August, 2017 archive
Profiles in Cowering 0
A Der Spiegel correspondent looks back on his two years living in an upscale suburb of Washington, D. C., and sees am undercurrent of fearfulness in day-to-day American life. Here’s short excerpt:
Donald Trump has been masterful in understanding how to take advantage of that fear — in many areas of life. In politics, in the real estate market and also in the media. At home, we subscribed to The Washington Post. My wife read the entire newspaper, even the local section — leading her to say things like, “Let’s not drive through Prince William County — there are constantly shootings there.” At first, I laughed at her. That is, until I also noticed that I myself had grown more cautious. For example, I no longer like going to stadiums that don’t have security gates. Is that silly? Yes, but fear in America can be contagious.
And it’s true, this country often drives people to despair, even if you live in a bubble. It is wrought with contradictions. Everyone talks about security, but the Americans haven’t even managed to impose reasonable controls on weapon ownership. Everyone talks about freedom, but then, at the swimming pool we went to a few streets to the north, girls were made to wear bikinis even as babies. If I bought a bottle of wine at the store, I had to keep it hidden in a dark plastic bag until I got home.
I commend the entire piece to your attention.
Hoist on the Elmer Gantry 0
In The Roanoke Times, John Freivalds muses on the monetization of the miraculous.
The Lesson of Lolita 0
At Psychology Today Blogs, Michael Karson turns our attention to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and the lessons it has for us.
Many years ago, I read Lolita.
It is without question the most chilling novel I have ever read. Next to it, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a Daffy Duck comic. I have no desire to read it again.*
In his narration, Humbert Humbert convinces himself and almost (but not quite–that’s the majesty of Nabokov’s writing) convinces the reader that Lolita welcomes, even yearns for, his violation of her.
An excerpt from Karson’s piece:
Nabokov confronts us with the elegant stories we tell ourselves to excuse our selfishness.
Self-delusion and evil often walk hand-in-hand.
Look around: You will see many Humbert Humberts in the political sphere, industriously convincing themselves and their dupes, symps, and fellow travelers to violate the common good and rape the general wellfare.
*It has been said that any book worth reading once is worth reading twice. I’ll make an exception for Lolita.
“An Armed Society Is a Polite Society” 0
Politeness precedes childhood’s end.
The incident took place at the Milliken Road home of the girl’s grandparents, police said previously. The girl was in the bedroom with her father on Monday night after 7 p.m., when the father, Todd Dorr, got up to adjust the television, according to McCausland.
When Todd Dorr was moving across the room, the girl took the gun from her father’s backpack nearby and it went off, detectives claim.
The firearm was not in a holster and there was no gunlock, McCausland said.
Words Fail Me 0
I learned about this from a person who was helping me with some financial matters today.
Yes, it’s real.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. We have become a society of stupid.
The Silence of the (on the) Lams 0
The Maine Beacon reports on why Congressman Bruce Poliquin (R–Don’t Talk to Me) refuses to hold town halls or answer questions from reporters.
In response to a question about why he doesn’t tout his conservative stances on national television, Poliquin explained that he believes his re-election depends on not speaking to the media.
“Do I talk to the national media? Not often. I’ve been dying to do what you want me to do. Dying to do it, but we’ve got to be very – it would be stupid for me to engage the national media and give them and everyone else the ammunition they need and we lose this seat. We have to be really careful,” said the congressweasel.
Via The Bangor Daily News, which manages not to use the term “Congressweasel” in its story. It contents itself with pointing out that
(i)n the Beacon’s second piece about the fundraiser, Poliquin says that he won’t go on television to defend his positions or take questions from reporters who encounter him because it would be “ammunition” that could make it harder for him to win re-election.
Poliquin said there are so many reporters who want to ask him questions and they want him, a congressman, to allow his words to be reported so that everyone can read them. That’s not something he wants.
Fomenting Force 0
At Psychology Today Blogs, Pamela Paretsky considers the psychology of political violence. Here’s a bit; follow the link for the rest:
In examining speeches given by leaders of extreme political groups, psychologist David Matsumoto and his colleagues discovered that when leaders invoke anger plus contempt and disgust, their followers are more likely to devalue members of the out-group and respond with violence. White supremacists/nationalists have a long history of devaluing their out-group. As recent events remind us, anger, contempt, and disgust combined with racism, antisemitism, and the rejection of inclusive American ideals is a particularly dangerous and even deadly combination.
If One Standard Is Good, Two Must Be Better 0
Dick Polman ruminates on Texas Republicans’ actions followinng Hurricane Harvey. A snippet:
It’s been a while since we’ve enjoyed a carnival Cruz.
In January 2013, when Congress readied a $50-billion Sandy recovery package, 36 Republican senators — including Texas’ John Cornyn and Ted Cruz — voted to reject it. Those are the same senators, who, in the wake of Harvey, wrote a letter begging the federal government “to provide any and all emergency protective measures.”
On Monday, when Cruz was on MSNBC pleading for his “any and all” Harvey recovery package, he was asked about his thumbs-down Sandy vote. In response, he insisted that “the bill was filled with unrelated pork. Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy.”
All That Was Old Is New Again, Reichstag Fire Dept. 0
“An Armed Society Is a Polite Society” 0
After further investigation, officers learned that another person inside the residence was attempting to a clear a .22-caliber rifle when it accidentally discharged and hit the woman.
Whatever happened to “make sure your gun isn’t pointing at anyone”?
One more time, “I am not a racist, but . . . ” always translates to “I am a racist, and . . . .”
Science, Schmience 0
And, in related, news . . . .