Hillary on Maddow

Hillary is speaking on Maddow tonight and offering as a list of authoritarian countries that the US might turn into if Trump gets his way Hungary, Poland and Russia. I hope nobody in Poland is listening because this is unnecessarily aggravating and just plain silly.

Unlike Poles, Hungarians at least like Putin. Not that it excuses the analogy because Putin is driving his country’s nationalists nuts with his open-border policy, and Orban, as we all know, is on the nationalists’ side.

I hear echoes of “you crazy former Soviet-bloc people are all the same and all equally stalinist” in Hillary’s statement.

P.S. While I was writing this, Hillary announced that asking the FBI to investigate a drunken teenage party from 30+ years ago is “a reasonable request.” I need to stop watching before she completely disappoints me.

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Book Notes: Rodrigo Murillo Bianchi’s Sentimental Heroes

This novel is a bit of a 21-century rewriting of Vargas Llosa’s Story of Mayta. Murillo Bianchi is a young Peruvian writer (he was born in 1986) who is writing about the notorious guerilla group The Shining Path that devastated Peru in the 1990s.

Murillo Bianchi is an ok writer but he’s no Vargas Llosa. He’s trying so hard to be completely objective and show that the revolutionaries are exactly as atrocious as the military that he gets downright clinical at times. The humanity and the compassion of Vargas Llosa’s novel is nowhere to be found in Sentimental Heroes. And it’s not like Murillo Bianchi doesn’t try. He even has a character who is a gay revolutionary, like Mayta. But he has nothing like the complexity of Vargas Llosa’s character.

And obviously in terms of the technical literary mastery, Murillo Bianchi is light years behind Vargas Llosa. As I said, it’s not a bad novel but the guerrilla novel is a crowded genre, and if you want to be present in it, you’ve got to do better than this.

Unwell

OK, this does not sound like an idea coming from a mentally stable individual:

The woman who has accused President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault all but ruled out appearing at an extraordinary Senate hearing scheduled for next week to hear her allegations, insisting on Tuesday that the F.B.I. investigate first.

Why the FBI? Why not the CIA, the Interpol, the MI5, and the Mossad all together? What is it that the FBI can possibly investigate here?

Lie Detector Tests

I completely agree with this article on polygraph tests. Their place is on trashy TV shows like Maury but not in serious discussions of serious issues and definitely not in law enforcement.

Like the author’s article, I don’t say this to express disbelief in the accusations against Kavanaugh. I believe that the accusations are true. As I said before, I don’t believe they are evidence of anything but piss-poor parenting on the part of the parents of all three participants. But once they are made, they should definitely become part of public inquiry.

Decision

I made a decision: while I struggle with starting the book, I’ll reread Moronga and I will write about it. I’m not a Central Americanist but so what? The novel hasn’t let me go for months. I’m thinking about it every day. I need to get it out of my system, and writing about it is the only way.

Starting to Write

The fear that hangs over all of my writing is that I will never finish the big projects. Actually, it’s even worse than that: I fear not knowing how to finish. . . Longer projects paralyze me, and I get to a point where I literally wake up in the middle of the night, with an anxiety knot in my stomach, and wonder if I will ever be able to finish them.

For me, it’s starting that is hard. Once I start, I’ll push like crazy until it gets done. I always feel that I need to read more, think more, and I’m just not ready yet. This is irrational because I know that the best thinking happens while you actually write and not while you sit there thinking about writing.

What I need is for someone to give me a deadline. “You have until such and such date to finish the book. And. . .go.”

Like the linked writer, I have no problem with shorter pieces. It’s the book-length project that has me stalled. I changed the topic 3 times already. At this rate, it will end up being a book on medieval Scandinavian epos because that’s as far as one can get from the original idea.

Analogies

I don’t understand why people are saying that accusations against Brett Kavanaugh are worse than the Anita Hill case. In Kavanaugh’s case, the real culprits are the parents of all three who allowed their underage kids to get drunk out of their minds. These were rich people. What were they so busy doing that they couldn’t keep track of their children?

The practice of adjudicating underage kids in an adult court, for instance, has always seemed an atrocity to me. They don’t have the same impulse control and hence the same culpability as adults. Their brains aren’t fully formed yet. This is not to say I think that Kavanaugh should not be submitted to questioning on Monday. I believe he definitely should. But saying that this is worse than what happened to Hill – as I’ve heard on the news several times already – makes no sense to me.