Monday, March 3, 2008

Fairly Insubstantial and Yet Intellectually Stimulating Nonetheless Type-Post

I'm sorry blogging's been so light of late. It will probably continue on like this for about the next week. I'm putting the finishing on my spec, sending out query letters, and just generally trying to move on to some new, better project. Like, say, slowly strangling myself with piano wire. Or listening to an entire Josh Groban CD. Something like that.

Some good things on the horizon: a great discussion about The Crying of Lot 49, some thoughts about In Bruges and Semi-Pro (both of which I've seen recently), a criticism of the final season of The Wire, and a translation of Pope's "Essay on Man" into Esperanto. Plus, a lot of really objectionable pornography.

In the meantime, here are some worthwhile links. First, in light of Obama and Hilary's leftist pandering to the moribund Ohio steel industry, an excellent defense of NAFTA (not like it needs it). Second, a reflection upon the inanity of Bush's drug policy. And third, puppies.


JMW said...

Finally, my "more objectionable porn" pleas are being heard.

I look forward to all of this, including the critique of The Wire -- I'm preparing my own, in fact. It's been really bad.

I also want to send you our much long-delayed (thanks to me) final back-and-forth about Delillo. (It will move away from him a little, so we don't bore ourselves or other people.) Are you down for that?

Mr. Guapo said...

I'm down. But wait till Friday. That's when I should be done for good with the spec. And then the children will sing.

The Wire. Yes, it's been bad. Worse--its current badness seems to illuminate aspects of past seasons which now seem worse to me. If that makes sense. I.e., it seems to hold up certain imaginative and intellectual deficiencies in Simon's writing, deficiencies which, upon reflection, I find in prior seasons.

JMW said...

I have to preface this by saying that I'm two episodes behind on The Wire (though I know about one particular plot twist thanks to several periodicals), and a good friend of mine who also hasn't liked this season said last week's episode was really good.

You're not the first person I've heard say that this season's deficiencies make the previous seasons worse in retrospect. I don't feel that; not yet, anyway. I just think they're trying to juggle too many plotlines, that the McNulty serial killer plot is absolutely ludicrous, and that the newspaper stuff is pretty consistently terrible.

Seb said...

From the "Better Dead than High" article:

Prohibition advocates are again measuring success not on how well the drug war is preventing real, tangible harm, but simply on how effectively they're preventing people from getting high.

The naloxone story only reinforces in a tidier narrative what we've witnessed for the last 25 years—that drug warriors are willing to write off the loss of human life as collateral damage and engage in all sorts of morally dubious practices in order to prove their point.

That point, ironically enough, is that drug use is immoral and dangerous.

As you know, guap, only Emperor of Wombats, this is a subject that enrages me beyond the capacity for rational thought.

I know, I know; some here will contend that I have never really possessed the capacity for rational thought. "That, madam," to quote George Banks from Mary Poppins, "is entirely beside the point."

That anyone is harebrained enough to conside the prohibition of alcohol a success by any standard is nothing short of astonishing. "Those who ignore History..." and so on.

That prohibition was not only a failure but a costly failure seems to me an assertion beyond serious dispute. Comparisons between the original Prohibition and the so-called "war on drugs" are not only apt but necessary. It is folly to call something other than what it is; the war on drugs is not a war in any but a metaphoric or rhetorical sense of the word. Rhetoric is neither appropriate nor helpful to the problems posed to society by addiction.

My rage turns to apoplexy when I consider the sheer financial cost of this "war" - these are tax dollars being thrown in the street, and I do not understand how anyone who considers her/himself a fiscal conservative can honestly approve of such waste.

The efficacy of the abstinence-only approach to recovery, meanwhile, is more hotly contested than I have supposed. Many courts seem to want to default to AA as a condition of probation - what we in the pogrom [sic] call "paper-signers." Few of these people seem to obtain much, if any, benefit from AA; compulsory attendance has been shown to be largely ineffectual; and AA's focus on thinly veiled theism alienates still others.

Well, AA has dangers of its own, but it at least is free. Processing people through treatment centers, while arguably more effective when competent and scientific methods are employed, is expensive where available, while simply throwing addicts in jail (have you SEEN the crack laws on the books?) is very costly and totally ineffective.

The bottom line is that there are cost-effective and moral alternatives to the puritanical attitudes that have gripped this nation since the Temperance Movement of nearly 200 years ago.

It is neither moral nor acceptable to cultivate crime through prohibition. While many bewail the potential dangers of decriminalization, we are seeing the actual human toll of prohibition right now, in this country and elsewhere, where poor people are coerced into working on drug farms and drug-rich warlords pose very serious problems to national governments, where being a gun-toting drug-runner offers one of the more lucrative - and, dismayingly, practical - paths to egress from the ghetto.

It's time to wake up. Are we "Waiting on the World to Change," as John Mayer has it, or is there some way to bring reason to this discussion?

Seb said...

Oh, uh, guap - your NAFTA link, which I am keen to read, also points to the war on drugs article. FYI.

Mr. Guapo said...

Thanks for the note. I've gotten the correct post linked up now, I think.

JMW said...

Hear, hear, Seb.

Kate said...

No spoilers about the Wire! I have to wait for it to be out on DVD!

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