Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Speaking of Totalitarian Theories...

From: Running Scared @ The Guardian

This is an extraordinary moment in American history. Half the country - including all the people I know best - believes it is trembling on the very lip of outright tyranny, while the other half believes that only the Bush administration stands between it and national collapse into atheism, socialism, black helicopters, and gay marriage. November 2 looms as a date of dreadful consequence. A bumper sticker, popular among the sort of people I hang out with, reads: Bush-Cheney '04 - The Last Vote You'll Ever Have To Cast. That's funny, but it belongs to the genre of humour in which the laugh is likely to die in your throat - and none of the people who sport the sticker on their cars are smiling.

Fat Isn't a Health Issue

From: The Impact of Weight on Your Wallet

A study by John Cawley, a professor of policy analysis at Cornell, found that overweight Caucasian women earn 9 percent less than those with svelte silhouettes. And a University of Michigan study reported that the total net worth of moderately to severely obese women falls as much as 60 percent below average.

And women seem to suffer more job discrimination than men. According to Rothblum, while 40 percent of the overweight men in a study group she ran reported that they have not received a job they sought because of their weight, the statistic for women -- 60 percent -- was even more dismal. And how do they know that their weight disqualified them? The hirers told them.

Says Rothblum: "Americans aren't afraid of saying that they hate fat people."

What I'm Reading

So, I have a confession...

I read Conan novels.

Yes, that's right. The old-school Robert Howard Conan books with the lurid covers of gigantic barbarian man slaying Nameless Terror. Now, I know better than to read these books. I occasionally tote one of them with me on the train and giggle my way through my morning commute. Conan books, like Stephen King books and Neil Gaiman's highly entertaining American Gods, are "train books." They're the sorts of books that make for easy reading on the train (if I had to count the number of copies of The Davinci Code I'd seen people reading on the train, I'd have lost count a long time ago). Are these "brilliant" books? Paragons of English literature? Will they join the English canon? Aside from, perhaps, an obligatory King book, no, they probably won't. But damn they're fun.

And honestly, after getting through Women and Madness, several Balzac books, and enough Hemingway to shake a stick at, we all need our candy.

Subsisting primarily on Conan books, with all their sexism, overt or subtle racism, cheesy dialogue, simplistic plots and macho-masculinity, and have I mentioned the sexism? probably isn't good for one's psyche. Am I a fiction elitist? No, I'm a reading elitist. I think you should read as many sorts of books possible -- from Howard to Hemingway; from Morrison to Woolf; and if you're not reading erotica and epic fantasy with your Balzac, well -- you're missing out.