Lonely Candidate

Via Wonkette, a strangely funny political website.


The Nation, October 8, 2007

See the post below for an explanation of what I’m doing.

The cover story is a love letter to Keith Olbermann by Marvin Kitman; several pieces deal with the likely impact of the Iraq war on the 2008 elections.  Alexander Cockburn’s column starts with the arresting sentence “I never thought there’d come a time when, even for a moment, I’d trust Fidel Castro less than a former chairman of the Federal Reserve.” 

The best pieces are in the book reviews.  Ian Hacking considers several books about America’s anti-Darwin movement.  He expounds on Imre Lakatos’ theory of science.  According to that philosopher, Hacking writes, the proper “unit of valuation [in science] was the research program rather than the theory.  A rational program is, he said, ‘progressive’ in that it constantly reacts to counterexamples and difficulties by producing new theories that overcome old hurdles.  When challenged it does not withdraw into some same corner but explains new difficulties with an even riskier, richer, and bolder story about nature.”  Hacking favors Darwinism over fundamentalism not because it is the cut-and-dried, incontrovertible truth that a writer like Richard Dawkins would suggest, but precisely because it is confusing, superficially improbable, full of uncertainty.  Hacking even closes with a feint towards a new kind of argument from design, appealing to Leibniz’ description of a God whose plan calls for combining “the maximum of variety with the minimum of complexity for its fundamental laws” and arguing that a God like that  “would have to be a ‘neo-Darwinian’ who achieves the extraordinary variety of living things by chance.”

J. Hoberman reviews a new study of the Communist-inspired American literature of the World War II era, bringing up some interesting-sounding novels, such as Jews without Money by Mike Gold, I Went to Pit College by Lauren Gilfillan, and The Street by Ann Petry.


The Atlantic Monthly, October 2007

For some time I’ve been thinking I ought to take notes when I read magazines.  Not very extensive or systematic notes, just a few jottings of things I might want to remember.   To motivate myself to start doing this, I’ve decided to post these jottings on the blog.  Here’s are my notes on the current issue of THE ATLANTIC.

In a review of C L R James’ BEYOND A BOUNDARY, Joseph O’Neill laments the decline of American cricket since the brief period in the 1760’s when the sport was popular here.  He argues, apparently in earnest, that James’ book is so good that it justifies the lifetime of cricket fandom necessary to appreciate it. 

 Clive Crook notes that several prominent economists have in recent years suggested that globalization might not be the road to paradise and assures us that this is because they are growing senile.  “No empirical work even comes close to supporting the claim that globalization is failing to benefit America in the aggregate.”  Crook does not ask how those benefits have been distributed among Americans, let alone whether globalization will create new forms of inequality and what those new forms of inequality might mean for our society and politics.  For me, these are the essential questions about trade policy. 

Vthunderlad might be interested in Graeme Wood’s “Riders on the Storm,” an article about new technological developments that promise to give us a degree of control over the weather.  Christopher Hitchens’ nasty review of Philip Roth’s latest novel will bring a chortle to any right-wing antiwar types  who are so uncharitable as to enjoy the spectacle of two well-known left-wing hawks at each others’ throats.  And the “Word Fugitive” column’s canvass for words that would mean ” that happy feeling of kinship one feels for a car of the same make and model as one’s own” (the winner is “”badgeraderie”) and “that guy (or girl) who, once he starts dating someone new, abandons all of his friends” (they choose “hiberdater.”)

The cover story is about rich guys like Bill Clinton who try to take control of people and groups to whom they donate money.  Of course, the magazine is owned by David Bradley, who is just such a guy, so they present this as a good thing.  It’s the “new philanthropy”!  Other feature stories deal with “social investing,” the evolution of altruistic behavior, and the future of Pakistan.



I posted a link to some funny stuff from this guy’s blog a while back.  Here is his tribute to a comic book that ran for a few months in 1975 (from Atlas Comics, which Lefalcon will remember.)   


Irving Babbitt, Casino Master

The International Herald Tribune
April 4, 2006 Tuesday
1931: Gambling At Harvard


LENGTH: 113 words

BOSTON: Harvard students have invented a new lottery which has resulted in an epidemic of gambling fever sweeping the campus according to the ”Harvard Crimson.”

This journal today [April 3] confirms persistent reports that classes in ”comparative literature” conducted by Professor Irving Babbitt have evolved a betting pool based on the number of writers mentioned during one of his lectures. One hundred chances are sold at 10 cents each, and three tally-keepers count the writers. The man holding the right number wins the lottery minus 10 percent, which goes to the inventors. They have found that 47 constitutes the average number of authors mentioned by Professor Babbitt.

Superman vs the… Fashion Designers?


Universalized Conscriptionment

 It’s necessary ASAP. How else to get the country to move beyond caring and moping about to mobilizing against war? Plus, if we believe ourselves to be a powerful force for good we should have plenty more combat troops to enforce our goodness.

I’m not kidding.

(Title Bushinated so’s our children and leaders can understand. – Earl)

A provocation from Mencius Moldbug

Lefalcon seems to be interested in “political theology,” the notion that all political ideologies are really religious doctrines in disguise.  Below, Mencius Moldbug of the “Unqualified Reservations” blog tries to identify the religious doctrine behind the liberal internationalism that animates supporters of things like NATO, the UN, etc.


If you don’t want to follow the link, I’ll put the key paragraphs after the jump:


Powerpoint Version of the Gettysburg Address

Have you seen too many PowerPoint presentations?  Here’s a satire.


Bush’s logical successor

Courtesy of Wonkette, a photo of the candidate the Republican Party wishes it could might as well try to put in the White House in 2008.

Bush’s logical successor