Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
V.S. Naipaul’s books have had a genuine influence on how I see the world and live in it. I read his work in graduate school, where I had a class devoted to Naipaul and Salman Rushdie, and left a changed man, more curious and understanding than I was before it. For Naipaul, the world is a difficult place, filled with uncertain futures and danger, but a possibility for navigating through this and living and seeing beauty in the world exists. There is a beautiful sense in his work, fiction and non-fiction, that this place requires one to be tough but also to understand others–especially if that understanding means exposing things that are generally left unseen. I am thinking here of Beyond Belief, a wonderful, difficult work following Naipaul as he travels through the Muslim world. He frustrates (to put it kindly) everyone with his books, nobody more so than the subjects of his books. Pick up a Naipaul novel, A Bend in the River is quick and amazing, and you wont’ be disappointed.
But that is Naipaul’s work. Naipaul the man is an asshole and it can be hard to recommend his work. V.S. Naipaul is arrogant and condescending and treats people terribly, especially if those people are his wife, or not-wife, or Muslim, or Jewish, or Not-English, choose any specification you want. In his work, he is a terse and short, unwilling to accept half-way–and that is an asset in his books. But his acidic attitude matters in public, and the things he says matter: He is a Nobel Prize winning author who has written a body of work that spans decades, hemispheres, religion and politics and family. But then he speaks. What did he say now? The Guardian has the article:
This time, the winner of the Nobel prize for literature has lashed out at female authors, saying there is no woman writer whom he considers his equal – and singling out Jane Austen for particular criticism. Asked if he considered any woman writer his literary match. He replied: “I don’t think so.” Of Austen he said he “couldn’t possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world”.
He felt that women writers were “quite different”. He said: “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.”
The author, who was born in Trinidad, said this was because of women’s “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world”. “And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too,” he said.
He added: “My publisher, who was so good as a taster and editor, when she became a writer, lo and behold, it was all this feminine tosh. I don’t mean this in any unkind way.”
At least he’s not trying to be unkind. Jane Austen is your equal, Naipaul. She is among the greats of the greats. Jerk.
There is a common refrain in today’s political climate in the US surrounding whether or not the new wave of elected GOP officials were elected with a mandate from voters that includes not raising taxes and not seeking any new revenues for government to handle budget deficits and debts. The GOP officials, according to this narrative, see the voters that elected them as only willing to approve of spending cuts. Did this directive come from the voters at large? I don’t think so. Why not? Because voters actually want to see taxes raised on the wealthiest Americans.
A poll in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune bears this out in our state. “When asked to choose between a tax increase on the top 2 percent of Minnesotans or a state budget “balanced through cuts only,” 63 percent chose the tax increase and 32 percent chose the cuts.”
These are pretty similar to national numbers about the preference for tax increases to be a part of deficit reduction. This is not to say that taxes should be increased or not, but to say that it is disingenuous to pretend that there is no desire for raising taxes. Don’t misunderstand, its not difficult to understand why the GOP are beholden to this narrative: if they bend from the provided narrative, the caustic and destructive part of the Republican party will see to that individual’s demise.
But it gets tiresome to hear the same lines over and over, as a government shutdown looms in Minnesota and national political world is calling names, that the GOP cannot raise any revenues, the voters sent them to cut government spending and not to raise taxes. Unfortunately for the Republican folks, it’s not true and it makes any attempt to come to the middle-ground and compromise absolutely impossible. And the hard-line marriage to this argument is going to cost you. At least in Minnesota.
(And for those who say that President Obama or the Dems won’t compromise, you are wrong. They have compromised a great deal to the GOP, nothing more so than the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts)
It has been said, too often to even bother finding links, that one of the great problems that faces a Newt Gingrich run for president in 2012 is his massive, massive ego. I tend to agree with this. Newt Gingrich possess a brilliant policy mind. He’s creative and smart and capable of seeing things other conservatives are not. The problem for Gingrich is that he is not the next Abraham Lincoln, and running for president in 2012 is not going to decide the fate of union. I know Newt would love to be the one that saves the nation from the brink of civil war, but we are not on the brink of civil war. We’re just fighting about budgets. Sorry Newt, that’s just a bit of ego getting in the way. Again.
Republican Newt Gingrich told a Georgia audience on Friday evening that the 2012 presidential election is the most consequential since the 1860 race that elected Abraham Lincoln to the White House and was soon followed by the Civil War. Addressing the Georgia Republican Party’s convention, Gingrich said the nation is at a crossroads and that the re-election of Democratic President Barack Obama would lead to four more years of “radical left-wing values” that would drive the nation to ruin.
Even if this were the case, is Newt Gingrich really the man to stave off the ruin of the nation?
Don’t Say Gay.
This is legislation from Tennessee that recently cleared its Senate Committee. The legislation aims to outlaw any mention of homosexuality in states’s classrooms from Kindergarten through eighth grade. This is wrong. First, teachers do not teach homosexuality into students, and keeping gay and lesbian topics out of the classroom will not lead to fewer gay and lesbian people.
But there is an even more egregious problem with this legislation beyond this obvious notion. Some students, no matter how much one may wish it were not so, are children of gay and lesbian households. Teachers would be forbidden from discussing “any sexual behavior other than heterosexuality,” and this would (presumably) include discussing the home life and issues of children of gays and lesbians. And what, god forbid, if a student is gay, and needs someone to talk to? Shouldn’t school be a safe place for a young person?
The circumstance of being a gay student, or the child of a homosexual family cannot be easy for a grade school student. To remove the opportunity for teachers and school officials from offering words of comfort or understanding is a terrible decision. And it’s wrong.