Patterico's Pontifications


Breitbart’s Book Arrives on My Doorstep

Filed under: Books,General — Patterico @ 9:42 pm

I just got home after being out of town and was pleased to see that a shipment had arrived with:

Although we got in late, and I have work tomorrow, I had to read the first chapter of Andrew’s book. It’s hard to know how I would react to it if I didn’t know him. That’s because, as someone who has talked to Andrew for literally hours and hours, it’s impossible for me to read the book without hearing every sentence as spoken in his voice. My initial reactions: 1) it’s very well written; 2) Andrew rather throws the “New [Faux] Civility” overboard as he describes being a soldier in a war against Big Media’s plot to control the narrative in this country; and . . .

3) I have already determined my favorite page in the book — even though I haven’t gotten there yet. It’s page 155. I won’t give it away, other than to say there is a mention of some guy named Patrick Frey and his “indispensable” (!) website.

And there appears to be a rather elliptical reference there to a guy I will call only Frad Briedman.

I again encourage every Patterico reader to order Andrew’s book:

And if you haven’t done this already, please change your Amazon bookmark to this link:

Amazon Through Patterico

Ordering anything through that link benefits this site at no cost to you. So change your bookmark now!


Help Amy Alkon Beat the Scum at Sadly, No

Filed under: Books,Scum — Patterico @ 7:42 am

The cretins at Sadly, No are trying to hurt the sales of Amy Alkon’s latest book, and harm her ability to make a living — just because they personally don’t like her.

You can help fight this.

At Sadly, No, “Tintin” writes:

Amy’s clear goal here is to try to intimidate anyone from posting negative reviews of her chef-d’oeuvre. And I think I’m safe in saying that this intimidation shouldn’t succeed. So, folks, if you’ve read the book, not liked it, and want to stand up for freedom of speech, tell Amy Arnold what you think of the book. Comedy points will be awarded (but only to people who’ve actually read the book) for 3, 4, and 5 star reviews (harder to get removed than 1 star reviews) with what my grandmother used to call “back-handed” compliments — for example, a statement that for a book written by someone who’s mother tongue is Serbian, the book has a surprisingly small number of grammatical errors. Or a statement that even though Amy’s advice got you banned from Safeway, it was worth having to do your shopping in another store just to be able to scream your head off at the woman with a crying baby in the Safeway. Etc., etc., etc.

Amy’s sin is revealing the identity of someone who is leaving phony reviews of her book to harm her. Tintin’s proposed solution: leave even more phony reviews!

Of course, he claims he is not doing this. Tintin says all the right things to avoid a lawsuit: make sure you’ve read the book first; only give it a poor review if you really didn’t like it; etc.

But his post is really a roadmap on how to write bad reviews on Amy’s book. He knows damn well that he is giving his audience a wink and a nod and saying: go trash her book.

And it’s working.

For example, a Sadly, No commenter boasts of having left this one-star review:

If you want to learn how to be really rude and obnoxious and yet keep some weird semblance of self-esteem with a large dollop of ego on top, this book is for you! Arnold Alkon has many lessons on how to set straight innocent people who might have the misfortune of crossing her path and pissing her off. A must read for anyone who lives in the same town as Mr Alkon!

Sadly, No commenters have gone en masse and voted this review as “helpful.” As of this writing, almost 80 people have voted this review helpful — meaning it is now the first review people see when people look up Amy’s book.

If you look at all the reviews, you will see three near the top that were all written on February 17, 2010 — the same day Tintin wrote his post. All are getting voted up and are being promoted to the top as “helpful” reviews. This cretin follows Tintin’s advice and gives it three stars (to keep the review from being deleted) and even admits he hasn’t read the book.

More negative reviews may well be added — all by scum who haven’t actually read the book, but just want to hurt Amy because they don’t like her and what she does.

What can you do?

For one, buy Amy’s book! I have already favorably reviewed it here. It is very funny and worth your money. And if you liked it, leave a favorable review of your own.

But if nothing else, vote down the Sadly, No reviews down as unhelpful. Report them as abusive. And leave a comment on the review explaining why the review is not honest and genuine.

If you have time, do this with any negative reviews left on February 17 or February 18. They are all dishonest and generated by the haters at Sadly, No.

If you’re short on time, make sure to vote down the review quoted above. It is currently the top negative review of her book.

To do this, click the link and vote that the review is not helpful. Report it as abusive. Leave a comment explaining why.

Don’t let these scumbags hurt Amy’s livelihood.


Amy Alkon Sees Rude People

Filed under: Books,General — Patterico @ 9:36 pm

My friend Amy Alkon has a book out which I just finished: I See Rude People: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society. Fans of Cathy Seipp will be pleased to learn that Amy dedicated the book to Cathy.

It’s a very funny book and a quick, entertaining read. You learn some serious facts (like the scientific explanation for why cell phone calls are irritating — there are actually two reasons, one technological and one psychological), but the book is mostly a collection of amusing anecdotes about Amy playing the role of “Revengerella” and making rude people’s lives miserable. I have heard many of these stories before, both from Amy’s blog and from her personally, but it was still a joy to read them all in her lively prose.

And if you don’t know about the Sadly, No! commenter who called her a “tranny” — and whom she then tracked down and called at work — you’re really missing out.

The book is now out in paperback and is only $11.53 at Amazon ($9.99 on the Kindle, if you’re interested in immediate ownership, as I am). Go buy it now.


Steve Oney Packs Up Half of His Life

Filed under: Books,General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

Steve Oney is an acquaintance of mine and the author of one of the best true crime books I have ever read: And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank.

Steve Oney
Steve Oney

I once planned to write a full review of the book, but a search of my archives reveals this to be another one of my projects that never got off the ground. I can tell you only that I avidly read it over a vacation 2-3 years ago, after meeting Oney at a Dodger game that Scott Kaufer had invited us to, and spending most of the game transfixed by Oney’s story of writing the book.

Oney gives a taste of this in this piece at the L.A. Times (h/t Kevin Roderick).

With emotions wavering between relief and regret, I remove a battered spiral notebook from a metal file cabinet and place it in an acid-free cardboard box open on my office floor. The notebook contains an interview I conducted in December 1984 at a VA hospital in Johnson City, Tenn., with 85-year-old Alonzo Mann. Some seven decades earlier, he told me, he’d seen a murderer carrying a girl’s body through the lobby of an Atlanta factory, but he was only 14 and too scared to call the police. As a result, an innocent industrialist was convicted of the crime and later lynched.

Mann’s assertion goes to the heart of an enduring debate about a great historical mystery. To me, however, the notebook possesses more than just documentary value. It contains the first research I conducted on a project that consumed nearly half my life.

The intense research that Oney did for the book leaps off the page. But the book is more than a well-researched story of bigotry and injustice. It is a period piece that brings to life Atlanta, Georgia in the years just before World War I. An important part of Oney’s book recounts the amazing story of how Tom Watson helped railroad Mr. Frank, even as Watson advocated the revival of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia. I believe that Watson’s statue still stands proudly in a place of prominence in front of the Georgia state capitol building.

Tom Watson Statue

I can’t recommend Oney’s book enough. Go read his piece, and then buy his book.


Amazon Kindle

Filed under: Books,General — Patterico @ 7:20 am

Last night I took the leap and ordered the Kindle.

It should arrive this week. I already know what my first purchase will be: Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies, by Michelle Malkin.

Why should I be different from everyone else on Amazon?


NYT Editors Allow Article To Include Quotes From Wall Street CEOs That NYT Sources Admit They Weren’t In The Room To Hear

[Posted by WLS]

This correction published in the New York Times yesterday should cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up — and not simply because the reporting of these “quotes” might have impacted the market.

Here’s what the correction says:

An article about the effect of the Wall Street crisis on Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs cited two sources who were said to have been briefed on a conversation in which John J. Mack, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, had told Vikram S. Pandit, Citigroup’s chief executive, that “we need a merger partner or we’re not going to make it.”

On Thursday, Morgan Stanley vigorously denied that Mr. Mack had made the comment, as did Citigroup, which had declined to comment on Wednesday. The Times’s two sources have since clarified their comments, saying that because they were not present during the discussions, they could not confirm that Mr. Mack had in fact made the statement. The Times should have asked Morgan Stanley for comment and should not have used the quotation without doing more to verify the sources’ version of events.

This correction immediately took my thoughts to this review by Jack Goldsmith of New York Times’ reporter Eric Lichtblau’s book “Bush Law: The Remaking of American Justice.”

Lichtblau was the reporter who broke the story of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, and the story on the cooperation of the international bank consortium SWIFT in tracking terrorist financing through international banking transactions. His book recounts his reporting on both these subjects in detail, as well as his and James Risen’s struggle with the New York Times’ editors to get his blockbusters published on the front page of that paper.

Goldsmith’s is an extremely thoughtful article, and those interested in the implications of the New York Times‘s decisions to reveal classified intelligence programs on its front page should take time to read and consider Goldsmith’s thoughts. I only came across this article in the last few days — it was published in The New Republic back in August — but it’s very sobering in its analysis.



Continued Debate Over The Legacy Of David Foster Wallace (UPDATED)

Filed under: Books,Current Events,Miscellaneous — Justin Levine @ 7:08 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

John Ziegler posts his views on author David Wallace Foster’s suicide here. He is clearly challenging much of the standard narrative coming from the admirers of Wallace.

Ziegler also manages to make reference to a previous Patterico post (written by me) found here (which contains a link to Wallace’s article on Ziegler at issue).

— Justin Levine

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I am getting a lot of negative reaction to this post. I have asked some of the correspondents if they would like their negative feedback posted as an update. I’ll post some of it here as that feedback comes in.

It feels wrong to take the post down, since it’s been up for a while — whether I would have posted it or not. But I certainly believe in airing any criticism of the post. Send it on and I’ll post it.

UPDATE x2 BY PATTERICO: Scott Eric Kaufman has this reply to Ziegler. It appears clear that Scott doesn’t think much of Ziegler’s piece.

UPDATE x3 BY PATTERICO: I don’t really know anything about Wallace but I’ll add this as a general observation about depressed people who commit suicide. In my view, they are simply ill. Mental illness is a disease like any other. I don’t think depressed people should be faulted for being ill.

And I don’t like speaking ill of the recently dead.

And it would have been more courageous for Ziegler to write this post while Wallace was still alive and had the chance to defend himself.

UPDATE x4 BY PATTERICO: Eric Blair writes:

I have long been impressed by a story about Abraham Lincoln. When angry with someone, he would write an angry letter, detailing how he felt in every lurid detail. Then he would put the letter in a drawer. Soon he cooled off, and never actually sent the letter. The story goes on to relate that Lincoln had several drawers full of such unsent letters, which he felt showed him at his worst.

So it is with John Ziegler’s rant about the recent tragic suicide of David Foster Wallace. So it is with Justin Levine’s linking to that post. Unnecessary. Hurtful to the bereaved survivors of that tragedy. And perhaps most importantly, it changes no one’s mind, while inflaming further partisanship. I’m not saying that John Ziegler is wrong to be angry at David Foster Wallace’s article. Nor am I saying that David Foster Wallace was a great man. The tragedy of suicide is that we will never know what David Foster Wallace had in his future. And more to the point, his surviving friends and family do not either. Instead, they get to read someone saying unkind and angry things about their loved one, perhaps even before the funeral.

I was heartsick at the comments made by the Kos and DU types with the death of Tony Snow. John Ziegler’s unkind and hurtful words are not as bad as that, no. But many good people on the Left stood silent, and did not condemn those statements. I am writing to say this: we are supposed to be better than that. We should not be part of that kind of thing, in any way.

Justin Levine should have known better than to post that link. I’m deeply disappointed.

UPDATE X 5 BY JUSTIN LEVINE: Since I didn’t offer any editorial opinion on this matter either way, I am utterly baffled by the reaction of Patterico, Eric Blair and others. Is the policy that blogs such as this shouldn’t even link to items that people find objectionable?? If you want to criticize Ziegler for what he wrote, have at it. That is why I still have pingbacks engaged on all my posts to allow for such feedback by those who want to take the time to post differing views. [I don’t allow comments because my experience tells me that it is far less conducive to intelligent debate than actual blog posts which are usually more carefully thought out.] But I’m bewildered by the “blame the messenger” mentality directed at me. Is the suggestion that Ziegler’s post should have been ignored? Will this be the new ground rule for all incendiary posts at Kos, Huffington Post, etc.? Are you directing the same criticism to Eric Kaufman who also links to Ziegler’s post and is giving it more attention? Of course Eric criticizes Ziegler. That’s fine. I just don’t get why people have a problem with my choosing to draw people’s attention to the Ziegler’s comments in an editorially neutral fashion.

I am equally disappointed by the reaction towards my merely choosing to link to the post and alert people to it.

UPDATE x6 BY PATTERICO 4-2-09: Having spoken to Ziegler recently, I come away with respect for him as someone who speaks the truth as he sees it, regardless of the consequences — and that causes me to view this controversy with new eyes. I still think the criticism would have been better leveled during Wallace’s life, but I am more receptive than before to the idea that Ziegler’s criticisms may nevertheless have been on target.


New Book by Tobias Wolff

Filed under: Books,General — Patterico @ 11:05 am

I recently bought a (relatively) new book by American author Tobias Wolff, called “Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories.”

I am a fan; I have read every book Wolff has published. Wolff is best known as the author of “This Boy’s Life,” a memoir of his days growing up in the Pacific Northwest. It was made into a movie with Robert DeNiro, who plays Dwight, Wolff’s abusive stepfather.

I had the privilege of hearing Wolff give a reading in the late 1980s, and asked him afterwards whether he was worried about Dwight attacking him in retaliation for the brutal was the book portrays him. (Dwight has since died.) Wolff said that he wasn’t, really — but not because Dwight wasn’t a violent man; he was. Wolff wasn’t worried because in the entire time he had lived with Dwight, he had never once seen Dwight pick up a book. So he figured Dwight had no idea the book had even been published.

The new book has 21 of Wolff’s previously published stories, and 10 new ones. This excerpt from a Publisher’s Weekly review captures the essence of the collection and of Wolff’s style:

The 10 spare, elegant new stories here, collected with 21 stories from Wolff’s three previous collections, are as good as anything Wolff has done. In most, there is a moment of realization, less a startling epiphany than a distant, gradual ache of understanding, that changes how the character looks at the world.

In a “Note from the Author” Wolff says that he has taken the liberty of improving the old stories if he saw ways to do so. I’m alternating between reading new stories and rediscovering old ones.

I don’t know how many of you are Wolff fans, but if you enjoy fiction where every word means something and every observation and portrait rings true, Wolff is your man. He’s one of the best writers in the world, in my estimation, and a new book by him is something to celebrate. Pick it up at Amazon here, or get it at your favorite bookstore.


The Bin Ladens

Filed under: Books,Terrorism — DRJ @ 7:28 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

According to a new book about the Bin Ladens, eldest brother Salem wanted to buy America:

“The Arab millionaire is charming but determined. He has made a bet to persuade four young Christian women from four different Western countries to become his wives simultaneously in accordance with the Islamic law that allows polygamy. The girls are American, British, French and German.

The man making the collective proposal is Salem Bin Laden, eldest brother of the better-known Osama, the al Qaeda terror mastermind. The girls are not streetwalkers or run-of-the-mill gold diggers. They come from “good families.” One is even a trained medical doctor.

And yet: None reject the offer.

After all, the Saudi suitor is offering luxury villas, jewels, and expensive cars. Having won his bet, Salem dismisses the girls. He has proved that, provided you have money, you can buy anyone and anything in the West.

Steve Coll’s marvelous new book, “The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century,” which relates the episode, is presented as a collective biography of the infamous family, some 50 or so sisters and brothers begotten by a single illiterate, poor, one-eyed Yemeni bricklayer, later a Saudi millionaire, from his numerous wives and concubines.”

The book is Steve Coll’s “The Bin Ladens” and it sounds interesting.

Younger brother Osama also has a goal: He wants to bankrupt America.



Feminism in a Small Town (Updated)

Filed under: Books — DRJ @ 1:53 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I can’t imagine putting a bumper sticker on a new car but I saw one today that caught my attention:

Brand new black SUV.

Driven by a young, very pretty (female) brunette.

Bumper sticker: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

I wonder if this driver is a devotee of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich? Ulrich first wrote a similar statement in 1976 as a graduate student and now she teaches at Harvard. Amazon summarizes Ulrich’s quote this way (from a Washington Post review):

“At the beginning of her career as a historian of early America, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich published an article entitled “Virtuous Women Found: New England Ministerial Literature, 1668-1735.” Could anything sound more narrowly academic than that — a scholarly examination of a small subset of Puritan funeral sermons? But Ulrich’s paper was destined to have a long history. It opened this way:

“Cotton Mather called them ‘the hidden ones.’ They never preached or sat in a deacon’s bench. Nor did they vote or attend Harvard. Neither, because they were virtuous women, did they question God or the magistrates. They prayed secretly, read the Bible through at least once a year, and went to hear the minister preach even when it snowed. Hoping for an eternal crown, they never asked to be remembered on earth. And they haven’t been. Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

Great quote. Is it true?

UPDATE: What about men: Do well-behaved men seldom make history?


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