It’s possible that not even many people who were alive in the Seventies will get the joke of my title… I was trying to think of something to illustrate the way even horror was flattened out into something banal… But don’t bother with me. Kathy Shaidle encapsulates the Seventies perfectly: “…that bitter, corrosive yet oddly sacharine pall.” Yep. That’s why every time another disco bunny who was born in 1981 came up to me and insisted “but the Seventies were fun!” I came this close to committing murder. Then I shoved a swizzle stick through each ear drum and it’s been sweet, sweet peace ever since. (Okay, just kidding — but that’s what I wanted to do for almost my entire childhood and teenage years. And I wanted to pour lye in my eyes too. Never to have to hear the laugh track again, never to have to see Sid and Marty Croft on my tv, never to have to endure the idea of the only shade of green being avocado…)
Booksfree.com is an online lending library. It works something like Netflix. I just may join it. The only drawback is my seriously bad habit of returning books — or rather, not returning them. For some reason ever since I started to drive, at the age of nineteen, I became really lousy at returning books. In fact, for a while there I had the collection department of the Miami-Dade Public Library on my ass. The strange thing is, before I started driving, I used to take the bus to the main library downtown at least once a week, or else I’d go with my dad to the library whenever he would go, which was more than once a week. (I got my avid reading habits from both parents.) But when I started driving, something seemed to happen in my brain. You’d think having a convenient book conveyance (the car) would improve my borrowing habits — no more lugging five or more hardbacks all over Miami, I could just drive up to the drop-off bin and pitch them out the window of the car. But instead they started to disappear under the debris in the back seat, or even under the seats. Or they’d stay in my bedroom forever, until I no longer even saw the seriously overdue tomes — they had become part of the background, like the paint on the wall.
Anyway, this sounds like a pretty good deal — for one thing, it’s not free, so I’d be limited as to what I can do (I need limits, believe me), and for another thing, it has the Netflixish “keep titles as long as you want” going for it. That sounds like giving me too much leeway, but actually I’ve been pretty good at popping the dvds I get from Netflix back in the mailbox.
And thinking further about the library follies of my youth… I wonder if what actually got me down about libraries and damaged my good borrowing record wasn’t anything to do with the car, but instead had to do with the gradual transformation (at least, as noticed by me) of libraries from musty, mysterious, hallowed and dignified halls of rank after rank of bound knowledge into dreary “community centers” full of noisy schoolkids, clattering machines, glaring overhead lights, notice boards full of announcements about meetings and trash recycling schedules, and the same lurid bestsellers you can see in airports and supermarket stands prominently displayed (but that serious, scholarly work you are looking for has to be ordered in from the university library, and the older classic is out of print). I am just old enough to remember the supposedly stultifying and elitist old-style library, where librarians were stern, spinterish women in hornrimmed glasses, and everything was meant to point to an antique time quite different from whatever crass and ordinary modern environment in which the library happened to exist. (For example: Miami’s old main library was in the middle of a park on Biscayne Bay, and was in the shape of a Greek temple. It was torn down and replaced with a building at the back of the city’s cramped fist of a downtown, right near a tangle of highway overpasses that cut off the light. Appropriately the new library was built in “Spanish” style, complete with a dungeon-like street-level story below the main entrance on the second floor (which entrance you reach by a long, dark ramp lined with drunken hobos). It was a hideous place and I eventually quit going there. Orlando’s main downtown branch isn’t much better, though at least it isn’t built to look like the castillo of a particularly sadistic conquistador.)
Anyway, those stern, spinsterish women, and those long, high shelves of musty books half in shadow, gave birth to my childhood ambition to be a librarian. And the postmodern NuLibrary with its multimedia presentations and socially responsible “Fill In the Ethnic Blank History Month” displays that meant there was no room for actual books to be displayed (you had to get permission to go into the “stacks” for those) are what killed it.
(Link to Booksfree.com via an ad on Collected Miscellany.)
Update: I forgot — these are the libraries I wanted to inhabit. (Not just work in. Live in. Put a cot for me in a corner and I’ll be fine.)
Hey, I didn’t exactly miss the point of Kathy’s post title — I just thought that the news about the Republican Party Cheatin’ Three was old hat. Also I was quite irritated at having to read about Newt Gingrich’s alleged preferences in the genitalia-servicing area. Quite frankly, that’s one image I don’t want to have in my brain.
But seriously, I still say it’s rather unfair to label the Republican Party as “the Adultery Party” based on the peccadilloes of three of its members. Yes, it’s probably much more than that. But just look at what society they have to choose from. Every time I hear an American complain about the bedroom activities of one of its leaders I want to say “look in the mirror.” Hypocrisy cuts both ways, after all.
As for the Democrats, becoming the party of “tolerance” still doesn’t make no-fault divorce and the explosion (for want of a better term) of men trading in their old wives for newer, faster models, and women leaving their men and taking the children because “he never talks to me anymore,” a good thing. Railing at your conservative opposites for not upholding the side isn’t doing much good when you’re the ones undermining the supports. And I maintain that liberal shill sites (I almost wrote “liberal shrill,” which would have been just as apropos) like Washington Monthly are like people throwing gunpowder on a burning building and then complaining about the incompetance of the fire department when the fire spreads to their own compound.
And just on a side note, I find it hard to believe that Newt Gingrich is being seriously considered as a possible Republican Party candidate for anything. Now that’s a dark horse. (I almost wrote “whore,” which would have been just as apropos.)
That being said, what else do I have to say? Not much. It’s a grey, gloomy day here at Spleenville Central, which is in the heart of supposedly sunny Florida. I actually like this kind of weather, but only when I am feeling well. Instead, for some reason I’m achy and feeling down. I considered taking a walk, but instead almost fell asleep on the couch. I need to do laundry, and you can imagine just how eager I am to get started. To get myself in the mood for things I am listening to Strauss waltzes and drinking some Republic of Tea “Tea of Good Tidings.” I will have one of my cookies and look up bread recipes. I feel like filling the apartment with the smell of baking things. Yes.
Oh those awful Mormons! They’re so weird, helping a family whose head male member was in Iraq fix up their broken-down house and all. Surely no American will elect a Mormon as president, being that they are so weird, with their Tabernacle Choir and being so clean-living and all.
Seriously, why is it supposed by some people that Mitch Romney’s Mormonism will be a barricade to the presidency? I rather doubt many non-Mormon Americans associate Mormons with anything other than squeaky-clean items like the Osmonds — if they even know that much about Mormons. Most Americans think of Mormons as being just another Protestant Christian denominations, which basically they are. I’m not sure that Americans really care about the religion of presidential candidates in the exact way they are supposed to — we seem to want our presidents to be Protestant, for one thing. (JFK was the exception, but in a country where so many people are Catholic he continues to be the only exception, and despite the so-called influence of the Jewish lobby — or as some label it, the “Zionist Conspiracy” — no Jew has ever been elected president.) And we do tend to pick from the blandest representations of Protestantism; Bush, for example, is a Methodist. (Nixon was a Quaker, but no one ever remembers that. And here is a breakdown of the religions of all our presidents. And Eisenhower was a Jehovah’s Witness! So I am not sure why Mormonism is supposed to be such a huge bar to the presidency all of a sudden.)
First link via a commenter on Tim Blair’s site. Second via Kathy Shaidle. The rest of them are from me searching Google. By the way, Washington Monthly is a liberal shill site so I’m surprised at Kathy linking to it. True, all of the people in her excerpt of that article behaved scummily to their wives, Giuliani included sad to say, and I’m no fan of Newt Gingrich — instead, I am one of the legion of people who is just put off by the Human Butt Plug. Sorry, can’t stand him. Still, the WaMo — if I may make up a term for them — article just strikes me as distasteful gossip-mongering. Aren’t there edicts in the Bible, or something, about indulging in gossip? As for the Republican Party becoming the Adultery Party, that’s based on three members. Are we to think that the Democratic Party is the party of clean living and being faithful (or at least well-divorcing) party? If you will excuse my expression, my ass they are. And I’ve never heard anything about our current president stepping out on Laura. So, whatever. The current list of Republican Party maybes for the next president of the US may suck, but what’s so great about the crop from the other side? Hillary? Barack Obama? Look — Urkel’s running for president! Yeah, I know I’m going to hell. Don’t care. I’ve never met a person of African-Americanness who didn’t have the self-esteem of Taras Bulba and a cast-iron sense of entitlement as well. This, as much as anything, may keep the presidency white as snow for a few more generations.
Now if you start talking Joe Lieberman, maybe I’ll listen.
You know that crazy dictator in Turkmenistan, the one who made a “cult of personality” around himself, making it mandatory for his — oh, let’s just call them “subjects” because that’s what they were — call him “Father of All Turkmen” and all schoolchildren study some awful book he wrote? How many of you thought, when you heard about this guy, “Hmm… pretty sweet gig.” Come on, admit it. There’s just not as much money in blogging as they all said. So you started thinking about your “dream career…”
Anyway, he’s dead now. I wonder if they’ll have him stuffed and encased in a glass coffin, like Lenin and all those other unpleasant, needy tyrants. Or did he forget to leave behind a legacy of power and control that will make continuing his Great Leader shtick necessary? I must admit, the suspense is… kind of evaporating, actually.
(What will probably really happen is that the populace, irate at having been controlled by a goon, will turn on each other, and Muslim jihadists will move into the resulting power vacuum, and we can say good-bye to all that airspace and support for the war. What can I say, I am not hopeful. Link via With Cheese!)
The person who came up with this… this abomination should be locked up in a dirty outhouse in the middle of the Georgia woods for the rest of his or her life.
Brian Tiemann disagrees that the video of Danny Bonaduce chewing out Truther-guy is all that great. Well I disagree with his disagreement. He does note that all Bonaduce was doing was eating lunch, but completely misses the rude and clueless nature of the act of going up to a guy just eating his lunch — “celebrity” or not — and hectoring him about stupid “political” obsessions, not to mention filming him. Tiemann also seems to think that the fact that the Truther creeps are “proud to display this video” means something other than they are attention hounds with delusions of grandeur. Of course they are proud to display their getting smacked around verbally by a former child star and current minor star in the tabloid pantheon — it’s their idea of martyrdom for the cause.
Tiemann seems to think that the proper way to confront these people would be to engage them in debate with things like facts and logic, and that being confronted with superior evidence of both would make them hang their heads in defeat and slink away. But he is being naive: these people have already chosen to believe lies, and the truth will have no effect on them. You can’t do anything to convince true believers, ever. So you might as well swear at them and show your utter contempt, as Danny Bonaduce did. It’s not for the sake of the Truthers — these people are already lost — but to anyone else listening who might be feeling utter despair at stupidity, lies, and the apparent popularity among our “best and brightest” that Western Civilization is evil and we should just lie down and accept our fate at the hands of our jihadist overlords. It’s nice to know that at least a few people on the fringes of the media haven’t succumbed to the lure of appeasement.
Uh oh. Steve H. has acquired a shiatsu massage chair. And it’s draining his mojo. Or as he puts it, “One of the great things about a massage chair is, it sucks all the anger out of you.” What on earth will we do with a mellow Steve? That can’t be good for the future of the internet, and thanks to our new position as TIME’s People of the Year, we users of ye olde “Ynformationne High Way” have to “jack” into the “matrix” lest the Cyber World suck all of reality into its pixellated (640×480) maw. (On a side note, do you suppose anyone at TIME magazine actually uses a computer? They seem to have heard that they are important, but they aren’t quite sure why. Well, anyway, it’s nice to know they’ve discovered mylar at last.)
You know, I see those chairs being demoed at the Brookstones in the malls, but I’ve never been able to try them out because there’s usually already a couple of stoned-looking middle-aged men clamped in them. Sometimes I’ve been tempted to walk up and just slip their wallets out of their pockets — they might notice, but they wouldn’t mind. I’ll bet you that’s what the Brookstone salespeople do. Or at least they are able to sell those chairs much more easily — the customer wakes up one morning in his own living room still strapped to the behemoth, with no idea how he or the chair got there. If only I hadn’t been raised right, I’d be rich right now.
Is it just me or is there something wrong with taking a traditional stance in a post complaining about traditional societies? To whit: “men are more Thinking, and women are more Feeling.” Mr. Caplan also posits that
men are more inclined to want some hard proof that religious claims are true, while women are more willing to take religious teachings on faith because they sound nice.
Then he says “Burn me at the stake if you must, but it’s true!” (Exclamation point added by me, because it looks nicer.)
Well, why waste matches. I’ll just say that from my observation men are just as susceptible to the allure of pretty lies and unproven beliefs that burnish their ego (the male equivalent of “sounding nice.”) as women are.
Mr. Muhammad Yunus, the economist who recently won a Nobel Prize for his Grameen Bank (a scheme that helps poor people — real poor people, not people who spend all their paychecks on lotto tickets) with loans, is a good man who has done great things. However, like most charitable people who have spent large amounts of time helping the poor (really poor people, not people who can’t balance their checkbooks and so never have enough money to pay rent — hey, is that a mirror I see before me?) he sees everything through the lens of poverty. It’s the worst kind of naiveté, because whenever they comment on some other pressing world problem, stuff like this comes out:
Economist Muhammad Yunus accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday for his breakthrough program to lift the poor through tiny loans, saying he hoped the award would inspire “bold initiatives” to eradicate a problem at the root of terrorism.
“We must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time,” Yunus told hundreds of guests at City Hall in Oslo, Norway. “I believe putting resources into improving the lives of poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns.“
You know, it is possible that poor people need the protection guns can afford too. But besides that, here’s the silliness: the idea that poverty causes terrorism. Let’s see… NO IT DOESN’T. Let me remind you all: Osama Bin Laden is (or was, depending on whether he really is a smear in a cave in Afghanistan or not) as rich as can be. His father is as rich as Croesus, and whenever another member of the gigantic Bin Laden family is mentioned it’s always with some sort of phrase like “hotel magnate” appended. I think it safe to say that no member of the Bin Laden family is a dirt farmer in Yemen.
But that’s one rich terrormaster. What about the others, his underlings? Well…. Muhammad Atta, the 9/11 “mastermind” (to use the Bondian phrase so beloved of media people) was an upper-middle-class doctor’s son who had enough money to come over here (and we don’t make it cheap for people to immigrate legally), settle in various areas of Florida, and enter flight school, all of which takes a considerable amount of money. They used boxcutters on the planes not because they were too poverty-stricken to afford submachine guns, but because boxcutters are (or were) easier to sneak on board a plane than submachine guns. And all of the other of the Nineteen were similarly upper-middle-class in origin — and the “upper middle class” designation I am using is the American one, by which I mean their families had a lot more prestige and money than mine ever did.
It can’t be said too many times: terrorists don’t care about poor people, except as abstract fodder for their ideals and useful targets for their atrocities. Kids are even better — dead kids make everyone cry and get scared, the sort of effect terrorists are looking for. Terrorists don’t want to make the world a “better place” for poor people. What terrorists want is power.
TERRORISTS WANT POWER. TERRPORISTS WANT POWER. TERRORISTS WANT POWER. And until people realize this, we are always going to have terrorists.