This book starts strong and ends weak. In a nutshell, Kimmel's thesis is that some of the more extreme right-wing politics comprised of white men stem...moreThis book starts strong and ends weak. In a nutshell, Kimmel's thesis is that some of the more extreme right-wing politics comprised of white men stem from their sense of entitlement. They feel not just downtrodden, but ripped off. The direction of the anger is at minorities, feminists, sometimes Jews, nd gays. Kimmel points out that this rage is misdirected at these groups when it should properly be aimed at the economic system that has caused skyrocketing inequality since the late 70s.
That's true but hardly revealing and in a broad sense this work is highly duplicative of Thomas Frank's What's The Matter With Kansas except that it attempts to apply gender-studies models to the issues and examines, for the most part, groups that are further to the right on the political fringe. Frank's book was written before the Great Recession and reached largely the same conclusion.
It's a decently written, if repetitive work. (You will know the lyrics to many Springsteen songs well by the end.) Some of the sampling of Internet comments might be taken too seriously for some groups, but not used at all for others. For example, while I have no doubt that the "Men's Rights Advocates" spew such filth in their ranks, comparing them to the polished statements of feminist academics is hardly a fair comparison. Kimmel might point his browser to Reddit to see angry white women doing similar things. This is not to say that "both sides do it" and that feminists are equally wrong. It's simply to say that when pointing out that that is not the case, it is helpful to enter evidence from parallel sources.
In the Epilogue, Kimmel's solution seems to be simply to let demographic destiny take control. That may be a fine answer for a sociologist, but for someone interested in politics or even in citizenship, it seems like no solution at all. I've thought for a long time that a new kind of voting-based labor movement that took no positions on social issues and that was unconnected to any unions would be a great idea, if the college boys among us would be willing to go organize in deep red areas and stfu about cultural issues for a while. (They won't, so it's not really a solution, is it?)
Too much fluff about their meetings and their settings and too little about the results themselves which are interesting. I like this topic, experimen...moreToo much fluff about their meetings and their settings and too little about the results themselves which are interesting. I like this topic, experimental economics. Sometimes a popular book like this gets so many people doing what the books suggest that the techniques lose their efficacy.(less)
I wasn't expecting to like this book. There are too many incoherent time-travel stories with incoherent endings. (Lost anyone?) I haven't read a Steph...moreI wasn't expecting to like this book. There are too many incoherent time-travel stories with incoherent endings. (Lost anyone?) I haven't read a Stephen King book in maybe 20 years. (I read enough to catch some of the references. There is no Arnette, Texas is there?—I mean, other than in the beginning of The Stand. And the clown from It… I wonder how many I missed.)
Also, as card-carrying Gen-Xer, I'm a bit tired of the Reagan generation telling me how different things would be if Kennedy had lived. As you can see from my booklist, I hardly ever read fiction. Maybe it was that all of my expectations were confounded; maybe it's because I'm so ready for a story with a beginning, a middle, and an ending that this book strikes me as so damn good. I read it in 2 days and if hadn't been for my son having a fever, it would have been more like 36 hours.
Bravo, Stephen King, bravo.
Edit: You can see from my list of books, it might not be unfair to call me a book snob. But I don't read authors like Mario Vargas Llosa just to say I did. I read them because they are something to enjoy in this life. So is a story like this. In other reviews, I've seen criticisms of cliche attributes of the school teacher, of it being too long, etc. Well, as is noted in the book, everyone has an opinion. But the difference for me is whether these alleged imperfections suit a purpose or are just the best you can do. Since the length of the book is almost fractally contained in the beginning, there is a reason. You don't have to like it. As for the cliche, if it's that, it's so we can understand where he's coming from without thinking on it too hard.
If you can't bring yourself to like a book that you can't write a thesis about, fine. But if you're tired of complex characters and geek-bait plots that spin off into nothing, this is a refreshing change.(less)
This book traces the history of "swearing" in English, explaining how the words or expressions we use that are the most coarse change over time betwee...moreThis book traces the history of "swearing" in English, explaining how the words or expressions we use that are the most coarse change over time between references to holy things (the "holy" in the title) and references to bodily features and functions (the "shit" in the title—perhaps Holy F*cking Sh*t should have been the title).
The book was interesting from start to finish. Consistent with the author's background, however, it was literary in its approach. In other words, its explanation of history and change is set in the context of literature, almost entirely. Because it's my field, I had to cringe from time to time at some of the explanations of the Bible, but there are no show stopping errors there. Together with the literary analysis, there is a lack of some deeper psychological or social explanation for this phenomenon. Also, while there is enough neurological information to learn that swearing, for example, helps us endure pain and triggers different areas of the brain (for what that's worth, it's an overused headline in brain research that is often meaningless) than normal speech, there's no explanation of how the words get there or why. Maybe that's unknown; it doesn't say.
One last quibble (and my complaints are just that) is that while it is disclaimed as such, being limited to English (though there are a few Romance language examples here and there) is that it's difficult to know exactly what, if anything, all of this means, again, in a broader social/psychological way.
These are nitpicks. It's an interesting read, well written, even entertaining most of the time. (less)
Like many, I was a big fan of Schlosser's Fast Food Nation but seriously began to wonder if he was a one-hit wonder after the disorganized and irrelev...moreLike many, I was a big fan of Schlosser's Fast Food Nation but seriously began to wonder if he was a one-hit wonder after the disorganized and irrelevant Reefer Madness. This book is proof he is no one-hit wonder. At it's best Command and Control is a more subtle Doctor Strangelove, farcically portraying the absurdities of nuclear strategy in the Cold War while using Curtis LeMay as a protagonist.
An interesting tangent that is not fully explored is the decision to use limited conventional warfare in response to some events instead of full-blown nuclear war. While this does not justify the length, scope, and escalation of the Vietnam War, it at least explains what was happening there in the first place, something mostly lost today. This deserves a book all on its own. But nuclear war is a key gap in between Generation X and the younger generation that only survives in the "mushroom cloud" rhetoric of the War on Terrorism. To the younger generation, a disaster worth compromising our democracy for is a nuclear bomb exploding one city—not something I'm dismissing. But, by comparison with a nuclear war even at 10% scale is, literally, mere noise.
I grew up with nuclear nightmares that never really fully went away, but I don't dismiss the argument that the best way to prevent such a war is to make it unthinkable. The people who engineered this strategy weren't insane and did manage to keep a third world war from ever occurring. For those that grew up in the WWII generation, this is nothing to sneeze at. Furthermore, we'll see if emerging nuclear powers less invested in strategy can really keep a lid on it.
What is important and relevant today for this book is not so much that an intentional aggressive war was a risk, but that an accidental one was (and theoretically still is). The only nuclear war fiction that I'm aware of to explore this angle is the miserable HBO movie By Dawn's Early Light where Ivan auto-launches a missile strike on the US after some unspecified Muslim terrorists jack a missile from the USSR and then launch it at them from Turkey. The Mr. Rodgers sweater wearing President has to work out a deal to stop it from going further at that before the Secretary of the Interior and his adjutant (thinking they're the only survivor) go for full retaliation. Other classics of the genre almost always find some kind of pseudo-Reagan to blame. The movie is terribly acted with Powers Booth, Rip Torn, and Rebecca Demornay debasing themselves in the process (which isn't exactly easy).
What would happen if a weapon accidentally exploded? Well, in 2013, it's hard to believe that it wouldn't be seen as an accident right away and further launches stopped. But you can only imagine the permanent conspiracy industry going to town on this. Anyway, we obviously don't want these things under poor control, I don't think there is anything other than the SLBM fleet necessary on any level at this point in time and so forth.
But as the nuclear war generations get older and the memories get foggier, it's good to remember how closely run of a thing this was and try to do better.
The U.S. lost in the bronze medal game in the 2000 Olympics to Chile. Some of the players on that team, like Landon Donovan and Tim Howard would go on...moreThe U.S. lost in the bronze medal game in the 2000 Olympics to Chile. Some of the players on that team, like Landon Donovan and Tim Howard would go on to be greats for the senior team and play at the highest levels in Europe. Yet according to Wangerin, the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2000 Olympics by losing to Guatemala.
In a book loaded with historical facts, it's easy to forgive a single mistake. But this fact is deeply ensconced in an argument about the ineffectiveness of one of MLS's youth development programs. Reading about Mexico's gold medal recently, you get the sense that this raised expectations for the Mexican senior team and Cameroon's 2000 gold medal itself sparked much talk of a rising African game.
So, one way to look at it is, ok a simple only minimally relevant mistake. Another is: uh oh. What else is wrong? What else was missed?
What always confounds me about people writing about soccer in the US, be they more on the skeptical side like Wangerin, or more on the messianic future positive side like others, is that they always seem to belabor comparisons to baseball, football, and basketball. Dangling right in front of their face is hockey, a sport that is quite regional, has experienced its growing pains, has the only thing even remotely like the international connection soccer has in American sports, and yet has, by many metrics, thrived within its niche. Today, MLS has better attendance than the NHL (which also always seems to be talking about a great TV deal that never materializes) if lower total dollars in ticket sales.
There are hints of this at the very end of the book where someone is quoted as saying that sports can be like Starbucks and microbrews. Great early 90s business sense, that! But there is a kernel of truth. Individuality isn't high on the list of things that cause people to like sports, to my mind. The communal sharing is. But, to be fair, there is a market for which community.
I don't know how to make the US a World Cup winning team or how to make MLS the best soccer league in the world. I'm not sure that I care. I enjoy soccer because it's a game I play and I appreciate the act in itself without my mind being entirely absorbed by the score, and I appreciate low scores because it makes goals precious, rare, and therefore all the more exciting—a simple rebuttal to the libels of low scoring I almost never hear, nor the simple analogy to the nail-biting pitchers' duels that everyone loves in playoff baseball.
I enjoy soccer because of the international fellowship, because there are so many moving parts and so much complexity, and so many different ways to appreciate the skill involved, whether it's the more pagan thrill of the goal scorer, the more intellectual merit of passing, or even the tough business of building a team as a manager. This complexity and unity is unmatched in anything else. It is the closing thing to be 11 dimensional chess.
Therefore, I don't care if the US wins the world cup or if MLS is the best league. I just expect that they keep improving, aren't corrupt or incompetent, and continue to develop the sport in the US. On all of those scores American soccer is successful.(less)
Couldn't keep going. A bunch of bureaucratic history (and whining) that makes the volume impenetrable in places. I'd rather read about the technology...moreCouldn't keep going. A bunch of bureaucratic history (and whining) that makes the volume impenetrable in places. I'd rather read about the technology and how it applies. Moving on.(less)
Here are your choices, world: (1) the extreme effects of global warming, (2) crushing third world poverty, or (3) a renewable+nuclear future. Every al...moreHere are your choices, world: (1) the extreme effects of global warming, (2) crushing third world poverty, or (3) a renewable+nuclear future. Every alternative has its plusses and minuses, but the minuses of (1) and (2) are so large and destabilizing, it is scary to contemplate.
People in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are not "noble savages." People in the developed world are going to want more and more power. What choice is left? The main drawback to (3) is not the potential for terrorism or the waste storage problem as Lynas points out, but the potential proliferation of weapons grade materials—which he only obliquely references. But, as Lynas does point out, all that means is that nations must comply with the NNPT.
I wish I could give a copy to everyone I know.(less)
Gives you the bare-bones skeleton of how to plan. Implementation is lacking and limited to vignettes that may or may not apply to you. Does present so...moreGives you the bare-bones skeleton of how to plan. Implementation is lacking and limited to vignettes that may or may not apply to you. Does present some good info, especially in the beginning.(less)
Needing some editing as there was a few clearly incorrect word choices which almost took me out of it a few times. The middle is draggy, but it redeem...moreNeeding some editing as there was a few clearly incorrect word choices which almost took me out of it a few times. The middle is draggy, but it redeems itself in the end.
The TV show got me into it and I wasn't disappointed, but I'm glad the TV producers exercised some artistic license.(less)