On Wednesday, while the rest of the world, including me, was wondering how Apple’s tablet might revolutionize reading, arguably the greatest living writer, passed away.
J.D. Salinger, known around the world for his eminent coming of age novel, Catcher in the Rye died in his New Hampshire home at the age of 91. Catcher is a great novel, no doubt. And I’m sure for many people it was life changing. Salinger changed my life too, but with a different book, Franny and Zooey.
To say that reading these two stories back in 2002 altered the direction my life took in the years since is an understatement. I want to be clear as humanly possible here. When the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the foundation of every belief I had developed in my 20 years on the earth was at the moment of its greatest jeopardy in my life, when doubt held me so tightly that I could barely breathe, Seymour’s Fat Lady, a specter of a character that lingers at Zooey’s conclusion saved my faith.
Well, yesterday brought two big speeches. There was that one late in the evening, something about politics, or the economy…I’m not sure really, it was late. And then there was the big one, right in the middle of the day, the one that introduced something truly new and innovative. I’m talking, of course, about the introduction of the long awaited iPad.
Okay, I’m going to be adult and avoid making jokes about the name as everyone else seems to be doing. But the fact is, in many ways this announcement really did overshadow the President’s State of the Union address. As I observed (and tweeted about) yesterday, the number one searched-for phrase on Google yesterday was about the rumored Apple tablet. On top of that, there were no less than three additional entries regarding the announcement of the device. Coming in at a humble number six, was something about the State of the Union speech.
On Tuesday’s Daily Show, TARP administrator Elizabeth Warren makes a simple, slam-dunk case for the financial regulation stalled in the Senate. It’s so good it turns Jon Stewart on.
People must be free to make these decisions for themselves, not have them imposed by governments or enforced by the police.
Instead of condemning the recommendation, President Nicolas Sarkozy seems determined to outdo it. He already has declared that full-body veils are “not welcome” in France. His party’s leader in Parliament wants to pass a law that bans women wearing burqas and niqabs from the streets. The Taliban would be pleased. The rest of the world should declare its revulsion.
Unfortunately, French politicians seem willfully blind to the violation of individual liberties. With regional elections scheduled for March, Mr. Sarkozy and his allies are desperately looking for ways to deflect public anger over high unemployment. It is hard to produce jobs and far too easy to fan anti-Muslim prejudices.
DREAM-JOURNALING SHOULD come with a warning.
For Freelance Whales founder Judah Dadone, charting his slumbering conscious led to awkward Craigslist encounters — including a 50-year-old man posing as a 23-year-old girl — busking in New York City train stations, the creation of feathery pop music and a record deal. Not the typical route to success, but who’s complaining?
The bad and the boring could have been the working title for claustrophobia-inducing show at the backstage of the Black Cat last Thursday night.
“Federal authorities have arrested four men on felony charges for attempting to infiltrate Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office, including one filmmaker who targeted the community group ACORN last year in undercover videos.
Among those arrested was 25-year-old James O’Keefe, the conservative filmmaker, along with Joseph Basel, Robert Flanagan and Stan Dai, all 24. They were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses and attempting to gain access to the Democrat’s office by posing as telephone repairmen, according to a copy of an FBI affidavit unsealed Tuesday.”
I’m not going to make a definitive statement on what this means for O’Keefe’s work in the last year, but a few thoughts do stick in my head (besides the extreme irony of the situation).
1) O’Keefe is a dishonest crook. If this turns out to be a pattern of behavior for the young camera-toter’s life, then the conclusions drawn by his released tapes should be questioned and all the crowing over the demise of Acorn should be put on-hold for a few short seconds.
2) O’Keefe is stupid. This may be the case of a kid who had a brilliant idea to do a little undercover journalism last year, struck the jackpot and decided to keep spinning the wheel. It’s not hard to imagine the thought process, especially dealing with the Louisiana Purchase that Landrieu helped engineer in the recent dealings with health care. If O’Keefe is honest, then his zealous nature got the best of him and he committed an incredibly stupid act that could screw him for the rest of his life. Just remember, gonzo journalism and criminal action aren’t always that far apart.
3) Conservatives Must Denounce O’Keefe. Sorry buddy, but this is not a hill that any rational-thinking writer should die on. Wiretapping is a federal offence carrying up to a “$200,000 fine and 10 years in prison.” This is not an issue that our judgement should be nuanced over. This type of behavior is unacceptable, criminal and cannot be justified by, “well, she was probably doing something wrong.” What are we, five-year-olds getting into fights in the sandbox?
This is a tremendous opportunity for conservatives to show that the morals and beliefs that we claim to believe, actually have applicability in our lives. This is the time for us to be reasonable and jettison O’Keefe.
Hope the 15 minutes were fun.
In the Opinion section of Sunday’s New York Times, literary critic James Wood (who I mentioned a few months back was at the n+1 panel on Evangelicals and Intellectuals and subsequently mentioned in my opinion piece on that subject) contributed an essay entitled “Between God and a Hard Place.”
The essay explores two ways that God has been attributed to the earthquake in Haiti and offers a bit of historical perspective to the genre of preaching he refers to as the “earthquake sermon.” In the span of two paragraphs we travel with Wood through London and Lisbon, hear the voices of Leibniz, Voltaire and even John Wesley before landing on our very own “earthquake-sermonizer,” Pat Robertson.
In mentioning Leibniz, Wood obviously directs the reader to the concept of “theodicy.” For those not familiar with the term it is essentially the continued belief in the goodness of God in the face of evil. Robertson’s response, Wood explains, is “classic theodicy.”
Joe Klein shares my growing fear of our poorly informed and unparticipatory electorate:
It is very difficult to have a democracy without citizens. It is impossible to be a citizen if you don’t make an effort to understand the most basic activities of your government. It is very difficult to thrive in an increasingly competitive world if you’re a nation of dodos.
And in a follow-up, he adds:
I also suspect we’re suffering the long-term aftereffects of a prolonged period of affluenza–the period of peace (for the most part) and prosperity that lasted from the end of WWII to the beginning of the 21st century. During that time, we got lazy, lost the habits of citizenship…and began to fall behind educationally, in part because our primary and secondary schools remained mired in the industrial age…and also because our public schools never really were very good at educating those who weren’t hungry for knowledge.
I love the idea of self-government. I really do. But if we’re ever going to have it again, we first have to stop pretending things are working.
Of course one can pull some Old Testament story out of a hat to say that the tragedy never befalls the innocent. But seeing as that adds precisely nothing to the discussion, why would anyone want to?
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