Monday, January 1, 2018

The Top 17 of 2017

2018 is off to a good start: my router (or whatever it's called) went out last night, so I have no Internet at home, and no phone either (thanks, U-Verse!).  Luckily my cell phone works, though I'm not counting on it too heavily, because Sprint service went out in my area from Friday evening until Saturday afternoon.  Ah, Technology...  Anyway, a few places with wifi are open on the holiday, so I can try to begin the year with a post. 

I posted even less in 2017 than in 2016, breaking the record I set then.  But I think that traffic went up; it seemed that there were more posts with 200+ views than there were last year.  If so, that's encouraging.  I'll try to post more in 2018.

17. Those Who Manufacture History Get to Repeat It Over and Over Again.   What would happen if North Korea gave up its nuclear weapons?  Would the US stop threatening war against it?  I doubt it.

16. Eliminate the Fake Tribalism, Give Us the Real Tribalism.  I gripe again about misuse of the word "tribalism" by left and liberal writers.

15. It's All Fun Until Somebody Loses an Election.  On Patricia Miller-Roberts's recent book Demagoguery and Democracy, a fine introduction to critical thinking about politics.  Much better than NPR pundit Brooke Gladstone's attempt to cover the same subject.

14And Don't Hold the Guacamole.  On Carol Emshwiller's satirical fantasy novel Carmen Dog, in which women turn into non-human animals and other non-human animals turn into women.

13. Those Who Think They Remember History.  On liberals and progressives who think they're learning from history but are just repeating past mistakes.  With nostalgia for the right-wing propaganda I grew up on in the 1950s and 1960s. 

12Political Correctness Run Amok Is Destroying Our Country!  Some musings inspired by Donald Trump's Politically Correct complaint about Kim Jong Un being mean to him.

11At Least He Didn't Live to See Reddit.  One of several posts I wrote grumbling about the tendency to treat cultural complaints from decades ago as if they were predictions of the present, rather than complaints about conditions at the time.  This inability to think historically is how believers are able to read biblical material as "prophecy"; the funny part is that the people who are finding Sagan and Orwell prophetic mostly would sneer at people who believe in biblical prophecy.

10One Wants One's Gender-Neutral Pronoun.  This one didn't turn out as well as I hoped, but it still got some attention.  I'm still trying to think through the significance of gendered or non-gendered pronouns and their relevance to current controversies about identity.  Maybe I'll do another draft of this as a new post later on. 

9Theory Bombing.  I hope I'm not mistaken for one of the people who gripe about "theory" in academe; I think theory is just fine. The trouble is that so many people do theory badly.  I recently reread Frederick Crews's famous 1960s takedown of literary theory, The Pooh Perplex, as well as some hopefully satirical novels about academia from various eras.  Probably I'll have more to say on this topic before too long.  Meanwhile, I would be pleased if my new intervention, "theory bombing," were to catch on in theoretical writing.

8#ShesNotWithYou  As it turned out, the activist response to Trump's depredations has been stronger than I expected, and I don't mind being wrong about that.

7Zombie Liberalism.  Or, Slut-Shaming For Me, But Not For Thee.  It's uncanny how closely liberal and progressive political discourse has modeled itself this year on right-wing precursors.

6Christian Gematria.  I'm fascinated by the ways people construct for extracting authoritative meaning from texts and other unlikely sources.  (Also from the methods they find for not getting the plain meaning, or what seems to be the plain meaning, of a text.  But that's another story.)  Facebook is full of this sort of thing, but it's very old and very widespread, found among educated intellectuals as well as simple folk. 

5.  Cut!  This is one of my favorite posts from last year.  I chose it for Batocchio's latest Jon Swift Memorial Roundup.  But it already had gotten plenty of traffic by then.  I'd been meaning for some time to write about attitudes to circumcision, and then a Facebook post by Samuel R. Delany got me started.

4Sometimes I Feel Like This.  Don't bother clicking through on this one.  I shouldn't put up posts which are nothing but embedded Youtube videos, because (as here) Youtube videos have a tendency to disappear.  The clip showed two elderly people trying to walk up a down escalator, so slowly that they got nowhere.

3Faith Is the Substance of Things Hoped For.  This one is mainly a commentary on a good Politico article on how Trump voters feel about him now.  I was struck by how exactly the excuses they made echoes Obama fans' excuses for their guy while he was President.

2It's the Stupidity, Stupid!   One of my contributions to the ongoing debate over why people voted for Trump, inspired by a Mehdi Hasan article at The Intercept.

1Kicking Away Tiny Tim's Crutch Because He Voted For Trump.  This post had far and away the most views, because Naked Capitalism linked to it.  (Another blogger also picked it up -- thanks!)  It's not what I consider my best of the year, far from it, but I'm glad it got the attention.  Liberal pundit Eric Alterman, whom I've discussed here before, posted a shamefully inhumane, Trumpworthy tweet that drew a lot of criticism; I joined the dogpile.