April 2009 Archives

Thor is a God

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The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire by Matt Taibbi


 

My review

Rating: ★★★★★

Wow, what a scary, hilarious and depressing book this was! Veteran Rolling Stone political reporter Matt Taibbi visits two extreme sides of today's political "debate", a Christian Evangelist church in Texas and the wingnuts of the "Truth 9/11" squad, who maintain the whole Sept. 11 terrorist attack was really a government plot. A plot for what, no one seems quite clear, but a plot nonetheless.

His visit to the fire and brimstone evangelical mega-church in Texas is, of course, the scariest to this atheist. To imagine people buy into this far right wing talk of the apocalypse, brought on by Hillary Clinton (who really is the devil incarnate for these folks), is a truly depressing thought. Fine, have your religion if you need it, but show a little skepticism for these trumped up claims bellowed from the preacher man. There are some simply bust-a-gut laughing sections here, as he brings a liberalism and a truly cynical view to the scene.

He's equally tough on the Truth 9/11 group. In fact, one of the funniest sections of the book is his "transcript" of a meeting of the cabal lead by The Dark One himself, Dick Cheney and the rest of the leading neocons, as they figure out the plans for the 9/11 plot. It is so laughably an accurate account of how things must have happened if even a portion of their conspiracy theories are right that it makes it clear how far fetched it all really is. Yet, astoundingly, something like 40% believe some or all of these theories.

He intersperses these two stories with truly depressing chapters on how things currently are in Congress. The book actually goes past the 2006 Democrat uprising yet describes a "business as usual" attitude among our Congress critters. It's a very bleak, dark and depressing look at the politics of power and just how much it is to just stay in power and get money from lobbies. The main thrust of the 9/11 Truthers is that the whole plot was to change public opinion, but reading these other chapters makes you believe that they don't care about public opinion in the slightest.

I wish I still had the book on me so I could quote a few of the more outrageously cynical and humorous paragraphs. But Taibbi also does a very good job at trying to figure out what makes these people tick. What is it about big time religion that attracts folks? He works hard at humanizing them even if he can't believe what he is seeing sometimes. He understands both groups attempts at getting black and white answers in this very grey and confusing world. He makes the point that the 9/11 are just making their own version of the "truth", as today's news/marketers can't be trusted to do it for them.

A very good read, but ultimately very depressing. All the more so given the slow rate of change with the current administration, and the business as usual of both Congress and appointed leaders like Larry Summers, who has been in the pocket of big finance for years and yet is Obama's chief economic advisor.

Sigh. Now I'm depressed all over again.
 
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Book Review: Road to Coorain

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The Road from Coorain The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway

My review

Rating: ★★★★✩

Solid memoir about growing up in 40s Australia, first in the Outback on a sheep farm that nearly collapses due to a long drought, then in Sydney as she tries to adjust to life a smart, pretty woman in a very chauvinistic academi world. She loses some important people way too early, and her mom begins to lose her grip on reality.

I enjoyed the book and it was well written. I definitely liked it better when it was in Coorain, the sheep farm her parents bought and settled about 10 hours west of Sydney. A very different world, well described from a ten year old's perspective. When her fatherless family moved to Sydney, leaving the farm in caretaker's hands, the book bogged down for me. It became more of a "normal" story of the youngest daughter trying to come to grips with many pressures. While my growing up years were perfectly fine, I don't have any desire to relive them, either mine or someone else's, so even most "coming of age" movies leave me cool. But I persevered as she entered college and tried to figure out her path.

The books ends as she gets on a plane to Boston, to begin her post-graduate work at Harvard. Oddly enough, she currently lives just down the road from me. A small world, and this book does a very nice job of explaining how it can become so.
 
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Road From Coorain
Jill Kathryn Conway


Broken Singles

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Read a review today of the latest CD from local band Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles in today's Boston Globe and it sounded pretty interesting. I played a song on blip.fm and really liked what I heard, so naturally, the next step is their MySpace page. Then on to their Reverb Nation page, where I got this plugin to share the music from their The Stars Are Out CD. Some great rootsy rock going on here! Wonder if I can find the time to go see them at Church this Friday?


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Salt Mine Samplers

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Wow, a bunch more free samplers from Amazon to keep me company while I slave at the keyboard salt mine on this lovely Saturday. Can't say as too many from my last batch really grabbed me but hey, the price is right!

Friday Random 10

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  1. The Great Valerio - Richard Thompson (Watching The Dark Disc 3)
  2. Dipping - Bleach (We Heart Music)
  3. Perfect - The The (Soul Mining)
  4. Tonite - The Go-Go's (Beauty and the Beat)
  5. Dissolved Girl - Massive Attack (Mezzanine)
  6. Tamacun - Rodrigo y Gabriela (Rodrigo y Gabriela)
  7. Good Times Roll - The Cars (The Cars)
  8. Prelude - Kate Bush (Aerial - Disc2 - A Sky Of Honey)
  9. Orange Lights - Halflight (My Disguise)
  10. I'm Goin' Down - Bruce Springsteen (Born in the USA)

Wow, some great CDs picked at random there - practically every song on all 10 of those CDs is great! The We Heart Music is a compilation put together by our own We ♥ Music. Unfortunately Halflight (which I also first heard from the We ♥ Music compilation) is no more, although the ever creative Sarah Howells is already back in the saddle with a new group called Paper Aeroplanes, and I like the sound so far. Soul Mining, one of my all time favorite CDs, shows up, as does the RyG CD.

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