Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘J.D. Salinger

Monday Night!

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* The latest Detroit atrocity: Detroit mayor shoots down idea for Robocop statue. When will that poor city finally get a leader with some vision?

* How “The Fridge” lost his way: Elegy for William “The Refrigerator” Perry.

* Football vs. labor: Will the NFL play next year?

* Dystopia watch: Disney Now Marketing To Newborns In The Delivery Room.

* David Cole plays “Is Health Care Reform Constitutional?”—almost by name!—in the New York Review of Books.

As Judge Hudson sees it, the health care reform law poses an unprecedented question: Can Congress, under its power to regulate “commerce among the states,” regulate “inactivity” by compelling citizens who are not engaged in commerce to purchase insurance? If it is indeed a novel question, there may be plenty of room for political preconceptions to color legal analysis. And given the current makeup of the Supreme Court, that worries the law’s supporters.

But the concerns are overstated. In fact, defenders of the law have both the better argument and the force of history on their side. Judge Hudson’s decision reads as if it were written at the beginning of the twentieth rather than the twenty-first century. It rests on formalistic distinctions—between “activity” and “inactivity,” and between “taxing” and “regulating”—that recall jurisprudence the Supreme Court has long since abandoned, and abandoned for good reason. To uphold Judge Hudson’s decision would require the rewriting of several major and well-established tenets of constitutional law. Even this Supreme Court, as conservative a court as we have had in living memory, is unlikely to do that.

The objections to health care reform are ultimately founded not on a genuine concern about preserving state prerogative, but on a libertarian opposition to compelling individuals to act for the collective good, no matter who imposes the obligation. The Constitution recognizes no such right, however, so the opponents have opportunistically invoked “states’ rights.” But their arguments fail under either heading. With the help of the filibuster, the opponents of health care reform came close to defeating it politically. The legal case should not be a close call.

* Did Bush cancel a trip to Switzerland out of fear of criminal prosecution? Probably not—but isn’t it pretty to think so?

* The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party finds another RINO: godfather of neoconservatism Bill Kristol.

* The end of the DLC. My inclination is to say “make sure you bury it at a crossroads so it can’t come back,” but of course Ezra’s more or less right: the DLC can safely disband because it won.

* The city-states of America, “those states where the majority of their populations lie within a single metropolitan area.” Via Yglesias, which has some light speculation on the politics of all this.

* On the Soviet Union’s rather poor plan to reach the Moon.

* Star Wars, with all those pointless words and images taken out. Note: falsely implies Chewbacca received a medal at the end of the film.

* Charles Simic: Where is Poetry Going?

“Poetry dwells in a perpetual utopia of its own,” William Hazlitt wrote. One hopes that a poem will eventually arise out of all that hemming and hawing, then go out into the world and convince a complete stranger that what it describes truly happened. If one is fortunate, it may even get into bed with them or be taken on a vacation to a tropical island. A poem is like a girl at a party who gets to kiss everybody. No, a poem is a secret shared by people who have never met each other. Compared to the other arts, poets spend most of their time scratching their heads in the dark. That’s why the travel they prefer is going to the kitchen to see if there is any baked ham and cold beer left in the fridge.

* An evening with J.D. Salinger. It ends pretty much exactly as you’d expect:

The three of us got into the cab. Joe gave the driver my address and when the cab began to move Salinger began walking, then running, alongside, still asking us to change our minds. He hit the cab—with his fist, I supposed—and the driver braked.

Joe said, “Drive on!” Salinger was looking in through the window beside me. “Stop. Please come back!” He was shouting now in the quiet street.

The cab moved and got through the intersection. Joe said angrily, “He’s absolutely crazy.”

* And the headline reads: Global food crisis driven by extreme weather fueled by climate change. Enjoy the century.

Honestly That’s Got To Be Pretty Disappointing

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Written by gerrycanavan

April 5, 2010 at 9:22 am

Still OoT But With Unexpected Hotel Wifi Links

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* Ripped from the pages of Infinite Jest, a playable version of Eschaton. (via)

* Via Pete Lit, federal government to use its immense buying power to benefit society.

By altering how it awards $500 billion in contracts each year, the government would disqualify more companies with labor, environmental or other violations and give an edge to companies that offer better levels of pay, health coverage, pensions and other benefits, the officials said.

This looks to me like perhaps a first case of the end-runs Obama will have to make around our broken legislative institutions if he hopes to avoid a failed presidency. Another good sign: the final embrace of sidecar reconciliation to finish the job on health care.

* Of course, that headline in the New York Times gets it wrong, as Steve Benen has been desperately trying to explain to anyone who will listen: Democrats don’t need to pass health care via reconciliation because health care already passed through the regular order. Regardless, the Republicans are promising a full-on freakout if reconciliation is used; what might they do?

* “Pentagon fesses up to 800 pages’ worth of potentially illegal spying, including peace groups and Planned Parenthood.” Hey, thanks for admitting it! Of course we won’t prosecute you; you were just protecting the homeland!

* Eliza Dushku to ruin another Joss Whedon production.

* The pornography of infinity: China Miéville on J.G. Ballard.

* J.D. Salinger v. Raiders of the Lost Ark.

* Wikipedia’s list of landings on other planets. Did the Soviets think there was life on Venus? They certainly seem to have thought there was something there. Via Boing Boing.

* Secret origins of the cellar door line from Donnie Darko.

* FantasySCOTUS.

* Really good reading of the U.K. version of The Office that focuses on Gervais’s critique of celebrity culture to explain, among other things, how David Brent could possibly have won a promotion on a 5-2 vote of the company board or been hired by a consulting firm—as well as why the U.S. version, in dropping this thematic angle, will always be intrinsically inferior.

* If I were a Brigham Young student, here’s the process I would have to undertake to grow my beloved beard.

* Students at the University of Mississippi want Admiral Akbar as their new mascot. I wholeheartedly endorse this effort.

* Also Via MeFi: Personal pop-culture rules. “No Robin Williams” and “anything involving dinosaurs” are two I think I follow.

* And Matt Yglesias selfishly takes a stand against one of our most-beloved cultural institutions. No special rights for late-in-the-alphabet people!

No More Interviews

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Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all.  Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around—nobody big, I mean—except me.  And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff.  What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.  That’s all I do all day.  I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.  I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. Breaking in from a hectic day to report some sad news: J.D. Salinger has died.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 28, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Advantage: Salinger

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Advantage: Salinger.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 2, 2009 at 5:30 am

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Monday 1

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Monday!

* The trailer for the SF-infused Paul-Giamatti-as-Paul-Giamatti comedy Cold Souls causes io9 to ask whether “Charlie Kaufman” is officially a genre yet.

* Kari in the comments directs us to a defense of Holden Caulfield against the spurious assertions of irrelevance I blogged about yesterday.

* Bruce Schneier: SF Writers Aren’t a Useful Aspect of National Defense—a followup to an article I posted last month. Via Boing Boing.

* Also not useful: classifying “protests” as “low-level terrorism activity.”

* The Art of the Title Sequence considers the end of Wall-E. Via Kottke.

* What’s wrong with the American essay? I’m not sure anything is, but certainly not this:

The problem, of course, is not merely our essayists; it’s our culture. We have grown terribly—if somewhat hypocritically—weary of larger truths. The smarter and more intellectual we count ourselves, the more adamantly we insist that there is no such thing as truth, no such thing as general human experience, that everything is plural and relative and therefore undiscussable. Of course, everything is plural, everything is arguable, and there are limits to what we can know about other persons, other cultures, other genders. But there is also a limit to such humility; there is a point at which it becomes narcissism of a most myopic sort, a simple excuse to talk only about one’s own case, only about one’s own small area of specialization. Montaigne thought it the essayist’s duty to cross boundaries, to write not as a specialist (even in himself) but as a generalist, to speak out of turn, to assume, to presume, to provoke. “Where I have least knowledge,” said the blithe Montaigne, “there do I use my judgment most readily.” And how salutary the result; how enjoyable to read—and to spar with—Montaigne’s by turns outrageous and incisive conclusions about humankind. That everything is arguable goes right to the heart of the matter.

“The next best thing to a good sermon is a bad sermon,” said Montaigne’s follower and admirer, the first American essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson. In a good sermon we hear our own “discarded thoughts brought back to us by the trumpets of the last judgment,” in the words of Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance.” In a bad sermon we formulate those thoughts ourselves—through the practice of creative disagreement. If an author tells us “love is nothing but jealousy” and we disagree, it is far more likely we will come up with our own theory of love than if we hear a simple autobiographical account of the author’s life. It is hard to argue with someone’s childhood memory—and probably inadvisable. It is with ideas that we can argue, with ideas that we can engage. And this is what the essayist ought to offer: ideas.

It doesn’t seem to me at all that American letters suffers from a lack of hypotheses confused for certainties.

* And Shia Labeouf may live to ruin Y: The Last Man after all.

Sunday

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Some links for Sunday.

* Robin Sloan has a filtered #iranelection Twitter feed with most of the repetition and chaos stripped away. Via Boing Boing.

* Salinger and kids today: “Oh, we all hated Holden in my class. We just wanted to tell him, ‘Shut up and take your Prozac.’ ” Via MeFi.

* Another ruins of the modern world roundup. This one has some repetition but also a few I hadn’t seen before.

* Advantage: chubbiness. People who are a little overweight at age 40 live six to seven years longer than very thin people, whose average life expectancy was shorter by some five years than that of obese people, the study found.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 21, 2009 at 7:37 pm