Friday, April 16, 2010

Texas Tough

"The Rise of America's Prison Empire." Book rec of the day.

X-Rated Braille


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Workers of the World, Enjoy!

"Aesthetic Politics from Revolutionary Syndicalism to the Global Justice Movement." Book rec of the day.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sarah Palin Haiku


Monday, April 12, 2010

What Else Is New?

Unsurprisingly, yet another preposterous slander of the President's Middle East policy and his supposed anti-Israel bias turns out to be a complete non-story. This story had "distortion" written all over it, but it was widely circulated and credulously accepted among many in the right-wing blogosphere... truly sad.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Elections in Literature


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Raul Hilberg's Inner Turmoil

Fascinating essay on the great Holocaust scholar Raul Hilberg's combination of brilliance alongside an enormous capacity for grumpiness and resentment (in particular of Hannah Arendt, whose "banality of evil" concept was in a sense a theoretical footnote to Hilberg's meticulous research)... how can it be that there's no book-length biography of him?

Saturday, April 03, 2010



Birth of the Iconic California Swimming Pool



NPR's Planet Money reports on the capsizing of the shipping industry: "So there was a big shipping bubble that inflated about the same time the housing bubble did. It grew for some similar reasons -- a go-go economy, easy credit, a belief that prices never decline, etc. And, like housing, it's now turned ugly."

Friday, April 02, 2010

More Signs of Tough Times in the Newspaper Biz

California outdoors writer Tom Stienstra (growing up in California I had a couple of his books on camping and fishing in the Sierras) gets busted for allegedly growing pot at his home. In, er, the town of Weed.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

What Does Chaim Potok Have To Do With "Lost"?

One blogger envisions the enigmatic ABC show as a kind of roman-a-clef based on Potok's famous novel "The Chosen"...

2048: Humanity's Agreement to Live Together

"2048 tells the story of the most important social movement in the 21st century: humanity’s agreement, in writing, to create a social order that will allow people to live together in peace and prosperity based upon human rights and the rule of law. Many of the problems the world faces, such as war, poverty, and environmental ruin are the by-product of a flawed international social order. Fortunately, there is an international agreement, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which all countries signed in 1948, that promises a social order of justice, equality, and freedom. But although the UDHR was agreed to by all countries it is only a declaration and is unenforceable in courts of law. The 2048 Project, launched by the author and his colleagues at the University of California School of Law and from which the book gets it’s name, is a movement to make the fundamental rights in the Declaration enforceable in the courts of all countries by 2048, the 100th anniversary of the Universal Declaration. Through its programs and Web site, the 2048 Project provides education, research materials, and a place for drafters to post documents, as well as hosts international conferences on human rights. 2048 tells how the UDHR came to be written and the origins of the movement to make it enforceable; lays out the five basic freedoms the UDHR is meant to protect; and gives detailed advice on what everyone can do to make international human rights a reality." Book rec of the day.

Ron Paul's Earmark Requests

Even Ron Paul can't break the addiction. But wait, it's actually a DEEPLY PRINCIPLED earmark request: Paul apparently believes that because the federal government takes so much money from citizens, it is his job to get back as much as possible (for what or whom? citizens in his district? but why should taxpayers in Oregon have to foot the bill for expansion of a wastewater treatment plant in Fulshear, Texas?)... which sounds a bit to me like saying you're against group sex, but hey if these people over here are ALREADY having a threesome, then pass the vaseline.

NY Times vs. The Vatican

The Vatican knows how to play hardball: the Vatican recently responded to a scandal in Italy by (according to Vatican-watcher John Allen) conspiring “to smear an Italian Catholic journalist by leaking fake documents suggesting he was involved in a gay affair.” They could take a page out of the Scientologists' book and hire some out-of-work journalists to dig up dirt on Bill Keller... is Jayson Blair available?

LTE of the Day

From a recent issue of the Marin County 'Pacific Sun' weekly newspaper:

I was unable to attend the recent Tea Party in Mill Valley. I had looked forward to hopping in my car, which because of massive government regulation, is fairly clean and safe, driving along our smooth city-maintained streets past the beautiful public library, outstanding public high school and middle school. Then past the struggling private bank where much of my money rests (thank goodness for the bureaucrat or career politician who dreamed up FDIC insurance), and parking at the station of our government-sponsored heroes--known as police and firefighters--who use government-provided equipment and municipal water to ensure our safety. Then I would have walked across the government-maintained grassy sports field, over that lovely redwood bridge the town built, along the publicly maintained bike path that travels along the ecologically vibrant marsh, which was saved by community resources, to the community center itself, which never would have been built without government assistance.

There I certainly would have stolen one last glance of magnificent Mt. Tamalpais, preserved in large part by local governments and our municipal water district, before entering to rail against having to pay taxes and the odious specter of the government having a hand in providing healthcare for its citizens. Maybe I would have even won the "Draw a Hitler-mustache on Obama" coloring contest! Although I was unable to attend, thanks to the proximity of the government-run waste water treatment facility, I was still able to send my regards.

--Richard Marshall, Mill Valley