Thursday, September 20, 2018

"Shocking Biblical Study Reveals Methushael Did Not Beget Lamech"

"'This is truly fascinating, because if Lamech was never begat, then who was the begetter of Adah's two sons Jabal and Jubal, the latter being famously the first harp player ever begot?'"

From The Onion

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"It Wouldn't Make Up for Everything, but Partial Redemption Is Better Than None"

"Brown's greatness as an athlete and activist will matter in the victory hall of posterity, but not here, not now—not in this nightmare burlesque melodrama we're all trapped in. Michael Cohen matters. Paul Manafort matters. Robert Mueller preeminently matters. Jim Brown is a minor sideshow, an incidental noise-generator, in this high-stakes charade. To truly matter in the existential present, he'd need to repudiate Donald Trump and own up on the women he’s hurt, and no one's waiting around for that fairy tale to happen. But with Trump renewing his castigation of kneeling NFL players even as I type, imagine the impact if Brown told him to back off and let these grown men exercise their freedom of expression. A statement of solidarity from Jim Brown would defy Trump's rhino charge and earn Brown back some of the respect he's lost in the last year."

James Wolcott in The New York Review of Books reviews Dave Zirin's Jim Brown: Last Man Standing.

"Supposedly Educated Professor Has No Idea How To Get Bird Out Of Lecture Hall"

"At press time, Professor Cabella's credibility had reportedly taken an 'absolute nosedive' after he paused the lecture once more to place a panicky, stuttering phone call to the campus maintenance department asking for assistance."

From The Onion.

"All of These Other Forms of Worker Leverage Have Been Decimated"

"Economists point to the long-term decline in worker bargaining power as part of the reason that employees' paychecks are not rising right now. The share of employed workers who are members of a union has fallen in half since the 1980s. States have eroded labor standards and hampered collective bargaining. As a result, it is harder for workers to demand higher paychecks, year after year after year.
"'Bargaining powers are additive,' said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank. 'You get them not just from the tight labor market, but also from your union, and also from binding labor standards. When you have this big erosion in this set of things that give you bargaining power, it takes a tighter and tighter labor market and a lower and lower unemployment rate to translate into strong wage growth.'"

Annie Lowrey at The Atlantic explains why "[t]he central paradox of the Trump economy is that widespread concerns about labor shortages coexist with widespread complaints about low wages."

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"The Difference Between the Traditional Old City and the New Theme Park"

"Moore's seeming prescience about the conditions we now call 'neoliberal' (POPS are quintessential neoliberal spaces) accrued from his astute observation of California in postwar transition. You might say that Moore, and his essays, are historical vessels so vigorous that an era seems to pour through them. The new freeways that sped his statewide journeys, the massive water infrastructure that fed his beloved public fountains, the public university campuses that he admired (and where he worked)—in retrospect these were high points of a receding vision of hyper-modernization and civil engineering spurred, especially from the New Deal on, by federal, state, and municipal munificence. The impact of such public investment, to draw on a key word in Moore's essay, was 'equalitarian.' But when he praised the Disney maintenance crews for working better than corresponding public services (those 'handsomely costumed young people' who 'sweep away the gum wrappers almost before they fall to the spotless pavement'), and when, in a later essay on electronics, he would claim that 'our new places … are given form with electronic, not visual glue,' Moore was delicately gauging the more general societal turn, from the 1960s to the '80s and up to today, towards privatization and away from large-scale planning, top-down technocratic expertise, and public policy advocacy."

Simon Sadler at Places introduces Charles Moore's "You Have to Pay for the Public Life" from 1965.

"Everything's Speeding Up"

"Part of the problem is the unforeseen result of helicopter parenting. If you schedule your children from 6 a.m. to when they go to bed, yes, it can make a perfect heat-seeking missile directed right at Harvard or Stanford, but it can undermine students' sense of autonomy. It can undermine their sense of competence. And that's unfortunately a really effective formula for anxious and depressed kids. And the more anxious campuses become, the harder it is to actually sustain tolerance for outsiders and dialogue."

Julie Beck at The Atlantic interviews Greg Lukianoff three years after "The Coddling of the American Mind."

And Andrew Sullivan at New York reacts to reading Lukianoff's book.

Monday, September 17, 2018

"And Now It Is Upon Us"

"That monster is sex—gender, women's rights—as lived in America in 2018. From the beginning, gender, and nothing else, is what this confirmation struggle has been about. The nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981, the first female justice, was a milestone for many women; in 1993, that of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a feminist trailblazer, electrified equal-rights advocates. But neither of those, to me at least, conveyed the ominous gendered subtext of the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
"Because that is true, there was no way, in the logic of the nightmare that is American life in 2018, that the nation would avoid direct confrontation between the sexes, between #MeToo and #MAGA."

Garrett Epps at The Atlantic discusses the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

"Enfolding the New Into the Old"

"It's a slim, concise monograph, and it begins with the truth that conservatism is a branch of liberalism, and not its enemy. It is the branch that tries to conserve the liberal democratic state against the corrosive effects and flaws of liberalism itself (not to speak of leftism and reactionism, which seek to overthrow liberalism entirely). More to the point, it does not defend liberalism as a function of natural rights, or of human rights, or self-evident truths, but simply as the inheritance of a particular place in a particular sliver of human history: the Anglo-American world in the last two and a half centuries."

Andrew Sullivan at New York explains reacts to reading Roger Scruton's Conservatism: An Introduction to the Great Tradition.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"More an End Than a Beginning"

"After les évènements in France in May came June's parliamentary elections, sweeping General De Gaulle's rightist party to power in a landslide victory. After the Prague Spring and the promise of 'socialism with a human face,' the tanks of the Soviet-run Warsaw Pact overran Czechoslovakia. In Latin America, the Guevarist guerrilla trend was everywhere repulsed, to the benefit of the right. In the US, the 'silent majority' roared. As the divided Democratic Party lay in ruins, Richard Nixon's Southern strategy turned the Party of Lincoln into the heir to the Confederacy. As the right consolidated around an alliance of Christian evangelicals, racial backlashers, and plutocrats, the left was unable, or unwilling, to fuse its disparate sectors. The left was maladroit at achieving political power; it wasn't even sure that was its goal."

At The New York Review of Books, Todd Gitlin remembers 1968.

"I'm Talking About His Rhetoric, Not His Actions"

"I think as far as his rhetorical strategy goes, it's very fascist. He's certainly not calling to impose equality. It certainly doesn't have any hints of communism or anything like that. He explicitly targets minority out-groups in calling them rape threats with regularity, which has the psychological effect of creating an association between immigrants and crime.
"He regularly lies. He creates this connection between himself and his supporters with that technique of lying. Because it's this kind of 'Us against them,' rather than truth or falsity. He's harsh, but he's harshly patriarchal. He's very much the strongman. His values are social Darwinism. You don't find that in communist authoritarianism. You find him talking about winners and losers, and it's all about winning, and he's the biggest winner. He does hit all the classic fascist tropes, I have to say."

Isaac Chotiner at Slate interviews Jason Stanley, author of How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.

Monday, September 10, 2018

"All the More Urgent in the Era Where Donald Trump Has Made Obvert Racism a Cornerstone of Republican Politics"

"Rather than suggesting that we need to have more conservatives write on the history of conservatism, Kabaservice should ask why the existing literature of conservatives writing about their own movement is so poor. He closes by suggesting 'liberal historians' subscribe to conservative magazines, that their anger might be 'better informed.' Yet it's not so clear that liberals would be surprised by what they find in the pages of conservative publications. Conservatives, if one is to take their amnesia at face value, might be."

Jeet Heer at The New Republic reacts to Geoffrey Kabaservice's criticism of liberal historians of conservatism.

Friday, September 07, 2018

"The Question Is Why"

"These answers omit the information the other includes. Obama left himself out of his explanation. Shapiro left everything except Obama out of his tweet. But combine them and you get something convincing: Donald Trump capitalized on fears triggered by demographic, technological, economic, social, religious, and civic change, and nothing represented or activated those fears as powerfully as Obama himself."

Ezra Klein at Vox ponders Barack Obama's speech at the University of Illinois.

As does Jonathan Chait at New York.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

"Not Enough People Connect the Dots Between Our Political Dysfunctions and the Sacred Constitution of 1787"

"The Framers simply didn't anticipate how deeply partisanship would hollow out Congress' willingness to hold a president accountable. They hated political parties—George Washington bemoaned 'the demon of party spirit'—and failed to account for the ways in which what they called 'factions' would eventually come to make a mockery of the checks and balances they wrote into the system."

Sanford V. Levinson at Politico argues that "The Constitution Needs a Reboot."

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

"I Learned to Write at Beyond Baroque"

"Asked if he ever feels like he's caught in an '80s timewarp, Doe says no.
"'There's always something different, and I don't think I'm trying to protect myself from feeling [nostalgic] because there's young people at the show, and they're looking at Exene as a role model,' he says. 'When I see that, I feel like we've succeeded. …
"'There’s also an element of authenticity, which has become a buzzword lately. There's so many things that are virtual and digital and not born through blood, sweat and tears and fire and sliding off the road at two in the morning. … I think young people want to see that and they want to feel that.'"

Bliss Bowen in The Argonaut talks with Exene Cervenka and John Doe from X.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018


"I was driving around and I stumbled across the station and all they were doing was playing punk music and there was no commercials and I'm thinking, what the hell is going on here? This is something, I've never heard anything like this and I didn't know what it was. I was excited about turning the radio on and not hearing the same old crap that you was hearing at that time, like every other station."

In 2015, Liz Ohaneslan at Noisey presents "An Oral History of Indie 103.1, Commercial Radio's Greatest Failed Experiment." 

"Connections to the Old Comstock Lode Remain Strong"

"'Mining was hard, dirty, and repetitive, like digging an endless ditch,' he writes.
"Mining also bred competition, hatred and violence. In 1870, 'a white mob attacked Chinese laborers' in Empire City, Nev., and 'destroyed their huts and property.' No one was arrested or prosecuted.
"And mining wrought terrible environmental degradation and the pollution of San Francisco Bay that continues to this day."

Jonah Raskin at the San Francisco Chronicle reviews Gregory Crouch's The Bonanza King: John Mackay and the Battle Over the Greatest Riches in the American West.

"All Children Are Worthy of Their Consideration"

"This idea that your own child is the most important thing—that's something we could try to rethink. When affluent white parents are making these decisions about parenting, they could consider in some way at least how their decisions will affect not only their kid, but other kids. This might mean a parent votes for policies that would lead to the best possible outcome for as many kids as possible, but might be less advantageous for their own child. My overall point is that in this moment when being a good citizen conflicts with being a good parent, I think that most white parents choose to be good parents, when, sometimes at the very least, they should choose to be good citizens."

Joe Pinsker at The Atlantic interviews Margaret Hagerman, author of White Kids: Growing Up With Privilege in a Racially Divided America.

"How Can a Sick System Be Threatened?"

"Yet if you take their giddy expectation of incipient revolution seriously, then their sour disposition toward the democracy movement makes perfect sense. The episodes that seem to democracy scholars like harbingers of extreme danger—a president delegitimizing the news media and seeking to turn law enforcement into a political weapon—have been met on the socialist left with more equanimity. Why rouse yourself to defend a doomed and rotten system when a much brighter future beckons?

Jonathan Chait at New York explains "Why Trump's Assault on Democracy Doesn't Bother the Radical Left."

Monday, September 03, 2018

"All I Ask of Our Brethren Is That They Take Their Feet Off Our Necks"

"When she was 60 she considered applying to law school but was told that no law school would admit a woman. Soon after, she visited Washington and was taken to see the empty chambers of the Supreme Court, in the basement of the Senate. In those days, anyone could visit the rooms if the court was not in session. Someone invited her to sit in the chief justice's chair. Taking a seat, she found herself saying, 'Who knows but this chair may one day be occupied by a woman.' She described the moment in a letter to a friend. 'The brethren laughed heartily,' she noted, 'nevertheless it may be a true prophecy.'"

Louise W. Knight at CNN compares Ruth Bader Ginsberg to Sarah Grimké.

"The Postmodernist Theorists We Vilify Did Not Cause This"

"Ironically, the urge to blame postmodernism for Trump-era politics blinds us to the explanatory value postmodernism holds for what’s happening today. It's easy to scoff at, for example, Baudrillard's book 'The Gulf War Did Not Take Place,' writing it off as just another instance of postmodernist claptrap, the denial of an objective truth so obvious as 'the Gulf War happened.' But if we bother to understand Baudrillard's thesis—that our impressions of the conflict have been warped by media framing and agitprop—it's clear that the real enemy of truth is not postmodernism but propaganda, the active distortion of truth for political purposes. Trumpism practices this form of distortion on a daily basis." 

Aaron Hanlon at The Washington Post argues that postmodernism has "actually given us a framework to understand precisely how falsehood can masquerade as truth."

And Hugo Drochon at The New Statesman describes Friedrich Nietzsche as "the philosopher of ressentiment, which seems to be driving much populist politics today."

Saturday, September 01, 2018

"The Study of How That Right-Wing Ecosystem Works"

"The core of the book is the study of how that right-wing ecosystem works. According to the authors, false stories are launched on a series of extreme Web sites, such as InfoWars (the home of Alex Jones), 'none of which claim to follow the norms or processes of professional journalistic objectivity.' Those stories are then transmitted to outlets such as Fox News and the Daily Caller, which, according to the authors, 'do claim to follow journalistic norms,' but often fail in that function when it comes to tales from the Web sites. Notably, the authors write, 'this pattern is not mirrored on the left wing.' There are no significant Web sites on the left that parallel the chronic falsity of those on the right, and the upstream sources do follow traditional journalistic standards, and serve 'as a consistent check on the dissemination and validation of the most extreme stories when they do emerge on the left, and have no parallels in the levels of visibility or trust that can perform the same function on the right.'"

Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker reviews Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics by Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts.

Friday, August 31, 2018

August 2018 Acquistions

Paul Dini et al, Batman: Arkham--Mister Freeze, 2017.
Roberta Edwards, Who Was King Tut?, 2006.
Terry Edwards, Madness' One Step Beyond, 2009.
Jeff Kaliss, I Want to Take You Higher: The Life and Times of Sly and the Family Stone, 2009
Bob Kane et al, Batman: Arkham--Hugo Strange, 2018.

Jackie's Back, 1999.
Mildred Pierce, 1945.
The Truman Show, 1998.

Charlie Christian, The Genius of the Electric Guitar, 1987.
Coldplay, Parachutes, 2000.
Miles Davis, On the Corner, 1972.
Aretha Franklin, The Very Best of Aretha Franklin, Vol. 2: The '70s, 1994.
Johnny Marr, Call the Comet, 2018.
Ian McCulloch, Candleland, 1989.
The Quick, Mondo Deco (Expanded Edition), 2018.
Lou Reed, Lou Reed, 1972.
Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure, 1973.
Various, Anthology of American Folk Music, 1997.
Various, Jubilation! Great Gospel Performances, Vol, 3: Country Gospel, 1992
Various, Sampled, 2000.
Various, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1996.

"But at What Price?"

"American society is built around what white people like and don’t like. They decide which foreign foods are 'in' (bubble tea, burritos) and what's 'gross' or 'exotic' (menudo, say, or marinated pig ears). American standards for acceptable behavior—the way people talk, the language they use, the food they eat in a mainstream company—are carefully tailored to the tastes of white people. It makes sense. White people run the country and the vast majority of its institutions. They hold most of the wealth. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that some Asian-Americans are aligning themselves with white people when it comes to university admissions. Appealing to white taste, after all, is a baseline requirement for advancement."

Iris Kuo at The Atlantic discusses the "'Whitening' of Asian Americans."

"Conservatives Are Definitely Getting a Return on Their Investment"

"In office, he has instead governed as an orthodox right-winger. This explains why Trump has lost so much of his nonconservative support. But it also helps explain the Republican Party's willingness to defend him. "

Jonathan Chait at New York reminds readers that "[i]nstead of keeping his popular promises that helped get him elected, Trump instead adopted the unpopular stances of the conservative movement, which has in turn embraced him."