If you don’t know about Wait! Wait! Don’t tell me!…

Well, first, derive anything you can from my pity. Then go listen to some episodes.

Watching them do the show at the Carolina Theater in Durham was fun. Besides the usual amusement that is the show’s stock in trade, it was something of an eye opener–although I guess I had unconsciously know that there had to be a lot of editing and other stuff going on behind the curtains, I never imagined how much.

Oh, and Charlie Pierce is probably right–“Elihu Root”:http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1912/root-bio.html has to be the funniest name in the history of American politics.

Quicksilver

Well, I finished it. All told, I think it took me two weeks, which is, for me, an awfully long time for any book. I did read a couple of other things at the same time, but it was all fairly light stuff.

The first and most obvious question is, I think, “What is so pathetically wrong with the way that books are sold in this country that a novel reputedly written with a fountain pen, taking place entirely between 250 and 350 years ago, involving various and sundry historical events and persons, is going to end up shelved under Science Fiction/Fantasy in most bookstores?”

But the ghettoization of literature is not something I feel any great need to rant about right now, so please just take it as read.

I think the writing is better than Cryptonomicon, which seems sometimes too clever for its own good, and much, much better than Snow Crash, which is far too precious.

The characters are compelling and human, if at times improbable. The settings are interesting–both in terms of physical location and thetime and events surrounding them. Overall, I enjoyed it, but at the same time, Neil Stephenson seems to have a deep-seated need to try and address everything under the sun all at once. I can imagine a lot of people who would never consider slogging through such a book, with the promise of two more to follow, almost certainly of similar heft. At times I wasn’t even certain I was up to it.

So, ultimately, it’s worth reading, but if I were restricted to a single historical novel by traditionally other-genre author(s), I would go with Freedom and Necessity.

Oh, those “fiscally responsible” Republicans…

You know, these days, terrorism doesn’t scare me much.

Really, it has never scared me all that much. When I was 10 I spent 3 hours on a school bus outside of Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany because a bomb had just gone off in the parking lot of Headquarters USAFE. I had soldiers with M16s inspect the bus I rode into school on every day for the next five years.

For that matter, I was in the air on September 11th, and ended up grounded for three days in Milwaukee. Although I understand Milwaukee to be a wonderful place, the area around the airport is in the middle of nowhere. Not recommended.

And, frankly, the statistics are with me–your chances of dying from terrorist activity in this country are fairly low. You’re in a hell of a lot more danger being in a car, and I suspect you can die in a car in a fashion every bit as horrible as anything a terrorist could cause to happen to you.

Anyway, my views–unpopular, I expect–on September 11th and so forth are not, per se, germane to my real point, which is that this administrations fiscal policies look like they are going to engender one hell of a payback, and that scares the shit out of me.

It’s almost enough to make me vote Republican next year, so they can preside over the trainwreck they’ve created (why do the words of Casey Jones suddenly begin to waft through my head), instead of doing what Nixon did, and passing the buck onto a Democratic administration that then had to do the real work of correcting things.

I’ve said it for years–Democrats may be “Tax and Spend”, but Republicans are “Borrow and Spend”, and I know which one I consider “fiscally responsible”.