9 May 2016

Another Country

I just finished reading Baldwin's 1962 novel Another Country. The story explores a number of previously taboo themes (inter-racial and bisexual love, especially). It shows clear signs of having been written over a long period of time. Some parts of the novel--including the initial and final sections--are terribly written, whereas a few of the later sections are quite brilliant. The writer makes the surprising move of killing off the main character in the beginning of the story. On the other hand, the tendency of virtually all the novel's men, who are for the most part initially described as heterosexual, to suddenly jump into each other's beds is farcical to say the least. (This would be great fodder for a Saturday Night Live skit.) The editor who accepted the manuscript deserves some of the blame. Baldwin was famous at this point, but the editor really should  have sent the draft back for major revisions. Entire sections and plot lines should have been cut.

15 April 2016


I just finished Benjamin Constant's book Adolphe. As this is an older work (1816), I thought it might feel very dated, but the descriptions of the psychological torment associated with the thin line between infatuation and love is right on. I highly recommend this.

5 April 2016

My Skype nightmare

Skype recently deleted my account. When I asked why, they claim I've violated their agreement. However, they refuse to say how. (I'm totally mystified by all this since I only use Skype to call family and friends.) I have a significant amount of money in my Skype account, which they apparently plan on keeping without providing a refund. Needless to say, I'm very pissed off about the whole thing. Making matters worse, it's simply impossible to get anyone on the phone or a chat who has authorization to do anything. For all of you who use Skype, I'd think twice about giving them any money. There are much better (and cheaper) services available, such as Google Hangouts.

Panama Papers

The appearance of the Panama Papers is providing welcome limelight on the illegal practices of the wealthy and well-connected. Hopefully, it'll go beyond that, educating the public about the infrastructure of our plutocracy. As just one "nugget" (with presumably many more to come), Rachel Maddow today mentioned that the Panama firm had knowingly laundered money from a famous 1983 British gold heist.

18 March 2016

Joe Wang

This is dated but kind of fun.

6 March 2016

5 March 2016

If job interviewees told the truth...

Clash of Republican con artists

Krugman has a great article that succinctly sums up the craziness of the Republican field.

4 March 2016

March 3rd Republican debate

Watching the March Republican debate, I was amazed at how vulgar the debates have become. We're literally down to conversations normally relegated to a corner of the junior high school men's locker room. The debate was disastrous for Trump. At one point, Fox News cornered him when they pulled up some numbers demonstrating that his claim that he'd magically balance the budget simply by eliminating waste was pure nonsense. (This is the perennial canard of the Republican right--this idea that fixing the budget will somehow be painless.) Of course, Fox News could have done the same for the entire Republican field who are spouting the same ideas with their disastrous track record over the last couple decades.