1. Go to any event related to the fact that SNL is back on the air.
3. Go to the National show at BAM.
4. Watch any Oscar nominated movies.
5. Speak to anyone important, quirky, bright, dull, famous or good-looking. In fact, I don’t think I spoke single human being.
A profoundly anti-social, hermetic day and night for me. I read old books and thought about obscure financial innovations. It was surprisingly delightful. Maybe I am getting better at this than I thought I was.
Isn’t it just a bit like Dick Cheney picking himself as Vice President? You write the rule of the game and, oh, hey, look at that, you end up winning. Very convenient, that.
DealBreaker’s been of the fritz all day. Not sure what’s up. I think it doesn’t run well in the snow.
I think this means happy hour starts early today.
Update: Whatever a ‘coreswitch’ is, apparently it’s failing. We’re reversing the polarity to see if we can make the polarium crystals feed power to the hyperdrive.
For the past several weeks I haven’t had a key card to the front door of DealBreaker’s HQ Bunker on Mott Street. The Bunker is as secure as one of those secret underground government fortresses you see in science fiction-ish espionage shows. You need a key card to enter an unmarked front door, and two keys to unlock the huge metal interior door. I’ve got the keys but the key card was stolen along with my favorite coat way back in December at an Apes & Androids show.
The absence of the key card hasn’t been too much of a problem because I generally arrive at the Bunker late in the morning. Everyone else gets in very early, so I depend on them to let me in. (Even our buzzer is ultra-secure, complete with a small video camera.)
But I worked late last night, studying up on a really exciting finance issue that is happening right now. Right. Now. I got so caught up in things that when it came time to leave, I literally walked out of the bunker without my coat. I noticed this seconds later but it was too late. The outer door had sealed shut, and I was forced to make my way to Park Slope without a coat. (Note, if you’re heading to Park Slope via the B Train, be very careful to get on the B Train. The D Train will take you straight to Sunset Park, and it will take you another hour to get back from there.)
Now I’m faced with the prospect of getting to work through 29 degree temperature and inches and inches of still falling snow. Without a coat. I don’t have a spare because the Apes and Androids fans stole it.
In short, if I never post here again, I’ve perished. Blame municipal bond insurace and auction-rate securities.
Earlier tonight I discovered that the SEC’s website was inaccessible from the DealBreaker HQ Bunker. I thought I might write up a short piece about the SEC’s website going down, so I contacted some friends to ask if they were also experiencing an outage.
Everyone else could get on the site. Even my friend Will in Spain got on. But mine kept coming back with the message that the server could not be located. In fact, it’s still doing that.
What could be going on?
The deadpan satirical website Stuff White People Like is now up to 2 million hits. When I first visited it a week ago, its count meter stood at around 150,000 (as I vaguely recall).
So, that just proves that I liked it first (well, except for the previous 150,000, I suppose), which is the important thing in life. But now I don’t like it anymore because it’s so mid-February.” —Steve Sailor
Some people don’t play well with others. I don’t play well with myself.
Yes, I know how that sounds. It’s not what I meant at all. You have a gutter mind.
But, basically, my experiment in behaving like a human rather than a drunken angel of the night isn’t working out. I’m quite bored with myself, and I’ve discovered I have an endless attention span. Which makes me even more boring. This is very disheartening.
All this sobriety is not good for my self-esteem.
…is a stainless steel refrigerator with an Obama magnet attached.
Both attract the same set of fans.
Last night a girl outside of Tom & Jerry’s told me that Obama gives her hope that we can have a “real United States.” She stressed the word united and then fluttered off into the night on a cloud of her own sincerity.
People are like that about Juno too.
I know irony died in 1994 because that magazine edited by Toby Young and that bitchy former London cokehead who moved to Brighton told me so. (And then the magazine died, she became a columnist for a leftist newspaper and Toby moved to New York to lose friends and alienate people.) Somehow irony kept on keeping on, maybe as a zombie kept alive by the internet, for at least another dozen or so years. It suffered a setback in 2001 because everyone knows you can’t smirk when ugly buildings are toppled.
But it certainly seem gone now. Is there any way we can kill off the new sincerity a little faster than we killed off irony? I’m already tired of it.
This weekend’s New York Times style section was the best in recent memory. It was a perfect little snapshot of the the culture.
First, there was an article about the loneliness of living in the the Plaza. How can you not feel for these poor, lonely wealthy people? At least the homeless have each other.
Next, there was the article about how marrying a Republican means becoming more open-minded. Just kidding. In the end, this so-called Republican turns out to have been a lifelong Democrat who endorses Obama.
I should link to these but you can probably find them yourself.
Banker girl: But how will I recognize you at the party?
John Carney: Haven’t you ever seen me on CNBC?
Banker girl: You should use that line more often.
John Carney: I can’t believe I just said that.
Banker girl: Never mind. I just google imaged you. Nice beard.
I think she thinks I was in the movie “Once.”
Can someone please explain why I pay the government a fee to get married?
And why does the government license marriages anyway? If unlicensed marriages are a danger to others because we might handle marriage recklessly, why isn’t a “marriage safety test” administered before the license is issued?
The voices inside my head say, “That’s because ‘marriage safety’ is an oxymoron.”
And then the other voices say, “Marriages don’t hurt people. People hurt people.”
And then the other other voices say, “Shouldn’t we all be at the bar by now?”
I spent several moments this morning reading Mike Lind’s review of Michael Gerson’s Heroic Conservatism in tomorrow’s New York Times Book Review. I’ll admit that the odds of me reading Gerson’s book are quite long—unless someone pays me to write about. Nonetheless, I’m inspired to make a couple of comments about the book.
Most striking was the quote from the book in which Gerson announces that the Bush administration believes history is on its side. “Like Wilson,” Gerson writes, “Bush believes that history has a moral direction … Unlike Wilson, Bush does not believe that this vision is fulfilled in the decline or replacement of the nation-state by international institutions. It is fulfilled by the growth in strength and number of democratic societies.”
Obviously, this view of conservatism—because I’m bored by definitional arguments I won’t get into whether or not this is actually a view of conservatism or something else entirely—is entirely at odds with, say, the view announced in the inaugural issue of National Review. The quotation about standing athwart history is well known enough that I won’t bother quoting it in full. But the editorial is worth reading for the first time if you haven’t come across it before, and re-reading if you have. Its praise of the irresponsible right and radical conservatives and it’s mockery of “those of the well-fed Right” and people who think they have the “inside track on History” is refreshing. Conservatism these days often still wears a mask of opposition but it is a mask. Back in 1955, Buckley was able to announce a conservative vision that was thoroughly comfortable with being “out of place” with a verve and credibility lacking in today’s conservative movement.
As long as I’m thumbing—or clicking, to be more accurate—through the greatest hits of the ghosts of conservative past I might as well admit that this is clearly “immanentizing the eschaton.” It is, in plainer language, a vision of bringing about the victorious end of history through politics. Christians have long believed in the inevitable victory of Christ in history but this is a victory of divinity brought about through the saving power of grace. Heroic conservatives apparently believe in the inevitable victory of Christ (Gerson is explicit that Bush’s vision is informed by his Christianity) in history brought about through saving power of Democracy. Politics and the democratic state have displaced grace and God as the acting power in the earth.
I take this immanentizing personally. It is a perversion of the view announced by my ancestor Increase Mather, who wrote and preached that America—or, at least, New England—had a special place in providence and that the colony of Massachusetts had a special relationship with God. This relationship was particularly a Christian one, and required specially strict social and legal arrangements reflecting the relationship. It was particularly local, confined to New England. If history had a direction, it was directed at New England and perhaps no place else. This explained, in part, why his father Richard Mather and the rest of the settlers came across the “rude sea” to the “unsown land.” The view eventually led Mather into politics in order to defend the independence of the colony. Contemporary evangelical Christian conservatives who adopt the view of Gerson, are borrowing (I’m tempted to say stealing) half of this—America’s special role in history—but divorcing it from its original particularities—dissenting Christianity and New England locality. In the process, it becomes a crusading spirit of Democracy.
The direction of the world hardly seemed to be moral to Increase. Richard Mather had left old England for New following the restoration of the Crown. Even the most ardent dissenters never became convinced that the security of the colonies required transforming the rest of the world, or just England, in the image of congregationalism. And while Increase was filled with hope about New England he knew corruption was everywhere and the forces of this world were not conspiring in a moral direction. The world, and especially England, was a danger to the colony, whose independence needed desperately to be protected against the Crown’s imprecations. He was convinced of the moral superiority of the congregational ordering of New England but aware that its continued survival depended on vigilant if prudent defense of its independence. I’d like to say the Gerson view is a perversion of the work of Increase and his kidn but my own gloomy outlook makes me suspect it is inevitable progress. There’s a bit of family resemblance in the views at least. In short, I’m afraid my blood probably bears some responsibility for Geronism.
As an aside, I’ll add that my great-something or other grandfather Increase would have enjoyed the anti-establishment spirit that animates that inaugural review in NR. In his uncountable sermons and forty some odd books, Increase invariably supported the lay worshippers of the New England congregations against assumptions of better-educated classes and the ruling magistrates. They were dissenters, radical and a bit irresponsible, and they weren’t afraid of that.
Moving away from the golden oldies, it also occurs to me that the conviction that history is on your side is disadvantageous to the conduct of politics, and particularly foreign affairs and warfare. It leads to an overconfidence in one’s chosen means of carrying out one’s chosen policies. The left has its international institutions and diplomacy while the right has its military campaigns and leading by doing. But the effect is the same. If they bring a knife to a fight, you are meant to bring a gun. If you bring the “moral direction of history” you are more or less showing up to the battle disarmed. It’s not hard to see how marching toward Baghdad atop History leads directly to the expectation that our troops would be greeted with flowers rather than IEDs.
If you suspect that the direction of history might be terrible and perverse, beyond our control or perhaps absent all together, you are far more likely to choose your battles more wisely and show up to them properly armed. Surrender, as John Bolton says, may not be an option. But defeat is always a possibility. The tragic view of history, or at least a decadent appreciation of the possibility of a decline and fall, actually makes your better able to attend to the defense of the republic than the heroic view. The word that used to be described this view was prudential. Increase, who (against the more radical New Englanders who believed God would protect the land from the King) successfully urged the Massachusetts colony to accept a new charter from the Crown when it was clear the Crown would not allow the original one to continue, would have recognized this view as his own.
I’m curious whether Gerson’s view of George Bush is an accurate one, and how popular this vision of heroic conservatism is on the movement right. After five years of lawyering and two years as the editor of an independent website about Wall Street, I’ve pretty much lost touch with the movement. Is Gerson’s view a mainstream one or is it confined to neoconservatives? Or it there not much of difference these days? Those of you closer to the greensward may be helpful here.
On an unrelated note, last week I moved to Park Slope, which is Obama occupied territory. There are surprisingly few supporters of Hillary Clinton to be seen. All the shops have Obama stickers, and last week all the leafleteers were working for Obama. I’m open to suggested explanations for Obama’s popularity and Hillary’s lack thereof in the People’s Republic of Park Slope.
The “progress” of modern conservatism: from the irresponsible right and radical conservatives to compassionate conservatives and the reponsible right.
…so I do them anyway, and I end up getting caught.
And also political groundhog day: If Obama sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of primaries.
Hegelian: The conviction that this is all leading somewhere.
Platonism: The conviction that all this is not.
Nietzsheanism: The conviction all this is leading us in circles.
Lies, damned lies and statistics. So people who lack an apptitude for statistics are either liars or damned liars.
new blogs all the time
symptomatic of ADD” —Timothy P. Carney, famous journalist and books editor