Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Links (page 1 / 1)

How was I supposed to know I should take a magazine with this cover seriously?


It's been a pretty big surprise to me that one of the few magazines out there still interested in shedding some real light on how things work today in Washington D.C. is RollingStone. I mean, yeah, they were cool enough to print stuff from P.J. O'Rourke, but those were basically humor columns. Yet take a look to the right of Taylor Lautner's drenched abs on the above cover, for instance, and you'll note a small yellow caption reading "Obama's Wall Street Sellout, by Matt Taibbi". It's an understated advertisement for the latest gold from the rag's very skilled and utterly furious staff writer on politics.

His latest (June issue) story is entitled "Wall Street War". I'm ordering you to read it for free here on RollingStone's website, because it's as well-researched and well-written an article as I can imagine on the issue of financial reform and how our so-called representatives have turned betraying their constituents into an outright art form. This is really the sort of hard-hitting, truth-to-power stuff all major journalists should at least try to write.

The only criticism I have of the piece is its lackluster concluding paragraph. What Taibbi wrote to summarize "Wall Street War" doesn't hold a candle to the flourished finish he wrote for "The Great American Bubble Machine", his stellar article on the history of Goldman-Sachs.

It's not always easy to accept the reality of what we now routinely allow these people to get away with; there's a kind of collective denial that kicks in when a country goes through what America has gone through lately, when a people lose as much prestige and status as we have in the past few years. You can't really register the fact that you're no longer a citizen of a thriving first-world democracy, that you're no longer above getting robbed in broad daylight, because like an amputee, you can still sort of feel things that are no longer there.

But this is it. This is the world we live in now. And in this world, some of us have to play by the rules, while others get a note from the principal excusing them from homework till the end of time, plus 10 billion free dollars in a paper bag to buy lunch. It's a gangster state, running on gangster economics, and even prices can't be trusted anymore; there are hidden taxes in every buck you pay. And maybe we can't stop it, but we should at least know where it's all going.

I won't lie to you: to read words like these in a major magazine with a high circulation among my generation does my soul a world of good. In retrospect, maybe I should have realized that any magazine for adults willing to make the Jonas Bros. their monthly feature has be fearless, and now I'm wondering what I've been missing. Crazy as it seems, I'm also looking forward to what _ RollingStone_'s got next.

FURTHER READING: Matt Taibbi's smashing discussion of health care reform and American government, "Sick and Wrong: How Washington is screwing up health care reform — and why it may take a revolt to fix it."

Recommended podcasts

After three months, Anna and I have finally grown confident enough about the stability of our lives here in Korea that we've entered into a contract for internet service in our apartment. This means I'm listening to podcasts on my iPod again after about six months' abstinence from them. Here are my favorites:


Common Sense with Dan Carlin - It may surprise those who know me (or who have read any post about politics on this blog) that my favorite podcast about politics - indeed, the only one I still bother to regularly check - is by an independent centrist who supports socialized health care. But that's just proof of how great a communicator and honest a thinker Dan Carlin is: you don't have to agree with him to find his show consistently fascinating. Give it a listen.


Dan Carlin's Hardcore History - Dan Carlin also has a second, far more popular podcast on the less contentious subject of History. Listen to the show once and you'll soon find that you've consumed the entirety of its program backlog and are now waiting in agony along with the rest of us for the next, traditionally late installment of the best monologue on the web. My favorite podcast.


Reasonable Doubts - I've sifted through a lot that's on offer in the world of podcasts concerning the world's theologies and (later on, after I stopped believing) arguments against it. The three liberal, atheist professors from Michigan who run this show are the only (anti-)religious partisans with whom I still keep up. They are unabashed in their contempt for stupidity and ignorance among theists, but even while I myself was a theist I found them very willing to hear out other views and award them credit where it was due.


Free Talk Live - I don't listen to Ian, Mark, or their revolving guest hosts very often anymore, but that's mainly because I agree with it too often and it's way too effective at pushing my buttons. The program's nightly reports on how much injustice is really going on in my native country often enrages me to a degree I am certain is unhealthy. That said, it's still a great show, mainly because Ian and Mark are not only utterly authentic but also inhumanly patient, never failing to live up to their promise to discuss whatever their callers want to talk about. Sometimes this results in utter hilarity, since the policy inevitably draws the craziest people our society has to offer. For instance, one regular is a believer in every antisemitic conspiracy theory out there.

All of them are available for free on iTunes.

The Bible Role Playing Game


So I'm poking around the internet for a directory of given names for Midianites or Amalekites and I find this - a step-by-step, program-assisted guide to creating whatever Canaanite name you want.

Apparently it was created as a tool for people playing roleplaying games in an ancient Canaanite setting - that is, playing Dungeons & Dragons or something of the sort in Biblical scenery. Even as a scion of the whole Comics/RPG/Sci-Fi/Fantasy culture, I've never heard of that, but imagining how such a thing might play out entertains me immensely.

UPDATE: After a little more digging about, I've learned that there is indeed a fairly new role playing game produced for enthusiasts of Biblical mythology, aptly named Testament. And there's a magazine named - I kid you not - Targum that contains supplementary information for it.

The game features character classes such as "desert hermit", "Levite priest", and of course "champion of Israel" (that is, a judge). Characters have piety ratings and glorious opportunities for advantages like the "Nazirite feat", which "adds +8 to an attribute of your choice, as long as you don’t drink alcohol, drink wine, cut your hair, or let your Piety drop below 10 (by, for example, dallying with a Qedeshot dancer and letting her cut your hair)."

I want to buy this game just to read the rest of its instruction manual.

Above is a picture of Testament's cover.

This entry was tagged. Bible Culture Links