Nons sequiter, Landscapes Moral

February 8th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

by Sam Harris, pages 19 & 21, respectively.

The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris

“Must we really argue that beneficence, trust, creativity, etc., enjoyed in the context of a prosperous civil society are better than the horrors of civil war endured in a steaming jungle filled with aggressive insects carrying dangerous pathogens?”

Must we? I don’t know.

But aren’t we? Yes.

“It is quite possible for people to traffic in ideas and other cultural products that diminish their well-being for centuries on end.”

Is he referring to the Second Amendment?



The World With Us

September 16th, 2010 at 10:19 am

I will not consider joining the Church of Euthanasia or support the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, but something is rotten in America and I will simply point out man’s penchant for cruel irony.

This picture was taken in June on East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana:

laughing gull wallows in sludge in June on East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana.

It is a laughing gull.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Palin Pidgin

September 1st, 2010 at 12:00 pm

“One ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy.” – George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946

Our dear Sarah Palin has recently committed some amusing linguistic gaffes via Twitter. I only know about it because even a big, stinky Palin bowel movement is newsworthy these days. But also because I agree with Mr. Orwell and pay attention to how my nation’s (supposed (elected)) leaders (and popular figures) use language.

(Their words tend to be indicative of their thoughts.)

Sarah Palin and a book

First, Palin used refudiate instead of repudiate. Then had the gall, not to simply giggle, apologize, and correct herself, but to compare herself to Shakespeare and remind all of us simpletons that English is a living language.

Golly gee.

Then she used cackle instead of gaggle.

These are all understandable blunders. Just the other day I conflated “goodbye” with “later” and ended up telling a friend, “Glater!”

These things happen.

But with Sarah Palin they happen frequently and with a disappointing focus on being clear, concise, and correct. But most of all honest. And sincere.

This poor command of diction is no surprise however to those close to her who fear she may be suffering from a debilitating relapse into the confusing and tormenting world of a Salvia addiction.



Franzen Feud

August 30th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Jonathan Franzen. Perhaps you have heard of him.

More importantly, hopefully you have read the various words he has strung together. Perhaps you recall his Oprah Book Club snub for the very good “The Corrections.” Perhaps you are aware of his new book, “Freedom,” and the glowing praise it has received.

A masterpiece of American fiction???

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Well, certain females have taken issue with such gratuitous and potentially sexist adulation.

Jennifer Weiner, in particular, put out a call for non-Franzen novels that deal with similarly Franzen themes of family, identity, and love. I assume she is looking for novels written by the non-Franzen gender as well.

So Authwhore humbly endorses Sophie Dahl’s Playing With The Grown-Ups.

On the other end of the spectrum is of course Marisha Pessl. Remember that atrocity?

Jodi Picoult too has been implicated in this controversy. I am loose, eager, and easy when it comes to reading, so get ready for my assessment of Picoult’s contribution in this matter.



Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There

June 30th, 2010 at 9:39 am

“Titans of the information age walk around comparing the size of their predictions.”

Bobos in Paradise by David Brooks

The titular phrase Bobo has not caught on in the cultural lexicon as has hippie, yuppie, hipster, tween, millennial, etc, etc, et al.

It’s too bad, but understandable. Bobo is an abbreviated conflation of Bourgeois Bohemian and has the linguistic resonance of an Icelandic volcano. Though written way back in 2000 by David Brooks, Bobos in Paradise identifies a crucial element of our modern culture that is so pervasive it seems odd not to refer to it chidingly as often as we do hippies, yuppies, hipsters, etc. If anything, this book is more relevant and timely now than when it was written 10 years ago since the Bobo element has certainly reached its hegemonic stride.

Bobos are the educated, ruling class. They are a polymorphous, ill-definable demographic, but to get an initial grasp of this ilk, imagine an entity somewhere between Steve Jobs and your friend who wears a water-proof, reversible North Face fleece vest but never hikes, camps, bivouacs, or even spends much time outdoors, therefore successfully executing Rule #2 of the Bobo Code of Financial Correctness: “It is perfectly acceptable to spend lots of money on anything that is of ‘professional quality,’ even if it has nothing to do with your profession.”

Bobos are an element of our contemporary population that we can all probably identify in a vague way, but David Brooks has observed, reported, investigated, inquired, examined, and lionized the Bobo caste. Prior to reading this, the Bobos were merely an anomaly, mere coincidences and unaccountable convergences. It took this book to properly frame and explain a key segment of modern population that was until this reading, unnamed.

So who the hell are Bobos?
Read the book, you lazy slob.

Bobos are those who embody both the social liberalism of bohemians and the economic/political conservatism of the bourgeois. But unfortunately “Gone are the sixties-era things that were fun and of interest to teenagers, like Free Love, and retained are all the things that might be of interest to middle-aged hypochondriacs, like whole grains.”

Bobos are wholesomely ambitious. They are temperate and responsible. They are bureaucratic and utilitarian. They value organization, edification, purpose and connoisseurship. They are educated. They are affluent. They are Charlie Rose and David Geffen and Ken Burns and Al Gore and George W. Bush. They are NPR, Starbucks, Anthropologie, REI, Gap, Restoration Hardware, Weekly Standard, New Yorker, and Barnes & Noble.

Bobos know that “the best kind of money is incidental money. It’s the kind of money you just happen to earn while you are pursuing your creative vision.” And to be a Bobo, “not only do you have to show some income results; you have to perform a series of feints to show how little your worldly success means to you.”

Despite this demographics’ significance and impact on our lives, why after 10 years has “Bobo” not caught on?

Perhaps the name is simply too clunky.
Perhaps they are too big and too diverse of a group. We tend to obsess over outliers and homogenous groups who can be easily defined and therefore easily persecuted and/or praised.

Perhaps they are too moderate. In a way that the hippies and evangelicals and other radical groups can be lambasted and accused of committing deviant and unwelcome behavior, the Bobos are a pretty boring group. They can’t really be accused of being good or bad.

They just are. Dangerously innocuous in a way.

I propose that we revive the term Bobo as a slur. Or come up with a better one to slander this vile group. It has been during the Bobo rule that, “The rewards for intellectual capital have increased while the rewards for physical capital have not.” Except for athletes I suppose?

And it was the old order that asked, “Who are you?” But now the new (Bobo) order asks, “What do you do?”

They used to want our labor. But the Bobos want our soul.



Going Rogue: Final Thoughts

March 1st, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I have really enjoyed reading Going Rogue. In much the same way I enjoyed high school. It was instructive and a bit bizarre and I wouldn’t want to do it again.

I wouldn’t wish such a reading experience on any of you. Because Sarah Palin is painfully naive, obtuse, and annoying. Even though this memoir was certainly heavily edited, if not completely ghostwritten, there is no escaping Sarah’s charm. Charm like a sandpaper turd.

What I have enjoyed most about reading this book is telling people that I am reading it and quoting from it: “We had turned the idea of commercializing our natural gas for Alaska’s economic future from pipe dream to pipeline.”

Yee haw!

And am I the only one who knows what rogue means???

1 : VAGRANT, TRAMP

2 : a dishonest or worthless person : SCOUNDREL

3 : a mischievous person : SCAMP

4 : a horse inclined to shirk or misbehave

5 : an individual exhibiting a chance and usually inferior biological variation

So sure, Sarah, you go rogue. Go real rogue.

Our concern with Sarah Palin is that she is clearly not going away anytime soon. A Ross Perot she is not. She confirms this in her Acknowledgments: “Next time, the focus will not be on me.”

Next time?!?!???

Focus will not be on you? Good luck.

Because Sarah Palin spends 403 pages ranting and raving about publicity, unwanted attention, smear campaigns, ethics inquiries, freedom of information requests, invasion of privacy, and then once she retires as Governor of Alaska, observes this: “We did not expect the wall-to-wall national coverage that exploded over the next week.”

Really?

Be honest.

Tell me the truth.

You really didn’t expect that?

Okay, well then you’re an idiot, Sarah Palin.



The Abe of Obama

December 7th, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Much has been said about Barack Obama.

Much has been said about Barack Obama and the books he reads.

Much has been said about Barack Obama reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.”

Much has been said about the similarities between Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln.

And for good reason. While I am only on page 11 of Team of Rivals, I have already noted the following:

(and seriously, I swear to god, I am not simply reading this book because it is now in the news, I have owned it for some time now, having snagged a hardcover first edition for 10 dollars during a bargain sale at Barnes & Borderzon.)

Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama were both nominated by their party to be presidential candidates above considerable odds and the presence of much more prominent, formidable opponents.

They were both from the state of Illinois.

Lincoln’s only elected experience was a single term as Representative. Obama’s only experience was a single term as Senator.

They both chose a former opponent as Secretary of State.

Which is all great. Lincoln was a great President. And Obama is proving to be one.

But here’s my problem:

Abraham Lincoln was shot.



Election Hangover

November 5th, 2008 at 4:16 pm

“This is our country, too, and we can goddam well control it if we learn to use the tools.” – Hunter S. Thompson, 1969

With the economy in shambles, financial books are finding a lucrative market.

With Barack Obama winning the election, his books see another bump in sales.

The rest of us drank a little bubbly last night and treated our dogs to a George the Lame Duck chew toy.

It was divine.



Rumors: Sarah Palin Doesn’t Read, Too Busy Smoking Salvia

October 1st, 2008 at 8:06 pm

A lot has been said about Sarah Palin since she was tapped, like that last keg of old PBR that no one wanted to drink but would if we got desperate and times got tough, to be John McCain’s running mate.

And a lot has been said about her since then.

But what has not been covered by the liberal mainstream media are the rumors that have been writhing around John McCain like maggots that spontaneously generated from him after being left out and exposed to the elements for too long. They certainly didn’t hatch from the eggs left by flies and they certainly didn’t evolve. This is the McCain/Palin campaign we’re talking about here.

These rumors are something that only a select few can confidently corroborate: that Sarah Palin is in the throes of a severe addiction to Salvia divinorum.

Salvia is an intense psychoactive that causes hallucinations. While currently legal, lawmakers across the country have recently been calling for Salvia’s criminalization.

All the surefire signs of a serious Salvia habit are frighteningly present in Sarah Palin: A bubbly yet detached demeanor. A glassy, distant gaze. Stuttering, stammering, restarting sentences and failing to complete thoughts. A smirking, goofy grin. Onset of a slow drawl as the active constituent, trans-neoclerodane diterpenoid, interferes with the k-Opioid receptor. An inability to focus, especially on direct questions, such as, “What newspapers do you read?”

America, you don’t read when you’re high on Salvia! You’re too busy having a philosophical argument with your Ego in a bright white room. And then you army crawl into the kitchen and look out the window at Russia.

There have also been rumors that even Tina Fey smoked Salvia in order to prepare for her spoof of Palin on Saturday Night Live. But smoking Salvia results in only a few minutes of an altered state. Palin is clearly a chewer, whose effects last much, much longer.

But remember, My Fair Country, however you feel about this country’s state after these past eight years, remember that it was presided over by a sober man.



Happy Banned Book Week

September 29th, 2008 at 6:16 pm

Well, it’s finally here: Banned Book Week.

Sponsored by the American Library Association, Banned Book Week is observed this year from September 27th to October 4th. And while Banned Book Week probably falls somewhere beyond Grandma’s Birthday and Flag Day on the Degree of Celebration Scale, I am reading Bless Me, Ultima in order to partake in the festivities.

Because this isn’t really about banned books, which seem quaint and harmless. It’s about censorship and 1st Amendment Rights and free speech, which strike a far more resonant cord in freedom-loving folk.

In commemoration of Banned Book Week, Time has assembled a nice slide show of the most challenged books of all times:

Squares beware.

Banned Book Week does not currently have the celebratory, festive tradition of a Christmas or Thanksgiving or Fourth of July, but Authwhore thinks that the likes of Voltaire, Mark Twain, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, J.D. Salinger, and Vladimir Nabokov should make for a really, really smashing good time.

So look for Banned Book Week party recommendations next year. Suggestions welcome and encouraged. We should strive for combining New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and Fourth of July in a week-long orgy akin to Carnival.