April 3rd, 2010



OK ... so it was a buzzsaw of a week.

Yes, and I didn't manage to post in here at all.

I know, I suck ... I should be able to 24/7 without sleep, but I can't. And my damn back up computer is having issues now, so I spend a lot of time looking at grey screens while it tries to figure out what it's trying to do (which gives my brain the perfect opportunity to check out). I doubt that I've spent as much as 8 hours actually in a bed this week ... what sleep I'm getting is slumped over the keyboard.



And I never get caught up. Well, I almost got caught up yesterday, I got my tab bar cleared of about 50 job possibilities and got 20 resumes out the door. In the first three months of the year I got out 160 resumes. Has it done me a lick of good? Hmmmmmmm ....

Anyway, I did get three The Job Stalker posts up this week (which means that I'm THAT MUCH FURTHER BEHIND IN HERE) ... the one over there ===> is about the most recent two books, but I've made some changes there (and bitch a lot about publishing/publicity), so it's worth a peek, even if you read the reviews (yeah, right) in here.

You know it's bad when all I can think of are Joy Division lyrics, but my whole existence seems to be spiraling down into Something Must Break:
Something must break now
This life isn't mine
Something must break now
Wait for the time
Something must break
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Yeah, yeah, yeah ... like either of us CARE!

So here's what I guess is my lame-ass attempt to get somewhat caught up. Lucky you, eh?

Now, way back on Monday, I'd mentioned that I was going to be doing FOUR networking events in a 27-hour period, right? (I know, BIG assumption that anybody's paying that close attention!) Well the post over there ===> is the report on how that went. Like the classic Hunter Thompson quote suggests, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but I did get a full week's worth of networking in on one CTA "fun pass" (fortunately the first of the activities was "in the neighborhood" and not requiring paid transportation).

I am in a very pissy mood today ... and am stinking up Twitter with my bile. I guess I figured I'd come in here and share as well. Part of this is due to the aggravation I'm having about the Job Search (grrrrrrrrrrrrr), and part of it's about the damn iPad. I really wish that Bill Gates had kept his checkbook closed back in 1997 and let Apple fade off into the same computer company graveyard that had already taken Osborne, etc. The Cupertino Kool-Aid Kiddies who wet their pants at any new piece of over-priced under-featured proprietary hardware from Mr. Jobs are running around in circles about their new toy today ... and, frankly, I'd rather be stuck in a small-town airport for a long lay-over with a couple of bus loads of Moonies or Scientologists! Bleh.

Of course, it would have to be a magnificent bright clear day outside ... always nice to have the contrast to it being so damn dark and stormy in my HEAD. Oh, and if all the other crap wasn't twisting me up enough, last night a new version of FireFox installed itself (3.6.3), and it "has issues" with my system ... specifically, it freezes up when I try to upload anything (oh, like that picture over there), requiring either a Windows Task Manager bullet-to-the-head or a cut-the-power reboot. Sweet. I think I'm up to an even dozen re-start/re-boot cycles today. I am keeping score ... there will be a day of reckoning!

Anyway, clicky-clicky on The Job Stalker thing ... enough page views and maybe in a month or so I'll be able to have another cup of coffee on the Tribune's (half) pennies!

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Utopia ...

As I have frequently mentioned in this space, I've been a great fan of the Dover Thrift Editions books … largely as a vehicle for getting a just-under-$25 order up into the free shipping promised land. They also tend to be relatively short, which certainly helps with keeping up on my “72 non-fiction books a year” quest, especially in months where my other reading is either lengthy or dense (or something that I'm reading more “out of duty”, such as the business books that have passed through here of late, rather than “out of love”). The “nobler” benefit of the Dover books is that I'm able to “plug holes” in my education … filling in lapses where I'd read of something but hadn't actually ever gotten around to reading it.

Sir Thomas More's Utopia is a very good example of this, of course. A classic of English literature (although it was originally written in Latin), it is nearly 500 years old at this point, penned as a satire, primarily of the government (and reign) of Henry VIII. At this remove, the book suffers somewhat in that the modern reader (unless one is an enthusiast for that period of history) has only the thinnest context in which to frame the content, and what might have been acute barbs in 1515 are unlikely to even be recognized as sardonic salvos today.

The bulk of the book is a tale told by a traveler, one that More claims to have encountered while in Europe. The first part of the book is More describing his business there, and the various personages with whom he had contact, including one who introduces him to this traveler. The first part is rather hard to follow, being (I take it) more “setting the table” with a discourse of current views and attitudes, and features arguments from various positions. Frankly, not being much of a fan of either fiction or philosophy, there were several places here where it just became “blah, blah, blah” to me, and I wondered when the “travel book” was going to kick in. Obviously, this is more a failing on my part than on More and his book's, but the format was (to a modern eye) rather dissonant in several aspects.

Of course, the book would not have the fame it has were it not for the titular land, Utopia. This had been visited by the traveler, and the second part of the book is his relating his impressions and recall of the place and its people. It is pretty evident that Marx, Engles, etc. had read this in the course of developing their ideas, as much of what is presented as the Utopian way would sound very familiar to anyone listening to a Progressive agitator. The term “Utopia” comes from Greek roots suggesting “nowhere”, and so the concept of this “ideal society” is unobtainable in the real world. Again, how this relates to Henry VIII and his government, I can't specifically say!

I found it interesting that, among all the fantasy names that More gives to the Utopians' world, the name of their main God is easily recognizable … Mithras. As More ended up being executed for opposing Henry VIII's take-over of the English church, there must be something quite pointed in this usage, but, again at the remove of time and context from which I'm reading this, it only serves as a titillating clue for possible future consideration.

It is fascinating how much of what is attributed to the Utopians seems very familiar from the past century of our culture. While much of what they are presented as doing still seems quite odd to us, it must have been wholly bizarre to More's contemporaries. I'd be very interested in hearing how Leftist voices view this book, as certainly much of their idealized programs have echoes in Utopia … it is enticing to try to pick apart how much of Marx (and perhaps even Jefferson) might have been lifted from More's fantasy. There are several points which resonate with the Libertarian cause as well, so the vision here is hardly just a paleo-socialist screed.

Anyway, as this is a Dover Thrift Edition, Utopia is remarkably inexpensive in this version (which is a reprint of an 1885 edition) , with a cover price of just $2.00 … which makes it ideal for those on-line order situations where one has two books and a buck and change to make up to get up to free shipping!

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