Monday, February 28, 2005

Nice Shot

It's not on the cover of any newspapers this morning, but I love the fact that this photo of short-subject documentary winners Robert Hudson and Bobby Houston kissing even exists. Almost makes up for the fact that poor Annette Bening still doesn't have an Oscar. At least she got a guest appearance on The Sopranos--I'd like to see Hilary Swank wrangle her way into one of Tony's dreams!

I wonder if ABC would have gone to the tape delay--or another camera--if this had taken place during their acceptance speech? That would have been quite a moment.

Hidden Revelations

Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1

At first glance, this autobiography is almost opaque; much of it is devoted to what appear to be meaningless anecdotes from Dylan's everyday life, and a reader could be forgiven for getting frustrated and shouting, "Tell me about how you wrote 'Like a Rolling Stone,' already!" But Dylan's writing, like his songcraft, soon wins you over. His streams of consciousness may feel aimless, but Dylan always returns to the matter at hand, no matter how long a tangent he takes getting from A to B or how colorful the characters he shows us in between.

Indeed, there's more transparency in this work than we had any right to expect from the usually cryptic Dylan, information about his priorities (his family and his privacy) and albums he released in an effort to reduce his popularity (Self Portrait, among others) or without any passion for his work (much of the 1980s). We learn who he admired before he was a star, how he landed his first real gigs and recorded his first album. We see, albeit it through mirrors aimed at other mirrors, a vivid reflection of Dylan as we've never seen him before.

This is Dylan's self-portrait of his artistic development--why he started playing music, why he chose the directions he did, what pitfalls he encountered along the way, how he dealt with them and got his groove back. No, it doesn't flow linearly from beginning to end, and no, it isn't the whole story--that's what Volumes Two and Three are for. But by itself, Chronicles: Volume One is a fascinating and revealing look at the man who never wanted to be the voice of his generation and ended up being a voice for every generation. Remarkable and highly recommended.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Two For One

Grande Ecole

This is really two movies for the price of one.

It's a philosophical French film about class and race differences, sexual orientation and whether it really exists, and the ways that people manipulate and deceive one another. It does an OK job of this, though the heady dialogue sounds more profound being spoken in French than it reads in the English subtitles and the characters behave in ways that often defy believability.

It's also a cavalcade of nudity, as the DVD case should tell you, with both sexes coming in for their share of time under the lens. (Men are actually the winners of the full-frontal contest in this film, with multiple shots of the three male leads as well as a locker room shower scene that exposes the entire water polo team.) If you're offended by bare flesh, you will NOT enjoy this movie. If witnessing casual nudity and people unashamed of their bodies appeals to you, however, you may not care about--or notice--this film's overly-ambitious philosophical overtones or sometimes clunky but ultimately intriguing storyline.

No Deal

Marc Stein's Trade Scorecard

Well, I didn't see that coming. A bevy of stars got traded yesterday--and none of them were named Cassell or Sprewell. Both the Timberwolves and the Bulls stood pat when given their last chance of the season to make changes. In the case of the Bulls, I think that's a good choice; the team finally has chemistry and the risk of ruining that isn't worth the possibility of bringing in somebody to make the team a five seed in the East rather than a seven. But what were the Wolves thinking? They have all the tools to win but can't find a way to do it. If ever a trade were needed to alter a team's internal chemistry, this was surely the time.

Poor Kevin Garnett. I watched John Thompson interview him prior to the All Star game last week, and he fell into tears more than once, repeating the words "I'm losing" over and over and making it clear that he continues to give his all to the team he built. Watching him suffer through this terrible season is painful for me.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Deadline Day

Sprewell, Odom most tradeable

I'm back.

And the trade deadline for the NBA is only hours away. Take a look at the trades Mike Kahn predicts--including two involving the Wolves and one concerning the Bulls. I don't think Sprewell or Szczerbiak are going anywhere, but we'll find out soon enough...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Shutting Down

Game Off! NHL Cancels Remainder of Season

And no one cares. I don't think the fact that there hasn't been hockey all season has changed my life one bit. I don't think it's impacted yours much, either.

If you're reading this, though, here's something that might have a minor impact: This will be my last post for a week. Tomorrow I leave for New Orleans, home of this year's iteration of my employer's Annual Meeting. I return late Tuesday night and report for jury dury at the wretched 26th and California courthouse on Wednesday morning.

What will you be missing as a result?
  • A post about the fact that I'm turning 26 on Friday, questioning what this age means, how it should be classified (late-mid-twenties, as opposed to next year's early-late-twenties?), and whether I'm at a point in my life anything like I thought I'd be.
  • A post gloating that I've passed number 4,000 in the Amazon rankings, though I'm currently at 4,133 after a recent surge out of the 5,000s. I'm sure a few of you will vote for my review of Blink or Collapse--or undershirts--to put me over as a birthday gift.
  • A post contemplating all the different parts of the Mississippi River I've seen, with a thorough list of all the bridges I've used to cross it, including at least six in Minnesota, two between Illinois and Missouri, six between Illinois and Iowa, and one between Wisconsin and Minnesota. (I don't think I'll cross the river even once during my time in New Orleans, but the convention center does overlook it, and I should be able to see it from my hotel.)
On the whole, I'd say I stand to lose a lot more (my weekend) than you do because of my absence, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Delayed Romance

Pazz & Jop 2004

I'm still not ready to make the final call on 2004's albums, and probably won't be for a while. Every once in a while I whittle the list in the sidebar a bit further as I prepare to choose a final slate of 10 or 12 albums from last year.

In a sign that I'm officially tardy at the task, the Village Voice has finally published its annual Pazz & Jop poll. The top ten albums should look pretty familiar to anyone who's been following music:
10. Danger Mouse, The Grey Album
9. Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News
8. U2, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
7. Streets, A Grand Don't Come for Free
6. Arcade Fire, Funeral
5. Green Day, American Idiot
4. Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand
3. Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose
2. Brian Wilson, Smile
1. Kanye West, The College Dropout

I own seven of those. Four made my initial top ten, and four will likely make the new one--but not the same four. Any guesses what might change?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Out--and Kicked Out

When Sexuality Undercuts A Family's Ties

Remember Maya Keyes? The daughter of Alan Keyes who was, months ago, discovered to have a blog on which she revealed herself to be a lesbian, right around the same time father Alan was criticizing Mary Cheney?

She's been kicked out without a dime. A foundation that helps young gays and lesbians in similar situations is helping her pay for her education at Brown University, and she's speaking out about her experience.

Good for her, I say. But this represents a vast failure of the mainstream media. This story was timely last fall, when Keyes was running for Senate, calling Mary Cheney a "selfish hedonist," and speaking at anti-gay rallies. Why didn't Keyes have to face questions about this matter back then? When the media went apeshit over the fact that John Kerry mentioned Mary Cheney's widely-known (and traded-upon, at Coors) sexual orientation during a debate, why wasn't his comfort with the subject and respect for gays and lesbians contrasted with Keyes' third-person hypothetical discussion of how he would treat his very real lesbian daughter, or his lambasting of both Mary Cheney and, by extension, Dick and Lynne? Why wasn't Lynne asked for her reaction to Keyes? The media could have stirred the pot, could have asked why the Cheneys would lash out against Kerry for mentioning their daughter positively while running on the same ticket in Illinois as a man who called her a sinner. We could have had a real discussion of this issue.

Instead, we had direct-mail pieces that said liberals would ban the Bible. Mary Cheney hid from view until the Inauguration. The Democrats, afraid of alienating voters they could never have won over anyhow, walked some imaginary line between pseudo-tolerance and embrace, while Republicans watched them and laughed.

Maya did what she thought she had to do: She stood by her father. That's her right. But for the media to let this story drop off the radar until now did an injustice to an important national conversation that won't be easily remedied. Some liberal media.

I hope Alan Keyes runs for office again. I want to hear him explain his decision to kick out his daughter for being a lesbian. I want to hear other Republicans defend him--or, I hope, shy away. I want the nation to recoil in disgust from him, and to realize that there's no excuse for treating a child differently because of his or her sexual orientation. If everyone can agree about that, the rest of it--the rights and privileges of civil marriage, nationwide employment equality, an end to hate crimes--can't be too far behind.

Odds On

Ray Charles Leads Way at Surprising Grammys

I'm not quite sure what that headline means. Are we still supposed to be surprised that the Grammys like to give a whole bunch of awards to a single album or artist after Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, and Santana achieved similar sweeps in the last few years? I may not have liked it, but I went into last night resigned to the fact that Ray Charles wasn't likely to lose anywhere he was nominated. I suppose the fact that Prince beat him for the traditional R&B award counts as a minor shocker. But come on: the album even won the inaugural "best surround sound" award over the divine Avalon from Roxy Music. I guess I'll have to buy the SACD version of Genius Loves Company if I want to be the judge.

So what was surprising? That Kanye West didn't win best new artist? Oddsmakers actually had Maroon 5 winning it, and why not? "She Will Be Loved" and "This Love" get a lot more play on the kind of radio stations most Grammy voters hear than the sort-of-creepy "Jesus Walks."

I suppose the fact that "Yeah!" lost to Charles and Jones in the record of the year category is a bit surprising. And the victory of "Daughters," the weakest John Mayer track yet, over "If I Ain't Got You," perhaps the best song Alicia Keys has written, was a sad way to prevent Kanye from winning one of the major awards.

The biggest surprise, for me, was seeing Melissa Etheridge perform with Joss Stone. I knew she was in treatment for breast cancer, but seeing her bald was still a stunner. Maybe this will revive interest in her.

Nothing surprising about seeing Loretta Lynn win best country album for Van Lear Rose, though, except that she wasn't also nominated for the overall album award.

And the best Grammy moment of the night? Before Green Day launched into "American Idiot," Quentin Tarantino introduced them, saying, "In the '90s, three punks from the Bay area popped into our lives in a big, loud way. Instead of fading away, they've grown up, releasing a concept album with a very novel concept: All the songs are good!" Truer words weren't spoken all night.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Sliced Thin

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Malcolm Gladwell takes E.M. Forster's famous instruction, "Only connect," to heart in this fascinating little tome. Around a few key situations--a marriage counselor who can tell in 15 minutes if a couple will stay together, a group of art historians who figure out in two seconds that a statue is a fake while the museum buying it spends 14 months convincing itself the statue is real, a musician whose music is adored by those who give it time but shunned by focus-group testing, a group of police officers who make a tragic, split-second error in judgment--Gladwell builds a narrative that never ceases to engage the reader. How are our perceptions of the world influenced by the calculations our unconscious mind makes in the first moments of any encounter? Gladwell makes the case that these calculations can change everything, from who companies hire into positions of power (tall white men, more often than not) to the way we all know when someone's being insincere not by the words they say but the way our brain processes their facial expressions.

If this sounds like a lot to cram into a 250-page book that can be easily read in one day, it is, and that is the book's chief flaw--we're left wanting more, a lot more, about all of the anecdotes introduced during the book. Gladwell is a master storyteller, and while we're happy to float from one example to another with him, at the end of the book I was left feeling like I'd touched only shallowly on a great many topics about which I'd like to know a lot more. But then, if the worst I can say about Gladwell is that he's piqued my curiousity, that's some pretty faint criticism, isn't it?

Highly recommended.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

One for One

Franken expected to make announcement on candidacy

Looks like I was right wrong. Who's up for an Obama/Franken ticket Franken vs. Coleman in 2008?

[UPDATE: Noon. Franken hasn't made an announcement one way or another yet, but he did just say, while discussing the Jeff Gannon fiasco, that he's going to run on the platform "There's nothing wrong with gay porn." The man has my endorsement!]

[UPDATE: 1:57. Franken has just announced on his radio show that he will not be running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota in 2006, citing his two-year commitment to Air America Radio but leaving open the possibility of a run in 2008.]

The Most Important Book of the Year

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Yes, it's only February, but the odds that someone will write a book more important than this one anytime in the near future are pretty low. Those who dismiss Diamond as a "determinist" ignore the whole point of this book: Societies don't fail or succeed based on their surroundings. They fail or succeed based on how they interact with those surroundings. Societies that adapt their values and practices to match what their environment can provide to them on a sustainable basis thrive; those that persist in practices that deplete their resources ultimately fail. He backs this notion up with examples from the past and present that are both fascinating and compelling.

But Diamond's remarkable insight is this: For the first time in human history, we have the ability to see our resource use--and depletion--on a global scale, and to recognize how our actions impact others and how their actions impact us. We can harness this new knowledge to sustain our planet, or we can continue on a path that leads nowhere but ruin. Some may not like that message, but Diamond is both honest about how he arrives at his conclusions and optimistic that humanity can solve its problems. It's not overstating the case to say that the higher the number of people who read this well-researched and well-reasoned book, the more warranted Diamond's optimism will be. If you've got the time, read Guns, Germs and Steel first; these two work best together.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The End of Everything

Queer as Folk Goes Out

Bomb after bomb after bomb has been dropping on my TV viewing habits. Friends and Sex and the City went away last year. We already know that Six Feet Under and The Sopranos each have one season left. And no matter what happens with the election on The West Wing, even if I keep watching it, it's not going to be the same.

The news that Queer as Folk will end this summer is thus doubly painful. The show is trashy at times, but over the course of four seasons I've fallen for the characters. I want to know how things work out between Justin and Brian. I want to find out how Michael and Ben deal with their Canadian marriage. But more than that, I want to see these people on my TV. With QAF and SFU both ending this summer and Will & Grace a shadow of its former self, where will I turn to see gay characters on television?

Sunday nights this summer will be wonderful--an hour each of two of my very favorite shows--but the knowledge that this is the end of both is going to make the fall that follows rather chilly.

Franken Time

Minn. Democrat Not Seeking Second Term

Mark Dayton announced today that he's not running for a second term as Minnesota's senator. This throws the seat open to a diverse field of...

Wait, who might run on the Democratic side? It's clear Rep. Mark Kennedy wants the G.O.P. nomination, but the bench for the Democrats is pretty thin in Minnesota right now. They've got one prominent statewide official, headline-grabbing Attorney General Mike Hatch, who didn't jump at the chance to nab the seat in 2002 when Paul Wellstone died. Their longest-serving leader in the state legislature, Roger Moe, lost a bid for governor in 2002 and disappeared. They've got R.T. Rybak, the mayor of Minneapolis, but the state as a whole has the sort of love-hate relationship with the Twin Cities typical of such situations, and particularly with Minneapolis, viewed as a den of iniquity to counter St. Paul's genteel image.

Which is why I think Al Franken should announce tomorrow that he's moving home to St. Louis Park to run for the seat. He's smart, he's funny, and he has a genuine love for Minnesota that will show through everywhere he goes during the campaign. And if he loses to Kennedy, he can run again in two years for Minnesota's Jewish seat, currently occupied by Republican Norm Coleman after being held by Democrat Paul Wellstone for 12 years and Republican Rudy Boschwitz for another 12.

You may scoff at the notion of Franken running for, and becoming, a senator. But does anyone have a better candidate? I'm betting Franken's name is being batted about by tomorrow morning's edition of the Star Tribune.

Listing Left

2000-2004: The Top 100 Albums of the Decade's First Half

Have I ever mentioned that I love lists?

Seriously, this is an interesting look back at the first five years of the decade. Notable choices: Radiohead's Kid A takes first place, while Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights is third. Buried deeper are Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots from The Flaming Lips at 32, Arcade Fire's Funeral at 45, The Shins with Chutes Too Narrow at 47 and Oh, Inverted World at 71, The Postal Service with Give Up at 56, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs with Fever to Tell at 58. The list is a bit high-falutin'--I've probably only heard of half the albums on the list, and own only 21 of them--but it's still interesting and a nice source of nostalgia. Plus, it made me listen to Kid A the other night and realize just how amazing it is. That's got to count for something.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

No Joking Matter

Lazy Americans Becoming Less Lazy

There was a joke during the presidential campaign. Bush would start talking about how he had created so many jobs in recent months, and a waitress would say to him, "I know. I'm working three of them." Well, it's no joke. After Bush told a mother of three with a mentally-challenged child that he would preserve Social Security last Friday, this exchange ensued:
MS. MORNIN: That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.

THE PRESIDENT: You work three jobs?

MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)
Yes, it's "uniquely American" that a woman in her fifties would have to work three jobs to keep up. Also that we would elect a moron who would make a joke of that fact.

Case in Point

Bushism of the Day

See what I mean about Bush being the best spokesman for the G.O.P.?
"Because the—all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those—changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be—or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the—like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate—the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those—if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."—Explaining his plan to save Social Security, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 4, 2005
Usually, when Republicans set out to do something evil, they at least come up with great sound bites to support their cause. Watching them bungle this Social Security ploy isn't just funny; it's actually heartwarming to watch them fail. Perhaps that's because the alternative is so damn scary this time around.

Still The One

Clinton: More health care access needed

Four years and a quadruple bypass after leaving office, Bill Clinton is still the best and most eloquent spokesperson the Democratic Party has. Just as he turned his wealth on its head at the convention to argue against the Bush tax cuts, he today discussed the excellent care he received after experiencing chest pains to argue for a better and fairer health care system. The man can really boil it down:
"You can say you don't want to fool with this, but it's just going to get worse," Clinton said. "We are on course to have human misery that's unacceptable in a country as wealthy as ours."
If we want to settle the red-blue divide once and for all, I say we end term limits and let Clinton run against Bush in 2008. Let the American people decide which way they want to go based on the best each side has to offer.

And yes, that's intended as an insult to the Republican Party.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Out and Proud

More gay cartoon characters revealed!

Sometimes the only way to deal with people whose positions are ludicrous is to mock them. This satire from Salon, by Liz Larocca, requires you to watch a brief Visa commerical before you read it, but it's worth it.

Speaking of cartoons, does anyone know anything about a cartoon--I think--that we happened across over the weekend on PBS? It's vaguely Teletubby-ish, with dancing characters of a variety of bright colors; this show appears to have five stars rather than four, and, come to think of it, they do kind of look like stars. Apparently the show is called Boohbah, and it has some grand educational theory behind it. I hope it works, because it looked a lot more like an acid trip than educational programming.

No word, by the way, on whether any of the Boohbahs are gay, but I think the yellow one would make a great life partner for Tinky Winky.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Another Step

New York Court Rules Gays Must Be Allowed To Marry

We keep taking dozens of steps back for every step forward, but the forward steps are the ones that will last. Today's ruling in New York doesn't mean that gay couples in New York will start getting married tomorrow; there will surely be an appeal. But State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan has put the state on the right track, writing a beautiful decision that one hopes will stand the test of New York's Court of Appeals. I want very much to quote it here, but as I read the pages I find more and more to quote. This is a very good ruling on a very good day...

"ORDERED that defendant is permanently enjoined from denying a marriage license to any couple, solely on the ground that the two persons in the couple are of the same sex..."

"Marriage is, without a doubt, the cornerstone of the family and our civilization. As marriage constitutes the most intimate of relationships, the decision of whom and when to marry is highly personal, involving complex reasons which vary from individual to individual. Thus, the decision to marry should rest primarily in the hands of the individual, with little government interference..."

If only this were happening in Illinois...

Happy Morning

Weezer readying new Rick Rubin-produced full-length for May release, sign on for Coachella

I'm having a good morning--an article I labored on months ago (and really believed in) is finally going to see the light of day, my first grad school paper is almost ready to print, and even the sudden need to hold and replace another article in the magazine appears easy to handle. So this news comes at an appropriate time: Weezer has a new album coming out soon!

Better yet, if you scroll down in the article above, so do the New Pornographers!

I should wake up from dreaming of weird fights in the front seat of the car about friends having children more often.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Wonkette - Live-Blogging the State of the Union

Steady Leadership: President Bush's cognitive dissonance.

There's obviously plenty of analysis this morning of last night's speech, which overall was actually not bad. I still don't agree with Bush about much, but his speechwriters certainly pulled off some deft tricks, and his ploy to get all the over-55 crowd in his corner by further bankrupting the country is the kind of political chutzpah Democrats simply lack. We're going to lose this fight over Social Security. We may win a few minor concessions, but we're going to lose overall, partly because Bush is going to pander away all his potent opponents and mortage the future of people who don't vote enough or care enough to stop him.


Wonkette points up the contradiction in the pander-to-the-religious-right section of the speech: "9:33: Because society is measured by how it treats weak and vulnerable, we should make gays second class citizens." I mean, really, what was the deal with this portion of the speech:
Our second great responsibility to our children and grandchildren is to honor and to pass along the values that sustain a free society.

So many of my generation, after a long journey, have come home to family and faith, and are determined to bring up responsible, moral children.

Government is not the source of these values, but government should never undermine them.

Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be redefined by activist judges. For the good of families, children and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.


Because a society is measured by how it treats the weak and vulnerable, we must strive to build a culture of life.
Don't the folks who provided the (APPLAUSE) see how this contradicts itself? That grandstanding for this hate-inspired amendment to curry favor with a group of powerful voters is a failure of the ideal promoted in the very next line of the speech?

The day may come, I hate to admit, when Bush will be looked on favorably by history if his Iraq project somehow succeeds. But he does his future reputation immeasureable harm by standing in the way of this generation's civil rights struggle rather than helping propel it forward. And he has it in his power to change this in a heartbeat. He could hold onto his no-marriage-for-those-faggots position and still be remembered as someone who advanced equality, in fact, and in doing so he could reach out to Democrats, show his willingness to break from the extreme wing of his party, and lead the way toward better days. He could do so by explaining to his base that gay unions must be recognized by the law for reasons of basic fairness, then invent a new federal designation for such relationships that would be clearly separate from marriage. He could justify it to the left by saying the relationships in question do differ from male-female ones in their tendency to produce children of both parents, though a lot of Democrats would be fine with a civil-union solution in any case. He could justify it to Republicans by telling them, truthfully, that this solution would prevent a court from opening up marriage to gays. Bush is in the perfect position to pull this off, and it would give him the sort of forward-thinking, problem-solving legacy he clearly wants. Karl Rove is a genius--why hasn't he thought of this?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Bad Sign

Wonkette - SOTU Drinking Game: You've Already Lost

Wonkette's guest blogger, Choire Sicha, offers up the annual State of the Union drinking game; this year's is guaranteed to knock even the stoutest pretty far back on their heels, due to the "Whenever Cheney sneers like Mephistopholes: 1 drink" requirement. But I think the last component of the game is the funniest and scariest: "Mentions 'Iran': stop drinking and start fucking packing."

I'm pretty sure he means your bags.

Feeling Rand-y

Critic's Notebook: Considering the Last Romantic, Ayn Rand, at 100

The interesting article linked above is merely the impetus for this post, not its subject. Before clicking on it today, I hadn't thought about Ayn Rand at all for at least two years. This despite being quite obsessed with her work for a year during college, during which I read The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and Anthem, thereby becoming quite convinced of the Virtue of Selfishness. This obsession followed quite quickly on the heels of a similar obsession with Kurt Vonnegut, every one of whose published novels I have read, and whose philosophy can be summed up with a line from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: "God damn it, you've got to be kind." Why was I so deeply in thrall to each writer, and why, despite Rand's later influence, am I philosophically so much closer to Vonnegut?

I'm not about to answer these questions here; I know better than to think that I even know the answer, though the smart-ass in me says the simple answer is that Vonnegut is closer to being correct than Rand about what it means to live a good life and be a good person. Despite being largely dismissed as a writer of fiction for very young adults, I suspect that Kurt's are the characters who prove more sympathetic to us as we grow older. Rand's self-assured heroes may thrill a college student, but the real world is more of a muddle, involves more inner questioning and more concern for how to relate with others. In short, it's more like the world, cracked though it is, that Vonnegut regularly created.

This post is really a question: Did anyone else go through similar fascinations with Rand and/or Vonnegut? What do you think of these two writers today?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Deja Vu

AFL-CIO Won't Endorse Anyone in DNC Race

Haven't we seen this before? Howard Dean once again looks like the unassailable front-runner in a race, this time for chairman of the Democratic National Committee. I'm betting that, similar to CNN's reluctance to call Ohio on election night that stemmed from the Florida blunder four years earlier, the media are holding out on calling this a done deal because they've called a race for Dean before--in January 2004--and had it blow up on them.

But I'm sure he'll prevail, in part because way back on February 12, 2004, I said that Dean should become the "fundraising chair" of the DNC. What day will the election of the new DNC chair take place? That would be February 12. I say it's fate--plus, it will be nice to have been right about something I predicted during the election season.

Content Glut

Many Unhappy Returns

I posted quite a bit yesterday, so I'm going to calm down today. I've got some other things pressing anyhow, and there's plenty to read below.

Paul Krugman's column, above, is also worth reading. He exposes the contradiction buried in the "logic" of those who would privatize Social Security: "Any growth projection that would permit the stock returns the privatizers need to make their schemes work would put Social Security solidly in the black." Read the whole column and when you get to that sentence, you'll know that this debate should be over.