Results tagged “Kurt Vonnegut” from onegoodmove

On Earth to Fart Around

Kurt Vonnegut's "Stardust Memory"
On a cold, cloudy night, the lines threaded all the way around the Ohio State campus. News that Kurt Vonnegut was speaking at the Ohio Union prompted these “apathetic” heartland college students to start lining up in the early afternoon...

"We are here on Earth to fart around," he explains, and then embarks on a soliloquy about the joys of going to the store to buy an envelope. One talks to the people there, comments on the "silly-looking dog," finds all sorts of adventures along the way.

"Live one day at a time. Say ‘if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is!"

Kurt Vonnegut

Hollow Laughter

in this exclusive extract from his forthcoming memoir, Kurt Vonnegut, who survived the fire-bombing of Dresden as a PoW, reflects on how he became an artist, why he never won the Nobel and the importance of finding humour in tragedy
Here is a lesson in creative writing.

First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.

And I realise some of you may be having trouble deciding whether I am kidding or not. So from now on I will tell you when I'm kidding.

For instance, join the National Guard or the Marines and teach democracy. I'm kidding.

We are about to be attacked by al-Qaida. Wave flags if you have them. That always seems to scare them away. I'm kidding.

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practising an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

Your Guess Is as Good as Mine Kurt Vonnegut
This is the information revolution. We have taken it very badly so far. Information seems to be getting in the way all the time. Human beings have had to guess about almost everything for the past million years or so. Our most enthralling and sometimes terrifying guessers are the leading characters in our history books. I will name two of them: Aristotle and Hitler. One good guesser and one bad one.
Female, Agnostic and the Next Presidente? tip to David
I'm agnostic. . . . I believe in the state," Bachelet told several groups of evangelical ministers last week. "I believe the state has an important role in guaranteeing the diversity of men and women in Chile -- their different spiritualities, philosophies and ways of life
Obama says Republicans practice "Social Darwinism"
Republicans controlling the federal government practice Social Darwinism, a discredited philosophy that in economics and politics calls for survival of the fittest, according to a Democratic U.S. senator.
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, a fast-rising Democratic star, told Florida party members that only a philosophy among Republicans of sink or swim explains why some Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans still live in cars while Republicans in Washington prepare next week to enact $70 billion in tax breaks.
Republicans running the federal government believe, "You are on your own to buy your own health care, to buy your own retirement security ... to buy your own roads and levees," Obama said, referring to flood barriers that gave way in New Orleans during Katrina last August.

Links With Your Coffee - Sunday

The Sunday Funnies You all remember Frank, his iPod nightmare since corrected, and now this

Excellent Analysis of Plamegate from Hunter at Daily Kos . Bottom line Libby is fucked and maybe Rove too.

Today Show stages there news coverage too. No one dies.

The world according to Kurt

Jon Stewart

A onegoodmove reader from Rochester, I've lost the damn email and try as I may I don't recall her name, wrote that she would be attending this event. I do remember that she is reported to be a great cook and has offered to provide a meal if I'm ever in Rochester. Anyway, I asked her to send me a report on Jon's appearance which she did, and said email is now missing. I believe this article contains most of what she wrote. I hope this failure of mine doesn't cause her to withdraw the invitation.

The Only Game in Town hat tip to Tony

Name that Tune

Scientist Urges Colleagues to Focus on "Unintelligent Design"

Proponents of intelligent design believe the complexities of various anatomical structures cannot be explained by evolution, and are actually evidence of an intelligent designer. Wise and others believe this assertion is another version of creationism, re-cast to avoid being declared a religion by federal courts. He contends this claim of being non-religious provides an opportunity for the scientific community to mount an effective political campaign.
Wise advocates that scientists point to the �incompetent design� in the human skeleton. He asks, �What is so intelligent about our sinus drainage system, so clogged that they would embarrass a plumber?� He says that the human pelvis is tipped forward for convenient knuckle-dragging at such an angle that only by extreme spinal curvature can humans stand erect, a design defect that would flunk any first-year engineering student.
�We have to recognize that the Intelligent Design push is a very well-organized, effective political movement that�s attempting to strike at the heart of science itself,� says Wise. �Science should abandon the traditional methods of polite debate and start using the rules of rough-and-tumble politics.
�Science has operated as a muscle-bound giant,� Wise argues. �That giant should focus his efforts on effective political tactics, resorting to the most effective weapon against those who think ultimate truth is on their side�namely undeniable facts served up with a sense of humor.�

Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday

The problem with Private Insurance and why universial health care doesn't suffer from the same problem.

The Future of Education by George W. Bush (audio)

Being Stalked by Intelligent Design

Wouldn't that be something? and this

Let's stop pretending there's no religious test for nominees Christopher Hitchens

What in God's name�you should forgive the expression�is all this about there being "no religious test" for appointments to high public office? Most particularly in the case of the U.S. Supreme Court, there is the most blatant religious test imaginable. You may not even be considered for the bench unless you have a religion of some kind. Surely no adherent of any version of "originalism" can possibly argue that the Framers of the Constitution intended a spoils system to be awarded among competing clerical sects.

Jon Stewart

Vonnegut on NOW

Avery Ant on the Supreme Court (flash)

Intelligent Design 101: Short on science, long on snake oil

The irreducibly complex teeters on the verge of reduction. None of these difficulties were mentioned.

Kurt Vonnegut on Bill Maher

It's a trajedy for me that he's president of my country. You know, my book is called A Man Without a Country,I still have a passport, but if I showed this now in Portugal or Spain or Italy or Germany of France or Denmark or Japan or even communist China, what it would say about me is that I'm not only from the richest country in the world but the dumbest country in the world. Is our President a tragic figure, perhaps, but he doesn't know diddley squat about economics or history or science even how to speak well.

Click on picture to play video
Quicktime Video 3.7 MB 4'47
Quicktime Required (free download)

Joe Heller

True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and i were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, "Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than you novel 'Catch-22'
has earned in its entire history?"
And Joe said, "I've got something he can never have."
And I said, &What on earth could that be, Joe?"
And Joe said, "The knowledge that I've got enough."
Not bad! Rest in peace!&mdash Kurt Vonnegut

So It Goes

Germans mark bombing of Dresden

Germany has marked the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden, one of the most controversial Allied operations of World War II.

The attacks killed about 35,000 people and ruined the city's heart, as ground forces closed in on the Nazi regime.

The commemorations culminated with 50,000 people lighting candles in an evening rally in memory of victims.
But there were also protests by far-right parties, who say the bombing should be seen as a war crime.

About 5,000 far-right supporters staged a protest march and police scuffled with left-wing protesters trying to disrupt their demonstration.

But the groups, led by the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), have not so far managed to interfere with the official ceremonies.

Germany's chancellor earlier condemned their threats as a bid to rewrite history.

Don't miss Jonathon Delacour's related post on the differences in how German and Japanese cultures have dealt with the aftermath of the war and the fire-bombings of their cities.

And of course no post about Dresden would be complete without a reference to Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five

What follows is an excerpt from Vonnegut's book from Howard Zinn's voices of a peoples history of The United States

Eight Dresdneners crossed the steel spaghetti of the railroad yard. They were wearing new uniforms. They had been sworn into the army the day before. They were boys and men past middle age, and two veterans who had been shot to pieces in Russia. their assignment was to guard one hundred American prisoners of war who would work as contract labor. A grandfather and his grandson were in the squad. The grandfather was an architect.

The eight were grim as they approached the boxcars containing their wards. They knew what sick and foolish soldiers they themselves appeared to be. One of them actually had an artificial leg, and carried not only a loaded rifle but a cane. Still—they were expected to earn obedience and respect from the tall, cocky murderous american infantrymen who had just come from all the killing at the front.

And then they saw bearded Billy Pilgrim in his blue toga and silver shoes, with his hands in a muff. He looked at least sixty years old. next to Bill was little Paul Lazzaro with a broken arm. He was fizzing with rabies. next to Lazzaro was the poor old high school teacher, Edgar Derby, mournfully pregnant with patriotism and middle age and imaginary wisdom, and so on.

Continue reading "So It Goes" »

It's All Your Fault Lazy Bastard

"Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue... Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times."

From Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

You MIght As Well Be A Doughnut

Cold Turkey by Kurt Vonnegut | via Desultory Turgescence

Even crazier than golf, though, is modern American politics, where, thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.

Actually, this same sort of thing happened to the people of England generations ago, and Sir William Gilbert, of the radical team of Gilbert and Sullivan, wrote these words for a song about it back then:

I often think it�s comical
How nature always does contrive
That every boy and every gal
That�s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative.

Which one are you in this country? It�s practically a law of life that you have to be one or the other? If you aren�t one or the other, you might as well be a doughnut.

Reading List

The following list is making the rounds, and since I'm a real sucker for a list I've joined the fun. The rules: highlight (or bold) everything in the list that you have read, and rejoice in the fact that there are so many good books left to read.

The list itself is below the fold so to speak, so click on continue reading if you're interested in what I've read and what I've left to read.

Continue reading "Reading List" »

Vonnegut on Bush

Vonnegut's rail to the chief

Nobody needs to tell Kurt Vonnegut to stop beating around the Bush.

"They're adroit criminals," the 81-year-old literary lion labeled President Bush and his underlings while riding in a taxi with Lowdown's Hudson Morgan to Wednesday night's 27th anniversary party for In These Times, the paleoliberal magazine.

"They're committing war crimes - attacking a country that hasn't attacked us. Pretending it had. And torturing prisoners and filling countless graves with dead Iraqis. But adroit, sure. Al Capone was adroit."

The pop-culture icon added dismissively: "I don't care how Bush does, because I don't believe him. He believes himself, and that's what is quite terrifying."

As for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, they're the ones "who allowed this torture to go on, kept it secret since January. These are war crimes," Vonnegut said. "I dealt with prisoners when I was a soldier. We sure didn't torture them - we were well aware of the Geneva Convention. I myself became a prisoner" of the Germans as an Army corporal in Dresden during World War II.

"It's my country, not theirs," he continued lashing the Bushies. "And they've trashed the reputation of Americans. ... It's possible to destroy a great civilization. Bush and those people have no love for it at all."

Vonnegut - the author of "Slaughterhouse-Five," "Cat's Cradle" and "Breakfast of Champions" - has been penning polemics for In These Times and is hoping to produce another novel.

"I've taken an advance. But now is not the time for a novel, is what Samuel Goldwyn would have said. If you have a message, send a telegram. And it's time to send telegrams right now."

What he'd really like to do is be an analyst on CNN. "What I want is - they've got all these generals and stuff and military retired consultants to CNN and so forth, I want 'em to have a retired corporal - me!"

He sure won't mince words.

Watermelons and Reason

Some claim Pejman Yousefzadeh has a brain the size of a watermelon. I don't doubt it, and like a watermelon it is mostly filled with empty space. Pejman gave his watermelon a real work out in a recent post about Micah Wright
He titled it "Credibility Gap", and he followed it with a post titled "Kicking Him While He's Down."
The subject of the posts, Micah Ian Wright. First the facts, Micah Ian Wright made a name for himself with satirical remixes of World War II propaganda posters like this one.

He also claimed to be an Army Ranger, a claim that was false. He lied, he has acknowledged he lied. He didn't come forward of his own volition. The Washington Post was investigating his claims and had determined that they were false. So basically he came clean because he had too. He's a liar, and this is the credibility gap Pejman is frolicking in. It is not enough for Pejman to attack Micah but he also vents his anger at Kurt Vonnegut who wrote a forward to Micah's Book, "You Back The Attack" Vonnegut said upon hearing the recent revelations of Micah's lies that, "The romance of his military background rang a bell with me and made me like him a lot. You almost want to say, 'So what else is new?' Human beings are terrible liars. I still like what he did. He's a liar, but I still like his pictures."
Pejman is not satisfied with Vonnegut's reaction, he writes, "A rather pathetic excuse on Vonnegut's part to explain away Wright's mendacity."
Excuse me, Kurt Vonnegut is not trying to explain away anything. He is certainly not excusing Micah's lies. He acknowledges Micah's mendacity and makes the observation that human beings are terrible liars. Pejman is not satisfied because he sees Micah's transgression as an opportunity to make political hay. What he fails to do is challenge the facts Micah bases his satirical remixes on. He must believe that if a person lies about one thing it follows that he lies about everything, but we all no that isn't likely to be true. Haven't we all lied at one time or another? Did we cease to tell the truth about everything that fateful day. Are we no longer credible on any topic. I'm sorry but it just doesn't work that way as much as Pejman Yousefzadeh would like it too. There is a question of credibility but it is not the question Pejman intimates. Micah's lie calls into question other factual claims he has made, but it does not call into question his opinions. Many of his propaganda remixes just express opinions about war. They are not subject to fact checking since they are after all just opinions. Is it necessary to be an Army Ranger to have a valuable opinion about the war. The really amazing thing is that many like Pejman can't seperate Micah from his work. If you like Micah's work the right-wing believes you have to also love him. Helen, one of the commentors on Pejman's post opined, "What is it about leftists that makes them love liars so? I used to consider such attacks bizarre but have come to understand that bloggers such as Pejman let anger and ideology trump reason and fact. I wonder if we discovered that Leonardo da Vinci had lied about some aspect of his personal history would Pejman and the right-wing echo chamber claim the Mona Lisa lacked merit, that it wasn't credible as a painting.

note: I don't link to Pejman's site the URLs are provided, but you'll need to copy and paste. It's a long story.

State of the Asylum

It's always news when Kurt Vonnegut speaks his mind, which he does in an interview with Kilgore Trout an out of print science fiction writer. Check it out at In These Times / State of the Asylum, just give the picture of Dub a click and you'll be transported to the source.

God Would Have To Be An Atheist

Knowing What�s Nice

By Kurt Vonnegut | 11.6.03

It must be kind of spooky to be a student or teacher in a university as great as this one, with its libraries and laboratories and lecture halls, while knowing it is within the borders of a nation where wisdom, reason, knowledge and truth no longer apply.

I realize that some of you may have come in hopes of hearing tips on how to become a professional writer. I say to you, �If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don�t have the nerve to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts. But do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing. All they do is show you�ve been to college.�

But actually, to practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it. Dance on your way out of here. Sing on your way out of here. Write a love poem when you get home. Draw a picture of your bed or roommate.

Continue reading "God Would Have To Be An Atheist" »

So It Goes

"Trout, incidentally, had written a book about a money tree. It had twenty-dollar bills for leaves. Its flowers were government bonds. Its fruit was diamonds. It attracted human beings who killed each other around the roots and made very good fertilizer.

So it goes."

--Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut

Call Officer Friendly

The past two evenings I've watched 8 Mile the Eminem movie debut and Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine as well as making good on the promise to myself to read some short stories.

Continue reading "Call Officer Friendly" »