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May 04, 2014

Sunday Morning Book Thread 05-04-2014: 'F' Is For Fake [OregonMuse]


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Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's stately and prestigious Sunday Morning Book Thread. All non-book discussion should go in Andy's open thread below. Thanks.


Pious Frauds

For my money, the second best conservative blog on teh internets is The Other McCain, where Robert Stacy McCain dishes up long, deep think pieces on an almost daily basis. Like in this one, where he notes the importance of "the authority of experience" in feminist writing, and how one particular writer uses some horrific circumstances of her earlier life to buttress the political point she's trying to make. McCain smelled a rat, so he searched for other articles by the same author, and in every one, she tells a different, yet painfully dramatic, personal story to argue her point. This happens so often that after awhile, you start to wonder how all the stories she's told about herself can possibly be true. McCain's chief complaint is the unverifiable nature of these anecdotes, particularly from a pseudonymous author. I suspect that if someone took all of these author's stories, tried to relate them to each other, establish timelines, etc., in order to set them on an objective foundation, they'd soon run into contradictions and impossibilities that couldn't be reconciled.

As I was reading McCain's piece, I was reminded of something similar that happened a number of years ago in the Christian circles I hang out in.

Back in the late 1980s, in the wake of some dubiously prosecuted child abuse cases, there was a big stink made over what was called "satanic ritual abuse". A sensational book by a Christian publisher was released, Satan's Underground by Lauren Stratford, who claimed to be an adult survivor of SRA, that detailed how her mother and succession of men kept her prisoner and made her perform all sorts of obscene and disgusting sex acts (that were filmed), and even making her get pregnant on multiple occasions so the baby could be used in sacrificial rituals. The stories told by Stratford were horrific and gruesome and so the book became a big seller.

Apparently, someone at the Christian magazine Cornerstone smelled a rat. So they investigated Stratford's claims, interviewed the people involved, tried to verify the details of her narrative, and discovered that the whole thing was pretty much a lie. Stratford was a deeply disturbed woman who lived at the intersection of evil and mental illness. She had been telling these sorts of lies about those around her for pretty much most of her life. Her 'sacrificial babies' never existed.

Funny thing is, you can still buy her completely fabricated sham of a book, though. The original publisher dropped it, but amazingly, another publisher picked it up.

After she was busted by Cornerstone, Stratford made herself scarce. But then she resurfaced several years later as "Lauren Grabowski", a child survivor of Nazi concentration camps and the Holocaust. She got busted for that scam, too. She passed away in 2002.

And then there's that other Christian fraud, Michael Warnke. Wrote a best-selling book detailing his life as some big leader of a Satanist cult. And then he got pantsed by the guys at Cornerstone. His response was one of those weak-tea minimal apologies, and to play the victim card.

I don't think that very many of you morons are going to be surprised when I tell you that both Stratford and Warnke both have their defenders and followers even today, even after they've been exposed as frauds. Go read the 5-star Amazon reviews.


Frauds Pt. 2: Narrative Trumps Evidence

So a number of men in my church read this book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and thought very highly of it. So why would a bunch of conservative presbyterian guys be impressed by a book that enforces the progressive foreign policy agenda? Well, they're big Luap Nor fans and his isolationism fits in nicely with the "America is the root of all evil" narrative of the progressive left. I didn't read the book, but a number of negative reviewers pointed out that the author adduces absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support the narrative. But that didn't seem to bother them.

On Amazon, one fan of the book gushed:

Many of the reviews here refute the truthfulness of this book because Perkins does not provide evidence for every one of his claims. But, this is precisely what makes the book an exciting and fast read...[f]rom my perspective, it all seems to add up.

And that's pretty much what I got from the men in my church. "It just sounds so right", I was told. "It fits so well with what you would expect." I said, "of course it looks like what you expect, that's what makes frauds appear plausible. Look at a counterfeit $20 bill. It looks just like a $20 bill, doesn't it?" But I didn't convince them. To them, the narrative was so good, so perfect, there was no need to investigate and confirm the author's claims. They were self-attesting.

I need to point out that no one has proved that John Perkin's "Economic Hit-Man" book is fraudulent, like Cornerstone Magazine did with Stratford and Warnke. But it appears to me that he's blowing quite a bit of smoke. Especially when you consider other stuff he's written, namely, how-to books on "shape-shifting" and "psychonavigation", you have to ask yourself how reliable is this guy?

But everyone likes a good story, and there's no doubt in my mind that guys like Mike Warnke and John Perkins are gifted and talented storytellers who can hold audiences spellbound. And when you confront someone in the grip of the glorious visions that such spells produce, it seems kind of petty and, I guess, gauche to ask about low, grubby little things like evidence and verification. Who wants to be the turd in the punch-bowl?

And lastly, the wildly popular inspirational book Three Cups of Tea is, as it turns out, also fraudulent, or at least most of it is.


Authorisms

This HuffPo piece discussed some words coined by famous writers, and surprisingly enough, they're not all invented by Shakespeare, even though he is responsible for approximately half of the English language. Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, and O. Henry get to invent words, too.

In fact, there's an entire book devoted to this topic.


Another e-Book Classic

The author Harper Lee has given permission to allow an e-book version of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' to be released. HarperCollins has set July 8th as the release date.

J.D. Salinger's 'Catcher in the Rye' is still holding out.


Banned in Toronto?

OK, so some clown has asked the Toronto Public Library to pull the Dr. Seuss classic Hop on Pop. Why?

"The complaint was that it was violent and encouraged children to be violent with their fathers," Vickery Bowles, the Toronto Public Library’s director of collections management, told CTV News Channel on Tuesday.

Wait a minute, I remember reading Hop on Pop. At one point, it says. "Stop. You must not hop on Pop." So wouldn't that make it against violence directed at fathers?

Well, no matter:

The patron recommended the book be removed, and requested the Toronto Public Library not only apologize to Greater Toronto Area fathers but pay damages resulting from the book's violent message.

Holy cow, what an idiot. What kind of neutered male or little old lady in tennis shoes would do something like this? Remember that German word, 'backpfeifengesicht' we talked about a few weeks ago? Well, This is where it fits perfectly.

Fortunately for common sense, the library rejected the request.

Toronto mayor Rob Ford had passed out for the day and was unavailable for comment.


I Love It When Progressives Fight

Pass the popcorn:

A small, independent publisher with historic ties to the radical British left is at odds with a multilingual radical website, the Marxists Internet Archive at Marxists.org. At issue: the right to use the 50-volume “Marx Engels Collected Works.”

Why is this even an issue among this commies? Isn't this a capitalistic dispute? How can there be intellectual property in a communist utopia where there is no such thing as private property? Isn't everything owned by 'the people'?

The Marxists at Marxists.org have responded with a flurry of angry anticapitalist rhetoric. And with a petition at Change.org signed by more than 4,000 supporters.

“It is immensely ironic that a private publishing company is claiming the copyright of the collected works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the philosophers who wrote against the monopoly of capitalism and its origin, private property, all their lives,” the petition says.

The irony is indeed delicious, especially when flavored with butter and salt.


Books of Note

I'm sure all of you morons are just dying to pay top dollar to read Elizabeth Warren's biography. No word if it contains any authentic recipes, or results from her DNA test.

Or, if that's not good enough for you, you can read The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault) (And I’ll Never Do It Again), the latest by conservative/libertarian humorist P.J. O'Rourke.

Here is a conversation between O'Rourke and another funny man, Dave Barry, author of You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About.

___________


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as I keep saying, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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posted by Open Blogger at 09:50 AM

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