Archive

  • I Am An Uncultured Boor

    Apropos of my book meme completion below, I must admit to being a fraud. I am frankly unfit to be responding to that survey. I wish it weren't true, and every few months I resolve to make it less true, but that doesn't change the basic honesty of the claim. I'm a bad book-reader. Non-fiction, sadly, has basically taken over my life. I've got a list of unread, fantastically fascinating books that's grown to two bookshelves long. I've got 10+ books in various stages of doneness now. And because I'm constantly being confronted with how much I don't know on this-or-that topic, I'm perennially playing infojunkie catch-up. Jeff Bezos sends me Christmas cards. The result, unfortunately, has been an almost complete abandonment of fiction. Not only haven't I read the canonical greats, but I've no authority on the contemporary stuff either. It's not that I don't want to, or that I don't enjoy it, but my non-fiction obsession leaves me no time to inject anything that lacks direct relevance to my...
  • Book Meme

    So Digby's tagged me on the book-meme thingie. Off we go: You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be [saved]? Since so many other folks have saved the Big Important Pieces of Serious Literature, I'm going with the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. It all comes in one binding, so I think that's fair. And to lose Douglas Adams' literary contribution would break my fool heart. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? I constantly have crushes on fictional characters. Just don't tell my girlfriend. The last book you bought is? Kinda did a spree at Barnes and Nobles yesterday, and picked up Norman Mailer's The Fight , Paul Roberts' The End of Oil , and Sara Nelson's So Many Books, So Little Time . I'd easily recommend the Mailer and the Roberts, but skip Nelson. I thought I was getting a smart and fun meditation on being a read-a-holic, but what I really picked up was a mostly banal trip through her opinions on reading. Did you know books can make...
  • Well Put

    Your must-read of the day, courtesy of Democracy Arsenal: Top 10 Myths Progressives Need to Let Go Of to Regain the Upper Hand on Foreign Policy.
  • Myth-Busting

    Over at Dymaxion World, John has written an excellent rejoinder to "The Long Emergency", the Rolling Stone excerpt on the apocalyptic world an oil crash is about to bring. The oil crisis is bad enough without going into full on scare mode, so I highly suggest you read John's more balanced portrayal . For what it's worth, I've been looking into these things pretty heavily lately, and John's view strikes me as closer to the truth, but I'm still no expert, so take my recommendations with the proverbial grain of salt. So long as I'm linking to excellent piece, go read Matthew Holt's myth-busting comparison of the Canadian and American health care systems. Great stuff.
  • Snidely Whiplash in Scrubs

    One day, and I like to think it soon, politicians will muster their will and Americans will call forth their outrage and we'll finally fix our broken health care system. And when we do, and the histories of the epic battle to guarantee coverage are written, these folks will be the villains: One of the most talked-about new plans is Tonik, launched a few months ago by the California Blue Cross subsidiary of WellPoint Inc., the nation's largest health insurer. Directed toward people in their 20s, Tonik seeks a coveted group insurers call the "young invincibles" because they are rarely sick. The company's marketing campaign looks nothing like the button-down image the Blues have long presented. Silhouetted snowboarders careen across Tonik's website, on which medical plans have hipster names such as the "calculated risk-taker" and the "part-time daredevil." Its monthly premiums are as low as $64, with out-of-pocket deductibles as high as $5,000 (the "thrill-seeker"). The most...
  • Exhibit A in the Case Against Brooks

    If you've ever wondered why I give David Brooks such a hard time, today's column should be filed in your records as Exhibit A. It's a perfect, almost archetypal example of everything he does wrong. The Republican party, he'd like us to know, is a great party full of transformational thinkers and lofty idealism and a creamy nougat center. But perfection and virtue, sometimes, are not enough for the American people. The American people, you know, are stodgy and small-minded. They like evolution -- not the darwin kind! -- rather than transformation. Take Terry Schiavo, where "Republicans charged boldly forth to preserve her life", or Social Security where they offered Americans chances to control their retirement accounts (benefit cuts? What benefit cuts?). Despite the right's wings and halos, the American people opposed their plans because, well, they were too good, too brave, too virtuous. Ever had a rich chocolate cake that you couldn't finish because it was just so damn good and...
  • We Stand As One

    Ever wondered what would happen if Lisa Frank and Peggy Noonan collaborated on a music video? Wonder no more . Via Greg .
  • Hence the "Imaginary Center"

    Matt misinterprets my post from this morning (although I do like the constant blog wars we're having). Terming it "fuck the center" isn't quite correct, it was much more "fuck the imaginary center" (hence the title: "The Imaginary Center"), the point being that this magical land of moderation exists only in the mental landscape of the pundit class. That, of course, accounted for my foray into what Matt calls "polling literalism". Policies supported by the American people lay far outside what one would assume centrist politics allows -- they profess to want government-run health care, a hyper-progressive tax system, etc., which proves, I think, that achieving "centrism" isn't as binary and simplistic as some assume. Of course, we do have a representative democracy, so if Americans really wanted these things, they wouldn't keep voting in the schmucks who demagogue the bills aimed at achieving them. That's why I didn't recommend that Hillary fight for single-payer health care or a...
  • The Gay Front

    Pam and Shakespeare's Sister are right. Nothing shows how completely unprepared America is to fight a war better than our willingness to kick heroic homosexuals out of the service. Doesn't matter if they know Arabic, doesn't matter if they're the real-life manifestation of Rambo, doesn't matter if they shoot lasers from their eyes and make things explode through mental effort, if they prefer dudes to chicks the Army doesn't want them. And it doesn't need them at the exact same moment that it desperately needs more troops. During Vietnam, the thirst for bodies superseded the country's casual bigotry and dudes in dresses were sent as surely as the conscripts who showed up in fatigues. We were fighting a war. Presently, we're forcing perfectly good, able, and willing fighters from advancing the national interest because they pursue a lifestyle that is in no way illegal. That point can't be overstated. Being gay is no less legal than being brown-eyed, or long-limbed. The Supreme Court, in...
  • More on Arnold

    There's a lot of justified celebration among progressive California watchers today. Arnold's invulnerability has finally cracked, and now he's scuttling away from pension reform as quick as his musclebound legs can take him. As a victory, it's more important than we might expect -- CALPERS has been an enormous force for corporate responsibility, throwing their cash behind companies with good practices and using their shareholder pull to spur reform in those that failed. But I wouldn't jump too high. Arnold's back-off is pure calculation. He's got a herd of semi-popular, hyper-controversial ballot initiatives up for vote. Unlike his bond measure, which posed the no-brainer of whether or not Californians would like to bury their children in debt so they didn't have to add a cent to the sales tax (YES!), it's going to be an uphill climb for the governator come the next ballot. Stepping out of the gate with every public sector employee, every family member of a public sector employee,...

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