Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Archive for November 2006

Run, Al, Run

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Al Gore in GQ. Here’s the MetaFilter thread.

Do you feel that we would be safer today if you had been president on that day?
Well, no one can say that the 9-11 attack wouldn’t have occurred whoever was president.

Really? How about all the warnings?
That’s a separate question. And it’s almost too easy to say, “I would have heeded the warnings.” In fact, I think I would have, I know I would have. We had several instances when the CIA’s alarm bells went off, and what we did when that happened was, we had emergency meetings and called everybody together and made sure that all systems were go and every agency was hitting on all cylinders, and we made them bring more information, and go into the second and third and fourth level of detail. And made suggestions on how we could respond in a more coordinated, more effective way. It is inconceivable to me that Bush would read a warning as stark and as clear [voice angry now] as the one he received on August 6th of 2001, and, according to some of the new histories, he turned to the briefer and said, “Well, you’ve covered your ass.” And never called a follow up meeting. Never made an inquiry. Never asked a single question. To this day, I don’t understand it. And, I think it’s fair to say that he personally does in fact bear a measure of blame for not doing his job at a time when we really needed him to do his job. And now the Woodward book has this episode that has been confirmed by the record that George Tenet, who was much abused by this administration, went over to the White House for the purpose of calling an emergency meeting and warning as clearly as possible about the extremely dangerous situation with Osama bin Laden, and was brushed off! And I don’t know why—honestly—I mean, I understand how horrible this Congressman Foley situation with the instant messaging is, okay? I understand that. But, why didn’t these kinds of things produce a similar outrage? And you know, I’m even reluctant to talk about it in these terms because it’s so easy for people to hear this or read this as sort of cheap political game-playing. I understand how it could sound that way. [Practically screaming now] But dammit, whatever happened to the concept of accountability for catastrophic failure? This administration has been by far the most incompetent, inept, and with more moral cowardice, and obsequiousness to their wealthy contributors, and obliviousness to the public interest of any administration in modern history, and probably in the entire history of the country!

But how do you really feel?
(cracks up)

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November 30, 2006 at 6:57 pm

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‘The Answer Is an Optimistic and Inspiring One’

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DawkinsTube: Why Are We Here?

Another hat-tip to Cynical-C.

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November 30, 2006 at 6:56 pm

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Experts Say One of the Most Alluring Sleep Distractions is the 24-Hour Accessibility of the Internet

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November 30, 2006 at 6:54 pm

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In the Shadow of the Counterculture of Duke University

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For too long the left-wing excuseniks in the so-called mainstream media have given the co-owners of Durham’s Regulator Bookshop a free ride. No longer. Let those with ears hear the truth.

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November 30, 2006 at 5:01 am

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Danger! Submission Window Closing!

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Just a reminder that tomorrow’s the last day for submissions for BCR #5. If you’ve got any comics, poetry, art, or prose you’d like considered, email it to us by tomorrow night, or it’ll have to wait until February…

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November 30, 2006 at 12:21 am

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Also in Local News

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A Polish exchange student gets placed with a family of fundamentalist Christians in Greensboro, with predictable results. Meanwhile, a recent study at Southern Connecticut State University has demonstrated a link between psychosis and support for the president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

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November 29, 2006 at 5:56 pm

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And In Local News

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Orson Scott Card: Still insane.

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November 29, 2006 at 5:28 pm

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Links!

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* Dr. Seuss tackles malaria.
* Business Week explains where LEGO bricks come from.
* And at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Selections From the Notebooks of Max Roosevelt, 15-Year-Old Socialist.

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November 29, 2006 at 4:59 pm

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Congratulations, Kevin Costner’s The Postman

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November 29, 2006 at 1:12 am

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Email Writing Workshop

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Today’s lesson: The art of the close.

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November 28, 2006 at 10:07 pm

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Superfluous and Wildly Tangential Flights of Lexical Diarrhea

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The Rake catches David Eggers in a little bit of prefatory dishonesty.

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November 28, 2006 at 3:11 am

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Jonathan Lethem Loves Dick

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…in the new VQR. Via Boing Boing.

Here’s the writer of Ubik, gregariously welcoming into his ramshackle parlor the bigshot Hollywood hipster filmmaker Dancer Handclasp—who has probably come here to rip him off—and Handclasp’s girlfriend, the famous and beautiful actress Lena Finney. The writer of Ubik, in his snuff-stained beard and with his barrel chest stretching the buttons of his paisley shirt and with his cat elusive underfoot—avoiding him ever since scratching the hell out of the speakers—has seen so much come through his door by now, the freaks and cops of various kinds. He’s been both freak and cop himself. Recognizes the fatal confusion in others when they appear before him, and this guy Handclasp is a classic case. He is fey and strong at once, pathetic and menacing, European and totally Californian, a hippie with power, a beggar arriving with something the writer wants: a movie deal. Legitimacy.

He sees it everywhere, legitimacy, an elusive substance the world has chosen to tease him with. He renounces it: You can’t fire me; I quit. You propriety, you legitimacy, you money, you grown-ups. You wives. You mainstream writers. There is no mainstream; he knows it now. And then legitimacy comes calling in another guise, and today it’s Handclasp, brandishing the actress, his trump card. The actress has the writer totally buffaloed. She is so beautiful and all he can do is imagine her not in his room and not in his bed but in his movie. Handclasp can have her in bed. The writer will not tell his secret: He’d give Handclasp the book he wants for free if he would only make it real, make it happen, fix the crack in the world. Put Lena Finney in a movie called Are Androids Dreaming of Me While I Sleep? The book is out of print, anyway.

Do they know who they’re dealing with?

I’m nobody.

I’ve got nothing to sell. I already gave it away, cast my pearls, wasted my treasure. Every confusion etched in stone for all to see, brought down as by Moses or Mercer from the mountaintop. But totally out of print, broke, screwed, fnargled. Famous in France, among the horse lovers. And horse lover, after all, means only Philip.

I’m the greatest nobody you ever heard of, but you’re here telling me what I want to hear: that I’m the greatest, that I know the secret of the world and that makes me important and dangerous. What does that make you?

A freak or a cop?

Decide already.

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November 27, 2006 at 11:02 pm

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Back from Thanksgiving Zen

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If you would seek to know everything; then do not seek to know anything.
—St. John of the Cross (on why I’m in grad school for comparative literature)

No man is born wise.
— Cervantes, Don Quixote

If treacherous talk is constantly in your ears, and unwanted thoughts are constantly in your mind, you can turn these about and use them as whetstones to enhance your practice. If every word that came to your ears was agreeable, and all things in your mind were pleasant, then your whole life would be poisoned and wasted.
The Ts’ai-ken T’an

I stick my fingers into existence—it smells of nothing.
—Søren Kierkegaard

(Zen)

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November 27, 2006 at 5:30 pm

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"Borat: The Memo"

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George Saunders is troubled by Borat, too.

OPENING “VILLAGE” SECTION: How about a high-speed montage of the actual difficult, brutal lives of the villagers in Romania—the hours of debilitating toil, their oppression at the hands of their corrupt government, premature loss of teeth, death of infants, etc., etc.—culminating in a panning shot of the village on the morning of the day when they first realize they’ve been had, and that, as far as posterity goes, they will always be remembered, if remembered at all, as savages, rapists, prostitutes, etc., and they stumble out of their little sheds or whatever, looking traumatized? (Would be good if one or two could fall into depression/commit suicide as a result = confirmation of their “subhuman” status? Rich social commentary.)

SOUTHERN DINING SOCIETY SECTION: Do we have footage of the woman Borat identified as unattractive being consoled in her darkened living room later that night by her husband? Particularly good if, all her life, she’s fought the feeling that she was not attractive, and only recently has come to feel pretty, owing to the steady love of her husband, who does, in fact, find her pretty, in part because of her kindness to him and others in their community—and now all those wounds have been reopened! Also, although she is crying, she tries to cry quietly, so as not to alarm the kids. Super!

RODEO NATIONAL ANTHEM SECTION: Would be great if we had a series of shots where we see hundreds of people in the rodeo audience driving home, in their “pickups” or whatever, troubled at the thought that hundreds of other people in the audience continued to cheer even after the “Bush drinking blood” line. We could focus on one particular couple who have had complicated feelings about the war in Iraq from the beginning, even though they (1) live in the South and (2) enjoy rodeo. (Although too unbelievable?) A nice touch might be: This family sees Borat hitchhiking, picks him up, he sits in back seat of car with kids, takes shit in back seat, then pretends to be humping the family dog, and we see, from their reaction, that they really are rednecks after all.

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November 27, 2006 at 3:12 pm

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Foundation and Empire

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Was bin Laden influenced by Isaac Asimov’s science fiction novels? It’s an old article, but an intriguing notion.

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November 27, 2006 at 6:09 am

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