The last episode of season one of House of Cards ends with Francis J. Underwood (FU) sitting at his desk in his cabinet conspiring with the audience The last episode of season one of House of Cards ends with Francis J. Underwood (FU) sitting at his desk in his cabinet conspiring with the audience in the style of Richard III, and on the table there is a book lying. The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV by Robert A. Caro. For someone watching the show that is familiar with Lyndon Johnson’s bio, the parallels between him and the protagonist in House of Cards, played by Kevin Spacey, are obvious. Both FU and LBJ are savvy politicians and master strategist; both are obsessed with power, skilled at manipulation and ruthless in their approach (e.g. the infamous "Johnson treatment"); both men are aiming at the highest office in America and arguably – the world; both unbelievably smart and combinative, but most importantly – capable of passing bills through Congress.
The season of House of Cards ends in the tense moment where, after a series of hard scheming and morally (and legally) reproachful actions on behalf of FU, he is on the verge of becoming vice president. That is if an article exposing those actions doesn't come out first. In comparison, a sizable part of Passage of Power is dedicated to a piece of investigative journalism about LBJ’s money that was on its way to be published if it wasn't for the sudden assassination of Jack F. Kennedy that led to LBJ becoming the new president. Moreover, weeks after ascending to the presidency, he cleared his way from critical journalists in his typical manner - concealed transactions, blackmail, bulling.
Whether the book is suggestive of how the story in House of Cards would develop, we’ll have to wait and see.
As the show is gripping, provoking and revealing more than some would like to admit, so is the book. The Passage of Power is written with such immediacy, with so much skill, that one gets so involved and impatient regardless of their general familiarity with the events and their outcome. Gosh, I think to myself, here is another reason why I love this country. I mean the Anglo-Saxon tradition of writing about history in a fashion that compelling and humane.
Interesting because of the subject itself, but I found it chaotic and fragmented and by the last chapter – enraging. After this book, I officially disInteresting because of the subject itself, but I found it chaotic and fragmented and by the last chapter – enraging. After this book, I officially dislike Mr. Johnson on a personal level, and distrust him as a historian. He makes bizarre value judgements and throws opinions as facts. If his evaluations of events I have opinion on are so absurd, even horrifying, I find it hard to respect his views on the subjects I know nothing or little about. He has been on the wrong side of history far too many times. He is talking affectionately about Reagan, George W. Bush and destroys Jimmy Carter (one of the reasons – he wore sweaters in the White House). He has “defended Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal, finding his cover-up considerably less heinous than Bill Clinton's perjury”; professed himself unimpressed by Nelson Mandela, and...
"And I like that lady—Sarah Palin. She's great. I like the cut of her jib." The former governor of Alaska, he says, "is in the good tradition of America, which this awful political correctness business goes against." Plus: "She's got courage. That's very important in politics. You can have all the right ideas and the ability to express them. But if you haven't got guts, if you haven't got courage the way Margaret Thatcher had courage—and Reagan, come to think of it. Your last president had courage too—if you haven't got courage, all the other virtues are no good at all. It's the central virtue."
This is fucking huuuuge. The subject as well. If you think Rome was wicked, just wait and see what happens after Christ. To go through Christianity anThis is fucking huuuuge. The subject as well. If you think Rome was wicked, just wait and see what happens after Christ. To go through Christianity and the Dark Ages was dreadful, let alone live it. But as philosophers come closer to our times it gets more and more interesting, familiar but not necessary easier to comprehend. I still could not summarize what Kant and Hegel are all about and probably I lack the curiosity to ever will.
"A History of Western Philosophy" is exactly what the title says - a chronology of philosophical thought throughout the centuries. Notice that it says "A History..", not "The History.." which is a presumption that it may not be all objective and by that Mr. Russel insurances himself against critiques of the kind that what he sets out in the book and the way he presents and rethinks it, may not be exactly accurate. Still, it is an encyclopedic work and the point of someone writing it, I imagine, would be not only to benefit the others, the readers, but as an exercise for his own self. By accumulating deeper knowledge through research prior to writing it, he gives himself a chance to rethink it all and make his subsequent works more insightful and right to the point. This will probably lead me to read his other stuff, and figure out where he sands in this fascinating world of questioning all (a.k.a. the world of philosophy). What is more, I surely will come back to this book. As a matter of fact I already do. ...more
… You know there is a ten year delay in the Soviet Union for the delivery of an automobile. And only one out of seven families in the Soviet Union own… You know there is a ten year delay in the Soviet Union for the delivery of an automobile. And only one out of seven families in the Soviet Union own automobiles. There is a 10 year wait, and you go through quite a process when you are ready to by, and then you put up the money in advance. This man laid down the money, and the fellow in charge said to him: Come back in 10 years and get your car. The man answered: Morning or afternoon?
(big pause for laughter)
And the fellow behind the counter said: Ten years from now, what difference does it make? And he said: Well, the plumber is coming in the morning.
Throughout this book, I was thinking of bits and pieces from my childhood under the Regime. I have to admit it was nice to hear of Sofia and Bulgaria (not so nice to hear of Georgi Dimitrov) being mentioned as we are so often left out of world history. At times though I was picturing the famous Thatcher - Reagan dance viewing it as the other extreme. Godless communism vs. ruthless capitalism. Stalin’s quote “When we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use" sums it up perfectly.
Economy, health care reform, tax politics, gay rights, ecology, social security, Newt Gingrich, Murdoch, China, gun control, birth control, Syria, NorEconomy, health care reform, tax politics, gay rights, ecology, social security, Newt Gingrich, Murdoch, China, gun control, birth control, Syria, North Korea, Osama bin Laden compared to a Bond villain, even judge Sotomayor gets mentioned. It is like during the 8 Bush years everything stopped and Obama picked up from where Clinton left.
It is very rewarding to re-examine recent history and events I more or less remember and to share it today is symbolic. Taylor Branch, the author of The Clinton Tapes, got the Pulitzer Prize for history for his work on Martin Luther King and today Americans celebrate the 50th anniversary of the I Have a Dream speech.
To be honest when I picked up the The Clinton Tapes I was hoping to get an impartial account of Bill Clinton’s Presidency and I was surprised to learn in the course of the book that Clinton and Branch were old roommates. Clinton was already my favourite US president (or let’s say he is in my top 3) and I didn't need more convincing. After all he is the first US president I remember and I tend to romanticise a little. At the same time I didn't want to go to the other extreme and begin with Christopher Hitchens’s book on the Clintons. This one I’ll leave for desert.
The Clinton Tapes may be not what I have hoped for – independent, balanced and critical analysis, but it is engaging and I deem it factual. However not even terribly revealing, and I understand it couldn't be, I got more from it than let’s say Mr Clinton’s own autobiography – My Life – which I am almost through with. I wish presidential autobiographies were more like what I imagine rock stars’ autobiographies are – less diplomatic, with a little more emotion, passion and edge. Something like “…and I told the motherfucker to piss off and I stand by my words.”
I like lookin' at candids of the Olsen twins probably as much as they hate being shot. They are pretty much the o..a fashion book for fashion people..
I like lookin' at candids of the Olsen twins probably as much as they hate being shot. They are pretty much the only celebrities I follow captivated by their artfull boho style. So romantic and decadent it makes you dream of the parallel reality those two live in. Although fully satisfying my visual greediness they leave me intellectually starving. Their interviews are boring and lack the eccentricity one would expect judging by their appearance. For the most part their movies are dumb with a few exceptions I could name - Mary-Kate in Weeds, in Factory Girl, and in The Wackness. All of them I’d recommend as extremely pleasurable. The same applies to the book. It’s wonderful to look at – artistic, a bit nostalgic to different eras, beautiful. But not a good read. It’s a fashion book for fashion people and in the offensive sense. The little talks with those big people are anything but influential and if it gets interesting at some point the credit entirely goes to the artist being interviewed, not to the Olsens’ skills. ...more
I remember one of my school mates being my guest around Easter, saying “Ha-ha see Jesus hanging on that tree.” My parI just love religious arguments.
I remember one of my school mates being my guest around Easter, saying “Ha-ha see Jesus hanging on that tree.” My parents were not shocked, but let’s say pretty surprised by that statement and not in a positive way. Even my father who was never even slightly religious was impressed by the unprecedented lack of respect towards Christ and Christianity. And that actually is one of the key points in Dawkins’ book -the reverence for religion instead of doubting and disputing it. Later on I had a wonderful philosophy teacher, though extremely strict. No matter what school of philosophy she was dissecting she seemed equally convincing at them all. Each philosophical movement was a closed integral system and any question could be answered in the context of it. And to me religion was and is just another philosophical movement. When I refer to myself as Christian, all I intend to show is my cultural identity, not so much a world view. That understanding never opposed religion’s ability to excite me and inspire me, nor my striving to be more Christlike. ...more
What the fuck? Is this the same book we are talking about? It was on top of the New York Times chart of cool books you haven’t read and honestly, I feWhat the fuck? Is this the same book we are talking about? It was on top of the New York Times chart of cool books you haven’t read and honestly, I feel deceived..
It's a two-star-book but I am giving it just one in order to balance a bit the overall rating. ...more
I love how un-preconditioned he is in his travels. Those, at first glance, disconnected notes from a trip led my thoughts to wonder in two or three juI love how un-preconditioned he is in his travels. Those, at first glance, disconnected notes from a trip led my thoughts to wonder in two or three just as disconnected directions. On one hand, it made me remember all the little discomforts a trip is inevitably accompanied by. As they say, a journey is only glamorous in retrospective, and yet it's hard not let yourself swirl into that silly touristy enthusiasm. There is none of the latter in here. In order to be able to enjoy anything outside ourselves first we need to feel good from the inside, we must have the comfort of Health. The minimum necessary. This gets me back to the so called primitive cultures, poor people, kung-fu and the 90s action movies, where all one truly possesses is his own physical body - his only strength, the source of confidence and means of survival. But the European mind works differently. In the absence of discontempt there is no creative impulse; we need to bleed for it. And for Camus it's not about pleasure, it's about endurance. On the other hand, I was thinking isn't there an ethical conflict in publishing works after the death of authors and without their explicit consent. Diaries, personal correspondence (Kafka's letters to Milena, Dora and the others, Joyce's letters to Nora), unfinished novels (Fitzgerald's Last Tycoon), and in that case – notes. Arrogantly intruding in their privacy and exposing them as if to make them more human will give us some comfort. In other words, to drag them down to our level. What if now they find new Salinger's writings? ...more
OK, I didn't read the book. I only listened to the abridged BBC recording. Unfortunately abridged.. And wonderfully complimented by Steven Fry's richOK, I didn't read the book. I only listened to the abridged BBC recording. Unfortunately abridged.. And wonderfully complimented by Steven Fry's rich baritone voice. Most probably I wouldn't bother to pick up the printed version, unless Mr. Fry is kind enough to read the whole thing for me. Either way this sample gives a good taste of the wittiness and britishness of the book. ...more
It’s funny the way one comes across a book or an author. I found Malcolm Gladwell somewhere on youtube, or maybe it was TED. He fitted well in my receIt’s funny the way one comes across a book or an author. I found Malcolm Gladwell somewhere on youtube, or maybe it was TED. He fitted well in my recent Canadian infatuation. Later on I saw that some of my goodreads friends had checked his books as read, and figured he was on the Bulgarian market. I don’t care much about the publishing business here. At best, it annoys me as it is tight, limited and the transparent leading motive is what would sell. Consequently to this mercantile policy the new publications are loud, aggressive and totally lacking the one-time intimacy of the process of getting familiar with a title. On a more global view the literature on the market presupposes the collective consciousness that I don’t necessarily want to be a part of. It’s almost like if it’s not on Slaveikov market it doesn’t exist. (There was no Rand and no Objectivism in Bulgaria since last year.) All that makes the experience of opening a book just as exclusive as opening a newspaper. Or maybe it’s just my damaged, snobbish mind. Back to Gladwell’s book. I started Ouliers untimely preconditioned by the multiple interviews he has given marketing his books. Good thing at first I wasn’t aware of his controversial reputation - the inevitable love-hate relationship accompanying well selling authors. Then I came across this - http://www.malcolmgladwellbookgenerat... :) Disregarding the fuzz, the stories are nicely written, even though some of the points come intuitive and don’t need that much of an explanation. The best parts for me were the one about the plane crashes and the other about Jamaican inner racism which was curious and incomprehensible for me so far. I think there would be no problem with Gladwell’s reception, if he hasn’t been taken that seriously. ...more
A wonderful collection! Authority And American Usage was a bit challenging for me - neither a linguist nor a native speaker. And I didn't read The HosA wonderful collection! Authority And American Usage was a bit challenging for me - neither a linguist nor a native speaker. And I didn't read The Host, which seems to be missing from the e-book version, and which I just found here. ...more
The jokes are not terribly funny but that is not the point, right? I have this iPhone app for intelligent jokes and they are a lot similar. Somebody vThe jokes are not terribly funny but that is not the point, right? I have this iPhone app for intelligent jokes and they are a lot similar. Somebody very amply made another parallel - between this book and Woody Allen's gags. The benefit here is that they are put in some kind of context. ...more