Monday November 29, 2004
George Saunders offers another modest proposal for Iraq:
There are approximately twenty-five million Iraqis in Iraq. There are approximately three hundred million Americans in America. This means that there are approximately twelve Americans for every Iraqi. This means that, if we all go, each American will be responsible for one-twelfth of an Iraqi. An Iraqi family of five will thus be attended by sixty Americans. We will come, this second wave of three hundred million of us, unarmed. We will bring nothing but ourselves. We will simply show up, saying, “What would you like for dinner?”
Wednesday November 24, 2004
Been off the blog for awhile. My non-Platonic roommate (nPRm), Alexandra, and I have been busy moving to — wait for it — Park Slope. Well, actually I was moving to Park Slope — from the vicinity of the Maritime Hotel — while Alexandra was moving within Park Slope. She’s an old-timer, having lived there since before the Great Mommy Migration.
People say Park Slope is full of yuppies, and it is, I guess, if that word still has any meaning. But, as my grandfather used to say of the mafia, “They do nice things. Look, we’ve got a clean table to eat off of.” Plus, since I have a good job and the wherewithal to continue living comfortably in this great city of ours, well, let’s just say I’m not totally confident I could be picked out of a yuppie line-up. Nevertheless, I’m being very vigilant about not flipping cigarette ashes into passing strollers, lest the local ladies tear me limb from limb.
Thursday November 18, 2004
Francis has just received the first copies of his forthcoming humor book, the Holy Tango of Literature. Based on a series that began over at Modern Humorist, the Holy Tango answers the hitherto unasked question, What if famous poets and playwrights wrote poems and plays that were anagrams of their own names? It also reminds us of the excellent fact that T.S. Eliot is an anagram of “toilets.” It’s fun, fun, fun — not to mention being the preferred method of humorous entertainment for at least one Suicide Girl.
You can order it at Amazon.
Or at least Jim Thompson. The Detroit Free Press reports on the case of a man who shot an acquaintance to death — twice, with a shotgun — for not believing in God. I restrain myself from quoting the story in full.
“How long would it take you to believe in God?” the suspect said he asked the victim.
“Not until I hear Gabriel blow his horn,” the victim allegedly replied, while tipping his hat.
That’s when the suspect shot him.
“I did it because he is evil; he was not a believer,” the suspect told police.
And later …
At the police station, the suspect commented that he believed there is a God.
Then, looking at the floor, he seemed to have second thoughts: “Maybe there’s not,” he said.
Wednesday November 17, 2004
Just in time for four dark years of Dobsonian hysterics, Chris Zammarelli has launched Censoround, a blog devoted to “book challenges and other free speech issues.” Unfortunately, there won’t be a shortage of either any time soon.
Following the experiences of Paul O’Neill, Richard Clarke and Michael Scheuer, it figures that the only person angry enough at the administration to set himself on fire in front of the White House would be a disgruntled employee. Guess the loyalty oath didn’t take.
Tuesday November 16, 2004
Switzerland’s Valbella Clinic — which served as the setting for Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain — is closing. Why? I don’t know, something about tuberculosis being curable for the last six decades.
“The last crisis was in the 1940s when you British invented penicillin,” a local health official tells The Guardian. “Almost overnight it was possible to treat tuberculosis. The clinics had to change their strategy, and started taking asthma patients instead.”
Unfortunately, we all know what a crummy metaphor asthma is for pre-war intellectual malaise.
Hey, we could do worse.
Tuesday November 09, 2004
The good folks at the Land-Grant College Review — who included a story of mine in issue No. 2, which led to many good things — are holding their Autumn Fundraiser Thursday night at The Tank in Manhattan. There will be free booze, free cigarettes, and a performance by We Are Scientists.
For an impartial view of the LGCR, The Elegant Variation has this to say:
We’re wildly enthusiastic about this excellent new literary journal. It’s full of witty, thoughtful, well-crafted fiction — we read the second issue straight through, which we never do with lit mags — and it’s stylishly presented to boot.
And did we mention that its editors routinely give away free cigarettes‽
Thursday November 04, 2004
Alexandra directed my attention to this Craigslist personal:
Straight male seeks Bush supporter for fair, physical fight
I would like to fight a Bush supporter to vent my anger. If you are one, have a fiery streek, please contact me so we can meet and physically fight. I would like to beat the shit out of you.
Hopefully, Christopher Hitchens will respond.
Maureen Dowd runs through the resumes of some of our new faith-based Senators:
Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma, has advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions and warned that “the gay agenda” would undermine the country. He also characterized his race as a choice between “good and evil” and said he had heard there was “rampant lesbianism” in Oklahoma schools.
Jim DeMint, the new senator from South Carolina, said during his campaign that he supported a state G.O.P. platform plank banning gays from teaching in public schools. He explained, “I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend should be hired to teach my third-grade children.”
John Thune, who toppled Tom Daschle, is an anti-abortion Christian conservative - or “servant leader,” as he was hailed in a campaign ad - who supports constitutional amendments banning flag burning and gay marriage.
Advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions‽ (If there was ever a time for the interrobang, it is now.)
Wednesday November 03, 2004
Disgraced moralist Bill Bennett slinks into the light of day to trumpet the renewal of the culture wars. He writes:
Having restored decency to the White House, President Bush now has a mandate to affect policy that will promote a more decent society, through both politics and law.
Be very, very afraid.
Francis heaps some outrage on the electorate with the accurate observations that a) people voted against their own economic interest in order to inflict their moral beliefs on their fellow citizens, and b) the parts of the country that have never seen, and will never see, a terrorist attack are the ones who have ratified the continuation of Bush’s reckless and dangerous policies for the rest of us.
I have only this to add. The strategy behind Bush’s proposed amendment banning gay marriage seems to have worked like charm, despite the fact that — at the federal level — it’s a complete waste of time. All 11 states that had anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballot passed them. Bush won in nine of them, including Ohio. Mind you, gay marriage was not even legal in any of these states at the time of the vote. Rather, conservative voters turned out in droves to ensure that the right to marry or enter civil unions will never be extended to gays and lesbians. Since exit polls show that morality was voters’ leading decision factor, we have to face the fact that this election was primarily determined by a concerted effort to prevent a group of people from gaining rights they might have otherwise been constitutionally granted. Until now, the history of the Constitution has been one of expanding rights, as rights have been steadily extended to blacks, women and citizens of draft age. This election, however, can only be seen as a mean-spirited leap backward.
Slate’s William Saletan sums it up this way:
Bush is a very simple man. You may think that makes him a bad president, as I do, but lots of people don’t—and there are more of them than there are of us. If you don’t believe me, take a look at those numbers on your TV screen.
Or, in the words of John Lovitz, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.”
Tuesday November 02, 2004
Perhaps Laila over at MoorishGirl — and her moving account of becoming a naturalized citizen and voting for the first time in 2000 — will convince you to stay in line for as long as it takes. She writes:
I took the oath of allegiance very seriously and so I entered into citizenship with the intention of enjoying the rights it gave as well as assuming the responsibilities it entailed. I was the only person I knew who wanted to be called for jury duty. Voting was the perfect example of a civic responsibility, and I could not for the life of me understand why so many native-born Americans wasted the opportunity to make their voices heard.
When I walked into the voting booth on November 7, 2000, I was happy and eager to cast my first vote as a new American. I really believed in the system and couldn’t wait to see which candidate would win. Imagine my disappointment when, instead of letting the recount proceed in Florida, the Supreme Court intervened to have it stopped. I took it as a complete betrayal.
This year, I tried to do what I could to make sure that the man who stole the election last time was sent packing. I donated money twice during the primaries, three times during the race itself. I wrote emails, sent letters, talked to friends and family, urged everyone I knew to vote. Many of my friends feel depressed by the prospect of another election fiasco, but I still have faith that this democracy will know how to steer itself from the mess it has allowed itself to get into.
I could not wait to vote this morning. It felt like Christmas morning or the first day of school. I woke up around 4:30 and was at my polling place across the street at ten to 6:00. I wasn’t the first in line — there were about five people in front of me — but, after some confusion, I was the first person to vote in my election district.
I voted with gusto. I voted with authority. I took it to the vote hard. People in line gasped at the sight of my voting skills, which are a combination of natural talent and sound technique. I could not be denied. I was unstoppable. By the time I left, people were composing folk songs immortalizing my brief but decisive appearance at the polls for the benefit of their children and their children’s children. I, however, remained impassive. A beacon of humilty. A shining example. Like Eminem.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to bed.
Have you voted yet? Then what are you doing here? Yes I understand. Most days it goes: waste time reading blogs, then work. Today, however, it’s vote first, read blogs later. Come back when you’ve done your duty.
Monday November 01, 2004
ABC News conducted a noble experiment by sending producers to Kerry and Bush rallies decked out in the opposing side’s t-shirts. The deck says “Wearing Opponent’s Gear Can Mean Arrests, Ejections,” but the story only mentions arrests and ejections happening at one party’s rallies. Guess which one.
- The front page headline on this morning’s USA Today is Swing States Lean to Kerry.
- Early voters in Florida and Iowa are going Kerry.
- A judge in Ohio has banned partisan pollwatchers from challenging voters’ eligibility.
- MoveOn’s Election Protection Card: Don’t leave home without it.