Category Archives: Social Commentary

A Hundred And Ten

As Glenn says, we’re going to see more people living to be this old. And as a commenter notes, there aren’t very many people left who were born in the nineteenth century. My maternal grandmother would have been two years older, had she lived, but she died at the ripe young age of ninety eight, fourteen years ago (whereupon I became a full orphan, and next in line, having no longer any living ancestors).

Of course, I take these folks’ recommendations for a long life with a healthy bag of salt. Particularly when they recommend a life of celibacy. I think that it’s good genes, and good luck, more than anything else.

Secession

Should American writers secede from the Nobel Prize for literature?

There was a brief moment, after World War II, when the Nobel Committee allowed that America might produce more sophisticated writers. No one on either side of the Atlantic would quarrel with the awards to William Faulkner in 1949 or Ernest Hemingway in 1954. But in the 32 years since Bellow won the Nobel, there has been exactly one American laureate, Toni Morrison, whose critical reputation in America is by no means secure. To judge by the Nobel roster, you would think that the last three decades have been a time of American cultural drought rather than the era when American culture and language conquered the globe.

But that, of course, is exactly the problem for the Swedes. As long as America could still be regarded as Europe’s backwater–as long as a poet like T.S. Eliot had to leave America for England in order to become famous enough to win the Nobel–it was easy to give American literature the occasional pat on the head. But now that the situation is reversed, and it is Europe that looks culturally, economically, and politically dependent on the United States, European pride can be assuaged only by pretending that American literature doesn’t exist. When Engdahl declares, “You can’t get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world,” there is a poignant echo of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard insisting that she is still big, it’s the pictures that got smaller.

Nothing gives the lie to Engdahl’s claim of European superiority more effectively than a glance at the Nobel Prize winners of the last decade or so. Even Austrians and Italians didn’t think Elfriede Jelinek and Dario Fo deserved their prizes; Harold Pinter won the prize about 40 years after his significant work was done. To suggest that these writers are more talented or accomplished than the best Americans of the last 30 years is preposterous.

Other than that I think Hemingway is vastly overrated, and ample fodder for parody, I agree. The Peace prizes have been a joke since Arafat and Rigoberto Menchu (not to mention Jimmy Carter), and I think that the literature prizes have gone the same way, decades ago.

No Fascism Here

Nothing to see at all. Move along, move along.

As Jonah says:

All I need to know about your politics is whether you find this creepy or not.

Get out the crayolas and color me creeped out.

[Update mid afternoon]

Die Obamajugend Singt.

Roger Simon (who knows his fascists) has more thoughts.

[Update a few minutes later]

Some great comments at the Hit’n’Run link.:

[Olympics flashback]

The worst part is that the original singers were all replaced by much cuter kids.

[/Olympics flashback]

[Update about 3:15 PM EDT]

Exurban League has more, as does Confederate Yankee. It turns out to be astroturf:

Here’s a partial list of those who helped produce this “grassroots” effort:

  • Jeff Zucker — American television executive, and President & CEO of NBC Universal.
  • Post-producer (former choreographer?) Holly Shiffer.
  • Motion picture camera operator/steadicam specialist Peter Rosenfeld (appropriately enough, worked in “Yes Man,” a movie about ” a guy challenges himself to say ‘yes’ to everything for an entire year.”
  • Darin Moran, another motion picture industry professional, who just finished filming — how appropriate — Land of the Lost.
  • Andy Blumenthal, Hollywood film editor.

Jeff Zucker. This generation’s Leni Riefenstahl. Except without the talent.

Death Of A Film Legend

RIP, Paul Newman.

You can’t live a life much more full than he seemed to. And unlike many of his Hollywood colleagues, the one way that he didn’t seem to fill it up was with promiscuity and infidelity. It’s all too rare that an actor is faithful for decades. Of course, as he noted himself, it probably helps to be married to Joanne Woodward.

I hadn’t realized that he was a flier in the Navy in the Pacific. It’s always tempting to say that they don’t make them like that any more, but I suspect that they still do. A lot of them probably served in Iraq in the last few years, and we’ll be hearing from them in the future.

Good Old Reliable

As is often the case, I agree with Glenn. They can have my land line when they pull the phone from my cold dead fingers.

Cells are simply not reliable enough for me to use them for everything, though I put up with it on a trip (when we were with T-Mobile, my cell phone didn’t even work in the house). I wonder how many kids who have grown up with cell phones for voice and texting take their idiosyncrasies and unreliability for granted, because they don’t have that much experience with a reliable and clean line? Plus, during the hurricanes, when all else failed, including power, cell service was out, but I always had phone service plus DSL on my land line. It allowed me to stay on line, by using a laptop and a voltage inverter plugged into the car.

The technology may continue to improve to the point at which I no longer feel the need for a land line, but we’re nowhere near it yet, in my opinion.