Lazy Saturday Reads

Tree Brooklyn

Good Morning!!

 

Yesterday, Slate published a piece by Ruth Graham that started a minor controversy on Twitter and various blogs. Graham argued that adults should be ashamed to be caught reading books written for the Young Adult (YA) audience. Graham writes:

The once-unseemly notion that it’s acceptable for not-young adults to read young-adult fiction is now conventional wisdom. Today, grown-ups brandish their copies of teen novels with pride. There are endless lists of YA novels that adults should read, an “I read YA” campaign for grown-up YA fans, and confessional posts by adult YA addicts. But reading YA doesn’t make for much of a confession these days: A 2012 survey by a market research firm found that 55 percent of these books are bought by people older than 18. (The definition of YA is increasingly fuzzy, but it generally refers to books written for 12- to 17-year-olds. Meanwhile, the cultural definition of “young adult” now stretches practically to age 30, which may have something to do with this whole phenomenon.)

The largest group of buyers in that survey—accounting for a whopping 28 percent of all YA sales—are between ages 30 and 44. That’s my demographic, which might be why I wasn’t surprised to hear this news. I’m surrounded by YA-loving adults, both in real life and online. Today’s YA, we are constantly reminded, is worldly and adult-worthy. That has kept me bashful about expressing my own fuddy-duddy opinion: Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children.

Graham has no problem with adolescents reading these books, but she thinks adults should focus on reading “literary fiction,” because “Life is so short, and the list of truly great books for adults is so long.”

I’m not one of the demographic that reads the new YA books, but I do love to escape into detective stories and I know many adults who enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy. In essence, what Graham’s is arguing against is so-called “genre fiction.” Her article made me want to rush out and buy a couple of Harry Potter books. The idea that anyone should be shamed for reading something that gives them pleasure really rubbed me the wrong way; and the notion that adults should avoid reading for pleasure–what Graham characterizes as “escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia.” Her real problem with YA lit is that it is specifically designed to be give pleasure.

Reading tree

Of course I was not alone in my reaction to Graham’s essay. There were a number of excellent responses. Here’s Hillary Kelly from The New Republic: In Praise of Reading Whatever the Hell You Want: Don’t let Slate make you feel ashamed for reading books that you love.

One evening when I was 11 years old, lifelong friends of my parents came to our house for dinner. As the youngest child, I was the only one left at home to sulk on our living room floor and listen to adult chatter that I neither understood nor cared about. But the couple, Bob and Nancy, were thoughtful enough (and had witnessed my boredom enough) to bring me something to keep me occupied: a book, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

I won’t gush too long and too hard about how that novel affected me, how I felt Francie Nolan’s injustices, how romantic I found her fire escape reading perch, how I reveled in the fact that Francie was a reader like me. It’s enough to say that I lovedin fact, lovethat novel. I reread it about once a year.

In the intervening years, I’ve only found about a half dozen “young adult” books that I’ve enjoyed and found fulfilling. I will reread the Harry Potter books over and over until the day I die. I haven’t come close to picking up The Fault in Our Stars. I found The Hunger Games books clumsy and absurd. Don’t get me going on The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I rarely, if ever, seek out YA lit. It just (usually) isn’t my thing. But that doesn’t mean that the Ruth Graham piece Slate published Thursday, titled “Against YA: Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children,” has any merit whatsoever. In fact, Graham fundamentally misunderstands and mislabels the entire genre, and sends a ridiculous message that any reader should rebel against: “Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children” (itals hers).

You should never be embarrassed by any book you enjoy. And you certainly shouldn’t let some woman you’ve never met make you feel inferior for reading beneath your grade level.

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As a young girl, I also read and loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’ve never been tempted to go back and reread it, but I have reread other children’s books over the years–even books written for younger children. I’ve reread and cried over The Wind in the Willows, and I’ve often thought about rereading A Girl of the Limberlost and Laura Igalls Wilder’s “Little House” books, which I adored. I’ve reread Huckleberry Finn numerous times, each time getting more adult insights from it. Another book that I’ve reread several times with pleasure is The Hobbit.

There’s actually an even more practical argument against Graham’s premise that *real* reading should be a *very serious* endeavor. It’s very important for young children to develop a joy in reading–to learn to read for pleasure (pdf). Apparently this is something that is more recognized in the UK at the moment then here, where the focus is on testing and “Common Core standards.”

From the Guardian: How to encourage students to read for pleasure: teachers share their top tips.

The big challenge for teachers is not simply getting students to read – it’s getting them to enjoy it too. It’s one thing for students to trudge through set texts in a lesson, but will they open another book when they get home at the end of the day?

The National Literacy Trust has noted that becoming a lifetime reader is based on developing a deep love of reading.

“Research has repeatedly shown that motivation to read decreases with age, especially if pupils’ attitudes towards reading become less positive,” it said. “If children do not enjoy reading when they are young, then they are unlikely to do so when they get older.”

For younger readers in particular, their home environment is critically important.

“Home is a massive influence,” says Eleanor Webster, a primary school teacher in Nottinghamshire. “Supportive and understanding parents are key to developing their child’s reading.”

Here are a few more responses to the Graham piece if you’re interested:

Rachel Carter at The New Republic: I Write Young Adult Novels, and I Refuse to Apologize for It.

Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washington Post: No, you do not have to be ashamed of reading young adult fiction.

Kat Kinsman at CNN: Grownups: Don’t be ashamed of your YA habit.

Mark Shrayber at Jezebel: Hey, Everyone! Read Whatever the Fuck You Want.

 

Now a few newsy reads:

pot candy

Have you heard about the edible pot controversy in Colorado? A few days ago Maureen Dowd wrote about the bad trip she took on a pot-infused candy bar, and the discussion went viral. Poor MoDo didn’t heed the warnings about not eating the whole thing at one sitting. From The Boston Globe: Maureen Dowd Eats Pot Candy in Denver, Breaks Internet.

As Dowd tells it, she legally purchased a caramel-chocolate flavored edible, ate it in her Denver hotel room, washed it down with some chardonnay, and then waited. About an hour later, the effects of THC set in, and the result was not good:

I strained to remember where I was or even what I was wearing, touching my green corduroy jeans and staring at the exposed-brick wall. As my paranoia deepened, I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.

The high lasted eight hours. EIGHT.

Dowd’s conclusion is that pot candy needs to be better labelled. Newbies to the drug should only eat about 1/16 of the kind of bar she ate, according to a medical consultant at an edibles plant she interviewed. Her candy wrapper had no mention of recommended servings, she wrote.

The tour guide who escorted Dowd around said she was warned. It’s not clear if she was told the recommended serving size.

According to The Cannabis, Matt Brown, co-founder of tourism company My 420 Tours, accompanied Dowd as she purchased the edibles at a Denver dispensary. He said she “got the warning” about how edibles affect everyone differently.

I have to admit, I’m a little concerned about pot-infused candy. What if kids get ahold of it? — and inevitably they will. There’s also the man who killed his wife after eating some of the candy and smoking a joint. The Hershey Candy Company is also perturbed and they’re suing: From Boston.com:

DENVER (AP) — The Hershey Co. has sued a Colorado marijuana edibles maker, claiming it makes four pot-infused candies that too closely resemble iconic products of the chocolate maker.

The trademark infringement lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver this week against TinctureBelle LLC and TinctureBelle Marijuanka LLC.

It alleges TinctureBelle’s Ganja Joy, Hasheath, Hashees and Dabby Patty mimic Hershey’s Almond Joy, Heath, Reese’s peanut butter cups and York peppermint patty candies, respectively.

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At Pando Daily, Mark Ames is continuing to follow the international adventures of Glenn Greenwald’s boss Pierre Omidyar. Two weeks ago, he revealed Omidyar’s role in supporting and profiting from the election of India’s new fascist government: REVEALED: The head of Omidyar Network in India had a secret second job… Helping elect Narendra Modi. He followed up last week with this: eBay Shrugged: Pierre Omidyar believes there should be no philanthropy without profit.

The role of Omidyar Network in so many major events of the past week — helping elect India’s ultranationalist leader Narendra Modi; co-funding Ukraine regime-change NGOswith USAID, resulting in a deadly civil war and Monday’s election of Ukrainian billionaireoligarch Petro Poroshenko; and now, this week’s first-ever sit-down TV interview with Edward Snowden, through an arrangement between NBC News and Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media — shows how these contradictions are coming to the fore, and shaping our world.

Omidyar’s central role in the US national security state’s global agenda may still come as a shock to outsiders and fans of First Look media’s roster of once-independent journalists. But to White House foreign policy hawks, Pierre Omidyar represents the new face of an old imperial tradition.

And this week, Ames wrote: Just as we predicted, India’s new leader is about to make Pierre Omidyar a lot richer.

Well that was fast. Two weeks ago, we reported that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s top man in India had secretly helped elect controversial ultranationalist Narendra Modi, implicated by Human Rights Watch and others in the gruesome mass killings and cleansing of minority Muslims. As we also revealed, shortly after Omidyar’s man publicly joined the Modi campaign in February, Modi suddenly began warming up to the idea of letting global e-commerce companies into the world’s third largest economy. Omidyar’s eBay, which draws the majority of its revenues from overseas operations, has been champing at the bit to get into India.

Now, just weeks after Modi’s election, it seems their prayers have been answered.

Today, Reuters is reporting that Modi is planning to open India up to global e-commerce firms like eBay next month, and that Modi’s industry minister has been drawing up the new guidelines with input from top eBay officials, along with their e-commerce counterparts from Google, Amazon, Wal-Mart and others.

I wonder how all this ties in to Omidyar’s purchase of the Snowden data through Greenwald and Laura Poitras?

In a recent post, I mentioned that there has been a new arrest in the Boston bombing case. A friend of the Tsarnaev brothers, Khairullozhon Matanov, was arrested in Quincy, MA, last week and charged with obstruction of the bombing investigation. AP reported recently that Matanov had wired large amounts of money to people overseas. AP via The Daily Mail: Revealed: Boston bombing suspect’s friend wired $71,000 to people in six countries, as judge rules he should remain in jail.

A friend of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev wired more than $71,000 to people in six countries and used fake names several times for the transactions – including while Tsarnaev was on a pilgrimage in Russia, according to prosecutors.

Khairullozhon Matanov, 23, is accused of deleting computer files and lying to agents investigating the 2013 bombings, which killed three and injured more than 260.

Prosecutors accuse the immigrant from Kyrgyzstan of a ‘pattern of deceit’ in dealing with authorities as they investigated the bomb attacks.

At a detention hearing, Matanov waived his right to seek release on bail. His lawyer said Matanov has no family here, lost his job as a cab driver after his indictment last week and has nowhere to go if he were released.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I’ll end with three links to interesting and helpful reads on the Bowe Bergdahl controversy.

Think Progress: Did Sergeant Bergdahl Desert The Army Or Did The Army Desert Him?

Reuters: Bergdahl reveals the impossible choices faced by hostages’ families.

NYT Editorial Board: The Rush to Demonize Sgt. Bergdahlgen

I hope you’ll find something worth reading in my suggestions. What are you reading and blogging about these days? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.


Friday Reads: Life’s a Beach

beachcd36Good Morning!

It’s Friday and some how everything old is new again

Republicans continue to search for a president as impeachable as Nixon.  I wrote about this last night, but wtf don’t they get about high crimes and misdemeanors? It seems to be another Clintonian search for votes during an election that’s not about the President.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn said Wednesday that President Barack Obama was getting “getting perilously close” to the constitutional standard for impeachment. Coburn was speaking at the Muskogee Civic Center in Oklahoma.

“What you have to do is you have to establish the criteria that would qualify for proceedings against the president, and that’s called impeachment,” Coburn said, responding to a question about holding President Obama accountable. “That’s not something you take lightly, and you have to use a historical precedent of what that means. I think there’s some intended violation of the law in this administration, but I also think there’s a ton of incompetence, of people who are making decisions.”

“Even if there is incompetence, the IRS forces me to abide by the law,” a constituent responded to Coburn.

“No, I agree,” Coburn said. “My little wiggle out of that when I get that written to me is I believe that needs to be evaluated and determined, but thank goodness it doesn’t have to happen in the Senate until they’ve brought charges in the House. Those are serious things, but we’re in a serious time. I don’t have the legal background to know if that rises to high crimes and misdemeanor, but I think they’re getting perilously close.”

Coburn then mentioned a story of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees telling him that officials at Homeland Security said to “ignore all the background” and just “approve people.”

“I’m documenting all this stuff as it goes along, but I don’t know where that level is,” Coburn added.

“Barack Obama is personal friend of mine. He became my friend in the Senate but that does not mean I agree in any way with what he’s doing or how he’s doing it. And I quite frankly think he’s in a difficult position he’s put himself in, and if it continues, I think we’re going to have another constitutional crisis in our country in terms of the presidency,” Coburn concluded.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Here’s the President’s plan to make college more affordable.  Will it work and who will vote for it?

By the 2015 school year, Obama said, his administration will begin evaluating colleges on measures such as the average tuition they charge, the share of low-income students they enroll and their effectiveness in ensuring students graduate without too much debt.

The president also will seek congressional approval — which could prove difficult — to steer more federal student aid toward colleges that score highly in the ratings. A student in financial need at such schools might qualify for a larger Pell grant or a better interest rate on a federal loan.

The result, officials hope, will be relief for families from college bills that are in many cases three times as high as they were 30 years ago even after adjusting for inflation. Average tuition and fees topped $8,600 last year at public four-year colleges and $29,000 at private and nonprofit schools. The total annual bill, counting room and board, exceeds $50,000 at many elite schools.

“Higher education should not be a luxury. It is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford,” Obama told students packed into a basketball arena at the University at Buffalo.

Obama’s plan relies in part on his executive power to collect, manage and publish data. But it is likely to draw significant criticism from colleges intent on protecting their market share, and a divided Congress will present an immediate obstacle to elements of the plan that require legislation.

Obama said that in a global, knowledge-based economy, a quality college education is more important than ever. He pitched the ratings system as a consumer guide for prospective students and parents, evaluating which schools offer “the bigger bang for the buck.” His idea is that accountability will yield affordability.

“Colleges that keep their tuition down and are providing high-quality education are the ones that are going to see their taxpayer money going up,” Obama said.

So, I used to read Maureen Dowd because you know, occasionally a stopped clock is right like two times a day,  Here’s an analysis on her that’s spot on.

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New York Times star columnist Maureen Dowd just isn’t one to let the facts get in the way of a good story—or an accurate quote for that matter. Her most recent misdeed, for which she has apologized (most likely in the face of tape recorded evidence against her) is misquoting Progressive Mayoral Candidate Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray. A little background: de Blasio, the only candidate in the race who is talking about inequality (more severe in New York than just about anywhere else in the country) has lately overtaken longtime frontrunner Christine Quinn in the polls. (Anthony Weiner briefly led before self-imploding.) Quinn is an out lesbian, married to her partner, but that might be it in terms of her progressive credentials. She is seen as too cozy with big business and real estate.

But back to Dowd, who, it seems decided to stir up a little trouble. She quoted McCray, de Blasio’s wife, saying that she thinks Quinn is “not accessible … She’s not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave.” Understandably, took this as implying that she, a childless lesbian doesn’t understand issues “like taking care of children,” in other words a swipe at her sexual orientation.

But McCray did not say that. Dowd compressed what she said to such an extent that it really altered the meaning. What McCray did say, responding to a question of why women may not supporting Quinn in droves is:

“Well, I am a woman, and she is not speaking to the issues I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, workplace; she is not speaking to any of those issues. What can I say? And she’s not accessible, she’s not the kind of person that, I feel, that you can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things. And I suspect that other women feel the same thing I’m feeling.”

Pretty different. Although it should be said, Quinn was still mad.

Dowd’s accuracy has been shaky, and she can be pretty offensive,

WTF is it with Dowd?  Does she have to be the only woman in the room?

This is another story that I can hardly believe in this day of science and fact.  But, it seems that about 30% of the population believe that Gay people can change their sexual orientation.  Some one should ask them if they could change theirs!!!

In the wake of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s announcement that he will sign a bill banning so-called “conversion therapy” for gay teens, the Pew Research Center pointed to recent research that more than one in three Americans believe sexual orientation can be changed.

On Tuesday Pew republished the data — gathered in 2012 — in a sobering reminder of just how far this country has to go in terms of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender acceptance. The survey concluded that slightly more than half of all Americans believe an LGBT individual cannot change sexual orientation — while 36 percent believe it’s possible.

These numbers reflect a small shift toward increased tolerance from a decade ago, according to Pew, which in 2003 found that 42 percent of Americans felt being gay was changeable, while 42 percent believed it was not.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, LGBT advocacy group GLAAD’s Director of Religion, Faith & Values Ross Murray explained that New Jersey’s gay conversion ban “focuses on the harm that comes from trying to force someone’s sexual orientation.”

The widely disputed idea that sexual orientation is “curable” or changeable is bad enough, but even worse is that many people who end up in gay conversion therapies are minors, Murray told HuffPost. “[They] did not choose the program for themselves,” he said, “and may have been forced into it by a parent who was influenced by religious leaders.”

It makes me think that the Spanish Inquisition is still not that far away!

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I was rather shocked to find out that fishing off of Fukishima has just been suspended!

A fisheries co-op in Soma Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, said Thursday it will end its trial catch at the end of this month, signaling an indefinite halt to all local fishing operations off the prefecture because of the constant flow of highly radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the Pacific.

The move by the co-op in Soma Futaba, in the northern part of the prefecture, follows a decision by a co-op in Iwaki, in the southern part, to drop plans to resume operations on a trial basis from Sept. 5.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday it noticed puddles with high radiation levels near an area where a number of radioactive water storage tanks stand at the Fukushima plant. At least one of the tanks has been leaking, and it is believed the water it contained seeped down and merged with tainted groundwater that is flowing to the sea, and ran to the Pacific in drainage channels.

Tepco later admitted that 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from the tank, which should have been holding about 1,000 tons. It said Wednesday that water from the tank probably flowed to the ocean through drainage channels.

Hiroyuki Sato, head of the Soma Futaba cooperative, said, “We want the central government to take steps to pull us out of this trouble as quickly as possible.”

JJ has written about this but it is really truly shocking!! What is going on with Fukishima and why aren’t more countries involved?

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka attends a news conference in Tokyo. Following the discovery that highly contaminated water is leaking from one of the hastily built storage tanks at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan’s nuclear watchdog said officials are concerned that more steel storage tanks will spring leaks.

So, those are the stories that I’m following this morning.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


The Current State of Op Ed Writing or Things that Belong in a Hello Kitty Diary

comtorwhkwriter-1-1Okay, so I was torn between using Hello Kitty Diary and Hello Kitty Litter Box in the title of this thread because I am so tired of seeing hacks get money and column space in what used to be the world’s great papers.   Let’s face it!  My cats’ litter box is a better use of a newspaper that’s filled with the inane ramblings of the likes of Ross Douthat, Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, George F. Will, and  well, you get my drift. There were op ed writers with whom I disagreed but whose arguments, evidence, and writing style made for compelling reading and arguments.  The group that’s left to us now should still be doing penmanship exercises in second grade.

So, obviously I was inspired to write this.  I use the world ‘inspired’ loosely because it was more like I was influenced by the painful awareness of cats screeching in the alley looking for attention from other heat-seeking cats.  The primary source of screeching came from MoDo today who Charlie Pierce promptly diced and sliced in “In Which MoDo Loses A Fight With James Madison” in his Esquire  blog

 Maureen Dowd has fashioned herself another Chronic Ward of a newspaper column today on her now-regular theme of what a wimpety-wimp-wimp Barry Obama is, and why she never should have let him take her to prom instead of the hunky Andrew Shepherd from The American President who, while admittedly fictional, never would take this guff from actual human beings like John Boehner and Eric Cantor and Louie Gohmert, to which latter we give the benefit of a considerable doubt on this score. From the available evidence (again), and for all the relevance her insights have on what’s actually going on in American politics, Dowd once again seems to be writing from an assisted-living facility on the far side of a world Beyond The Planet Of The Ultra-Vixens. First of all, she, along with Jonathan Karl, seems to be overly concerned with the condition of the president’s “juice,” which she seems to feel is less fortified with essential vitamins and iron than the juice of a president should be. And, somewhere in the Beyond, Freud gives up the business entirely and opens a cigar store.

Pierce offers this more succinct explanation.

Look, I make the same criticism of the president from time to time, but mine is based on what I believe is the obvious empirical fact that the Republican party has gone insane and that the president has been painfully slow in coming to realize that he is dealing with lunatics. I don’t find this “professorial” or “high-minded.” I just find it wrong. But, then again, I don’t measure politics by the inseam, either.

What is it about reality that most of the op ed writers don’t appear to get these days? Well, I stumbled across an equally good take down and explanation over at NY magazine written by Jonathan Chait called “David Brooks and the Role of Opinion Journalism”. David Brooks is the nearly the best example of an op ed writer that is a waste of good reading time.  He has the dial set to 11 for vacuity nearly every day.

Brooks likes to veer frequently from the beaten path of topicality. He wants us to associate this habit with intellectual honesty. But why should we? One could just as easily think of it as an evasive tactic designed to spare him from confronting the uncomfortable pathologies of his own side.

Brooks goes further, smuggling into his schema notions not merely unrelated to but actually at odds with intellectual honesty. The detached writer, he argues, “sees politics as a competition between partial truths.” Well, yes, sometimes it is. On the other hand, sometimes politics is not a competition between partial truths. If you’re committed a priori to always seeing politics as a competition between partial truths, you will render yourself unable to accurately describe the times when it’s not and find yourself writing things that are provably untrue. Writing things that are provably untrue — rather than, say, being irritating — ought to be the central thing to avoid.

It’s a shame Brooks has done such an injustice to the topic, since the question of standards for opinion journalism is a pretty important and underexplored one. Straight news reporters tend to lump opinion writing of all forms into the same bin — punditry, essays, agitprop — and to therefore shy away from holding it to any defined standard. (This is why, for instance, the Washington Post blithely lets George Will misstate facts about climate science on its op-ed page.)

So, I would like to say that the standard for op ed “journalism” is there is no honor among thieves, but given their platform, it’s hard to just write off hello_kitty_diary_resize99.99% of them as hapless hacks and ignore them. Chait actually offers up some common sense advice on how to make an argument instead of publishing your dreamy-eyed Potomac platitudes.  Most of them are common sense like don’t set up and attack straw men and avoid reflexive equivocation and black-and-white moralism.  These last two are staples of op ed pages today.  Douthat is a lousy writer who specializes in his own specious form of black-and-white moralism to the point that I wonder if he ever leaves his house or was actually weaned by his mother.  This glib last bit from Chait sums up the state of op ed writing today for me.  I’ve edited it to what it should be.

If you’re going to write a guide to opinion writing that’s completely self-aggrandizing, you should probably own up to it.

Not only should you own up to it, you should stop pretending it’s anything else but self-aggrandizing twaddle. I’m tired of seeing endless self-pleasuring in high circulation papers. I am so not into that!!!

But, I see this as the main stay of today’s opinion writers.  It is always about them and never about their topic, the actual good of the country or an idea, or the greater search for truth.  WAPO and NYT excel at  placing free range WATBs on their op pages who only engage in self-aggrandizing and who never see the world outside the thunderdomes of Manhattan and the DC beltway.  Most of them are so comfortably snuggled into their socio-economic status they probably couldn’t tell a homeless person from a fireplug.

Thankfully, there are now blogs and there are blogger/writers like Pierce and Chait or I would be one very depressed Kat who would consider reading Romance Novels or Pop! Star Magazine in lieu of David Brooks or Maureen Dowd. They are all about on the same level of intellectual discourse and reality. And for that, the NYT put up a paywall and WAPO wants to still think of itself as the paper of investigative journalism. Douthat belongs on the pages of Catholic Voice or maybe some nice rag promoting the return of The Inquisition.  None of these folks are the serious human beings they presume themselves to be.

Here kitty, kitty!!!  I just changed your litter box and its nicely lined!!!


Monday Afternoon Open Thread: The Dust Bowl, The Return of Charles Pierce, and Mittenfreude

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

If you didn’t get to see the first half of Ken Burns’ documentary on the Dust Bowl last night on PBS, please be sure to watch it when you can. It was outstanding, although very painful to watch at times. I watched it with my mom. It brought back lots of memories for her, as she grew up in North Dakota in the Dust Bowl days. Toward the end of the show last night there was film of FDR visiting North Dakota to survey the damage. Most of the archival footage is from Oklahoma and Kansas, with lesser amounts from Colorado, Kansas, and Texas.

The second part of the documentary will be on tonight. I’m guessing this part will be less agonizing because it will cover Roosevelt’s efforts to deal with the greatest man-made ecological disaster in history. I hope it will cover the creation of the CCC and how the government supervised planting of lines of trees for windbreaks. You can still see them all over the Midwest. There are lots in Indiana. There must have been other scientific improvements to farming that I don’t know about.

I highly recommend watching the second part tonight if you can. I don’t think you need to watch them in order necessarily.

I’m so happy that Charlie Pierce is back from his interminable week-long vacation! He has some great pieces up today already.

This morning he weighed in on the Susan Rice witchhunt on yesterday’s Sunday talk shows.

Then he recommended that Ross Douthat and other who missed the ’60s

drop some brown acid, listen to the first Quicksilver album, or at least read more than two books before they start telling the rest of us how everything they would have loved about America, had they been alive then, went to hell in a handbasket the first time Ken Kesey sat down at a typewriter.

He gave us a title for the Petraeus scandal and some great nicknames for John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Well, not much happened while we were gone. The entire national-security apparatus got together and decided to produce a remake of the famous 1989 Helen Mirren vehicle, The Cook, The Thief, The Wife, Her Lover, The General, His Wife, The Other Woman, The Other Other Woman, The Other General, and The Lovesick Shirtless FBI Guy. In the other half of the double feature, we have Senator Grumpy and his sidekick, Huckleberry Closetcase, yelling about Benghazi while Harry Reid contemplates turning a garden hose on them to cool them down.

And then he beat up on Maureen Dowd for her nasty Sunday column on Susan Rice.

let’s pause for a moment and mark the return of airy dementia to the prose of one M. Dowd, of The New York Times, who decided to unlimber herself on the Bigger-Than-Watergate-Teapot Dome-Crédit Mobilier-The-Combined scandal surrounding what the gnomes in John McCain’s head think happened in Benghazi. Notably piquant is this passage in which Ms. Dowd wonders whether or not the president and his staff are as shallow and muddleheaded about politics as she is.

And MoDo will absolutely hate the photo that accompanies the post. I’m sooooo glad Pierce is back!

I have to admit, I’d like to stretch out the Mittenfreude, so I have a few Romney links for you.

TMZ caught Mitt and Ann going to see teen chick flick Breaking Dawn yesterday. I knew those two were immature, but I guess I didn’t realize how immature.

NBC News has a piece about what Romney and Ryan would have been doing this week if they hadn’t been beaten in a landslide on November 7.

If Mitt Romney had won the presidential election, insiders say, it’s not hard to imagine what he and his number two, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, would have been tackling on this very day.

An extensive preparation plan dubbed the “Romney Readiness Project,” pulled together by the GOP nominee’s team and no longer of any use, offers detailed insight into how ready he was to take the reins, the sources told NBC News.

Romney and Ryan each had office space set aside for them at a transition office in southwest Washington, D.C., where former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt led a team of hundreds of advisers tasked with crafting an ambitious agenda for the Republican’s first 200 days in office.

Insiders describe a well-prepared transition that was ready to hit the ground running on Nov. 7, and begin the work of fashioning a Romney government.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!! I’m sure glad we dodged that bullet!

Finally, Kevin Drum calls Romney “Officially the Most Hated Man in America,” and all because the articulated what most Republicans believe–that about half of the American people are worthless layabouts who don’t deserve to eat, live indoors, or have health care when they get sick.

What are you reading and/or hearing?