Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Welcome, New Readers! (About That C-SPAN2 Helen Rittelmeyer Thing...)

I'm a libertarian who has written, among other things, an essay on "Conservatism for Punks" (the slogan and at least occasionally the theme of this blog) for the book Proud to Be Right, which is a collection of essays edited by Jonah Goldberg.  In it, I espouse a sort of "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" worldview, urging that the government be kept small and unobtrusive to foster both prosperity and the space for experimental subcultures to thrive.  I was part of a panel discussion featuring contributors to that volume, during which I hit on a few of my favorite themes, including markets, punk, sci-fi-like technology, and skepticism about supernatural claims.  The whole ninety-minute discussion can be viewed here thanks to C-SPAN2 -- and you should certainly order the book, which, as the subtitle puts it, features twenty-three "Voices of the Next Conservative Generation." 
(You might also contact me about the monthly Manhattans Project social gatherings I host for politics and media people, now that I'm no longer organizing debates at Lolita Bar.  And you should read this blog, which has some broken links and other flaws at the moment, having recently migrated to Blogger, but I'll fix those things.  It has been a time of transition.)

But the brief clip from the panel discussion that went viral yesterday (you'll find a long list of links to that clip and to articles about it below the break) featured me criticizing my fellow contributor to that volume, Helen Rittelmeyer.  Though Helen broke up with me about three days before we found out we would be co-panelists, after a tumultuous two-year relationship, I was not (as a few of the less-careful online observers have implied) criticizing her for not dating me (a choice some 3.5 billion women make every day, after all).  Rather, in my comments, I alluded to the fact that Helen's ostensibly Catholic-conservative philosophy is actually an ironically-veiled, far darker philosophy, a sort of Nietzschean valorization of cruelty for the sake of cruelty that even Nietzsche would not endorse. 

The only manifestation of her philosophy that I revealed in my comments that was not already publicly known was her willingness to engage in cruel personal gamesmanship, as for instance by playing matchmaker for a couple, planning in advance to break them up later by seducing the male, in part to raise and dash the hopes of the female (an accusation that she did not deny in her later comments to Daily Caller, tellingly).  That action of hers is horrible enough by any conventional moral standard, including Catholicism, but Helen, if she's reading this, knows there are countless other examples I could give of the way in which her dark thinking is paralleled by dark behavior.  I don't want or intend to say any more about such examples, though, even though I know I risk being thought by many to be merely griping about an ex for light and transient causes. 

Rather, because I believe in loyalty and in the possibility of redemption, it is my sincere hope that Helen -- instead of making revealing jokes about wanting to beat me up (as in her statement to the Daily Caller, which really got the viral ball rolling, to mix metaphors) or feeling that she is the put-upon party -- will seize this opportunity to examine her life and adopt a code of ethics and personal behavior rooted in kindness, not another layer of irony disguising darkness and cruelty.  Reform, Helen.  Reform.  Make this the most positive turning point in your life and everybody wins. 

Some think me a bully, but in fact I have shown incredible restraint (and a generous willingness to take a small reputational hit by appearing cruel myself), engaging in a sort of public intervention in perhaps the only way open to me that is likely to alter Helen's behavior.  Nothing would make me happier than to learn that it had been effective, that she was thankful for it, and that her life had been transformed for the better on multiple fronts (rather than that she'd simply begun urging people to take her "side" over mine, a battle that would not likely leave her looking good in the panopticon of public examination, if either of us were pressured into more detailed explanations).  I really don't want more beating up of Helen, though, and hope to move on to fresh topics tomorrow, both online and in my head.  Please stick around. 

And now, just a handful of yesterday's dizzying array of links (and I'm not even on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking systems where I assume much of the action is).  Most of these feature the controversial clip (which came from about 40-47 minutes into the full ninety-minute program linked above):

Monday, October 18, 2010

Harsh Mistress

The Cato Institute is doing a David Boaz-moderated book forum at noon this Thursday, the 21st, on Robert Heinlein, the libertarian who wrote, among other things, the overtly anarcho-capitalist novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.  There is such a thing as a free book luncheon (I had to say that, obviously).  As a good utilitarian, I actually find myself wishing L.A.-dwelling Brian Doherty could be there more than that I could be there. 

I will be in NYC and will miss the event, though I was in DC the week before last to appear on that panel for Proud to Be Right that can (and should) be viewed here, and I'll be in DC again this coming Saturday for a gathering of my fellow Phillips Foundation Fellows.

It's not as though nothing happens in NYC, though: Tonight, you can join me at the monthly Manhattans Project social gathering of politics and media people I organize (third Monday of each month, 7-10pm, Langan's at 47th just east of 7th), and though I'm no longer organizing debates at Lolita Bar, you can catch a bigtime professional debate put on by Intelligence Squared U.S. on Tuesday the 26th about whether big government is stifling the American spirit, with both Arthur Laffer and Phil Gramm representing the good side.  (Of course, that's forty bucks, whereas we'll let you into Langan's for free.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Span, Slash, Discuss

Hey, now you can see me online right here, one of my legions of well-wishers informs me, participating in that C-SPAN2 panel about the awesome and bang-for-your-buck-maximizing book Proud to Be Right, in which my "Conservatism for Punks" essay appears.  And it airs on cable one more time, at 10pm tonight.

If that panel video isn't scary enough, you'll soon have other frightening material to watch: Slash, formerly of Guns N' Roses, is starting a horror film production company.  Twisted Rob Zombie fans might be just a bit happier this Halloween season after hearing that another rocker is turning to the filmic arts.  On a related note, Nick Cave is reportedly writing a remake of The Crow, which sounds apt.  (Some people love the idea of a man who comes back from the dead to promote justice, including one, possibly two, of the panelists in the C-SPAN2 video above.)

But if you want more up close and personal discussion of politics and media, why not join us tomorrow night at Langan's bar/restaurant (47th just east of 7th, 7-10pm) for the monthly Manhattans Project gathering, which is, at least for now, the only monthly bar gathering I'm organizing?  E-mail me if you want to be on the e-mail list to be reminded about it (always third Monday of the month, barring the collapse of society), or just show up. 

P.S. I've said it before, but: if Rob Zombie, formerly of the band White Zombie, likes remaking old horror movies, isn't it time he did White Zombie?  With cameo by Christian rockers Insane Clown Posse, of course.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

C-SPAN2 Panel First Airs at 7:30pm Eastern (not 8) Tonight (plus: Much Context)

I.

One more change on that broadcast of the panel of contributors (including me) to the book Proud to Be Right: according to C-SPAN2's official webpage for the event, their Book TV airings of the panel will now start tonight (Sat. the 16th) at 7:30pm (not 8 as previously announced), and it looks like it will still re-air tomorrow (Sun. the 17th) at 9:30am and 10pm, but check that webpage to be sure. 

My thanks to Chuck Blake for noticing the change, as if he hadn't done enough work in the past several days helping me resurrect ToddSeavey.com. 

It has been a tumultuous time, as many of my acquaintances know, with the falling-out with my co-panelist Helen Rittelmeyer, a trial run of daily episodes of Freedom Watch, the transfer of my blog over to Blogger, the end of the Debates at Lolita Bar (mainly for time reasons), the release of my essay in Proud to Be Right, the C-SPAN2 panel itself, and another ailing Seavey family dog and, more important, Seavey family grandmother (both doing all right now) all hitting at about the same time. 


II.

Of the aforementioned falling-out, which online I've mainly just alluded to but which my acquaintances know I could say much more about were I a less merciful man, I will just say that it was not the sole reason for my comments on the C-SPAN2 panel about Helen, which, just to avoid keeping those of you without that channel in suspense, revolve largely (and very circumspectly, all things considered) around the fact that her often brutal-sounding philosophy really is, when you dig through the layers, a brutal philosophy, genuinely aimed at hurting people, which has spillover effects in practice in everyday life, as one perhaps should have anticipated, but who thinks people are being serious when they praise cruelty, especially if people are about 5'4" and look like harmless librarians? 

Helen often writes, in a fashion veiled by irony, of course, about thinking suffering yields excellence and about thinking empathy is overrated.  What she may be genuinely psychologically unable to perceive is that empathy, for most of us, is the closest thing the real world has to telepathy -- it's what makes most of us, thank goodness, natural utilitarians (even if few people use that term), made happy by others' happiness in the world's most wonderful ongoing upward spiral of mutual aid, a process all too quickly halted by the introduction of a few sadists who derive their joy from dragging that spiral back downward into animalistic cruelty and petty vandalism (in her case, I owed the world -- and her and me -- a public warning, especially since for some people public shaming is the only viable substitute for the empathy-driven morality on which most of us rely). 


III.

Of course, if you were Mr. Spock, ostensibly near-emotionless, you could use actual telepathy instead of empathy to discern what ails others and how to please them -- usually a happy process, as suggested by Spock's alarm when he mindmelds and instead of happiness and harmony finds: "Pain!" (the dance remix version, pointed out to me by Andrew Corsello).  Of course, some sadists might consider that incident the finest use Spock ever made of his telepathy (especially the notoriously sick literal sadists of DC, a friend with kinky connections tells me -- no surprise that a place built around wielding power is genuinely turned on by power, not just by tableaux suggestive of power, as with your garden-variety perverts elsewhere). 

By the way, I never thought I'd find myself typing these words, but: there is a glut of kitschy retro sci-fi on the off-off-Broadway stage these days, often in serialized form, with mid-century-inspired robots and zombies and the like.  It pains me to say it (pain!), but: enough already, people.  Still, I do not begrudge L.B. Deyo the aesthetic victory he won recently when the character he'd been playing in one such theatre serial (the cream of the crop in this subgenre, Intergalactic Nemesis, out of Austin, TX) was replaced by a robot after L.B. had to leave the production...and in a lovely homage, the robot was named L.B.D.O.  (Come to think of it, they could nickname the construct "Libido" for faster pronunciation, but perhaps that's inappropriate.) 


IV.

I should note that, yes, the 7:30pm C-SPAN2 panel does conflict with one of the four airings of this weekend's episode of Freedom Watch -- a humdinger of an episode featuring Jesse Ventura, Christine O'Donnell, and more.  But with the Freedom Watch episode airing four times this weekend and the C-SPAN2 panel airing three times, I hope you can catch both, whether tonight you pick O'Donnell vs. the establishment or Todd vs. Helen. 

Either way, by weekend's end you should be able to see the ritual confrontation with a witch -- disguised as an old-fashioned Catholic moralist -- to whom I am tied via romance, conservative politics, and punk -- all topics I'm tempted to give a rest for a while after today, so bear with me if it's all gardening tips and discussion of balsa wood sailing models from here on out.  It's been a purging sort of time. 

There are countless topics to explore.  And in the real world, best understood through sober rationality -- by economics and science -- there is an election to watch in just over two weeks, after all.  As I say in my panel remarks, I hope it will not only bring us closer to fiscal sobriety but closer to a conservative movement (and broader culture) rooted in econ instead of delusional religious claims.  Why not kill many birds with one stone?  I am getting very tired of those damn birds. 


V.

Since I mentioned punk, some rock videos may be in order, and I just noticed

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cat Anarchist, Punk Conflicts, and Education

Might this cat be an anarchist?  (That cat video, which may be one of my favorites of all time, was pointed out by Lainie Frost.) 

If the cat is an anarchist, he may want to attend tonight's Dead Kennedys concert (and will likely enjoy the crowd-surfing) -- but it appears I will instead be partying with co-workers and later with Yalies -- as opposed to sparring with a Yalie, which you can see me do on C-SPAN2 Sat. 8pm and Sun. 9:30am and 10pm, remember.  I was, as some know, painstakingly merciful and circumspect in the process, even at the risk of appearing otherwise.  I am good; some others, unfortunately, are truly evil.

And speaking of Bad Religion, they are among the rock bands whose members include holders of Ph.D.s, as I learned from this article pointed out to me by Dr. Gil Ross, who is not only the second in command at ACSH, where I used to work, but also the swell guy who gave me my badass "DDT" t-shirt recently (at the release of the documentary 3 Billion and Counting), reminding one and all how to end bedbug infestations and millions of deaths from malaria alike.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Make That C-SPAN2 -- and If You Don't Get It, Just See Me at the Bar Tonight

Aside from tonight at Lolita Bar (8pm), where I'll take on any and all critics in the audience, the only time I've actually been a debater at that bar in the past five and a half years (that is, during my stint as organizer of the debates, as opposed to the preceding three years attending and arguing), believe it or not, was the time in 2005 that I argued that America is a meritocracy -- and lost

And as it happens, the co-panelist I spar with most on that book panel that's airing this weekend (NOTE: ON FRICKING C-SPAN2, I NOW REALIZE, NOT EVEN C-SPAN PROPER, with previous entries corrected accordingly), Sat. 8pm, Sun. 9:30am and 10pm, is very much opposed to the idea of meritocracy, the sort of complaint that can separate the traditionalist conservatives from the libertarians as easily as the egalitarian liberals from the libertarians, apparently.  And the rebellion against meritocracy may be growing, according to the this column (which is at least insightful enough to admit that the likely populist alternatives would be disastrous).  Odd that Obama becomes the poster child for merit in this account, but that's a side issue. 

On an unrelated note, here is an account of a crime involving a flag and a fake hippo.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bar Brawlers, C-SPAN2 Schedule for Real, More

As it weren't showbiz enough that I'm appearing live at Lolita Bar, defending myself against any and all skeptical questions, tomorrow night (Thur. the 14th, 8pm, basement level, 266 Broome St.) and appearing on C-SPAN2 this weekend (OFFICIAL BROADCAST TIMES: Sat. 16th at 8pm Eastern, Sunday 17th at 9:30am and 10pm, only one of those conflicting with an airing of Freedom Watch, so you needn't miss that) with that panel featuring me, my ex Helen Rittelmeyer, Ashley Thorne, and our editor Jonah Goldberg (whose essay anthology Proud to Be Right we all appear in, me with my essay "Conservatism for Punks")...

•they've found a lost Stanley Kubrick movie;

•more troublingly, the Wachowski...uh...Siblings (Larry is really Lana at long last, apparently) are doing a movie about Iraq, Bush, and gayness, plus sci-fi;

•and I contend that seeing this film title on movie marquees across America is strange.

Lest I neglect to include a punk note, though, here's Sesame Street doing "Rebel L."  See you tomorrow night -- and on C-SPAN, not to mention bookstore shelves.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ten Nerd Notes on God and Space

1. I alluded yesterday to my "No gods, no masters" comment on last week's panel (for the book Proud to Be Right, in which I have an essay, as you'll see on C-SPAN2, I'm told -- and in the meantime, don't forget THIS COMING THURSDAY'S 8PM "TODD SEAVEY VS. THE WORLD" MAN-VS.-AUDIENCE THROWDOWN AT LOLITA BAR). 

Ironically, I first heard the "No gods, no masters" slogan (which originated with Margaret Sanger and was picked up by punks) from Sam Goldman, punk turned blogger at the religious conservative magazine First Things (where the co-panelist with whom I sparred most last week was once a summer intern, for all the good it did her moral development). 

2. And that makes two or three times last week that my life crossed paths with First Things because Brian Finnerty -- who gave me a tour of the New York headquarters of Opus Dei a couple months ago and argued with me about the "cosmological anthropic principle," the idea that the universe is implausibly fine-tuned for the development of life -- told me last week that he'd mentioned our argument to an editor at First Things, who in turn suggested another staffer there write about the anthropic principle, yielding this post on the First Things website.  I work in mysterious, indirect ways. 

(I will just say briefly that, like Richard Dawkins, I take the view that any system that permitted replicating entities of some kind might eventually look as glorious as what we think of as life.  Some sort of strategizing will tend to confer a competitive advantage upon some replicators, so someday you might well see something resembling life and sentience in almost any "competitive" [that is, characterized by differential survival rates] system, even a system in which carbon as we know it doesn't exist.  We can't be sure our universe is the only impressive outcome possible -- and after all, even this universe has barely any life of which we are aware, compared to all that dark, cold emptiness.) 

3. Adam Braff informs me that one group of people who believe in a divine plan, oddly enough, may be the obscene band Insane Clown Posse, which would make them the second most depraved and violence-loving cabal of Christians of whom I am aware.  Their lyrics have inspired horrible "Juggalo crimes," after all.  (But then, would we condemn the book The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs simply because some of its readers were inspired to horrible actions?)

4. Meanwhile, in space: aliens are no doubt eager to meet the newly-appointed U.N. ambassador to outer space, tasked with greeting extraterrestrials.  After the U.N. has finished creating peace on Earth and preventing the temperature from rising one degree a century from now, I guess we'll be ready for grander challenges.

5. The U.S. military isn't waiting for the U.N. to greet the aliens, of course.  A few ex-military men at the National Press Club claim they've already seen UFOs hovering over American nuclear missile sites and shutting down the missiles.  The truly baffling part of this phenomenon is why the press cared about this particular announcement, when every year brings some new group of cranks, with no more or less evidence than this bunch, announcing that they know the secrets of the UFO conspiracy.  It's attention-seeking nonsense, not so unlike the cottage industry of guys claiming to have been in the CIA and to have been privy to all the terrible secrets, if you will but buy them a beer. 

6. If people are so eager to find space aliens, whether Martian or Heaven-sent, I suggest changing the named of the (legit) sky-watching project called SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) to YETI (the Yearning for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). 

7. On the other hand, it's nice to hear scientists have been finding more Earthlike planets out there, including one about the same temperature and size as us a mere twenty lightyears away.  If they actually do find extraterrestrial life, even just something akin to moss, and I miss the news by only a few decades, that will admittedly blow.  Unless it means I get to avoid the apocalyptic clash of civilizations and/or virus strains.  Not all aliens are as good for us as Superman.

8.  In the spirit of Columbus Day (the pro-exploration part, not the pro-conquest part), here's an exploration-related stumper: Austin Petersen drew my attention to this article about NASA space probes encountering some sort of resistance to their movement at the edge of the solar system.  Clearly, space hates our junk.   (Or, as is pointed out by my levelheaded, science-loving friend Chuck Blake -- who was invaluable in rebuilding ToddSeavey.com at its new Blogger location, though I admit I have some more housekeeping to do -- it could be something as simple as unexpected meteoroids instead of a whole new antigravity force, and we should wait and see whether Pioneer 11 encounters the same problem as 10, and whether V'Ger, er, rather, the Voyagers do.)

9. Dimitri Cavalli informs me which jacket one should wear if a space mission goes well.

10. And the site Op-Toons has created a video inspired by the mounting popularity of Admiral Ackbar and the mercifully decreasing popularity of taxes and spending.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Panels, Police, and Islam

If you can't wait for C-SPAN2 to air the Proud to Be Right panel at which I defended "Conservatism for Punks" and announced that there is no God, this dramatic clip (a mere twenty-eight seconds long) of Ayaan Hirsi Ali at an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate noting the role of Islam in her struggles might do as a substitute.  And here's an oddly engaging clip (several minutes long) of a Christian videographer in Dearborn, MI complaining about the purportedly Islam-favoring police there.

Some of the neocons I partied with last night might not necessarily see the need for this next caveat, but: with some 3 million Muslims living peacefully in the U.S. for decades, even an atheist like me thinks it's unreasonable to treat all incursions of that religion (even a mosque near Ground Zero) as a creeping threat, but it is also true that for some bad eggs it is the primary motivation and thus worth studying.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Contract from America vs. Pledge to America

Pay close attention now.  This year saw the unveiling of two documents mimicking the 1994 Contract with America (which emphasized decentralization and internal congressional reform); the Tea Party-generated Contract from America (which is pretty straightforward) and the Republican Party-generated Pledge to America (which features several bits of weasel language, unsurprisingly), the Pledge meant to steal some of the "Contract from"'s thunder.

Check it out.

The Contract from America calls for Congress to:

1. Identify constitutionality of every new law.

2. Reject emissions trading.

3. Demand a balanced federal budget.

4. Simplify the tax system.

5. Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality.

6. Limit annual growth in federal spending.

7. Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010.

8. Pass an "All-of-the-Above" Energy Policy.

9. Reduce Earmarks.

10. Reduce Taxes.


Not perfect, but a good start.  By contrast, the (far longer) Pledge to America says that if the GOP retakes Congress, it will aim for:

1. A repeal of the health-care reform.

2. A spending freeze for most domestic programs, exempting some programs for seniors, such as Social Security, and others that affect veterans and the military.

3. Extending the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 including those for those earning over $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples).

4. A ban on any federal funding for abortions.

5. A hiring freeze on all federal agencies except those necessary to national security.

6. A requirement that Congress post all bills online three days before a vote.

7. A requirement that lawmakers cite the specific constitutional authority that enables the legislation.

8. A ban on trials on U.S. soil for detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay.

9. A hold on all unspent funds authorized as part of last year's stimulus bill or the 2008 TARP legislation

10. A tax deduction for small businesses on up to 20% of their business income.


(And note that Kevin McCarthy just died on Sept. 11, 2010 yet is credited with writing the text of the Pledge just in the past few weeks, which is clearly suspicious -- possibly a hint of alien activity.  Oh, wait.  The actor from Invasion of the Body-Snatchers is not the same Kevin McCarthy who wrote the bulk of the Pledge.  Never mind.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blood on the Floor, Craziness on the Calendar

Carl Paladino, sort of punk in his own metaphorically-violent way, wants to appoint a blue-ribbon tax cut committee to recommend ways to roll back New York taxes, which is quite a contrast to his rival for New York governor, Andrew Cuomo's stated intention of merely slowing the rate of tax increases. 

Paladino was also a guest on Freedom Watch last week -- and who knows what wonders you'll see if you watch this weekend (first airing on FBN at 10am Eastern tomorrow and repeated three times over the weekend)?  It might just be our truthiest episode yet, to borrow an adjective from Stephen Colbert in this month of his March to Keep Fear Alive (one of my favorite Colbert fans is visiting town this weekend, so I have Colbert on the brain -- as opposed to on the show, I should say, lest I tease anyone). 

Over the past couple days, I was in DC, where Colbert will hold his march in three weeks, and they were strange days, I have to confess, which saw me doing that Proud to Be Right book release panel (apparently not airing on C-SPAN2 yet, for which I apologize), conferring with a military psychiatrist, watching astonishing footage of "wingsuits" in flight, having contact with three exes, meeting folks tied to a powerful corporation (during which I bumped unexpectedly into one of the exes' exes, leading to a strangely brief conversation about whether he approves of her behavior), hastily faxing a letter back to NYC meant to keep an acquaintance from being thrown out of the country, coping with professional intrigue, typing with my thumbs a lot (something I'd avoided for a decade or so), communicating with ladies, reading about Christopher Hitchens' mother committing suicide (more on that in my November Book Selections of the Month entry), and finally returning to NYC to (A) discover that reclusive history scholar Martin Sklar (author of my September Book Selection The Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism) has sent me a massive package of his writings and even an econ-themed novel by his wife and (B) be interviewed by an online publication about my life and philosophy, such as they are (remember that all the world is free to attack them both at Lolita Bar on the 14th at our 8pm "Todd Seavey vs. the World" event).  This, mere days after being interviewed for, I kid you not, an Ayn Rand-themed performance art piece, but more on that a couple months from now. 

Things have been a bit surreal.  There was also some alcohol in there somewhere.  But I'm calming down now.  Feeling a bit more stable.  Looking forward to next month's penultimate Harry Potter movie.  Ah, there we go.  Back to normal.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Basement Bar Battle vs. Underground Mine Accident

One week from tonight, on Thur., Oct. 14, it's "Todd Seavey vs. the World" (8pm at Lolita Bar, 266 Broome St.), as I take on every person with a question or complaint about me who dares to show (perhaps some who catch me and the whole fun-filled Proud to Be Right panel on C-SPAN2 Book TV this weekend or next -- sorry for not knowing yet when that airs).

But my life will still likely be superior to those of those miners in Chile who are alive but still stuck underground months later.  Beats death, I suppose.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CORRECTION: Georgetown Tonight, but C-SPAN2 Book TV About a Weekend or So Later

They're taping it at 7:30 tonight, I gather, but not showing it until a half-week or week and a half later, in one of their most-likely-weekend Book TV slots.  Sorry to tease.

You'll just have to come see it live at Georgetown (White-Gravenor Hall, Room 201A) tonight if you can't wait.

Todd in Georgetown (and on C-SPAN2)

OK, it's official: the Georgetown panel I'm on with Jonah Goldberg, Helen Rittelmeyer, and Ashley Thorne (7:30pm Wednesday) is supposed to be taped by C-SPAN2, so try watching that if you can't be there.  Again, we'll be talking about the book Proud to Be Right, edited by Jonah and containing essays by the rest of us, such as my "Conservatism for Punks."

If you can't watch that, you might find it satisfying to see two characters (at the very end of the third clip down here) from the noirish comedy TV series Bored to Death claiming to be libertarians...

...or to see two characters from Mad Men claiming to be Ayn Rand fans, as pointed out to me by Austin Petersen (and coincidentally or not, that fellow playing Don Draper will reportedly literally be a Superman in two years -- and Zack Snyder, I'm delighted to hear, will direct).

I am not exactly Don Draper but can be seen here on that recent booze cruise, and I think I'll wear the same outfit on the C-SPAN panel, at the risk of looking stale.  I'm supposed to be conservative.  Here's birthday girl Laura who had the booze cruise.  Here's her friend Valerie Bronte, who sharp-eyed readers will recognize as an egg donor from one of our Debates at Lolita Bar.  And so on

Finally, here's a line from blogger Eve Tushnet, describing the book Decadence and Catholicism, that sounds uncannily like a description of one of the people mentioned above in this entry:

Hanson sometimes writes like two specific kinds of undergraduate: the Objectivist who thinks people only ever act out of self-interest (in Hanson's case, "pleasure"), and the *~*edgy*~* pomo for whom pursuit of truth is only interesting if it can be cast as an especially complex form of lying.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Selection of the Month: "Proud to Be Right" edited by Jonah Goldberg

ToddSeavey.com Book Selection of the Month (October 2010): Proud to Be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation edited by Jonah Goldberg


Well, how could I not recommend the book -- ON SALE TODAY!! -- that contains my essay "Conservatism for Punks"?  But it also features such items of interest as:

•"Splendid Isolation" by Michael Brendan Dougherty
•"The Consistency of Gay Conservatives" by James Kirchick
•"Seeing the Light in Seventh Grade" by Evan Coyne Maloney
•"Man Up" by Katherine Miller
•"The Leptogonians: Growing Up Conservative in a Disrupted Decade" by James Poulos
•"The Smoker's Code" by Helen Rittelmeyer
•"Ducking the Coffins: How I Became an Edu-Con" by Ashley Thorne
•"Reading Rand: Discovering the Right to Fail" by Joi Weaver

and more.  It's a fascinating array of twenty-two essays all dealing, in their diverse ways, with the problem of how to be conservative in a world that isn't and where it's not entirely clear anymore what the word means.  It may well be a glimpse of the fault lines and battles ahead, too, so find out what's in store.  And at the very least, find out what I mean by "Conservatism for Punks."

And Jonah Goldberg, Helen Rittelmeyer, Ashley Thorne, and I will be talking about it all tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct. 6, 7:30pm) at Georgetown University, in White-Gravenor Hall, Room 201A in room 201A, easily reached by Metro and shuttle bus or other means.  C-SPAN2 may carry it as well and will say so here day-of if they do.

As a conservative of sorts, though, today I'd like to take an unexpected moment to turn our gaze away from punk and look back at our noble forebears, the makers of classic rock:

•Lainie Frost informed me recently of the death of Lynyrd Syknyrd, or rather of the teacher with a name resembling that one who inspired the band, some of them his students, to call themselves that.

•That indie-modernist -- yet conservative -- musician friend of mine, Hannah Meyers, performs tonight, Tue., Oct. 5th, 9-10:30pm, at O'Connell's Pub at Broadway and 108th (and again Thur., Oct. 21st, 6-7pm at Caffe Vivaldi at 32 Jones St.), but I can't see her tonight because, unpunk as it may sound, I'm going to see Roger Waters perform The Wall at Madison Square Garden.  Then again, Bob Geldof is sort of alternative rock, and he played Pink.  (Would Jonah consider The Wall liberal fascism?)

•I am pleased to hear (from Nick Slepko) that the movie I Love You, Man, though I have no intention of seeing it, turns the band Rush into a manly bonding touchstone, leading to the band members actually appearing, playing themselves.

They're Objectivists, you know.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Georgetown My Destiny, Maybe C-SPAN2 as Well (Wednesday)

Georgetown University is where I'll be on that panel with Jonah Goldberg, Helen Rittelmeyer, and Ashley Thorne (Wed., 7:30pm, White-Gravenor Hall, Room 201A, possibly seen on C-SPAN2, with it listed here day-of if so), about the book Proud to Be Right, containing my "Conservatism for Punks" essay.  Attendance is mandatory.

Georgetown is also, like many universities, just barely-nominally Catholic, but that's excuse enough to pick now as the time for me to mock the Church, for things like this:

•If you're the sort of person who thinks the Church has "high standards" for declaring things miracles and making people saints, consider the fact that a present-day man's relief from back pain (while he was praying to nineteenth-century Cardinal Newman) has put Cardinal Newman on the fast track to sainthood.  Pretty weak, Catholics, pretty weak. 

•Nonetheless, the Church retains enough pull even in the UK to result in a Catholicism-mocking ice cream ad being yanked.  That's not to say I find the related British obsession with nun jokes funny. 

In unrelated news, I wonder if British H.G. Wells fans would find it amusing that there is literally a Morlock soldier on trial for murder.  I suppose that's not funny, either.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Las Vegas -- It's a Trap

•I mentioned Atlantic City in yesterday's entry, which reminds me that Las Vegas just keeps getting more dangerous as its fortunes sink amidst the financial crisis, and the accidental creation of a "death ray" there in the form of light powerfully reflected from an unfortunately-shaped hotel fa├žade is the latest evidence.  (I wonder if the hotel leaves notes with guests saying "Sorry about the death ray, but we hope you enjoyed etc.")

•One fellow who knows when he's up against a death ray trap, of course, is Admiral Ackbar, and I was pleased to hear about the ongoing campaign to make him the official mascot of Ole Miss.  (And remember, though I'm not visiting Ole Miss anytime soon, I am at Georgetown this coming Wednesday at 7:30pm on a panel at White-Gravenor Hall, Room 201A.)

•One practical way to avoid the trap of Las Vegas is to just stay at home and win millions in the lottery twice, which some oddly-lucky fellow apparently did recently.  I'm so used to thinking of the lottery as an irrational expenditure probability-wise that for a moment I was surprised to hear that the guy kept playing after winning the first time, but I shouldn't have been, of course.

•Speaking of schemes to avoid work, unions look awful in this Daily Show clip pointed out to me by Chuck Blake.  Already, the vile teachers unions are writhing over their depiction in the documentary Waiting for Superman, the film that redeems the existence of the guy who directed An Inconvenient Truth.  Thanks to him, we may have to live in a world without carbon, but at least it will have charter schools. 

•And in other video news, Christine Ames informs me that Jared Harris, who she thinks resembles me, will play the evil Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes sequel.  I will admit he has the look of a genius about him, but surely not an evil one.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

EVENTS: Todd in print (Oct. 5)...in DC (Oct. 6)...in combat (Oct. 14)...in another bar (Oct. 18)...and in a new blog format (now)!

My apologies for being aloof (and for having an as yet skeletal, rebooted blog) the past week or so, but big things are afoot, including the following items to put in your calendar, just for starters:


Tue., Oct. 5: The Jonah Goldberg-edited anthology Proud to Be Right hits shelves, including essays by me, Todd Seavey (called "Conservatism for Punks," of course), plus twenty-one other "Voices of the Next Conservative Generation," among them acquaintances of mine (or at least people I've met) such as Michael Brendan Dougherty, James Kirchick, Evan Coyne Maloney, James Poulos, and Helen Rittelmeyer.

Wed. Oct. 6, 7:30pm: Meet four contributors to the volume -- yours truly (Todd Seavey), Jonah Goldberg, Ashley Thorne, and Helen Rittelmeyer (yes, ’08-’10 ex-girlfriend Helen Rittelmeyer) all on a panel at Georgetown University's White-Gravenor Hall, in room 201A under the auspices of the Georgetown Republicans (here are further directions).  This will mark the first time Helen and I have spoken since she dumped me at the end of July, about three days before we learned who would be on the panel, so be there to share this magic moment.  Her essay is about loyalty.

Thur., Oct. 14, 8pm: It's "Todd Seavey vs. the World" (like the Scott Pilgrim movie but preferably without the evil exes) at Lolita Bar (266 Broome St. at Allen St. on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, one block south of the Delancey St. F J M Z subway stop).  After reading a few excerpts from my "Conservatism for Punks" essay, I will not merely answer questions about that essay but will take one challenging question (brief and with no follow-up) from every audience member with an objection to any element of my thinking, whether political, philosophical, aesthetic, personal, scientific, or otherwise, and I will defend myself -- successfully.  Don't miss it.

(And the Dead Kennedys are playing Irving Plaza the next night, fittingly, so I could be talked into that, too -- unless they're touring without Jello Biafra, which would just make no sense.)

Mon., Oct. 18, 7pm: After that climactic Lolita event, the political discussion and fallout continues at Langan's bar/restaurant (47th just east of 7th), where on the third Monday of each month I host the Manhattans Project social gathering for political and media people.  E-mail me at my first name followed by last name at Earthlink dot net if you want to be on the e-distribution list to be notified about those ongoing events (separate from the Lolita events) and aren't already.

The future: The refurbished blog (bear with me) will quickly grow in complexity and classiness, regaining