CATEGORY: LitJournalFiction

Scholars and Rogues Fiction: Rural Re-Education by Joao Cerquiera

Rural Re-education 

Magdalene introduced Jesus to her colleagues as a friend, one who shared the same concerns for the future of the planet and the fate of mankind. Here was a man sensitive to contemporary problems—a defender of the weak and oppressed, yet unafraid of the powerful. In short, here was a comrade whom they could count on in the coming green battles.

Jesus’s presence made Judas restless. “I’ve already met this guy somewhere,” Judas said. Where had it been? Not required to kiss him, Judas didn’t shake his hand either. He greeted Jesus from a distance and stood watching him. “I’ve seen his face before.” But, unable to remember where he’d met him, Judas stopped paying him any attention and wrote him off as being just some idiot. He had more important things to think about. He called to his colleagues and continued to explain the plan.

Convinced that the influence of the clergy in rural environments had changed very little since olden days, Judas proposed to make use of the priest of St. Martin to pass on the environmental message to the farmers during his sermons. It was therefore important to get to know the shepherd of this flock of snotty sheep in order to involve him in the transhumance against modified genes. The priest would be the intermediary between the environmentalists and the country folk, the bridge that would unite civilization to rusticity, and the beginning of the rural re-education program. In the end, something good would come from this evil GM business. Continue reading

WordsDay: Literature

R.K. Narayan’s Under the Banyan Tree: Charming…and Clever…and Slight…?

R.K. Narayan’s Under the Banyan Tree is really a collection of sketches rather than short stories that bring to readers the daily life of the India of his time. They are often clever and always charming; still, from such an obvious talent, one wishes for more than one gets here. 

Under the Banyan Tree by R.K. Narayan (image courtesy Goodreads)

I stumbled upon this collection by Indian author R.K. Narayan in my favorite used bookstore last fall and picked it up for my 2015 reading list segment on  world literature. This is one of those rare instances where I have come across an author and realized I had no recollection of ever reading any of his work. Given his status as one of India’s most respected authors of the 20th century and a multiple time Nobel nominee, he seemed a natural for my reading list. As with another writer new to me, Yasunari Kawabata, I expected great things. Kawabata did not disappoint.

After reading Under the Banyan Tree, I won’t say that Narayan disappointed me, but I do believe I will have to go further into his oeuvre to discover the writer who won so much praise. While the pieces in this volume are full of charm and turn a clear eye on the character of Indian daily life, they are mainly character sketches rather than stories. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Journalism

Who can sue Rolling Stone?

Law and logic limit the possibilities for potential litigants

by Carole McNall

I hope they get sued by everyone … and they lose big.

I’ve heard that reaction often since the Easter Sunday release of a report sharply critical of Rolling Stone’s article “A Rape on Campus.” I’m a journalism professor, lawyer and former newspaper reporter, so I’ve been following the story with deep interest.

My journalism professor and former reporter side agree with the “sue ’em” crowd. But my lawyer side cautions defamation law could pose a barrier to any win, big or small, for those suing Rolling Stone or the article’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

Erdely’s article claimed to tell the story of Jackie, a University of Virginia student allegedly raped at a fraternity party.

But almost immediately after the story was published last November, observers questioned its accuracy. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Guns

Rights and reasoning from first principles

I think both sides need to go back to the drawing table

I just saw a video that left me in a bit of a quandary. Unfortunately, it’s embedded in a Facebook post, so I’ll just have to link to it here rather than display it. The premise is simple enough. Kroger apparently permits open carry of firearms, at least in jurisdictions where that is legal. Upset gun control advocates would like Kroger to stop this practice.

Fair enough on it’s face. People want things to be different. They’re exercising their right to free speech to put pressure on the company. Fine.

Here’s what gets me though. Continue reading

Viewing a state’s aggression as pathology incurred punishment, not the understanding one might expect. (Photo: Bettman / Corbis)

How aggression went from an act of war to a pathology

Aggression by a state, once considered just an act of war, ultimately became viewed as a pathological act.

Viewing a state’s aggression as pathology incurred punishment, not the understanding one might expect. (Photo: Bettman / Corbis)

Viewing a state’s aggression as pathology incurred punishment, not the understanding one might expect. (Photo: Bettman / Corbis)

I’ve been re-reading Sir Lawrence Freedman’s landmark work The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (Third Edition) for a book I’m attempting to write about the rationalizations and counterintuitive strategies that inevitably attend a state’s development of nuclear weapons. (For his part, Freedman has written around 20 books.)

In the first part of The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, Freedman chronicles the rise of air power during the 20th century. He writes that, in the nineteenth century, the concept of aggression referred to a “‘military attack by the forces of a state against … another state.’” But, even before World War I, “the term had become pejorative, referring to a military attack that was not justified by law.” Continue reading

Dear sports establishment: STOP CRAMMING TIGER WOODS DOWN OUR THROATS

Masters coverage: Of networks, pundits, kneepads and chapstick.

I watched final round coverage of the Masters today and in case you didn’t hear yet, Jordan Spieth was transcendent.

There was a problem, though. The network obviously focused camera time on the Spieth/Dustin Rose pairing, which is where all the drama was (not that there was much actual drama once they made the turn onto the back 9), and they also showed us most of what Phil Mickelson, who wound up tied with Rose for second, was doing.

So far so good. The remainder of the attention was given to the guy who finished … fourth? No. Fifth? Nope. Sixth? Nuh-uh. Continue reading

Hillary announces, Progressives already getting thrown under bus

It’s not even damned if we do, damned if we don’t. It’s just damned.

Of course you’ve probably heard that Hillary has finally announced, on Twitter no less.

Continue reading

ArtSunday

Sigrid Undset and the art of storytelling: Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath

“…it’s a good thing when you don’t dare do something if you don’t think it’s right. But it’s not good when you think something’s not right because you don’t dare do it.” – Sigrid Undset

Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset (image courtesy Goodreads)

I first came across Sigrid Undset during my first year of teaching. The school where I taught had a set of world literature texts that they were discarding (the books were in great shape and to this day I puzzle over why books full of world literature classics were being discarded) and I snagged one of them and over the course of a few weeks of casual reading made my way through a variety of selections by writers I knew like Hugo and Goethe and de Maupassant and Cervantes – and writers I sort of knew like Strindberg (“Half a Sheet of Paper” shows how flash fiction should be done) and writers I didn’t know – like Sigrid Undset.

The world lit collection contained a selection from Kristin Lavransdatter I. (For those familiar with the work, it’s the chapter where Kristin and Ingeborg become lost in the forest and are rescued from the German boys by Erland.) I found it rich, engrossing writing, though the pace was not such that it appealed to me in my youth. Still, I remembered the careful accrual of detail and the power of the writing and made a mental note to read more Undset.

It’s taken me about 40 years to get back to her. Perhaps I needed those years to develop a palate able to appreciate what rich gift patient, thorough storytelling is. If so, I am grateful; Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath is the embodiment of what we should mean when we talk about great storytelling. Continue reading

Piers Morgan, sad, pathetic little man, celebrates a suicide

Now if only some sharp instrument could be used to amend his poison pen

I don’t generally follow celebrity news because, well, there’s actually important things going on in the world. In my world, that might even mean laundry and trimming toenails. It doesn’t take much to be more important than celebrity news. Now and then, something actually hits my radar. This is one of those moments. Apparently, one Dr. Brandt, “plastic surgeon to the stars,” recently committed suicide.

I never knew you, Dr. Brandt, and, averse as I am to celebrity news, never heard of you. Nevertheless, rest in peace.

I never heard of you until now, that is. Continue reading

CATEGORY: LitJournalFiction

Scholars and Rogues Fiction: Reimagining President Obama’s Comments on Torture by Frederick Foote

Reimagining President Obama’s Press Conference Comments on Torture

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/obama-we-tortured-some-folks

A Different View of President Obama’s press conference of August 1, 2014

Even before I came into office, I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we imprisoned some Japanese folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And, you know, it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots, but having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. Continue reading

J-Pop just breaking new gate: Saturday Video Roundup with BabyMetal, Band-Maid and Dir En Grey

It was a big week for Japanese Pop. Turns out SONY has signed Metal/GirlPop fusioneers BabyMetal, with designs on taking over America. And earlier in the week I discovered Band-Maid. It only seemed right that I’d share all this, plus a little bonus, with our readers.

Let’s start here.

Continue reading