Print Story It's bigger than you and the Welfare State
By TheophileEscargot (Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 08:59:55 PM EST) Reading, Me, Consumerism, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "How to Read a Novel". Museums. US Politics. Web.

What I'm Reading
How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide by John Sutherland. Brisk tour through the history of the novel, the publishing business and the academic world, by a lit professor and critic. Much of it was pretty familiar, but still found some of the observations and anecdotes interesting. It's written quite wittily.

Makes a few confident and probably-wrong generalizations, like the influence of immigration scares on SF, and only copyright makes novels possible, but they're overlookable.


Five Man Booker judges are appointed annually. They are presumed to be competent readers of fiction and are expected to be diligent in the discharge of their judicial duties. Around 120 titles are submitted for judgement, to be whittled down into a long list, a shortlist, and, finally, the last novel standing, like Russell Crowe, over the steaming carcasses of its defeated rivals.
The many recent adaptations of Pride and Prejudice have invariably tended to draw on the fashions of the Regency period: partly, perhaps, because the fashions are beautiful and pleasing to the contemporary eye; partly because the novel was published in 1813, the second year of the Regency. But the novel is actually set in the mid 1790s, when Britain was at war with Revolutionary France (hence all those soldiers -- invasion was expected). Pride and Prejudice, initially provisionally called 'First Impressions', antedates its publication by some seventeen years. To 'Regencify' Pride and Prejudice is as anachronistic an error as to have a V2 bomb land on Joe Lampton's Brylcreemed head in Room at the Top (1954).
Examining Publisher's Weekly records in 1945, Alice Payne Hackett calculated that the all-time bestseller up to that point in historical time was Charles Monroe Sheldon's Christian epic In His Steps (1895), with cumulative sales over sixty years of 8-million plus. The universal blank which Sheldon's name now evokes demonstrates that making it in bestsellerdom does not guarantee literary immortality. Hopefully his reward was in heaven.

Dropped in briefly at the RA and strolled around the exhibitions. Byzantium had some nice stuff: lots of fancy gold jewellery and silverware, some unclasmed icons and some very impressive micromosaics (i.e. made out of such small pieces they look realistic). Surprised how realistic most of the art was: expected things to be more stylized.

Moderately crowded. Had forgotten it was on or would have gone earlier. It's a large exhibition though and the later rooms were a lot emptier.

Also walked through the Miró, Calder, Giacometti, Braque, Cobley, all exhibition, but I've seen quite a lot of Miro and Braque lately so wasn't particularly blown away.

US politics
I officially endorsed John Kerry last time, but not too sure about this one. Compared with the last selection, both Presidential candidates look pretty good by comparison, though they're weakened by a lack of executive experience. It's a bit troubling that none of them have had to hire, fire; work out which subordinate is being honest, which one's trying to make you feel good, and which one's trying to scare you into expanding his empire.

However, Barack Obama does seem to be intelligent, not easily panicked, and his platform is pretty sensible. He also has a personal charisma which would be an asset in negotiating and building a consensus.

John McCain has a good deal of legislative experience, and a history of practical and non-partisan decision making. His much-trumpeted refusal to check out early from the Hanoi Hilton does show that, at least once in his life, he has put a moral principle ahead of personal advantage. That puts him ahead of any active UK politician I can think of.

Inevitably, both have compromised their principles somewhat for the campaign itself. McCain has adopted negative and borderline-racist campaigning. Obama adopted protectionist sentiment for his primary campaign, and broke his promise to limit spending.

While Sarah Palin's language is slightly worrying, I think the menace has been overplayed somewhat. It seems to me that she has been told to egg on the evangelical base, and has done that job very effectively. Her switch to a more mainstream church as she entered the Alaskan political stage suggests to me that like Bush and Reagan, while she panders to the fundamentalists, she won't actually sacrifice any self-interest to them.

Overall then, I think I'm going to have to refrain from an official endorsement this year. The US electoral process will somehow have to survive without it.

In terms of who's going to win, it still seems somewhat possible that McCain will win. In the 1992 UK election, the Shy Tory factor made the unpopular Conservative incumbents 8% higher in practice than the poll average said. A similar Shy Republican factor would put McCain in the White House.

However, I suspect that the pollsters are now compensating adequately for that factor. Furthermore, I think there could be a reasonable youth turnout. So, my prediction is:

Obama 53%
McCain 46%
Other 1%

Dropped in at the new Westfield shopping centre that's opened a couple of stops away. Shepherd's Bush station seems easier on the Central Line: in theory you can get to it from White City but I found a bus stop first.

I like the way it's all shiny and sparkling new. The cinema doesn't open till Autumn 2009 unfortunately. Shops seem to be the normal chain stores. They do have an Apple store there. I played around on the Iphone. Leaning towards getting that: just asked for my PAC from Orange, but they insist on snail-mailing it to you to add an additional level of difficulty to leaving.

Pic, pic.

Science. Austistics have hawk vision (New Republic)

The difference is so great (almost three times) as to put autistics' vision beyond the normal range found in NT humans, and in to the realms of the best vision of birds of prey.
Dulce et Decorum Est: tearjerker from Second Terrace.

NHS pays for Weight Watchers membership

Punternet now has an RSS feed of prostitute reviews. So you can rush straight out as soon as you see a good review? (NSFW)

Pics. Spicules: Jets on the Sun. Shorpy testing tea, radio wave meters, something. Wildlife.

Economics. Real Keynesianism is not like the pop version being peddled.

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It's bigger than you and the Welfare State | 27 comments (27 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Dude they have that vision because they by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 09:33:01 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

I'd sort of assumed by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 10:02:01 PM EST
That being "focused" was just a metaphor.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
I think the metaphor comes from by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 03:10:39 AM EST
hyperbolic reality.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Hm by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #3 Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 10:43:17 PM EST
What about the other way around?

[ Parent ]
I thought by Breaker (4.00 / 2) #5 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 12:29:58 AM EST
It was MNS that was intensely focused on shit?

[ Parent ]
Is there a slight chance that MNS is autistic? by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 2) #7 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 01:48:01 AM EST
I'm just saying...

[ Parent ]
Best sellers by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 12:25:44 AM EST
I've heard about the way they disappear into history mentioned before. In the 30s a novel called "All this and Heaven Too" was massively popular but no-one's heard of it now.

When you think about it, it'd be strange if the same didn't happen to the likes of "White Teeth" and "Life of Pi."

It's political correctness gone mad!

In His Steps by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 12:45:46 AM EST
Might have been a bit like the Left Behind series: only popular with a particular group. Though I notice the subtitle is still a well-known catchphrase: In His Steps: "What Would Jesus Do?"

Some bestsellers seem to last though. From the Thirties, "The Thirty-Nine Steps" seems to be still well-known, while "The Scarlet Pimpernel" seems to sinking into obscurity.

[ Parent ]
``what would Jesus do?'' by lm (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 02:34:53 AM EST
That well known catch phrase has only been popular for twenty years or so after Sheldon's book had been popularized (as in re-written using simpler English) by this or that Evangelical press.

The Scarlet Pimpernel made it into a Bugs Bunny cartoon and, thus, has achieved effective immortality. I've never heard of ``The Thirty-Nine Steps.''

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I'm surprised you've not heard of The 39 Steps by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 02:52:17 AM EST
It's been filmed three times, and the Hitchcock version was pretty influential.

[ Parent ]
And coincidentally by gazbo (4.00 / 1) #15 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 04:49:03 AM EST
Is on channel 4 right now.

I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
I don't know that the Palin menace is overplayed by lm (4.00 / 2) #9 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 02:42:59 AM EST
From all appearances Palin is the worst bits of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush all rolled up into one.

OTOH, I do think she would be marginalized in a McCain administration. It seems to me that he takes a very traditional view of the vice presidency.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
marginalized in a McCain administration by wiredog (4.00 / 2) #12 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 04:33:08 AM EST
Unless he dies. Which, given his age and health history, is not unlikely.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
There is a good chance that would happen by lm (4.00 / 1) #19 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 05:44:05 AM EST
But there is also a good chance that something will come out of Palin's past to force her to resign. I don't know really know which is more likely. IIRC, the actuarial tables say something like 1 in 5 or 1 in 7 for McCain dying before his first term is up.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Both of them have executive experience. by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #13 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 04:34:53 AM EST
They've both run long national political campaigns. Replete with hiring, firing, financial decisions, and other activities that give insight into how they would run things.

And don't forget, GW Bush had extensive managerial and executive experience, and an MBA, before becoming President.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

MBA ugh by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #14 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 04:40:53 AM EST
You can find those down the back of sofas these days.
How their campaign is run is a good indicator though.

[ Parent ]
Sure by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 05:09:08 AM EST
Though the meta-, temporary and ultimately narcissistic nature of a presidential campaign doesn't make it the most convincing organisation to have lead.

McCain did run a squadron for a few years in the seventies too. Longer than Palin has been governor, as it happens.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
I'm not convinced about campaign-running by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 05:20:31 AM EST
Firstly, I don't think they're really running the campaign in a hands-on sense: they're too busy speechmaking, schmoozing and senatoring. Their campaign manager handles most of the detail.

So, all they really need is a good campaign manager. But someone with a crappy campaign manager won't make it out of the primaries anyway. So there's a natural selection effect at work. The winner will have a good campaign manager, but he might have chosen him/her by pure luck... which led to him running the best campaign and getting elected.

Also, a campaign doesn't really last that long, involves largely volunteer labour, and doesn't have a lot of organizational inertia. I'm not sure it helps as much as having run a large, established institution.

Not sure what happened with George W. Bush. He might have been more of a figurehead and had other people do the actual management. In office, he seems to have delegated enormous power with very little oversight to people chosen from cronyism or gut instinct.

[ Parent ]
I agree by garlic (4.00 / 1) #20 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 05:51:17 AM EST
Running for president is not the same thing as being the president. Running, you just say a lot of shit. Being, you have to actually make the shit you say be federal policy and deal with the results of it.

[ Parent ]
Yes by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #21 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 06:00:55 AM EST
I would describe it as 'Advanced Saying Shit'. Because how else is policy made but by persuasion? How are the results successfully handled without being able to communicate what needs doing?

[ Parent ]
getting shit done isn't the same as saying shit. by garlic (4.00 / 1) #22 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 06:40:35 AM EST
Because it's much easier to be the commentator on the game then to be in there actually getting the points scored. And I'd like the president to back off on the policy making, since that's not his main job according to the constitution.

[ Parent ]
lol by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #25 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 08:24:20 AM EST
He's not playing football, he's playing people.

[ Parent ]
Running things by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #23 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 07:16:58 AM EST
Any good leader of a large organization will tell you that the key to success is finding good people.

What happened to George W. Bush was pretty simple: sure he had "experience"...but if you look at that experience in practice, it was a track record of failure.  Just because he did the time doesn't mean he was good at it.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 05:20:31 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by R Mutt

[ Parent ]
Your poll by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #24 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 07:19:29 AM EST
I don't think any candidate has every gotten 20% more than his opponent, in recent times, at least.  Even regain only managed 18%.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
Forget McCain by Dr Thrustgood (4.00 / 1) #26 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 02:06:01 PM EST
Do you really want Palin as president?

come on Husi! by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #27 Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 02:53:28 PM EST
5% or more?  Really?  My guess is a tie, and right to the courts.

It's bigger than you and the Welfare State | 27 comments (27 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback