"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, February 05, 2005

I'm one of those guys who never ever cries, but last year, at home on the couch with a cold I caught the TV movie version of Colm Toibin's novel The Blackwater Lightship and - I hate to admit - my eyes got all watery. (Ever see Woody Allen's film Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask? The workers sitting around playing cards in my tear ducts must have exclaimed "What the fuck!?" after the sirens sounded.) Gina McKee in the lead role was especially fantastic as the stoic and yet oddly innocent and modernly Irish Helen.

The plot according to IMD:
"Declan (Keith McErlean) is in his final stages of AIDS and decides to spend the last of his days at his grandmother Dora's (Angela Lansbury) house. His mother Lily (Dianne Wiest) and sister Helen (Gina McKee) come to be with him, as well as two of his friends, Paul (Sam Robards) and Larry (Brian F. O'Byrne). As his family learns to accept the fact that he's dying, they begin to mend their relationships with each other and to forget a long-time misunderstanding that had kept them apart for many years."

Colm Toibin has written a particularly strange yet good review of Christopher Hitchens's new collection.

Here's Hitchens's unique, and correct in my mind, perspective on the state of the Left
I think this is more than just instinct on my part, the reaction of a lot of Democrats and liberals to the September 11th events was obviously in common with everyone else, revulsion, disgust, hatred, and so forth. But when they consider politically I think a lot of them couldn't say this, but they thought that's the end of our agenda for a little while. We're not going to be talking very much about welfare and gay marriage. We're going to be living in law and order times. Now the instinct is to think well, that must favor the right wing. Surely, that creates a climate for the conservatives--law and order and warfare and mobilization and so forth. In fact, the Second World War probably was a tremendous asset to the Democratic Left and presumably when the Right was so opposed to going into it because they know there's a relationship between social mobilization and warfare. But the Left is too dumb to see this in this case. And then some of them are crackpotted enough to think that if it comes out like that, maybe it was all fixed to come out like this.
Terry Eagleton, who first infected me with leftist thought when I was but a wee lad, would probably wretch after reading Toibin's review. He had reviewed Toibin a few times when Toibin came on the scene and obviously thought he's a great talent. Eagleton, though, has been squandering his talent lately, as Norman Geras has been documenting.

Also, Fareed Zakaria on the Daily Show. Is Jon Stewart succumbing to the dark side?

I jest, but Krugman-and-DeLong nemesis Donald L. Luskin appears to be a dues-paying member of the dark side:
Or in the case of Social Security, suppose you are a struggling young African American working for minimum wage. You urgently want to own stocks, so you can start building a nest egg for your family. But you have no money to invest, because Social Security taxes have sucked up anything you could have set aside from your small earnings. So you manage to borrow some money, and you invest it in stocks. That's a loan. That's speculation. And that's what the opponents of personal accounts would prefer for America.
They would? I would prefer Clinton's out-of-left-field, briefly-floated, shock-inducing trial balloon of socializing the means of production via government investment of Social Security funds in the stock market, rather than this private account thing. Probably most people don't have the time, knowledge or connections to successfully invest in the stock market. What the privatizers desire is for some of the poor and middle class to invest their payroll taxes and later receive less retirement benefits than they would under the current system, because they "invested poorly." After spending a boatload of taxes transitioning to the private account system. But there will be less workers per retiree in the future? What about the record productivity gains over the past decades? It all went to Capital? You don't say.