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November 20, 2016

Sunday Morning Book Thread 11-20-2016: Myths

Library of Kodos the Executioner_525.jpg
Library of Moron Kodos the Executioner


Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. Welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, where men are men, all the 'ettes are gorgeous, safe spaces are underneath your house and are used as protection against actual dangers, like tornados, hurricanes, IRS audits, Donald Trump becoming president, and special snowflakes are sure to melt. And unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's these pants, which should be taken out and shot.


Myths

About a month ago, longtime moron steevy mentioned that this one was on his stack: The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain by Dario Ferdandez-Morera. Apparently, the wonderful, multi-culti tolerance that the Muslim rulers of medieval Spain wasn't all that:

In this groundbreaking book, Northwestern University scholar Darío Fernández-Morera tells the full story of Islamic Spain. The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise shines light on hidden features of this medieval culture by drawing on an abundance of primary sources that scholars have ignored, as well as archaeological evidence only recently unearthed...Far from a land of tolerance, Islamic Spain was marked by religious and therefore cultural repression in all areas of life, and by the marginalization of Christians and other groups—all this in the service of social control by autocratic rulers and a class of religious authorities.

As professors, politicians, and pundits continue to celebrate Islamic Spain for its “multiculturalism” and “diversity,” Fernández-Morera sets the record straight—showing that a politically useful myth is a myth nonetheless.

I've always thought that "tolerance" was mainly a modern virtue and it's kind of anachronistic to apply it as a standard to societies that existed centuries ago.

Here's another myth is need of serious debunking, The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth, a left-leaning journalist who has been living in Denmark for 15 years. He says:

..."for much of the twentieth century Sweden was effectively a one-party state." That party was the Social Democrats, and they "regulated every aspect of their dutiful, acquiescent citizens' lives, doing their utmost to ensure adherence to the prescribed modern, progressive social norms."

How many of your morons are old enough to remember The Prisoner, that British TV mini-series, starring Patrick McGoohan, from the 60s? The plot concerns a British spy/agent who resigns his position, but then is abducted and wakes up in a place called "The Village." The environment is very pleasant, even idyllic. But it rests on a totalitarian foundation. In reality, the Village is a prison and the administration wants to know why McGoohan's character resigns, and they will do anything to extract this information. McGoohan gives them nothing, but only tries to escape. And in the end-- well, you will have to watch it for yourself to find out whether he eventually succeeds in escaping.

The Prisoner and its tagline "I am not a number, I am a free man!" was McGoohan's cri de coeur against the tyranny of the modern bureaucratic state. But even though freedom, real freedom, was absent from the Village, everybody's needs were met. Nobody starved, and every inhabitant had some sort of job that enabled them to buy food and other necessities. And of course, everybody got whatever medical care they needed.

McGoohan was aghast at such a social arrangement, and he communicated his outrage throughout the series. But a progressive will look at this and say, why not? Who cares if you don't have some freedoms, you probably don't need them anyway, and isn't adequate food, health, and housing far more important? It's the old security vs. freedom calculus where the more you have of the one, the less you must necessarily have of the other. So progressives would look at what McGoohan was trying to show them, and come to the opposite conclusion of what he intended.

And, of course, they look at a cradle-to-grave, 90% tax rate welfare state such as Sweden and say, yeah, that's what we want here. But:

If Sweden were to exit the EU and become a U.S. state, it would rank below 38 other states in wealth based on purchasing-power parity.

I have long suspected this. Some time ago I watched the Swedish horror movie Let the Right One In, which featured a number of interior shots of the apartment the little boy was living in with his mother, and I was struck by how shabby it looked. It reminded me of photos I'd seen of East bloc/commie apartment complexes from the 1950s.

On the other hand, other parts of the movie were shot in what I think was a municipal swimming facility. Lots of (public) money had to have gone into it, because it looked absolutely magnificent.


And lastly, Phantom Nation: Inventing the "Palestinians" as the Obstacle to Peace by Sha'i ben-Tekoa, which

skewers the myth of a “Palestinian” nation with rights to land the League of Nations specifically recognized as Jewish. The author...discovered the first mention ever in a United Nations resolution of “Palestinians” in the year 1970, three years after Israel conquered Judea and Samaria, a.k.a. the “West Bank.” The author also shows how this very no-name of a name, “West Bank,” had to be invented for hills the Arabs never had a name for. Hence, the sterile, topographical description lacking all historical associations, which exposes the fraud that is the “Palestinian” counter-claim to land the League said was Jewish. Before 1959, when Gamal Nasser of Egypt conjured up the idea of a phantom “Palestinian” nation, the record of Holy Land history is perfectly empty of any mention of them.

When the Israelis pulled out from Gaza, they left behind a number of greenhouses the Palestinians could make use of, but they didn't. Instead, the Palestinians immediately smashed them to pieces. And I have yet to hear even one of their supporters in the West admit the obvious truth that this dysfunctional behavior is an indication that something is seriously wrong with Palestinian priorities and perhaps it would be better for them to be taught how to make better choices. Also, standing around all day shouting "Kill the Jews" instead of working is not real productive. And one more thing, progressives like to complain about a "culture of hate" whenever something happens that they don't like, for example, Donald Trump being elected, but if you want to see what a "culture of hate" really looks like, try watching Palestinian TV.


Desiderata

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
Hillary Clinton will never be president.


From the Mailbag

Sometimes I get recommendations from morons who tell me "hey, I read such-and-such, it's a great book" and so I'll write it up. But sometimes I just get the book title (with perhaps a brief blurb)and I'm not sure if they're actually recommending it from having read it, or they thought it would be interesting to the Horde.

With that in mind, I've got two book mentions from the Horde

"You immediately like him. He seems lonely. The eyes, showing a kind heart, stare right at you. They sparkle with force."

Danish journalist Inga Arvad wrote this about what world leader?

a) Bill Clinton
b) Mahatma Gandhi
c) John F. Kennedy
d) Adolf Hitler

The answer of course is (d), with whom she accompanied to the 1936 Olympics. Half-credit if you guessed (c), as Arvad was, uh, "romantically involved" with JFK in 1941-42. All of this is detailed in the biography that moron Anonosaurus Wrecks told me about, Inga: Kennedy's Great Love, Hitler's Perfect Beauty, and J. Edgar Hoover's Prime Suspect. The Amazon blurb is too long to quote in full, but here's an excerpt:

She was an actress, a foreign correspondent, a popular Washington columnist, an explorer who lived among a tribe of headhunters, one of Hollywood’s most influential gossip columnists, and a suspected Nazi spy...Inga lived where gossip intersects with history, and her story, as told by author Scott Farris in Inga, is a rollicking story that demonstrates how private lives influence public events. It is also a Hitchcockian tale of how difficult it can be to prove innocence when unjustly accused, and how, as Inga phrased it, what was once a halo can slip down and become a hangman’s noose.

Because she hung out with Hitler for awhile, J. Edgar Hoover thought she might be a spy. She wasn't.

Oh, and she was the Miss Denmark of 1931. By all accounts, she lived a very interesting life.


___________

CBD, who is a self-admitted Tolkien geek, pointed me to The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien. Presumably, Chris put it together from notes his father left.

The Children of Húrin is the first complete book by J.R.R.Tolkien since the 1977 publication of The Silmarillion. Six thousand years before the One Ring is destroyed, Middle-earth lies under the shadow of the Dark Lord Morgoth. The greatest warriors among elves and men have perished, and all is in darkness and despair. But a deadly new leader rises, Túrin, son of Húrin, and with his grim band of outlaws begins to turn the tide in the war for Middle-earth -- awaiting the day he confronts his destiny and the deadly curse laid upon him.

See, this sounds like a cracking good story. And I think it would make a cracking good TV series. The popularity of The Game of Thrones demonstrated that there's an audience for sword-and-sorcery sagas, and I think the potential for this one would be even bigger. I stopped watching GoT before I made it through the pilot. Three scenes of barnyard sex were enough for me. I know that this series quite popular, but I've heard its full of unlikeable characters, plus the whole thing is just kind of grimly nihilistic and pointless. So, with a better story, you'd get most, if not all of the GoT audience, plus those of us from whom the GoT atmosphere leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

I'm not upset about it being dark, or grim, or whatever you want to call it. Everything doesn't have to be Skittles and unicorns. But a story about one evil guy fighting another evil guy, or a group of evil guys all fighting each other over some MacGuffin quickly wears me down. For my money, there has to some discernable moral center in or behind the story that the story is built on. And Tolkien, steeped as he was in ancient and medieval literature, had a more well-informed and superior poetic vision, moreso than George R.R. Martin can ever hope to achieve.


___________

Remember OregonMuse posting pictures in one of his book threads of Guillermo del Toro's wonderfully creepy library? Well there's a book out called "Guilermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters" and it's stuffed to the gills with photos of his home and his collection of art and oddities. Can't wait to dive in.

Posted by: All Hail Eris, She-Wolf of the 'Ettes 'Ettes at November 15, 2016 06:27 PM (EnKk6)

Here's the book she's talking about:

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters: Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections, which I wish I'd known about before the Halloween book thread.

In 2016, a new exhibit on the work of visionary director Guillermo del Toro will begin at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), before moving on to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Minneapolis Museum of Art (MIA). This book will be the perfect accompaniment to the exhibition, which focuses on del Toro’s creative process, including the well-defined themes that he obsessively returns to in all his films, the journals in which he logs his ideas, and the vast and inspiring collection of art and pop culture ephemera that he has amassed at his private “man cave,” Bleak House. Filled with imagery from the exhibit, including favorite pieces of art that del Toro has chosen for the exhibit, and pertinent journal pages, the book will further delve further into the director’s world through exclusive in-depth interviews and commentary from notable figures in the art world.

So the book is designed as a companion piece to the travelling exhibit.


Books By Morons

We all know that the two greatest influences on the English language are Shakespeare and The King James Bible. A lurking moron author, Bob Hostetler, e-mailed me this week to tell me about his new book, that combines the two. The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional, which

...pairs 365 short passages from the King James Version of the Bible with lines from Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. The poetry of the Bard of Stratford-on-Avon and the power of God's Word will enrich the reader's understanding and appreciation of both, and provide new ways to encounter and respond to God through His Word. A year of daily readings in both Shakespeare and the King James Version yields intellectual stimulation and spiritual inspiration for readers, enlarging their minds as it changes their lives.

It's had to believe that nobody has ever thought of doing something like this before (which is what Bob's agent told him). It combines two great things that naturally go together like, chocolate and peanut butter, or Hillary Clinton and psychotic screaming fits of drunken rage.


___________

Moronette 'votermom' is putting together a list of moron authors over on the Goodreads site which is intended to be accessible to non-members. Here is the list she has compiled so far. Let her know if there's an author she's missing.

http://www.bookhorde.org/p/aoshq-authors.html

___________

Don't forget the AoSHQ reading group on Goodreads. It's meant to support horde writers and to talk about the great books that come up on the book thread. It's called AoSHQ Moron Horde and the link to it is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.

___________

So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: 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 you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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posted by OregonMuse at 08:59 AM

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