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God is not Great is Hitchen's best. Some of his arguments are flawed, but who cares?

Letters to a Contrarian, (a bit self-serving) his books on Jefferson, Orwell, Paine. His various collected essays.

He is lucid, grounded, honest, cosmopolitan. He states his enemies' best case, and gives credit to those who present evidence against interest.

You say Coulter is loud and represents what is bad with American politics. The latter would be true if the liberals were not well practiced in the arts of down-shouting and the big lie. If there wasd a living Objectivist with one tenth of her wit and rhetorical skill, he'd be the most effective pundit in the country. Watch her being interviewed, she does a rare thing, she pauses and thinks before answering. As with most of the people I enjoy to listen to, Camille Paglia, Christopher Hitchens, Ralph Peters, Victor Davis Hanson, Charles Krauthammer, (all of whom are smarter, but none funnier than her) she is best when pointing out the lies and inconsistencies of others. She can see the underlying fundamentals. If the price of the ticket is putting up with her fundamentalist bullshit, I'll gladly pay it.

I might get God is Not Great, but I've avoided it until now for a reason, which is this: the new spat of books by "Brights" criticizing 'religion' (why is it that they almost always use that umbrella term when they usually only criticize either Christianity or Islam?) are uninspired screeds that take a very shallow look at their subjects and seem to echo oneanother.

I own a book called The Case Against Christianity by Michael Martin. It is an exhaustively researched and well-reasoned book which analyzes Christianity epistemologically, logically, and ethically. it is a cold and thorough dissection of the religion.

Of course, this kind of sober and rational book isn't sensationalistic enough to be a bestseller when other people are willing to write books like THE END OF FAITH, GOD IS NOT GREAT: HOW RELIGION POISONS EVERYTHING, THE GOD DELUSION, and whatever else has come out lately on this front.

I won't judge Hitchens' book until I read it, but the title doesn't leave me optimistic.

OK, now, let's take this one step at a time:

1) You said: "The latter would be true if the liberals were not well practiced in the arts of down-shouting and the big lie." What liberals? Liberals are not the Borg, and more often than not when someone invokes 'the liberals' they're doing so to avoid making any specific criticisms. Liberal has become a general boo word for many people on the political right, and it has lost most, if not all, of its contextual meaning.

2) "If there was a living Objectivist with one tenth of her wit and rhetorical skill, he'd be the most effective pundit in the country." Maybe. But would any self-respecting Objectivist not associated with the ARI-crowd really want to become a pundit?

3) "Watch her being interviewed, she does a rare thing, she pauses and thinks before answering." True, but I never accused her of being thoughtless. The problem isn't that she isn't thinking. It's that when she does think, the results are not impressive at best, and ridiculous at worst.

4) "As with most of the people I enjoy to listen to, Camille Paglia, Christopher Hitchens, Ralph Peters, Victor Davis Hanson, Charles Krauthammer, (all of whom are smarter, but none funnier than her) she is best when pointing out the lies and inconsistencies of others." True again. However, there are liberal pundits and media personalities (say, like Jon Stewart and Al Franken) who are equally skilled at pointing out inconsistencies in their conservative opponents. This doesn't mean their own opinions have any real value, however.

5) "If the price of the ticket is putting up with her fundamentalist bullshit, I'll gladly pay it." Fine. I read her too, obviously. But the problem isn't her 'fundamentalist bullshit' so much as her contribution in helping turn American political debate into a spectator sport where the audience eagerly watches as each side tries to up the ante on the hyperbole. In recent years, however, conservatives, with the help of sensationalists like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, have been winning this war. I don't know that this is a war you'd want to win, however.

Have you read Wendy McElroy's work?

McElroy? No.

I found End of Faith okay, and I find Dawkins (every one of whose books I have read as a bio major) an offenseive, conceited creep.

Hitchens does not like the term "bright," he calls it cringe-making. Hitchens studies, understands, and sometimes respects the religious. His book is far better than and quite different from the others, and you should go buy it this weekend.

As for Coulter, she is simply hilarious. I am not concerned about the fact that the populace enjoys her because she scores points, and that they might be misled by her. I disagree with her on evolution and homosexuality (somewhat) but so what? She is simply dead-on when she talks about people like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Obam, Gore, Clinton and so many others. You compare her with Stewart and Franken? Why not Ali G? Stewart is a smarmy college smart-ass who should know better. Franken is a disgusting hateful syphilitic-souled creep whose death by strangulation in a rough trade triste with a street punk I will celebrate. The bottom line with Coulter is that I know how to think, and know what I think. No matter how wrong she is on 30% of the issues, she is not going to lead me astray, and I don't care who else she leads astray, I am not an altruist. Let me know your opinion of her after you read Treason and Slander. She is quite a scholar when she wants to be. And watch this short video of her on Book TV, watch her pause and think, and tell me she is not brilliant.

She's a feminist who embraces free-market capitalism and is an individualist (ie. she rejects the absurd Marxist beliefs and tendencies of most feminists).

What gets me about End of Faith is how the guy rails on 'religion' but gets all warm and gooey when it comes to Eastern mysticism.

I like Dawkins, but his THE GOD DELUSION is poor stuff.

I'm afraid I won't be able to this weekend, but you've piqued my curiosity. I'll order his book soon.

As to your question, Sacha Baron Cohen uses his Ali G, Bruno, and Borat personas to elicit certain reactions from people to reveal underlying bigotries, but he doesn't argue for the truth of what these characters are saying. Coulter will argue for and defend what she says. Her hyperbole isn't meant to be taken as satire, like it is with Cohen.

And why all the hatred aimed at Franken? Really, has he actually done anything to deserve your ire?

I don't spend any time thinking about Franken, but you brought him up. He is disgusting on every level, as a person, a writer, a pundit and a would-be politician. He is involved in stealing a senate seat. And they murdered Julius Caesar in the Senate? He is Toohey incarnate. I rank seeing him on TV just above seeing Michael Moore, and just below stepping in dog shit. Can you recommend a book or provide a link for a video of McElroy?

What do you think of Paglia? You should watch her In Depth interview at Book TV.

What I'm curious about is why you hate Al Franken in the first place. You obviously think about him somewhat. You can't despise people you don't spend any time thinking about.

I have rarely ever spent time thinking about Franken, so I've not developed any specific estimation of him. I enjoyed his Lying Liars book, which details how various conservatives have lied to the American public. His voice is kind of whiny and nasally, so I don't enjoy listening to him.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I just don't understand hatred directed at him. You obviously do. So explain to me what there is to hate about Al Franken.

I can understand why you'd dislike Moore. He comes off as a propagandist and seems to intentionally make rational conversation impossible when he's involved.

I don't hate him, though. He's not really worth hating. I'm sure there is more to him that is objectionable, but I don't see the point in thinking about him.

As to Miss McElroy, she writes articles which can be read on the FOX News website. Here's an example of one: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,236144,00.html

As to books, try Freedom, Feminism, and the State.

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Michelle, here is the link to Camille Paglia's In Depth Interview at Book TV.

I am sure you are familiar with her, but if not, she is a non-Marxist feminist, a noted art critic, a cool lesbian with my taste in women, an atheist who studies and respects religion, and the person alive today most often compared to Ayn Rand.

Thanks!

I am, a bit. I've not read Sexual Personae, though.

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What I'm curious about is why you hate Al Franken in the first place. You obviously think about him somewhat. You can't despise people you don't spend any time thinking about.

I have rarely ever spent time thinking about Franken, so I've not developed any specific estimation of him. I enjoyed his Lying Liars book, which details how various conservatives have lied to the American public. His voice is kind of whiny and nasally, so I don't enjoy listening to him.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I just don't understand hatred directed at him. You obviously do. So explain to me what there is to hate about Al Franken.

al-franken.jpg

I normally charge $40 for the first page, $20 for each additional, plus research time to write a paper. In this case I will give you a discount, and only charge you triple. How detailed do you want me to be?

I don't gawk at traffic accidents, I don't play with my feces, and I have already spent too much time here on that piece of shit.

Thanks for the McElroy link. I don't know how it is I'm not already familiar with her.

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What I'm curious about is why you hate Al Franken in the first place. You obviously think about him somewhat. You can't despise people you don't spend any time thinking about.

I have rarely ever spent time thinking about Franken, so I've not developed any specific estimation of him. I enjoyed his Lying Liars book, which details how various conservatives have lied to the American public. His voice is kind of whiny and nasally, so I don't enjoy listening to him.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I just don't understand hatred directed at him. You obviously do. So explain to me what there is to hate about Al Franken.

al-franken.jpg

I normally charge $40 for the first page, $20 for each additional, plus research time to write a paper. In this case I will give you a discount, and only charge you triple. How detailed do you want me to be?

I don't gawk at traffic accidents, I don't play with my feces, and I have already spent too much time here on that piece of shit.

Thanks for the McElroy link. I don't know how it is I'm not already familiar with her.

Yes, his face is ugly. So what?

If you don't want to talk about him, we won't talk about him. It's just something I become curious about, on occasion.

She's very perceptive and logical. I don't agree with all of her views, but I respect her. My biggest problem with her is that she's a very Rothbardish market anarchist. And I think you know that I'm not fond of anarchism.

That book is an anthology of writings by various feminists, including Miss McElroy. She edited it, however, and in general it reflects her views.

I've not read it, but you might prefer her book Liberty for Women. Many people have told me it is her best work.

EDIT: Oh, and Liberty for Women is also much cheaper. I'd say go with that first.

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Coulter's article on rebuilding the WTC is fantastic:

"The attack on the World Trade Center ripped America's soul not only for the thousands of lives it snuffed out. Even if the towers had been empty, the destruction of those buildings would have been heart-wrenching. Skyscrapers are the hallmark of civilization, monuments to human brilliance and creativity. ... Whatever goes up on that site ought to be even bigger than the buildings the savages destroyed. ... The most fitting memorial to the victims of the World Trade Center attack is to build the world's most breathtaking skyscraper in the world..."

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What I'm curious about is why you hate Al Franken in the first place. You obviously think about him somewhat. You can't despise people you don't spend any time thinking about.

I have rarely ever spent time thinking about Franken, so I've not developed any specific estimation of him. I enjoyed his Lying Liars book, which details how various conservatives have lied to the American public. His voice is kind of whiny and nasally, so I don't enjoy listening to him.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I just don't understand hatred directed at him. You obviously do. So explain to me what there is to hate about Al Franken.

al-franken.jpg

I normally charge $40 for the first page, $20 for each additional, plus research time to write a paper. In this case I will give you a discount, and only charge you triple. How detailed do you want me to be?

I don't gawk at traffic accidents, I don't play with my feces, and I have already spent too much time here on that piece of shit.

Thanks for the McElroy link. I don't know how it is I'm not already familiar with her.

Yes, his face is ugly. So what?

"At 50, everyone has the face he deserves." -Orwell

Coulter's article on rebuilding the WTC is fantastic:

"The attack on the World Trade Center ripped America's soul not only for the thousands of lives it snuffed out. Even if the towers had been empty, the destruction of those buildings would have been heart-wrenching. Skyscrapers are the hallmark of civilization, monuments to human brilliance and creativity. ... Whatever goes up on that site ought to be even bigger than the buildings the savages destroyed. ... The most fitting memorial to the victims of the World Trade Center attack is to build the world's most breathtaking skyscraper in the world..."

I think she meant to say two most breathtaking skyscrapers in the world. Don't get me started.

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Don't get me started.

Don't get you started?

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Re - reading good books, am in the midst of going thru Deidre N. McCloskey's "The Bourgeois Virtues", the first of a projected four volumes on capitalism being good for us... been a bit rough, in as much as it is taking the 'enemy's view of ethics and using that to bring about an approval of capitalism as being ethical [ as opposed to the Randian version of what constitutes ethics]... so at the least, tho there is much am in quibble about, it is informative and interesting in its thesis...

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I've heard from people I know who read Russian that "We" is celebrated for the beauty of its language. Some of that came through when I read it in translation, despite the depressing story.

"The Master and Margarita" is wicked fun.

I was a freshman in college and the professor had been talking about the social psychology of embarrassment. At our next session with the TA, he told us to read "Shooting an Elephant" if we really wanted to understand embarrassment. I can't remember a single other suggestion from that TA but I'm still in his debt.

I enjoy reading nearly anything by Camille Paglia. She's an unrepentant Freudian, but I don't care... Paglia in talking-head mode is more difficult for me; she's a bit of a motormouth.

With Anne Coulter I just can't get past the mean-spiritedness. The bogus self-importance in Rush Limbaugh's persona (his sendup of the monopoly networks' omniscient news anchors, like Walter Cronkite) makes him easier for me to take, though I don't listen to him very often. Al Franken I haven't seen or heard that much of. What I have seen and heard makes me wonder whether he used to be funny and lost the knack, or was never funny to start with.

Robert Campbell

PS. I used to be a regular on Wendy McElroy's ifeminist board. I second the recommendations on those two books about feminism. Wendy is a hard-core Rothbardian, and somewhat of a left-libertarian, but what eventually led to my departure from the board was not war or corporations but her (qualified) support for Jim Valliant's book. She would never be welcome at ARI, and, to this day, I don't understand why she had so many positive words for PARC.

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Robert, the only thing ever funny about Al Franklen is he makes liberals laugh because they think they're supposed to.

--Brant

I thought 'supply-side Jesus' was pretty clever.

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Oh my goodness! So many books and authors I haven't read suggested here! I am updating my list for the next few times I go to the library.

By the way - I LOVED "Brave New World". I read it for the first time several months ago, after my son was assigned it in his high school English class. I was impressed with the book - I thought it read very easily. I would have preferred a heroic ending as well, but didn't expect it. I loved Orwell's "1984" but I thought this was better - tied with "Animal Farm" and "Anthem" as the best I have read about these types of societies.

Regarding Hitchens - I only have "God is Not Great", but I read his articles on Slate from time to time. He is an easy author to read. I cannot read Dawkins. I have to admit part of my aversion to him is because I had a friend that was huge into the whole "brights" thing and acted like reading Dawkins was what was akin to a religious person reading the bible. Some day I probably should read one of his books, because it isn't really fair to be negative about him if I have read his stuff.

Regarding Heinlein my favorite book he wrote was "Job: A Comedy of Justice". I read this several months after leaving my church. It was amazing - it made me angry because it made me think quite a bit. A wonderful story as well. I have read several of his short stories; my husband has almost all his novels.

I just put my list together for a few more personal financial books I plan to borrow next week:

"The Millionaire Next Door"

"The Wealthy Barber"

and the one that was suggested a few posts ago "The Battle for Investment Survival"

I really look forward to reading them all.

After that, I think I am going to re-read a few Agatha Christie books. Possibly N or M. Tommy and Tuppence are two of my favorite characters. Christie's books are just a joy to read. I could use some pure intelligent entertainment that doesn't take place during the modern era.

I will be referring back to this list from time to time the next coming weeks - so I hope people keep making lists of what they are reading so I can get more suggestions on different authors! =)

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Really, really cute so far.

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Really, really cute so far.

Oh, god. This is the worst book I ever actually bothered to finish, I read it two months ago. The best joke is that all cassette tapes left in a demons car metamorphose into a Best of Queen compilation within two weeks. I kept waiting for it to get as clever as it was trying to be. The story is about as sophisticated as a National Lampoon does the Apocalypse screen play, and it has no ending, (i/e/ no climax) but rather just stops. Think Mars Attacks, but without the visuals. I could never recommend it to anyone. When I finished it, I donated it to a charity used bookstore as being slightly better than just throwing it out.

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Really, really cute so far.

Oh, god. This is the worst book I ever actually bothered to finish, I read it two months ago. The best joke is that all cassette tapes left in a demons car metamorphose into a Best of Queen compilation within two weeks. I kept waiting for it to get as clever as it was trying to be. The story is about as sophisticated as a National Lampoon does the Apocalypse screen play, and it has no ending, (i/e/ no climax) but rather just stops. Think Mars Attacks, but without the visuals. I could never recommend it to anyone. When I finished it, I donated it to a charity used bookstore as being slightly better than just throwing it out.

I like it. It isn't self-consciously funny. It is, rather, sarcastic and witty. Not stupid like most British comedy. Excellent characterizations. The writing is decent. I'll have to finish it before I have any opinion of the plot, however.

Want to read a bad book? Try "Wizard's First Rule."

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Really, really cute so far.

Oh, god. This is the worst book I ever actually bothered to finish, I read it two months ago. The best joke is that all cassette tapes left in a demons car metamorphose into a Best of Queen compilation within two weeks. I kept waiting for it to get as clever as it was trying to be. The story is about as sophisticated as a National Lampoon does the Apocalypse screen play, and it has no ending, (i/e/ no climax) but rather just stops. Think Mars Attacks, but without the visuals. I could never recommend it to anyone. When I finished it, I donated it to a charity used bookstore as being slightly better than just throwing it out.

I like it. It isn't self-consciously funny. It is, rather, sarcastic and witty. Not stupid like most British comedy. Excellent characterizations. The writing is decent. I'll have to finish it before I have any opinion of the plot, however.

Want to read a bad book? Try "Wizard's First Rule."

Thanks, but no.

Has anyone read Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card?

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The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand

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