The Conan of the Future

This afternoon devoured Riad Sattouf’s The Arab of the Future 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985-1987. May have more to say but I must get in that Riad and his buddies obsession with the 1982 Conan the Barbarian movie was an utter surprise hoot (Sattouf does a marvelous job of capturing the kids’ imitation of the Schwarzenegger scowl).

The Edgar Rice Burroughs reissued paperbacks had been thrilling me since Junior High School and the same Frazetta cover art drew me to Robert E. Howard’s Conan books when they first appeared. And it was a serious graduation — Howard was more modern, more violent, more weird, more fevered than ERB.

I outgrew Howard and his hero (who I started calling “Onan the Barbarian”) before the reissue series finished up. I needed fiction characters with interiors. I knew little about Howard’s life except that he was from Texas and most of his Conan material had appeared in the sacred Weird Tales. Everything came flooding back when I saw the captivating and wonderfully realized 1996 film The Whole Wide World (Vincent D’Onofrio performance of a lifetime). I immediately tracked down the Novalyne Price book One Who Walked Alone (more apt title, but I see why they didn’t use it). Both the film and the memoir are hugely recommended for their presentation of the value fantasy had for certain isolated souls trapped in the vast Western horizons. The Price book makes a more explicit case for Howard’s fatal fixation on his mother.

What Most Grinds Me About A.I. and Even Automation in General

Excellent piece, well worth perusing. But the assertion (which the article does not endorse) that has been popping up since I was a kid and has proven false every time is that “machines doing more of our work will mean more leisure time for everybody.” No, it just means people with less power will be out on their ear and have lot of “leisure time” with no income.

If We Don’t Talk About the Top Secret, It Doesn’t Exist

I’ve mentioned the mad mentality created by the Nuclear Era several times on this blog. Charlie has just done a piece that underscores how ongoing the insanity remains. I would particularly like applaud the nightmarish truth of the Garry Wills quote about the Ground Zero of Modern Secrecy. Wow, Another Fun Report

Information Needs To Make a Buck

Excellent essay on the unavoidable eclipse of “free” journalism. I’ve known this was coming since Amazon devoured Rock.com by starting to sell recordings. I would only add one of the sorriest culture currents I know: deep down, too many people think writing, even journalism, is not real work. As McArdle notes, they have no idea.

R.I.P. Milos Foreman

I agree with the nay-sayers about Cuckoo’s Nest in that Nicholson is terrible in the top-hero role (unfortunately, James Dean was dead) and agree with the plus-note people that Louise Fletcher redeems the foul, dated sexism of the concept of Nurse Rached. (Kidz, it was this: stuffy, norm-obsessed, perfectly domesticated women were holding freed spirits and wild men back. Like they had that power.)

So I gotta get on the bus again.

But gotta admit those were interesting times.