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paranoialmanac

screw the davinci code, or any of those other pop fiction mysteries that have enjoyed a moment in the spotlight. if you, like me, enjoy a novel that fills you with the sense of creeping dread that comes only from the sensation that vast, powerful, alien forces are controlling your life and your destiny, here are a few choice fiction bits that you must check out!

charles palliser :: the quincunx :: the fastest eight hundred pages you will ever read. this story of inheritance in all its forms, set in nineteenth century england is remarkable not just because it is such a compulsive read, but because palliser manages to fold so many mysteries into the story under the guise of just one. the first time i read it, i thought that i had everything figured out, but subsequent readings have revealed more, once i was able to divert my attention from the main storyline. don't be fooled when it seems the answers are very obvious. it's often a ploy to distract you from something else. dickens may have mastered the art of the orphan's tale, but palliser manages to make it just a little more compelling.

thomas pynchon :: the crying of lot 49 :: i don't usually say i have a favourite book, but a lot of people who know me will say this is my favourite book and i do have a tattoo related to it, so it's safe to say that it's pretty high up in the pantheon. pynchon's boundless imagination always makes for a staggering read, and he always makes it seem like there is something holding all the threads together just over the horizon, but this is probably the best example of his world operating at once on levels hilarious and sinister.

umberto eco :: foucault's pendulum :: when i read "the davinci code"i immediately dubbed it "foucault's pendulum for dummies". this is the real history buff's tale of hidden codes and secret societies- in fact it deals in depth with some of the issues dan brown glazes over. because so much of the novel is so dense, it's easy to miss that much of it is dryly humourous, but it's impossible to miss the perfect human-ness of the ending, which haunts me after many years.

franz kafka :: the trial :: truly, the only commentary here should be "duh". the prototype of all twentieth century angst- and paranoia-ridden classics. sure, someone probably forced you to read it in high school, but go back to it as an adult. it probably has more to share with you now.

and if this sort of literature tickles your fancy, might i humbly suggest that you peruse my own little tale- inspired by some of these classics- "a definable moment in time"? it is a work in progress, freshly updated [today!].

first part
second part 

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losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…