Things Better Left Unsaid

Democracy don’t rule the world
You’d better get that in your head
This world is ruled by violence
But I guess that’s better left unsaid

— Bob Dylan,  “Union Sundown” (1983)

In this week’s sift:

  • Seven Issues the Election Should Be About. I have to confess I have low expectations of the Romney vs. Obama fall campaign: a lot of negative ads, deception, misdirection, and bad journalism. And that’s a shame, because this country needs a good and accurate airing of liberal and conservative views on a number of important issues.
  • Democracy in Michigan: What Rachel Got Right and Wrong. Thursday, Rachel Maddow did a long segment on the abuses of democracy happening in Michigan. It’s a huge story that more people should be covering, but she also screwed it up a little. As the Daily Show used to say: “When news breaks, we fix it.”
  • Too Racist for the National Review and other short notesJohn Derbyshire just proved that it is possible to get yourself fired from National Review for being too racist; you should take a look at how far he had to go. Can Koch Industries be strip-searched? The coming War on State Universities. Executive pay is still going up. And more.
  • Book recommendation of the week: I haven’t finished Nick Harkaway’s new novel Angelmaker yet, but it reminds me that Harkaway’s first novel, The Gone-Away World, is one of my favorite sci-fi novels ever. He’s John le Carre’s son, but his style resembles Neal Stephenson’s: original ideas in wild plots, lavishly written.
  • Last week’s most popular posts. Rather than one big viral outbreak, last week’s traffic was distributed among Prejudice, Bigotry, and “Reasonable” Racism (242 views), Student Debt: the New Involuntary Servitude (221), and continuing interest in Trayvon Martin: the Racism Whites Don’t Want to See (an additional 141 views to total 592). Interestingly, August’s Why I Am Not a Libertarian continues to chug along, getting about 50 views a week. It’s now up to 21,924.
  • This week’s challenge. While visiting Chicago recently, I discovered the Open Books used-book store. Its high-quality stock is donated, and its staff consists of volunteers who love books. (Every little sub-category has excellent staff recommendations, right down to “mysteries with a strong sense of place”.) Lots of cushy old furniture makes it a great hang space. With no expenses for staff or stock, there must be profits — they support literacy programs in the Chicago area. Use the comments to tell me about public-spirited non-profits in your area, or to give a shout-out to your locally-owned independent bookstore.
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