Afghanistan

Reason Morning Links: Cells, Spending, Sanctions, and Salinger

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• A breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

• Nancy Pelosi wants to extend the spending freeze to the military budget.

• The president proposes a package of tax credits aimed at encouraging more hiring.

• The Senate extends the debt ceiling by another $1.9 trillion.

• The Senate passes new sanctions on Iran.

• NATO troops kill an Afghan cleric by mistake.

• The Justice Department seeks a new venue for the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial.

• J.D. Salinger, RIP.

NEXT: Friday Funnies

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    1. Remember when I told you I would kill you last? I lied.

      1. Fuck you, asshole.

        Fuck YOU, asshole.

  1. Holy shit! Pelosi has a halfway decent proposal for once. Think she’s serious?

    1. I see what you did there.

    2. It would only be “halfway decent” if it applied to entitlements. All I hear is a distant faint buzzing noise when somebody tries to talk to me about fiscal responsibility while ignoring entitlements. It’s like giving a retrospective on William Shatner’s career and omitting Star Trek.

  2. The president proposes a package of tax credits aimed at encouraging more hiring.

    She is just pandering for the H&R vote.

    1. ACK! Meant to quote this: Nancy Pelosi wants to extend the spending freeze to the military budget.

    1. I think it was Mark Twain who defined a “classic” as a book that people praise but don’t read.

      1. Oh, but a whole shit load of people have read Catcher. Salinger meant a lot to me (though not quite as much as he apparently meant to Mark David Chapman)in my youth. It must be something to produce one thin volume like that and be able to live off it for the rest of your life.

        1. I have to add that I found an old photo of my late (by about 15 years), absent father in which he looks virtually identical to Salinger in his handful of publicity photos. Doesn’t mean anything, but it’s just weird.

        2. Did they quote you in The Onion? lol

  3. The Justice Department seeks a new venue for the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial.

    So much for the “these colors don’t run” slogan. These colors run, sometimes around in circles.

    1. I want to hope they were listening to their constituents, but my guess is they are listening to influential insiders.

      1. I can’t imagine that they care about their constituents.

        I’m not sure who to laugh at harder, them or the tough-guy neocons who’ve been bleating about what a terrible danger these trials will pose. Either way, it’s funny to contemplate the “world’s great hyperpower” being bitch-slapped around by a few raggedy dudes.

    2. I am hoping for San Francisco where they can be released to people friendly with their cause after they win their trials.

    3. I don’t understand the purpose of these trials. If we’re at war, they should’ve just summarily executed captured insurgents who aren’t abiding by the Geneva Convention. If they weren’t ever willing to do that, why call it a war in the first place?

      1. The trials are a lie. It’s to “prove” that Obama has changed Bush’s policies even though everyone knows he hasn’t.

        1. Same with that Palestinian-Virginian terrorist that shot people and killed a baby in Ft. Hood.

  4. NATO troops accidentally kill an Afghan cleric.

    Hardly a fair fight: full auto weapons vs. a mace.

    1. +1 Strength for the next two rounds.

    2. They are making our soldiers use mace against AK-47’s now? Way not fair! Get away from NATO.

    3. They left out the part where the battle was 9 hours since the damn cleric kept up a complete heal rotation. They had to run him out of mana.

      1. Caption in Dragon magazine underneath a pic of two guys fighting:

        A: This duel is pointless.
        B: It better be, we’re both Clerics.

        1. Better than Friday Funnies.

    4. I dunno, if he was high-ranking enough he could’ve known Cause Death. That’s a pretty nasty thing to run up against.

  5. J.D. Salinger, RIP.

    So can we now get the sequel published in the US?

    1. It would be interesting to see if the book can finally be released.

      Salinger was a kook about his copyright. I sometimes wonder what he thought about millions of kids reading is book every year, and writing fan-fiction, letters, criticism, lit analysis and inspired-verse.

      I suppose since those kids aren’t publishing their work, he was OK with it.

      I still don’t know how I feel about Catcher. I teach it every year and have probably read it 17 or 18 times by now, and I still vacillate between sympathy for Holden and frustration with him.

      1. I still vacillate between sympathy for Holden and frustration with him

        Then Salinger’s work is done. 🙂

  6. a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to brief reporters on the plan in advance of the president’s announcement.

    What the fuck?

  7. Salinger was interested in alienation from the mainstream and unfulfilled potential–especially of precocious children–in his fiction and extreme leave-me-alone-ism in his personal life. In someways, he might be the perfect libertarian author.

    1. Lately, I’ve tended to read all literature through a libertarian lens, and Catcher is my most recent re-read since I just finished the teaching unit on the book.

      Perhaps one of Catcher’s more potent themes is the indictment of communities that come together without bad intent, but end up creating a pernicious cycle of ostracism to outliers.

      We just finished a project where my kids had to diagnose Holden with some mental illness – they had to do the research and provide medical and textual evidence for it. Then I introduced them to Thomas Szasz and asked them to reconsider Holden as someone who is making a conscious choice versus being a victim of some phantom illness. Their little heads were twirling and we had a great debate in class that day. One of those moments that makes being a teacher a real joy.

      1. Was that attitude common for writers of his era? Seems today that fan fiction is mostly encouraged and it is rare for a writer to object.

        1. Ugh! That comment was supposed to go up there under your 8:53 comment.

          1. skip your coffee this morning suki?

            1. You must be psychic! Just now half way through first cup.

        2. As recently as June 2009, Salinger was filing injunctions against the publication of 60 Years Later, the “sequel” to Catcher. Salinger objected to the use of his style, character, narrative style, etc. and said it was a blatant attempt to usurp his copy rights and make money off of something he created.

          Salinger would not sell film rights to Catcher either, and he tried to prohibit the publication of various memoirs and biographies. He did not seem to see imitation as flattery at all; to him it was theft and trading on his name.

          1. I can understand not selling movie rights. On a “it’s his right” basis I can understand not licensing the work for movies or other shows.

            Do the creator’s property rights actually get eroded when others create works inspired by his? Could he lose part of his copyright, like in trademark cases?

            1. No. The use-it-or-lose-it rule applies only to trademarks, not copyrights.

              1. Thank you Jesse.

                So, when writers go through all these legal contortions to prevent others from using their characters, etc., it is just a big hissie fit facilitated by lawyers and judges?

                I only tried the fan fiction once and it was with the cooperation of the true author of the original series. I don’t see how you writers do this every day.

                1. This site provides a nice summary of the guidelines for determining fair use.

                  http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/in…..pypol2.htm

                  See rule two:

                  2. If the work is protected, do you wish to exercise one of the owner’s exclusive rights?
                  Make a copy (reproduce)
                  Use a work as the basis for a new work (create a derivative work)
                  Electronically distribute or publish copies (distribute a work)
                  Publicly perform music, prose, poetry, a drama, or play a video or audio tape or a CD-ROM, etc. (publicly perform a work)
                  Publicly display an image on a computer screen or otherwise (publicly display a work)

                  The author of an original work has copyright control over the use of his/her characters in a derivative work.

                  1. As an exercise of the student, determine if my post was fair use 😉

                  2. So, if I published my fan fiction without John’s ok it would be wrong and illegal. Solves that puzzle and no problem, plus he went through the publishing hoops I didn’t want to mess with (like all of them) so it still works in that case.

                    1. If you publish fan fiction without the approval of the author of the original work it would be a copyright violation.

                    2. Well, there’s another whole swath of the internets we have to shut down.

                      As an aside, I always found it amusing real people have less protection than fake people. You can’t make a derivative work off of someone’s fake people, but fiction using real people is a-ok and they can’t do a damn thing about it.

                    3. Then I am accidentally fine. Had his approval, he even checked for continuity, and he published it with my writer name through his channels, but I still get the royalties (if any).

                      Starting to see where this could be a problem for others. Um, this wasn’t supposed to be about me, was it? lol Think I will just stick with my day job!

      2. said w/o sarcasm, btw. It really was a great day in class.

      3. You’re, like, my total teacher crush. Seriously. It’s kind of embarrassing, really.

        1. I only say those things to get your attention SF…

          I have an insidious plan to create a generation of libertarian thinkers, one sophomore at a time if I must.

          1. I work on them in college, so we are both of a part. I often get to see the consternation of them reading their first pay stub and wondering aloud about “FICA.” That’s when I move in.

            1. Hopefully without the Feministing home page up on your laptop.

              1. I only use them for advanced cases. Although there are a substantial number of people at work who read it for the lulz like I do.

            2. Kids are getting their first paychecks while they’re in college? We’re doomed.

              1. It is increasingly common. I blame the minimum wage. Are there really that many jobs that a high schooler can do that is worth $7.25\hr?

                I worked in high school. But what I did was lucrative enough so that I only worked in the summer.

              2. I heard that kids did other things and got paid cash, in ancient times, before college. Like delivering things, yard work and other stuff.

                1. Other stuff? I call prostitution.

                  1. That may be one but not all inclusive.

          2. Just don’t show them any Friday Funnies.

  8. The Senate voted Thursday to allow the government to go a whopping $1.9 trillion deeper in debt, offering a vivid election-year reminder that the government has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends.

    Good thing we gots freezes and stimuluses and blue ribbon commissions and Ben Bernankes and ….

    1. and Hope and Change

  9. Ben Bernanke saved us from the worse financial crisis since the one he will create.

  10. The White House has not decided how to pay for the initiative, although officials say the “fiscal room” created by the unexpectedly quick repayment of some of a large share of the bank bailout funds would make the proposal feasible even with the nation’s projected $1.35 trillion budget deficit for 2010.

    Yay, TARP SLUSH fund!

    1. WHY YOU HAVE PROBLEM? HEALTH CARE! FREE! WHAT PART OF THAT YOU NOT GET?

      WOULD ARGUE MORE, BUT MUST PREFORM MORE FREE HEALTH CARE…

    2. FTL: “I had done this numerous times in my training and it had never occurred to me that it might be unethical.”

      I’m surprised there aren’t more dead doctors.

      1. “Dr.” Steve Smith for the win.

  11. “NATO troops accidentally kill an Afghan cleric.”

    How is this accidentally? They shot at him, they hit, he died.
    Wouldn’t it make more sense to say they mistakenly killed him?

    1. Make no mistake. They killed him.

      1. Don’t really know how to interpret your post Suki.

        But to clarify what I meant. Accident to me strongly implies lack of intent. Shooting at somebody implies intent to kill. Ergo I don’t think this can be called an accident.

        1. On this board, snark is the place to begin when making interpretations.

          1. …and end, and most of the middle as well.

          2. Unless you are reading my posts.

          3. Are you serious?

        2. I think you’re right, B?nzli. I’ll change the wording in the post.

    2. OK, accidentally is a bad word, probably mistakenly is better.

      What exactly was their mistake? If they had known he was a priest, they would have let him walk even though they would have greased anyone else? WTF?

      1. Maybe they whacked the wrong priest?

    3. What if the gun just sort of, you know, went off? Wouldn’t that be an accident?

      1. Within the gun community, there’s a stark difference between “accidental discharge” and “negligent discharge”. Accidental is used to describe some failure of the actual mechanism. Negligent means the dumbass holding the weapon did something he shouldn’t have. There are almost no accidental discharges. It’s almost always negligence.

        1. So John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction was negligent. Am I catching on yet?

  12. “? Nancy Pelosi wants to extend the spending freeze to the military budget.”
    And allocate the “savings” to every other area the “freeze” does not cover…

  13. Franny and Zooey is where it’s at, frankly.

    I really need to re-read that one. I remember first reading it and just being captivated by Zooey’s story (Franny not so much). I noticed a lot of similar mannerisms and thought processes between him and me.

  14. Catcher is really a fossil at this point. It’s kept alive by boomer nostalgia.

    Even as early as when I was made to read it [1983 maybe?] it was extraordinarily old-fashioned and described a world that no longer existed. I have to imagine that by the standards of the adolescents of 2010 Holden’s “rebellion” must look like something out of a Barney cartoon.

    Catcher’s main interest now is probably historical – “Look at this depiction of this dead world and the quaint concerns of the people who lived in it” – and not existential any more. Works that try to capture the essence of a time or place can be enduring, but usually only if they deal well with universal themes. You can read Fitzgerald both for his depiction of the 20’s and his themes, and you can read Hemingway for his depiction of the 30’s and his themes, but I don’t know if that will be true of Salinger.

    1. Were you a young teen when you read it? I think the main thing that keeps it alive is the identification of tweens and young teens with the nobody-gets-me and all-these-social-rituals-are-stupid. I think those are fairly universal themes for kids that age. I was eighteen when I first read it, and even accounting for my immaturity, I was past it. Nevertheless, I could see how I might have loved it at 13 or 14.

      1. I was a freshman in high school, so I guess that means I was 13.

    2. I never got it. It is literally one of two books i have ever started but never finished (the other being Roger Pemrose’s The Road To Reality which is the most high end amateur science book ever written). It is not that I disliked Holden Caufield. It is that I just didn’t care. I can’t think of a more boring fictional character. No body gets me wa wa wa.

  15. Glad to hear about the brain cells. I get the feeling I’ll be needing some in a few years.

  16. My favorite creative writing professor once told a story about Salinger after class.

    He was a Stanford when “Franny” was published in The New Yorker. That Friday night, nearly everyone in the nearby student bar was arguing about what the story meant. Not only had all these people read it, they were actually able to form arguments about it. It’s hard to imagine that happening about, well, any sort of fiction now.

    1. Perhaps because so much fiction sucks lately.

      But I don’t get to read much new stuff. My reading is confined to what I teach, mostly, and assorted books on various pedagogical techniques. And picture books – for my daughter.

      1. Seems like the norm now is fewer words. At least that seems to be what a lot of fiction publishers want.

      2. Maybe because there’s a lot more fiction produced now. I get the feeling that the lit world was much smaller back then.

        1. The whole world was smaller back then. Then the “New” part of the world was discovered so Ben Franklin could start his printing business and things just went crazy.

          1. It’s true. Just like in old cartoons when a baseball was hit and went all around the Earth. I think the expansion started during the New Deal era and Earth didn’t reach it’s present dimensions until about 1961.

            1. Yes, it took Kennedy to create Camelot and the world was complete.

      3. American non-genre fiction is going through a bit of slump right now. Mostly because of MFA writing programs. I can smell the reek of workshopped fiction from a mile away.

        Writing for an audience that is eager to approve of you in order to insure that you will approve of them is fairly deadly to writers.

        Of course, maybe it would be deadly to quality in any sort of endeavor.

        1. What sort of writing is that? Examples? Ans what is “workshopped fiction”? Having more than one contributor or something?

          1. Workshopped fiction is what I like to call stories that have clearly been through numerous rounds of criticism by other novice writers. It’s insular fiction, produced solely for a community that produces the same product.

            Being a writer’s writer is not a bad thing, but an entire generation of them surely is.

            1. Ok, now I know exactly what you mean. John looked into that for his stuff but just stuck with a couple of us helpers to proof and provide input, but none of us are writers. Just readers.

            2. Welcome to every fucking screenplay that gets greenlit in Hollywood today.

              1. those are ruined by focus groups not workshops.

                1. I wonder how much of that they did to Avatar? Saw some of that in it but it still turned out great.

              2. Not every one. But most. Grand Tarino is an exception to that. But it was written by one guy who was a total Hollywood outsider and I think literally slipped under Clint Eastwood’s door. Eastwood then made it without changing a word. Only someone like him could do that. If the script had gone anywhere else, it would have been rewritten fifteen times at the direction of the suits to include car crashes and explosions.

        2. One could argue that there is no such thing as non-genre fiction now, because a new genre has been invented called “literary fiction”, and that genre has writing, editing, and marketing conventions that are every bit as debilitating as the conventions in other genres.

          In a lot of what is considered literary fiction nowadays you can just taste the assembly committee behind it: “OK, do we have an outsider perspective in here? Is it rural? Wait, maybe we’ve done rural too many times this year. Is it urban? Is there angst? Do we need any gay cowboys eating pudding? Is there an image in here that works for a cover that Borders will like?”

          I also have noted that the difference in voice from one writer to another – no matter how disparate the blurbs sound describing those writers – is diminishing to near nil. If I pick up an anthology and read it from front to back, the subjects change but the voice is always the same. I chalk this up to the growing tyranny of the major university programs, combined with a fairly shallow editor pool. Everything that might be distinctive is ground down to fit into the product [again, because “literary fiction” has become a genre, and it has rules you have to obey to play].

          1. The similarity of voice has to do with the workshops. They make everything converge to a thin Raymond Carver edge.

            And the editors themselves increasingly come from a workshop/MFA background. Can you imagine if the gatekeeper of what TV could get on the air consisted of people who never managed to get a show on the air? If all creativity was dictated by people who have proven not to have any creativity or originality or, hell, even an ability to mimic successfully.

            Of course… maybe that does explain a lot of movies and TV…

            1. Can you imagine if the gatekeeper of what TV could get on the air consisted of people who never managed to get a show on the air?

              Yes. It’s called ABC.

            2. To me David Foster Wallace is the best or worst example of what you are talking about. He didn’t become the highest paid English teacher in the country for nothing. He did it by writing exactly the kind of workshop fiction you are talking about. Oh look at the footnotes. UGH!!

              1. Wallace is terrible. Infinite Jest wearied me.

            3. Check your Gmail SF.

        3. Thank God for you SugarFree. I’m currently in a senior seminar whose emphasis is on creative writing and it’s the most rigoddamndiculous thing I’ve ever experienced. I’m actually ashamed to share anything I write because there’s this tremendous pressure to write exactly the same way everyone else does.

          Vague metaphors to hide the fact that there are no actual ideas being expressed: “She picked up the teacup like an anchor dropped at sea that weighed heavily in her hand.” People who are applying critical theories to things they haven’t even written yet: “I’m working on a piece that will reflect a feminist-Marxist understanding of what it would be like to grow up black and trans-gendered in middle America.” Latinate and Greek adjectives thrown in at random to sound intellectual: “The insidious purple of her anodyne, but peripatetic, corduroy pants stuck out in the acerbic crowd of people, whose saccharine glances betrayed their inner sartorial judgments.”

          These examples are exaggerations, of course, but not terribly gross ones.

          And don’t even get me started on what reading poetry from these people is like.

          1. I’ve always thought that if I ever taught a writing class, I’d give everyone at least five adjectives per story and any more than that they’d have to pay for apiece. Sort of like a swear jar.

            I really liked my creative writing program and went to class with a few good writers. I was a few years older than everyone else and had a fairly fluid style. I also could nail the Carver-esque character-driven vignette. I was well-regarded and won a bunch of literary prizes.

            But writing class also ruined me as a writer. It’s hard to write anymore without that constant feedback. It’s a drug. It’s not the only reason I don’t write, laziness and a pernicious self-disappointment play their parts as well, but the writing program certainly didn’t help.

        4. Yes, writing workshops are the worst thing to ever happen to literature. I know exactly what you mean. If you want to suck every last breath of life out of a fiction piece, just put it through the workshop wringer. I once joined an online workshop and submitted a piece. Everyone thought it was wonderful, but I just needed to take that out or tweek this or explain that and so on. No literature worthy of the name was ever created by commitee. Not to mention there are invariably people involved who have an agenda.

    2. Someone has apparently never heard of Harry Potter.

      ‘Someone’ sure is lucky…

      1. An exception to my “fewer words” comment.

      2. Yes, Potter replicates this phenomenon somewhat. But it is rare to see that among a college-age crowd, even the most dedicated liberal arts majors.

        1. Sorry… didn’t finish my thought…

          And certainly no one is debating the meaning of the story, as opposed to rehashing the highlights of the plot.

        2. I’ll take your word for it. I don’t have any exposure to what hard core literary grad students are talking about the week after new work is published by a notable author.

          You would, however, have a hard time convincing me that we’ve lost much if what you say is true. I’m one of those ‘hard sciences’ types who thinks there are more useful puzzles out there to engage the minds of the brightest among us than the contrived puzzles hidden in a work of fiction.

          1. Don’t be hatin’ on the right brain.

          2. Your statement reminds me of people who believe that if something can’t be made to turn a profit, it’s not worth doing.

            And who told you that you get to decide what the useful puzzles are? How do you know that a bright literary grad student would be a bright “hard science” student?

            1. Since I didn’t say that, and I don’t believe it (my statement only ‘reminds’ you of those people) I won’t defend it. I do lots of things that I don’t get paid for, obviously I consider them worth doing.

              As for what is a useful puzzle – I never claimed I get to decide, I just get to have an opinion. I don’t know whether or not a bright literary grad student would make a bright engineer, psychologist, economist, or commodities trader, and it doesn’t really matter to me. I just believe that society wouldn’t lose much if collectively we had a 30% poorer understanding of Salingers’ Franny. On the other hand, we would probably benefit a lot if we had a 30% better understanding of quantum physics.

    3. I used to wonder, and still do, what the great works of literature of the 20th/21st century would be. It seems like so much of the fiction produced is average at best, and tells stories as opposed to making some statement or offering criticism on some aspect of life.

      I think creativity really is diminishing. Perhaps due to the nature of the business itself – can an author even get something published without major connections in the industry? How long does one have to slog through submitting pieces for rejection from The Atlantic’s or Harpers’ summer fiction issue before someone notices good writing?

      I have a great respect for writers of pulp romance, etc. At least they know their purpose, and aren’t trying to make life changing statements with over-constructed prose and pithy philosophy about everyday woes.

      1. Wonder Boys was a fun book to read.

        1. “Write what you know.”

          Ever notice the explosion of fiction that takes place in writing classes?

          Although, I did like Wonder Boys. I like most of Chabon and Lethem, bits and pieces of Palahniuk.

          It will be a cold day in hell when I read anything by Jonathan Safran Foer or Jonathan Franzen again.

          I may stop reading anything written by anyone named Jonathan after those two.

          1. Jonathan Kellerman writes good mysteries.

      2. I highly recommend Ken Follet. Pillars of the Earth and A World Without End are great. All of the medieval geeks have a fit about him because he has his characters speak in modern English dialect. I don’t see the big deal. We have no idea how people in 11th Century England actually spoke in everyday life. So anything you write is going to be made up. So why not just write dialog that people can understand? At any rate, he is the only writer I know who manages to write interesting plots and also have fully developed three dimensional characters. I honestly can’t think of a piece of fiction that came out in the last 20 years I have enjoyed more than those two.

        1. Thanks, I’ll check him out.

          I don’t know how people feel about DFW or McCarthy, but I think they are two authors whose works are destined to become part of the moder canon. The Road gave me much to think about, and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men has stuck in my mind since I was assigned to read it as an undergrad. Haven’t finished Infinite Jest yet. It’s dense as hell but entertaining and thought provoking.

          I guess that is what I look for out of literature – provocation to work my brain on a deeper level than just plot and character development. I don’t get a chance to read much thought provoking fiction, and that disappoints me.

          1. Follet is not deep. Just a really good story and character writer, which is rare. I read the Road and hated it. It struck me as awful, depressing disaster porn.

            1. “awful” and “depressing” pretty much sums up most of McCarthy’s work.

              What intrigued me about The Road was the proxy-world set up by the unnamed disaster which allows for an examination of what makes civilization happen. It reminded me in some ways of Lord of the Flies, only we see the breakdown of society as exposed by the reaction of the father and son to various atrocities.

              Perhaps many people believe that man is so immoral that absent civilization he would become a child-raping cannibal in a quest to survive and dominate. But I can leave that aside and see the story as a vehicle to explore the deepest darkest hearts of men, and what drives some to persist while others abandon reason.

              The most touching aspect of The Road was the exploration of the bonds of filial love: parenthood will make you wade through rivers of fire (literally, in some parts of the book) to protect and preserve your progeny, and I found it surprisingly hopeful rather than depressing.

              1. Perhaps many people believe that man is so immoral that absent civilization he would become a child-raping cannibal in a quest to survive and dominate.

                I don’t know if McCarthy was saying that.

                It’s supposed to be several years after the entire food chain below Man disappeared. All the people who weren’t cannibals, or very lucky like the narrator, would have died in the first two months.

          2. My problem with The Road is that McCarthy stood on a stack of science fiction novel 20 feet high to write it and no one seemed to notice or comment. It’s like when Crichton wrote Timeline and mainstream critics scratched their heads about why no one thought to write a time travel novel before.

            1. But science fiction is so, so, so…base, SF. It’s for geeks and freaks, not the cherished literati who keeps the gates of high art.

            2. Actually, I thought that McCarthy transcended the sci-fi material he stole, for the simple reason that in sci-fi there is always an element of “adventure”, no matter how horrifying the tale, and there’s no adventure in McCarthy at all.

              You can run around in the Lucifer’s Hammer world and have some laughs. In The Road you just suffer and suffer and suffer some more, and then you die.

              1. I agree with Fluffy. SugarFree, you’re right about the debt “The Road” owes to a truckload of literature that preceded it, but the way McCarthy wrote the book feels “authentic” to me.

                1. I’m not coming down on the book itself so much as the critical reaction to it. Mainstream readers getting all slobbery over a mainstream author using SF tropes always pisses me off. It’s a pet peeve, but my pet is a giant elephant about it.

  17. Alot of scientists these days think that degenerative neurological diseases are caused by a cascade of misfolded proteins… new neurons will just become infected.

  18. This seems facepalm worthy!

  19. Australia bans a-cups, female ejaculation in porn.

    http://www.sexparty.org.au/ind…..tion-board

  20. Someone linked to this yesterday. Thought I’d pass it along. Best Catcher critique I’ve seen. Sums it up for Salinger spot on.

    Salinger, …can be seen straining at every turn to write the way an American teenager would speak, but he only produces an adult’s unwitting parody of teen-speak. Unlike Lardner, Salinger has a tin ear.

    1. Meanwhile, Trey and Matt have no problem writing how 4th graders speak. Better writers, no doubt.

      1. Actually, yeah. Matt and Trey are pretty creative. They wrote the greatest comedy film since Blazing Saddles, and the greatest musical since Singing in the Rain, and it was the same fucking movie. So yeah, talented guys.

    2. Yardley is a moron.

      He said everything he had to say in it, which may well be why he has said nothing else.

      Nine Stories, the two novella collections? Yardley is a moron.

      1. I am no great lover of Salinger, but I think what you will find is that there are people who think “a lot of people love this guy, I mean really love him, so I can look like the maverick if I hate on him”. The danger of doing this, of course, is that you might not be conversant with all his work and end up looking like a douche.

        Such are the perils of coolness.

        1. I think there is definitely some of that. I can’t say I hate the book. There are some books (Grapes of Wrath, Infinite Jest to name two) that I actively loath to the point that while reading the book, I dream of hunting the author down and shooting him for inflicting this crap on the world. Catcher is not that. I just think it is boring. Maybe that is because of some failing on my part. But I never understood why it was such a big deal.

          1. Larry McMurtry, Moving On. I have never wanted to set an author on fire just to hear him scream until I read that book.

          2. When I read Catcher I wanted to murder Salinger in the slowest, most painful way possible. I feel that he committed a horrendous crime against humanity by writing that book.

        2. I’m rather indifferent to A Catcher in the Rye. I thought the book was okay, but I never quite understood the huge Salinger love.

          1. I took a peek at it ages ago but don’t really remember any of it at all. Was never a required assignment for me in school either.

  21. [Pelosi] said men and women in uniform should not be subject to a freeze, but that “I don’t think that we have to protect military contractors. And I want to make that distinction very clearly.”

    Supposing the likes of Xe and KBR can “protect” themselves.

    1. As if they are not the support for the troops! She wants the infantry to go finding their own food and making their own bullets I guess.

  22. If there are any truly talented new fiction writers out there, I certainly am not aware of them.

    I’m going to start re-reading my library.

    1. You skip Cavanaugh’s posts?

    2. I sure wish someone would write a book about the immigrant experience in America or Britain. That’s a totally overlooked theme in modern fiction.

      1. Not until someone writes a book about the racist South.

        1. . . . or the downtrodden Irish.

          1. Or a victim of child abuse.

              1. Or what it’s like to be a struggling writer and live in New York City.

                1. Or a single gal with a great job and guy trouble

                  1. Or a total bum loser guy who meets a great gal that sees how sweet he is inside.

                  2. Or how different people react differently to the end of the world.

                    1. I don’t think we have everything covered yet, but I can’t think of another at the moment.

    3. Ken Follet. Give his books a try.

  23. Cavanaugh’s posts don’t count.

    And, no, I do not skip them.

    If Cavanaugh has a novel, I’ll read it.

  24. Its about high time we saw some breakthroughs in the fight against Alzheimer. this is LONG overdue.

    Jess
    http://www.be-invisible.es.tc

    1. This is exactly what I’m talking about. He’s speaking in tongues! The end is nigh!

      1. I just want to thank anonymity bot for his advocacy and long-time financial support for Alzheimer’s research.

  25. Alzheimer’s is a horrific illness. One of my grandmothers had it, as did one of my older cousins. Curing that would be a definite boon. Getting old and dying is bad enough without losing your mind.

    1. Word. My grandpa has it and it’s so heartbreaking. It would be easier to see him suffer with cancer, I think. At least you can fight cancer, even if you lose. Alzheimer’s just robs you and your family of the customary rites surrounding one’s final days. It’s more tragic than a car accident or murder; it’s a death that’s expected but unable to be shared and comforted.

      1. It robs you of you. Not pleasant taking care of your grandmother and knowing that she has no idea who you are.

        1. My wife’s grandmother has it and my Dad has it. It truly sucks. Not for my Dad, of course. He seems pretty content most of the time. But the guy that raised me isn’t there anymore. It’s slowly killing my sister, since her only coping mechanism for stress lives at the bottom of a glass.

  26. If someone suffers from Alzheimer’s and one of these new techniques would work to cure them, would they have to give permission for the medical treatment? There are many cases where early Alzheimer’s sufferers don’t recognize their condition enough to authorize a treatment of it. Family may try to convince them, but…

  27. Modern fiction is best viewed as parody or snark. The Onion write quality stuff. Twain would be proud.

  28. Best fiction of the century so far: Roberto Bolano’s 2666. Of course, Bolano died before the novel could even be translated into English.
    And is anyone else here an Umberto Eco-phile?
    (And why is all the good fiction being written in some other language?)

    1. Actually – I think Fluffy somewhere above nailed it: “assembly committee fiction.”

    2. I liked the Name of the Rose a lot. Bolodino I could take or leave. But he is a good writer. I really like Milan Kundara. If America had any taste The Unbearable Lightness of Being would be read in every high school lit class and Catcher in the Rye would be in the back row of the used fiction section at Powell’s books.

      1. My school has Unbearable Lightness of Being in its curriculum – sadly, its not one I teach.

      2. I liked Kundera’s Slowness. I would add that I read the book Push when it first came out, but then I was a bit biased at the time as I was working with homeless, pregnant, HIV+ teens at the time.

        1. Forgot to add that I liked Push a lot.

    3. The only Eco I’ve read is The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum. And I own, but have only skimmed through, his nonfiction work Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages.

      He’s OK. But I don’t think of him as a literary author. He’s more in the vein of a Gore Vidal to me.

      1. Savage. Foucault’s Pendulum is one of my favorite contemporary novels, certainly in the top 5.

        1. It’s really just a “caper” story at bottom. A more sophisticated Da Vinci Code or Ocean’s Eleven.

          …Sorry, just kidding. I’m a dick; I know.

          1. Yeah. And Crime and Punishment is really just a detective story at bottom.

            (Dan Brown? Really? That’s a low blow.)

            1. But I have steered several friends, who have read Da Vinci and recognized it for the pile of shit it is, to Foucault’s

            2. I preadmitted that I am a dick.

  29. Part of the demise of top quality fictional works in print are the expansion of other media. Plays were limited throughout history to a degree, but movies and TV are ubiquitous, so many creative minds have taken to those forms of media for a number of reasons. Money, mass audiences, the collaborative creative process, the visual aspect. There are also some great songs written and they incorporate more than the written word. There are great creative minds in this world, but a pen and paper isn’t their only choice any more.

  30. Catcher is one of the very few books I’ve started but couldn’t finish. The others are Anna Karenina and Schlesinger’s The Age Of Jackson. How he managed to make a fascinating chapter in American history tedious if not tortuous is a wonder. But it won a Pulitzer, so it must be me.

  31. I wonder if self-publishing will bring back idiosyncratic writers; the real problem will then be marketing.

  32. For my money the best living American writer is Tom Wolfe. Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full, I Am Charlotte Simmons, The Right Stuff. Two hundred years from now when people want to know what it was like in late 20th Century America, they will read Tom Wolfe. His work will outlive all of his contemporary’s work.

    1. John used Tom Wolfe in his first book. But it was more like the elitists of the future always spoke of him but didn’t really read his work or know he was from Richmond. I didn’t have the idea at the time but I am coming around to the notion that Wolfe and Larry David will be the most remembered from our time, in their different areas of art.

    2. John,
      Just admit you have no taste.

      1. In the future you will be an outcast and the high brow snooty people you call friends will shun and avoid you.

        1. In the future? Hell, that’s now.

          Oh, wait, I don’t call them friends. Carry on.

      2. I think Wolfe is a great writer. Who is better?

        1. Cormac McCarthy is the first name that comes to mind since he’s already been mentioned here. He’s a better writer. Es verdad.

          1. High# – now’s the time to express your love for Susan Sontag.

          2. Is not. Larry David kicks his ass.

  33. “Or what it’s like to be a struggling writer trust-funder and live in New York City.”

  34. One other thing. Sci Fi has been saved by snobbery. Since it is considered a lower genre, they don’t generally write sci fi in the MFA and workshops that Fluffy refers to above. Instead, Sci Fi is generally written by devotees of the genre. And is thus generally better written because of it.

  35. “NATO troops kill an Afghan cleric by mistake.”

    Can THAT trial be held in NYC? I understand they have an opening…

  36. I liked the Gobbler’s Justice Souter Lymeric from yesterday:

    https://reason.com/blog/2010/01…..nt_1548912

  37. Where the heck is the Stossel update that comes after The Jacket appears on the show? If any The Jacket appearance on Stossel needs to be blogged about it was the beat down on the last Stossel show.

  38. I am totally going to have some of my penis skin converted to brain cells. “it has a mind of its own!”

  39. Progris riport. Today Algernons tail looks red. He keeps bitting it and i hope it dusnt hert to much.

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