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EMT 12/11/16 - Back from the (felt like) dead. | Main | Paul Krugman: Both Stupid AND Offensive
December 11, 2016

Sunday Morning Book Thread 12-11-2016

Library of Northern Lurker - 1_525.jpgLibrary/Man-Cave of Moron 'Northernlurker'

It's another beautiful day at AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread and continual soiree, where men are men, all the 'ettes are impossibly attractive, safe spaces are underneath your house and are used as protection against actual dangers, like tornados, hurricanes, politically motivated social media attacks, nude photos of Lena Dunham, and special snowflakes do not get respect, but instead, belly laughs. 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 remind us that fashion-wise, the 60s weren't all mini-skirts and tight blue jeans.

More Castro

From commenter Mike Hammer in the book thread a couple of weeks back comes a review of Listen, Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba, which he says is 'interesting' and puts the words in quotes. Also:

Reading it as a retrospective is fascinating. The author was a well-known (among the Left) Columbia University sociologist who went down there to capture the ethos of the revolution.

The book was earnestly written, but it's hard to believe that the author could write this stuff without critical examination.

Well, it sounds like he's one of those True Believers like (Herbert Matthews), so I can very well believe he fluffed Fidel to a fare-thee-well.

Mike notes that Mills' book was written in 1960, just after the revolution. It was probably pretty easy to be a True Believer in St. Fidel back then. A few years later, not so much.

After imbibing Mills' drunken dreck, Mr. Hammer should probably sober up with Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag by Armando Valladares:

Arrested in 1960 for being philosophically and religiously opposed to communism, Armando Valladares was interned at Cuba’s infamous Isla de Pinos Prison (from whose barred windows he watched the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion). His life in Castro’s gulag was a hell of violence and disease, putrid food and squalid living conditions, forced labor and solitary confinement, and hazardous escape attempts. Valladares survived by prayer and poetry. His writing, smuggled out to Europe and the U.S., made him one of the world’s most celebrated prisoners of conscience. As a result of pressure from international human rights organizations, the Castro regime finally released him in 1982.

Herbert Matthews could not be reached for comment.

According to Valladares' wiki page, here is how he first came to attention of the powers that be:

In 1960, at the age of 23, he reportedly refused to put an "I'm with Fidel" sign on his desk at work. Shortly after, he was arrested by political police at his parents' home.

So Señor Valladares may not have been interested in politics, but politics was interested in Señor Valladares.

"I'm with Fidel" is grimly amusing. I suppose Hillary (who will never be president) and her presidential office acquisition team (POAT) can be forgiven for not knowing this somewhat obscure bit of history when they rolled out her "I'm With Her" campaign slogan. But then they came out with their "Stronger Together" slogan, and the connection with old-school fascism is so thick that it strains credulity that that they wouldn't know. And the photo of Tim Kaine giving the "Seig Heil" salute they put on the cover of their book didn't help.

Fortunately the NY Times and CNN covered their butts for the entire election, so they had nothing to worry about.

More On the Electoral College

One of my buds on the moron chess group, bonedaddi, recently became a US citizen. Earlier, he fled the Great White North for the warmer climes of Southern California. As far as governments go, I would think that's kind of like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. He recommends a book mentioned on the thread here a couple of weeks ago, Enlightened Democracy - The Case for the Electoral College by Tara Ross, which he calls a real eye opener:

The founders were very wary of the popular vote and mob rule. The knew what happens when majorities or slim majorities rule over minority interests and they wanted to prevent it. The arguments against pure democracy continued after the Constitutional Convention had concluded. Madison spoke to Jefferson of the dangers that could be created when the Government becomes "the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents." Alexander Hamilton continued these arguments against democracies in a June 21, 1788 speech before the New York ratifying convention:

It has been observed, by an honorable gentleman, that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position in politics is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure, deformity.

Quite. These people were no dummies. Sadly, this stuff is not taught at all. I think it's high time to re-marinate ourselves in what the founders intended.

And speaking of mob rule, bonedaddi also recommends another book that shows you what happens when mob rule gets out of hand: The French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert:

When Washington was halfway through his first term , over in France, the mob rule of the French revolution was busy keeping their guillotines running 24/7. It is a stark lesson of what happens when a cause has no philosophical premise; I.e. Discontent with no guiding ideas to replace it. Yes, they admired the Americans but not enough to consider what exactly would replace a monarchy. Pure chaos and mob rule ensued (the communists learned a great deal from Robespierre and his gang of 12). The book reads like a thriller and is an excellent reminder of what can happen when societies collapse into a hodgepodge of romantic fallacies.

This brings to mind a brief discourse on pure democracy, (falsly) attributed to the Scottish jurist and writer Alexander Tytler:

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

And of course, let's not forget the classic definitions of democracy, which is "two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner."

I read somewhere last week that there's only two first world countries that elect their chief executive by popular vote: France, and I forget the other one, I think maybe it was Japan, but don't quote me on that. Anyway, it's been amusing watching the Democrats weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth about the popular vote, as if they're being denied some sort of God-given natural right.

The Annotated Wimsey

Anonosaurus Wrecks has been getting into the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers that have been recommended by many morons here. Some of the allusions and references contained in the books may be lost on 21st century American readers. Fortunately, he found this resource:


It has links to annotated versions of all the books. So, in the example that AW provided, Wimsey is late for a luncheon he desperately wishes to attend and seeks to go despite not being properly dressed. He thinks that if he "goes in wearing a top hat, Thipps might overlook his trousers and take him for the undertaker." The annotation explains: "If it were morning (which it was) and Wimsey were dressed formally (which he was) he would be wearing striped trousers to go with the top hat. An undertaker would be wearing all black, all the time, regardless."

Even though the books aren't that old, it's amazing how much we've lost. I'm reading G. K. Chesterton's Eugenics and Other Evils off and on, and am having the same problem. I am constantly running into things that Chesterton (naturally) assumed his audience would know, but have now been forgotten, at least by American readers.

Moron Recommendations

Over on the goodreads group, pixybanned moron OldSailor's Poet writes:

I didn't read a single book in 2016 *hangs head in shame* Oh wait, I read one called Domino for my cover designer Kia Heavey. It was fabulous. She wrote it. It was an allegory for freedom, socialism and communism using a farm cat and rats. It was probably one of the coolest books I have ever read.

Here is the book she's talking about: Domino by Kia Heavey.

Domino has always relied on tooth and claw to keep the barnyard vermin-free for his employers, the Browns...Then a brilliant and charismatic tom moves into the neighborhood, purring strange notions and introducing new "friends," and Domino soon learns there's no way to bite or scratch a poisonous idea. As the evil grows, life-long friends become unrecognizable, once-proud felines renounce their very identities in fear, and the natural order is turned upside-down. Locked in a deadly rivalry, Domino must rely on his wits to save his territory, his family, and a time-honored way of life from the bloody scourge that descends.

It sounds sort of like a cross between "Watership Down" and "Animal Farm".


From Mike Hammer, etc., etc. on one of the weekday threads:

Moron Recommended 'The Spike'. Novel wherein a journalist/writer discovers that his world view and attitudes have been deliberately twisted/shaped by the far left.

Wow. I had forgotten all about this novel. The Spike by Arnaud De Borchgrave and Robert Moss. Let me quote an Amazon review that expands a bit on Mr. Hammer's remarks:

Shall I say this is a book whose time has come... again? Reviewers from ten years ago felt the same way. It is a book about the REAL WORLD of international influence peddling in the arena of media relations, "spin control," and image crafting back during the Vietnam War (and the Cold War). I remember reading when the book first came out in 1980 that the characters and incidents were based on real people and events. Because I had a career in the intelligence field, I actually ran across accounts of some of the people and some of the events. This is a suspenseful spy novel which also teaches some important truths about the news media, the history of Soviet influence on American affairs through front groups and agents of influence, Soviet KGB organizations and operations, and particularly Soviet influence in the anti-war movement of the '60s and '70s.

Now, many of you younguns probably don't remember Arnaud De Borchgrave (who passed on in 2015). He was a big name in conservative circles during the Reagan years. He was editor-in-chief of the Washington Times newspaper back in the days when it was struggling to be more than a glorified tabloid.

I've always wanted to read this novel, but I never got around to it. It has never been converted to e-book format. But used copies are being sold for cheap, so maybe I'll grab one of them.


Books By Morons

A longtime lurkette e-mailed me earlier and introduced herself like this:

I am a longtime lurker at Ace's, and have always enjoyed the Sunday book thread. I am also an artist and illustrator, and have illustrated a Christmas book for children and families

Her book, The Magi's First Christmas, asks the question "What would cause wise men from the east to journey far across the desert?"

Walk with them as they follow a star to worship the infant King. Written with both younger and older children in mind, The Magi's First Christmas has a lyrical text, radiant artwork, and scripture references that bring the story of the magi to life."

The Kindle version is $6.49, and the print version is on sale through the second week of December for $9.13.


Longtime moron lurker, author, and occasional commenter Francis W. Porretto has just published the fifth (and probably last) novel in his 'Realm of Essences' series, Statesman.

I was unfamiliar with the series and I couldn't get a good grasp of what was it about from the blurbs of the books in the series, so I asked Fran for a brief explanation. He said it uses the Essentialist/Idealist controversy in philosophy as kind of a conceptual framework within which his stories play out:

Creation was a more involved matter than humans are aware. One of the participating forces was a group of Essences: six originally noncorporeal beings who call themselves the Brothers of the Realm. Two of these have entered Creation in the flesh...Their conflict is largely conducted through the minds of men. The struggle has lasted twenty thousand years and isn’t over yet...Today their battlefield is America: the wounded, tottering home of freedom and justice among men, which [one force] hopes to defile irremediably, and [the other] hopes to preserve and renew.

So the ultimate forces of good and evil are fighting it out on human turf. Kind of like wha's happening in real life, I'd say.

Here are the first four books in the series:

Chosen One
On Broken Wings
Shadow of a Sword


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.



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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