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. Lessons From the President [Link]

    June 13, 2017 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

    I like Eddie.

    Everyone is wrong about something. Vulnerability is mightier than the strongest ego. It will win you the most loyal followers.

  2. There are Bots Everywhere [Link]

    June 02, 2017 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

    From Renee DiResta at Ribbonfarm, comes this terrific "long-read"1:

    We’re now in a period that’s strikingly reminiscent of the early days of HFT: the intersection of automation and social networking has given us manipulative bots and an epidemic of “fake news”. Just as HFT was a simplified ...

  3. Zuckerberg World President [Link]

    March 06, 2017 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

    From Jean-Louis Gassée:

    While persuading a consumer to buy a particular brand of suds seems banal enough, keep in mind the force of Facebook’s algorithms. In order to influence buying decisions, algorithms not only push consumers in a particular direction, they can steer them away from “unwanted” conclusions by ...

  4. Google Ordered to Hand Over Foreign Email [Link]

    February 06, 2017 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

    From Betanews:

    In Philadelphia, Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter said: "Though the retrieval of the electronic data by Google from its multiple data centers abroad has the potential for an invasion of privacy, the actual infringement of privacy occurs at the time of disclosure in the United States". He ruled that ...

  5. Paul Ryan 1970-20?? [Link]

    January 17, 2017 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

    Andy Ihnatko is a word smith extraordinaire:

    “He used to be an impatient, Type-A kind of guy, with a hairtrigger temper. But the knowledge that he was personally responsible for tens of millions of men, women, and children dying or living the rest of their lives struggling against crippling debt ...

  6. The Buckley Times

    December 11, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] |

    I’m no fan of William F. Buckley’s philosophies. I rarely watched him when he was alive. Recently I’ve been taken by a sense of loss for his style. Whether I agreed with his opinions or not, he had them and he was not one to avoid a ...

  7. Education VS. Nonsense [Link]

    November 29, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

    Derek Lowe writing at Science:

    One way to deal with such nonsense is to go after it head-on, pulling up evidence to show that no, these things don’t appear to be true, and here are a bunch of quite plausible reasons why they’re not. If someone is wavering ...

  8. 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 ...

  9. 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 ...