Whatcha reading?

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Dr. Medulla
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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Came across this accidentally a couple days ago. Given the resistance of white Canadians and Americans to own up to how white supremacy in the past continues to inform and inhibit discourse and action today, it seems worth reading.

I read (well, skimmed) her book Moral Clarity during grad school comps reading (ah, the time of reading a book a day). In it, she argues that since the 1960s the Left has largely abandoned morality to the Right because of the former's distrust of metanarratives, pursuing a kind of relativism that also abandons moral frameworks. Ceding this ground to the Right has been a huge mistake because people rely on morality to fill in the gaps were reason is insufficient. While it didn't have a conscious effect on me at the time, I don't think it's a coincidence that it was around that time I started to actively infuse my historical thinking with a moral evaluation. It's funny to see how uncomfortable students get when you ask them really basic questions of moral and immoral behaviour (crudely, good guys and bad guys). Unless the subject is slavery or the Holocaust, few want to step into that type of evaluation.
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Re: Whatcha reading?

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13) I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This! - Bob Newhart. Kindle. 2006. A gently amusing short memoir from the buttoned down mind. Newhart seems like a nice man, I think this was written after his appearance in Elf made people remember him fifteen years ago. The title comes from a joke where a guy is doing his boss' wife. The lady says kiss me! The title is the punchline. Some transcripts of his best known bits, anecdotes to make you smile. Bob comes off as a little bemused by a world without the Rat Pack at the zenith of showbusiness and Vegas as a drunken Disneyland, but there's no ill will here.
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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Silent Majority wrote:
09 Apr 2021, 12:48pm
13) I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This! - Bob Newhart. Kindle. 2006. A gently amusing short memoir from the buttoned down mind. Newhart seems like a nice man, I think this was written after his appearance in Elf made people remember him fifteen years ago. The title comes from a joke where a guy is doing his boss' wife. The lady says kiss me! The title is the punchline. Some transcripts of his best known bits, anecdotes to make you smile. Bob comes off as a little bemused by a world without the Rat Pack at the zenith of showbusiness and Vegas as a drunken Disneyland, but there's no ill will here.
This sounds great. I've always really enjoyed Bob in basically... everything. His tv shows, his movie appearances, love his standup.
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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Flex wrote:
09 Apr 2021, 12:57pm
Silent Majority wrote:
09 Apr 2021, 12:48pm
13) I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This! - Bob Newhart. Kindle. 2006. A gently amusing short memoir from the buttoned down mind. Newhart seems like a nice man, I think this was written after his appearance in Elf made people remember him fifteen years ago. The title comes from a joke where a guy is doing his boss' wife. The lady says kiss me! The title is the punchline. Some transcripts of his best known bits, anecdotes to make you smile. Bob comes off as a little bemused by a world without the Rat Pack at the zenith of showbusiness and Vegas as a drunken Disneyland, but there's no ill will here.
This sounds great. I've always really enjoyed Bob in basically... everything. His tv shows, his movie appearances, love his standup.
He's so easily loved that if he played a murderer or fiend, I suspect people would be genuinely upset by it all.
Back off, or I'll blow the roof off—with sound!

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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Flex wrote:
09 Apr 2021, 12:57pm
Silent Majority wrote:
09 Apr 2021, 12:48pm
13) I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This! - Bob Newhart. Kindle. 2006. A gently amusing short memoir from the buttoned down mind. Newhart seems like a nice man, I think this was written after his appearance in Elf made people remember him fifteen years ago. The title comes from a joke where a guy is doing his boss' wife. The lady says kiss me! The title is the punchline. Some transcripts of his best known bits, anecdotes to make you smile. Bob comes off as a little bemused by a world without the Rat Pack at the zenith of showbusiness and Vegas as a drunken Disneyland, but there's no ill will here.
This sounds great. I've always really enjoyed Bob in basically... everything. His tv shows, his movie appearances, love his standup.
Yeah. The only part of the book I would have liked to have seen drastically expanded was his stories about Don Rickles, who was his best mate.
Here's the story of how we became friends. I was performing at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas — this was maybe 1967 — and Don was playing the lounge at the Sahara. So my wife, Ginny, who knew Don's wife, Barbara, says we should have dinner with them. Don's first show was at midnight, so we didn't have dinner until one in the morning. Afterward, Ginny and I are walking to the lounge to watch Don's 3 a.m. show, and Ginny says to me, "Oh, he is just the sweetest man. He's this wonderful family man." And I said to Ginny, "Honey, his act is a little different maybe than you surmised from dinner." So we go in and we're in the very first row. And Don comes out and the first thing he says is, "There's a stammering idiot from Chicago in the audience with his hooker wife from New Jersey." Ginny's face dropped, and I turned around and said, "I tried to tell you."
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Dr. Medulla
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Re: Whatcha reading?

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The death of Hitler book was very basic and very padded. And not crazy at all—it's a simple assertion that theories of Hitler surviving and escaping are dumb. Which, duh, but not what I was looking for.

Audiobook started:
Image
Even better, KG reads it. On her schlubbiest day, she's way cooler than you or me.
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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Fascinating book.
E72AF8D5-5967-4423-9962-6DA06D138210.jpeg

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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
08 Apr 2021, 8:08am
Image
Came across this accidentally a couple days ago. Given the resistance of white Canadians and Americans to own up to how white supremacy in the past continues to inform and inhibit discourse and action today, it seems worth reading.

I read (well, skimmed) her book Moral Clarity during grad school comps reading (ah, the time of reading a book a day). In it, she argues that since the 1960s the Left has largely abandoned morality to the Right because of the former's distrust of metanarratives, pursuing a kind of relativism that also abandons moral frameworks. Ceding this ground to the Right has been a huge mistake because people rely on morality to fill in the gaps were reason is insufficient. While it didn't have a conscious effect on me at the time, I don't think it's a coincidence that it was around that time I started to actively infuse my historical thinking with a moral evaluation. It's funny to see how uncomfortable students get when you ask them really basic questions of moral and immoral behaviour (crudely, good guys and bad guys). Unless the subject is slavery or the Holocaust, few want to step into that type of evaluation.
I read that a few months back and found it engaging in parts, a bit fragmented and hard to follow the thread at times. Also another one on the same subject, John Kampfner, Why the Germans do it better.

I think my biggest takeaway from both books is how socialist a country Germany actually is, at least relative to how conservative i always believed it to be, in terms of workers rights, trade union power, health care etc. Some of the things that might get you tagged as a raving loony leftie this side of the world are actually second nature to Germans who don't think twice about them. I found that a compelling insight i have to say.

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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Low Down Low wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 6:19am
I think my biggest takeaway from both books is how socialist a country Germany actually is, at least relative to how conservative i always believed it to be, in terms of workers rights, trade union power, health care etc. Some of the things that might get you tagged as a raving loony leftie this side of the world are actually second nature to Germans who don't think twice about them. I found that a compelling insight i have to say.
What's mainstream in North America, esp. the US, is so much farther to the right than what is centrist in most European nations. It demonstrates what an intellectual hurdle is faced here just because what would be basic common sense is radical (and what is cruel right wing dogma is the "sensible" centre here). Framing people's expectations of what they should expect of the world is so damned important.
Back off, or I'll blow the roof off—with sound!

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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 6:55am
Low Down Low wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 6:19am
I think my biggest takeaway from both books is how socialist a country Germany actually is, at least relative to how conservative i always believed it to be, in terms of workers rights, trade union power, health care etc. Some of the things that might get you tagged as a raving loony leftie this side of the world are actually second nature to Germans who don't think twice about them. I found that a compelling insight i have to say.
What's mainstream in North America, esp. the US, is so much farther to the right than what is centrist in most European nations. It demonstrates what an intellectual hurdle is faced here just because what would be basic common sense is radical (and what is cruel right wing dogma is the "sensible" centre here). Framing people's expectations of what they should expect of the world is so damned important.
One of the things Neiman says is that in America people talk about socialism in terms of Denmark and other Scandi countries and dismiss it as irrelevant because they're only relatively tiny countries who cannot be compared to the US behemoth. And then when you say, well actually, Germany has all those things as well and doesn't call itself socialist, they just close their ears and pretend not to hear. Her book got quite a few negative reviews here i recall on account of its perceived benign portrayal of the old East German regime. But i think that's what right wing commentators tend to do, pick one outlying trend or ideological quirk and use it to diminish the entire argument. I think that's partly how it continues to set and dominate the overton window.

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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Low Down Low wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 7:37am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 6:55am
Low Down Low wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 6:19am
I think my biggest takeaway from both books is how socialist a country Germany actually is, at least relative to how conservative i always believed it to be, in terms of workers rights, trade union power, health care etc. Some of the things that might get you tagged as a raving loony leftie this side of the world are actually second nature to Germans who don't think twice about them. I found that a compelling insight i have to say.
What's mainstream in North America, esp. the US, is so much farther to the right than what is centrist in most European nations. It demonstrates what an intellectual hurdle is faced here just because what would be basic common sense is radical (and what is cruel right wing dogma is the "sensible" centre here). Framing people's expectations of what they should expect of the world is so damned important.
One of the things Neiman says is that in America people talk about socialism in terms of Denmark and other Scandi countries and dismiss it as irrelevant because they're only relatively tiny countries who cannot be compared to the US behemoth. And then when you say, well actually, Germany has all those things as well and doesn't call itself socialist, they just close their ears and pretend not to hear. Her book got quite a few negative reviews here i recall on account of its perceived benign portrayal of the old East German regime. But i think that's what right wing commentators tend to do, pick one outlying trend or ideological quirk and use it to diminish the entire argument. I think that's partly how it continues to set and dominate the overton window.
It's also silly to compare the US to just one European nation when you could (and should) compare it to the bulk of continental Europe. Then you get a huge population that is multicultural. If it can work on that level, it can work in a vasst multicultural nation like the US or Canada. I've been struck by Democrats' response to Bernie Sanders to say, in effect, that's nice but America can't accomplish that. So America is the greatest nation on earth blah blah blah, yet it can't implement policies and structures that Finland can? It's a remarkable thing to hear Americans talk about themselves in terms of *not* being able to do something.
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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 8:39am
Low Down Low wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 7:37am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 6:55am
Low Down Low wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 6:19am
I think my biggest takeaway from both books is how socialist a country Germany actually is, at least relative to how conservative i always believed it to be, in terms of workers rights, trade union power, health care etc. Some of the things that might get you tagged as a raving loony leftie this side of the world are actually second nature to Germans who don't think twice about them. I found that a compelling insight i have to say.
What's mainstream in North America, esp. the US, is so much farther to the right than what is centrist in most European nations. It demonstrates what an intellectual hurdle is faced here just because what would be basic common sense is radical (and what is cruel right wing dogma is the "sensible" centre here). Framing people's expectations of what they should expect of the world is so damned important.
One of the things Neiman says is that in America people talk about socialism in terms of Denmark and other Scandi countries and dismiss it as irrelevant because they're only relatively tiny countries who cannot be compared to the US behemoth. And then when you say, well actually, Germany has all those things as well and doesn't call itself socialist, they just close their ears and pretend not to hear. Her book got quite a few negative reviews here i recall on account of its perceived benign portrayal of the old East German regime. But i think that's what right wing commentators tend to do, pick one outlying trend or ideological quirk and use it to diminish the entire argument. I think that's partly how it continues to set and dominate the overton window.
It's also silly to compare the US to just one European nation when you could (and should) compare it to the bulk of continental Europe. Then you get a huge population that is multicultural. If it can work on that level, it can work in a vasst multicultural nation like the US or Canada. I've been struck by Democrats' response to Bernie Sanders to say, in effect, that's nice but America can't accomplish that. So America is the greatest nation on earth blah blah blah, yet it can't implement policies and structures that Finland can? It's a remarkable thing to hear Americans talk about themselves in terms of *not* being able to do something.
Is it a case they can't do it, or some people don't want them to do it? Reading the Kampfner book i was interested in his portrayal of Merkel as a quite old school christian conservative who was pushed by a range of competing forces and pressures into doing a lot of good and compassionate things, as during the 2015 refugee crisis, for example. I found myself wondering how that might relate to Biden, if at all, but still far too early to make any firm judgement on that front.

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Re: Whatcha reading?

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Low Down Low wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 10:55am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 8:39am
Low Down Low wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 7:37am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 6:55am
Low Down Low wrote:
11 Apr 2021, 6:19am
I think my biggest takeaway from both books is how socialist a country Germany actually is, at least relative to how conservative i always believed it to be, in terms of workers rights, trade union power, health care etc. Some of the things that might get you tagged as a raving loony leftie this side of the world are actually second nature to Germans who don't think twice about them. I found that a compelling insight i have to say.
What's mainstream in North America, esp. the US, is so much farther to the right than what is centrist in most European nations. It demonstrates what an intellectual hurdle is faced here just because what would be basic common sense is radical (and what is cruel right wing dogma is the "sensible" centre here). Framing people's expectations of what they should expect of the world is so damned important.
One of the things Neiman says is that in America people talk about socialism in terms of Denmark and other Scandi countries and dismiss it as irrelevant because they're only relatively tiny countries who cannot be compared to the US behemoth. And then when you say, well actually, Germany has all those things as well and doesn't call itself socialist, they just close their ears and pretend not to hear. Her book got quite a few negative reviews here i recall on account of its perceived benign portrayal of the old East German regime. But i think that's what right wing commentators tend to do, pick one outlying trend or ideological quirk and use it to diminish the entire argument. I think that's partly how it continues to set and dominate the overton window.
It's also silly to compare the US to just one European nation when you could (and should) compare it to the bulk of continental Europe. Then you get a huge population that is multicultural. If it can work on that level, it can work in a vasst multicultural nation like the US or Canada. I've been struck by Democrats' response to Bernie Sanders to say, in effect, that's nice but America can't accomplish that. So America is the greatest nation on earth blah blah blah, yet it can't implement policies and structures that Finland can? It's a remarkable thing to hear Americans talk about themselves in terms of *not* being able to do something.
Is it a case they can't do it, or some people don't want them to do it? Reading the Kampfner book i was interested in his portrayal of Merkel as a quite old school christian conservative who was pushed by a range of competing forces and pressures into doing a lot of good and compassionate things, as during the 2015 refugee crisis, for example. I found myself wondering how that might relate to Biden, if at all, but still far too early to make any firm judgement on that front.
America is a remarkably wealthy nation; if other nations can develop more just social structures in place, so can the US (and Canada). The speed that it industrialized and became a world power was remarkable; that it can persuade itself that it doesn't have the capacity to improve the material conditions of all people within its borders is pure choice.

Re. the second part, I've long argued that a leader's biography has only partial probative value. Events are normally beyond their control and so they're reacting to them. So the certainty that Biden would be hostile to any kind of reform because of his record to that point seemed unjust to me. And, indeed, early on he's been more sympathetic to the left side of the party than one would have expected because circumstances are pushing him in that direction (and he's a perceptive enough politician to know when to follow and when to resist). Don't take that as an endorsement of Biden, only that applying history as predictive is often foolish.
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