Saturday, April 23, 2011
I'm reading a book entitled ONE NATION UNDER DEBT: Hamilton, Jefferson, and What We Owe, by Robert E. Wright, Ph.D.
A paragraph on p. 2 explains his research:
"Why do women in Japan live 84.41 years on average, while those in Mozambique average only 31.63 years? Why do 72.8 percent of the people in Mali live on less than $1 per day while almost nobody in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries has to get by on so little? Why is the average annual income of people in Luxembourg $66,463.78 while that of Burundi is $84.29? 'The consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these,' Nobel laureate Robert Lucas once wrote, 'are simply staggering ... Once one starts to think about them,' he added, 'it is hard to think of anything else.'"
Wright's thesis is already presented just after the previous question: "...what really matters when it comes to economic prosperity is good governance, trade, and incentives. Adam Smith succinctly stated the Enlightenment view in his 1755 Lectures on Jurisprudence,
'Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought by the natural course of things. All governments which thwart this natural course, which force things into another channel or which endeavour to arrest the progress of society at a particular point, are unnatural, and to support themselves are obliged to be oppressive and tyrannical'" (2-3).
I have new glasses, and with these has come eye strain. I'm not sure if my eyes were misdiagnosed, or if I am just getting used to the new glasses. So I will have to keep this brief.
But Mr. Wright (who teaches financial history at NYU and is a curator of the Museum of American Finance) argues that culture (Protestant or not), doesn't matter, education doesn't matter, good genes (Caucasian or Asian doesn't matter), natural resources don't matter, and even stability isn't such great shakes (Cuba is quite stable, but is dirt poor, whereas Japan has few Protestants but is rich).
Away from the Romantic philosophers of wealth such as Marx, Wright believes that Enlightenment Smith had the answers. At any rate, I'm only on p. 3.
I have some tests to grade, then I hope to read another page of this 350-page volume, or get one of the neighbors to read it to me, while I close my eyes and lay cucumber slices on the half-burnt orbs.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I'm impressed by what works. Lots of things in nature work. You have the woodpecker's skull, for instance, that can absorb thousands of rattatats and come out without significant injury. You have the cockroach. Starfish. Most of the stuff we try to do on the other hand doesn't work. There's Chernobyl, there's the meltdowns in the Japanese nuclear industry, there's fracking. In these instances, there's a problem, and someone gets an idea of how to fix it and it gets worse.
I read Terry Eagleton's article "In Praise of Marx," (April 11, 2011) in the Chronicle the other day. Eagleton is an intellectual disaster area, and should be described as such by the United Nations. Eagleton's latest attempt to hitch his dangerous ideology to praxis is to declare that Marxism is green: "As for the environment, Marx astonishingly prefigured our own Green politics. Nature, and the need to regard it as an ally rather than an antagonist, was one of his constant preoccupations." There is no citation. Maurice Merleau-Ponty (a leftist, but one with at least some significant mental activity) argued that Marxism had at best a confused notion of nature, sometimes being something that humans can transform at will, and at other times conceptualized under an idealist notion derived from Hegel in which periods of natural history are motivated by God's need to know Himself (La Nature, 355-356). Tossing theory aside, what happened in praxis? The entire East bloc suffered from rampant pollution. The Aral Sea, once the world's fourth largest, disappeared. Once supporting an outtake of 40,000 tons of fish per annum, it became a monument of Marxist environmental mismanagement: a dustbin of history.
Eagleton's criticisms of conservatives such as Sarah Palin and Fox News as "rednecks," and a "Bad Thing," seemed useless, since they weren't couched in how rednecks or Palin work. In fact, they've both been surprisingly efficient, getting their candidates into office, and possibly reducing the national debt. We might also get an overthrow of stealthcare, which is such a huge contraption with thousands of pages of obscure prose, that it is a disaster in its very conception.
Working businesses work because someone at the helm has a brain and can grasp the bottom line, keep the principles at stake, demand excellence from workers, do something for the community, and create a positive vibe around themselves.
Marxism is a disaster. If Capitalism is bad (it isn't, but it can be if it becomes rapacious), then State Capitalism is far worse, because no one dares to stand up against it. When the state rammed through the Aral Sea initiatives in Russia, everyone knew it was going to create a disaster, but everyone who could said nothing. It would have meant that they, along with the world's fourth largest sea, would disappear. No one wanted that. So, the sea disappeared. (It's coming back, thanks of course to western capital. It's coming back very slowly. It's about half the size it was when the Soviets decided to reroute it into a desert in order to create water for a cotton industry. Cotton is thirsty, like top-heavy states, and takes everything out of the ground, leaving a desert.)
Marx wrote in the last of the eleven Theses on Feuerbach (which also forms his epitaph): "Philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. What is crucial, however, is to change it."
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Browsing through USA Today last week I came across this amusing tidbit originally in the March 2011 issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
"The subjects - half had stayed awake for 24 hours and half were well-rested - were shown scenes involving vomit and excrement from two movies, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983) and Trainspotting (1996).
Some were allowed to express reactions; others were told to show no emotion. Later, they played an aggressive game in which they won or lost by chance. Winners were allowed to blast their opponent with a loud noise.
Those who had suppressed their emotions blasted their opponent at a noise level about 33 percent higher than those who were allowed to show emotion, regardless of how much sleep they’d had, researchers found.
Results suggest that “people have a diminishable supply of energy that the body and mind use to engage in self-control,” says study author Kathleen Vohs, a consumer psychology professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. “When people use this energy toward achieving one goal, they have less of it available to use toward achieving other goals.”
That can help predict when people are likely to fail at their diets, spend too much money or misbehave with family or in relationships, Vohs says."
All this was interesting to me because last spring I lost 15 pounds while on sabbatical. The energy I usually spend on teaching, and on remaining in control while reading ungrammatical sentences, was instead spent on dieting, which isn't an easy task. You have to use control to not eat a cookie or shoving your face full of pizza. I notice while I am reading five hours' worth of papers in a stack that I run almost unconsciously to a candy machine or open a pack of cookies to get through the task, and am not averse to pizza.
People who are finishing a dissertation often gain weight.
While driving late last week to NYC I noticed that I was constantly hungry and very aware of it while driving through circuitous streets that made next to no sense, and which suddenly would pour me into 75 mph truck traffic to rocket over the George Washington bridge.
If the kids were too loud, my nerves would be ready to break.
Sleeping in the Econolodge in Elizabeth was itself an exercise in self-control. I had to sleep on the floor because they didn't have any record of our reservation so there was only a king, and not the two queens we'd requested. The door had half inch of daylight underneath it. The floor was hard! I had to tell myself to go to sleep, and would only get about three minutes at a time.
In a Khmer Rouge prison in the 70s the 14,000 prisoners had to sleep on the ground. If they rolled over without asking for permission, they were given one hundred lashes (I saw this on a PBS documentary about the prison which was poetically named number 17, or 14). Three prisoners survived. Imagine their self-control! Could sleep without once turning over or do it only when the guards weren't looking! I found on the floor of the Econolodge I had to turn over every three minutes or so or else it hurt. Imagnie surviving five years like that!
Curiously the study doesn't give us much of a sense of the parameters of our self-control. How much does it cost to avoid cookies? How much does it cost to read math (for someone who is math avoidant?). How much does it cost to do a half hour of exercises? You'd think everyone would be given a certain amount (all things being equal), and then every task could be given a number of self-control units).
If a president was working on quitting cigarettes, how much would it cost to also run a war effectively?
If a president was seriously dieting, how often would he shout out dumb things about the police officers of Cambridge seemingly at random?
Perhaps someone like Nero who had zero self-control in his personal life, might have nevertheless been an effective manager of the city, and conversely, someone with great control in their personal life might pay for it by having their public life go to pieces.
We often punish political candidates for slips of the tongue which result in strange neologisms like "refudiate." But perhaps this is because they are focusing self-control in another area, like dieting, or attention to make-up.
Maybe one party that focuses on being nice to marginal people all the time makes up for it by indulging in sexual affairs or downing Big Macs.
Perhaps the other party that is fiscally conservative and spends all their energy getting the deficit down may have no tolerance left for people who are here illegally.
Maybe this is why saints are usually loners. People who spend all their energy being brilliant have no energy left to socialize in a normal fashion.
"There is a story that St. Augustine was walking on the beach contemplating the mystery of the Trinity. Then he saw a boy in front of him who had dug a hole in the sand and was going out to the sea again and again and bringing some water to pour into the hole. St. Augustine asked him, “What are you doing?” “I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole.” “That is impossible, the whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made,” said St. Augustine. The boy replied, “And you cannot fit the Trinity in your tiny little brain.” The story concludes by saying that the boy vanished as if St. Augustine had been talking to an angel.
Probably it's true if we take this further that whole cultures have only a certain amount of disciplined energy. If they use it to repress their own citizens, there's nothing left for innovation. If they use it make stuff, there's nothing left for dream life. Etc.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Contemporary Marxist academics often position the Christian right as Nazis. Here's Richard Rorty:
"I see the "orthodox" (the people who think hounding gays out of the military promotes traditional family values) as the same honest, blinkered, disastrous people who voted for Hitler in 1933. I see the "progressivists" as defining the only America I care about" (Philosophy and Social Hope, 17).
He finishes his autobiographical sketch, "Trotsky and the Wild Orchids," by wishing for a "fully secular community" (20).
Using Westboro Baptists (this is about 200 people?) as a metonymic symbol for the 1200 denominations of Protestants (200 million people) strikes me as simplistic and even slightly unfair. But this is more or less what Rorty has done in his equation above.
Let's look at Rorty from the Christian perspective and ask: does he come off as a Satanist? How well do Marxists keep the Ten Commandments? The first commandment is to put God above all else. Marxists want instead to secularize communities, and make their leaders (Obama, or Kim Jong-Il) into deities that can do no wrong, and cannot be criticized. The commandment to obey and honor parents is also nullified (Rorty feels that as a professor his job is to undo a family's spiritual care of their child, and instead make them into Trotskyites). Marxism goes so far as to openly stump for genocide, on the basis of class, gender, and race, and to openly ask us to covet the neighbor's things, and to seek out the things of the flesh (Foucault's entire work -- so popular now -- the most frequently cited theorist in the humanities -- is based on this).
But let's let Rorty speak for himself:
"It seems to me that the regulative idea that we heirs of the Enlightenment, we Socratists, most frequently use to criticize the conduct of various conversational partners is that of ‘needing education in order to outgrow their primitive fear, hatreds, and superstitions’ ... It is a concept which I, like most Americans who teach humanities or social science in colleges and universities, invoke when we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own ... The fundamentalist parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire ‘American liberal establishment’ is engaged in a conspiracy. The parents have a point. Their point is that we liberal teachers no more feel in a symmetrical communication situation when we talk with bigots than do kindergarten teachers talking with their students ... When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization. We assign first-person accounts of growing up homosexual to our homophobic students for the same reasons that German schoolteachers in the postwar period assigned The Diary of Anne Frank... ‘Universality and Truth,’ in Robert B. Brandom (ed.), Rorty and his Critics (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 21-2.
It couldn't be more clear that he considers his Christian students to be Nazis who need to be swiftly cult-cracked for his vision of a fully secular utopia to come to fruition.
But who really fought the Nazis? And who fought the Confederates? And who fought Stalin? Wasn't it in many cases the Christians? Lincoln drew on the Christian heritage to argue for the humanity of slaves. When Julia Ward Howe wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic, she argued that in fighting for the slaves we would be more like Christ. While Hitler tried to murder the Jews, or enslave them, it was Christians who went to their rescue. It was a Christian family that tried to save Anne Frank. Rorty wipes this all out, setting the stage for murderous Trotsky, and the murderous Trotskyites, who helped Stalin to destroy Christian Russia. It was the Christians of Russia (Solzhenitsyn) who stood up to the communists. It was the Christians of Eastern Europe who rose up in Christmas 1989 to overturn the Satanism of the Marxists. Rorty has a bulldozing quality in which he seeks to raze western history and all of America in the name of Marxism, a thoroughly discredited ideology outside of American academia.
Rorty's parents were old Trotskyites, and he was raised among such people. His apple didn't fall too far from the tree.
American Christians are an enormous heterogeneous group with 1200 denominations and lots of variance even within any given denomination. Breaking all Christians, and destroying all their faith, knocking down the Ten Commandments, must have some other agenda behind it. What is it? When asked about his politics, he says,
"...my politics were pretty much those of Hubert Humphrey" (18).
Insofar as I know, Humphrey was the only Lutheran to ever hold the office of president or vice-president.
Rorty's excessively sloppy self-righteous narrative is far from coherent or accurate, even on its own terms. After making the case that all Christians are Nazis because they are "orthodox," he goes on to claim "my politics were pretty much those of Hubert Humphrey" (18). Doesn't he know that Humphrey was a Lutheran -- which makes him on his own terms -- Rorty's terms -- a Nazi?
Flying by the seat of his pants, Rorty's reasonableness just strikes one as unsubstantial and Philistine. And yet he is one of the supposed intellectual giants of the left. When his logic isn't circular it's incoherent.
If he defines Christians as Nazis, and then defines his own politics as that of Humphrey, isn't he saying his own politics are that of the Nazis? Are even Nazis really Nazis in Rorty's terms? Not when they are Martin Heidegger. Heidegger was only a Nazi by chance, Rorty argues on p. 196. He could have been one of us. Therefore, he is one of us. Same goes for Paul DeMan (18). It might be just as reasonable to argue that Rorty could have been a Lutheran, and really was a Lutheran. He himself gives as his sole exemplar of his politics -- Hubert Humphrey -- a Lutheran.
If we want a reasonable, strong, sense of human rights, we should not let go of the Christian tradition. We should in fact turn to it. In almost every case, what the left themselves see as good (Humphrey, or the Scandinavian Lutheran states) are in fact Christian states, which they are just too bigoted to realize are Christian.
The bigotry of Rorty is intense and unthinking and unfounded. Rorty is convinced of his truth, and he still has many readers, each one dumber and more convinced than the next. It will take a miracle to keep them from wrecking the west, but we have seen such miracles before: like the night in December of 1989 when Ceausescu's empire fell, and monks ran through the streets of Bucharest, singing, "God Exists!"
Every day I pray that such a miracle will take place, and that once again, witnesses to the Lutheran tradition will fill our streets, and our institutions. But then again maybe they already do, and just don't realize it yet.
Friday, April 08, 2011
I was joking with students that some company should get busy and develop non-allergenic cats, so my family could have one. Then I wondered if anybody actually had already done this, so I googled.
There is a company called Allerca that specializes in breeding non-allergenic cats and dogs. For 22 thousand dollars you can have a cat that you can rub your face in even if that would normally require hospitalization. For about 8 grand, you can get a dog that you can play with but have no symptoms.
I confess that I secretly love music, but I don't understand it, and therefore rarely attempt to write about it. I don't have the vocabulary. I just sit back in awe of great singers, many of whom are apparently forgotten. One night in Finland when I was all alone, and didn't have a friend, this song came on the radio, by an obscure artist named Garnet Mimms. I remembered hearing the song as a child. It's hard to understand why it wasn't more of a success. There is an athleticism in the range of the voice, and some kind of lovely precision in the notes that I don't think is common. Many rock videos depend on the slutty visuals or depend on the cleverness of the lyrics, but this is dependent on a kind of masochistic love interest of the singer for some mysterious other, for whom he will always wait, taking whatever crumbs he can get:
Mimms recorded this one-hit wonder in 1963, but is still alive. Janis Joplin re-recorded the hit in 1970, but the song is only a shadow of Mimms' version. It's not as if she's a shabby singer. Her intensity is something else and it's generally conceded she was one of the greatest rock singers. It's still magnificent, but she doesn't have the architectural magnificence of Mimms. Also the backing music is I think more subtle in Mimms' band, an unknown band called The Enchanters, compared to the famous Full Tilt Boogie band. The little plucks of the guitar are poignant (remember that poigne, is French for knife) in the Mimms band, but I don't even know who played the guitar. With Mimms, I am never worried that he won't hit the notes. In Joplin's version, her voice is still good, but her vocal chords are blown from singing at the top of her lungs at gosh-darned hippy concerts probably while stoned out of her gourd. Mimms is more operatic, and in control of himself and the song. It is thus far more heart-wrenching to me.
The song itself has a strange S & M quality in it. There is glee that the other relationship is broken, but there is a sad assessment of the self that he (or she) can always be available. We're a long cry from the Garden of Eden here and the happiness of eternal companions of the soul. One can hear through the sobs the sense of lostness that the sixties brought in, and what the Sexual Revolution cost those who fought for it, as foot soldiers in the war that had nothing to do with anything that God would recognize as Love.
This is the kind of post that no one will respond to, but there it is.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Since I started blogging six years ago, I have never had an entire week that I didn't post anything.
This week however I had to do about a dozen things that I don't normally have to do:
I had to re-edit the campus literary magazine AGATE, reading through all the contents checking one last time for errors. I wrote to a number of people involved in the project, and arranged a final reception, and then have had it moved to a better location by another editor. That's fine. One of the photographs had to be reedited which meant tracking down the photographer and getting a better digital version.
I had to get 50 creative writing papers graded and returned.
Creative writing papers are harder to grade than essays because what's gone wrong is often so bizarre that I have to develop a whole new language for it. It's problems of tense, but also problems of point of view, and rapid shifts of tone and scene that throw me out of a story. It takes far longer to read one of these than it takes to read a freshman composition. Often there is a kind of genius underneath the bad mechanics. I want to help the student get to the story through all the rickety machinery of their grammar, spelling, etc. I looked at the phrase "by standards" today for several minutes before I realized the student meant, "bystander."
I helped a student get an article about a local diner into the newspaper O-Scene. This meant editing and taking photographs for the article. This was embarrassing because I went in the diner and asked the cook to pose while he was trying to cook breakfast for fifty diners. He did it, with good humor (he's a former philosophy student) but it took me forty minutes waiting for a lull in the action to work up my courage to ask.
I had to edit another story for a student. I got a local newspaper interested in her rewrite of Rumpelstiltskin while lunching with the editress, and had to spiff it up before sending. It's an online journal. I'll link to it when it comes out.
I wrote about a half dozen recommendation letters for students.
I had to go to a meeting to do with assessing our students and then write up a 7-page document about the data we received.
I had to get the car inspected, but the local garage just ignored me for hours on end then told me to come back the next day. I did and then they sent me to another garage to get new tires. I did, then came back, and the same garage ignored me for another few hours then told me to come back the next day. I was too embarrassed to just leave, so I didn't know what to do. Finally one of the mechanics said if I greased his palm with a twenty he might find time to help me.
I was pretty shocked by this suggestion (which wasn't as bold as I put it -- it was more like "Have you ever thought of giving someone a twenty in order to get preference?"). The answer was that I hadn't, and didn't know if it was an invitation to do so, or just the kind of idle question that I often ask here at the blog. After about an hour the garage owner said I should go to the dealer in the next town, and have it inspected there. Hours of my time had been spent trying to get it inspected. No one seemed to care much about this except me.
On Saturday, I was suddenly host of 30 ten-year old boys at my son's birthday party in the basement of a church. They went wild -- Nerf guns emerged and they started blasting one another. One kid fell on the rug holding his eye, crying. No goggles. I realized I had to shift the scene, and be much more pro-active if this was not to become a hospital scene out of Guernica. Then I got it down to a two-hour game of dodgeball (four balls) that reminded me of the battles before the Trojan walls. The only difference is that I was Zeus, and I said, no head shots. Kids were constantly appealing to me for mercy: I CAUGHT the ball, one said. Did not, another said. I didn't see it, I said, so you're both back in. He hit me in the head! Well, your head's so big what else is there to hit! Let them eat cake! My wife said. They scarfed it up and went home with all their injuries. My daughter drew wounds on their arms and faces with face paint to make it look like Night of the Living Dead, but actually there were no serious injuries and the kids had a great time.
I had to prepare to test the students on Marx but fell asleep at eight.
I am rereading the Bible, and got up to chapter 10 in Genesis. I will teach the Bible as lit in the fall, and want to go through it twice before that happens. I'm intrigued by the appearance of polygamy in the fourth or fifth generation. Adam and Eve never cheat on each other although they have 28 kids (who's counting after 850 years of marriage). But someone named Lemach I think bags two wives concurrently in what I think is the fourth generation.
A women's studies journal has almost accepted a paper so I had to get that ready. I actually didn't have time to do it this week, but I spent a lot of time thinking about it!
A poet named Julia Suarez came last week and I'm still thinking about her visit, as I try to get the next assignment ready for the Creative Writing students. It will be based on the Suarez poems (she's a Lutheran, and not Hispanic -- she's Spanish Spanish). Her poems are set in her grandmother's New Jersey garden.
Students are registering for fall, and so this means they drop in every few minutes to get their schedules ready. This is fine, but it generally means about a half hour. Many of the students are lost in terms of what they should do with their lives. So I try to get them steered straight, but I don't really know what is going to be out there in two years. I met a student at the Harriman mall who had been through Criminal Justice at Cobleskill to become a police officer and he ended up fitting shoes. Others go to become ready to teach, and they end up making coffee, or working in a grocery store. I'm really not sure what's left of our collapsing economy. Suffice it to say that getting a job is going to be very hard for everyone as industry continues to freefall and outsource. We are expected to lose 12,000 teachers across New York State over the next year. What would I do has nothing to do with what I think they should do. Some of them have good grades and remarkable brains. Some don't, or just have brains that are entirely unlike mine. Some don't enjoy reading and writing, but might enjoy throwing up drywall, whatever that is. Is there such a thing as wetwall?
If Obama would give up on Obamacare, I think the situation would right itself. But he won't.
He will ram it through using the resources of the judiciary if necessary, even if it means that no one has a job, and all the hospitals close and doctors themselves outsource to Nepal or whatever country still will take them and still has an economy. But we're probably still better off than the Japanese, at least for the nonce. What a beating. Or the Libyans.
3 of my four kids have had Strep this week which has meant trips to nurses and doctors.
Plus I've been rethinking the blog in idle moments such as taking the 7-flights of steps up to the office. One of the main things I do with the blog is write down stuff that I hope will drive others crazy. For some reason I like to yoke together things like Trump and Mother Theresa. It makes people spit sparks. I like that. Why do I like it? I'm not really sure, but I'm not content unless it happens. I never do this in actual life. I try to talk calmly to people. Writing is some kind of outlet. I can't stand argumentation in actual life and would never do it. (There are several reasons to spit sparks. One is that you've read something that's true that you don't want to believe is true. That, to me, is the only way to get people to spit sparks that has a positive rationale. Rudeness can also make people spit sparks, and perhaps it sometimes seems rude to say something that others would rather not hear. For instance, think of the Pope and Galileo. Or the Pope and Luther. Or Stalin and Solzhenitsyn. Just for starters.)
Not writing for a week ended up in a slow but patient discussion of the immigrant situation among other issues. I enjoyed it. Sorry to wreck it with this new post! We even got a few new contributors: a leftist pastor or two, and a new woman named Frankie, who also won our last poetry contest. Why don't all the other women come back: Helen, and WW, and Emmy, and Nicole? Are we too much of a fruitless Trojan war at the walls of nihilism for women to bother with us? I do think we often talk about women's rights here. I do think it's the most important thing. It's also why Bush and Laura are still asking us to fight the war in Afghanistan (I don't know why Obama is asking, but he did go into Libya -- and that poor woman who got raped by Gaddafi's soldiers does matter -- we do care, right?).
Welcome to all newbies, and welcome back to all the others. I don't know why you come here. I know why I do. I save time by dumping things here on the blog, otherwise I have to carry them around in my head, which makes me even more lopsided than I already am. I don't have time to sit down and have actual conversations with people in continuous ordinary time. This way I can still have conversations but they're spread out over the week, and spread all over the country (we used to have the Icelander but he's been gone for years) while in between I help kids with homework (my daughter wants to be an actress so is always practicing in local plays so I have to run her every which way to auditions), then the other kids are learning to read and write and do hard math problems (hard for me). Even if there's no economy left and we end up all living like cavemen and cavewomen, reading is still almost very fun, or why would you have gotten this far on my blog? Do you have an excuse for letting me suck your blood week after week?