Vonnegut, Heller, and Styron on War, Government, and Racism (1997)

August 14, 2017 by Gabe | [mmd] |

These people are gone. The voices of reasoning that stood witness to our most terrible decisions as a country are rapidly vanishing. Now we, as a country, seem to have developed selective amnesia about where we come from.

The following videos on YouTube are from a series of lectures and discussions with several WWII veterans of moderate fame. I watched every minute attentively and without distraction. It was depressing and it was important at a time when our president thinks the threat of nuclear annihilation is a publicity event.

I can't guarantee that the following 5 hours of videos will provide as much information at the 30,000 Tweet alternatives, but at least I'm pretty sure these aren't bots.

William Styron on the rightness of the bomb in WWII:

"People that have no lessons to learn from their past are bound to be extremely dangerous."

Kurt Vonnegut's lecture on WWII and analogies:

Vonnegut and Heller Discuss WWII

Compare that with this thoughtless horse shit from the Philadelphia Inquirer which comes by way of TaxProf which manages to add some more shit on the bottom of the pile. These are people longing for the good ol' days that were unevenly distributed at the top whitest portions of our middle class.

We should demand more intellect from our modern intellectual leaders. The stark contrast between the great minds of Vonnegut, Styron, and Heller with those publishing at the Philadelphia Inquirer set me back. If I'm going to long for the good ol' days, it's going to be for the times when we had people like Styron, Heller, and Vonnegut up there arguing that the days weren't quite so good as we like to pretend. Thankfully I still have shaky CSPAN2 video from the 90's to set my expectations.

Older articles

  1. Imagination and TouchID Replacements

    July 12, 2017 by Gabe | [mmd] |

    There's a good deal of buzz around hypothetical details of the upcoming TouchID replacement.

    I don't have a strong opinion about the quality of the experience for unlocking my iPhone with my face. If it works, then great. If it doesn't then I'd be disappointed.1 ...

  2. The Dawn of Artificial Intelligence [Link]

    November 30, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

    Sam Harris has an excellent and deeply intellectual podcast. This week's episode features an interview with Professor Stuart Russell about the current and future state of A.I. and it's potential impact on society.

  3. Democracy Tax

    November 18, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] |

    I've taken a very specific stand against journalism paywalls in the past. It felt like an artificial barrier that restricted access to potentially vital information. It felt like a failure of foresight in an industry that refused to acknowledge the reality that they documented every day. I was wrong ...

  4. Missing the Mind of Kurt Vonnegut

    November 11, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] |


    Kurt Vonnegut would be 94 today. His words and thought experiments shaped who I am. He made me a better person. I’m glad he kept his shit together for as long as he did.

    From Kurt’s “Cold Turkey” essay in 2004:

    “There is a tragic flaw in our ...

  5. Distractions for the Disrupted

    November 10, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] |

    If you're like me, then you may be looking for some distractions this week that don't involve Twitter, the internet, television or even other humans. I've found solace in iBooks and the Kindle service. Hardbound and Viki for Wikipedia are also great distractions.

  6. The Moral Economy

    July 01, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] |

    It's a long holiday this weekend in the U.S. Here are a couple of excellent articles about the "Moral Economy" to keep you busy during your travels and parties. What's the moral economy? Well, read them. They aren't just smart, they are well written and often ...

  7. Single Bronze Age 'King' Responsible For Half Of Western European Men [Link]

    April 28, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

    From RT.com:

    Coming out of the Stone Age, the chieftain and his descendants controlled the population and reproduction through a new hierarchical system of powerful elites which, much like his bloodline, continues to this day.

    The gifs in the article are particularly rediculous but it's an interesting finding ...

  8. Louis CK's Horace and Pete

    April 25, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] |

    I like Louis CK unironically. I like him for the same reasons I like George Carlin, because he makes me think, then laugh, then think some more. I think both comedians are intellectual giants. Now Louis CK has created the anti-sitcom. It's a tragic comedy minus the comedy. Horace ...

  9. Competence and Imposters

    February 04, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] |

    These were conincidentally back to back in my pinboard reading list.

    Imposter Syndrome or Not by John Scalzi

    Also also, with respect to novels and fiction, I had been a professional writer for fifteen years before my first novel was published, so I had a decade and a half (not ...