Above the Fray

Friday, August 19, 2005

I love book Reviews

Jon Carroll:

"I had read virtually none of the books Wilson wrote about. I had heard of less than half the authors. It didn't matter. His prose was so muscular and matter-of-fact, even when he was discussing matters of high art. I knew I could never write like Shakespeare or Hemingway, but it seemed possible that, with application and time, I could write like Edmund Wilson.

I still read criticism of books I will never read. I suspect lots of people do. Part of it is to get a gloss on the culture -- ah, Bret Easton Ellis, looks like I won't have to crack the latest novel either -- but also to listen to the sound of thinking.

It's not about agreeing or disagreeing -- opinion isn't really the point of criticism, although that's what everybody takes away from it -- it's about watching a thesis being developed, about watching an idea being defended"


Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Tangled Web: Valerie Plame Case

This gets curiouser and curiouser..

Think Progress: Corrupt Establishment:

"Think Progress has created a comprehensive database cataloguing the connections of 21 administration officials to the outing of an undercover CIA agent. It will be updated regularly to reflect news developments on the case and will serve as a reference for anyone looking for the most up to date information on the investigation. "

Link to the 'database': here
The list [so far]:
Karl Rove, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, Andrew Card, Alberto Gonzales, Mary Matalin, Ari Fleischer, Susan Ralston, Israel Hernandez, John Hannah, Scott McClellan, Dan Bartlett, Claire Buchan, Catherine Martin, Colin Powell, Karen Hughes, Adam Levine, Bob Joseph, and

Vice President Dick Cheney,

President George W. Bush

Old ranch saying: The more you stir poop, the more it stinks.

Thanks for the link Nick Burbules over at Progressive Blog Digest

Friday, August 12, 2005

Amusing Canadian

In the past, I have made reference to a blog that I find funny. It has been a while so I thought I would point to it again, lest you forget.

There appears to be an emerging theme of late: "Adventures of Cubicle Dweller, and his transcendant encounters with business.

THE(tm) C

"No... thank YOU"
Friday, June 03, 2005

Sadly, I have to admit that today I lunched at the Scottish restaurant. I had avoided it for months, but while passing McDonald's I succumbed to a combination of hunger pangs and delicious posters of hamburgers. (No, that wasn't a misplaced modifier -- the posters are far more delicious than the hamburgers.)

I'm pleased to report that the menu is exactly as I remember it -- a lineup of vaguely beef-related sandwiches accompanied by tallow-soaked potato product. After consuming the 'McDeal' of the day, I dumped the remains of the day into the nearest garbage receptacle, and was startled when it spoke to me.

'Thank you,' it said. Its voice was deep and gentle, and imbued with paternal kindness, as if someone's dad had accidentally fallen into the garbage can and decided to make the best of it by thanking passers-by for cleaning up after themselves. It turned out not to be my dad or anyone else's, thankfully. It's actually an electronic recording that's triggered each time someone throws something away -- an innovative way to imbue a feeling of warmth and personal attention that doesn't actually exist at McDonald's.

I can't wait to see what else speaks to me next time I need to satisfy my hamburger addiction. Maybe my chair will thank me for sitting down, and my table will thank me for placing objects on it. And toilets too! 'Thank you.'"


Guilt and redemption
Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I visited Black Dog Video yesterday to pick up a couple of movies. Black Dog is one of the few remaining independent video rental shops in Vancouver, and have managed to stay in business by keeping in stock a stunning number of art and foreign films. This places them in a niche market with little competition from the low-brow megastore, Blockbuster, which stocks only hit movies, and whose clientele tends to get confused if the title contains one or more polysyllabic words. Black Dog customers are film connoiseurs who appreciate the true art of filmmaking.

So as the clerk checked out my copies of Ocean's Twelve and Ladder 49, something strange and wholly unexpected happened. "You have a late charge," she said, adjusting her black-rimmed glasses to peer at her computer screen.

It was true. It was true: I had returned a movie an entire day late last week. Upon being caught, I was almost overwhelmed with guilt. I lowered my eyes, and felt the flush of shame creeping into my cheeks, edging around my ears, and leaking out my scalp in the form of sweat.

But then something remarkable happened.

"But... I'll forgive you," she said simply, as if it were nothing. But it was everything! I was forgiven! She forgave me. I could barely contain my relief. I wanted to shout out loud! I wanted to reach over the counter and embrace her with joy, but fortunately I stopped myself because the last time I did that -- well I won't get into that. I thanked her, and left Black Dog feeling purified in spirit. I had been forgiven.

It had happened so quickly, and without ceremony, in dramatic contrast with the early days of video rental, where late-fee forgiveness often required penance, the presence of a priest or rabbi, and on occasion a bout of self-flagellation. Times change, I suppose, and as is so often the case, tradition falls by the wayside.

For more on the 'haiku' of life, jump on over there.. Vancouver CA

NOTE: I still dispute his trademarking 'The'.. Thats(tm) mine dude!

Yes But Patriot

This isn't new. It has probably been said and thought during every war since someone picked up a stick and tried to convince a group to attack another. Still, the incongruity rankles...

Parent-trap snares recruiters:

Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

'I want you to know we support you,' she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

'Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people,' she told him."

Reminds me of another quote from the distant past: "..taxes are for the little people." [Leona Helmsley].

and so it goes

Quote for the week

Mark A. R. Kleiman: Abramoff goes down in flames:

"The thing I hate fourth-worst about the Bush regime -- after the way they're screwing up the country, dishonoring the flag, and making the world a more dangerous place -- is all the ammunition they supply the tin-hat brigade. How am I supposed to convince my students not to believe in elaborate wicked conspiracies when we've got an elaborate wicked conspiracy running the damned country?"...

I'm used to news stories that read like items from The Onion, but this one reads like the plot of a Ross Thomas or Richard Condon novel. It turns out that Tom Delay's (and Karl Rove's) good buddy Jack Abramoff was involved in a complicated corporate fraud.

That's hardly a surprise. What brings it to the Ross Thomas/Richard Condon level is the fact that one of the players, who had wound up on the opposite side from Abramoff, died of acute lead poisoning....