Thursday, March 27, 2014

Top 10 Places for the Obama Presidential Library

Where should Barack H. Obama's Presidential Library reside? News reports list several places that would like to have it. I thought it would be useful to compile a list of the locations that make the most sense.
  • 10. Detroit, Michigan
    The most liberal city in the country, so it would be an ideological match for Obama. Detroit is a burned-out shell of what it once was, a testament to its unending psychological commitment to liberal policies no matter what price is to be paid. But its proximity to Chicago hurts its chances greatly.
  • 9. Trier, Germany
    There is no reason the library couldn't be located in a foreign country. Trier is the birthplace of Karl Marx. What better place for the books and papers of the president most closely associated with socialism? And Obama is more popular in Germany than in any other country on the face of the earth.
  • 8. Mecca, Saudi Arabia
    If Obama is a Muslim as some suspect, this city would appeal on religious grounds. Despite the observations of many that Obama doesn't seem to be particularly faithful in either a Christian or Muslim sense. Some books you would expect in the library probably would be banned but then, so what.
  • 7. Jakarta, Indonesia
    Obama attended school here as a kid. His popularity in this country is still favorable despite everything, and he's family to them since he has an Indonesian stepfather.
  • 6. Nairobi, Kenya
    This is the birthplace of Obama's father. Michelle once called it president Obama's "home country." A slip of the tongue? If they want to go back to their roots, and get away from the USA, what better place than Kenya.
  • 5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    If zeal among voters means anything in the battle for the library, Philadelphia has the inside track. In the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney garnered not one single solitary vote from 59 Philadelphia voting districts! Sure, there must have been some fraud, but then, fraud has a definite appeal to Obama and his Chicago coterie.
  • 4. New York City
    New York makes a lot of sense. Manhattan appeals to Michelle's sense of spending her life behaving as a "lottery winner" as we've seen since the 2008 election. She can rack up a lot of bills in New York while presiding over library events. It's suitably liberal in an extreme way. Not many conservatives to worry about so she and Barack would be among their socialist friends everywhere they go. It also means plenty of media attention whenever she wants it, and she'll want plenty of it.
  • 3. Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
    The Obama family has spent numerous vacations on this island retreat. Golfing, basketball, the social scene, dining out. It's a great place for a family that seems to be on permanent vacation, so why not build a library here as an excuse to never leave?
  • 2. Honolulu, Hawaii
    Obama was raised here as a teenager. But the real reason Hawaii is a front runner is because Michelle Obama would love to spend time here. She stayed in Hawaii for an extended Christmas vacation while Barack went back to Washington. It's expensive, remote, luxurious and not cheap. Those things appeal to the First Lady and may well trump all other considerations.
  • 1. Chicago
    Most cite this city because of Obama's history here. Chicago is where he held his first elected office. But that's not why this is the best spot for the library. Chicago leads the entire country as the city with the most golf courses: 347. And Obama has shown a stronger interest in golf than in anything else in this world. Welcome to Chicago, ex-president Obama.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Top 10 Things Never Say to a Bird

  • 10. What lovely plumage. You come here often?
  • 9. It's not you, you're fine. It's your friends.
  • 8. Can you not do that when I'm under you?
  • 7. Do you want a bread crumb or can you do without?
  • 6. The shower curtain at the bird bath is broken.
  • 5. I have a nice comfy bird cage in my house. Wanna try?
  • 4. Didn't I see you in the shopping mall the other day?
  • 3. I'm an ornithologist and I'd like you to take part in my study.
  • 2. Want to say hi to kitty?
  • 1. Don't you know any other songs?

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bestseller Or Literary Mode As a Writer?

Do readers and buyers of bestselling books want literary prose? Or do they prefer fast-paced writing without the frills and the deep thoughts?

Do readers expect good writing inside bestselling books? In most cases, I don't. There are some on the bestseller lists who are superior writers. But I would say most aren't.

A writer makes a choice. You write one way or the other. You Write with a different mindset when writing a bestseller as opposed to a work of literature. Combining the two is what passes through most writers' minds. You want both! High quality and high sales!

Great books have been bestsellers. But when I look at the top of the bestseller lists I don't see many that likely will stand the test of time. They will sell a lot of copies soon after publication but eventually will be all but forgotten.

Genre fiction demands that you write in a bestselling mode rather than literary mode, doesn't it? It seems literary prose can work against the necessities of a genre story. Or is it simply that not many writers have the skill or desire to pull it off? Most writers would rather sell a lot of books rather than great writers if that were the choice, wouldn't they? Most fiction that is published was written with the intent of selling a lot of copies, not being great writing and damn the sales.

But that's how most writers acquire an agent and a book deal. The potential for sales.

Do writers consciously make a decision in their minds, while they write, to go for lower-quality prose in the interests of potential sales? Isn't there a sense that if you write too well you are subverting genre fiction and your chances of sales decrease?

Some great writers became famous and therefore their books sell well. Writers like John Updike, John Irving, Vladimir Nabokov. Their fame translates to increased sales, despite their literary intentions.

Is it a good idea to start with bestselling manuscripts, go for genre fiction, and then later write literary fiction, if desired, when you've already built an audience? Is it harder to develop and audience if you start with literary prose as opposed to bestselling prose?

Some writers no doubt could never help themselves and always wanted a career as a literary author. They started that way because that was always their interest. Can someone move from bestseller mode, become famous, and then switch to literary mode? Who has done that? Don't all great writers start out writing literary fiction?

Imagine if Robert Ludlum had suddenly stopped writing thrillers and published literary fiction. Wouldn't that be odd? The sales of famous authors are ties to the type of fiction they produce. If they stop and switch to something else, most of their audience would leave them, wouldn't they?

Could it be I'm unfair to bestsellers? Are they written on a higher level than I think? Should I have a higher opinion of the literary quality of the top sellers in mysteries, thrillers, romances, science fiction? To me, the quality doesn't measure up to the likes of Bellow, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Cheever and all the gang.

Bestselling authors aren't trying to be literary. It's all about intent. It's all about the choice you make as an author. Bestseller or litterateur?

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Malaysia Flight MH370: Indian Ocean Fate

It was announced today by the Malaysian Prime Minister that the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 went down in the south Indian Ocean, far from any possible landing site, and all aboard are presumed dead.

The fate of the plane is based on Inmarsat satellite data. The plane is believed to have gone down about 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia.

What the plane was doing in that remote place and why has not yet been discovered. Either it was taken there deliberately by one or both of the pilots or the aircraft flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel.

I speculated last week that the pilot Zaharie Shah deliberately flew the plane to a remote location as a result of his own emotional trauma. There is still no compelling reason to believe the pilot wasn't responsible for the crash.

Retrieving the plane's black box is considered crucial to discovering the true story of the plane's fate. The US Pacific Command is sending a black box locator to the south Indian Ocean in case a debris field is located.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Top 10 Things Never Say to an Artist

  • 10. I have one just like that at home!
  • 9. You follow that popular YouTube video just like everybody else!
  • 8. It's like Norman Rockwell through the eyes of a child
  • 7. This painting explains to me why artists starve
  • 6. I've got that paint-by-the-numbers book, too
  • 5. Did you run out of paint, or what?
  • 4. I'll buy it but I really only want that magnificent frame!
  • 3. Do you have anything with zombies?
  • 2. My 6-year-old paints too and hers look just like yours!
  • 1. Isn't that upside down?

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Emotional Trauma Theory

If Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crashed into the south Indian Ocean somewhere off the western coast of Australia, it raises the question why anyone would fly there.

Such a route would mean:

  • There is no destination
  • No intent to crash the plane into a building
  • No intention of landing on a remote airstrip and hiding the plane

The point is to evade radar and "disappear" so no one knows where the plane is. The pilot deliberately headed south toward Antarctica until it ran out of fuel and crashed the plane in a part of the world no one monitors closely. That was the point all along.

It's a childish action, a tantrum, that is the result of emotional trauma. Assuming the pilot, Capt. Zaharie Shah did this deliberately, why would he be on edge psychologically?

  • Flight simulator at home with data recently deleted
  • Attended trial of his political pal (and distant relative as well) Anwar Ibrahim and was upset at the result
  • His family reportedly estranged and moved out of his house days before the flight

That's quite a lot of evidence in just a very short period of time suggesting a problem inside the head of Shah. There is no evidence the co-pilot had any particular issues prior to the flight. There is too much strangeness to chalk it up to coincidence.

Shah's friend, the opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim, was convicted of homosexuality and sentenced to several years in jail. It must be asked what role, if any, the subject of homosexuality played in Shah's meltdown. Is it a sensitive personal issue for him, despite his wife and children? To crash a plane with 239 people over a court ruling of someone who was supposedly nothing more than a political friend? Were they closer than that? 239 lives suggest so. Would Shah have crashed the plane over the jailing of any other person, including his wife and children?

The point of all this was to hide from the world, to create a public relations disaster for Malaysia, which would be held up to ridicule and its airline business hurt because it lost a jumbo jet.

The pilot had no concern for his passengers, which included many Muslims, like himself, though the majority were from China and presumably didn't share the same religion. There is nothing logical about the plane's flight. It can only be understood in terms of emotion and psychological trauma.

How did Shah incapacitate the others on the flight? Did he have access to a gun or knife in the cockpit? Will any of the crew or passengers be found with bullet or knife wounds?

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Top 10 Things Never Say to a Comedian

  • 10. How come all your jokes are on the internet?
  • 9. Do you pay the club or do they pay you?
  • 8. That didn't sound like a joke. Was it?
  • 7. Do you have your own laugh track for live performances or does the club provide it?
  • 6. It looked like you were lip syncing your jokes.
  • 5. I thought it was funny but that just wasn't a quantum physics kind of crowd.
  • 4. How much do you typically pay for your jokes?
  • 3. Do you have a website where you explain your jokes?
  • 2. You'll need to keep in mind they use a Vaudeville hook at this club.
  • 1. I thought girls loved funny men!

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