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The ADD Blog by Alan David Doane

Twitter Stats for NY’s 21st Congressional District Race

Who is the social media savvy candidate in New York’s 21st congressional district race? 

Aaron Woolf (Democratic Party) - 478 followers, 190 tweets. 

Matt Funiciello (Green Party) - 107 followers, 139 tweets.

Elise Stefanik (Republican Party) - 2,758 followers, 2,614 tweets.

I would have expected the Democratic and Green party candidates to be the ones leveraging social media to get the word out to their followers and build their base. But the establishment Republican candidate seems to be the only one even taking Twitter seriously. 

In an area as rural and conservative as the 21st district, it remains to be seen whether Twitter savvy is reflected at the polls on election day, but I wouldn’t discount Stefanik’s obviously enthusiastic approach to the platform as being an important indicator in terms of engagement with her followers and potential converts to her campaign.

By the way, you can follow me at @alandaviddoane.

10 Books That Have Stuck With Me

10 Books That Have Stuck With Me:

1. A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L’Engle) - A tesseract all its own, this book broadened my horizons very early on.

2. Illusions (Richard Bach) - Probably the first novel I bought on my own, while at a 7/11 in St. Augustine, Florida looking for comic books when I was about 12. Like #1, a mind-bending experience that has stuck with me.

3. A People’s History of the United States (Howard Zinn) - Essential reading for those who want to know the truth about American history.

4. Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) - The greatest novel I have ever read; brilliantly written with layers and incidents you can’t even detect until you’re on your second or third read-through, with massive gobs of heartbreak, humor and insight into humanity.

5. Origins of Marvel Comics (Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko, et al) - The book that taught me there was so much more to know about comics than what was on the drug store shelves every week. Opened my eyes to history, and to being willing to learn more about something I loved.

6. At The Mountains of Madness (H. P. Lovecraft) - We are specks of dust in a cosmos so vast and uncaring we can’t even comprehend it without being reduced to gibbering madmen. Lovecraft understood the true nature of the universe long before most people.

7. We Have Always Lived In The Castle (Shirley Jackson) - Her best and most personal novel, exquisite and heartbreaking, with an inevitable revelation that is just devastating. If you’ve only read “The Lottery,” you need to read this one.

8. The Geography of Nowhere (James Howard Kunstler) - Utterly transformed my perception of the world I live in. His other books like The Long Emergency further informed and refined my thoughts, but it all started with this delightful, educational and occasionally hilarious look at the tragic comedy of suburban sprawl.

9. The Voice of the Fire (Alan Moore) - After Lolita, my favourite novel. A series of interconnected stories covers thousands of years of the strange history of Northampton, England. If the final chapter doesn’t turn your brain inside out, you didn’t read it right.

10. Cosmos (Carl Sagan) - The first book I read that showed me there were real answers to the important questions about the universe around us. We don’t have to settle for mythology, lies and bullshit.

The Rule of Intended Consequences

The other day, I was sitting with my wife in the waiting room of a local repair shop waiting for our oil change to be completed. There were half a dozen or so other people waiting, reading the paper, drinking coffee, chatting and occasionally laughing. Then a guy walked in with a gun.

The guy was a sheriff’s deputy, and he was bringing his patrol car in for service. Does that make you feel better? It didn’t make me feel any better, and not just because our nationally hyper-militarized police forces seem drunk with reckless, unaccountable abandon and there’s a new dead victim of their unchecked violence seemingly every week. No, it made me feel uncomfortable because, well, just read the last sentence of the last paragraph again:

Then a guy walked in with a gun.”

I don’t make the usual assumptions in a situation like that. I don’t assume the deputy is mentally stable. I don’t assume his wife didn’t just leave him, or that he didn’t just find out his kid was fathered by another man, or that he didn’t just discover that his supervisor has uncovered something really, really bad that he thought he’d gotten away with, and his career is nearly over. How can I assume this guy is responsible and always exercises good judgement? How do I know he isn’t suicidal and right on the edge of snapping? Because he’s a cop? Because he has a badge? How do I even know the badge is real? The gun, now, I assume the gun is real, because it’s a fucking gun. Guns are dangerous. Guns kill people. 

If you’re thinking, “No, people kill people,” then you aren’t thinking about the 9-year-old girl who was unfortunately holding an Uzi in her hands when it killed the irresponsible guy attempting to train her how to shoot it. If people kill people, not guns, then of course you believe this girl should be charged with, what, criminally negligent homicide? Manslaughter? Second degree murder?


But no, you and I know goddamned well that there were two culprits in the death of this obviously incompetent shooting instructor: Himself, and the gun. All right, three — the girl’s parents are almost certainly complicit as well. 

And someone was so proud of this tragic act of madness that they filmed it on their cell phone

Look, I have been a parent for 21 years. In that time I have always consciously attempted to keep my kids away from anywhere that guns were present. It’s very simple math to say that the presence of a gun increases the odds, however slightly, that someone might get shot. How stupid, how arrogant, how filled with fear and hate and a sick, perverse love of guns do you have to be to allow your natural instinct to protect your child to be overridden by new programming that says “Let’s give a 9-year-old an Uzi. What’s the worst that could happen?”

A 9-year-old girl that will never forget she was holding a gun when it, not she, killed someone one day in the summer of 2014. Hopefully he taught her the greatest gun safety lesson of all:

Stay away from them. They kill. They are designed to kill, period, end of sentence. 

As for 39-year-old Charles Vacca, I see him as the victim of the Rule of Intended Consequences. He wanted to teach a child to fire an Uzi; well, he did do that. At least he died doing what he loved.

twiststreet:

postracialcomments:

CNN’s Jake Tapper Telling the Truth about Ferguson

"What is this?  This doesn’t make any sense."

andthemissingpieces:

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu-ray — FULL TRAILER
 

This looks like a dream come true.

Review: A History of the Future by James Howard Kunstler

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And so we find ourselves once more visiting the quaint, upstate New York town of Union Grove, as the Christmas season gets underway. Since A History of the Future is the third novel in James Howard Kunstler’s A World Made by Hand series, there are no plastic Santas, electric Christmas lights or endless airings of It’s A Wonderful Life on everyone’s TV. No one will be glued to the tube to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, because the other shoe dropped years ago, when we ran out of cheap oil, the world was beset with wars and rumours of wars, and all the comforts and conceits of the cheap-oil era went the way of the dinosaurs.

In this world, there is no TV anymore. No gas, no internet, no jet travel. Welcome to Union Grove, Kunstler’s post-oil, post-iPhone vision of small-town America, in which the world has become a much larger place, the idea of a “global village” left to the dustbin of history. I happened to drive 40 minutes last night from Glens Falls to Greenwich, NY (the town Union Grove is loosely based on), a trip that I would have had to make on foot or horseback if I lived in the world Kunstler has created, and it would have taken days to get there, not 40 minutes. That’s how it will be after The Long Emergency plays out, and with ISIS bearing down on Iraq’s capital city as I write this, I wonder how soon it will be before Kunstler’s fictional War in the Holy Land becomes real history unfolding before our eyes. (I am a faithful follower of Kunstler’s weekly blog Clusterfuck Nation, which more and more seems like the Pre-History of the Future to the world of Union Grove.)

Opening up A History of the Future, I was delighted to visit the town of Union Grove once again. Kunstler deftly weaves together numerous storylines that have been developing over the course of the series, and we learn, finally, the truth about what happened between the world we live in right now and the world Kunstler first revealed in A World Made by Hand and further developed in The Witch of Hebron. All Union Grove’s notable personages are here, from the carpenter and default leader Robert Earle and the truly fascinating religious leader Brother Jobe, to the wealthy, powerful and somewhat scary plantation owner Stephen Bullock (did you hear what Bullock did to them fellers that broke into his place?).

Kunstler’s facility in bringing these very different characters to life is a genuine joy to experience. Booklist’s review of the novel, to be released this September, notes Kunstler’s “increasing literary finesse,” and while the author’s extensive exploration of this environment and its inhabitants may play a role in just how smoothly and delightfully this narrative goes down (it’s a true page-turner with many, many pleasures to behold), I have to say I had a similar thought while I was reading the book. I’ve admired Kunstler’s prose both fictional and non for over two decades now, but A History of the Future is a new high-water mark in showing off his gifts for storytelling, structure and character.

And what a story it is. Lots of things happen to lots of people here, not all of them pleasant or cheery, but the core of the narrative is right there in the title; Robert Earle’s son Daniel miraculously reappears after two years lost out there in what’s left of America, and over the course of the novel he lays out his long, harrowing journey; it’s a trek into the heart of Bible Belt darkness, in which Earle the Younger encounters the leader of the Foxfire Republic, in the personage of former country singer turned racist political leader Loving Morrow (perhaps the greatest character name in modern fiction).

Loving Morrow isn’t just a two-dimensional Tea Party satire, though. Kunstler paints her with nuance and complexity, so much so that by the time her story reached its climactic moment, I felt genuine sympathy and perhaps a little pity for her, despite the fact that she is unquestionably a monster of the most vile kind. The relationship that develops between Daniel Earle and the Republic’s Leading Light (Praise her!) is a highlight of the novel, and its ultimate resolution was one of the most compelling moments I’ve found in fiction in years. Just brilliant stuff.

There’s lots of other joys to be found in Union Grove at Christmas. Brother Jobe and his brethren have opened up an actual tavern with food and drink for the townspeople, and I found myself cheering inwardly at how something that would be so mundane in our time seems such a noble accomplishment in the new times Kunstler is documenting.

I don’t know if I’ve used the term “post-apocalyptic idyll” before to describe this series of novels, but that’s the best way I can explain the genre Kunstler has created. In other hands this would be hard-boiled sci-fi with terminators roaming the landscape, but Kunstler’s rumination on our nearly inevitable, tragic and bucolic near-future is so far above such facile ideas.

I recommend this series of novels to anyone interested in current events, the course the world inevitably seems to be sliding toward, or great fiction in general. By now the residents of Union Grove seem as real to me as the people next-door. I love them and care about them and want very badly to know what happens next in Union Grove. Happily, I am informed there will be a fourth novel in the series, so I’ll get to find out. Unhappily, I am going to have to wait a while for Kunstler to write it.

The publisher provided a copy for the purpose of review. Pre-order A History of the Future from Amazon.comYou can listen to my most recent radio interview with James Howard Kunstler here.

Stephen Colbert: Evolve or Go Away

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The current controversy over Stephen Colbert highlights why I like The Daily Show much better than the Colbert Report. I liked SC as a TDS correspondent, but his “character” gets in the way of providing the value and insight Jon Stewart delivers every day. So often Colbert will have a good guest that I am interested in, only for the interview to go nowhere because of the gimmick of Colbert’s “character.” (This James Howard Kunstler appearance is a good example.) It was an amusing conceit that has proven limited in its capacity to entertain and enlighten, and this current brouhaha seems to be the point where everybody has finally gotten as tired of it as I have always been. I like Colbert as a performer, but this gig has come to its natural end. It’s time for him to get real or at least evolve his show past the one-note O’Reilly satire. Bill O’Reilly is a blowhard and a bully, yes, but there’s no more funny to be wrung out of him, at least not by Stephen Colbert doing the same old same old for one day longer.

Ebola, Prions, Lovecraft and George Carlin

Ebola really activates my George Carlin-like fascination with the existential horrors of the world. I’m sorry for anyone afflicted by it, but the fact that it even exists, and this goes for prions too, the fact that things like this actually exist in the world creates a Lovecraftian dread in my mind at the unknowable terrors the universe actually contains, and how little we matter and how little we can do when they choose to make their presence known. If you were asking yourself, “What does Alan think about a possible Ebola outbreak in Canada?” well, now you know.

Fox and Cognitive Dissonance

On Cosmos last night, when they showed Giordano Bruno in prison for advancing scientific ideas, do you think anyone at Fox thought about the irony of the fact Fox officials would have totally supported that imprisonment and the suppression of new ideas?

After mulling it over, same-sex marriage passed my one-question test for proposed changes: What harm might result? I couldn’t think of any. The best argument against same-gender that it “violates the sanctity of marriage.” Which is a set of words strung into a meaningless phrase. What sanctity? How does gay marriage hurt straight marriage? It can’t. It doesn’t.
Ted Rall
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