ACLU CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO TORTURE CLAIMS: I don't endorse the other stuff in this press release, since I have not followed the whole Michael Chertoff thing at all. But this I can get behind: "The ACLU has called for a special counsel to investigate and prosecute any criminal acts by civilians in the torture or abuse of detainees by the U.S. government, saying that doing so is the only way to fairly, and independently, get to the bottom of the issue." Via How Appealing. … [Read more...]

THE FARM DOLE: 1. "Bush Is Said to Seek Sharp Cuts in Subsidy Payments to Farmers." Hardcore.2. He fights for it: here.3. Resistance; emphasis added: Statement of Charles Kruse, President of Missouri Farm Bureau, on farm spending reductions in President Bush's Budget"While we are still in the process of learning more about what reductions President Bush is proposing for agriculture in next year's budget, we are concerned about the impact of reduced federal funding on Missouri's farms and … [Read more...]

'TIS NO SIN FOR A MAN TO LABOR IN HIS OBSESSION: Erika Singer writes with recommendations based on my post below. I did really like The Power and the Glory, although for whatever reason it didn't compel me as much as The Comedians and the beginning and end (but not the slack middle) of Brighton Rock.... You know, I'm thinking I should have added the figure of the "comedian" as another obsession. I always wished someone would do that post on humor and joking in Watchmen that I never did....: On … [Read more...]

CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT: The Rat writes: "On your list of 'Magnificent Obsessions,' you forgot to include, making lists!"It's a fair cop. … [Read more...]

MAGNIFICENT OBSESSIONS: Lately I'm more likely to read mediocre books that hit on one or more of my obsessions than great books that don't. This is anything but a hard-and-fast rule--especially since great works remake our obsessions--but it's a noticeable shift, and not one of which I approve. I find myself engaging in a lot more of the author's misprision, a lot less of the reader's openness. Maybe that's what happens when you write a lot yourself. If so, okay, I will vulture others' writing … [Read more...]

I'VE GOT AN UNCONTROLLABLE URGE: Thought it might be fun--and perhaps useful for me as a writer--to list the things I keep doing, over and over, in stories.1. overuse of words: I don't think I've written a story without using "pale" or (especially!) "blank" at least once. I blame Harold Bloom for the latter--go read his chapter on Emily Dickinson in The Western Canon, right now! I know one of the reasons I like "Grosse Pointe Blank" is that last word in the title.I do think I've gotten a … [Read more...]

FORTY WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR LENT. Via Dappled Things. Will definitely be doing some of these--most likely #2, some variant on #s 6 and 8, #10, #14, #16 (will also be watching "The Mission"), #18, #25 (desperately needed--I have NO skill at making my mind shut up), and #34. Also hope to do those items on the list that you should be doing anyway! … [Read more...]