A Yawner

One of my favorite quotations is from Franz Kafka:

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.

HarufI read a lot of classic literature, lyric poetry, and even a few bestsellers, but my real passion is for transgressive fiction. This is the prime reason I keep the Experimental Fiction group going in a small corner of this weblog. I tell everyone that I crave books with free-flowing bodily fluids and an embarrassing amount of gratuitous sex. But what do you do when the book you are reading has all the excitement and intrigue of a Hallmark Christmas Special?

Did you ever read a novel that had all the depth of a Necco wafer and all the subtlety of Cream of Wheat? Well I invite you to read Kent Haruf’s scintillating novel, Where You Once Belonged.

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Do Pot Stores in Colorado Give Green Stamps?

Here’s a little piece of advice I picked up at the Daily Kos:

When loony Republicans in multiple states start talking about the threat of something that isn’t happening, always suspect the bat signal.

Bat_signal

If you want to read about Republicans panicking over satirical reports (e.g., fake) suggesting that food stamps are being used for buying pot in Colorado or erotic dancers in Maine, start with this little article by Laura Clawson republished at the Daily Kos.

War on Workers

Now may be the time to take Jefferson’s advice and gear up for a revolution. Remember how the French Revolution approached the rich and powerful privileged citizens? Here is one of the latest volleys against the less privileged citizens in this country … AKA the 99%.

The War on Workers’ Religious Liberty
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 14:14
By Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check | News Analysis

The war on women advanced dramatically on Friday, when a judge in Colorado issued a preliminary injunction on behalf of an air conditioning and heating business owner who doesn’t want his employees to use contraception. The ruling only applies to this particular business, so it’s not like anyone else is going to be able to start denying insurance benefits to their employees because they disapprove of their sex lives. Still, it’s a worrying development, especially as the judge seemed sympathetic to the idea that an employer can deny benefits to an employee and earned by their work on the basis of religious disapproval of the employee’s private life.

This is part of the war on women, of course, but also part of another war: the war of employers on their employees. Chris Bertram, Corey Robin, and Alex Gourevitch co-wrote a piece at Crooked Timber where they explained how the workplace has become the place where human rights go to die.

In addition to abridging freedoms on the job, employers abridge their employees’ freedoms off the job. Employers invade employees’ privacy, demanding that they hand over passwords to their Facebook accounts, and fire them for resisting such invasions. Employers secretly film their employees at home. Workers are fired for supporting the wrong political candidates (“work for John Kerry or work for me”), failing to donate to employer-approved candidates, challenging government officials, writing critiques of religion on their personal blogs (IBM instructs employees to “show proper consideration…for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion”), carrying on extramarital affairs, participating in group sex at home, cross-dressing, and more. Workers are punished for smoking or drinking in the privacy of their own homes. (How many nanny states have tried that?) They can be fired for merely thinking about having an abortion, for reporting information that might have averted the Challenger disaster, for being raped by an estranged husband. Again, this is all legal in many states, and in the states where it is illegal, the laws are often weak.

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