Taibbi is a great writer. He can make something like this topic entertaining rather than simply maddening, which is pretty incredible. If you thought we were/are getting screwed by the financial sector, this book adds an entire new layer to it the issue, as it compares the lax treatment of corporate super-criminals to the harsh, draconian bullshit enforcement and punishment of petty criminals — and in many case people who aren’t even committing
People ask me, they say “Hey Bob, when did you become a reader?”.
Actually, they don’t ask me that. But I ask myself that when I talk to myself, while conducting imaginary interviews with myself. The interviews are quite fascinating. And as I write this — right now – I shit you not – I just realized I am dangerously close to taking the Rupert Pupkin turnoff on the the Highway of Life (if you don’t understand this reference, I implore you to watch the film “the King of Comedy”).
My reply? I became a reader in the 6th grade, when I found my uncle’s copy of Doc Savage: Man of Bronze in my grandfather’s book case. This was the first novel of any kind that I read.
In the coming years I would read dozens more Doc Savage novels. Bantam Books had been reprinting them for years, and it was typically very easy to find them in used book stores during the 1970s and 1980s.
Doc Savage, as painted by Boris Vallejo.
The Doc Savage stories were originally printed in the “pulp magazines” during the 1930s and 1940s. Authored by Lester Dent, under the pen name “Kenneth Robeson”, one needed not read them in order. After reading the first one, each novel was standalone. One spent a lot of time rereading the introductions of Doc’s assistants, the Fabulous Five (that sounds really gay, doesn’t it?) as well as explanations of various conventions of the Doc Savage Universe.
As you will learn if you read the above-linked Wikipedia entry, Doc was a scientifically created superman. A beyond-perfect physical and mental specimen, master martial artist, scientist, inventor, surgeon, etc, etc. Basically, he was the best there was at everything there was. From infancy he was raised by a team of scientists, who charged with his education and physical development, created a man to deal out justice and improve the condition of humankind.
Usually when tracing the foundations of my own personal world view I go back to Carl Sagan and his TV series Cosmos. Certainly this show helped define my way of thinking, but upon reflection I think that maybe Doc Savage provided the foundation. You see, it was early science fiction with a very humanist bent. Here is Doc’s oath:
“Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, that all may profit by it. Let me think of the right and lend all my assistance to those who need it, with no regard for anything but justice. Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do. Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.”
For 1930s pulp science fiction it doesn’t get much more Humanist than that.
During Doc’s adventures he encountered all manner of weird mystery, yet in each one there was a rational, scientific explanation. No magic. No magical thinking. Just investigation and science. I remember in one novel, when someone suggested the supernatural to Doc as an explanation for something, Doc’s response was “hokum”. hahahaha. I laughed my ass off when I read that. Yes – Doc Savage novels fairly trampled on the notion of the supernatural.
Whether Lester Dent intended this, or if it reflects his own ideas, I have no idea. Dent had no illusions about the long-term value of his work. He considered what he wrote to be “reams of sellable crap” — something to pay the bills. Yet many ideas in the novels have turned out to be kind of prescient. And whether “crap” or not, the novels are imaginative and fun to read. Compared to the stuff many kids read today, I would say the vocabulary is somewhat advanced.
I guess that’s all I have to say about this topic. Laters.
I just finished reading Griftopia, a book about the business criminals and their government book-licks who created the last few economic bubbles/disasters. You know, the ones the taxpayers had to bail the elite out of, and then listen while we were told it was caused by the over-consuming middle class (isn’t consuming what we’re supposed to do) and evil poor black people who had the audacity to buy houses?
Anyway, after reading this, and then of course the last book “the Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein, I’m about done reading this sort of non-fiction for a while.
Both books were great. In Griftopia, author Matt Taibbi is absolutely hilarious in his slagging of the various business criminal assholes, but that’s all I can take for right now.
My wife and I made a trip to Good Records, in Dallas, this last Sunday and I purchased this album from Red Hare, from the Dischord label.
If you like Fugazi, and all that sorta Dischordy stuff, I highly recommend.
Also, over the last week I read the Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein. Whew – what a read. Really good. Just fascinating, infuriating, and super well-documented and researched. Like reading Noam Chomsky, except that it is actually readable (I love Chomsky, but his books are pretty much not my favorite to read). Rather than hack together an inadequate review of the book, I will simply refer you to this page on Goodreads.com, with lots of comments.