The Top Five Diet Tricks That Actually Work!

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According to the FAIR Blog, only about 40 percent of people read the news beyond the headline. If true, this disturbs me both intellectually and as a writer. The headlines (and taglines for that matter) of an article are usually designed to stir up animus and/or anxiety in the reader, making them more likely to read the article attached, meaning that the title is generally the least accurate part of the whole piece.

Besides, as blogger, what good does that do me? I can compose eye-ball catching post titles all day long, but where’s the fun in that? And nothing in my soul is satisfied by baiting in readers with sugar-laden hooks.

Wander through the stories.
Ponder the questions.
Dive into the depths of the ocean of ideas.
Read, people, read!

Is The Hobbit a Socialist Tract?

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Gollum-Marx

“Well, that’s just like them. And I suppose they are skulking outside, and your job is to do all the dangerous work and get what you can when I’m not looking–for them? And you will get a fair share? Don’t you believe it! If you get off alive, you will be lucky.”
–Smaug, the dragon; The Annotated Hobbit, p. 280.
 
 
Is The Hobbit a Socialist tract?

The short answer is: er, um, maybe.

The long answer goes something like this:

Who is the villain in this story? It is the dragon, Smaug, yet his only transgression lies in hoarding a massive amount of treasure (i.e. capital). This is not really a crime, merely the habit of the wealthy in extremis. On some level, the dwarves know this despite making a claim to rightful ownership of the treasure. However, most telling, they hire a thief to “steal” the treasure right back, and theft implies one has no legal claim to something, which raises the question: why not hire a dragonslayer instead of a sneaky hobbit?

Ah, well, the dwarves did not believe in such a bourgeoisie definition of the word “theft”. They adhered to a classic form of Marxist doublethink: When the powerful take from the masses, that is theft; however, when the masses take from the powerful, that is the highest form of justice, righteous to the core. Therefore, the dwarves decided they needed someone innocent ideologically to lead them back to their self-proclaimed birthright, that is Bilbo, the hobbit, the manchild.

The dwarves set their route home to an intentionally difficult path in order to radicalize Bilbo and mold him to their one true vision. First, in merrily ransacking the hobbit’s domicile they sought to shake him from his complacency and sense of order. Then, hobbits being hard-working folk, they seduced him with their theories of labor exploitation. Once they set out onto the road, the trials came one upon the other. The trolls, goblins and other nasty creatures (representing the criminal underworld) put a worldly fear into Bilbo and opened his eyes to the evils that fester in laissez-faire systems. His encounter with Gollum (representing the corrupt intellectuals who support the ruling class) demonstrated to him that theft takes on many forms, and afforded his first successful attempt at pilfering treasure which demonstrated to him that survival often requires remorseless hands. And most importantly, the encounter with the elves (the aristocracy and their aloofness toward the suffering of the lower classes) pushed Bilbo toward righteous anger, one a perfect match for dragonfire.

(Incidentally, the one benevolent character in the story, Gandalf, has only sporadic impact on the narrative, pushing it forward at crucial points but receding into the background right afterward. He is a stand-in for God. Tho Socialist regimes tend toward the atheistic, Marxism is grounded in Old Testament scripture. The upshot philosophically of this dynamic is that God is meant to save us from ourselves then go away and leave us to our utopia.)

The final twist in the story takes place in the planless climax. When Bilbo arrives at the Lonely Mountain (Cuba?) the problem of stealing mounds of treasure out from under the nose of the dragon becomes, only then, starkly apparent. What is needed is Revolution! After prodding the dragon’s arrogance and vanity, the hobbit realizes that violence is inevitable and he must expose authoritarianism’s infinite conflagration of rage with the provoking promise of pilfering power! Only then do the peasants below rise up, and the heroic hunter makes the System itself the object of his vengeance.

In conclusion, only one thing is inarguable: Tolkien himself was not a Socialist, for his protagonist in the end returned to an idyllic life in a cozy hobbit hole. What Tolkien may ultimately have been trying to communicate is that Revolution makes for a rip-roaring tale; however, ultimately it only serves to make a mess of tea time.

A Question for Pro-Lifers

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If you knew that a fetus would someday become the next Adolph Hitler, would you be in favor of aborting it?

Okay, okay. That’s a stupid question. I blame the Huffington Post:

Bush did acknowledge that murdering the future German dictator before he had the chance to ignite World War II would be an act that could set in motion unknown consequences.

But the 2016 Republican presidential candidate remained emphatic that he would, in fact, kill Hitler — even if the future leader of the Third Reich were an especially cute baby.

“It could have a dangerous effect on everything else, but I’d do it — I mean, Hitler,” Bush said with a shrug.

Is the election over yet?

Ben Carson and Baron Munchausen

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Dr. Ben Carson addresses the Republican National Committee luncheon Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
 
 
I was reminded recently of the classic Terry Gilliam movie The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the story of the titular character and his theater troupe who venture to a town under military siege in order to, seemingly, tell tales of the Baron’s fantastic adventures, which turn out in the end to be much more than they seem. And then I ran across this blog post by Paul Campos asking whether Ben Carson is a pathological liar:

When one remembers that the point of Carson’s elaborate fabrication was to emphasize his exceptional honesty, the question arises whether Carson is a pathological liar, that is, someone who lies compulsively, and in ways that are so excessive and out of control that they seem unconnected to any practical purpose. (Carson’s real life story is compelling enough that concocting bizarrely improbable tales of this sort seems both totally unnecessary and potentially self-destructive).

It’s also possible that Carson is so severely narcissistic that he is actively delusional, and is no longer capable of distinguishing his fabrications about his past from his actual past. In other words, by now Carson’s transformation of a trivially embarrassing incident into an elaborate story of providential delivery and personal triumph may be so complete in his own mind that he has literally forgotten that he made it all up.

Perhaps then, Dr. Ben’s plan is similar the Baron’s: to save America through the power of fiction and fantasy. It might just work. Though personally, if we were to go that route, I’d prefer we elected Dr. Seuss. (Yes, I know he’s dead; what’s your point?)
 
 

Ten Things I’ve Learned from Reading (Opinion) Blogs

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–Everyone who disagrees with you is either crazy or an idiot.

–Popular entertainment retroactively causes all of the problems that it depicts.

–Corporate entrepreneurs are well compensated because they are big gamblers, er, risk-takers.

–The best way to create more income opportunities is to stop spending money.

–The persistence of ice and snow disproves the theory of global warming.

–The persistence of poverty disproves the theory of capitalism.

–Racism no longer exists, therefore anyone who accuses someone else of racism is himself a racist which proves the existence of racism, therefore no one is racist.

–You are a racist if you disagree with this statement.

–THE CAPS LOCK REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE IGNORED!!!

–@Twitter #izawesome #willforeverchangehow @we #doeverythinginourtinylittlelives #dontjudgemeuntilyouvewalkedamileinmyshoes #blahblah #endcharacterlimit

–Wait . . . is this number eleven?

–You’re only alive if people read everything single thing you post . . . . . . . . . . . .