it's words!

Friday, October 12, 2007

if i ain't dead already, girl

I'm finally reading my first bit of for-a-brief-time-Ithacan Kurt Vonnegut. Player Piano from 1952. It's not precisely what I was expecting, in that it's not screamingly hilarious so far (60 pages in), but it's a pretty good story and there's some interesting writing going on too.

For example. "As she handed Paul his cocktail, he felt somehow inadequate, bumbling, in the presence of her beautiful assurance. Only things that might please or interest her came to his mind - all else submerged. It wasn't a conscious act of his mind, but a reflex, a natural response to her presence. It annoyed him..."

And then this bit, which was pretty amusing.

"The Shah clapped his hands delightedly and continued to stare at Private First Class Hacketts, who was a huge, healthy man. 'Niki Takaru!' he cried, exhaling a strong effluvium of Sumklishi.

'No Takaru!' said Doctor Halyard. 'Sol-dee-yers.'

'What's he say?' said General of the Armies Bromley.

'Said they're a fine bunch of slaves,' said Halyard. He turned to the Shah again and waggled his finger at the small, dark man. 'No Takaru. No, no, no.'

Khashdrahr seemed baffled, too, and offered Halyard no help in clarifying the point.

'Sim koula Takaru, akka sahn salet?' said the Shah to Khashdrahr.

Khashdrahr shrugged and looked questioningly at Halyard. 'Shah says, if these not slaves, how you get them to do what they do?'

'Patriotism,' said General of the Armies Bromley sternly. 'Patriotism, damn it.'"

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

and the muscular cyborg german dudes

I'm watching this Republican debate (replay), and it's striking how many of the things they say go unchallenged. Not that they're lying, or even that they're necessarily wrong, but that so much of it seems skewed and no one gets called out for it.

Just by way of example, citing statistics (without saying where they're from, which is an entire issue in and of itself) that say things like "the average American family saved $X thanks to Tax Cut Y." Averages are beautiful things. Let's say a hundred families make $80K a year and save exactly nil, while one family pulls down $10 million and saves a few hundred grand... well, that'll help out the average a lot.

It's also crazy how they're saying the economy is in fantastic shape despite two-thirds of Americans thinking otherwise. Again, they may not be wrong - I certainly think they believe what they're saying - but you've got to have a better way to communicate it than what is essentially this: "No... no, you're actually doing very well, you just don't know it. Why, look at the Dow!"