Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Have you heard of The Bird and The Bee? They've recently released a Hall & Oates cover album that I actually like much better than the originals, while making me like the originals more than I originally did. LOL - did that make sense? :)
From Crooks and Liars: EPA Whistleblower Hugh Kaufman: We've Now Poisoned Thousands of Square Miles of the Gulf
KAUFMAN: Well, first of all, the dispersants mixed with the oil and the water is extremely toxic. Sweden has done studies on this. Israel has done studies on this.
And the only real purpose of using so many dispersants with the oil was to cover up the volume of oil that was released from that well. So, that and lying about how much is coming out was a mechanism to help BP save billions of dollars in fines.
O‘DONNELL: Should they have not used dispersants at all?
KAUFMAN: That‘s correct. If they did not use dispersants, they would have been able to get most of that oil off of the surface and would not have endangered all of the fish and ecosystem underneath the water that now will be affected for decades on down the line.
I was listening to some of the, quote, “experts” who are being paid by BP at universities who are saying that the oil has disappeared. It hasn‘t disappeared. It‘s throughout thousands of square miles in the Gulf, mixed with dispersants, and because the temperatures down there are so cold, they‘re going to be around for decades.
I typically do not post stories about the environment: the oil spill, climate change, animal extinction (have you read about the phytoplankton - a.k.a. the basis of the oceanic food chain) - if you want to piss me off or see me all sullen and angry and red about the gills - give me a story about how we've destroyed some ecosystem or some animal, and I'll be good to go for probably the rest of the week. Then tell me that it was totally preventable or that some idiot Christianist thinks that this will be the pebble that snowballs into the coming of Christ, and I'm down right murderous.
And then I saw this story, and thought I'd really like to share the love. Now...I don't blame Obama solely for this (at least not yet) - I know he has a lot on his plate, but I am seeing that, yes, though I'm happy he was elected, he doesn't have the follow-through or character to get anything done. Or maybe the crazy GOP/Tea Partiers have taken us to far into crazy for anything to be done.
J.J. Murray's more recents books follow this same cover format: beautiful goddess of a woman on top with hot humpy guys on the bottom - well usually only one guy - but when I saw Can't Get Enough of Your Love with these three very hots guys, I had to share. As the cover says, "Some women gotta have it all..." and if she is like me, she'd want it all at once!
I've decided to turn the New Books posts into one weekly post and give you the cum de la cum of the bunch along with their synopses.
Montese Crandall is a downtrodden writer whose rare collection of baseball cards won't sustain him, financially or emotionally, through the grave illness of his wife. Luckily, he swindles himself a job churning out a novelization of the 2025 remake of a 1963 horror classic, "The Crawling Hand." Crandall tells therein of the United States, in a bid to regain global eminence, launching at last its doomed manned mission to the desolation of Mars. Three space pods with nine Americans on board travel three months, expecting to spend three years as the planet's first colonists. When a secret mission to retrieve a flesh-eating bacterium for use in bio-warfare is uncovered, mayhem ensues.
Only a lonely human arm (missing its middle finger) returns to earth, crash-landing in the vast Sonoran Desert of Arizona. The arm may hold the secret to reanimation or it may simply be an infectious killing machine. In the ensuing days, it crawls through the heartbroken wasteland of a civilization at its breaking point, economically and culturally--a dystopia of lowlife, emigration from America, and laughable lifestyle alternatives.
The Four Fingers of Death is a stunningly inventive, sometimes hilarious, monumental novel. It will delight admirers of comic masterpieces like Slaughterhouse-Five, The Crying of Lot 49, and Catch-22.
Kevin Roose wasn't used to rules like these. As a sophomore at Brown University, he spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an a cappella group, and fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional.
Liberty is the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals, his training ground for the next generation of America's Religious Right. Liberty's ten thousand undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101, hear from guest speakers like Sean Hannity and Karl Rove, and follow a forty-six-page code of conduct that regulates every aspect of their social lives. Hoping to connect with his evangelical peers, Roose decides to enroll at Liberty as a new transfer student, leaping across the God Divide and chronicling his adventures in this daring report from the front lines of America's culture war.
His journey takes him from an evangelical hip-hop concert to choir practice at Falwell's legendary Thomas Road Baptist Church. He experiments with prayer, participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach (where he learns to preach the gospel to partying coeds), and pays a visit to Every Man's Battle, an on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. He meets pastors' kids, closet doubters, Christian rebels, and conducts what would be the last print interview of Rev. Falwell's life.
Hilarious and heartwarming, respectful and thought-provoking, The Unlikely Disciple will inspire and entertain believers and nonbelievers alike.
The future of our food depends on tiny seeds in orchards and fields the world over. In 1943, one of the first to recognize this fact, the great botanist Nikolay Vavilov, lay dying of starvation in a Soviet prison. But in the years before Stalin jailed him as a scapegoat for the country’s famines, Vavilov had traveled over five continents, collecting hundreds of thousands of seeds in an effort to outline the ancient centers of agricultural diversity and guard against widespread hunger. Now, another remarkable scientist—and vivid storyteller—has retraced his footsteps.
In Where Our Food Comes From, Gary Paul Nabhan weaves together Vavilov’s extraordinary story with his own expeditions to Earth’s richest agricultural landscapes and the cultures that tend them. Retracing Vavilov’s path from Mexico and the Colombian Amazon to the glaciers of the Pamirs in Tajikistan, he draws a vibrant portrait of changes that have occurred since Vavilov’s time and why they matter.
61-year-old Feliks is a naturalized Frenchman, a displaced Pole and former Communist-and a curmudgeon-who has made his living writing a yearly travel guide to the countries behind the Iron Curtain. In 1991, with the Curtain now fallen, Feliks finds his beliefs beginning to crumble around him. When a rapacious American publisher offers to buy out his life's work, Feliks must travel to the country he has long despised, and so begins the wry and moving tale of a man who awakens from self-imposed isolation into a changed world he must get to know all over again. So unfolds a story of family, war, politics, a second chance at love, and one man's quest for himself.
With a language disappearing every two weeks and neologisms springing up almost daily, an understanding of the origins and currency of language has never seemed more relevant. In this charming volume, a narrative history written explicitly for a young audience, expert linguist David Crystal proves why the story of language deserves retelling.
From the first words of an infant to the peculiar modern dialect of text messaging, A Little Book of Language ranges widely, revealing language’s myriad intricacies and quirks. In animated fashion, Crystal sheds light on the development of unique linguistic styles, the origins of obscure accents, and the search for the first written word. He discusses the plight of endangered languages, as well as successful cases of linguistic revitalization. Much more than a history, Crystal’s work looks forward to the future of language, exploring the effect of technology on our day-to-day reading, writing, and speech. Through enlightening tables, diagrams, and quizzes, as well as Crystal’s avuncular and entertaining style, A Little Book of Language will reveal the story of language to be a captivating tale for all ages.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Via Box Turtle Bulletin:
Click the link above for more.
For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
Click the link above for more.
Paul believes mountaintop removal just needs a little rebranding. "I think they should name it something better," he says. "The top ends up flatter, but we're not talking about Mount Everest. We're talking about these little knobby hills that are everywhere out here. And I've seen the reclaimed lands. One of them is 800 acres, with a sports complex on it, elk roaming, covered in grass." Most people, he continues, "would say the land is of enhanced value, because now you can build on it."
What a fucking jackass!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I love modern literature in much the same way that I love modern art: if I think about it too much or too hard, my head hurts. And I'm serious I do love both modern literature and modern art - that in some respects each piece depends a lot on what I bring to it (see Agnes Martin).
However, sometimes I'm not quite sure what is required of me. This is especially true of books in translation, because then I don't know if the issue is the original intent of the author or an accident/discordance in/of translation.
Having said this, I just finished César Aira's The Literary Conference. Being a 90-page-book, it took me only a day and a little more to finish it, especially with the majority of the book being mostly a bare-bones telling. On one level it is the story César Aira, character, author and translator, who is attending a literary conference in an effort to obtain enough DNA material from Carlos Fuentes to clone him and put the Fuentes clone in charge of an army of clones set to take over the world. On another level, it is a story in which the author César Aira discusses translation, totality, becoming an individual, love, writing and age.
It begins with this section in which César Aira, character, solves an ancient riddle and thus finds a pirate's treasure and becomes immeasurably rich - I'm still trying to figure out how this relates to the rest of the story which also involves the almost destruction of the city of Mérida by hundreds of gigantic silk worms. WTF?!?
As with most modern literature, I was left with something akin to pleasure but also the unmistakable feeling that I might not be smart enough to read this book or that I may need to read it again or that there will be a test later. The pleasure came from a few sections (some of which I will type below) in which I believe the author was telling me what the story was about, or about his ideas that he wanted to discuss through the story. Also some of the pleasure came from sections in which the author César was making fun of the character César for his pomposity, over-erudition, and pretentiousness.
César Aira is one of the most prolific authors from South America, and oddly enough another coworker was also reading one of his books which the coworker described as the closest he's ever seen of a painting being turned into a book. However, I'm pretty sure my review will turn many of you off of Aira - simply because when I like something, I tend to bubble and I'm currently not - though that is not my intention, and I want to try it again - not at the moment, but later. After my brain-swelling has gone down a bit. Though a piece may be difficult, when your mind and soul connect with it even if for only a moment, that moment extends and goes deep within you.
Just as I am total thought, I am total body. This is not a contradiction. All the totals get superimposed upon each other...The concept of "totals" is fairly slippery; only a subject in motion can confront it, and the moment that subject is able to enunciate it, it becomes a truth. It was the truth within the restricted Universe of those days of rest I allowed myself under the tropical sun in the swimming pool of a luxury hotel on the outskirts of the city while my operation was underway. I regretted it would last for only the few days of a single week; the pleasure of such delicious passivity could only make me wish that life in its totalness was like that, the total world, the total of totals. It was natural for me to slip into totals. My body accepted it, swelled up with it, radiated it. To top it off, the weather was perfect. [...] The water was as clear as well-washed crystal: you could have read a newspaper floating on the bottom. My hosts at the conference told me it was logical so few people went...In fact, they couldn't believe it when I told them I was not the only one there. Who would ever think, they exclaimed, of going swimming in the middle of winter? It's true, it was winter, but being so close to the equator, it made no difference to me; as far as I was concerned it was still summer, and it continued to be a totality of summer, and life. (31-32)
For the heart, time doesn't pass. (44)
There is another coincidence on another level: that between the velocity of thought and thought itself. This is the same as saying that the Great Work - the creation of the individual - is exactly what is accomplisehd during a life span at that constant velocity. In a certain sense, velocity is the Great Work; confusion arises about the method. Thus, my Great Work, my secret labor, is highly personal, nontransferable, nobody but I could carry it out, because it consists of the innumerable psychic and physical instants whose sequence confirms my velocity. The velocity at which I unfold through time. By becoming an individual, my work allows me to love and be loved. (47)
At dawn, things emerged from their reality, as if in a drop of water. The most trivial objects, embellished with profound reality, made me quiver almost painfully. A tuft of grass, a paving stone, a scrap of cloth, everything was soft and dense. We were in the Plaza Bolívar, as lush and leafy as a real forest. The sky had turned blue, not a cloud in sight, no stars or airplanes, as if emptied of everything; the sun should have appeared from behind the mountains, but its rays were not yet touching even the highest peak to the west. The light intensified and bodies projected no shadows. The dark and the light floated in layers. The birds didn't sing, the insects must have been asleep, the trees remained as still as in a painting. And, at my feet, the real kept being born, like a mineral being born atom by atom (68)
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
It's amazing how something can happen and suddenly something that you didn't even realize was making so much noise inside of you turns off, and you are left with this quiet place emanating from within. It becomes easier to be kinder to people; though it leaves you with the desire to throw down with those who are not kind. However, holding your tongue is easier too.
Saturday was the quietest day. Even with music playing from my iPod, it was as though there was simply a part of me that sound could not reach, and eventually I turned off music all together. It was a windy day and I listened to the wind.
As I was walking past the Gray building the wind picked up. And I saw above me a butterfly flying in place, struggling against the wind, and as silly as it may be, I lifted my hand up to the flyer, willing it to land. It did land but on a leaf of an ivy plant and then crawled up onto my hand. I walked it about a block until it took off again.
Sort of the same thing happened that night but with a cicada. I was walking home from work and I saw a cicada on the sidewalk. I picked it up to protect it from the Sex And The City clones clomping towards it. It seemed really weak - when I tried to put it on a tree branch it immediately fell off, but the entire time I carried it, it crawled from hand to hand as though it wanted to escape or just get higher on the tree that was me. I placed it under a plant beside my house and left it there. Once again silly as it may be I said to it, "It's okay. It's safe to let go." And in the morning, it had - its white belly facing the sky.
On Facebook, as many of you know, there is a line where you can type your religious views. Mine is a quote or a book title, I can't remember: When God is gone, everything is holy. Slightly scandalous - this being Kentucky and a large group of my friends on Facebook being Tea Party/Conservative people I once knew in high school. (I know. I don't get it. I'm hoping they'll eventually get tired of my pinko-commi-fag ways and delete me. LOL!) Rob's religious views: be good to yourself and others.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Robert was a new security guard here at the library. He was very good man. I enjoyed being around him.
He died yesterday.
I've been crying since I got the email.
Security shares a desk with the 4th floor staff, so I was just sitting next to him yesterday.
Typing that, I'm crying harder.
My hands shake so much that typing is difficult.
Why is it not raining? Why is it so clear and bright outside?
I will miss you.
From Rob's Facebook:
As I sit here writing this, I think to myself; "What the fuck am I doing?". Normally i Think that writing on these things is pretty fucking stupid, and to tell you the truth i still think it is, but as I sit here, drinking my beer and reflecting, I remember all of my friends who i have shared and still share good memories with. Nostalgia? Maybe, but is that all we have? As the years pass and we grow so does the wall that surrounds our minds, we become harder and harder to read and then suddenly... we cant be reached like before, best friends turn simply into friends and in turn those become acquaintances that, with time, become bothersome. It is the sad truth of this modern world we live in, we keep our distance from people for fear that we will lose them in the grinding gears of time. Let us not forget those we have befriended, those we call our friends, Nakama, amigos... for friends are a wonderful thing, a friend in need is a friend indeed and true friends only show themselves when we are at our worst. it sounds stupid, corny, and truthfully downright stupid... but i would much rather be a stupid friend than a bothersome acquaintance.
To all of my friends... lets stand the test of time, lets sit and drink when we cant walk anymore, and let us reflect on all of the wonderful times we have shared together.
Pic via National Post
I've been doggedly looking for a timeline for when the next series in the trilogy that began with The Passage and finally thought, "Hey! Let's check Wikipedia" where I found the above link and the following information (also from National Post):
[Cronin is] hard at work on the next instalment in the trilogy. The Twelve is due in 2012, while the concluding novel, The City of Mirrors, will hit stores in 2014.
Also Ridley Scott's production company bought the movie rights to the first book! Yes! Exactly what this book needs: an intelligent director with a sense of style who isn't SO popular that the movie will degrade into a simple gore-fest!