Dirka dirka Obama jihad

August 29th, 2008 at 5:28 am

Obama jihad, change!

 

Well, the big show was last night.  The speech every talking head and pundit has been yapping about all week brought some climax to the DNC love-fest. 

It’s a lot of talking, a political convention.  I had almost forgotten how much talking there was.  The party rolled out everything they had; Kerry gave a speech that probably would have gotten him elected if given it when he was a candidate, Gore only made me drowsy this time and there was the Clinton double punch.  Michelle Obama set the bar pretty high, early in the convention, most all of the professional talkers met the mark.  Joe Biden did a fine job of introducing himself to the 95% of America who had no idea who Joe Biden was.

Then there is the talking about the speeches.  I largely tuned out for the post speech analysis, as I am fairly adept at forming my own opinions.

 

But that is all foreplay review, we all knew that penetrating psyche of undecided voters was the point of Barak Obama’s speech.

 

The speech itself was really a bit less than I was expecting.  I appreciate that Obama and his writing team held back, though.  Obama could have gone all in, attempted to make his own “Dream” speech or top the “Ask Not” rap. 

Going in that direction would have drawn hyper-analysis and opened the door for all manner of rock-star criticism from the right. 

 

Instead we got a pretty straight nomination acceptance talk.  It had plans, it had some numbers and it had some occassional fire.  Enough fire to keep listeners engaged, not so much as to draw direct comparisons to some of the greatest, most historic speeches.

We got a chance to chant USA!, because as Amercans we are predisposed to doing that.  We got to sing the chorus of change…

 

Obama, smartly, went after McCain on campaign styles – directly addressing character slurs and smear tactics.  This not only puts Obama on a high ground when fighting oppositional attacks, but also allows the DNC to tie any Swift Boat style action to McCain as well. 

Establishing this position should allow Obama to campaign from a position of perceived moral superiority, even when on the attack.

 

As for substance, well, it was a forty minute speech.  I don’t expect any candidate to fully explain how they might fix healthcare, Social Security, global instability, receding economies, famine, women’s rights, genocides, wars and flagging national pride in forty minutes.  Candidates have position papers to explain those details; most people don’t read position papers though.  Obama touched on all of those topics, however briefly, usually including the word change in the sentence.

 

In a convention that was unprecedented in its scripting and level of production, Barak Obama was the headliner act.  It was the big close on the sale. 

 

Barak Obama has called us to put a jihad on the GOP.

 

If you don’t like that, I’ll put a jihad on you.

 

Dirka dirka.  Obama jihad, change.

 

 



Summer Vacation, Planet of Slums

August 28th, 2008 at 6:02 am

I am sure you have all been asking yourself “What happened to Scott?”

“Where is that Authwhore contributor that showed up for a few genius posts and then vanished?” must be on all of your lips, right after “What is up the Authwhore’s butt about the New Yorker?”

 

Well, perhaps I have been on summer vacation.  No, that is not true though I could damned well use about a week in a sensory deprivation chamber.  It is election season, which sends my away from the books ,typically, and on to obsessively reading newspapers and periodicals.  I suppose I could have come by here to spout off about some of that, but anyway…

 

I think I have become obsessed with macro-economics.  Not in any professional sense, but as a hobby, I suppose.  I went back to reread “Planet of Slums” by Mike Davis recently.  Oh man, I am pretty sure this was the book that sent me on my sabatical from Authwhore.  “Planet of Slums” may be the most depressing thing I have ever read.

Davis does a fine job of providing an overview of the mass movement of global populations into urban environments, the associated population growth and economic decline – as well as doling out a fairly detailed statistical analysis demonstrating that we are all pretty well screwed.  I don’t mean screwed like a slight-decline-in-financial-indicators – I mean screwed like Blade Runner-multiplied-by-Mad Max-but-without-the-humorous-parts-plus-some-Grapes of Wrath-screwed.  That kind of screwed, and with greater numbers of minorities than are included in any of those stories.

 

We all heard about China, thanks to the Olympic games.  There was some slight reportage on Beijing’s bit of super-slummage relocation, extreme polution and so on.  Beijing is a fine example of the economic and environmental factors that are driving folks, worldwide, into what Davis describes as “super-slums.”  Davis examines the motives of families in Africa abandoning rural communities to live on the fringes of cities, in the hopes of being able to pick enough string from the garbage heap their shacks get built upon so that they might resell it to other slum dwellers and feed the kids.

 

“Planet of Slums” is not a collection of grim and depressing anecdotes, though you do get plenty of those.  Rather, it is compelling examination of the varied machinations that are generating booming, unsupported, unregulated, masses of urban poverty around the globe.  Davis also explores the few possible, unlikely solutions to the crisis and details the causality that will prevent our pulling out of the nose dive.  Big, heavy, grim stuff.  Wildly depressing.

 

So, go read it.



The Aug. 25, 2008 New Yorker Cover is Silly and Absurd

August 27th, 2008 at 8:04 am

Aug. 25, 2008 New Yorker Cover Swim, Swam, Swum by Richard McGuire

With the summer months waning, I’m sure we’re all feeling sentimental and nostalgic for the halcyon days of yore when one could come home and turn on the television to be entertained by athletes at the height of their powers engaged in vicious combat for the sake of their home land’s dignity and pride.

So Richard McGuire gave us “Swim, Swam, Swum,” a carefree and breezy image of individuals at a swimming pool.

Swim, Swam, Swum. Real clever. About as clever as Night Cap.

But it is of a swimming pool. Which is topical I suppose, with the Olympics having just drawn safely to a close with a minimal amount of fatal stabbings.

So forget the Olympics. Forget about the Democratic National Convention (if you even thought about it in the first place). Forget about the wars, the strife, the famine, the struggle, and the crises.

And instead take a cool, refreshing dip in the New Yorker’s belligerent refusal to engage in social commentary by providing relevant and provocative covers on their magazine.

Rouse the rabble!



Metallica Singer Spurns Countrymen Again

August 21st, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Resident dick of Metallica and fan-hating technophobe who brought down the sacred beauty that was Napster, James Hetfield recently made news when neighbors of his Marin County, California property were in an uproar over the construction of a barbed-wire fence on his land that effectively blockaded a fire road that had been providing access to treasured recreational trails for decades.

Hetfield said that such construction was a result of vandalism. Yeah, well who do you blame for vandalizing your face? Or forcing you to make such crappy music? I think we should vandalize the fence. Isn’t that clever? That’ll piss him off.

If I were rich as fuck, I would welcome vandalism on my million-dollar compound. As long as it was Banksy.

While I mostly found fault in Hetfield for not constructing a more creative fence with innovative materials, I was especially aroused by the fact that such snobbish behavior by the arrogantly rich is not of course without precedent.

When The Astors Owned New York

Justin Kaplan’s When The Astors Owned New York relates how one of the two heirs to John Jacob Astor’s exorbitant wealth, William Waldorf Astor, purchased a 376-acre estate in England called Cliveden. He promptly proceeded to enclose the estate with “a high wall topped with broken glass, forbade access to a spring of water that had been a local pleasure site, and erected a blank wall to replace the iron grille gate that had allowed a sweeping view up the long driveway leading to the forecourt of the house.”

Waldorf’s neighbors reacted in much the same way as Hetfield’s. Which was to note that such fences threatened a century-old tradition of property owners giving public access to open space.

Our world is never lacking pompous hubris. Not to mention the bickering. There’s always bickering.

And those liberal-hippie-Californians! Always looking for a hand out.

A society that allows the rich to build fences around their lives with reckless abandon is the same society that allows the wealthy and publicly elected to build fences around their civil rights.

But that’s the funny thing about Americans. We’re quite regional. A man can get away with a lot of unspeakable horror from a wood-paneled office in Washington. But if you abuse a puppy, or build a fence in my neighborhood? No way buddy.



Outlaw Journalist: Hunter S. Thompson Book, Another

August 18th, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Like Wild Turkey into the Good Doc’s mouth, so too go tomes about Hunter S. Thompson on the bookshelves.

The most recent disciple to weigh in is William McKeen, a friend of Thompson’s.

Outlaw Journalist The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson by William McKeen

I am clinically obsessed with Hunter S. Thompson. The man and the myth.

But mostly the writing.

So it is with slight fear of being labeled a poseur that I frequently don aviator sunglasses and a red Las Vegas visor. It is with a smirking pride that my neighbors start calling me “Hunter” when I’m out on the balcony howling at the moon in aforementioned accoutrement and a t-shirt that reads, “Fuck Ya’ll I’m From Texas.”

But such fears are unfounded, unmerited, and unfair. HST gleamed his infamous cigarette holder from FDR. Bob Dylan imitated Woody Guthrie. These facts alone exonerate my behavior.

But more importantly, I consistently encounter people who are inexplicably unaware of who Hunter S. Thompson is. And this in the post-Deppized world that we live in.

So I will continue to be a manic imitator and proponent of Thompson.

And I will most assuredly read Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson.

Not to be confused with Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson.

Or Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson.

Or The Gonzo Way: A Celebration of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

Or whatever the next one will be.



Lust in Translation by Pamela Druckerman

August 15th, 2008 at 8:00 am

I have a belligerent faith in books because they provide an extended, crafted argument in a world increasingly dominated by passing headlines, talking points, blurbs, pundits, scandal, and hype.

In many major news stories affecting our lives, books have become the final say.

So it was with distinct pleasure that I found myself reading Pamela Druckerman’s Lust in Translation: The Rules of Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee when John Edwards admitted to having an affair. If only I had picked it up during the Spitzer Scandal! Clinton! Kobe! It’s so applicable!

Lust in Translation by Pamela Druckerman

When the shit first hits the fan or when the dust finally settles, books are there to provide a welcome breath of analyzed, reasoned lore.

For her anthropological romp on infidelity, Druckerman discusses the cheating lives of citizens in America, France, Russia, Japan, Africa, and China, weaving statistics with anecdotal research with the casual ease of a smart, interesting friend after two glasses of wine. It’s all very interesting, as captivating as a light, breezy travelogue as we visit Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and polygamist Muslims in Indonesia.

While hard facts on infidelity are inherently difficult to obtain, this much emerges: Americans, the British, and the French are, despite the scandals and the railing of puritanical moralists, decidedly chaste; Russians and Africans, however, much less so.

The politics of professional sport’s sexual culture and the (in booming voice) “marriage industrial complex” both seemed so interesting as to warrant their own books.

The next time a sex scandal breaks, say, a professional athlete is found cheating with some random girl he just met, remember Max Clifford, the publicist who explains how young girls go to clubs with targets and call his office so as to determine which john would garner the highest compensation in exchange for a “story” with said individual.

And in a real coup, Authwhore has received its most prestigious endorsement yet. A 1950’s Ladies Home Journal “advised its readers that the way to hold on to a husband isn’t to lose weight and buy new lingerie, it’s to ‘read, read, read! And then talk about books, articles, movies, and news together…’”

That’s right. Because Reading is Sexy.

Look for the Authwhore diet books next Spring.



Books Can Control Your Mind Like TV

August 14th, 2008 at 6:33 pm

A new study by researchers reveals that emotions are affected in exactly the same way, regardless of whether you are reading or watching TV.

This is good and bad news.

Good news for us sensible folk dismayed by the puritans blaming society’s ills on Grand Theft Auto and the like.

Bad news for us sensible folk bothered by the puritans railing against books and campaigning to have them banned.

But of course, there are some fine lines to be distinguished in all of this. Books, nor television, is a monolithic medium to be generalized en masse. I have quite a different experience watching Wipeout or America’s Funniest Videos than I do Jeopardy or Seinfeld or 8 1/2. Same goes for reading Zadie Smith or Hunter S. Thompson versus reading someone like Michael Crichton.

But one thing is sure that I wish the study would have explored to verify my lifetime thesis: Reading is Sexy.

Sexier than the boob tube for sure.



The Aug. 11 & 18, 2008 New Yorker Cover is Tasteless and Offensive

August 13th, 2008 at 8:00 am

Future Memories Aug. 11 & 18, 2008 New Yorker Cover by J.J. Sempe

The “artwork” is by J.J. Sempe, a New Yorker contributor since 1978, and is called “Future Memories.”

Future Memories. Yeah, of false nostalgia blotted with sentimental Thomas-Kincade idealism. The image shows two adults roasting what can only be marshmallows over a campfire on a beach as seventeen ankle biters sit around enraptured by the fire’s glow and the sky’s sparkling expanse.

But certainly there will also be future memories of the bugs, the smell, the noise, the homesickness, the bad food, the annoying kids, the bed wetter, the crier, the stealer, the itches, the sickness, the sweat, and the discomfort.

At a time of war, grave athletic duels, and economic crises, I cannot fathom why such a distinguished publication as The New Yorker would resort to such escapist fantasy.

Is this what we want our children exposed to?

The ostriches at The New Yorker predictably resorted to a Frenchman for this drivel.

J.J. Sempe, born in the disreputable and ramshackle town of Bordeaux, is the author of “Sempe: A Little Bit of France.”

Buy it and the terrorists win.



Author Orson Scott Card is a Way Bigger Dumbass Than You’d Expect

August 12th, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Michael Swaim, writing at Cracked.com, has a magnificent rant on the homophobia of Orson Scott Card.

Do enjoy, but some highlights:

“The Mormon guy who wrote all those books about the innocence of a child winning out over war and hatred wants us to raise arms against any queers who feel like expressing their love legally. I mean, I understand a devout Mormon having some issues with gayness, but when your brain tells you that it’s an important enough issue to divide the country in a bloody coup, it’s time to get a new brain.”

“What the hell does it matter to you if two hot lesbians want to settle down and be respectable (which isn’t the way I like my hot lesbians either, believe me)? Until such a time as they bring down your property values with raging lesbian drug orgies, you’ve got nothing legitimate to complain about, and even then, I’ll trade houses with you.”

“You’ve spent your life imagining diverse races and cultures, and doing a hell of a good job. Yet your inability to imagine true love manifesting between two members of the same sex almost classifies you as retarded in my mind. It’s not even a moral issue. You’re just an idiot to me.”

“I know it’s pointless to ask you to change your mind; bigots armed with the intransigence of religion are rarely swayed. But hopefully some of those reading this post will be forewarned that Orson Scott Card has become a poison-spouting lunatic.”



Hugo Awards Announced

August 12th, 2008 at 5:58 am

Michael Chabon won the “best novel” category of science fiction’s most prestigious awards for The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

The Hugo Awards are Authwhore’s favorite literary awards.

And not because we’re closeted sci-fi-loving, graphic novel-reading nerds. Authwhore is just uniquely situated to singularly appreciate any award that prominently features a bright, shiny phallus:

2008 Hugo Award Trophy

The Hugo Award trophies vary year to year but always feature the finned Hugo rocket (also known in literary works as a penis (dildo, vibrator are also acceptable interpretations)).

Except for 1958. Something very unfortunate clearly happened in 1958 and rendered the science fiction community void of sexual impulse and creative drive:

1958 Hugo Award Trophy

What happened in 1958?!?!?!???