Readings: Commonplace Book for October, 2006

“The moderates will vote for the extremist. "Moderate," after all, is only an adjective; "Republican" is a noun. Chafee, Snowe, the whole lot of them, are moderate enablers of an extremist party.” ( Harold Meyerson)

“....The actual journalistic accomplishment in [Bob Woodward’s] “State of Denial” is less than grand. It took him three books to arrive at a conclusion thousands of basement-bound bloggers suggested years ago: that the Bush administration is composed of people who like war, don’t seem to be very good at it and have been known to turn the guns on each other. Such an epiphany doesn’t seem to reflect a reporter who had rarefied access.... Given Mr. Woodward’s tendency to fill his books with kitchen-sink detail, he maintained that the seeds of dysfunction were there to see in his previous two books. But Mr. Woodward’s time spent living in the treetops seems to have blinded him to the fact that the forest below was on fire.” (David Carr)

Our tone should be crazed. The nation's freedoms are
under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much
damage as al Qaida; the nation's marketplace of ideas is being poisoned by
a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would've quit.”
(Keith Olbermann)

“[Punk] defined itself by trashing Led Zep, Pink Floyd et al."—but as much as punks hated hippies, their common romanticism proves them more alike than not. Cynicism is just optimism turned on its head, replacing a belief in the perfectibility of humankind with a certitude that everything sucks.”
(Thurston Moore)

“The trash-pickers, drug fiends, and unsuccored polysexual sensualists of Up Is Up embraced the darker side of the bohemian legacy, but some of their Left Coast contemporaries chose instead to extend Summer of Love optimism into the high-tech age by embracing libertarian entrepreneurship, as chronicled in Fred Turner's info-packed academic study From Counterculture to Cyberculture. Turner focuses on the career of Stewart Brand, a former Ken Kesey collaborator who started the Whole Earth Catalog, which, as the author notes, "bridged cybernetics and the back-to-the-land movement" by spreading the gospel of Buckminster Fuller and Norbert Weiner, melding hands-on pragmatism with lofty earth-changing goals. "We are as gods and might as well get good at it," Brand wrote in one Catalog intro. In the 1980s, Brand translated this vision into new media with the WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link), a pioneering online forum that incubated future dot-communists and Wired editors. Turner notes the earthy roots of terms like "virtual community" and "electronic frontier," which first appeared there, along with early arguments for the ethics of open-source technology; offline, Brand later refined his utopian social engineering with the high-powered boomtime Global Business Network. So by the 1990s, the idea of revolution had morphed from a political goal to a corporate strategy. On the East Coast, the underground expired, but out West, it simply apotheosized into the mainstream itself.”
(Ed Halter in The Village Voice)

“I’m sure my mom will be proud. You work hard making independent films for fourteen years and you get voted best breasts.” (Scarlett Johansson)

“Fellow citizens, this bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary—these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.
“I’d like those supporting this evil bill to spare me one affliction: Do not, please, pretend to be shocked by the consequences of this legislation. And do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis.” (Molly Ivins)

(from Pat and Bill)
".... When asked to name their number one fear, 8% said "losing my job to outsourcing," 10% said "not being able to afford to fill up my car with gas," 14% said "North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il blowing up the world with a nuclear weapon," while a whopping 65% said "being instant-messaged by a horny Republican." ... "If you hear your child start to use phrases like 'tax cut,' 'stay the course,' or 'family values,' those are danger signs that he has been chatting with a horny Republican."
(The Borowitz Report)

“Speaking of the psychology underlying the Christian right ... My current pet hobby-horse/hypothesis to explain human behaviour is that most of us don't subjectively feel our age internally: we're children or adolescents role-playing our way through adulthood, with greater or lesser degrees of success, guided by the experience we've picked up from observing other people. That is, we do what we're expected to do by those around us, even when it doesn't feel right. And folks who are compelled to conform to the expectations their family and friends and neighbours impose resent the hell out of the imagery all around them of people who aren't conforming. ("Why are they allowed to behave that way when I'm stuck here earning bread for my family?")
“It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to strike out for your own, and fire-and-brimstone religions promising all the answers in return for conforming to the one true lifestyle don't give their followers self-confidence; rather, they try to instil a neurotic dependency on the behavioural/ideological safety-blanket, which is not the same thing at all.”
(post by unknown British person, please advise, at Making Light)

“[Chicago is] Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real." (Nelson Algren)

"Sir Francis Drake's gold pocket calculator.
Hewlett-Pakenham Modell 1. Sir Francis Walsingham had a few of them built for "especial agentes." It could take sun sightings, record dead Spaniards to a perhaps optimistic six digits, and had a Vigenère lattice engraved on the inner lid. Drake's is said to have been later set with a Nicholas Hilliard miniature of "A Comely Ladye of Cheapside," and a concealable cheating device for "I'm From Devon and I Don't Know This Game," a popular quayside entertainment of the day."

"President Bush announced today that he was displaying the coloration of a monarch only to avoid being eaten by birds. No intentional deception was involved.
In related news, Tony Blair denied that he had turreted eyes and a long, sticky tongue, after snatching a fly that was circling the Deputy Minister for "Coupling."

(Casual blog entries to friends by John M. Ford)

“My only relationship to the Sheikh’s case and his cause was as his lawyer. Throughout all the events, I believed I was acting as I should, as his lawyer. I violated my SAMS affiliation in that I permitted him to communicate publicly and these statements if misused may have allowed others to further their goals. These goals were not mine.
I am not a traitor... I did not intentionally enter into any plot or conspiracy to aid a terrorist organization. I inadvertently allowed those with other agendas to corrupt the most precious and inviolate basis of our profession—the attorney-client relationship...
Many who have written to you on my behalf, have characterized my actions as mistakes or lapses of judgment. I would add that I was also naïve in the sense that I was overly optimistic about what I could and should accomplish as the Sheik’s lawyer, and I was careless.”
(Lynne F. Stewart)

“I wanted to write a book [Pride of Baghdad] from a non-combatant's perspective, and talk about war from the civilian point-of-view. It's really difficult for Americans to sympathize with "the other," and I wanted to cross that culture gap. Emotionally, we're maybe not able to feel for [Iraqi civilians] the way we can feel for talking animals. So I was looking to exploit our universal sympathy with animals to tell a story about the suffering of Iraqi civilians.
“It's weird. You can threaten and kill a baby in a movie, but put a dog in jeopardy and people will walk out. You make a more immediate connection to a giraffe than a person. It sounds psychotic, that you can feel more for an animal than a human. “
(Brian K. Vaughan)

“Occasionally, a student would write an essay answer [for nationally standardized tests like the MEAP] that would exhibit more intelligence than any other essay answer I’d seen, but more often than not, the essay would be subversive in some way, questioning the essay question itself while illuminating some truly great points. But here were essays (finally!) with souls behind them — not just some student who’d been trained how to write "the good essay." Sadly, though, these essays generally received three points out of six because they fell into the "convoluted" category. The "good essays" — by "good" I mean formulaic, boring, and teachable — generally received six points.” (John McNally)

“If [John McCain] can manage to combine America's tribal pride, its yearning for some sort of spiritual meaning and its fear of the other and put together an inspirational, nationalistic message (along with his pre-fab image as a straight-talking "reformer") he could be very hard to beat --- and very, very dangerous. He's a warmongering hawk, don't ever forget it. The only real difference between him and Bush on these matters is that he's willing to attend the funerals of the dead. (Digby’s Hullabaloo

I hear the RePubs are planning to actually run this [Ticking Bin Laden ] ad (at the cost of who knows how much loot) this Sunday during the national news. If you happen to see it then, giggling and pointing is appropriate. If anyone asks you what’s so funny, you can explain that Bush shut down the CIA office that was looking for bin Laden.
(Jim McDonald)

“...[India] has to sustain nearly twenty percent of the earth’s population with four per cent of its water. China has less water than Canada—and forty times as many people.” (Michael Specter in The New Yorker, October 23rd, 2006)

"Some men are male-oriented. While they are boys, because they are chips off the male block, they love men and enjoy lying with men and being embraced by men; those are the best of boys and lads, because they are the most manly in their nature. When they're grown men, they are lovers of young men. Do you want me to prove it? Look, these are the only kind of boys who grow up to be politicians." (Aristophanes, in Plato's Symposium)

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