Posts tagged USA

Occam’s Razor and the Rise of Populism

Over the past few years, people have been wringing their hands over the rise of populism, whether it’s far-right parties in Europe, Brexiteers in the UK or Trump in the US. Now, academics have found the rise in populism is correlated with a rise in economic insecurity.

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The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner: Review

I think I have a problem with over-hyped books. Although the hype is never true, I always end up believing it, and come to a book with ridiculously high expectations that can never be satisfied. A similar thing happened a few years ago with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. As I wrote then: I quite liked this book. I think that, perhaps, if I had come upon it by chance in a neglected corner of a bookshop and read it without any preconceptions, I would… Read More

Dog and Butterfly

Tolstoy famously wrote that “All happy families are alike”, but John Philip Riffice’s novel Dog and Butterfly proves that all good rules also have their exceptions. It’s a novel about a family that is, in general, very happy. The love between Jimmy and his mother and his Uncle Cam is tangible from the first page to the last. And yet it’s a very distinct, interesting family, with a story that’s worth telling. I think it’s much harder to write a book like this. Fiction tends to feed on conflict, and as… Read More

“Ruminations from the Garden” by Don Henry Ford, Jr.

Almost all writers carry a notebook around with them to record thoughts and ideas as they arise. They usually end up being quite random, a mix of the brilliant and the mundane, day-to-day worries mixed in with the germs of big ideas. To get an idea of what the inside of a writer’s notebook looks like, you could take a look at Ruminations from the Garden. Strangely, it doesn’t end up being a bad thing. The narrative meanders around in unexpected directions, taking in corn prices, bestiality, religion, politics, weather,… Read More

Excited

I am staying up to watch the US election results. It probably won’t be decided until 4 or 5am UK time, but I wouldn’t miss it. The early results are good. I’m not optimistic that Obama will bring great changes – even if he really wanted to, the system would make it very difficult. I doubt he will seriously address the basic problem of growing economic inequality. But still, it’s important to me to see Americans voting for something good for a change. After 9/11, when I lived there, fear… Read More

Get in touch with your inner racist!

When I lived in New York, there was a small shop across the street that was owned by a man from Afghanistan. I used to visit him in the days after September 11, and he had a bewildered, beleaguered look about him. Business was slack, he said, and the few people who did still come into his store were often either cold or abusive. Whereas on September 10 he was the local newsagent, on September 11 he suddenly became a “Muslim”, and a national of an enemy country to boot…. Read More

Payback

Many people in Britain have been wondering for the last few years exactly what we get out of the “special relationship” with the United States. We go along with Afghanistan, we go along with Iraq, we go along with anything. We send our soldiers off to die in counterproductive wars and make our cities into targets. And we keep waiting for the moment when we get something out of being a “No. 1 ally” in the war on terror, other than a few good photo opps for Tony in front… Read More

American left-wing blogs are myopic

I’m very new to blogging. I go out into the world and look for blogs that I might be interested in — things that are left-wing, radical, socialist, environmentalist, anarchist, etc. The name “LeftAlign” is a clue to my general outlook. To my surprise, I discover that: 1. 90% of the blogs I find are American. 2. 90% of the posts I read start with “The Bush Administration….” The first part I’m not so bothered about. As I get used to navigating the world of blogs (sorry, I can’t bring… Read More