December 10th, 2014


Signs along the cynic route

Can't say I'm surprised about the CIA report. They tortured people; they didn't get good information from it; they lied about it--that's what happens. What amuses me is that they got a particularly bad report because they got caught spying on the head of the Congressional committee as if she were an ordinary citizen or something. Reminds me of how Nixon lost the presidency because his gang treated the Democratic Party like a Black group or a peace group.

Newer Republic

Long ago, I heard that a leftist magazine consisted of two parts: the political section in front, which said that the People should rule, and the critical section, which said that at least in the arts the People couldn't find their ass with both hands. The Chronicle reminded me of that, although the front of The New Republic had a different view. Someone mourned for The New Republic because it brought back "liberal internationalism," and I thought, "Worst reanimation since Herbert West."

Ever since Woodrow Wilson had his wet dream of inflicting democracy on the entire world, there has been an element of liberalism that has given cover to the warmongers by suggesting that it is our duty to get into Asian land wars and otherwise meddle in countries we don't understand, and we probably couldn't have had our Vietnam and Iraq adventures without them.

What I didn't notice, but should have, is how awful they were on race. Ta-Nehisi Coates takes the scare story that the new regime wants to make The New Republic into BuzzFeed, and makes the case that it would be an improvement.

The monsters and the lecturers

Diana Wynne Jones on being taught by J.R.R. Tolkien. The way I heard it, he never was a good lecturer. He appears as a minor comic figure in the lives of Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin, the inept professor in a required course, talking inaudibly and writing illegibly.

Thanx to andrewducker

ETA: kalimac (go-to authority in these matters) says that Tolkien had already finished The Lord of the Rings before Diana Wynne Jones got to Oxford.