1. So Sarah Palin turns out to be a kickass orator. I'm glad, though I'm no more likely to vote for John McCain because of it. She speaks almost as well as Barack Obama, and that means we actually have two good orators in this presidential election (whereas in 2004 we had zero, and I do mean zero).
I don't like Sarah Palin for Vice President (and I especially don't like what I'm hearing about book-banning) but I do like Sarah Palin. She's smart, brave, funny and definitely a breath of fresh air next to ol' Crusty McCain. Her growing family looks great and is certainly a campaign asset, even that new kid with the funny name and the MySpace page.
Now, let's talk about John McCain. Hell, I like him too, and I don't even begrudge him the right to endless glorification of his Vietnam War experience (see Ron Hogan on "John McCain's Little Golden Book", pictured above). But I'm tired of hearing that his "war hero" status deserves automatic hosannas, because in fact I think John McCain's inclination towards military solutions is his single biggest weakness. In 2008, I don't want a soldier running my foreign policy. I want something we haven't seen for a long time: a diplomat.
Many people call John McCain a war hero, but I don't call somebody a hero that easily. I certainly appreciate that he made great sacrifices for the United States of America, and I believe him to be an honest and admirable man. In a different election year, he could have made a great conservative President. But America is not in the market for a war hero in 2008. We're looking for a candidate who intends to reduce, not increase, tension around the world, and that's the reason -- not because of his celebrity, not because we need a savior -- why we are more excited about Barack Obama than John McCain.
2. Writing tips and web writing tips from Dumb Little Man.
3. Publisher's Weekly is running a contest in conjunction with an upcoming writing seminar. Sounds like a good endeavor -- click link for entry details.
4. Garth Risk Hallberg is shedding tears for the dying New York Sun newspaper and its book section, but I'll conserve the water. I've read the book section, but haven't been blown away. Anyway, we already have a brainy paper in New York: it's called the New York Times. And I never see anybody walking around with a New York Sun just like I never see anybody walking around with a Kindle. Good try, though, guys. Next time you want to start a great publication, download WordPress.
5. Rev Run has a new book out: Take Back Your Family: A Challenge to America's Parents. Maybe Rev. Run should run for Vice President (he's a good orator too).
6. New Quarterly Conversation!
7. New BookForum!
8. New Words Without Borders! (The "Reversals" issue).
9. Triple Canopy's prescient piece on New Orleans.
10. Reconstructing Mayakovsky: A Novel of the Future by Ilya Szilak.
11. The artwork of Mary Beach and Claude Pelieu, two Beat/modernist artists associated with Paris, San Francisco and Cherry Valley, New York, in a Flickr slideshow by Ginger Killian Eades.
12. Action Poetry leaves you wanting more? Here's Anderbo.com. Good stuff.
13. Bureau of Public Secrets: Ten Years on the Web.
14. Taco Bell has introduced a new extra-spicy taco, in a red shell with melted cheese sauce, called the Volcano Taco. I don't know what the hell took them so long.