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« Young Models | Main | Architecture Books for the Holidays »

December 18, 2004


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* My favorite ex-blogger is ex no longer: J. Cassian blogs again. How long will he keep at it this time around?

* Ron Silliman spells out some hard facts about the publishing and distribution of poetry books.

* I don't link often enough to Gerard Van der Leun, who's one of blogdom's best writers. Mea culpa. (Gerard is certainly blogdom's best editor.) Recently Gerard wrote an especially moving essay. He starts by discussing his unusual last name, then turns the posting into something else entirely.

* Let's give a big round of applause to America's most generous charitable donors.

* WhiskyPrajer evaluates the rock magazines.

* One of the great silent comedians, Harold Lloyd was as much of a star as Chaplin or Keaton, and was perhaps the most hard-working of the three. In fact, "hard-working," "All-American," and "gung-ho" were parts of his onscreen persona. It turns out that Lloyd was busy during his leisure hours too, spending many of them (in all-American fashion) making nude photographs of starlets and models. A book-length collection of his photos has just been published. Here's hoping that, in terms of how he treated his models, he wasn't one of the creeps our "Confessions of Naked Model" correspondent "J" recently wrote about.

* Have teen boys been watching too much "Jackass"?

* OuterLife has been thinking about money, as well as company holiday parties.

* Thanks to Fred Himebaugh for pointing out this hilarious humor piece on the theme of postmodernism -- it's silly in the most wonderful way. Disorganized me has just begun to explore Fred's music, and I'm having a very good time doing so: Fred's an impressive and resourceful composer who has his own way of combining and constrasting the dark and the light.

* One of the disadvantages of the link-a-thon form is that it can be hard to link to a whole group of bloggers: the people who specialize in links, and who don't tend to write showy, "event" postings. That's a pity: they're smart, funny, generous people, as well as crucial Internet nodes. So this linkathon I want to salute one of them: Greg Ransom, the dynamo brainiac who runs Prestopundit, a Hayek-ian version of Instapundit. Already today Greg has put up a dozen very interesting postings-plus-links-plus-brief-commentaries. Whenever I visit Greg's blog I wind up kissing a few hours goodbye, and am happy to do so: Greg always turns up much that's too good not to explore. An intense brain-buzz, guaranteed.

* The Peruvian-born economist Hernando de Soto talks about the difference between "dead capital" and "live capital," and adds a lot of nuance to our usual understanding of property. Amazing fact of the day: in Egypt, it typically takes seventeen years (and visits to thirty-two different government offices) to buy a plot of land. No wonder 90% of Egyptians live outside the country's legal system.

* David Sucher has argued that -- in these multimedia, visuals-centric times -- being able to make comprehensible photos ought to be considered a matter of basic literacy. I couldn't agree more. And I'd add that the ability to make comprehensible layouts ought to be seen as a basic part of multimedia-era literacy too. Design is today's lingua franca; aside from email, how much do we run across that hasn't gotten designed? A freebie how-to resource that this no-talent finds helpful is Anne Van Wagener's "Design Desk" feature at Poynter Online.

* What are the cheesiest lines of movie dialog ever?



posted by Michael at December 18, 2004


Cheesiest movie dialog---"Love means never having to say you're sorry" from "Love Story" has to be in there.

And almost any line uttered by Demi Moore in "A Few Good Men"---such as "You're a used car salesman, Daniel. Live with that!" Ooooh...

Posted by: annette on December 18, 2004 7:24 PM

PS--on a much more important note--Gerard Va der Leun's essay is breathtaking.

Posted by: annette on December 18, 2004 7:48 PM

I too read Van der Leun's essay and was struck by two odd things: his own sense of guilt at having been an idealistic youth and his use of his uncle's heroism to expiate that guilt.

Posted by: David Sucher on December 19, 2004 10:06 AM

Gosh, I didn't think he felt guilty about being idealistic in his youth. I think he felt guilty about being thoughtless and selfish in his youth. And I don't see how his uncle's patiotism expiated his guilt. I thought it excacerbated it.

Posted by: annette on December 19, 2004 10:15 AM

One more thing---there's so much good stuff in these links, thanks for pointing them out--yes, we should give a round of applause to these donors. Like it or not, a lot of good things--reseach, medical equipment, education--cost real money, and they are providing it. It's interesting to me, though, since capitalism seems to be equated to conservatism in our public disourse, that it isn't more noted, even by Kerry and Dean and others, that these people who made a windfall through capitalism, ARE the ones making the charitable world go round. Good intentions alone don't get anybody a college scholarship, or a heart transplant.

It's also interesting to me how many things can go wrong even with both the money and good intentions. Ray Kroc's widow left $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army, but designated it had to go to opening new centers. So the Army couldn't use it to refurbish any of its current centers, which still are in desperate need. And UCLA's medical school must be awfully rich. Read about it---they attached so many strings to receiving a $100 Million gift that the donor finally gave up trying to even give it! Shame on them.

Posted by: annette on December 19, 2004 11:20 AM

Regarding the above comments on Gerard Van der Leun's essay: It was my impression that he felt guilt about being thoughtless in his youth and believed that his college-age idealism was misguided. He writes, "If anything, my era at the University just made it somehow possible for Berkeley students to think that their attitudes were as noble and as pure in their minds as they were stupid and selfish in reality."
If you put our contemporary political questions aside, the universal themes in this essay are the contrast of blithe youthful arrogance to the insight that comes from reminiscence.
The publication of this essay is itself a redress.

Posted by: Val Ann C on December 19, 2004 12:13 PM

Gee whiz, characterize his time at Berkeley as you like. But he feels remorse about it and he is using his uncle's heroism as way to get out of it; that's the tension of the story. And if he himself hadn't brought up the politics of Berkeley I would agree with you that it would be merely (as if that isn't enough!) a simple, personal and very touching story. But he explicitly made it into a political story and it seems to me is using his uncle's heroism for his own political ends. Here is just one passage of his:

"These days it makes me feel cheap and contemptible to think of the things I did to point out all the ways in which this country fails to achieve some fantasied perfection. I was a small part of promulgating a great wrong and a large lie for a long time, and I'm sure there's no making up for that. My chance to be worthy of the man in the photograph, the name on the wall, has long since passed and all I can do is to try, in some way, to make what small amends I can."

We don't know exactly what he did to cause such remorse. Maybe he was as extreme then in his judgments as he might be now? Some people went overboard in the sixties; many, many more -- the vast majority of "protestors" -- maintained an even keel.

In any case, let him expiate his own guilt if he likes. But if he uses such expiation to further a particular political agenda of condemning the sixties and seventies -- which not to put to fine a point on it, is a way of condemning liberalism -- it's fair to put his essay in a political context. No?

Posted by: David Sucher on December 20, 2004 10:14 AM

Thanks for the heads up on Prestopundit. Great site.

I've already learned from it that if Social Security benifit increases were tied to increases in the price of goods and services rather than increases in wages the crisis of liquidity would be well on its way to being solved. Not too much to ask, is it?

The poetry site was also interesting...if a little sad.

Posted by: ricpic on December 20, 2004 10:34 AM

I am always interested in the ways that the complicated things of life can be reduced to simple explications. While I have learned to distrust simplistic explications, I've also learned that , at times, they lead me to insights that had eluded me. Just whooshed right by my head, zoom.

I had no idea I was "using" my uncle's heroism for expiation. Indeed, I'm not exactly certain that his was an exceptional herioism or simply the then common response to duty that appears heroic now when so few are capable of even the common response. Then again, it seems to me that we have not yet had our turn in the crucible, though it looms. Still I am feeling much more instructed about my actual motivations and my real feelings now that I have basked in the light that streams from Mr. Sucher's splendid analysis.

As for condemning the liberalism of the sixties and seventies, that is beyond my poor powers. Indeed, having been present at the creation of much of it, I would be a poor witness for the prosecution. Fortunately for me, I do not have to take up that cross.

Liberalism, it seems to me, is busy conducting its own condemnation of itself these days, and it has plenty of scribes devoted to such obituaries. Indeed, it is no longer even necessary to discuss the multifoliate ways in which it has failed and continues to fail. All one has to do is let it run on "its metalled ways of time future and time past."

Still, it had some nice ideals. Too bad they died before it got old. Once we had a living, breathing set of policies and plans and propositions. What we have now is only, as D.H. Lawrence would put it, "post-mortem effects."

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun on December 20, 2004 11:35 PM

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