Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Favorite English-Language Novelists

I've responded to Norman Geras's latest poll soliciting the ten favorite English-language novelists of its respondents. You're supposed to rank the first three and follow up with an additional, unranked seven. Here are mine.

  1. Vladimir Nabokov
  2. Herman Melville
  3. Martin Amis
  • William Faulkner
  • John Dos Passos
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Shakespeare
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Roald Dahl

Friday, January 18, 2008

You Talkin' to Me?

Moral of the story: don't be AOL mall-trash, get zooted and taunt a tiger:
Both Dhaliwal brothers were hospitalized with head wounds after the maulings. Matthews said in the warrant application that Paul Dhaliwal's blood alcohol level had been measured after the attack at 0.16 percent, twice the legal level for drunkenness. She did not indicate exactly when the test had been conducted.

Kulbir Dhaliwal's blood alcohol level was 0.04 percent, and Sousa's was 0.02 percent, Matthews said.

All three also had marijuana in their systems, Matthews said. The drug can stay in blood for several days, but Kulbir Dhaliwal told police that the three had smoked marijuana and had each had "a couple shots of vodka" Christmas Day before leaving the brothers' home in San Jose, the affidavit said.


According to the elder Sousa's account to police, Dhaliwal told him that he, his brother and the younger Sousa had been "waving their hands and yelling at the tiger" just before the animal bounded up a 12 1/2-foot wall from its dry moat and attacked them.

Paul Dhaliwal - referred to in affidavit by his formal name, Amritpal - "said the three of them were standing on the railing looking at the tiger," Sousa told police.


Dhaliwal told Sousa that "when they got down they heard a noise in the bushes, and the tiger was jumping out of the bushes" on Paul Dhaliwal, the affidavit said.


An autopsy conducted by a zoo veterinarian on the Siberian tiger after police shot it to death showed that the animal had been "very determined to get out," Matthews said. Its claws were broken and splintered by clambering up the concrete moat wall, Matthews quoted the veterinarian as saying.

"This behavior may be consistent with a tiger that has been agitated and/or taunted," Matthews said.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Regressive Progressives

Kevin Drum nails it with respect to the Ron Paul racism controversy.

It's plain that Paul knew what was being published in his newsletters. It's plain that he was familiar with the well-developed strategy that inspired the early-90s turn to racist demagoguery. It's plain that he knew it was a key part of his fundraising appeal. Paul can weasel all he wants, but it's plain that he endorsed a strategy of overt appeals to racist sentiment in order to build support for his political career. If he's given all that up since then, it's only because he no longer needs it.

This whole affair highlights one of the reasons that I wish everyone would stop swooning over minor candidates who play the part of bold truthteller. When you have no chance of winning and therefore nothing to risk, it's cheap and easy to stick to your guns. But as Ron Paul has shown, back when it actually mattered he was willing to do whatever he needed to raise money and rekindle his political career. I don't doubt that he'd do it again if anything serious were on the line.

I wrote about this here, in light of the irony of so-called progressives flocking to Paul because of his "bold [truth telling]" about Iraq (and, inevitably in the penumbra of Iraq, our alliance with Israel). There have always been self-styled progressives who are really reactionaries, favoring isolationism, conspiratorial superstition and the scapegoating of Jews, among other intellectual pathologies. French socialist suspicion of Leon Blum and the Jews in the lead-up to war with Hitler is a good historical analogue. Cognate forces were at work prior to American involvement in World War II, and now the Iraq War has again separated regressive progressives from their comrades of better conscience and driven them into alliance with the far-Right fringe they mirror.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This Day in Pwnage

I hate to cannibalize James Wolcott again so soon, but it's irresistible.

Michael Medved -- or as I prefer to think of him, Mr. Mediocrity -- is demanding that Mitt Romney idolator Hugh Hewitt (half man, half icicle) apologize (!) for Romney's air barrage of sleazy, inaccurate, demagoguic ads directed against John McCain over illegal immigration and Social Security.


Medved's wasting his garlic breath. Won't happen. Hewitt has his head so far up Mitt Romney's ass he can see the world through Mitt's clicking eyes, achieving complete parasitic identification with his host.

Half-man, half-icicle!!!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

He's Not One of Us

I don’t see how such a man wins the Republican nomination. I’m second to none in praising him on his surge leadership. But on a whole host of issues — including water boarding, tax cuts, and the freedom of speech — he’s not one of us.

-- Torture-loving Jabba Kathryn Jean Lopez on John McCain

Nouveau conservatism has come a long way since 2003, when it was mainly concerned with establishing the notion that Islam, not Islamism, was evil, and thus Muslims were inherently dangerous, any one of them liable at any time to produce a Kalashnikov and shoot up an El Al counter. Years pass, concerns change, and gestural politics become even more superficial and base. As Andrew Sullivan points out, and floating fatbody Kathryn Jean Lopez affirms, we have now entered the era in which medieval torture is a key Republican value, such that a Republican candidate who has endured it himself, and thus opposes it, "is not one of us". Absolutely surreal.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Quote of the Day

You can imagine the response if a candidate were to suggest anything like this in regard to Israel: Abe Foxman's tie would spin around, Commentary's server would crash, and Marty Peretz would order James Kirchick to crush a paper cup.

Matthew Duss, sketching the perfect vignette in response to more informed and nuanced commentary on the Middle East by Mike Hickabee, in which the Presidential candidate channeled Macaque Ahmadinejad when asked if he supports the creation of a Palestinian state (emphasis added).

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From the What the Fuck Files:
"You are approaching coalition warships," the USS Hopper's crew warns. "You are straying into danger and may be subject to defensive measures. ... Request you alter course immediately to remain clear."

It is at that point that a heavily accented voice can be heard over the radio, apparently coming from the Iranians.

"I am coming to you," the voice says. "You will explode after a few minutes."

An American voice can be then heard repeating the words, incredulously, "You will explode in a few minutes."

The video shows the Iranian speedboats getting so close they are inside the wake of the American warships. Senior defense officials told ABC News the USS Hopper's gunners were within seconds of firing on the Iranians' boats when they suddenly backed off.

At the White House today, President Bush was asked about the incident.

"We viewed it as a provocative act. It is a dangerous situation. And they should not have done it, pure and simple," the president said. "And my message today, to the Iranians, is they shouldn't have done what they did."

The Iranian Foreign Ministry, however, called the incident "ordinary" and denied using threatening language.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Obama Orgasmatron

Ezra Klein on Obama:

Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

This is such a spoogetastic verbal blow-job. If Obama actually wins the nomination, will the entire NPR class don hospital gowns and wander the streets openly masturbating?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

This Week in Bitchslaps

As the ecstatic debris settles on another New Year's Day, I'm enjoying two well-earned smackdowns. James Wolcott lays into the absurd Lee Siegel, the pompous fraud who in the course of an excruciating essay about steroids in baseball, has had the balls to bemoan Stephen Glass, Scott Thomas Beauchamp and the lack of authenticity on the Internet!
Given Siegel's unfortunate foray into sockpuppetry, he might want to rein back on the snot drops secreted from on high against fake-fact self-injectors and avatars with secret identities and agendas. His own writing has no need for steroids, metaphorical or otherwise. His prose is always already so pumped up with grandiose pretention that artificial inflators would be redundant.

Over to the great Oliver Kamm, who on the subject of Enola Gay pilot General Paul Tibbets and the bombing of Hiroshima, is batting around real-life Simpson's character Eric Alterman like a turd in a cat litter.
I see little purpose in being diplomatic about this performance, if only because Alterman does explicitly present himself as an expert on US foreign relations and US history. From my observation, he's not up to it. If he wishes to persist in his statement of what the historical evidence "clearly" shows on the A-bomb decisions, then I invite him to demonstrate it, at long last. I shall be glad to debate that evidence publicly with him, online or in person, at any time.

That I would like to see.

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