Bloviator poll now up and running

by Eszter Hargittai on July 29, 2004

Don’t forget to cast your vote in the poll Ross is running over at The Bloviator about what phrase would offer “the best Progressive frame to encapsulate the commitment to remedying America’s myriad problems with health care”. The poll is a result of some lively discussions that occured here on CT while Ross was guest blogging with us earlier this week.

Mobius Dick

by Chris Bertram on July 29, 2004

I’ve just finished another Andrew Crumey novel, his latest, “Mobius Dick”: . I thought I might be reporting that, whilst I’d enjoyed it, I enjoyed it less than his Mr Mee (which “I completed the other day”: ). But the last twenty pages where all the different threads come together with a rush (a bit like a Jonathan Coe novel), gave me such delight that I’d have to rank them equally. Crumey is that unusual thing, a novelist with a PhD in theoretical physics. And here his learning is fully deployed: the Copenhagen interpretation, multiverses, Schrodinger; Schopenhauer, Nietszche and Thomas Mann; mad Nazis, Marxism, and a British Democratic Republic; Robert and Clara Schumann; a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps and a Scottish nuclear power plant; weapons of mass destruction. All there, and he brings off the connections brilliantly (even lacerating literary postmodernists in the process). Fantastic. (Not yet published outside the UK as far as I can see, so my link is to

Oo, that wicked watercraeft!

by John Holbo on July 29, 2004

Henry and I always make sure to post about China Miéville-related matters (here, for example; click from there for earlier posts. Here’s a more recent one by Henry.) So I have to make sure this exceedingly snarky Adam Lipkin review of Iron Council catches his eye, and gets a comment box (via the Mumpsimus).

I haven’t read Iron Council yet, so it may seem absurd to say I am sure this review is too harsh. But I’m sure it is, so I’ll just clear the air of this sour stuff before – sometime soon – Henry and I have our obligatory exchange.

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Quote for the day

by Chris Bertram on July 29, 2004

Talking of extremism… There’s something I’ve been meaning to post on for some time in the light of the documented connections between Trotskyism and neoconservatives and the continued enthusiasm of some admirers of Trotsky for aspects of recent US foreign policy. Trotsky had a dictum, of which “this passage from The Revolution Betrayed”: is just one example:

bq. Foreign policy is everywhere and always a continuation of domestic policy, for it is conducted by the same ruling class and pursues the same historic goals.

I don’t think that’s _obviously_ a true generalization, but nor is it a thought devoid of interest. Discuss, with reference to the domestic and foreign policies of the Bush administration….

Bizarre parallel universes

by Chris Bertram on July 29, 2004

The novel I’m reading at the moment is full of stuff about multiverses, alternate realities and quantum physics, and maybe I’ll post about it in a few days. It was a shock to put the book down, leave the garden, do some surfing and “almost immediately read this by Tim Burke”: :

bq. If Kerry is elected, and imposes a kind of extremist political vision root and branch upon the Americans who oppose him….

In what bizarre possible world might Kerry impose an “extremist political vision”? Perhaps one in which he’s actually “a reptoid alien disguised as a human?”: To be fair to Tim, the hypothesis (of extremism rather than reptilism) is one that he dismisses, if only on the grounds that the Republicans have a solid majority! And there are some worthy sentiments in his post. But the very idea that Kerry, who, in European terms is a moderate conservative — and who won’t even “impose” such sensible ideas as “socialized medicine” — might seek to advance an “extremist vision”, shows how disconnected from reality American political discourse is becoming.

[UPDATE: I seem to have read Tim’s post rather too hastily. See comments for details]

Libertarians and war

by John Q on July 29, 2004

Over at the Volokh conspiracy, Randy Barnett poses the question of what Libertarianism as a political philosophy tells us about foreign policy, and comes up with the conclusion “not much”, particularly in relation to war. He says his views are tentative and invites others to contribute to the debate. I’ll accept, partly because it’s intellectually interesting, partly because Jim Henley (who could, I think have done a much better job) has gone into hiatus, and partly because I think internationalism (at least my version of it) shares some points in common with libertarianism, while being opposed on others.

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