Sunday, June 29, 2008

It Takes an Army to Stop a War

A good short piece from the New York Review about Bush continued sabre-rattling toward Iran. It's gotten to the point where senior army officers are speaking out against him, often at the cost of their jobs.

Friends Become Troglydytes

In the last year or so, an old friend has becoming a raving neo-con. At first, I thought it was a joke because he always had an ironic tone when he espoused such positions; a number of savage exchanges later, I've discovered that he's not joking. It's an odd time for that movement to gain a convert - they've failed in so many ways. Yet it has. He even goes so far as to say the Iraq war was a good idea, just poorly executed. According to him, the war was the brainchild of Bush and Cheney and anyone who claims Wolfowitz and Feith were involved is anti-Semitic.

My friend labels himself a 'realist' but what could be less realistic than the belief that invading Iraq would spread peace throughout the Middle East (he also claims that 'everyone' supported the invasion until it went south)?

It's strange and sad to see a friend undergo such a conversion in early middle-age - it's as if he joined a cult. I've tried to trace the evolution of the change. My friend, from the working class, always resented the liberal pieties of the upper-middle class and rich kids he went to college with. His attitude for years though was generally contemptuous and nihilistic (with some left elements). I remember reading a Trotsky review of Celine's first novel. Trotsky presciently wrote that someone who so intensely perceived the filth and misery of world and hated the bourgeois as much Celine did, would soon become either a fascist or a communist. We know what happened to Celine.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

An Interesting Sentence

In these forlorn regions of unknowable dreary space, this reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields of ice, the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine heights above heights, surround the pole, and concentre the multiplied rigours of extreme cold.
- Francis Spufford, I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination

Americans are taught to not write like this. When I get notes, they usually tell me to shorten my sentences and simplify my prose. Yet there's something lavish and intriguing about the sentence above, something Mevillean or 17th Century. I get tired of our clipped phrases.

I don't know anything about the book, which got roundly panned on Amazon. The writer seems to have praised for other of his work, however.

You Mean There's Oil in Iraq?

More good press on the recent revelation of American companies getting no-bid oil contracts in Iraq, this from Bill Moyers.

My favorite line: 'the press mogul Rupert Murdoch [...] once said that a successful war there would bring us $20-a-barrel oil. The last time we looked, it was more than $140 a barrel.'

Friday, June 27, 2008

Anasi Versus the TLS

I have a review on Kasia Boddy's 'Boxing: A Cultural History' in this week's TLS. I don't think it's online so all you boxing eggheads out there will have to go to the bookstore.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Free Heroin for Everyone: A Junkie Utopia

"In 1900 morphine addiction was considered such a serious social epidemic that a group called the Saint James Society offered free heroin in the mail to anyone wishing to kick morphine."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Philadelphia Freedom?

An article about Philly police busting crunchy activists for no particular reason. My favorite line from one of the cops: "We're trying to drum up charges against them, but unfortunately we'll probably have to let them go."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Kenneth Patchen

A friend listed him as one his favorite writers and it made me think of 'The Journal of Albion Moonlight', which is lyric, violent and exhilarating, and one of the strangest novels ever written (and really not even a novel). I had a beat up copy for years then lost it - or somebody swiped it - but I see it's back in print. Maybe they'll let me read it in grad school.

Sunday, June 22, 2008