Books from War Crooks

Jill St. John is not a mitigating factor.Title: “World Order”

Author: Henry Kissinger

Rank: 17

Blurb: “Henry Kissinger has traveled the world, advised presidents, and been a close observer and participant in the central foreign policy events of our era. Now he offers his analysis of the twenty first century’s ultimate challenge: how to build a shared international order in a world of divergent historic perspectives, violent conflict, proliferating technology, and ideological extremism.”

Review: “Hillary Clinton wrote a very favorable review in the Washington Post.”

Customers Also Bought: “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives” by Zbigniew Brzezinski

Footnote: This is what happens when you let the Bastards get away with it.

World Order [Amazon]

Buy or Die [Stinque@Amazon Kickback Link]

Of Pugs and Proust

Gratuitous puppy pictureFor years I resisted the idea of pugs, thinking them fat and smelly. When I was finally shamed into relenting I found myself unexpectedly charmed by a delightful puppy who was nothing like what I’d been expecting. Just as when I was in San Francisco the ringing of the cables under the streets came as a complete surprise, so did the pug puppy’s companionable stream of snuffles, wheezes, and chunterings.

The other day I came across an interview, translated from the French, with Stephen Breyer, ex-Supreme. I don’t know about you but to me he was only ever a function. So the interview charmed me in the same way as did the pug’s unexpected snores. He describes reading À la recherche as a young man living in Paris and teaching himself to read and speak French in the process. One infers from it a period of loneliness – he read the damn thing twice – and a warm and ardent approach to literature that public figures seldom admit to these days, at least in print. Well worth a read. He exemplifies the ideal of a liberal arts education, the aristocracy of a republic earned by reading, and how literature opens windows on the world.

Full disclosure: one is not a fan of the endless recycling around characters who smack one in the face with their endlessly hateful lives. I feel about it as if Perez Hilton wrote a multi-volume novel about the Kardashians and their world.  I understand – and apologize in advance – for the extreme ignorance of this POV. Does it help that I found a gaping hole in the plot when Elstir appeared? Perhaps if I read French I’d understand the need for quite so many subordinate clauses in a sentence but you know what? I read Tolstoy and his people come miraculously alive. True of Nabokov. Etc. But… I’m touched by the ex-jurist and hope he found a gay bartabac.

Rumspringa for Elites

Look what Yale did for George Bush.Title: “Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life”

Author: William Deresiewicz

Rank: 38

Blurb: “Excellent Sheep takes a sharp look at the high-pressure conveyor belt that begins with parents and counselors who demand perfect grades and culminates in the skewed applications Deresiewicz saw firsthand as a member of Yale’s admissions committee. As schools shift focus from the humanities to ‘practical’ subjects like economics and computer science, students are losing the ability to think in innovative ways. Deresiewicz explains how college should be a time for self-discovery, when students can establish their own values and measures of success, so they can forge their own path.”

Review: “Although a liberal arts education, as he advocates, may provide tools for developing a ‘meaningful life’ so will reading, work experience, marriage, parenting, travel, volunteering in one’s community, and other significant life experiences. Personal traits such as curiosity, confidence, honesty, determination, and open-mindedness — if nurtured in childhood and maintained through life — are at least as important as knowledge and skills.”

Customers Also Bought: “SpongeBath Food Safe Biodegradable Antimicrobial Sponge Cleaner”

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A Glorious Thing of Beauty

Now available for wedding ceremonies and receptionsNo, not him, although that was the last movie he was in where he was cute.

The clips of the oral arguments before the Seventh Circuit when Reagan-appointee Judge Richard Posner ripped new assholes (so to speak) into the AGs from Wisconsin and Indiana regarding their marriage equality bans were a thing of beauty.

A day late, but not a dollar short, I give you a linque to his incredibly readable and awesome opinion. There have been other opinions snarkily quoting Scalia’s dissent in the DOMA case, but Posner lays it out in language that you can share with your Aunt Marge in Minnetonka or Tio Manuel in Midland.

And as a side note — my favorite thing about Posner is that he uses contractions, which rumor has it is because he dictates his opinions and can’t (cannot, if you want to be an annoying attorney) type. Read his opinion out loud – it really is like he’s the awesome dinner guest you bring with you to Thanksgiving in Hot Springs to explain to grandma why you’re (not you are) getting married to your friend/roommate of 20 years.

My favorite passage:

Indiana has thus invented an insidious form of discrimination: favoring first cousins, provided they are not of the same sex, over homosexuals. Elderly first cousins are permitted to marry because they can’t produce children; homosexuals are forbidden to marry because they can’t produce children. The state’s argument that a marriage of first cousins who are past child-bearing age provides a “model [of] family life for younger, potentially procreative men and women” is impossible to take seriously.
At oral argument the state‘s lawyer was asked whether “Indiana’s law is about successfully raising children,” and since “you agree same-sex couples can successfully raise children, why shouldn’t the ban be lifted as to them?” The lawyer answered that “the assumption is that with opposite-sex couples there is very little thought given during the sexual act, sometimes, to whether babies may be a consequence.” In other words, Indiana’s government thinks that straight couples tend to be sexually irresponsible, producing unwanted children by the carload, and so must be pressured (in the form of governmental encouragement of marriage through a combination of sticks and carrots) to marry, but that gay couples, unable as they are to produce children wanted or unwanted, are model parents—model citizens really—so have no need for marriage. Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure.

BAM!

Joan Rivers (1933-2014)

nup-101245-0050

Blandception

Grey garden.Title: “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”

Author: Carol Dweck

Rank: 80

Blurb: “Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success — but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset.”

Review: “The irony of Dweck’s book is that if the reader understands and believes what she’s saying, then after the first chapter that reader has no reason to keep reading.”

Customers Also Bought: Inevitably, something by Malcolm Gladwell.

Footnote: Our mindset prevents us from accepting poorly expressed ideas like “fixed” and “growth”, as well as notions of “success” that require measurement.

Mindset [Amazon]

Buy or Die [Stinque@Amazon Kickback Link]

Sir Richard Attenborough (1923-2014)

Lord Attenbough of Richmond upon Thames, film Director Richard Attenborough pictured at Oxford in 1993.