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I read The Dialectic of Sex in high school.  I liked it, and then reread it a few years later and thought it was kind of silly – especially the chart at the end where she prophecied the end of oppression would lead to the end of death.  But it was formative for me and well-written – I think the first feminist book I read.

I don’t know what happened to my copy actually.  I may have to buy it again and give it a third read.

Here is a nice obituary which also describes a very tragic ending.  It’s where I got the photo.

Visited the Tin Can Mailman book store this afternoon, and while browsing I noticed for the first time that they have several shelves on Karl Marx.  But is it in the sociology or political science section?  Nope, it’s to the right of the philosophy shelves and just above a section dedicated to the Kabbalah.

Given that Marx was Jewish and his semi-doctrine of Historical Materialism is very much structured like Jewish prophetic history (with designated ages stacked in a theme of progression from past to future), and his writings heavily influence by prophetic literature, it’s not intellectually inappropriate.  But I’ve never seen it before.  You certainly won’t find the books organized that way at Modern Times Bookstore or Bolerium Books.


A side note:  The secret code to get into Bolerium’s Mission Street location – just ring the doorbell and when they respond on the intercom say, “Trotskyism to Go” and they’ll ring you right in.  For old and rare books on politics it is probably the best source on the west coast.

Bad news for the economy, and literacy.  But then we’ve been looking at the banner at the Bayshore Mall for weeks now.

More room at the mall for Wal-Mart?

Massive layoffs.   Recession imminent.

Thanks Tea Party!

The joys of a post-New Deal society.

You know, Obama does have one recourse since we are limited to surplus spending for the first time in history.  He can shut down three wars, and bring that spending back to this continent.  He doesn’t need Congressional approval for that.

Bankruptcy which will lead to the elimination of 30 percent of its stores nationwide.

This might seem like good news for independent bookstores, and short term it may well be.  But with the mass push to buy (or steal) books electronically, publishing and writing may be in trouble as well and they’re losing at least some business from a huge client.  Being the “economic reactionary” that I am who spends enough time staring at an electronic screen, bookstores will have at least me as a client for my lifetime.  I don’t buy much from Borders, preferring to give my business to stores like North Town and the used stores, but I am concerned about this development.

I suspect that the Bayshore Mall will be losing yet another tenant.  Obviously we need to build more malls!  It reminds me of the old political cartoon where the King and his advisers are poring over photos of Humpty Dumpty and the King declares:  “Gentlemen, the fact that all my horses and all my men can’t put him together simply means that I need more horses and more men!”

If Borders does close down, will North Town be the last new book store in the county?  We live in a country which even before the Internet had more gun stores than book stores.  Are we entering a brave new era of communication, or are we on are way down?

Publish a book with classified secrets and let the Pentagon know.  Apparently they’re going to purchase and destroy 10,000 copies of an Afghan war memoir.

Except that a few have already slipped through to distribution.  Bet you wish you’d landed a copy, huh?  I wonder what they’ll be selling for in Ebay.

Random House is suggesting they may go for a second printing.  Duh.

This is recapping an exercise in college where some friends and I sat around thinking – if a potential socialist convert were to agree to read any three books on socialism, what would you offer?  Well, now I have to come up with ten, even though I’m not so sure I’d call myself a socialist anymore.  Here are the ten books I think place socialism in the best light, with the best explanations.

1.  Socialism Past, Present, and Future – Michael Harrington.

2.  The Essential Works of Socialism – Irving Howe (yeah, maybe an anthology is cheating, but his selections are representative and excellent)

3.  The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1868 – Karl Marx

4.  Design for Utopia – Charles Fourier

5.  Foundation – Isaac Asimov (sold me on the whole concept as a teenager)

6.  Woman on the Edge of Time – Marge Piercy (her utopia was compelling, but also disturbing)

7.  Marx’s Concept of Man – Erich Fromme (sold me as a teenager on the concept of alienation)

8.  A Theology of Liberation –  Gustavo Gutierez

9.  The Shape of Things to Come – HG Wells

10.  Rerum Novarum – Pope Leo XIII (much more radical than either Catholic conservatives or secular socialists want to acknowledge)

Honorable mentions:  The Communist Manifesto (the first five pages of which contain nothing but compliments for capitalism as a progressive force in historical context), People of the Abyss – Jack London, The Iron Heel – Jack London,  The Permanent Revolution – Trotsky, The State and Capital – Lenin, Looking Forward – Edward Bellamy, Mutual Aid, a Factor of Evolution – Peter Kropotkin, and Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman

First in a series of book lists.  In this case, I wanted to avoid the more academic history books (hence the high school level criteria), and some of my choices are actually novels which may provide impressions rather than factual information.  The list has changed dramatically since I first started thinking about it, and you will probably convince me to change it even more.

1.  Common Sense, Thomas Paine

2. The Federalist Papers, Madison and Hamilton

3.  Democracy in America, Alexis de Toqueville

4.  The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Alex Haley

5.  Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

6.  The Jungle, Upton Sinclaire

7.  On the Road, Jack Kerouac

8.  Critics and Crusaders, A Century of American Protest, Charles Madison

9.  Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich

10.  Working, Studs Terkel

Honorable mentions, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, the Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Looking Forward by Edward Bellamy.

Actually, this is an impossible exercise.

And yes, absent from my list is the Peoples History of the US, but Howard Zinn.  I have great respect for Zinn, but that book hasn’t really impressed me much since I was a freshman in college.  Loved it for the first semester I had to read from it.

I interviewed him a couple of months ago on KMUD re his book on an intentional living movement, for lack of a better term, in Japan.  Here’s the announcement:

Just a heads up that I’ll be reading from A Different Kind of Luxury at Northtown books in Arcata on this Saturday, April 10th, at 7 pm.   Here’s the announcement.  Please let people know, as appropriate.  Thanks!


Andy Couturier reads from A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance (Stone Bridge Press, $19.95).

Raised in the tumult of Japan’s industrial powerhouse, the eleven men and women profiled in this book have all made the transition to sustainable, fulfilling lives. They are today artists, philosophers, and farmers who reside deep in the mountains of rural Japan. Their lives may be simple, yet they are surrounded by the luxuries of nature, art, contemplation, delicious food, and an abundance of time.

By presenting the journeys of these ordinary-yet exceptional-people, Couturier shows how we too can travel a meaningful path of living simply, with respect for our communities and our natural resources. When we leave behind the burdens of wage labor, debt, stress, and daily busyness, we grow rich in a whole new way. These Japanese are pioneers in a sense; drawing on traditional Eastern spiritual wisdom, they have forged a new style of modernity, and in their success is a lesson for us all: live a life that matters.

Andy Couturier is an essayist, poet, and writing teacher. He lived in Japan for four years where he taught, was a journalist, and worked on environmental causes. He has property in southern Trinity County and is a part time local.

This is an exercise I got tagged with on facebook.  I never read any Jane Austin, though I did read the Cliff’s Notes in lieu of assigned high school reading if that counts.  I did start many of these books with good intentions.  Obviously ignore the “tag” instructions and just C&P in the thread.  It does not count if you saw the movie!

My number is 33.  I read all the children’s books.

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Look at the list and put an ‘X’ after those you have read. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so i can see your responses! Title your post with the number you’ve read

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien X
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte X
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee X
6 The Bible- X
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph HellerX
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald X
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams X
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck X
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll X
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis X
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis X
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne X
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell X
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood X
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert X
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens X
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley X
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck X
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac X
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville (I tried, I really tried)
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens X
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce X
76 The Inferno – Dante X
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker X
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry X
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery X
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams X
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl X
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo X

A few nights ago several streets in Redway were TPed extensively, including a car parked across from my house.  Second time in about a month.  I think some of the kids are desperately trying to tell us they’re bored.  We need to find some things for them to do around here.  Unless there’s some music at the Mateel, it’s kind of dead around here for teenagers other than keg parties.  This is the result.


It’s cooled off, but it’s kind of muggy.  I went to the gym today.  They have two air conditioners for four rooms not including the second floor in the one room where the cardio machines are.  Despite two large fans and two small ones it was pretty hot up there.  I spent some time on the treadmill taking care not to let my heart rate stay abouve 160 for more than a few minutes.  I’m getting older and I’m still not back in shape.  I resisted any temptation to try to impress the pretty girl sharing the space with me.  If there had been one or two more I might be in the emergency room right now.

Meanwhile when I got to the weight training phase of my workout it was pretty easy to select today’s course.  I used the machines in the current of cool air straight from the conditioner, which by the way was cranking out all sorts of water today.  They should have been collecting it.  Does the industrial park up there draw from Redway?


I watched the movie Knowing last night.  It had potential, but I didn’t need to decypher the numbers.  The plot was horribly predictable without them.  It was like Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End, only bad.  I don’t mind suspense, but when the characters are acting stupid in ways which would never happen in real life with anyone with the IQ of a gerbil, it takes something out of it.  Sometimes Nicholas Cage works for me, but he didn’t have much to work with in this script.  He must really need work.


Saw Bruno early in the week.  Never have I been so offended and on edge, yet laughing every moment.  Cohen has a gift.  And a death wish.

I do partially agree with the criticism in comparison with Michael Moore.  When Moore humiliates people on camera, it’s usually someone with power.  Cohen tends to pick on working class people whose bigotries are exacerbated by poverty.  Maybe that’s why my favorite scenes are his attempted seduction of Ron Paul and the Paula Abdul freakout.

There were like three or four other people in the theater; granted it was a matinee during work hours.


Speaking of Arthur Clarke, I just finished Rama II, the sequel to Rendesvous with Rama co-written by Gentry Lee.  Everybody seems to have panned it because it didn’t answer all the questions (nor apparently do the two sequels following).  Plus they didn’t like Lee’s introduction of some character emphasis and dystopianism.  I found the second compelling however.  If the characters are interesting I don’t mind a character emphasis.  As for providing answers, the whole concept is just to get you thinking about the possibilities.  Any answers will be anti-climactic.  But then, maybe that’s why Clarke originally thought one novel was enough.  He tempted fate with the last line (“the Ramans work in threes”).

Childhood’s End remains my favorite Clarke novel, which is what makes the Cage movie so annoying.  It was obviously inspired by it, but it missed the point.


My kids have mastered Google, even before they could really read.  They find stuff.  Want to hear what I had to listen to about 30 times before Asher left on his trip?  Enjoy.


July 2020