel why the Oregon football players keep getting arrested. That is typical behavior of University of Cincinnati players, but unusual for Oregon where people are nice.
Sigh... I was hoping to continue the charade of making my future father-in-law believe that Oregon is "where people are nice*," but I guess the game is up. A simple Google search ought to clear up the air a bit:

June 18, 1999: Eco-Terrorists Given Free Reign

July 23, 2001: In Oregon, Anarchists Act Locally

September 26, 2008: Beavers Win, Ducks Riot

September 26, 2008: Eugene Party Escalates Into Riot

October 31, 2008: Eugene Police Trying to Prevent Halloween Riots

Why do the Oregon football players keep getting arrested? Well, that's just how they roll in Eugene.

electric-kool-aid-acid-test **

Sadly, the West is today producing freaks of a much less noble streak. In yesterday's Spokane, WA Spokesman-Review (Go Zags!), the following story ran: "Sali Resurfaces, Criticizes Immunizations":

Former Idaho Congressman Bill Sali resurfaced in Idaho politics today, testifying against child immunizations at a state House committee he once chaired and scheduling a Statehouse announcement on this final day of the candidate filing period - which then turned out to be just an endorsement for another candidate.

Sali, a conservative Republican, lost the 1st Congressional District seat to Democrat Walt Minnick two years ago after serving one term; before that, he was a longtime state lawmaker known for clashing with members of his own party....

... At the House Health and Welfare committee, Sali spoke out against child immunizations, saying, “I grew up in a time when childhood diseases were something you had as a child, and I had mumps and I had chicken pox and I had measles. I don’t spend any time worrying about whether I’m going to have those diseases. If a parent decides they want to have their child exposed and have that natural immunity that should never be held against them in any way.”

Sigh... "I grew up in a time when childhood diseases were something you had as a child..." "And dammit, if you had polio, then you just dealt with it! You pulled yourself up by your bootstraps and you stuck to those Nazis and Commies and Nazicommies, and said to them, 'Dammit! I'm an American, and my parents have decided that they want me exposed to this disease that was identified as a global epidemic in 1910 and that in 1952 killed 3,145 American children and paralyzed 21,269 others and that that decision to test my natural immunity should not be held against them in any way!' And that's why we won World War Two! And the Cold War! We had mumps and chicken pox and measles, and we never once let anybody ever tell us what to do!"

* "Where People Are Nice" would be an awesome state motto, by the way.
** From the "Merry Prankster History Project":

Around 1973/4 they became involved in something called the Bend in the River Council which was an attempt to influence Oregon's political and environmental decisions. Kesey and Babbs travelled to a number of towns around Oregon where they held open public "town-hall" meetings to discuss local area concerns and recruit interested parties. A large "Council" meeting was held on July 4th at Bend, Oregon where these "citizens of the state [were] given the opportunity to peruse, review, consider and express opinions on possible directions for the next 25 years" (I'm quoting from the BITR proposal that was circulating at the time).

Has anyone ever heard of this before? Can anyone point me to where I could learn more about it?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Joe Camel Strikes Again!

I find this odd:

A series of ads for Camel cigarettes launched in 2007 have proven
themselves popular with an underage demographic: teen girls. Girls age 12-16
were twice as likely to list Camel as their favorite brand in 2008 than previous

Although tobacco companies have agreed not to market to children, the ads
have been credited with influencing 174,000 girls to start smoking. The pink-and-girly No.9 ads were pulled in

Isn't there some kind of paradox here that girls age 12-16 need to be protected from cigarette advertisements when, time and time again, they are credited with being the most savy demographic of shoppers and consumers. (citation needed) I know from my experiences that it's precisely the 12-16 year olds - regardless of gender - who are the most discerning of audiences. If they're still buying into Camel's ads, then maybe there's something there that we're all missing....

I mean, What Would Kant Do? Could it be that, in this area at least, a 16-year old girl has a better sense of judgement than, say, a 35-year old man? (Or, especially, a 65-year old man?)

And then the highest sense of aesthetic achievement in this area would be to please that 16-year old's palatte....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Teaching Nietzsche II

Editor's Note: This is the second of two posts that I originally wrote two years ago on my philosophy blog, "How to Philosophy." I have decided to re-post them here in hopes that they might get me off my butt and writing philosophy again. I hope you enjoy.

In 1879, Nietzsche officially "retired" from his post at the University of Basel, at the age of 35. He would never work again, and would spend the rest of his life living off of the meager stipend that the University provided for him. 1879 also saw the publication of the second volume of Nietzsche's second book, Human, All-too-Human, the first volume having been published the previous year. This book signaled not only Nietzsche's turn away from the aesthetics and the philosophical pessimism of The Birth of Tragedy, but also his break with the art and the philosophy of Wagner. As a result, Nietzsche also lost one of his few friends and allies.

Following his retirement, Nietzsche spent the next several years traveling across southern Europe, searching for warm and mild climates that might be hospitable to his poor health. Between 1879 and 1887, he either visited or lived in Venice, Genoa, St. Moritz, Sils-Maria, Rome, Sorento, Nice, and Turin. (Meaning that he spent most of his time between France, Italy, and Switzerland. He would occasionally visit friends or family in Germany, but not very often.)

It was also during this time that Nietzsche would meet two of his closest friends, the German author Paul Rée and the Russian-emigré philosopher Lou Andreas-Salomé. These would prove to be very productive years for Nietzsche: in 1882 he published The Gay Science, in which he first proposes the concept of fashioning a "cheerful... philosophy of the morning" and in which some of his most famous (or infamous) ideas make their first appearances: the will to power, the übermensch, and the eternal return of the same. In 1883 Nietzsche wrote Thus Spake Zarathustra, the more literary complementary work to The Gay Science, much of which was written in the span of only ten days.

The end of this "middle period" of Nietzsche's career can be marked by the death of Wagner, in February of 1883, and his break from Rée and Salomé in October of that year, after Salome repeatedly rejected Nietzsche's (probably frightening) marriage proposals. Both of these events took a toll on Nietzsche's psyche. These breaks also forced him to associate more with Ernst Schmeitzer, his editor and publisher, and his sister Elisabeth.

In 1886, Nietzsche broke with Schmeitzer because of the latter's anti-Semitism and over control of the editing of Thus Spake Zarathustra. Therefore, Nietzsche decided to publish his next book, On the Genealogy of Morality, entirely on his own, burdening all of the costs of production personally. Although friendless and penniless, Nietzsche seemed encouraged by rumors of a growing readership across Europe. Over the next three years, he would write The Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist, and the autobiographical Ecce Homo. Nietzsche's good spirits were encouraged by his correspondence with Georg Brandes, a Danish professor and Kierkegaard scholar. It was Brandes who introduced Nietzsche to the writings of Dostoyevsky and suggested that he read Kierkegaard, although it is doubtful as to whether Nietzsche ever got around to that. In 1888, Brandes delivered what was probably the first ever lecture on Nietzsche's philosophy in Copenhagen.

However, soon after this brief flurry of writing, Nietzsche suffered a major mental breakdown. Again, quoting from Wikipedia:

On January 3, 1889, Nietzsche exhibited signs of what was perceived as a serious mental illness. Two policemen approached him after he caused a public disturbance in the streets of Turin. What actually happened remains unknown, but the often-repeated tale states that Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse at the other end of the Piazza Carlo Alberto, ran to the horse, threw his arms up around the horse’s neck to protect it, and collapsed to the ground. The first dream-sequence from Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (Part 1, Chapter 5) has just such a scene in which Raskolnikov witnesses the whipping of a horse around the eyes.[11] Incidentally, Nietzsche called Dostoevsky "the only psychologist from whom I have anything to learn."[12]

A week after his collapse, Nietzsche was moved to a psychiatric hospital in Basel. What followed was a long and protracted battle between Nietzsche's mother, his sister, and his former colleagues over control of the editing and publishing of his later works. Twilight of the Idols was published in January, 1889, but The Antichrist and Ecce Homo were withheld because of their controversial content. After serious and controversial editing, The Antichrist was published in 1895. During this time, Nietzsche wrote several barely coherent letters to some of his acquaintances, in which he ordered Bismarck to be "abolished" and commanded that the German Emperor travel to Rome to be shot.

In 1893, Nietzsche's sister Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche returned to Germany from an Aryan colony in Paraguay and began to take control of his estate. Upon the death of their mother in 1897, Elisabeth had her brother moved to Weimar, where she openly invited other philosophers and intellectuals of the day to come and observe him.

Nietzsche died of a stroke on August 25, 1900, at the age of 55. It is generally agreed that his long-term madness and degenerative psychological state was caused by syphilis. After his death, Elisabeth collected and edited his notes and published them as The Will to Power in 1901. She also edited Ecce Homo and had it published in 1908. It is generally agreed that Elisabeth's influence here would ensure the initial reception of Nietzsche's thought as being - ironically - Nationalistic and anti-Semitic.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What I Have Been Reading Lately

From around the web:

Do You Miss Him Yet? - I don't know why or how, but Stanley Fish continues to write columns for the New York Times that just get under my skin and crawl around in there like those scarab beetles from The Mummy movies. This week, he's writing about the growing sense of nostalgia in America for George W. Bush. Of course, Fish's "evidence" for this "movement" is the construction of a bizarre billboard in Minnesota and the latest cover of Newsweek magazine. (No polls, or anything.) The most audacious part is that Fish's entire essay seems to be the product of his resentment of negative comments posted following his prediction that Bush's image would soon be resuscitated in the minds of the American people. But if Fish wants people to stop writing nasty things about him, he should stop saying stupid and inane things in public.

Speaking of people I don't like: Allen Iverson. You all know how I loathe him, loathe him for being a horrible basketball player and for duping more than one team into thinking that he could actually make them good. So I was happy when he got shipped out of Detroit, and then put on the bench in Philadelphia, until he was finally forced into what essentially counted as retirement. But even I feel a little bit icky about what has happened to Iverson since then: rumors surrounding his drinking and gambling problems, his wife filing for divorce, and his 4-year old daughter falling seriously ill. Not even the most selfish player in the history of the NBA deserves those kinds of troubles.

And, finally:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sign! Structure! Play!

One of the most frustrating and fascinating parts of my new job is following - and, grudgingly, policing - my students' use of language. This doesn't merely entail checking vulgarity or your standard, run-of-the-mill verbal abuse, but also, maddeningly, remaining abreast of all the new slang and code words that they use to harass, tease, humiliate, and otherwise bug one another.

For example, this week we teachers have had to ban the use of the word "sausage" in every single one of our classes. "Sausage" has become a way for the students to "get" to each other; everyone will be working quietly at their desks when, suddenly, someone will blurt out or mutter "Sausage!" and then suddenly everyone in the room is all in a tizzy and it takes us a good twenty minutes to calm them back down. Therefore, now each and every time someone says the word, "sausage," he or she is immediately given a detention and threatened with further disciplinary action.

Now, "sausage" is a little unique because it carries with it certain phallic and, in our case, homophobic connotations. (i.e., "Jones likes sausage!") But the real absurdity of the situation begins after the initial banned word has been marked as forbidden or taboo by the faculty. A new word - or, in fact, an entire chain of signifiers - comes to stand for the original marked word ("sausage") which itself was standing as shorthand for a more vulgar insult. So we'll have entire dialogues of supposed asides between two students, orally jabbing back and forth, "Biscuits!" "Waffles!" "D- likes maple syrup!" "Ssssss- Bacon!" Playing a sort of linguistic chicken with each other, daring the other guy to risk uttering the marked locution. The upshot of this, of course, is that we're not allowed to talk about breakfast in math class.

The craziest part of the whole thing is that it doesn't, in the end, matter what actual word is being used by the students to "get" at one another. (Because it isn't simply insults that are being thrown about the room. The kids call it "roasting" or "frying". I don't know what's up with the culinary metaphors.) Sure, "sausage" has a certain phallic logic to it, but over the course of the school year we've also had to banish at one point or another, "bunny," "cheese," "grandma," and "meow." Generally these words retain their mysterious power over the kids for a month or two, and then they're over, and they're replaced by the newest bon mot.

I find this all fascinating - as maddening as it can be trying to police this behavior - because I see it as a kind of microcosm for how words become endowed with such massive power over us and over our lives. Our student D-, who is very smart and has a keen sense of self-awareness, if only he could learn to keep his mouth closed, asked me once (while serving a detention), "Why can't I say sausage? Why can't I say, 'Oh, wow. I like sausage'?" And he has a point. Sausage is delicious. I would love to share my love of sausage with the world. But D- is a part of a community that has endowed "sausage" with the power to harm people - could I call this a kind of political power? - and the word "sausage" has now become a sign, a stand-in or substitute for everything that they are not allowed to say while in school. And so I, the Man, which is a role I hate to play, have to treat the stand-in as whatever it is that it's standing in for. By giving D- detentions.

What is spoken derives in manifold ways from the unspoken, whether in the form of the not yet spoken or of what has to remain unspoken - in the sense that it is denied speech. Thus the bizarre impression arises that what in manifold ways is spoken is cut off from speech and from speakers, and does not belong to them; whereas it alone holds up to speech and to the speakers those things to which they attend, no matter how they reside in the spoken elements of the unspoken.

- Martin Heidegger, The Way to Language

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Teaching Nietzsche I

Editor's Note: The following posting has been lifted and transposed here from my old philosophy blog, "How To Philosophy." If you absolutely want to read it in its original context, click on the link over there. ------> There are a couple of reasons why I'm copying and pasting it here; first, it's an easy way to keep blogging, and I'm trying desperately to keep up with writing on this blog regularly. Second, I've been missing doing philosophy lately, and I'm hoping that, just maybe, salvaging some of my old thoughts from "How To Philosophy" may prime the pump a little bit and get me writing again. Robyn's and my friend, S.T.H, came down from Chicago this weekend and, as we were sitting at the gentlemen's club discussing Wittgenstein, I thought to myself, "Damn, I really need to keep doing this." This is a first, lame attempt at that. And, third, I like this posting, think that it is a good example of how to "do" philosophy, and think that you should read it!

Friedrich Nietzsche was born on October 15, 1844, near Leipzig in Prussia., the eldest of three children. His father was a Lutheran pastor and his mother, Franziska, was 18 at his birth. Nietzsche would be three years old at the publication of the Communist Manifesto and the subsequent Revolutions of 1848 in France, Germany, and Hungary. In Germany, these struggles would lead to a political backlash of nationalism.

Nietzsche was something of a child prodigy, especially in music and language. He began attending the University of Bonn in 1864, where he first read Schopenhauer, and began to question his own faith. While he was a student, Prussia waged successful wars against Denmark and Austria. He graduated in 1868, the first year he met Richard Wagner.

After his graduation, Nietzsche was immediately offered a post as a professor of philology at the University of Basil. Two years earlier, Otto von Bismarck had become the Chancellor of the North German Federation; as soon as Nietzsche reached Basil, he renounced his Prussian citizenship. From Wikipedia:

Nevertheless, he served on the Prussian side during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to 1871 as a medical orderly. In his short time in the military he experienced much, and witnessed the traumatic effects of battle. He also contracted diphtheria and dysentery. Walter Kaufmann speculates that he might also have contracted syphilis along with his other infections at this time and some biographers speculate that syphilis caused his eventual madness, though there is some dispute on this matter.[5] On returning to Basel in 1870, Nietzsche observed the establishment of the German Empire and the following era of Otto von Bismarck as an outsider and with a degree of skepticism regarding its genuineness.
This makes Nietzsche one in a long line of Philosopher-Veterans that includes Socrates, Descartes, and Wittgenstein. However, the war exposed Nietzsche's weak physique; he would be plagued by health problems - some of them crippling - for the rest of his life. These included severe migraines, stomach cramps, intense and long-term bouts of nausea, and temporary blindness.

While at Basel, Nietzsche became closer to Richard Wagner and his wife, Cosima. He would often be found at the Wagner's house, and he became something of a "court philosopher" for them and their many guests. Nietzsche even presented Cosima a draft of his book, the pro-Wagner The Birth of Tragedy as a birthday gift in 1870.

Nietzsche formally published The Birth of Tragedy in 1872, a year after the formation of the new German Empire (Reich) was declared at Versailles and the same year that Bismarck ordered all Jesuits expelled from Germany. The book was met with almost unanimous scorn and ridicule. It was seen as an example of poor scholarship, subjective history, and questionable ethics. One of its few supporters was Richard Wagner; however, this was unsurprising as much of the book was dedicated to praising Wagner's genius. Wikipedia quotes Marianne Cowan:

The Birth of Tragedy presented a view of the Greeks so alien to the spirit of the time and to the ideals of its scholarship that it blighted Nietzsche's entire academic career. It provoked pamphlets and counter-pamphlets attacking him on the grounds of common sense, scholarship and sanity. For a time, Nietzsche, then a professor of classical philology at the University of Basel, had no students in his field. His lectures were sabotaged by German philosophy professors who advised their students not to show up for Nietzsche's courses.
In 1879, due to constant criticism, poor health, and a lack of student interest, Nietzsche lost his job at Basel. He would never work in academia again.

Next Episode: Friedrich abandons his philosophical pessimism and gets the hell out of Germany!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Evil Alternate-Universe Paul Krugman Shaves

Paul Krugman has a column in the New York Times' today entitled "Senator Bunning's Universe." In this article, Krugman makes the claim that, " Today, Democrats and Republicans live in different universes, both intellectually and morally." Krugman's rage at the practices and the policies of the Republican Party over the last couple of years has been well documented, most recently in a profile of him by the New Yorker. In this article, he brings his righteous wrath to a new high, nearly frothing at his beardy mouth with the sheer audacity of some of the more recent actions by Republicans in the House and Senate, including the following anecdote:

During the debate over unemployment benefits, Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat of Oregon, made a plea for action on behalf of those in need. In response, Mr. Bunning blurted out an expletive. That was undignified — but not that different, in substance, from the position of leading Republicans.
Krugman puts his point most succinctly when he asks, "How can the parties agree on policy when they have utterly different visions of how the economy works, when one party feels for the unemployed, while the other weeps over affluent victims of the “death tax”?"

What I want to know, though, is what exactly this universe that Republicans inhabit is like. I suspect that it might be a quite lovely place. We all know that it's already one where the wealthy need to be protected from the exploitations of the working class. But it's also a place where the most powerful political lobby is the teacher's union, where the feminist movement has created a huge, multi-billion dollar "feminism industry," and where Muslims are accepted in American political discourse, and are even granted some small share of political power.

Sounds like it might even be a nice place to live.


The article "The New Dating Game" in The Weekly Standard deserves some further analysis. However, to get a feel for the sheer offensive absurdity of the piece (written by Charlotte Allen), I leave you only with the following quote:

Thanks to late marriage, easy divorce, and the well-paying jobs that the feminist revolution has wrought for women, the bars, clubs, sidewalks, and subway straps of nearly every urban center in America overflow every weekend with females, young and not so young, bronzed, blonded, teeth-whitened, and dressed in the maximal cleavage and minimal skirt lengths that used to be associated with streetwalkers but nowadays is standard garb for lawyers and portfolio managers on a girls’ night out.
Damn that feminist movement and those well-paying jobs for women that it wrought!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Angry, Lazy Blogging

Yay! March! (... grumble... lousy Smarch weather....)

I wish the stupid NCAA basketball tournament would hurry up and start. I am so sick and tired of college hoops being on ESPN and ESPN2 and ESPN Ocho every single freakin' night. It seems to me to be just meaningless game after meaningless game after meaningless game...

... but at least it's better than the NFL draft combine. Seriously, are we going to start paying money to watch athletes pretend to play sports??

Speaking of things that make me angry: Are There Secular Reasons? by Stanley Fish. Professor Fish is doing his best to continue the lie that only people who believe in God can ever be ethical or moral.

Boy, I seem to be cranky this morning. I'm apparently OK in my sleep, though; Robyn said that a few nights ago I seemed to not only be talking in my sleep, but teaching, and saying things like, "Yes, that's right," "OK, do the rest now," and "You're doing a good job," in a calm, steady voice one octave higher than my normal speaking voice.