Conservatives without Conscience by John Dean

book jacketConservatives without Conscience by John Dean (2006)

Fantastic book. I was, at first, reluctant to read it because it was by John Dean of Watergate and Nixon infamy, however the cover jacket text and random sampling showed it was not a bunch of conservative propaganda. Especially interesting if a bit tedious are the tables at the back documenting how personalities of people lay out in conservative thinking. But mainly his basic prose is lucid and insightful.

Books I’ve Read

Alperovitz, Gar. America beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy. United States: Wiley, John & Sons, 9 Nov. 2004.

Arvedlund, Erin. Open Secret: The Global Banking Conspiracy That Swindled Investors out of Billions. United States: Penguin Group (USA), 25 Sept. 2014.

Austin, Michael. That’s Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America’s Right Wing. United States: Prometheus Books, 18 Sept. 2012.

Bacigalupi, Paolo. The Water Knife. United States: Center Point, 1 Aug. 2015.

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How Music Works by David Byrne

David Byrne
David Byrne

How Music Works (2012)

Really good book.  I am enjoying learning so many things from this book.

Here is a sample passage on p. 86 on the topic of vibrato.

Vibrato, the slight wavering in pitch, is often employed by contemporary string players, and it is a good example of the effect of recordings, because it’s something we take for granted as always having been there. We tend to think, “That’s how violin players play. That’s the nature of how one plays that instrument.” It wasn’t, and it’s not. Katz contends that before the advent of recording, vibrato added to a note was considered kitschy, tacky, and was universally frowned upon, unless one absolutely had to use it when playing in the uppermost registers. Vibrato as a technique, whether employed in a vocal performance or with a violin, helps mask pitch discrepancies, which might explain why it was considered “cheating.”  As recording became more commonplace in the early part of the twenty century, it was found that by using a bit more by vibrato, not only could the volume of the instrument be increased (very important when there was only one mic or a single huge horn to capture an orchestra or ensemble), but the pitch – now painfully and permanently apparent – could be smudged by adding the wobble.”

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American Taliban by Markos Moulitsas

book cover little yellow circle unhappy face with turban American Taliban: How war, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right. The author is the founder of Daily Kos.

“Totalitarianism for Christ” is the phrase by Jeff Sharlet (NPR) he uses in the book that I think does capture the factual basis of why the right is a serious  threat to democracy.

“Fact is, progressives hate the Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalists precisely for the same reason we hate rabid conservatives at home: their fear of change, their contempt for nontraditional lifestyles, their mania for militaristic solutions, and their fascistic efforts to impose their narrow worldview on the rest of society.” [intro p x]

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Empire oI Illusion by Chris Hedges

just the text of the title Empire of illusion: the end of literacy and the triumph of spactableEmpire of Illusion: The end of literacy and the triumph of spectacle (2009)

The book chapters are divided into 5 sections of type of illusions:

  • The Illusion of Literacy
  • The Illusion of Love
  • The Illusion of Wisdom
  • The Illusion of happiness
  • The Illusion of America
  • xplus notes, bibliography, and index

There are so many thoughtful and well written passages I have opted to mostly quote.

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books, ” Neil postman wrote: “what Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book for there would be no one who wanted to read one. ” p 39

“Totalitarian systems begin as propagandistic movements that ostensibly teach people to “believe what they want” but that is a ruse. The Christian Right, for example, argues that it wants intelligent design, or creationism, to be offered as an alternative to evolution in public school biology classes. But once you allow creationism, which no reputable biologist or paleontologist accepts as legitimate science, to be considered as an alternative to real science, you begin the deadly assault against dispassionate, honest, intellectual inquiry. Step into the hermetic world of many Christian schools or colleges and there are no alternatives to creationism offered to students. Once the systems have control, the Christian advocates’  purported love of alternative viewpoints and debate is replaced by an iron and irrational conformity to illusion.” P. 52

(From the chapter on the illusion of literacy)

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