Friday, March 31, 2006

Tyrants Review Books for Sudafed

Nat White was an illustrator with a special gift for drawing kids who looked like they couldn't wait to grow into the big, strong dictators who get to eat real-live entrails. Via Plan 59, more here and at their Gallery of Demonic Tots.

Reading this back, I feel like I'm in my Lileks phase. Oh well. Onward.

Despite recent crankyness, there's good news, too, that I want to mention:

A few days ago was the first time I really heard the birds singing like crazy. The weather is balmy. The trees are in blossom. I've come up with a graphic novel concept that stretches into multiple books. Strangely, one of my disappearing agents actually asked me if I wrote graphic novels. Then, I didn't. Now I've got one to work up. I'll write it in script form, but I'm also going to try to bang the rust off my drawing to do some character sketches at minimum. Behind on laundry duty, I'm also enjoying the summery feeling of wearing a bathing suit as underwear.

1) Via Publius Pundit: Though Charles Taylor, the fiend of Liberia, is in custody to face trial for his atrocities, Fidel Castro is still alive, despite overly optimistic recent reports of a "biological solution" to Cuba's catastrophes.

2) The Combat Meth Act, inserted into the re-upped Patriot Act, will put all pseudoephedrine and ephedrine-bearing OTC medications behind the counter where you'll need ID to get them and have to sign a log book of purchases. The consumer and public health arguments both obvious and less so against this odiously intrusive act are made well here. 80% of the illegal meth is produced in giant western labs who don't go to the Walgreen's for supplies. Millions of people use these products regulary and safely to treat ongoing conditions, but the CMA doesn't exempt even the forms of the drug that can't be made into Tina. Terrible law. Won't help.

The drug legalization types are beginning to get my ear. Great Odin's ghost knows we've spent enough on all these prohibitions without much improvement to show except a super-violent subculture and a convenient cash funnel for psychos like Hugo Chavez. Now, we'll have new brand new shiny Sudafed logbooks to audit, because government bureauocracy does such an awesome job tracking important things like illegal drivers, fraudulent businesses, identity theft, skipped parolees, dangerous folks with expired visas...

I'm agin addiction, period, but couldn't we just do late night 15-second ads with meth teeth and meth acne and people trying to get the creepy crawlies off them or punding (compulsively repetitive mechanical behaviors)? It would be cheaper, and perhaps more effective, to buy tiny spots during American Idol than all this interdiction.

3) I'm reviewing a book I didn't love. Again. But looking up the author's website for career background, I find he seems like a cool, hard-working guy. I also found he has a kid with a serious health issue which his family is coping with and rustling up serious research donations to cure. Yikes. I would always rather find books to love than things to dislike, but we make promises to review certain books, so I can't avoid doing it and I won't lie.

I don't want to whitewash or trash anyone, so I wish people would just write and publish enjoyable books without exception. However, in my perspective, that's not happening, and it's a plain fact that bad reviews are more entertaining and funnier- like Michael Dibdin's for The Righteous Men, which the original newspaper employing the conspiracy thriller's journalist-cum-author refused to run.

Dibdin's review: This could have resulted in a study of hard moral ambiguities in the John le CarrĂ© manner, but instead the the novel’s spinal column dissolves in a puddle of chicken fat.
It's all good.

But how convenient is it that Jonathan Freedland was allowed to quash the orginal review in his own paper? The Guardian did eventually, perhaps self-defensively, publish a review by Matilda Lisle that wasn't much more affectionate than Dibdin's earlier attempt. And apparently, since Freedland's literary interests remained inadequately lathered by having anyone else suffer through his book, he was allowed later to pen a pointless fluff promo on how he chose his pseudonym. Riveting. More background- if you can stand it- on the obvious back-scratching here.

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