Friday, December 19, 2008

I had to advise a lot of people who were looking for jobs, and not just at Pan-Am…. And I’d tell them the secret to getting a job is to imagine the kind of person the company wants to hire and then become that person during the interview. The hell with your theories of what you believe in, and what your integrity is, and all that other stuff. You can project all that when you’ve got the job.

Flight Attendant Recruiter (1983)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Now that he has no insurance, Mr. Jackson takes his Effexor antidepressant pills every other day, rather than daily, as prescribed.

Robert Pear, "When a Job Disappears, So Does the Health Care" (Dec. 7, 2008)
The number of people on food stamps set a record in September, with 31.6 million people receiving benefits, up by two million in one month.

Nearly 4.4 million people are receiving unemployment insurance benefits, an increased [sic] of 60 percent in the past year. But more than half of unemployed workers are not getting help because they do not qualify or have exhausted their benefits.

Robert Pear, "When a Job Disappears, So Does the Health Care" (Dec. 7, 2008)
Starla D. Darling, 27, was pregnant when she learned that her insurance coverage was about to end. She rushed to the hospital, took a medication to induce labor, and then had an emergency Casesarian section, in the hope that her Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan would pay for delivery. [...] As it turned out, the insurance company denied her claim, leaving Ms. Darling with more than $17,000 in medical bills."

Robert Pear, "When a Job Disappears, So Does the Health Care" (Dec. 7, 2008)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Workers Give Up

The share of all men ages 16 and over who are working is now at its lowest level since the government began keeping statistics in the 1940s.

David Leonhardt, "Workers Give Up" (Dec. 5, 2008)

Monday, December 1, 2008

The pretext for progressive rhetoric is, of course, the idea that man, the creature of reason and benevolence, has only to understand the truth in order to act upon it. But the function of progressive rhetoric is another matter; it is, in Dwight McDonald's phrase, to accomplish "in fantasy what cannot be accomplished in reality." Because politics is for [the liberal] a means of accommodating himself to a world he does not like but does not really want to change, he can find ample gratification in words. They appease his twinges of guilt without committing him to very drastic action. Thus the expiatory role of resolutions in progressive meetings.

Arthur Schlesinger, The Vital Center (1949)

Friday, November 28, 2008

On B+ movies and literature

In short, the contemporary apocalypse pits family values against the cannibalistic universe--the good guys versus the bad guys, in McCarthy's unironic terms. And so, with the end of civilization, the age-old conflict between sexual love (eros) and love of one's neighbor (caritas) also disappears; and the grown-up Jesus' exhortation to his followers that they leave their families if they wish to pursue righteousness is as little remembered as among Christian fundamentalists today. No one pauses to reflect that in our civilization, pre-collapse, it was invariably the defense of the individual household that justified a nation's warlike international posture or its profligate use of energy. Nuclear war might be averted, went the insipid Sting hit of the late cold war, if the Russians love their children too. But if global warming is not arrested, it will be because we (and the Russians) want for our children everything we have and more.

Benjamin Kunkel, "Dystopia and the End of Politics" (2008)

Thursday, November 27, 2008


For us, paradox reduced itself to the simplest terms: it was the ability to say what was not expected, to fool one's audience. If, during a thunder shower, another boy looked out the classroom window and said, "It isn't raining, is it?" expecting us to answer "no," we would say "yes." By doing so, we were giving what we called a First Convolution answer.

The theory of convolutions was evolved in Pittsburgh, at Peabody High School, but it might have appeared in any city during those years before the war. [...] The process seems capable of indefinite extension; it can be applied, moreover, to any form of art, so long as one is less interested in what one says than in one's ability to outwit an audience.

Malcolm Cowley, Exile's Return (1934)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Pretty Idea

The premise of secular humanism (or of just old-fashioned humanism) is that the examples of action and thought portrayed in the enduring works of literature, philosophy and history can create in readers the desire to emulate them. [...] It’s a pretty idea, but there is no evidence to support it and a lot of evidence against it. If it were true, the most generous, patient, good-hearted and honest people on earth would be the members of literature and philosophy departments, who spend every waking hour with great books and great thoughts, and as someone who’s been there (for 45 years) I can tell you it just isn’t so.

Stanley Fish, "Will the Humanities Save Us?" (2008)