Print Story Too true, fruit-face
By TheophileEscargot (Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:44:32 AM EST) Reading, Listening, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "True Grit". Listening: "Legacies of Great Economists". Web.

What I'm Reading
Finished classic Western True Grit by Charles Portis. Mattie Ross recounts how as a 14 year girl her father was murdered, and she asks around to find a marshal to help track him down:
The sheriff thought on it a minute. He said: "I would have to weigh that proposition. There is near about two hundred of them. I reckon William Waters is the best tracker. The meanest one is Rooster Cogburn. He is a pitiless man, double-tough, and fear don't enter into his thinking. He loves to pull a cork. Now L.T. Quinn, he brings his prisoners in alive. He may let one get by now and then but he believes even the worst of men is entitled to a fair shake. Also the court does not pay any fees for dead men. Quinn is a good peace officer and a lay preacher to boot. He will not plant evidence or abuse a prisoner. He is straight as a string. Yes, I will say that Quinn is about the best they have."

I said, "Where can I find this Rooster?"

Written in 1968, it's a gritty book full of authentic-sounding period language: I had to look up things like "middlebuster" (a shallow plough, apparently). There's not much romanticism here: the characters are tough and suspicious, generally out for their own interests.

It's a brisk book, not much more than 200 pages, which keeps the pace and tension high. Portis also inhabits the character of Mattie Ross astonishingly well, with a layered portrayal of her impetuous teenage self recalled from a querulous old age. She's hugely impressive, but just vulnerable enough to remain believable, very occasionally falling prey to weakness.

Overall, this book deserves its reputation as a classic. Fast, realistic and with believable yet larger-than-life characters: well worth reading.

Review, review with extract.

Latest TTC course was Legacies of Great Economists by Timothy Taylor. Ten 45-minute lectures covering Adam Smith, Thomas Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Alfred Marshall, Joseph Schumpeter, John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman.

Another interesting course. Timothy Taylor seems almost unique in being passionate about economics. He gives biographical sketches of what the economists were like as individuals, but concentrates on their work and their interactions.

He's particularly good on Marshall and marginalism: explains how he helped work out the modern notion of value as the interaction of supply and demand. I found that also pretty useful in the analysis of one of the problems of Marx: his reliance on a labour theory of value, where only labour counts towards the value of something.

Thought he also made a good point about Marx: that while some regard him as valuable for his polemics against the evils of unrestrained capitalism, Marx regarded himself as a rigorous scientist, so should perhaps be judged rigorously and scientifically.

Taylor's also good on the interactions between the market socialists like Oscar Lange and Enrico Barone, and the Austrian school in the mid-twentieth century. I didn't realise that it was the Austrians who basically invented the notion of prices as signals, so my estimation of them has gone up slightly. Signaling seems to have been firmly incorporated in modern neoclassical economics though, so no need to take things to extremes.

Also found Joseph Schumpeter's ideas on the doom of capitalism interesting. Unlike Marx he like capitalism, but felt that increasing prosperity would inevitably create a class of intellectuals who would tear down the system that created them.

Overall a good course, worthwhile if you're interested in the history of economics.

Just started TTC course Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality.

I think this transsexual flamewar is missing the really big issue. "Trans" means basically "beyond". So a "trans-man" is obviously someone who has gone beyond man, that is a man who has become a woman. Instead they use it to mean a woman who has become a man.

Child prodigy becomes prostitute: Telegraph, News of the World (NSFW).

Airwick hack (Metachat).

Myth of trafficking.

< I've hated April Fool's Day since I was six | The Lamp is Off >
Too true, fruit-face | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)
Abused child becomes fucked up adult by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:58:04 AM EST
film at 11.

heh. I figured it was a hoax by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:34:53 AM EST
maybe not .. Those wacky brits and their 1-Apr jokes..

[ Parent ]
Earlier by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 10:47:31 AM EST

The Telegraph was carrying the story on Monday.

[ Parent ]
Realistic? by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #2 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:01:15 AM EST
That's funny. I always thought that True Grit was a sort of dead pan Americanized Rabelaisian comedy. Less realistic than over the top.

Unrealistic? by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:10:15 AM EST
Did you spot any anachronisms or mistakes?

Also, compare it other classic Westerns like "Riders of the Purple Sage": there's a vastly more realistic tone to "True Grit".
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 ]
No. Good point. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:34:09 AM EST
I can't think of any.

I guess I was contrasting realistic, which is often taken to mean relentlessly grim, with the humor that comes from pairing Matty and Rooster and scenes like them wasting a third of their supplies in target practice.

I guess I also put it in the tradition of his other novels, all of which are quirky dead-pan comedies with dark tones. In The Believer they had an article that described Portis as "like Cormac McCarthy, but funny."

The book's often compared to Huck Finn which has a similar funny/dead serious tone (until the very end when it falls all to heck).

But you're completely correct: True Grit is pretty thick with period correct detail. So I reckon realistic is a perfectly legit term for it.

[ Parent ]
I loved that shooting-the-cornbread scene by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:40:10 AM EST
It did seem completely in character though ,to just get into a pointless competition with each other when they're supposed to be catching up with the bad guys.
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 ]
Character logic. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #14 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 10:30:39 AM EST
I think Portis has to be pretty rigorous with the logic of his characters for two reasons. First, because so much f the comedy comes from the contrast between characters, it would feel like cheating if he regularly had them brake character. Second, another source of humor and pathos comes from Mattie's narration and the distance between what she describes and what we imagine the situation to be. If he started doing illogical things with his characters, Mattie's narration would go from humorously skewed to seemingly unreliable.

It is a hard trick to pull off. It's what makes Portis an unfairly neglected master of the American comedic novel.

[ Parent ]
Trans... by ana (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:12:00 AM EST
also means across.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

Which would also mean by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:14:36 AM EST
Gone across from being a man.
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 ]
In which case, by ana (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:15:29 AM EST
translation is getting carried away.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Indeed by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:21:09 AM EST
translate: c.1300, "to remove from one place to another," also "to turn from one language to another," from L. translatus "carried over,"
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 ]
Economists comments: by Herring (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:30:29 AM EST
Timothy Taylor Landlord - nice pint.

"value as the interaction of supply and demand" - almost Pirsigian.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

That next course by blixco (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 09:52:51 AM EST
looks extremely interesting.

One of the earliest things I ever read on the subject of inherited behavior was a book on genetic "memory," that is the biologic imprints on how we behave.

I recently spoke to a psychology prof who told me that evolutionary and behavioral sciences belong in behavioral sciences, and biology belongs in biology; that only a psychology or sociology student can truly learn causes of behavior.

He's not necessarily the smartest guy I know, but he is opinionated.
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

True Grit/Rooster Cogburn by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #13 Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 10:02:00 AM EST
A pair of great John Wayne movies. Especially the latter, which pairs him with Katharine Hepburn.

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

Too true, fruit-face | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)