Sunday, January 11, 2009

A blast from the past made real

Newspaper opinion columns don't get any more timely than this.

Meanwhile, the reason I've been so lazy about posting to this blog lately is that since Christmas I've been spending a lot of time reading much lighter fare than Atlas Shrugged.

First off, I owe somewhat of an apology to Mark Weingardner for the unkind comment I made about him a few days ago after I read the first couple of pages of The Godfather Returns. I stand by my opinion that Weingardner is nowhere near the elegant paragraph by paragraph writer that Mario Puzo was; but the truth is that The Godfather Returns is an excellent novel. It's true to the original characters and it carries forward the original story as portrayed in the novel and movies very darn well. Weingardner presents interesting plot twists that make sense and comport with the motivations of the characters. A very good read.

Talk about a wealth of excuses for not posting blog entries. After finishing that book I started on Patrick O'Brian's collossal twenty-one novel compendium of Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin stories. Linda gave me the five volume set for Christmas. I've read or listened to several of the novels before; but Linda's gift gave me an excellent excuse to start at the beginning with Master and Commander and read the novels in succession, which is the way O'Brian wrote them. So far I've read seven, totalling 2557 pages in all - Master and Commander, Post Captain, H.M.S. Surprise, Desolation Island, The Fortune of War and The Surgeon's Mate. What a treat! Each book stands alone; but reading them in succession is stunning.

A New York Times book reviewer called these "The best historical novels ever written," which I think is a bit over the top given that it puts them above I, Claudius, to pick one example; but they certainly rank among the best historical novels ever written. They're especially neat because O'Brian seeded them with archaic uses and sailing ship naval jargon for atmosphere. These never detract from the stories; but they did apparently detract from the self confidence of the copy editor at the publishing house. And O'Brian himself must never have closely reviewed the typeset books before they were published. The novels are delightfully sprinkled with little gems of error. Coming across a spelling or usage error in a book is even better than coming across one in a newspaper.

Speaking of newspapers, according to The Norristown Times Herald a young fellow robbed a bank up in Limerick the other day. He apparently did a professional job of actually robbing the bank; but he hadn't thought to bring a getaway car with him. Even if he mostly gets around by bus out of concern for the planet that's pretty unprofessional. Anyway, after the robbery he selected a Prius to carjack for his getaway. It's good to see that the young are concerned about their CO2 emissions; but I really think the fellow should bring his own Prius to his next bank robbery. He would have been in a heck of a situation vis a vis the environment if all there was to carjack was a Hummer. He can probably get a deal on a Prius of his own right now because sales of hybrids are way down what with gas down to $1.70 or so a gallon.

In other local news, a muslim woman was convicted of killing her husband after she found out he was planning to go to Morocco to marry a second wife. Thumbs up to her. And thumbs down to the judge who just sentenced her to eight years in jail for a perfectly justifiable homicide.

Re International news, I keep thinking about writing about the Israelis and the Palestinians; but I find that I have little to say. The Israelis are justifiably kicking the crap out of the Palestinians in Gaza after putting up with the hundreds of missile attacks that Hamas has launched at Israeli towns from there over the past couple of years. I don't bear any special ill-will toward the Palestinians because they're as entitled to free speech as anyone; but ever since they celebrated in the streets in the days after 9/11 I really don't give a damn about them either.

And anyway, along with believing in free speech I also believe that serious speech should honored by being taken at face value. The Palestinians in Gaza freely elected Hamas. Hamas openly and repeatedly says that it intends nothing less than the complete destruction of Israel. Given that, I don't believe it's possible for Israel to attack Hamas and the Palestinians who elected it in a "disproportionate" manner.


Anonymous said...

Don't apologize about not writing. It was the holidays for Pete's sake.

It's your blog and there's no quota. If you start to feel obligated, then all the fun will go out of it, and you'll find yourself not posting at all.

As for Atlas Shrugged...I purchased Ayn Rand's novels and will most likely buy Garet Garrett's as well ( bookstore).


Jenny said...

So I have to agree that Atlas Shrugged was one of the most influential and compelling books I have ever read. It is a little (ok,a lot)wordy but totally worth the effort.

At my age and in this climate, it is quite unpopular to be a conservative. On the one hand, I know that most of my peers just don't get it, if you know what I mean. On the other, I am constantly reevaluating my thought processes on most issues to be sure that my beliefs make the most logical sense. Atlas Shrugged helped to reaffirm some of those beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny,

Unfortunately, being a conservative or a libertarian isn't popular at any age. I am part of the 50+ group, and I can tell you that I run into an awful lot of rabid liberals who have begun to cross the line into socialism. A so-called friend who is a liberal told me that our friendship would not continue unless I changed over to her way of thinking. Needless to say, she is no longer on my Christmas card list. :)

So, the best advice I can give you is to be strong, stay informed from reliable sources whose information can be fact checked, and don't let the liberals shout you down (which is what they do when they realize that they can't make their case).