the voice of humility

Not making a difference since 2006. Blog motto: Always be sincere whether you mean it or not.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review - The Talkative Corpse by Ann Sterzinger

There are authors who can spin a plot and not provide good characters, and others can do the opposite.  At the suggestion of a friend, I read one of John Irving’s books.  The plot was, to be kind, not at all worth reading.  The characters were wonderfully drawn, saving the day for me.

I ended up reading another couple of his books.  No improvement, yet the man has had the plaudits of critics and I assume made a fortune with the movie of Garp.

I don’t know why the thought came to me, but I contrasted Irving’s books with A Talkative Corpse by Ann Sterzinger after reading.

It was with some optimism that I obtained Sterzinger’s book.  She is the editor of an online venue and in her reviews and columns expresses enough thoughtcrime to pique my interest.

That, however, was not the deciding factor.  More important was the price.  I am often stuck several hours a day without anything to do.  If I have my ancient laptop, I can write.  The kindle, a tool I never thought I would like, is my break.  Still, the budget is such that an outlay for a book that displeased would be a defeat.

I found The Talkative Corpse a generous bargain.  Sterzinger’s main character, John Jaggo, is also our entre to the others.  We don’t really hear them other than through Jaggo.  Even so, we get to know, if not love them.

Interestingly, the author is a woman, but her narration in a man’s voice is correct.  On her blog and columns she displays somewhat of a tough broad persona.  It may not be too far a stretch in portraying the hard life of John Jaggo.

The action centers around Jaggo, chronicling his non-happy life to be preserved for a post-history future.  When we meet him, he is at a low point, we guess.  His life does not seem to have had many high points for contrast.  One would not think such a depressed fellow would be a promising subject.
Jaggo, when we meet him has not recovered from a devastating end of his last relationship.  Our man paints a picture of a right witch.  He burns with a vast hatred for her.

John has a profession in which he was prosperous, but is no longer part of.  The jobs usually accessible to him are those that would be referred to as soul numbing.  This is a vehicle for Ann to expound on the class and employment landscape of the 21st Century.

It is not a lovely view.  So-called capitalism is cruel and despite the supposed safety nets available, the cracks to fall through are wide.  Jaggo is adept at finding them.

Though it is not stated, there is evidence that the man is an alcoholic.  Certainly, he seems to be doing his part to keep the nation’s beverage industry healthy.

His relationship with his ex is not completely over.  There is occasional texting at strategic points of pain and she occupies a lot of space in his head.  His bitterness is heightened during inebriation, did we mention he is no stranger to that.

In one episode he evokes a, well I’m not sure what it is.  Bertram the animani becomes his boon companion and drinking buddy.  The conjured entity has a mission.  He will kill the most hated person in Jaggo’s life, but also the one he loves.

To complicate matters, Jaggo has found love.  Up to that point, his life and person do not make him all that loveable and hardly desirable.  Yet he and May connect over music and start making beautiful music together.

It appears May has a pure love for John.  There is wonderment in this because how could such a beautiful person love someone who has come across as an unattractive specimen.  This brings us to the voice of humility maxim, - Love is not merely blind, it is oft deaf, dumb and stupid.

May, for all her nobility of spirit shares John’s inability to attain an economically advantageous position in life, so there may be a clue there.

Now he at least has some purpose in life.  Well, two goals, love May and keep Bertram from killing her because of that.

There are parts of the book I can’t really get into.  The music John and May like is not anything I have much experience of listening to, having of, being born too late.  Moi, I never got the Rebecca Black hating, as I thought her song representative of most modern music. *

As noted on her blog, Ann does have a favorite music video.  It is not to bad, having some energy.  I don’t need to listen to it again.

Sterzinger has been linked to antinatalism.  This is the idea, as far as I understand it, that we would have been better off not being born.  For a good part of The Talkative Corpse, it is hard to argue that in regards to Jaggo’s sad life.  When he meets May, all better.  Life is still hard, he has to keep May alive and work at a lousy job, but existential purpose has arrived.

After Bertram finishes his task and departs, life will be forever sweet, or close enough we guess.  He ends his missive to the future and goes on.

Sterzinger’s style and way with metaphors, with her plot bespeaks a fine talent.  She deserves to be read ahead of most contemporary writers.  Did I mention one?

Ann Sterzinger has another book out that I would have read but it is not on Kindle.  When, that happens, I shall, if it is at a reasonable price get it.  I doubt that is going to happen. NVSQVAM has been getting some good reviews that does not augur well for us cheapskates.

*A daughter had a period of fandom of a group call Fallout Boy.  I listened and the whelming was under.  Other than that, I suggest my opinions be taken with a grain of salt.

 

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Monday, November 17, 2014

The Vergens need to get a life

In a 1981 film, Zorro the Gay Blade, a rather fey caped crusader made the rule, "There is no shame in being poor, only in dressing poorly."

I am never going to make a best dressed list.  It is important to me, to at least try to look somewhat grownup.  Not so Mr. Matt Taylor.  His shirt is ugly and so are the tattoos on his arms.  If I saw him on the street and he panhandled me, I would direct him to the nearest homeless shelter.

Thus there are two shocks, Mr. Taylor was part of the team, ill dressed as he was, that landed that craft on a comet.  The second shocker, a navel gazer by the name of Chris Plante thinks he is a sexist swine and celebrates that Taylor was made to apologize.

Plante writes for uber politically correct tech site The Verge.  His headline went, "I don't care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizingThat's one small step for man, three steps back for humankind."

Chris is a senior editor at The Verge.  Supposedly, he has a life, but you would not know.  Being a member of a voluntary gestapo takes a lot of energy.

So we've gotta get Helen Reddy back into the studio, I am woman, I am weak.

Anyway, I know it's not why my daughters didn't go into Stem.  They are too much like the old man, obstreperous and not interested in the hard work.

Doc Taylor, you did two things I could never do, land on an asteroid and apologize for something so trivial.  Then again, I could never wear that shirt.

The Young Turks covered themselves in glory.

Hat tip to Outside In.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jamie Bartlett, stop the hate!

By now, anyone who still browses by this blog is already aware of the Dark Enlightenment or Neoreaction (Here in TVOHville, we'll call it DE/N for short).  Other than things aren’t going well tone, I can’t say my knowledge of the phenomenon is all that much.  It has been noticed and has enemies bent on suppressing it.  The enemies of DE/N seem a smarmy lot and make me want to join the defenders for that.

A recent example of someone who is going after DE/N in a hysterical tone is a Jamie Bartlett.  The title says it all, Meet the Dark Enlightenment:  sophisticated neo fascism that's spreading fast on the net.  

Decades ago, while wasting my youth, I had a job that led me to interact with the denizens of an academic swampland.  They worked at the same place while going to school.  Most were just interested in making some money while getting the degree.  There was a subset that seemed to live for politics.  They were far to the left and uber politically correct long before the term PC had been invented.

Not at all a serious fellow, neither was I shy.  I would engage with them with the idea of having some fun.  It was easy to notice they were probably to the left of Pol Pot, but imply they might be a tad to the right of the Cambodian fellow and they had to defend themselves.  When they would say something, if you could artfully suggest they held a position that might be “fascistic” you could get to them.  I had some fun, but I was on the wrong side of history at least in an employment sense.  They all seemed to eventually get jobs either in the bureaucracy or some group identified by initials.

Mr. Bartlett has the tactic down.  Call them neo-fascist and what can they do?  The lovely thing about the tactic is that in common parlance, no one defines fascism.  When someone like Jamie uses the term, he means not that they are a follower of Mussolini.  What he intends is that they are meanies and bad people.

He kind of admits it here,

The philosophy, difficult to pin down exactly, is a loose collection of neo-reactionary ideas, meaning a rejection of most modern thinking: democracy, liberty, and equality. Particular contempt is reserved for democracy, which Land believes "systematically consolidate[s] and exacerbate[es] private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption."  The neo-fascist bit lies in the view that races aren’t equal (they obsess over IQ testing and pseudoscience that they claim proves racial differences, like the Ku Klux Klan) and that women are primarily suited for domestic servitude. They call this "Human biodiversity" – a neat little euphemism. This links directly to their desire to be rid of democracy: because if people aren’t equal, why live in a society in which everyone is treated equally? Some races are naturally better to rule than others, hence their support for various forms of aristocracy and monarchy (and not in the symbolic sense but the very real divine-right-of-kings-sense).

So the philosophy is kinda hard to define and then he defines it.  Maybe he is right as I have  been following it only lightly.  What I've gotten out of it is that democracy is not god, equality is impossible, but liberty is okay. 

It appears to be popular among people who have stopped feeling libertarianism.  It is obvious that if most people have a choice of greater public benefits at the expense of freedom, that will win the day in a democracy.  Recognizing that is hardly fascism.

My read is most DE/N types want a system that allows the maximum freedom while maintaining order.  In no sense could that mean a totalitarian system such as the German form of socialism that ended in 1945 or the Soviet form that imploded in the late 1980s, early 1990s.  A supposedly educated man such as Mr. Bartlett should know that.  Either he is cute or his thought processes are deficient.

I live not far from another academic swamp now (we have no lack of them in the Northeast of this nation).  I remember when Palin was nominated.  The sea of progressives that inhabit the town thought it high culture to repeat the latest Palin joke.  I think this explains much about Bartlett.  His type is quick at getting the talking points, but have nothing really other than the throwing of mud.

The followers of the DE/N are no danger to the current order.  There is no chance they can garner a mass following.  Unlike Marxists, National Socialists or Fascists, they have no desire to build a mass movement.  The simple slogans of totalitarians would, one would guess, disgust them.

That is probably not what bothers him.  We get to the nub of it here,
The neo-fascist bit lies in the view that races aren’t equal (they obsess over IQ testing and pseudoscience that they claim proves racial differences, like the Ku Klux Klan) and that women are primarily suited for domestic servitude. They call this "Human biodiversity" – a neat little euphemism. This links directly to their desire to be rid of democracy: because if people aren’t equal, why live in a society in which everyone is treated equally? Some races are naturally better to rule than others, hence their support for various forms of aristocracy and monarchy (and not in the symbolic sense but the very real divine-right-of-kings-sense).
He gives away his prejudice.  No one is ever allowed to question anything about the accepted policy on racial groups.  That viewpoint is understandable, but you know what, it is in its own way , dare I say it “fascistic.”  To write off anyone who disagrees with the idea that groups might not be equal without a hearing is the tactic of a Goebbels.  Jamie does not argue, he just throws the mud.

To look around you and think that on average, Jews are smarter than the average bear is not unreasonable.  It may in the end be wrong, but it does not mean one is donning a sheet.  Just the opposite.

To look at Zimbabwe, or the murder rate in post-apartheid SA, or even Detroit and think that some races organize better than others is not without the realm of possibility is rational even if it turns out to be wrong.  My own Causcasian run state will face the same deficit problems Motor City is experiencing, just in slow motion.  Does that mean white folks can organize.  Maybe yes, but most pale societies crash in the end too.
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Now no one thinks the races are not physically different.  Why is it insane to think that cognitive differences are not possible.

Whatever the establishment is, the biggest threat to it is itself.  In this country, life is, you could argue, not as good as it once was.  The manufacturing jobsthat allowed for the raising of families are few and far between.   Retirement is getting to be problematic for more and more people approaching that age.  Maybe bludgeoning a theoretical opposition will solve those problems.

The voice of humility is not a neoreactionary if only because we don't believe there is a system of government that works forever.  Past golden ages were probably not all that golden for many.  We would not disagree that our society appears on a downslope culturally and economically.  The possibility that a just constitutional order is on the cards does not appear likely.  We live in hope.

If Mr. Bartlett is right, it is by accident as he did rationally argue his points.  Someone else will have to do that.  It's early in the bash the DE/N game.  So expect a lot of mud to be thrown.  In the realm of ideas, DE/N is ahead because the opposition has tendered none.


Is there a Cathedral?  Don’t know.  tvoh went to the Demos website.  To their credit, they are transparent about funding.  That may have something to do with Brit disclosure rules, but let's not quibble.  The funders are lots of banks and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament as well.  


"Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land." 
We know how that worked out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jay Severin gone again. It was so predictable. Still, I shall miss the non-entity formerly known as Jimmy Severino.


             So Jay Severin has lost another radio gig.  No one seems to care anymore.  When he lost the tkk job, there were a few comments.  The talk 1200, narry a mention.  Probably has something to do with Limbaugh on rko.

I guess we all should have seen it coming.  I wrote this when he lost the job because of his I slept with the world spiel.  I don’t think he did.  Irrelevant now, but here it is.

Predicting the future is not given to many mortals.  Oh some of us see a bank of clouds and take the umbrella, but few rise to the level of Warren Buffet.  Yet, there is an event that if one had been following it long enough should have been so easy to prognosticate.

Jay Severin was a guilty pleasure for many within his station’s range.  There were blogs dedicated to bashing him by people who could not stand an afternoon without him.  The pleasure at his end must have been short lived.  Indeed, at the finish, his audience probably consisted more of his detractors than fans.  Yet what they despised him for, his hate speech was not the most salient feature of his show.  It was there, but it was diminishing.  He had even taken to saying nice things about gays.  He had seemed to turn himself into the loving family man, albeit with the odd oat sown of youth. 

No, Jay had another quality that he could never escape.  One may disagree on whether it was outright prevarication or Olympic Gold level exaggeration, but it was big.  Were he a fisherman, the minnow that got away would have been turned into a trout, the trout, a shark, and then a whale.

He made his adventures with interns sound like he had serviced a harem larger than a Turkish Sultan and was done in for his brag.  Think about the man.  He has been caught out on boast after boast.  If he has not been awarded degrees and honors he’s claimed, why does anyone believe he was super stud?  It was not what he did but what he said he did that he is vanished.

Some of his foibles are well known.  Probably his most famous is, ''But since journalism began, and up until the time at least that I took my master's degree at Boston University -- and may I add without being obnoxious, up till and including the time that I received a Pulitzer Prize for my columns for excellence in online journalism from the Columbia School of Journalism, the highest possible award for writing on the Web -- right up to and including that in 1998, you still had to practice journalism to be a journalist."
 
Jay’s comment was a reflection on the state of journalism, oddly enough.  Globe reporter, Scott Lehigh did the legwork and found out that there is no such prize and that our latter day Mencken had no Pulitzer on record.  Jay had an explanation, ‘‘what I said was, there is a prize that my editor told me is the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for Web journalism."  The producer whom he said told him he had won wasn’t sure what award he was talking about and they were sitewide anyway.  To call a Jay connection nebulous is to be kind.

This is not to say a BU grad could not win a Pulitzer, but Jay wasn’t degreed from that school on the south bank of the Charles.  Jay Severin admitted as much in 2005 that "... it would appear I have no degree" after the school denied knowledge of the award.  Maybe he put the frame sans sheepskin up on the wall and said, “Hmm, I wonder what’s missing?”

Oh, maybe his Harvard Law School vellum?  Yup, He had spent time north of the River Chuck to pursue legal studies.  This was reported in the Boston College campus newspaper, the Heights.  When queried about this, Jay had no clue except that, well, he might have gone to a few classes as part of the BU thingee.  A bit of a stretch, but that’s the pattern.

Decades ago, Eddie Andelman said of Jean Shepherd of Christmas Story fame, “He had a longer childhood than Orphan Annie.”  A dated reference to many, but Severin has had a longer childhood than Jean Shepherd as it has never ended. The Heights also reported, "As a young person, Severin was arrested over 50 times while fighting for civil rights."   

Again, maybe a stretch?  After all, Martin Luther King in his career was arrested only four times. Fifty times are a lot of collars and for someone who sounds so self absorbed, it makes one wonder.  Still, There may have been a demonstration that went by Jay’s car while a ticket was being written and he counts that as a pinch and inflated it a lot.

When most boomers were working summer jobs, Woodstock happened.  Kids who were pumping gas while waiting to get back to BC or Northeastern heard of the wild party in a New York sward and many would later claim to have been there.  It was a loaves and fishes field.  Give Jay credit, he’s one of the few of his generation who does not claim to have been in attendance.

Maybe that’s because he had he had tasted blood the year before during the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention.  He claims to have been at the Battle of Grant Park.  The then 17 year old was trawling record stores and had hardly heard of events, but no matter, he would become fast friends with Abbie and Jerry and who is there to gainsay it now.  Who knows, it may be true, as it appears he was at Abbie Hoffman’s Worcester memorial.  That will always be the question about Jay, is it Memorex?

So is it possible that Jay was the man-god to all the aspiring female politicos?  Maybe, but like his claim to be more than the B-grade political operative Scott Lehigh pegged him as, the evidence is slight.

Still, some of his narrative is indisputable.  Mother Jones in 1983 called him a competitor of his former employer, David Garth.  Just to be able to keep the lights on in a field as tough as political consulting is a feat. 


In 1985, jay is part of a triumvirate that is working to get bush père ready for his run in1988.  The new york magazine article pegs them as “the only people who ever left david garth's organization to establish a republican agency.”  the problem is there is another severin in the threesome.  The firm known as severin avilles associates, inc, included a kathleen cooney severin .  She was not jay’s half sister.  Using french in this paragraph already, another indo-european tongue is in order.  Frau is the word we are looking for.  So it was according to a 1993 new york times article about rudy giulani that mentioned their status as man and wife and tapped kathleen as firm president.

So how does one think the conversation at the dinner table went, “ya know dear, that new intern looks like she needs a bit of mentoring.”  hmmm.  Not too high on the likelihood scale that.

 ah but a mere four years later, the new york times noted, jay would be strolling down the aisle with a new mrs. Severin, renee klock.  He is now chairman of severin media less avilles.  Though there is no definitive evidence from the wedding announcement, it is doubtful that the new wife had been a mentoree at the firm.

So there is a four year window where he might have had his romp.  In all probability, it was likely to be only a couple of years when kathleen was out of the picture and renee arrived.

So was there that bevy of eager young operatives willing to give it up so that they could learn from the master on the campaign trail?  This is what jay wanted his listeners to believe.  That he cut a huge swath through maidenhood is open to question.

With his ratings less than mediocre, it is understandable that his employer’s corporate nose bled with every check issued.  In all probability, if Jay had let slip that on certain occasions jaywalking was understandable, they would have considered that evidence of moral turpitude if they could have gotten away with it.  Of course if his audience had still been large, he could have said he was the Boston Strangler without concern.

When he made his claim, there was little in the way of an uprising among Boston womanhood.  Who complained, if anyone, is not known.  TKK did not waste his time.  Severin had not realized how the game had changed, and became a victim of his own hyperbole.

Jay is quickly descending into unpersonhood.    There is fandom on facebook, but Charles Manson probably has a page.  He hasn’t been mentioned in weeks.   Boston almost still can’t get over David Brudnoy, but Jay who?  Well, why not?  When Julian Assange burst on the scene, Mr. Sophistication referred to “Wikitakealeak.”  He really couldn’t maintain the urbane veneer.  Severin won’t be missed and it’s a pity.  Every town needs someone to love to hate.  


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Update, The Irish not supine!

So the Irish threw out one government that was for giving in to the banksters and put in another that gave in to the banksters.  For all appearances, it looked like the Paddy just gives in.  That was the import of yesterday's post.

Well, today an article in the new York Times says it all in the headline, Half of Irish Homeowners Join Boycott of New Property Tax.  The Times quotes an Irish member of the Dail,  
“It is quite clear a mass boycott has really sent this government a significant message it didn’t want to hear,” Luke Flanagan, one of the parliamentary deputies leading the opposition to the new household charge, said in an interview on Monday. “When we started this campaign, even 25 percent support translating to several hundred thousand would have been phenomenal, but we estimate over a million people eligible to pay this tax have refused.”
It took a while, and of course the powers that be are no help, but at least a significant portion of the Irish have wised up.

I don't mean to be to critical of the people I share DNA with.  It is much easier to rebel and win against a foreign occupier than to resist the bureaucracy.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Wise up Ireland

So here you are, the poster boy, er poster country for doing the responsible thing. The responsible thing being letting the common folk suffer for the sins of stupid bankers and stupid investors. The Irish people know that if they don’t do the right thing, it will be the end of the world as we know it, again.

 What if you’re asked to do the right thing again? It appears Mr. and Mrs. Average Irish Citizen, you are going to asked again. According to your paper of record, The Irish Times, you may need a new bailout. That’s semi-officialese for you will need another bailout. Anybody surprised. In Les Temps, a Mr. Butler (some association with the Bank Of England) says it’s going to be a great deal. For more money you go from a 6% to 3% interest. It sounds like the debate in that circus called the US congress about the interest rate on student loans, somehow, it don’t make no diff. If you majored in the post modern novel, you ain’t paying it back at 1% or a zillion.

Rather than taking Bailout Part Deux, there is only one word I have for the land of my ancestors, Iceland. Could be wrong there, but since they told the bankers to go fry ice (a subject in their clime they might know something about) they have not sunk beneath the waves.

If you give in now, your are, the phrase au courant here in the new world is “kicking the can down the road.” Eventually it will be bailout 98. Moi, I doubt it will get to that. Some country braver and not smart enough to be completely stupid will say go to hell. The Greeks are a bet.

 According to most Irishmen,I’m a Yank. According to most Americans, due to my Mick surname, I’m Irish. I’ve affection for the land of my ancestors and hardly wish to see it suffer. Yup, there will be suffering no matter which course. If you give in, the suffering will be ongoing. If you say no, you take the medicine, suffer and get up and move on.

Do you really believe Brian Hayes when he knocks on your door?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Axis of Awesome and the only song you need to download

So, I've been telling my kids for years that popular music is the same song over and over again. Oh no, their special artist is a unique and brilliant talent, until they tire of him/her. I take it as a vindication when my son had me watch this. It does not matter what song you pay to download, they're all the same. Of course, this one is probably the best as it incorporates all the mediocrities into one.