Sunday, October 24, 2010


Praising weak writing is almost as bad as publishing bad writing. Here is an example of great writing:
"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." -- Leo Tolstoi

Later we'll talk about weak writing. In this space I usually talk politics. I complain about our leaders and the fact that they don't listen to me. Hell, they don't even call me.

But here is a different issue, and it is fundamentally important: literature. This art form helps shape civilization, and helps shape our society, and helps shape our concepts of good and evil, and our ideas of moraltiy, and our notions of cause and effect. Indeed, literature helps create our very concept of self.

Since literature is so important, I wonder why it has fallen on hard times. I am tired of seeing praise, in newspapers and magazines, for weak writing, for literature that doesn't fulfill its mission to enlighten us.

Recently (Oct. 21, 2010) I wrote a letter to the managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, in reaction to a book review of his:

Dear Davan Marahaj:

I was surprised when you wrote, in the Book Review Oct. 17, that the following line [from V.S. Naipaul] is famous and is from a masterpiece:

"The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it."

Of course the world is what it is. What else could it be? That is so obvious it is not worth mentioning. Indeed, it goes without saying. And many men in the world are nothing, because they lack the courage or motivation or family connections to become something.

Here, Naipaul is a keen observer of the obvious. The sentence is bland and boring and offers no insight into the world or into human nature.
So why is the line famous?

Roger Angle

Of course, I have received no reply. I didn't expect one.

Now, let's compare the V.S. Naipaul line, the opening of "A Bend In The River," with the Tolstoi line above, the opening of "Anna Karenina." Tolstoi gives us some insight into human nature right off the bat. He tells us the truth, and probably a truth that we had not ourselves observed. So he fulfills the first mission of literature, to give us insight into ourselves.

The Tolstoi novel that follows this line is one of the great novels of modern civilization. Someone once asked William Faulkner what three novels one should read, to learn how to write novels. Faulkner, argubly our greatest American novelist, answered, "Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina, and Anna Karenina."

Where are the great writers now? Where are the Tolstois and the Faulkners? I read widely and I don't find them.

What we get instead is praise, in a major American newspaper, for weak writing. I have also seen such praise in the New York Times and in The New Yorker, two of my favorite publications.

I don't think these editors are stupid.

So why do they do it? Has literature come to this?

Praise for weak writing is another form of crap.
Perhaps it is bearable, but it should not be.

Copyright 2010 by Roger R. Angle

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Lying to the American people about anything is a form of Unbearable Crap. Especially when the topic is terrorism.

Here is a bit of truth from Michael Moore: "Terrorists aren't trying to kill us because they hate our freedom. They are trying to kill us because we're in their countries killing them."

I wasn't going to bring this up, but have you ever actually read the writings of Osama bin Laden? What he wants and has always wanted is for America to get its troops out of the Arabian peninsula and out of Islamic countries in the Middle East.

The right wingers in the USA would have us believe that even listening to or reading Bin Laden amounts to "appeasement," and they compare that to Neville Chamberlain trying to make peace with Adof Hitler.

Wait, isn't there a difference? Who invaded whose land? In the 1930s, after big business in the USA stopped supporting Hitler, our former ally led Germany in trying to take over Europe and the world. Hitler was the invader.

In modern times, we invaded Iraq. We invaded Afghanistan. Are we the invader, or not? I don't think we went in there to take over those countries. Ostensibly, we went there to spread democracy. In his gut, W knew it was the right thing to do.

Was it the right thing to do? If so, what have we gotten out of these invasions?

Dick Cheney said that oil in Iraq would pay for the invasion and occupation. Has it? Yeah, right. Sure. If you believe that, I've got a bridge I want to sell you.

That is another piece of Unbearable Crap.

Copyright 2010 by Roger R. Angle


A shark attack off Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California recently (22 October 2010) was all over the news. What they don't tell you is that about a mile off that shore is an area of the ocean where Great White sharks raise their young.

Those waters are teeming with Great White sharks. They don't often come in close to shore, but those "silent gray gentlemen," as surfers call them, are always hungry and always feeding. As one expert said on ABC News, a shark could easily mistake a boogie boarder for a seal, which is its prime source of food.

That shark was estimated to be about 18 feet long, which is almost full grown. The attack took place about 100 yards from the beach, according to the Website My guess would be that this shark was exploring the area to find food. According to the Website,"This shark commonly patrols small coastal islands inhabited by pinnipeds (seals, seal lions and walruses), offshore reefs, banks and rocky headlands where there is deep water close to shore. The white shark usually cruises either just off the bottom or near the surface."

My family and I often go camping just south of Vandenberg at Jalama Beach, and one of the life guards told us about the Great White sharks in those waters. Often, marine biologists visit that area to study the Great Whites.

My advice: If you don't want to be mistaken for a seal, don't act like one. Don't splash around on the surface of the water wearing a dark wet suit that makes you sound and look like a seal.

If you surf or boogie-board, be aware that once in a while, one of those silent gray gentlemen may come looking for a meal, and you could be it.

They don't appear in real life like they do in the movies, with dorsal fin sticking out of the water. They come up from under the water, so they are often a surprise.

Friday, October 22, 2010


OK, so NPR "senior analyst" Juan Williams got fired for saying he fears Muslims dressed liked, well, Muslims. Of course, his comment illustrates only that he shares many Americans' unfounded prejudices and irrational fears.

It's too bad Faux News jumped in and offered him $2-million to keep being a fool on Fox. He could have gone to work for New York candidate for governor Carl Paladino, who hates gays but loves Lesbians, or for Delaware candidate for the U.S. Senate Christine O'Donnell, who said that evolution isn't working because she can't see monkeys changing before her very eyes.

What no one is saying is that Juan Williams has always been a horse's ass. His comments and so-called analyses have always been lame. Remember him as a moderator of a presidential debate some years ago? He's the one who asked the stupid questions. When the reporters on NPR have had to ask Williams for "analysis," he has always said something obvious or stupid.

The truth is that Juan will fit in just fine at Fox, not known of its overall IQ. Of course, Fox made its offer as a comment on NPR. Analyze that, Juan.