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What I’m reading, and more

December 11th, 2005

I’ve been very slack about this regular feature, but I’m encouraged to persevere by the discovery that it really annoys a certain class of semi-literate blogger. This soi-disant (look it up, Richie), purveyor of right-wing rants links to me, objecting to ‘pretencious bloggers‘ who discuss what they’ve been reading, and asks:

How often would a blogger who goes to effort of providing his current reading material list a title like The Da Vinci Code?

If Richie knew how to use Google, he’d know the answer was Once – do you think I’m going to reread Dan Brown?

Anyway, what I’ve been reading this week is The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney. Mooney does a great job documenting the postmodernist and anti-science stance of US Republicans on issues like global warming and evolution, reproduced in Australia by commentators like Andrew Bolt.

Meanwhile, on the movie front, I finally hired Heathers which was great. My son and I also watched Team America which was fun, if crass – I guess it’s the kind of satire you can take either way.

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  1. December 11th, 2005 at 20:55 | #1

    Shouldn’t that be “pretencious [sic] bloggers”? Or was that your own finger trouble, like missing the closing tag after “Team America”? If the latter, misspelling “pretentious” is giving a hostage to fortune in a post like this one.

  2. jquiggin
    December 11th, 2005 at 22:16 | #2

    You don’t need ‘sic’ if you provide the link, which somehow didn’t get included in the post. Fixed now, as is the tag problem.

  3. December 11th, 2005 at 22:40 | #3

    Heathers has many imitators but it’s the original and the best of that genre!

  4. December 11th, 2005 at 23:17 | #4

    Teeeam Ameeeericaaa: F*ck yeah!

  5. December 12th, 2005 at 01:42 | #5

    A blogger who can’t spell, criticises someone (falsely) for not writing about Dan Brown(!), and has a quote from Ludwig von Mises as his motto! Sometimes you just gotta love the ‘sphere.

  6. December 12th, 2005 at 01:42 | #6

    Hey, I’m one of the semi-literate (apparently) people who don’t like this kind of vanity blogging, but I’m quite ok with it if you mention it and then go on to discuss something about the book in question.

    It’s the posting of book names with no discussion that irks me. What possible purpose can it serve except to say: “Hey, look at me, I read books – I must be smart!”. And nobody ever puts up there that they’re reading the November issue of Ralph magazine, but somebody must be.

    The fact that you describe us as “semi-literate” and then point out a spelling mistake by one person who has complained suggests that it really is not much more than intellectual snobbery as far as I’m concerned.

    I know how to spell “pretentious” too…

  7. loofer
    December 12th, 2005 at 04:14 | #7

    Team America was crass, but the songs were comedy gold…

    “Freedom isn’t freeee…
    y’know it costs a buck or three…”

  8. jquiggin
    December 12th, 2005 at 05:38 | #8

    Yobbo, IIRC, you previously complained that no-one admitted to reading the Tax Act. I agree that someone must be reading the November issue of Ralph , but as it happens, I’m not (NTTAWWT). However, since I do generally go on to write about the book in question, and often do full-length reviews, let’s agree that you didn’t mean me, and I didn’t mean you.

    Another person I had in mind in Louis Hissink, whose semi-literacy is scientific rather than orthographic, but spectacular nonetheless.

  9. wilful
    December 12th, 2005 at 09:26 | #9

    loofer, yes it certainly was crass (by the same people who gave us southpark, what would we expect), but it certainly wasn’t crap. Of course, there are those out there that don’t realise it was satire.

    Anyway, about bloggers and their books – I don’t get how this is considered to be a public space. Prof Quiggin writes ehre for his own enjoyment and can put up whatever he feels like. If he wants to mention what books he’s been reading then that’s his prerogative. Meanwhile, Richie can tell the world all about the Da Vinci Code, but I don’t think anyone’s interested.

  10. loofer
    December 12th, 2005 at 10:30 | #10

    wilful, crass certainly doesn’t mean crap.

    I loved Team America. I actually saw it just after it came out while I was attending a conference in the US. This may have been in the People’s Republic of California, but there were still offended Americans storming out of the cinema and disapproving loudly :)

  11. Andrew Reynolds
    December 12th, 2005 at 14:26 | #11

    I finished Jung Chang’s biography of Chairman Mao a couple of weeks ago. Apart from needing a bit stronger an edit, it was really worth a read. The sections on the origin of the Korean War were particularly interesting.
    Presuming the research stands up it puts the last nail in the coffin of one of the few (maybe 4 or 5) worst people of the twentieth century.

  12. jquiggin
    December 12th, 2005 at 14:32 | #12

    I read Wild Swans a while back; it was very good, and indicated why Jung Chang is so anti-Mao, given her and her family’s experiences under the regime.

    The bio was reviewed in LRB not long ago. The reviewer said the book overstated the case, but even so, Mao was as you say a terrible dictator.

  13. Andrew Reynolds
    December 12th, 2005 at 16:47 | #13

    PrQ,
    I do not know whether we will find out if the case was overstated or understated until the archives of the CCP are opened, not something the current government will do. I just hope that there is no wholesale destruction of them when the government gives way to one the people have a choice in.
    You do get the feeling that the case is overstated in the book – at times it reads almost as a polemic. The depth of the research is impressive, though, and the interviews with some of the former top people would have been difficult to get. All in all, a worthy read.
    Another example of power corrupting, although in Mao’s case I do not think that power increased the corruption, merely increased its scope.

  14. December 17th, 2005 at 11:20 | #14

    I don’t see anything wrong with mentioning books or anything else – its your blog and not anyone elses. I mean when you think of it how much of the paper do you find relevant, how much of the tv, and anything else including blogs. I’m just not sure why Richie would have been offended by that one… I really don’t get it. I don’t get the vanity blogging thing entirely then?? Perhaps.

    Conversations in the real world often contain extra superficial information. Its a part of communication and why there’s a thousand ways to say something pretty simple.

    I’ve had the Da Vinci Code on my shelf since my step son gave it to me for christmas (a fact I’ve been too busy) but it shouldn’t offend someone that I’ve either read, mentioned or not read it. That’s just weird really.

    Bloggers have every right to mention what they’re doing in the world don’t they?! I mean who is the visitor in this house? Please define what blogging is and is not then as I’ve blogged for the last two years and must vanity blog my heart out in between slivvers of information that people actually come to read. hey even if nobody came I’d still say I had the da vinci code on my shelf….

    Mmm I don’t particularly like that term now I’ve thought about it. Should a blog be a dry personality free space then? Umm a newspaper? Ha. Sorry but I am just a bit confused.

  15. December 19th, 2005 at 13:29 | #15

    I saw Team America again the weekend before last – it was so funny – better than the first time I saw it.

    It’s funny how Miranda Devine or Janet Albrechtson (I forget which – probably Devine) uses Trey Parker/Matt Stone’s work to support her thesis that youth are now much more conservative than years ago. Honestly – talk about a solid argument. I often love their work – the irreverance is great – but that says nothing about my political stance.

    If Miranda (or the other one) wants to promote irreverance – I’m all for it – but that doesn’t translate into conservatism.

  16. what the
    December 19th, 2005 at 13:59 | #16

    …Freedom isn’t free, there’s a hefty f*cking fee..

    I loved Team America – durkadurka – especially at the beginning when they sweep in and accidentally blow paris to pieces (the poor frogs) the energy and the naivete of the poor yanks was so perfectly illustrated.

    as the girl in the video store said to me as she handed it over ..”It’s so wrong but it’s so right”

  17. December 20th, 2005 at 15:04 | #17

    Just to clarify my position – when did I start talking about ‘rights’? Of course bloggers have the right to talk about whatever they feel like.

    All I did was express my personal preference against vanity bloggers. And focusing on one spelling error is hardly the most persuasive way to refute my argument.

  18. December 20th, 2005 at 17:34 | #18

    In themselves, spelling errors aren’t very important. However, once somebody sets himself up as an authority on how and what to blog, minor errors become major hostages to fortune.

  19. December 20th, 2005 at 20:26 | #19

    Well that may be your view, but personally I think harnessing grammar for criticism detracts from the central argument that one makes.

    I only linked Quiggan as a quick/lazy example because I didn’t have much time to do the neccessary research.

    My main point was that bloggers who talk about books generally don’t admit to reading the ‘popular’ ones. I still maintain this thesis, although I accept that Quiggan was not the ideal target.

  20. jquiggin
    December 20th, 2005 at 21:05 | #20

    Well you might at least get the name of your target (ideal or otherwise) right. It’s in plain view on the top of the page.

  21. December 20th, 2005 at 22:50 | #21

    Okay Dr Quiggin. And I can’t leave without thanking you for the publicity that you have generated for my ungrammatical little blog. The hitcounter has been working overtime.

    Another little anecdote on indulgence – I was recently talking one of your colleagues at UQ Economics. He wasn’t your greatest fan. Neither am I. But it became apparent to me that his views were not all that different to yours, rather, he was just jealous about all the publicity (and coin) you attract. I am glad that I have been able to piggy back on this and I welcome further criticism in the future.

  22. jquiggin
    December 21st, 2005 at 09:04 | #22

    Enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame.

  23. December 21st, 2005 at 16:39 | #23

    It must get pretty boring down in old Tassie, Richard …

  24. December 22nd, 2005 at 16:08 | #24

    You don’t know the half of it Jason. When my blog is getting talked about all through the streets of Hobart and Tas Uni then there is a real problem!

    New methods to provoke controversy are always welcome!

    By the way, I have followed for a long time Catallaxy and am very envious.

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