Latest Posts

Books
  • Barack Obama's One-Star Amazon Review of "Atlas Shrugged"

    President Obama recently sat down with Rolling Stone and conducted what will probably be remembered by history as "The Bullshit Interview."

    At some point during the interview, he was asked to give his thoughts on the writings of Ayn Rand and what he thinks about their underlying philosophy as interpreted by conservatives like Paul Ryan. He admits that he has read some Rand, which makes him like most politically-minded people. He does not say whether or not he finished any of her books, which would make him like almost no people.

    Spoiler alert: He's not a fan

    "Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we're considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity — that that's a pretty narrow vision. It's not one that, I think, describes what's best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a 'you're on your own' society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party."

    This doesn't really surprise me. Barack Obama always struck me as more of a Middle Earth-type nerd.


    Tags: Ayn Rand, Barack Obama, Books, Nerdiness, Paul Ryan
  • Mitt Romney Is Finally This Version of Mitt Romney!

    Buzz Bissinger is a sports columnist and the author of the book Friday Night Lights, which was later made into the movie Friday Night Lights, which was later made into the TV show Friday Night Lights, which was later made into the movie Battleship. He is also, apparently, a "lifelong Democrat."

    But something magic happened last week. He had an epiphany. He decided that he is going to vote for Mitt Romney!

    Voting for a president is based on a combination of factual and emotional perception. The tipping point was last week’s debate in Denver. Romney finally did what he should have done all along instead of his balky cha cha with the old white men of the conservative Republican wing: he acted as the moderate he is, for the first time running as himself, not against himself, embracing his record as governor of Massachusetts.

    I have never seen a performance worse than Obama’s, distracted, his head dipped into the podium as if avoiding the smell of something rotten, acting above the very idea that a debate does provide a pivotal referendum on his first term as it has for all incumbent presidents, whipsawed by the legion of usual advisers telling him to play defense when his own intuition should have told him that he needed to go on the offensive as Romney slapped him around.

    Okay, so, you may think it's silly and not-entirely-believable for a "lifelong Democrat" to suddenly make a political 180 degree turn based upon the performances in one debate. But I know where Bissinger is coming from. I understand how exciting it can be to witness something that you had considered irredeemably broken and useless suddenly become right, as though by the very hand of God.

    I have this old clock in my house, and it hasn't work right in years. But I keep it around, because I've noticed that at least twice a day, it is miraculously fixed. Truly, it is a phenomenal and inspiring thing to behold.

    Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images


    Tags: Books, Debates, Mitt Romney, Sports
  • U.S. Government Wins (Ig) Nobel Prize

    Ig Nobel PrizeThanks to President Obama, the U.S. government already has a Norwegian Munitions-Manufacturing War Guilt Memorial Peace Prize winner, even if the recipient is setting some kind of record for the highest ratio of drone strikes to Peace Prizes.

    With the addition of the president's two Grammy awards for the voice recordings of his books and his Cannes Lions International Advertising Awards, the U.S. government is just a Literature Prize short of a GLAP (Grammy, Literature, Advertising, Peace), the lesser known cousin of the EGOT.

    Thanks to the efforts of the Government Accountability Office and the graciousness of the Ig Nobel Prize committee, organized by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research, we are finally GLAPing. The GAO won this year's Literature Ig Nobel thanks to a report it prepared for the Pentagon, titled Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies

    We are making a recommendation to the Secretary of Defense to take steps to evaluate DOD’s effort to estimate costs to determine whether that effort is having the desired effect of achieving greater transparency, reducing or eliminating reporting requirements, and raising cost awareness.

    In other words, this prize was won for "for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports."

    This should qualify them for the actual Nobel Prize in Physics: forget turtles, when it comes to the fabric of the universe as seen from Washington, it's paperwork all the way down.

    Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images


    Tags: Books, Government Accountability Office, Nobel Prize
  • Mitt Romney's Own Book Endorses Obamacare at RNC

    There's been a lot of talk in the press about the Republican Party's efforts to keep a tight on any in-party dissent or between-faction squabbling as they head into their party convention. And, for the most part, it looks like they're going to do a pretty good job.

    However, there's these two guys who they just cannot get to see eye-to-eye and one is always popping up to contradict the other. Obviously, I'm talking about Mitt Romney and a-couple-years-ago Mitt Romney

    All credentialed media checking into the Republican National Convention are being given a swag bag featuring brochures and items from various sponsors such as sunglasses and a pocket fan. But the bag also contains a copy of the original hardcover version of Mitt Romney’s book No Apology, in which he suggested his approach to health care in Massachusetts could be accomplished in the rest of the country

    On page 177 of the hardcover version of No Apology that’s being given out at the RNC, Romney describes his Massachusetts health care law, and writes: "We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over health care."

    Ugh! Who decided to use old copies of Mitt Romney's book? Newer versions of the book have that part cut out because… well, because socialism. This is bush league shit, I'm telling you! Bush league!

    Convention staffers should know: Never use any Romney quote that is older than a week ago, because there's even odds that he doesn't believe that anymore. Anything older than 24 hours is also a little bit iffy as well, but I guess we have to draw the line somewhere.

    Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images


    Tags: Books, Health Care, Mitt Romney, Republican National Convention
  • Conservative Books Outselling Liberal Literature

    According to stereotype, liberals are America's more bookish political tribe, with their Comparative Queer Literature degrees from Oberlin, MFAs from the Iowa Writer's Workshop and work-study fellowships from the Foundation of I'm Just Trying to Find Myself While My Orthodontist Dad Pays the Bills.

    Yet according to a new interactive map from Amazon, which shows recent book sales broken down by "red" and "blue" political leanings, books with Republican-leaning messages have been outselling liberal agitprop by a healthy margin. Amazon classifies the books as "red," "blue" or "neutral" depending on the political leanings evident in promotional material and customer classification. Shipping addresses are then used to create the heat map, calculated with the last 30 days of sales data.

    The book list goes beyond the dross written by political pundits to include general interest nonfiction; Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, for example, rates as a liberal book. This  may explain the relative success of right-wing books: Perhaps Amazon classified Fifty Shades of Grey as a conservative  tome, based on its titular description of the Republican Party.

    As for Paul Ryan's favorite work, Atlas Shrugged occupies the number 4 and number 12 spots on the conservative best selling list.  So Fifty Shades or not, we know a lot of righty sales success is based on sadomasochism.


    Tags: Books, Conservatives, Liberals