Thursday, September 27, 2007

Considerably Less Funny...

Now, this is scary....

A little later in the conversation, Brownback (a U.S. Senator) actually said, "We declared war," in relation to the invasion of Iraq.

Unbelievable!

Let's make this clear: WAR WAS NOT DECLARED!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I was a kid, there was this word I sometimes heard: "Yutz".

As in "What a yutz!"

Well, I propose we bring it back, specifically for Brownback. Yutz!

Just Thought This Was Funny

I tuned in the Republican presidential candidates' forum on PBS, in time to see Ray Suarez ask a question. Apparently, Sam Brownback thought the question came from someone named Race Juarez, as he said, "thank you, Race."

I just thought it was funny.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Orwell's 1984 -- A Book Review

A few weeks ago, we were watching Jeopardy, and one of the questions was about George Orwell's 1984. I said, "I really should read that one of these days." A few days later, we were at a tag sale and Beth spotted a paperback of the book for a buck. So she bought it for me. Now I've read it, finally, quite a lot of years after I should have done. I had read Animal Farm a long time ago, but I had just never gotten around to reading 1984. Now I'm sad that I let it wait for so long.

So I provided one of my little capsule reviews to the book store on Wednesday. But since the blog allows me to spend as many words as I want, I'm going to publish a somewhat longer review here:

Stylistically and structurally, Orwell's 1984 is a masterpiece. In addition, it is a triumph of imagination. Orwell imagined a world so thoroughly as to make it seem less a fictional setting than an alternate reality. His book, while fairly short, is as complete as could be hoped for. The novel is brutal, unpleasant, and offers no hope of a happy ending. Despite these characteristics (or perhaps because of them) the book is utterly satisfying. It left me satisfied, perhaps, in a way that no other book I've ever read has done.

Entirely without suggestion, Orwell got me to wonder, at first idly, and then more and more desperately, what was really going on. The big question: What's going on outside Oceania? More pointedly, is there really a war happening at all? (Perhaps Oceania is really no larger than the island of Great Britain, and perhaps it is merely isolated from, rather than in conflict with, other nations.)

Just when I could barely stand the strain of this question, Orwell asked it. And then he answered it. Having done so, he then answered it yet again, only this time from what seemed a much more trustworthy source within his narrative. And then the twist: He systematically stripped away all of that source's legitimacy. And finally, the master stroke... Orwell did to me exactly what the Party does to its members: He left me with only one possible conclusion--a logical checkmate, in which I was absolutely forced to accept one harsh truth: If the Party says there is a war, then there is a war. Beyond that, there is nothing. Whatever the Party says is absolute truth.

The upshot: Orwell converted me from reader into participant.

Wow!

If you haven't read this book, I suggest you do. It's amazing!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Another Candidate Visit... John Edwards in Concord, 8/25

Last Saturday, I went to a White Park in Concord to listen to John Edwards as he made a campaign stop. Elizabeth was there and said her piece before the John spoke. Their kids were all there too.

Going back... I started my day with Beth turning on the DVD of Bobby. It was early, and I didn't really want to be awake yet, so I was sort of fading in and out of consciousness. I wasn't paying especially close attention to the movie, but I was able to basically follow the beginning of it, and I was able to get a bit of a sense of RFK, from the interspersed footage of him on the campaign trail. I got enough of a sense of RFK that I was thinking that he really reminded me of Kucinich. (Or is it the other way around?)

I'll be the first to tell you that I don't know a whole lot about RFK. I know he was the brother of John and Ted. I know that he was JFK's attorney general. I know he was running for president and was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan. And I know that he did a "poverty tour". That's about it.

What I got from those clips I saw in the morning was that RFK seemed to be a guy who was about optimism and hope. That's where the parallel with Kucinich comes in.

I happen to have caught a couple of minutes of Kucinich's appearance on that Logo Network "debate" that they aired earlier in the month. I was struck by just how contagiously upbeat the guy is. I was actually wondering how much of it was really his character and how much of it was a front. I wondered whether he was all smiles when the cameras were off or whether he goes home, turns the lights down, and sits down for a good cry every night. (Or perhaps instead of a good cry, maybe a round of banging his forehead against the nearest wall.)

You see, I like Kucinich. I like him a lot, and I think he brings something very real to the debate. I also think he's small in stature and just a little too funny looking for the electorate. I think it's a real shame, but I think his appearance is really what's going to once again keep him from getting anywhere in the Democratic primary. I'm not saying that the primary voters will vote strictly on the basis of perceived "electability", but I am saying that I think that a perceived lack of electability will act as a deterrent in their voting choice. So, while I think they'll give Clinton, Obama, Edwards, and Richardson a fair shot (all perceived as being able to possibly beat the Republican candidate), I don't think they'll give Kucinich the same benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, when I finally really woke up, we got showered and dressed and went out to breakfast. There was something happening on the town common, so we went to spend some time wandering around there. The weather was oppressive, so from there we went home and relaxed until it was time for Beth to go to work. A few hours later, after I had sufficiently cooled down, I decided to make the trip to Concord to see Edwards.

This time around, I didn't ask any questions. I snapped some photographs and I listened. I was impressed by Edwards. He seems earnest and he seems to care about people. Frankly, he seems more genuinely caring than any of the other candidates. Of course, this raises the question of whether the sincerity is a well-rehearsed act, or whether it's absolutely honest. Who knows? I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I have no reason to believe that he's uncaring. (I don't have any real reason to believe that Hillary's uncaring, either. No reason but my gut instinct, that is. But I won't give her the benefit of the doubt.)

After the event, I came home and watched the movie that had started my day. This time, I watched it from beginning to end, and I paid attention. My verdict: A really solid piece of work. If I hadn't seen it for myself, I would never have guessed that Emilio Estevez could have been responsible for such a terrific film. I was actually extremely impressed. And I strongly recommend the movie.

Anyway, this time around, I was struck by how RFK-like Edwards is. Of course, to some degree, this is a conscious decision on Edwards' part. That is, he's chosen to make himself in the image of RFK. Of this, I have no doubt. The "poverty tour" is the obvious tip off, and I'm certainly not the first to have pointed it out. Well, if he's going to choose to model himself on someone else, there are certainly worse options available.