Recently in books Category

» Did you notice that the book I was pimping earlier this year [ » Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty ] was released last month and shot straight to #1 on Amazon? .. surprising everybody, myself included. ( "How do ya like me now?" )

Thomas PikettyPaul Solmon at PBS Newshour calls it »

"Perhaps the most unlikely bestseller in America." Remarkable, no?

Speaking of 'pimping' .. the very last college class I ever signed up for was » Marketing ..

.. cuz I could see that marketing (especially here in the States) is a big thing.

But I dropped that class .. cuz I didnt need it and wasnt feeling the vibe I expected.

[ Is marketing about the creativity associated with framing your product in the best possible light? Dealing with people's » wants and needs.

Or is it about » following » an » established » set » of » rules? ]

<ignore this intentional body-text marker>

This page is PART FOUR, continued from » Part Three. It was split into FOUR pages in order to adhere to principles of web site optimization. Here's the final page. Buckle up, Dorthy. Kansas is about to go » bye-bye...

Russian Serfs Freed in 1861» Notes from Underground

While you are there in Russia .. here is a little tidbit that I just found, that I just learned ..

.. that you might find interesting ..

.. is that Dostoevsky's novel » Notes From Underground [.. called the "first existential novel," ..

.. and also the book that "separates 19th century literature from 20th century literature" ..

.. and the book that Nietzsche claimed » "cried truth from the blood" ]..

.. and also the book that has been called » "the prelude" .. to his great novels.

This book is (effectively) a response .. an artistic response .. to a dude named Chernyshevsky (Nikolai, 7 years younger than Dostoevsky, and born the same year as Tolstoy) .. and his followers.

This Chernyshevsky was the leader of the Young Radicals (.. utopian socialists).

[ I'm not sure, but I think his name is pronounced » share-nih-SHEV-skee ]

This is the same guy (Nikolai Chernyshevsky) who wrote a book while in prison for "revolutionary activities" in 1862. ( Notes from Underground was published in 2 parts in January and April 1864. )

JFK (1917-1963) at the beach This book, written in prison in 1862, then published in 1863 .. is the very same book that Lenin said (several decades later) ..

.. turned him into the "confirmed revolutionary" that he eventually became.

[ I connect to these years by seeing them as early Dylan (in America) minus one century. Shit was stirring. Kennedy was assassinated in '63 (on 11-22).

In real-time, this was American Civil War years.

Note that the Russian serfs got their freedom in 1861 .. several years before American blacks technically got theirs. ]

The title of Chernyshev's book is » What Is to Be Done?

So .. it appears that Dostoevsky was opposing [ most vigorously ] the very guy [ and the very book ] who/that turned Ulyanov (Lenin) into Lenin [.. according to Lenin's own testimony].

Small world, no?

In Chernyshevsky's book, he writes a passage where he talks about wanting to make everybody happy. And he says, "Can you hear that, you in your underground hole?"

Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1864) cover jacket for Everyman's LibraryAt first, Dostoevsky was merely going to write a review on the book. But that would not do.

So, at age 42, he took up the challenge (of the man in the "underground hole") ..

.. and that is where he got the title for his book. Very clever. Cojones grande.

So it would seem .. that even back in the Nineteenth century .. there were things that made people ..

.. that compelled them [.. much as they'd rather not ] ..

.. to say, "Something needs to be said about this shit. Because it is taking our country in a very bad direction."

Chernyshevsky's views eventually won out (.. in the person of Lenin, 54 years later).

Why? Why is that? Why did Chernyshevsky's views germinate?

» This page is PART THREE, continued from » Part Two. It was split into FOUR pages in order to adhere to principles of web site optimization. Here you go...

» Young Ed Snowden: Courageous NSA Truth Teller (Verax)

You shouldnt be surprised to learn that I feel a sense of kinship with Ed Snowden. Yes, there are the obvious reasons ..

The Whistle of Truth.. such as a distaste for the government snooping up my butt and peeking over my shoulder.

.. but my sense of brotherhood goes beyond the obvious.

First, I like that he is (only) 29. Aaron, who was martyred for the cause earlier this year, was 26. So was Bouazizi.

Jesus was only 33 when the government nailed him to a tree. Young, no? (Young and strong. Lots of hiking .. and deep knee bends.)

[ Bouazizi is the young man who torched himself in the streets of Tunisia ..

.. over frustration encountered there, dealing with a corrupt government bureaucracy.

That was (quite literally) the spark that ignited the Arab Spring Revolutions ..

.. fires which continue to burn in the Middle East today, and which continue to spread to other nations.

Here is a pattern that you will, I'm sure, see more of » poor young boys getting fucked by rich old men produces social unrest.

Speaking of social unrest .. if Bush sent us into Iraq .. in order to bring 'democracy' to the people of Iraq (.. one of his many-splendored reasons) ..

.. then why wouldnt we want to help the people in neighboring Syria .. to help them liberate themselves .. from an oppressive regime ..

.. lead by a dictator who uses chemical weapons on his own people? (another one of the infinitely varied reasons that we used to invade Iraq and depose Saddam)

Or maybe we didnt go into Iraq to bring anything to anybody.

What's that smell? (Sniff, sniff.) Smells like .. the dung of hypocrisy. Must be a farm nearby.

Dr. J Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) | Father of the Atomic BombUpdate .. I have looked into the Syrian conflict a bit more and it seems very tricky.

Proceed with caution. Both Russia and China are standing up for the dictator ..

.. tho he seems far too soft-spoken to be a dictator. So I suspect others are running the show in Syria.

Dude, I looked up the Biblical term » Armageddon, and Google maps shows it being a mere 25- or 30-mile bike-ride away to Syria. For what it's worth.

But there has definitely been 'convergence' there. Rather global convergence. Coincidence?

In the context of Snowden, anyway, China and Russia appear to be on the SAME SIDE. No? I mean, regarding both Snowden and Syria.

Dear Goverments of the World (the 'nations'), we do not want to live in a post-apocalyptic world .. like the kind in that movie » Book of Eli with Denzel.

That would suk. Really suk.

The greatest mathematician of all time ran the numbers and said that we're good to an absolute maximum of 2060. In other words, 47 years.

He ran those numbers more than three centuries ago. </update>

Do you notice any patterns? All three men were/are in their twenties, all taking a stand in the name of their generation .. in the only way left them.

Since I have a second grader .. I am naturally concerned about the world we are leaving for our next generation.

My generation appears to be living high on the hog .. with its record level of debt (growing every minute .. of every day) and leaving the bill for our kids to pay.

» The Aloha Spirit on a Sportster in Paradise

Snowden lived in Hawaii. (He even pronounced the name of the state like a real Hawaiian.)

Diamond Head, Waikiki, HawaiiI lived in Hawaii (the Aloha State) for two years (.. tho half that time was spent underway).

So "the Aloha spirit" is something to which I can relate.

It was while I was in my twenties, also, when I was there. (I landed at Honolulu International one week after my 21st b-day.)

I had my Sportster there in Hawaii. [ The military shipped it from Hemingway's Idaho. ]

The Dog liked to ride it, too. (.. my roomie, who went on, a few years later to study at Columbia (.. Industrial Engineering).

Most impressive however, is what he got from reading the Core curriculum. The Dog can handle himself with ease in just about any discussion. With grace. Even when disagreeing, he shows how he can see your side, and makes you feel intelligent.

Some years later, the Dog earned a Masters degree from USC .. in Safety. Which cracks me up .. cuz, if you knew the Dog when *I* knew the Dog .. uh, safety is not something that readily comes to mind. Feel me? =)

[ Young Ed Snowden reminds me of the Dog, because they are both thoughtful and articulate. ]

I replaced the Sportster's stock wide-grip handle-bars with 'suicide' bars (handles closer together). Stick both your arms straight out and there are your grips. 1,000 cc's. Black.

Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarineLots of torque. Soo much torque. Not so much speed, as » power (torque).

When I reflect back on the glory days of my youth, when I was both bulletproof and invincible ..

.. I see myself on a black Sportster, cruising Kam Hwy in Oahu, on my way past Ala Moana ..

.. having just returned from operating a nuclear reactor on a military-grade ballistic missile submarine.

Not to mention running reactor water chemistry control there. Ego's ville.

"Who's your daddy?" I say to the Polynesian girl sitting in the convertible Ferrari next to me at the light.

"You are, of course," she says as I speed off down the road.

"Correct answer," I think to myself.

I won't even mention the sunglasses or the golden Waimea tan.

On the Sportster, my rice-burner friends would invariably leave my ass in the dust ..

.. but they always wanted to take the Sportster for a spin.

"What is this I keep hearing about Harley's legendary torgue? This putt .. that I keep hearing so much about?"

And I found their rice-burners dangerously-fast. You are at freakish speeds in 2 or 3 seconds .. not unlike you find with a Porshe 911/930 turbo. I call it "the slingshot effect".

[ Update 04 Dec - Certainly understandable how the death of Paul Walker occurred. He had a Porsche Carrera GT.

Dude, Porsche does not need to add any extra letters to the names of their cars. When they start adding extra letters, it's a warning.

It's like signing a waiver that you understand this thing is loaded .. and that you release the manufacturer from all liability.

When I returned the keys to my buddy's (George's) 930 Turbo .. I said, "Nice. Very nice. Too nice."

I could see that the thing would be so easy to get away from you. It was like a missile. A freaking rocket-powered missile.

Paul Walker (1973-2013)And you know how much I like performance.

George said that the guy he bought the car from used the phrase, "It's like driving a backwards dart." .. to describe the experience.

Because the heavy engine is mounted in the rear, and the light front end feels like it comes up off the ground when the slingshot kicks in.

It genuinely feels as tho the front wheels are NOT ON THE GROUND.

I could see right away that the car was too fast for me .. just like those rice-burner motorcycles that friends let me take for a spin around the block.

Something seemed to say » "Dude, owning one of these is like asking to be a grease spot" (.. to borrow a phrase from Vincent Vega).

But the fact that Paul Walker himself was not the one driving when the GT crashed .. reminded me of » Julie Allen.

In other words, you have to give him credit for that.

Paul's car was a half-a-million dollar car. George's car was not nearly that expensive, but still rediculously fast.

George ended up putting a lot of money into that car. Maintenance & repairs.

</end_04dec_update> ]

Thought I had died and gone to heaven there. (Paradise, literally.) Watching the sun rise over Diamond Head. "Pinch me."

I have always appreciated performance technology. I mean, it is a very cool thing .. for a young man in his twenties .. to start-up a reactor plant on a nuclear submarine (military-grade) ..

.. with a crew of 10 other dudes in their early twenties, from all over the nation, operate it as necessary, and then shut it back down when the ship returns to port. Flawlessly.

The reactor plant felt like MY reactor plant .. like OUR reactor plant .. turning mass into energy .. in accordance with » E=mc2. You can FEEL the power. The humming. The vibration. The noise. The roar. Home sweet home (.. for 4 years, anyway).

Tom Hanks as Viktor Navorski in The Terminal (by Steven Spielberg)» A Thoughtful & Articulate Young Man

But mostly .. I relate to Ed Snowden because he is thoughtful. Obviously thoughtful.

And articulate enough to convey that thoughtfulness.

Intelligent. Principled. And courageous enough to confront the enormity of another government bureaucracy run amok ..

.. even tho an execution [ "He slipped on a banana peel, honest. And he apparently landed on a bullet. Three times." ] would really surprise few honest souls.

[ How many of our government officials today do you think would be willing to die for our country? Precious few.

Heck, they won't even take responsibility for their oWn fuck-ups. "Blame it on the little guy. Find a private who we can pin this on." (Because we can, and because we don't take responsibility for our own fuck-ups.)

"And we do everything we can to avoid serving in the military when our own number comes up." ]

Nietzsche was thoughtful. Dostoevsky was thoughtful. Tolstoy waas thoughtful. Einstein was thoughtful. Aaron Swartz was thoughtful.

Snowden also seems to have been a migrant-worker of sorts. I myself was a Migrant Nuclear Worker for many years. Snowden appears to have been a Migrant Intelligence Worker. (Intelligence sounds much cooler than nuclear reactors.)

» The electronics revolution [.. a vital precursor to our own digital revolution of non-physical, non-atomic bits-n-bytes ] .. began with the invention of the triode vacuum tube in 1906 .. about the same time that Einstein discovered E=mc2 .. and some three years after George Orwell was born.

First transistor (1947)The solid-state transistor [ widely recognized as one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century ..

.. and an even more vital precursor to our digital revolution ] was invented in 1947 ..

.. same year that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Brooklyn .. and three years before Orwell died.

So George was there .. when it began. In other words, he was in position to see it coming. (Certainly he could feel it coming.)

Another, really-big, pre-digital-revolution invention came a decade later in 1959, with the microchip .. the integrated circuit. Unfortunately, George didnt live long enough to see that.

Another big invention came in 1971 with the Intel 4004, world's first (commercially available) microprocessor, which led directly to the CPUs you and I use today.

Speaking of CPUs .. you may be interested, by the way, to learn that today's processors from Intel contain 2.5 billion transistors ..

.. while graphics chips from nVidia contain 7 billion transistors. And you can be certain that tomorrow's processors will contain even more.

How big is 7 billion? Answer » if you start counting right now [ "One, two, three..." ], one number per second, it would take 222 years to reach 7 billion (.. counting 24 hours a day, with no sleep).

» Tubes Superseded by Transistors

Speaking of vacuum tubes and the solid-state transistor .. I had a friend growing up who purchased an old, used tube-based McIntosh receiver.

Vacuum tube[ His real name was Bob, but his Italian skin was such a dark shade of olive that everybody called him 'Julio' { 'WHOO-lee-oh } .. a popular Puerto Rican name. "Hey, Julio!"

Some audio enthusiasts feel that digital music loses 'warmth' that is present in analog recording. ]

McIntosh receivers [ not to be confused with the Macintosh computer, which we will touch upon later ] were never very stylish, but they still manufacturer some of the world's finest consumer audio electronics gear.

Julio cut off the metal top of his retro receiver and replaced it with a plexiglass cover .. so you could look down into the electronic guts and see the TUBES glowing.

It took a minute to warm up but produced marvelous audio fidelity. Very cool, specially for the vintage audiophile.

» Flexing Orwell's Muscles

George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (pub 1949) and his novella Animal Farm (1945) together "have sold more copies than any two books by any other 20th-century author."

Nineteen Eighty-Four is ranked #13 on Modern Library's list of the Hundred Greatest English Language Novels of the Twentieth Century. (Yes, of the entire century.) Animal Farm is ranked #31.

On the Reader's List, Nineteen Eighty-Four is ranked even higher at #6 and Animal Farm moves up eleven notches to #20.

Le Monde, which includes languages other than English, ranks Nineteen Eighty-Four at #22.

Big Brother looking over your shoulderNineteen Eighty-Four is even found on the list of the 100 Greatest Novels of All Tme. (In any language.) Ever.

Tho these titles are not listed numerically.

But who really cares about seating arrangements .. when you get to be in the same room with the likes of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Kafka.

Even today, more than 60 years after its publication, Nineteen Eighty-Four is still selling like crazy .. bouncing around Amazon's Top-100 Best Sellers list. Remarkable, no?

» The CIA, the FBI, the NSA & Establishing Secure Communications

Moving on to more current issues .. do you remember six months ago, when David Petraeus, then director of the CIA .. was discovered by the FBI to be engaged in an extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell?

Now, you might think that the head of the CIA would know a thing or two about how to establish secure communications.

Paula and her baby pythonsMy understanding is that they opened a web-based email account together .. but never actually sent any mail to or from this account.

They merely saved their composed messages as drafts ..

.. and each secret lover read what the other had written by logging into the account and opening the drafts saved there.

"Meet me at the love shack at sunset. Bring snorkel gear and pretzels. We shouldnt need much more."

[ If you have more details, such as which email service they used, let me know. ]

It wasnt until Paula sent a nastigram to that socialite-lady in Florida [ .. "Find your OWN general, b**ch. This one is mine. Don't make me unleash these baby pythons on your froufrou ass. Don't make me bust-open a can of military-grade whup-ass." ] ..

.. who knew somebody in/at the FBI .. who was able to trace the email. That's how they got caught. [ My sources tell me. =) ]

Whatever the gory details .. my point is » the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency was NOT ABLE to keep his most intimate and damning communications secure (private, confidential, secret, on the down-low).

[ I do not judge these people. No, sir. Who among us has not done scandalous things to our regret?

Honestly now .. what 60-year-old man (general or otherwise) would not be absolutely thrilled (tickled pink) to discover he is desired by a 39-year-old hard-body? ..

.. that he is found physically attractive .. by a former homecoming queen and valedictorian, no less? (Not just another pretty face.)

So we need to cut the General some slack. Have mercy, child. He's only human.

Paula was so attracted that she was willing to risk and put up her marriage .. as earnest of her flaring passions. (Guess we could say the same about him.) ]

Now, we also know that it was Paula who sent off the email(s) that led to the former general getting caught (.. with his 4-star fingers in Paula's impressively muscular cookie jar). A mitigating circumstance?

<ignore this intentional body-text marker>>

Gatsby, the Great American Masterpiece

» F. Scott Fitzgerald did not know, while writing The Great Gatsby (pub 1925), that the stock market Crash of '29 (and subsequent Great Depression) approacheth nigh. Nor could he ..

.. barring some divine, prophetic instinct .. or perhaps an artist's sense of intuition.

The artist, they say, is the antennae of the culture (Ezra Pound, perhaps?). Does the range of their sensitive antennae extend to things financial and economic? (Or simply catastrophic?)

If you have never read the book that Modern Library ranks #2 on its list of The Best English Language Novels of the Twentieth Century [100 novels, 100 years, 1 language] ..

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, pub 1925.. and that others rank #1, then this is a perfect time. Most opportune. (And all for only 190 pgs.)

Cuz Baz will be releasing his vision of the Gatsby story in another week or two (.. starring Leo).

That gives you just enough time to bust a cinematic move on opening night. (~15 pages/day.)

Might be fun to leave the ending unread .. so you will be surprised at the theater.

[ Must be lots of people with the same idea, cuz I noticed that the book is fluctuating between #1 and #2 on Amazon's Best Sellers list. (Scroll down halfway to where it says 'Product Details'.) ]

» The Roaring 1920's vs The _____ 2020's

I must admit, the timing here does indeed feel TIMELY .. does it not? Because for you, me, and most everybody else .. the 20's is our very next decade. Ready or not, it lies next in line.

It is the decade currently on-deck .. currently waiting there for us on the stormy horizon of time .. to hurry up and finish our current-decade (now one third thru).

How will our twenties compare to those of Fitzgerald's age? To the Roaring Twenties [.. see t=2:05 ] to the decade of the days when the "restlessness approached hysteria." (Yowzah!)

I heard Grandma Rita say [ at t=3:15 ] about the Roaring Twenties » "People believed everything was going to be great always. There was an optimism in the air that you cannot even describe today."

That sounds a lot like » "If you weren't there, you can't even *imagine* what it was like." [ Try me, grandma. ]

A great opportunity, I think, to compare-n-contrast and perhaps even see if we can recognize any similarities or corresponding patterns ..

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerld, pub 1925.. because, in looking ahead to the future, we instinctively LOOK BACK to the past ..

.. as we attempt to plot the trajectory of our society, of our culture, of our way of life.

We seek insights, telling signs, that illuminate the angle of our ascent (or descent) among the nations .. our direction, our slope, our velocity, our rate-of-change, both short-term and longer term.

You get the feeling, reading Gatsby, that Fitzgerald realized what a remarkable age it was.

[ thanks in part no doubt to Zelda, a southern belle, tho she was surprisingly wild, being the daughter of an austere Alabama Supreme Court justice.

Remind me later to tell the story that ends with a teenage Zelda responding to her daddy's 2AM question by saying » "Isnt't this the time that all hussies come home?" ]

And that he therefore wanted to c.a.p.t.u.r.e the essence of his sparkling time .. of his magical age, of his too-good-to-be-true era .. about all this wonderful shit going on and on for ever and ever ad infinitum .. 'til kingdom come.

This Age of Permanent Prosperity. To capture the euphoric optimism as best possible. As artistically as possible. To bottle it in a book. In a novel. So future generations will to be able to sample for themselves a taste of the sparkling effervescence of the roaring twenties.

» This page is PART FOUR, continued from » Part Three. It was split into FOUR pages in order to adhere to principles of web site optimization.

And now, without further commercial interruption, the conclusion of » Dostoevsky, Aaron Swartz and the Broken Butterfly of Tomorrow. Here you go...

Baloo & Mogli | Jungle Book» Parenting & Paraphrasing

So I identify with Aaron, easily .. with parenting representing the most significant difference.

[ I could be wrong, but I do not think Aaron had children. ]

The threat-of-jail pales beside the threat of losing your son. Tho I must say .. that I was faced with mere days, possibly weeks. Not months or possibly years, like young Aaron. ]

The threat of losing your child fucks with your head .. in a far more exquisite manner. In my opinion. Straight to the looney farm.

The thing with jail is that .. it is the FEAR-of-the-unknown that fucks with your head. The p-r-o-l-o-n-g-e-d fear is definitely worse than jail itself. (In my admittedly limited opinion.)

And yes, jail does indeed suk very badly. But any experience with institutions should help there.

That 'parenting' thing .. seems to run below / underneath the part of us that rationalizes.

Cuz I recall that my thinking was obviously severely distorted on one level .. yet remarkably lucid on another.

My clearest recollection .. was that of feeling literally 6 feet under .. as tho I were ALREADY dead .. and as tho I was looking UP at the ground .. at the zero point.

<ignore this intentional body-text marker>

» This page is PART THREE, continued from » Part Two. It was split into FOUR pages in order to adhere to principles of web site optimization. Here you go...

» Aaron Swartz Hangs Himself in NYC on January 11

Aaron Swartz hangs himself in NYC on January 11, 2013UPDATE - Oh, this is sad. Very sad. I just saw that Aaron Swartz hung himself today. At age 26. In New York City. (Brooklyn.) January 11th, 2013.

Such promise. Such remarkable promise. What a loss. What a colossal loss .. for the cause .. of sanity against insanity.

Of certainty against uncertainty. Of freedom against incarceration. Of life against death.

A beacon in the darkness .. extinguished, silenced forever.

It may surprise you, Mr. U.S. Justice Man, but some people actually need a reason a live .. and you took his away.

When unrighteous shit like this happens to our brothers, to our prophets .. we need to cry out .. to make it know .. that we DO NOT AGREE with our ancestors deeds.

Therefore, let it be known unto you. Let this serve as a solemn protest.

» Fight of the Ages!

Announcer: "Ladies and gentlemen, in THIS corner! .. we have » Yesterday!" [ crowd cheers with wild enthusiasm ]

"And in the OTHER corner, we have » Tomorrow!" [ crowd curiously silent ]

Confused-sounding Announcer » "Uh .. something seems to have happened to Tomorrow."

Tomorrow has been persecuted (by Yesterday) so savagely .. that Tomorrow said, "Fuck it!"

The endangered Schaus swallowtail butterfly (male)Tomorrow is a butterfly that has been broken over a wheel.

A beautiful butterfly, broken over an ugly wheel.

A very ugly wheel. A corrupt ugly wheel .. that discriminates against youth .. on the behalf of age.

Do you not recognize .. can't you see .. that Tomorrow is being sacrificed .. for the sake of Yesterday?

From my perspective, it is not difficult to see. Not at all difficult. Because clearly, Yesterday can vote ..

.. while Tomorrow can't. And you only seem to care about getting (re)elected. That's sad. Very sad (.. especially for Tomorrow).

You know .. if the government were smart, it would have funded a Research Group .. and made Aaron the director. Just imagine what effect that remarkable young man might have had ..

. on technology that increases efficiency .. and that helps people everywhere become more efficient ..

.. sort of like, you know » Steve Jobs, Mr. Apple himself. Patriarch of one of our nation's largest companies.

Aaron already HAS contributed to our nation (.. and the entire world) .. things which have had a positive effect. But you dont seem to value his contributions .. as much as the ones by those who MAKE MONEY.

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)Perhaps this is why our economy is still sputtering after .. years, now. Why it is only benefitting a select few.

Perhaps .. in their fear of radically new things / technologies ..

.. they are unwittingly stifling good old fashioned Unites States creative ingenuity.

I don't understand why you continue to focus all of your energy on bullshit .. and ignore the real problems facing our nation and our economy.

You need more vision .. than just what you can see leading up to the next election cycle. I think the term for your condition is » myopia. Political myopia.

[ And you need to grow some cojones while you work on fixing the vision problem. Obama needs to grow the courage to follow the law .. just like you & me .. and all the other "little people".]

» The Weight of a Suicide .. of a Geek's Geek

I did not know Aaron, but this grieves me .. more than I expected. I needed to go for a walk. The weight was surprising. (Perhaps because this comes so soon after Newtown. Less than a month. Maybe I am still grieving for those 20 first-graders.)

What a stark reminder that human beings have limits .. to the bullshit they can endure .. especially those who are more human than most.

Even a cursory look at the circumstances and the comments coming in from around the world make it easy for me to identify with him. Because he was Geek's geek ..

.. caught up in an heartless legal system .. that was bound and determined .. to grind him into sausage meat .. without any regard for the need for human dignity. "If you dare disagree with the Overlord$, you are not even worthy of human dignity."

It seems as tho our government cannot tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. As Harvard professor, Lessig [ who knew Aaron since Aaron was just a kid ] said »

"Remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House -- and where even those brought to "justice" never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled "felons."

Alan Turing | Father of Computer Science (1912-1954)I admit .. this kind of shit (injustice, inequality) pisses me off. It frosts my ass. Because it clearly isnt right.

Aaron stood for what I myself stand for. So it feels like a part of me has died .. under nasty circumstances. Horribly nasty.

Light a candle, ye Geeks. A candle of remembrance. The flame will speak.

Meanwhile Jon Corleozonie .. you know » Mr-Uh-I-somehow-LOST-$1.6-Billion-Dollars-of-Other-People's-Money .. has never even been charged with a crime.

[ Not hard to find victims THERE, is it, Jonnie? Because they have lined up .. and line disappears around the block.

The Authorities: "What's that, Jon? You lost a few billion of other people's money? No problem. Hey, shit happens, bro."

Meanwhile, the same Authority a little later: "Hey you over there .. with the 6-pack tucked under your arm. Dont make me tase you, dude." ]

How do we reconcile such vast disparity in justice? We can't. It is merely one-more-spotlight .. on the sad fact .. that our government has been co-opted. Clearly the wealthy-few OWN our government. And therefore they own us.

You set yourselves up as gods when you do that » "We-up-here, above the law, can do whatever the fuck we like. While you chumps down there in Sausage-land .. have different rules. Sausage-manufacturing rules. Make more sausage faster."

» Bouazizi & Swartz » Both 26 when they Committed Suicides-of-Despair

Do you not recognize similarities with Mohamed Bouazizi, the kindly street vendor who torched himself in the streets of Tunisia .. which became the event that led to the outrage that ignited the Arab Spring?

Mohamed Bouazizi (1984-2011).. who also died, coincidentally, at age 26 .. exactly two years and one week ago. And the fires are still raging there in the Middle East.

The same age Einstein was the year (1905) when he kicked maximum scientific ass .. while working in his SPARE TIME, no less ..

.. as a 3rd rate patent clerk .. because he could not land a teaching job, despite countless applications, nor even get into a PhD program.

The world is still trying to comprehend the implications of Einstein's muscular throw-down when he was just 26 years old. (Still.)

I also can't help but think of Alan Turing, the Father-of-Computer-Science, who committed suicide .. by eating a cyanide-laced apple .. after his government had him chemically castrated (.. for homosexuality) ..

in lieu of imprisonment .. after he played a major role in helping them win World War II .. by breaking the German Naval Enigma code (.. at Bletchly Park). No good deed goes unpunished.

Rumor has it that Alan's poison apple is where Apple Computer got its logo .. an apple with a single bite missing.

British government: "Thanks for helping us win the war, Alan. Looks like it's now time to cook your nuts now, seeing that we have no more wars for you to help us win. Thank-you for your service at Bletchley Park and cracking the German Enigma code that helped us win the war."

Dude, chemical castration .. is like dropping your 'nads into a pot of boiling water .. and leaving them there until they're well done. Hard-boiled.

That's what the British government did .. to one of the twentieth century's greatest geeks. So I'm not very surprised that he chose to kill himself (.. just like Aaron did).

[ I know it's hard to believe.. but governments have done worse shit than that. Waay worse. ]

» Warning Delivered | Warning Ignored | Momma Wizard Not Happy

Okay .. I tried to warn them » "Do NOT piss off the Geeks," I told them. I tried. You can lead a horse to water. I feel like I failed. Utterly.

Okay, here's what I said May 15th (.. copy-n-paste):

Guy Fawkes Anonymous MaskSo you've been busy. But .. if you piss them off, they will come after your ass. And they have special powers. You will RUE the day, my friend. Mark my words.

Because they are not forgiving, like me (« Mr. Niceguy). No, sir. Like an angry African wasp, they will sting .. and KEEP stinging ..

.. until their asses are good-n-sore. (That's why you dont want to provoke them.)

If they get really pissed, they will come after your ass .. with a vengeance. And then you're fucked. (Give me points for clarity. Ozy sends his best.)

Interesting, no? .. that Ozy was published on this exact date (January 11th) 195 years ago (1818).

Tho I also added:

I am not one of these wizards, no. (Not hardly.) But I understand them. I can FEEL them (.. we must share some of the same geeky chromosomes). Thermo-nuclear bonding, you might say.

This is how I know that you are in trouble. And I'm here to help (.. cue audio track of cavalry bugle cry amid the sound of galloping hooves). Consider it a lifeline.

So it's not like they werent warned. And I TOLD you they were wizards .. didnt I? [ Momma wizard is going to be verrry angry. ]

You probably already know this .. but for the benefit of our obviously-clueless government officials » "Dude, there is a tsunami coming." I dont know when it will make landfall .. but it will not be pretty. You might wanna look around for something sturdy to grab hold of.

» Stand the Fuck By

Mushroom cloudAnd you thought Sandy was bad. "Stand the fuck by."

Dylan wrote "It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls." Unfortunately, Dylan never said when.

Japan had 9 minutes. The clock has started. Tickety-tock went the clock.


Update - Jan 26, 2013. Oh, I just saw » THIS .. Anonymous' response to the government's handling of Aaron Swartz (.. very well articulated, as usual) ..

.. which ends with a promise » "Not this time. This time there will be change or there will be chaos."

Give them points for clarity. Two weeks to the day. That was quick. Easy to see the 'love' they put into it.

I have been trying to tell you .. that they do not think like you. (And they seem to have the patience of a saint.)

Part of the art & craft of Writing, as I see it, is to convey the most .. in either the clearest, most efficient, or most artistic way .. depending on the desired result and your intended audience.

So I caught myself admiring the sentence construction. Nobody will be able to claim that their position was ambiguous. Certainly more tasteful than I would have done.

I find it noteworthy that Henry Miller wrote » "Dostoevsky is chaos and fecundity" .. implying that, in the writing of the Russian, the two forces meet to create a » "vortex in the bubbling maelstrom." In other words » humanity.

If you were selected to write the one sentence that was to initiate the countdown sequence to doomsday .. that would be it. =)

I jest of course, but it's the truthful undercurrent that makes it funny. Actually, the last two sentences go together. The repetition made me think of Hemingway.


<ignore this intentional body-text marker>

» This page is PART TWO, continued from » Part One. It was split into FOUR pages in order to adhere to principles of web site optimization. Here you go...

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)» Who is this DostoYEVsky dude?

"Who?" I interrupted and asked. But the officer [off-going EOOW] wanted to continue with his original train of thought.

So I waited a little and asked again. =)

"Who's this dahs-tuh-YEF-skee dude?"

My recollection of his answer goes something like »

"He's a Russian novelist from the 19th century who wrote about subjects that are DARK, such as Crime and Punishment. He had remarkable psychological insight. He could see into your soul."

The word 'dark' was the thing that stuck out. My curiosity was piqued .. because I found myself wondering » "Why would anybody want to write about a dark subject? Because who would ever READ about such a thing?"

I remember walking away and thinking to myself, "Crime and punishment .. that is a HORRIBLE topic. Nobody in their right mind would ever want to read about crime and certainly not about punishment."

[ Key phrase » in their 'right mind'. ]

The thoughts continued to come as I ducked thru the water-tight door, heading forward to the mess decks .. with the aroma of grease-burgers growing stronger.

[ The officers eat by themselves, with the captain and the XO .. not with us lowly enlisted folks. Heck, even the chiefs won't eat with us. They eat in the "goat locker." ]

"This Dostoevsky dude must be very strange," I thought. And I wondered what events in someone's life could make them such an expert on the disk-side .. that they are able to write entire novels on the subject.

[ That is obviously a dangerous rabbit-hole-of-a-question, my friend. =) So let's go take a look .. and see where this wormhole leads. ]

Clearly, there was something I did not understand. But at 21, there's a lot you dont understand. You just don't know it. (Yet.)

Perhaps it is worth noting .. that the first time I heard the name 'Dostoevsky' .. I was standing on a large movable object .. specifically designed to rain down death and destruction .. on a scale never before seen on the planet (.. should the need arise).

So you could call it » The Exterminator. (The life exterminator.)

Tho officially [ repeat after me ] .. "I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons aboard this United States naval vessel."

And over the years .. I would hear this distinctive Russian name mentioned .. you know, here and there .. from time to time.

But every time .. the thought would come » "There's something there .. something you might want to look into .. if you have cojones grande sufficientcio. A taunting distant echo » 'Are you afraid of the dark?'."

Martin Luther King Jr (1929-1968)» The Great Prophet of the Twentieth Century

And these mentionings always contained a bit of fright in the person who uttered the name ..

.. as tho he would immediately run away, shouting over his shoulder, "He's coming! Run!"

Yes, I exaggerate, but that's the mood I remember. Dostoevsky's name only arises in certain types of conversations.

And this was before I learned that the French existential philosopher Albert Camus [ ca-'moo, 1913-1960 ] called Dostoevsky "the great prophet of the twentieth century".

But the thing I dont get is .. Dostoevsky [1821- 1881] never lived in the twentieth century. He died nearly two decades shy. So how can he be "the great prophet of the 20th century"? See my point?

Is Albert saying that Dostoevsky was ABLE TO SEE INTO .. the next century? Sure would seem that way.

But if Dostoevsky is "the Great Prophet of the Twentieth Century" .. then who is the Great Prophet of the Twenty-First Century? .. the century in which you and I live.

I'll return to this question later. For now, I am merely cocking back our slingshot .. so later we can let the smooth stone fly .. with added velocity.

Yours truly» I am thinking of a book. Try to guess the name of the novel I have in mind.

I will give you a hint. My hint is an excerpt extracted from the Wikipedia entry for this title. So see if this next sentence rings a bell »

"Acclaimed the world over .. by intellectuals as diverse as .. Freud, Einstein, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Cormac McCarthy and Kurt Vonnegut .. as one of the supreme achievements in literature."

Supreme achievement? Uh, do you mean as in » 'EV-vuh'? As in » the-history-of-the-planet? Homo sapiens ultimo maximus?

Like » near or at the top of what our species has been able to accomplish in literature? .. a species whose trajectory-of-civilization has been defined by centuries of intellectual development.

The only species capable of inventing symbolic written language and using it to communicate among themselves. "Bonjour."

Such big words. My goodness. Any ideas? Care to venture a guess? Give up?

The KEY word in that excerpt, I think » diverse. There you have writers, yes, of course, but also very prominent philosophers, plus a psychologist [ » thee Psychologist of our most recently completed century ] ..

.. and even a physicist. Not just any physicist. No, sir. Rather thee physicist .. of the 20th century ..

Dr. J Robert Oppenheimer | Father of the Atomic Bomb (1904-1967)[ I say that with all due respect to Oppenheimer, who I hear was also a big fan of my mystery author ..

.. and who gave away copies of this other title (by the same author) to friends as a birthday present ..

.. a title, which, I hear, is "the best book ever written" on the subject of Revolutionary Conspiracy.

"Here's a little something I think you might enjoy. Happy birthday, dawg. How about another martini?" ]

.. not to mention that Einstein was declared Time magazine's » Person-of-the-Century.

You must admit .. that would be an impressive collection of signatories .. adding their John Hancocks to your already towering bona fides ..

.. seeing we could easily add to the list luminaries such as » Hemingway, Chekhov, Joyce, Sartre, Virginia Woolf, and EM Forester. More big names.

Regarding the original six, I could not, for example, have more respect for Cormac McCarthy (.. as a writer, as an author, and as a brave man). For me, Cormac is like Elijah-the-prophet .. in that he » turns the heart of the fathers to the children.

 » Harold Bloom Chokes Twice on Blood Meridian Before Speaking

Speaking of Cormac McCarthy .. the inside-flap of my Modern Library copy of Blood Meridan [thanks to Paula, who gave me her new copy, which she could not read] says »

"Widely considered one of the finest novels by a living writer, Blood Meridan is an epic tale of the violence and corruption that attended America's westward expansion .. I venture that no other living American novelist, not even Pynchon, has given us a book as strong and memorable."

America's most celebrated literary critic, Harold Bloom calls Blood Meridan "the greatest single book since Faulkner's As I Lay Dying" [which was published back in 1930, 83 years ago]. There's an eyebrow-raising statement, no?

Cormac McCarthy (1933- ) | The Real DealBlood Meridian is not an easy novel to read. Even the celebrated Bloom himself choked on it during his first attempt. His first *two* attempts, actually.

Here are Harold's own words (taken straight from the novel's 8-page Introduction):

"I will begin by confessing that my first two attempts to read through Blood Meridian failed, because I flinched from the overwhelming carnage that McCarthy portrays.

The violence begins on the second page, when the fifteen-year-old-kid is shot in the back and continues almost with no respite until the end, thirty years later, when Judge Holden, the most frightening figure in all of American literature [.. sentence trucated due to spoiler]."

You have to steel yourself before cracking open a McCarthy novel (.. or you will choke) .. for the same reason that you don't set a t-bone steak before an infant.

It's like you have to go into training before taking on Cormac. Good luck. He has no mercy on your soul.

Only the courageous dare to attempt one of McCarthy's darker novels .. and even then at their own peril. The literary gods will gladly administer last rites to those determined to assimilate one of those. America's most celebrated Literary Critic himself twice required resusitation.

But what about some of those other names we find referenced there in my Wikpedia excerpt?

» Einstein Peels Back the Skin of Reality Itself

Einstein is almost certainly the greatest mind of the twentieth century, no? E=mc2. Relativity. Wave/particle duality. Quantum mechanics. The illusion of time. Truly mind-bending shit. Major cranial torqueage.

[ I can almost see Uncle Fester with his bald head jammed in a vice .. saying to Einstein, "Hey Albert, be a sport and give it another turn, will ya?"

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)E=mc2 is the reason I wanted to learn about reactors. "Show me how you boys make that E out of the m using the c-squared thingie."

Like magic, a nuclear reactor turns matter (mass) into energy. A very little mass (.. known technically as the mass defect) .. into energy. Very MUCH energy.

Notice that the c-squared is over on the mass-side of the equals sign, helping it to make LOTS of energy.

Yes, it's true that real matter actually disappears. No mas. Adios matter. Hello energy.

That, my friend, is what you call » power (turning matter into energy) .. a truly remarkable thing to behold .. especially when done on an industrial scale .. and in a highly controlled fashion.

And even more remarkable when the fashion is less controlled. ]

The way that Einstein was able to peel-back the very skin itself of (perceived) reality and say, "Dude, check this out! You won't believe what I found. Lookie here. Aint that some shit." .. is the reason why he is generally considered thee Baddest Dude of the entire 20th century.

And here's the kicker » Einstein did this shit IN HIS HEAD! (As if he werent already intellectually impressive enough.) His mind was like a super-collider. (Powerful enough to destroy centuries of well-entrenched classical ideas.)

<ignore this intentional body-text marker>

Tolstoy, Anna Karenina & Moral Judgment

» What makes so many writers consider Anna Karenina the greatest novel written? .. in any language .. ever!

The short answer » Tolstoy. A better answer » the Tolstoys .. which includes his WIFE » Sophia [.. and not unlike the Hitchcocks, who directed the greatest FILM ever ].

Tolstoy's Anna Karenina starring Keira KnightleyThe movie / film is being released this Friday (the 16th) .. starring Keira Knightley & Jude Law.

The book has been made into film at least a dozen other times .. the most critically acclaimed version coming in 1935, starring Garbo.

I may go see the newly updated release (.. with Count Petraeus & Princess Paula in mind). [ Petraeus' Light Punishment. ]

Anna Karenina is what made Tolstoy Tolstoy. Certainly a big part of that making. Anna's unspoken subtext .. concerns the moral judgment that people (society) tend to cast on their fellow (wo)man ..

.. when we should perhaps REFRAIN.

As you surely know, this 'refraining' business can be terribly difficult. A feat of sorts. Maybe even impossible .. especially for judgmental, holier-than-thou types. The self-righteous.

[ Back in my nuclear days, I used to be critical and judgmental of the imperfections of others .. cuz I myself was flawless (.. and of course, I knew better than everybody else).

Today however, I am more forgiving and understanding. More compassionate. Much more. Not because I am more flawed, but because I "understand" more.

"I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now."

Tho there are still a few things that really frost my ass. Even Jesus had limits to the bullshit he could endure (..tho adultery doesnt seem to be one of them). ]

» Portrayed Not as Guilty, But as Deserving Only Pity

Tolstoy began his story .. in the spring of 1873 .. with the express intention .. to portray his heroine (Anna) NOT as guilty .. but as deserving only pity & compassion ..

Tolstoy's Anna Karenina starring Keira Knightley.. hence the biblical quote he sticks at the very beginning .. as a tone setter (quoting God Himself) » Vengeance is Mine. I will repay.

Pity & compassion for an adultress? Really? How do you do *that*? That would be a good trick.

[ Having grown up Catholic, I know all about both guilt and guilt-trips. Both parents attended Catholic grade school.

The nuns taught them well. Excellent students were they. So you could say I was raised by experts. =) Makes me qualified to comment on the subject. ]

In the Bridges of Madison County, for example, Waller condemns both his characters to live out their remaining years in dreary, yet dutiful nostalgia. (After you've been to the summit of Mt Intimacy or Mt Ecstasy .. what else is there? Where do you go from there? Because nobody can stay there, permanently.)

You will have to read Tolstoy's novel yourself .. to determine whether you think he succeeded. Tolstoy himself "struggled bitterly" with the story [ .. published in the Russian Messenger, in 8 serial installments, from 1873 to 1877 ] .. wanting to punish Anna the Adulteress for her infidelity.

This is why the translator [ Richard Pevear ] includes the following tone-setting passage from Yeats at the beginning of his intro.

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric.
But of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.

Anna Karenina is Tolstoy's poetry. His "first true novel" .. where being 'ordinary' suks [ is considered "most terrible" ].

It was as tho one part of him [ the part that loved her ] wanted only pity & compassion for her .. while another [ the part that hated her ] .. wanted to throw her under a bus .. uh, I mean, a train.

Leo Tolstoy | 1828-1910And these two went to war .. in Tolstoy's soul. And the compassionate part won. [ We'll call that part 'Anna'. ]

» Tolstoy the Ultimate Family Man

You must understand that life, for Tolstoy, was all about » family.

Family happiness, he felt, represented the "highest human ideal."

Nabokov [ who taught classes on Anna Karenina, both at Wellesley and later at Ivy League Cornell ] said that Tolstoy "considered two married people with children as tied together by divine law forever".

In other words, Tolstoy was Old School .. what some might call 'conservative'. And he purposefully went after the Liberal Intelligencia (nihilists) .. who were badmouthing the family.

But he didnt stop there. No, sir. Rather he went after countless other purveyors of bullshit. He was definitely in the mood. Definitely inspired.

Something about Anna obviously inspired him. He named his "first-ever novel" after her. That is no ordinary honor. Your name on the cover .. of what has come to be known as the greatest novel ever written.

Dostoevsky, for example, the only author to place 4 titles on the list of the 100 Greatest Books of All Time - in any language [ the same list upon which Tolstoy and Shakespeare each placed 3 titles ], and who was 7 years older than Tolstoy, called Anna Karenina a "flawless" work of art.

Tolstoy wrung out his soul for her. And Anna rewarded him .. with inspiration and insight. And in the end (.. tho he surely loved her) .. he killed her.

Did he kill her because he HAD to? .. or because he WANTED to? In other words, what was his » inner motivation?

Tolstoy has already stated from day-1 that his intention was to present Anna NOT as guilty .. but rather in a light that cast only » pity. So .. if Tolstoy really did intend to portray Anna as NOT GUILTY .. why is she dead? =)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the books category.

blogging is the previous category.

current events is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.