Saturday, March 11, 2017

Weekend Open Thread

What are you thinking, doing, watching, reading, listening to?


Kat said...

Has anyone read

If you haven't I recommend you get your hands on a copy. I happened upon it when I perused the Oxford World's Classics catalogue (online, somewhat cumbersome) for new titles. I had just read Down and Out in paris and London. As grim as the subject matter was, it still managed to be humorous in the extreme. It was also extremely frustrating. Frustrating, because we are still having the same discussions 100 years later.
It is fascinating to see how many old ideas are packaged as new-- the idea that mechanization (now we use the term "automation") should lead to poverty for some. This novel takes care of that farcical argument-- if we have the means to produce the things we need cheaply, shouldn't that lead to an increase in wealth for everyone? Why doesn't it? The author (through the protagonist, the socialist Frank Owen) attacks the Liberal government scheme of increasing technical education.
He shows how absurd the idea is that alcohol or early marriage (I guess today it would be no marriage) leads to poverty or the idea that social problems wrought by poverty such as tuberculosis are turned into simply medical problems. He takes on the charitable organizations. The hypocrisy of the religious comes under fire.
People here might appreciate the portrayal of the parliamentary campaign between the Tory and the Liberals.
I had never heard of the book. Read it and you will see why it is not on any school curriculum that I know of.

Karen Garcia said...


Thanks for the recommendations. I have heard of, but never read, Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. From what I can recall it has made a 100 Best Books list a time or two. So that will definitely go on my Must Read list.

I recently re-read Orwell's essay "How the Poor Die," which is especially apropos today, given Paul Ryan's latest Social Darwinist frenzy. Orwell wrote about a charity hospital in Paris... and that is the operative word, charity. As bad as conditions were, patients never got a bill, either before or after they prematurely died.

Also just finished "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. LeGuin. Written from a Marxist perspective in the 60s it's a realistic look at what happens when a bunch of futuristic hippies set up a commune on a planet close to their capitalistic one.

Still getting through Victor Klemperer's diary. It is so intense I can't read more than a couple dozen pages in one sitting. Especially since so much of the atmosphere and speech in the Trump era is so similar to 1930s Germany.

Regarding TV, I highly recommend a series called "Rectify." Although it won a Peabody award, it never got a large audience. The whole series, which actually spans only a few months, is currently streaming on Netflix. It's a deeply philosophical study of a convicted murderer who wins a new trial after 20 years in solitary confinement and how he and his family try to readjust to his freedom. The mystery is that nobody knows whether he committed the crime or not, because he has no memory of it. An actor who plays a retired sheriff in the series also happens to follow my blogging, and he's the one who suggested that I watch it. So I'd like to give it a plug here.

Also greatly enjoying the FX series about Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, which just began last week. Susan Sarandon plays Bette to perfection, and Jessica Lange does Joan. It's a good scathing critique of Hollywood and wealth.

Kat said...

Thanks for the recommendations- Rectify sounds good and the Crawford/Davis series sounds right up my alley. I might have to check out the Ursula LeGuin. I haven't rad a lot of sci fi.
My tv love right now is Alfred Hitchock presents and the Alfred Hitchcock hour. Everyone is so bad. No happy endings, just well constructed plots.

Unknown said...

Take a break from art literature and politics
College basketball is heating up!!!!

Elizabeth -- Marysville said...

I have just been reading online material. Several books I have started the past year or so have not been finished.

Went to see "Get Out" with my family last weekend. Glad I saw it; it had some things I wasn't expecting; it is too disturbing for me to want to see again. I hear Jordan Peele has a lot more stuff in the works, and I am looking forward to his future productions.

Drove to U C Davis Thursday to see Jill Stein speak. David Cobb (co-founder of Move to Amend, whom I had seen talk several years before in Grass Valley) is a great speaker, and he filled in for a bit while we waited for her to arrive. He did a good rundown of the Democratic Party's cyclic squelching of attempted progressive takeovers. Maybe this one -- Our Revolution -- will be the breakthrough. Or maybe it is just insanity which has sucked another generation into trying the same thing in the hope of different results.

Jill spoke for 30 minutes and answered questions for 30 and then hung around while many attendees waited to shake her hand or take picture with her. There were lots of questions and concerns about immigration from the students in attendance, although Jill did cover the party's platform in her talk.

Hillary Rettig said...

Karen -

a) Love your work.

b) The Dispossessed was even more based on Murray Bookchin's classic Post-Scarcity Anarchism.

c) Suggest for your next sf excursion The Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski. My favorite! And a big award winner. It also depicts the collision of a feminist, egalitarian, peaceful, anarchist, eco sustainable sustainability with a capitalist / warmongering / patriarchal one.

Slonczewski's prose starts out a bit dense but please stay with it. The book is a marvel. (Like all of Slonczewski's works - I'm a total fan!)

Jay–Ottawa said...

In the old days the tug of war in reading time was between books and periodicals. One heavy-duty (i.e., serious and oh-so worthy) monthly or bi-weekly periodical read cover to cover might be equal to the print space of half a book. Do that with two such periodicals, and you had read the equivalent of one book of fiction or non fiction. Then, as now, newspapers like the NY Times, to include the hefty Sunday edition counted for close to nothing on the score card of a life.

These days, our time is no longer divided but triangulated among the first two time sinks, books and periodicals, and the greatest new time sink of all, the internet. After long consideration, mostly during the moments between head hits the pillow and falling asleep, I conclude the internet is more like a newspaper on my score card, and that's even if we stick to the worthy blogs (see blog roll). As for tweets, Snapchat and FaceBook, those are minor crimes I'll keep out of this discussion. The one strong suit of the internet is supposed to be timeliness, even more up to the minute than the old fashioned print dailies. But is the latest news so praiseworthy because it includes the latest shout or whisper? Duh ….

Periodicals and books provide those important second thoughts the morning after, actually the month or the years after. After a few years of touring cyberspace, I'm trying, as you can see, to inch my way back to terra firma--the book. Here's one, just finished: "The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World" by Andrea Wulf. On some lists it was one of the top ten. Humboldt is much better known in South America and Europe, so we in North America have some catching up to do on someone who deserves much more attention. And, because the hero of the book provides the backstory for understanding global warming, you may find Wulf's book as up to date as anything to be found this morning on the internet.

Pearl said...

Elizabeth: I am impressed with all the things you are remaining active in. We should all be more directly involved with supporting the people and organizations that are pledged to continue guiding us in a better direction politically and socially. It inspires others to join in eradicating the poison emanating from the Trump White House.
The time is ripe for starting a revolution that is long overdue.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Elizabeth's mention of Jill Stein is the first I've heard about the Green Leader since the election. Good to learn she stays busy between elections, and big campuses can keep alive voices not covered by the MSM. It appears she is also connected to "Our Revolution," another organization unknown to me in the backwoods of Canada.

So I googled OR's site. Lots of nice position papers on just about everything. The political candidates for whom OR declares its support makes it clear they are building from the grassroots up. Nice. And the OR site is big and polished.

However, my previously singed antennae twitched here and there when exploring the site. From the leadoff passages of their position paper on healthcare, entitled "Medicare for All," this:


Three phrases raise doubts in my mind about "Our Revolution": "the goal of Democrats" & "The Affordable Care Act was a critically important step towards the goal of universal health care" & "But as we move forward, we must build upon the success of the ACA…."

C'mon. As has been made clear numerous times at Sardonicky, the ACA was/is a big step away from universal health care, in that it expanded the reach of the private health insurance industry, which was/is the central problem to begin with.

Elsewhere on the OR site, this in the way of a recent campaign:
<< On Saturday more than 30,000 supporters attended over 150 events in 120 congressional districts across the country in support of the Affordable Care Act. Our Revolution called the turnout "an inspiring display of resistance and a warning to Republicans" who threaten the law. >>

Is Our Revolution being anti-Trump by rounding up Bernie's progressives without a discouraging word about the DNC or Hillary? So far, I've only found criticisms of Republicans on the site, none against the Democrats. And Gill Stein is backing "Our Revolution"?


Elizabeth -- Marysville said...

Jay -- I never liked or supported the ACA, and I do resent being expected to support it (which I won't). Having that as a part of Our Revolution definitely gives a foul Democratic Party odor to it. But OR is supporting truly progressive candidates, including Cheri Honkala of the Green Party. The Green Party New Deal still includes single payer Medicare for all.

The much needed revolution will not take place within one group, but a coalition of many.

Stev-o said...

The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton,
Dream Cities - Wade Graham,
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens.

Just finished three short ones by Arundhati Roy:
Capitalism: A Ghost Story,
Walking with the Comrades and
Things That Can and Cannot Be Said.

Reading is good.
Listening to a lot of Beck, Heart is a Drum

Mark Thomason said...

I have been reading Philip Smith, The Empress of China, about the voyage of the first American ship to China, in 1783.

Things have not changed very much. There were dreams of a vast China Market. There was the reality of a self sufficient China that did not really want much from us. What they could not do themselves they could get nearer and cheaper than from us. They were huge then, in resources and production, as they are now.

The money was made by importing to the US from China. A vast fortune was made that way. The money was made in the US market. That was shaped by laws that suddenly allowed and favored such trade, which had been banned by and prevented by the British. Politically prominent promoters ensured that the laws made the China-to-US trade as profitable as possible.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Sigh. Here's what turned up missing above between < > .

<< It has been the goal of Democrats since Franklin D. Roosevelt to create a universal health care system guaranteeing health care to all people. Every other major industrialized nation has done so. It is time for this country to join them and fulfill the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson and other great Democrats….The Affordable Care Act was a critically important step towards the goal of universal health care. Thanks to the ACA, more than 17 million Americans have gained health insurance…. >>

True, the "Our Revolution" organization may already be a gathering of different strains of protest––plus the usual suspects at co-optation. Coalitions are unavoidable if the revolution is to grow into something big enough to be a credible threat to the Duopoly. So let's keep an eye on OR.

voice-in-wilderness said...

In retirement I spend too much time keeping up with the world, from the U.S. political freakshow to developments in the sciences. And that is with no smartphone, Facebook, or Twitter to distract me. I'm much, much better informed than when I was working, but that does not bring me a sense of satisfaction or empowerment -- just the opposite.

I think I would be better off if I ignored the daily news, limiting myself to some catch-up reading on, say, Sunday mornings. I really should be spending my remaining time creatively and reading for pleasure. But so far I lack the self-discipline to do that!

Neil said...

[former]President Obama authored an 8 page white paper published August 2, 2016 by the JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association, titled "United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps"

The article also appears on PubMed, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health,

I’m listening to Erik Satie ~ Once Upon A Time In Paris

Zee said...


re: "Erik Satie--Once Upon a Time in Paris."

Wonderful, calming music and stunning visuals. Where do you find such things?

Zee said...


re: "Erik Satie--Once Upon a Time in Paris."

Wonderful, calming music and stunning visuals. Where do you find such things?

Neil said...

@ Zee

Glad to read you like "Erik Satie--Once Upon a Time in Paris."

Also, see 3 Gymnopédies, 6 Gnossiennes -AT D DM F SZ

The music finds me somehow, likely through one of YouTube’s algorithms, and some of the music I have followed such as Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, here is a fav short clip,, Ravel's Bolero,, and this contemporary French pianist Myriam Frinault, here in public,

You may want to read more about Erik Satie and his Gymnopédies, Wikipedia is a good place to start,

Erik Satie was a was a French composer and pianist, who befriended Claude Debussy, met Maurice Ravel, held membership in the Communist Party, drank absinthe in excess, and had an affair with Suzanne Valadon, whom he proposed marriage after their first night together.

"Collectively, the Gymnopédies are regarded as an important precursor to modern ambient music" My understanding, modern ambient music is commonly called "elevator music".

But listen with awareness, because "Repetitive music has often been negatively linked with Freudian thanatos" the so-called Freudian death drive. Also Igor Stravinsky, whose "rhythmic procedures ostinato closely resemble the schema of catatonic conditions." "Similar criticism was leveled at Ravel's Bolero."

My old friend played piano at the Barclay Hotel (Philadelphia) in the manner of Myriam Frinault. The art images shown in "Erik Satie--Once Upon a Time in Paris" are by Edouard Leon Cortes. Antoine Blanchard followed Cortes, whom I once collected... I was in Paris on August 10, 1988 when Blanchard died. I studied Freud... am a fan of Stravinsky’s Rite, and Ravel's Bolero...

Yes, the artists, music and other such are all known, but somehow YouTube’s algorithms point me this way... or is this evidence of the Deep State? There is more...

Neil said...

Black Agenda Report: The Only Way to Win Single Payer is to Leave the Democratic Party, commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

"Not one Democratic Senator is committed to single payer. That includes Bernie Sanders, who has not submitted a bill this year – and, if you don’t have a bill, then you’re not serious about single payer health care. Sanders talked up a storm about single payer during the primary campaign, but then essentially shut up after endorsing Hillary Clinton, the candidate who said that single payer would "never, never" happen. That wasn’t a prediction; it was a promise by Clinton that she would do her utmost to prevent health care from becoming a right in the United States."

Zee said...


Thank you so much for the information! I will have much time to explore it while lying face down 45 minutes out of every hour for the next week or two, recovering from tomorrow's retinal surgery. Think that I will be Ok regarding "mental health." Music has always been good for me, although my tastes run to 1980s fusion jazz. Your suggestions are totally new to me, but change can be good.