Current Wisdom

Current Wisdom

By From the September 2010 issue

Frank Rich is on vacation.

New York Times

How did we miss this? A reviewer of Sam Tanenhaus's The Death of Conservatism cries the crocodile's tears for gloved ladies with parasols, men with pork chop sideburns, and God knows what other delusions he longs for in his fantasy of the good old days:

One puzzling feature of American politics is that the people who call themselves conservatives seldom want to conserve anything. The modern conservative movement promotes radical transformation while ignoring classical conservative ideas-for example, Edmund Burke's respect for established institutions and custom, for continuity with tradition and for incremental change.

(September 29, 2009)

The Great Books Series

Author Stan Cox continues his war against the air-conditioner from his outpost in Salina, Kansas, where nobody objects to his body odor, halitosis, or general untidiness, as long as he stays in his basement and keeps the windows closed:

Some of the ills that follow in the wake of air-conditioning-resource waste, climate change, ozone depletion, and disorientation of the human mind and body-call for cures more complex than simply producing more energy-efficient devices or atmosphere-friendly refrigerants. Air-conditioning has also been an important tool in creating a society shot through with unsustainable trends: settlements of large human populations in fragile environments; an imbalance between indoor and outdoor life, buildings designed for dependence on high energy output; suburbanization, "mansionization," and the over-sized car and commuter cultures; recklessly accelerated production and consumption; enhanced military power; and even the political shocks that have hit this country in recent decades. None of those trends will be reversed overnight.

(From Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World by Stan Cox, The New Press, 255 pages, $24.95)

The Progressive

In the Gulf it is the corporations against the birds, and birder Matthew Rothschild can do nothing:

So ever since the BP oil spill began, I've been sickened by the hideous photos of pelicans, cormorants, and gannets, covered with oil. One of the first I saw was at the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, about eight miles from the Louisiana coast, where a brown pelican was found dead.

Later I watched as rescuers hosed down some oil-slicked birds, but only 20 percent of them could be saved.

The brown pelican, once almost extinct because hunters shot it for its creamy plume in the nineteenth century and DDT destroyed its eggs in the twentieth, may find itself once again on the endangered species list.

And now it looks like the entire coastal wetlands of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and perhaps Florida are going to be destroyed.

All because of corporate greed.

(July 2010)

American Prospect

On the intellectual pages of a favorite magazine of "Liberal Intelligence" two psychopaths take off and no one even notices, save for the highly trained editors of   The American Spectator:

DIALOGUE: Animal Instincts

Should zoos inspire liberal guilt or give us warm fuzzies?

Phoebe Connelly: While there are many fun things to do in D.C. in the summer-drinking, biking, drinking-let's talk about one thing that's not fun!

Alexandria Gutierrez: Sweating because of this freaking humidity?

Phoebe: Going to the zoo.

Alexandra: Sacrilege. Have you never eaten Dippin' Dots while watching baby pygmy hippos frolic? It is, quite simply, the best. Also, watching the gibbons canoodle? Ultimate fifth date.

Phoebe: Ugh. No. Let's start with the fact that I'm not a "cute animal pictures" person.

Alexandra: Yeah right! On more than one occasion you have sent me photos of clouded leopard cubs. The ones with the big blue eyes that makes you go "AWWW!"

Phoebe: OK, fine. Out me. But what's remotely fun about looking at creatures in cages.

[It goes on but you get the drift.]

(July/August 2010)

Washington Post

An explanation for our times heaved up by two experts from nearby outer space:

One reason for the narrative creep, according to Shi, the historian, is that we are living in a time "punctuated by dramatic intensity," with a raft of existential issues central to America's future all coming to the fore at once. And smack in the middle of this is a president who inspires imaginative leaps by all those around him.

"Obama has a great deal of dramatic reserve," explained Harold Bloom, a Yale University critic. He said the combination of the memoirist in chief's status as the most literate president since Abraham Lincoln and his inscrutable steeliness amounted to irresistible material for the "frustrated writers" in the press corps. "You have a touch of Shakespearean character, and people start constructing narratives."

(June 20, 2010)

The Progressive

The Prog offers helpful hints on what to look for in the event of the rise of neofascism here in these United States, or just a Republican resurgence in the autumnal unpleasantness, whichever comes first:

So how close are we? As of yet, we don't have a full-blown neofascist movement in America. What we have are protofascist or cryptofascist manifestations that could transform themselves into something more meaningful.

The anti-immigration law in Arizona could be a precursor. And the repressive statutes and executive orders that Bush and Cheney put in place could make it easier for fascists if they ever seized power.

Here are some things to watch out for: more armed rallies, mob violence, the assassination of a liberal elected official or media star, the celebration of that violence by members of the rightwing mass movement and by one or two of their cheerleaders on Fox or talk radio, the accommodation of some elected officials with supporters of that violence, a failure of the mainstream political system to redress the genuine economic grievances of the populace, and some humiliation to seize upon.

(June 2010)

New York Times


An interesting sociological development as noted by America's newspaper of record and given lunatic emphasis, by Mr. Scofield or Mr. Gold or whatever the hell he calls himself:


Mitchell Gold and Tim Scofield

...On June 19, they were married at the Des Moines Art Center in a wedding that was in some ways a celebration of Iowa, one of five states that permit same-sex marriages. As 92 guests...watched, the couple said their vows before Judge Robert B. Hanson of Iowa's Fifth Judicial District, whose 2007 ruling helped open the door to same-sex marriages in that state.

Afterward, guests wandered through an exhibition of Iowa artists, then gathered in an outdoor lounge created for the evening with white furniture supplied by Mr. Gold's company. It featured a disco ball and the New York D. J. Lady Bunny. The grooms wore matching dark suits, and Mr. Gold was wearing his trademark half-smile.

"The world could be ending, and you wouldn't know it with Mitchell," Mr. Scofield said. "He's always so calm. You want a partner like that, someone who makes you feel everything is going to be all right."

From now on, they will be known as Mr. Gold and Mr. Gold, or the Golds.

"I'm changing my name," Mr. Scofield said. "My grandfather's name was Goldberg. It's almost like going back to my roots, in a way. I think it's very interesting that women are becoming more liberated and keeping their names, whereas gay men are becoming more traditional and changing their names."

(July 4, 2010)

From the Archives

Timeless Tosh from Current Wisdoms Past

(September 1990)

Hollywood Reporter

Another tear-stained remembrance of the American Richard II by another of our country's gifted poetizers:

Watching and listening to Nixon as he shifts and blurts out his take on things, one is again struck by the perverse singular status this banished shadow king enjoys, this reigning embodiment of forbidding times, when the streets were blank and dark with tears and hope burned with a gangrenous iridescence.

(May 3, 1990)

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