If Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In was a person, it wouldn't be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company: it would be that overbearing middle manager everyone lovesIf Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In was a person, it wouldn't be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company: it would be that overbearing middle manager everyone loves to hate. The one that spends Monday morning talking way too loudly around the coffeepot about the higher-ups he rubbed shoulders with that weekend. The one with a sports car and a wife too young for him who tries desperately to be "with it." The one whose greatest joy in life is boiling down complex problems to a platitude you could fit on a desk calendar. This is a caked-over mess of schmaltz and self-promotion, with just enough girl power quotes sprinkled throughout that hungry young people in thankless entry-level corporate helljobs will use them to decorate their cubicle walls for the next decade. Lean far, far away....more
When I was a young child, not much older than Philip Roth's eponymous alter-ego in The Plot Against America in fact, my church showed a telecast of aWhen I was a young child, not much older than Philip Roth's eponymous alter-ego in The Plot Against America in fact, my church showed a telecast of a debate between a creationist and an atheist. I don't remember most of it; I doubt it differed much from any of the thousand "science vs. religion" debates there's been through the years, etc etc. One thing that's stuck in my mind over the years however was one of the energetic creationist's proofs for the existence of God - the presence of "universal morality." I'm paraphrasing, but to wit: the Holocaust - the mechanized slaughter of millions of human beings - was wrong. Even if Hitler had won WWII, even if we were all speaking German and buying things with Deutsche Marks, the Holocaust would still be wrong.
Pre-pubescent Greg believed that. Adult me isn't so sure. And I don't think Philip Roth is, either.
I'd like to think the substance (if not necessarily the specifics) of this question was on Roth's mind when he wrote The Plot Against America - which struck me as a book that, while about so many things, was chiefly about the horrifying fluidity of morality. How if people were told in the right way, with the right words, by the right sort of authority figure, they'd conclude it was perfectly okay to forcibly relocate Jewish families from their homes. How said families, under immense personal stress, could make choices that a younger, more naive version of themselves would find unforgivable. That maybe every piece of speculative fiction we've ever read about people becoming monsters is unnecessary - because people already are monsters, and we're just mostly able to forget it in our civilized moments. But those moments are rare: they were rare in 1941 (when this book takes place), rare in 2003 (when Roth put these words to paper), and getting rarer by the fucking minute. This is my first Roth, but it probably won't be my last....more
The first half of this book is fascinating. It answers a question I've had for some time without really realizing: why is it that so many (almost unifThe first half of this book is fascinating. It answers a question I've had for some time without really realizing: why is it that so many (almost uniformly) white, upper- class women with college degrees and otherwise progressive politics believe they shouldn't vaccinate their children? In a series of penetrating essays, Biss pulls back the layers of the anti-vaccination movement throughout the last 100 years to expose its roots in class and race issues, the marginalization of women in medicine and our chronic inability to see ourselves as members of a larger community. Unfortunately the second half of the book tosses all of that out the window and becomes a series of personal essays about her birth and her son's infant medical care, where a whole host of the author's personal neuroses are put on display: from her year(!) of hand-wringing over her need to receive a blood transfusion while giving birth to her fervent paranoid belief that her doctors are attempting to "punish" her and her child for questioning orthodox medical science. Blehhh. And you were doing so well, too....more