Book of the Month

Michael Maiello's picture

The Biggest Political Scandal Ever...

...played out in the wrestling ring, years ago.

When Irwin R. Schyster (always announced as "I...R...S!")

Fought the red, white and blue blooded (but orange-skinned) Patriot!

That's all that needs to be said about this latest scandal, right?

Doctor Cleveland's picture

In Praise of the Writing Binge

When I got my first job, I also got a book of advice for new professors. It gave me some sensible-sounding advice about writing. Avoid binge writing, it said. Write at regularly scheduled hours and keep each session brief. Too many graduate students are used to writing in crazy binges, the authors said, rather than developing steady writing habits. Faculty had to learn to write all the time, and also had to learn to STOP writing even if things were going well. And I tried to take that advice seriously. I have always believed in good writing habits and deplored the way graduate school undermines those habits. I drank the no-binge Kool-Aid with a smile, in an appropriately moderate serving. But that advice is fundamentally wrong. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby is a Triumph (whether you like it or not)

Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is a fable.  It is not a fable now, years after it was written.  Fitzgerald structured it as a fable and intended it to be read as such. Its original title was Trimalchio in West Egg.  Gatsby is based on a party-thrower created by the Greek satirist Petronius.  So, when I hear people talking about Gatsby almost as if it’s reportage on Jazz Age America, I think that they are reading the wrong book.  Fitzgerald is not Tom Wolfe or Theodore Dreiser.  In creating Gatsby, he worked in the manner of Shakespeare, taking his inspiration from ancient and timeless source material. [Read more]

Ramona's picture

A Psychic Got it Wrong. Who Knew?


As if it wasn't enough this week that three young women held captive and terrorized by a madman were found alive after 10 long years, we now learn that in 2004, celebrated psychic Sylvia Browne made an appearance on celebrated sinceremeister Montel Williams' television show and told the mother of one of the captives that her daughter was dead.
 [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

Slaughter In Syria?

I worry when I write about the Middle East because I have no confidence that I know what I'm talking about and probably less interest in the differences and similarities between a Shiite and an Alawite than I do in whether or not I think that Richard Foreman's latest play at New York's Public Theater was any good (it was not.)  I sometimes confuse Wahabi with the condiment for sushi.  Heck, I don't even feel bad about this -- if the sectarian issues of the Islamic world didn't intrude into my own, uninvited, I'd be fine with that. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

The Tyranny of Breakfast In L.A. Schools

At Esquire, Charles Pearce flags a National Review article wherein some person named Dennis Prager complains that free breakfasts for public school children in Los Angeles will damage the character of the city's young, who will grow up thinking that life is nothing but a bunch of government hand-outs.  Oh, and, he says, it encourages lazy parents not to feed their kids before school.

Nobody, he says, is too poor to give their child breakfast because they can go on WebMD right now and find "five breakfast ideas for $1."  I can't waste any more time with that Prager person.  Terrible. [Read more]

Doctor Cleveland's picture

Why It's Hard to Smear Jason Collins (and Not as Easy to Smear Keynes)

It's been a tough week for elite gay-baiting. First Howie Kurtz, hack journalist extraordinaire, lost his job at the Daily Beast because he badly botched an attempt to smear NBA center Jason Collins. Part of what Kurtz botched was the facts, claiming that Collins had concealed the fact that he had once been engaged to a woman when Collins had "concealed" that fact by explicitly stating it in his Sports Illustrated coming-out article. ("When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged," is pretty straightforward.) Kurtz, to his credit, has made a full apology.

Then, Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson (also a columnist for the Daily Beast) was also forced to apologize after publicly gay-baiting landmark economist John Maynard Keynes. Ferguson decided to tell an audience that Keynes wasn't interested in long-term policy effects (itself a gross distortion of Keynes's position) because Keynes was a homosexual in a childless marriage. Yes, really. That's the standard of logic and evidence to which Ferguson holds himself. [Read more]

William K. Wolfrum's picture

Child, 9, murders more than 100,000 in video game

DULUTH - In a scene of overwhelming carnage, Bobby Jenkins, 9, brutally murdered more than 100,000 people, zombies, and other entities yesterday.

The slaughter began at 3:30 p.m. yesterday, when Sally Jenkins, mother of Bobby, allowed her son to play the video game "Slaughter Everything." After doing some bills, Sally Jenkins stumbled across the murder scene and immediately sent young Bobby to his room.

"It was really unsettling," said Sally Jenkins. "He was just going crazy, slaughtering everybody." [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

Unhealthy Austerity

An Oxford University economist and a Stanford University epidemiologist have combined their considerable breadth and knowledge to conclude the Great Recession and accompanying austerity have caused 10,000 suicides and a million diagnoses of depression in the U.S. and Europe.  If you find that hard to stomach, here's something more concrete -- AIDS is once again a full blown epidemic in Greece where budgets have been cut from HIV-prevention programs. [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Forcing Religion in Public Schools is not Frowned on in Mississippi. I'm Shocked.


So one day somebody at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi came up with the idea to hold a series of mandatory Christian assemblies, where students would be required to watch a Christian video and listen to ministers (and fellow students) from the Pinelake Baptist Church preach to them about the importance of being a Christian. 
 [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

A Society Of Snoops and Tattletales

This afternoon, Reuters published an Op-Ed from me about the online investigations into the Boston bomb attack.  I am very concerned about the "if you see something, say something culture," and how it has mixed with technology to create something of a society full of amateur detectives and complainers.

Civil libertarians are most concerned about government surveilance power and that, of course, bothers me too.  But in a practical sense, a nosy neighbor is probably more of an imposition on my life than the government will ever choose to be.  These days, your nosy neighbor could be a stranger living thousands of miles away. [Read more]

William K. Wolfrum's picture

Satire killed in suicide bomb attack


NEW YORK — The writing style of satire was blown up in a suicide attack at its home in the upper West side of Manhattan. Snark and Snide Disregard were also injured in the attack and are currently in intensive care.

Satire, which gained prominence via writers like Jonathan Swift and Voltaire, has struggled to find its footing recently in the Internet-driven world, as more and more satire is associated with mindless attacks, sophomoric humor and the oft-imitated “Breaking” news story. Satire reached a low point recently when the magazine “The New Yorker” hired Andy Borowitz, who then proceeded to write the exact same story 175 consecutive times. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

Mathematical Proof That Thomas Friedman Is An Idiot

This morning, Thomas Friedman writes that it is unfair for lefties to criticize Obama's Chained CPI Proposal.  In his words:

"It was good to see President Obama put out a budget proposal that addressed all three needs. The attacks on him from the left are unfair because, ultimately, we will need to do all three even more. As Bloomberg News reported on Monday: 'Typical wage-earners retiring in 2010 will receive at least $3 for every $1 they contributed to the Medicare health-insurance program, according to an Urban Institute study.'"

Oh my!  A three to one return!  Unsustainable! [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Don't Cry For Background Checks

Supporters of gun control lost yesterday. It was not a terrible bill. Expanded background checks would have stopped some future killers from buying guns. It should have passed. But it would have done little to reduce gun violence in America.

"Fighting" Bob La Follette, a progressive senator from Wisconsin, once wrote, "In legislation no bread is often better than half a loaf. I believe it is usually better to be beaten and come right back at the next session and make a fight for a thoroughgoing law than to have written on the books a weak and indefinite statute."

La Follette became famous for championing "radical" legislation that had no chance of passing--corporate regulations, labor rights, lobbyist restrictions, and popular election of U.S. senators. He took up his colleagues' time with "pointless" filibusters. He ran three times for president and never even came close to winning. [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Politicians out of control on Guns: Never Forgive, Never Forget


Yesterday 46 members of the Senate voted down a proposal that would have been a logical first step to gun control--universal background checks.  They were able to vote it down, even though 54 members voted for it because they rigged the way the votes count now.  Voting it down for no good reason is bad enough but they did it through cowardice, lies and cheats. The whole process was despicable, made even more so by the fact that it happened in the chambers where expectations of fairness and fidelity used to run quite high.
 [Read more]

Doctor Cleveland's picture

Things We Did Not Learn About the Marathon Bombings

Let's recap the things that did not happen on the sorry day that the Boston Marathon was bombed:

Five unexploded bombs were not discovered nearby. No unexploded bombs were discovered nearby.

The government did not shut down cell-phone service as a precaution to prevent more detonations. The cell phone system around Copley Square simply became massively overloaded, so that calls could not get through (but texts, which take much less bandwidth, could).

The police did not arrest anyone or identify any suspects.

Twelve victims did not die.

Neither of the bombs exploded inside the Copley Fairmont Hotel.
 [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

Keep Calm and Friedman On

Headlines are generally written by editors, not writers, so maybe I can cut Friedman some slack for today's, "Bring on the Next Marathon," with its obvious reference to George W. Bush inviting Iraq's insurgents to "bring it on."  Iraq's insurgents did, in fact, bring it on.  By the time Bush said that, it had already been broughten. [Read more]

Doctor Cleveland's picture

Marathon Day

Boston is my home, my beloved city, although I have not lived there for many years. And Patriot's Day, the Monday of the Boston Marathon, is the proudest day in a proud city's year. We open our city to all, and hold one of the world's greatest sporting events, the oldest annual marathon on the globe. We hold that race in public streets and fill the sidewalks to cheer. It is Boston's day to celebrate the many things that make it Boston.
 [Read more]

William K. Wolfrum's picture

N. Korea will kill you all … hello? Is anyone listening? Hello??


Over in North Korea, Kim Jong-Un has spent the better part of the month threatening to vaporize South Korea, the United States, and anyone else who wants a little vaporization. Now, generally, when a leader of a nation with nuclear capabilities makes wild, outlandish threats, the rest of the world pays attention, for reasons of vaporization avoidance. [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Hulabaloo at the Soo


Let me just say right off that when it comes to Homeland and border security, I'm all for it.

When it comes to appreciating how essential shipping is to the Great Lakes, I'm right at the head of the line.

When it comes to being in awe of the engineering feat that is the Soo Locks I am so in awe I can't stand it.
  [Read more]

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