8.29.2006

A New Drinking Dilemma

In a drinker's life, there are many hard choices: Bourbon or Scotch? Vodka or Gin? Lager or Ale?

While I've successfully dealt with all of these before, there's a new dilemma that has me stumped:

Beef or Pork?

Like the infamous OPB, I might take a pass on this one.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...eclectic...

8.24.2006

Three Book Reviews

Three excellent book reviews for what sound like three terrible books (one of which is on my shelf at home, waiting to be read).

First, Reason's Cheryl Miller rips into Judith Levine's anti-consumer book, Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping.

Levine airily insists that necessities in New York are different from those of a “farmer in Bangladesh.” But she seems to forget this relative wealth when she describes the daily life she leads with her partner, Paul. She paints a pitiful picture: This “highly insecure” existence includes two residences (an apartment in Brooklyn and a house in Vermont), flexible work that allows the couple to take off and ski in the afternoon, three cars, a windsurfer, and a healthy diet of such Whole Foods staples as “Thai sweet black rice” and “Mexican huitlacoche fungus.”


Second, Matt Taibbi of the New York Press straightens out Thomas L. Friedman's The World Is Flat.

Friedman is such a genius of literary incompetence that even his most innocent passages invite feature-length essays. I'll give you an example, drawn at random from The World Is Flat. On page 174, Friedman is describing a flight he took on Southwest Airlines from Baltimore to Hartford, Connecticut. (Friedman never forgets to name the company or the brand name; if he had written The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa would have awoken from uneasy dreams in a Sealy Posturepedic.) Here's what he says:

I stomped off, went through security, bought a Cinnabon, and glumly sat at the back of the B line, waiting to be herded on board so that I could hunt for space in the overhead bins.

Forget the Cinnabon. Name me a herd animal that hunts. Name me one.


Last, but not least, Garrison Keillor savages Bernard-Henri Lévy's American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville.

In more than 300 pages, nobody tells a joke. Nobody does much work. Nobody sits and eats and enjoys their food. You've lived all your life in America, never attended a megachurch or a brothel, don't own guns, are non-Amish, and it dawns on you that this is a book about the French. There's no reason for it to exist in English, except as evidence that travel need not be broadening and one should be wary of books with Tocqueville in the title.


No matter how much these books suck (or not), the book reviews are a wonderful thing to behold.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...digging the critics...

The New Suffix

My friends and I have a habit of reading fortune cookies at Chinese restaurants and sharing them with each other. Nearly all fortunes are made much more entertaining by the addition of the words "in bed" at the end.

Example:

"Every exit creates a new entrance." - trite homily

"Every exit creates a new entrance, in bed." - naughty suggestion

Michael Brendan Dougherty notes that a similar method can be used to take the inane nation-building suggestions of neoconservatives and make them more entertaining.

Now I've discovered, with the help of booze and Jim Antle of 4pundits.com that there is a phrase that you can tack on to most neoconservative op-eds and essays - which helps to clarify the point they are trying to make. Whenever a neoconservative says something should be done, whether it is democracy promotion, or instilling purpose in an enervated American populace, or diplomacy you can finish the thought for him by adding three little words: by killing people.


Sometimes it's too easy.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...chuckling...

8.06.2006

The $40 Lawyer

It's Fall recruitment time and I'm sending out resumes to large law firms to get a coveted summer associate position next year. Probably in a nice firm with a big office and a high salary. Nice as that is, I sometimes think I'd rather be this guy:

Prosecutors keep pressuring him to make their lives easier. They want him to stipulate, for instance, that the chalky white powder found on his clients is cocaine. If he stipulates, they won't have to bring in a state chemist to prove the obvious.

Early on, he decides not to cut prosecutors any breaks. Let them prove it's not baking soda.

These first few weeks, he quickly learns to analyze statutes, negotiate pleas, pick apart witness statements. He also learns to turn the system's glut of cases to his advantage.

To stymie the state, Charley deliberately clogs the court docket. When he gets a case he knows he can't win - misdemeanor shoplifting, say - he sets it for trial and demands a speedy one. This forces the state to exhaust resources on petty crimes, reducing its ability to fight more serious ones. This increases the chances, Charley figures, the state will come through with generous plea offers.

In such ways, Charley delights in torturing the young prosecutors. At the same time, he frets constantly about what they think of him.


The entire three-part series follows the transformation of one man from a desperate loser into a confident lawyer. Inspiring stuff.