Saturday, April 30, 2005

Another "Who cares?"

War. Genocide. Social Security. Culture clashes.

Major news outlets think the story of a runaway bride is interesting. This is news how? Where? Why?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

John Brown, Daily Beacon Columist is Literate

And a typically inconsistent Right winger.

His recommended reads for the summer include:

“Atlas Shrugged” — First of all, there is this classic Ayn Rand novel. What would happen if the creative minds of the world went on strike? What happens when collectivism completely overrules individualism? And who is John Galt? You will find the answers in this book, written in 1957. Though over 1,000 pages long, it has the ability to hold the reader’s attention from start to finish. This work (particularly Galt’s speech) is considered the basis of Rand’s philosophy of objectivism.

Ayn Rand is proof-positive that John Dewey's dictum that all humans are philosophical at their core is true. Rand's core was incoherent, megalomaniacal and mean-spirited enough to make Aristotle blush. It isn't enough to call her the figurehead of a cult. Chick Corea is a Scientologist. That doesn't scare me. Alan Greenspan is a proud Objectivist. That scares me. If you want a conservative philospher see Leo Strauss or Michael Oakeshott. The former is nuts, but interesting; the latter sublime.

“1984” — Probably George Orwell’s most famous work, “1984” is a nightmarish vision of a future in which the state has taken total control. Originally published in 1948, it’s difficult to read this novel and not notice that some of Orwell’s fears are becoming reality.

“Animal Farm” — Another great work from Orwell, this novel is the story of a group of barnyard animals who overthrow their abusive, corrupt farmer and institute a government in which they are all equals. Of course, this utopian state does not last very long, and the society quickly devolves into yet another tyranny. Representing the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the symbolism is amazingly easy to pick up, and the story itself is engrossing.

Conservatives who cite Orwell make me giggle. Ah, yes, the coalfieds union organizer and author who was a life-long socialist is an inspiration for the American Right. Heh. Inconsistent as usual. Eric Blair (Orwell) was dedicated to fighting against totalitarianism. The Soviet Union was not a socialist state, it was brutal totalitarian dictator with a smattering of breadlines and such. I suggest you give Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism a read as well as Rorty's extensive treatment of Orwell in Contingency, Irony and Solidarity.

“Modern Times” — This outstanding history of the world from the 1920s until the 1990s is a must-read for anyone interested in history. Written by British historian Paul Johnson (who also wrote the equally outstanding “A History of the American People”), this book also cuts through much of the politically correct garbage that clouds history, and also gives one a good idea of what is needed to confront the future.

1. "Politically Correct Garbage" -- code word for scholarship that clashes with one's ideology.

2. "also gives one a good idea of what is needed to confront the future" -- Yes, history is a endlessly repeating pattern that only certain people can discern or have we reached the end of history? I can't ever keep this straight and it seems neither can the people who espouse this rehashed 18th Century philosophical view.

Still, I should read this book. So points to Brown for having one that I could bear.

“The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror” — Former political prisoner and Israeli statesman Natan Sharansky explains why freedom is the natural longing of all mankind, and why promoting democracy abroad is in the best interest of all Americans. As a former prisoner in the Soviet Union, Sharansky knows a thing or two about oppression. Even though the book is critical of President Bush at times, Bush has embraced it. And so will anyone who reads it with an open mind.

I've heard this book is a good read, but pedestrian in places. I'll see if I can squeeze it in somewhere. That being said, democracy does not equal the end of tyranny. Example: Great Britain is a democracy. It is difficult to say that the various crackdowns in Northern Ireland were not tyrannical in many ways. You can go on and on. It is a naive argument at best.

"Bush has embraced it. And so will anyone who reads it with an open mind." -- Open Mind: Code word for 'agrees with me.' That George Bush read it is astounding enough, but as a barometer of intellectual prowess I think I will look elsewhere and even within his own administration.

“Intellectual Morons” — Another good recent book by Daniel J. Flynn. Here, Flynn takes on sacred cows of both the left and the right and exposes how, when one blindly adheres to a single ideological bent, they can be manipulated into believing or doing almost anything. If you know someone who seems to have a fanatical streak, pick up this book for them.

David Horowitz. I choose David Horowitz as my giftee. Anyhow arguments from the middle are fraught with as many intellectual problems as arguing from the poles. What's it say in the Bible about being 'lukewarm?'

“Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth” — Recent UCLA graduate Ben Shapiro takes on the modern politically correct American campus in this brilliant exposé on academic bias. Drawing on his own personal experiences in addition to many well-documented cases, Shapiro will convince all but the most zealous leftist that academic bias is a serious problem that must be addressed. If you are undecided on the Academic Bill of Rights, you owe it to yourself to read this book.

Right. Academic bias exists on both sides. I am geography grad student. You would be hard pressed to find many Bush voters among my faculty and peers. That being said, the opposite is true in the Engineering School, Business School and Law School. The Academic Bill of Rights is an attempt squash criticism not stop indoctrination. Indoctrination goes on both sides of the issue. Wait until the first professor is trotted out for admonisment under one of these laws: the AAUP and the ACLU are licking their chops over this unconstitutional steak.

“The New Dealers’ War: FDR and the War Within WWII” — Historian Thomas Flemming is something of a radical. This book takes on the Roosevelt administration with a ferocity few ever have. Well researched and easy to read, Flemming exposes FDR as a leader far short of what his legions of admirers would have us believe. Though I can’t say I agree with Flemming on everything, this is definitely an eye-opening book that presents a look at history that you won’t often hear, especially in the university.

You will find plenty of 'leftist' criticism of FDR's handling of any number of issues during WWII especially the ignoring the signs of genocide (not pointed out by 'rightist' historians) and the mad rush to build atomic weapons (again, not a point of conservative criticism). I'd like to read this though. Something tells me that Brown thinks academia is like the Freeper echo chamber except with degrees from places like Harvard, Berkeley and UCLA, not Chicago, George Mason and wherever Stacey Campfield got his degrees online.

“How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (And Found Inner Peace)” — Reformed leftist Harry Stein comes out of the closet as a conservative, and looks back on his days as a radical, and explains his gradual realization that he was a conservative — whether he liked or not. Hilarious from start to finish, this book is easy to read and will leave you smiling.

As someone who came in from the Dark Side (I voted for Bush I at the tender age of 19), I would probably be able to switch terms and identify with this book. That being said, if I want to laugh, it won't be at something so serious as mindset that is hell bent on spreading poorly thought out bathroom wall philosophies via lies, intimidation and force.

I'll just read my beloved P.G. Wodehouse. He was a filthy commie and a Nazi sympathizer at the same time, somehow. What?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

So what's the cost to Tennessee

California loses 21.7B bucks a year to obesity. What's it cost one of the fattest states in the Union, Tennessee?

Friday, February 25, 2005

ALA President goes after blogging

Michael Gorman goes after blogs in this post to LibraryJournal. I think he is right in many ways especially with the google-cut-and-paste-a-link crowd who consider this to be "research."

Quote: "It is obvious that the Blog People read what they want to read rather than what is in front of them and judge me to be wrong on the basis of what they think rather than what I actually wrote. Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable."

I am a graduate student and I blog. OK. This is the refutation of his premise. I have to do enormous amounts of sustained complex reading. I treat my blog as a way to blow off steam or post a funny thing or to air out a thought. It is not authoritative in any way. But, there are many, many people who consider what is posted to a blog to be the God's Honest Truth(tm). It isn't. I know through a friend who works a Google that Google has really had to deal with bloggers and cross-linking because it seems to give authority by placing posts, which may be some wacko spewing vitriol, higher than more relevant status. This has devalued Google to some degree. This has been addressed, I think, by Google Scholar.

Still, there is no subsitute for going to the library and really digging in resources that will never be on the internet because the costs are so high to digitize and store it. Ask any librarian if they would like to digitize and make everything available to everybody and the answer would be "Yes!" The reality is much different.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Nashua Advocate: CBS Speculates That Karl Rove Was Jeff Gannon's Contact Inside the White House; Retitles Article to Highlight Gannongate Element

So CBS (insert inane wingnut muttering) is going to pick up the mantle of JimJeff and ride with it to the Promised Land. I think this thing is picking up steam. Supposedly, JimJeff, after saying that he would never talk to the media again, is now going on CNN. Clearing the name? He better be careful that he says nothing outside the limited protection a "journalist" gets. Will he be with Larry King? Softballs are all that old man is about so they should get along swimmingly and, who knows?, if King has a couple of extra C-notes around he could get an hour's worth of those "8 inches, cut." Just think of it!

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