The Fall of Gondolin


Christopher Tolkien has published what appears to be the final book written by his father, J.R.R. Tolkien. No one expected to see The Fall of Gondolin, so it is quite a surprise:

While this story may be the last Tolkien book to be published, it is actually an early tale and foundational to the author’s entire concept of Middle-earth. It was first written in 1917 while Tolkien was recuperating in a hospital from trench fever after the Battle of the Somme. “It’s a quest story with a reluctant hero who turns into a genuine hero—it’s a template for everything Tolkien wrote afterwards,” John Garth, author of a book about Tolkien’s experience in World War I tells Alison Flood at The Guardian. “It has a dark lord, our first encounter with orcs and balrogs—it’s really Tolkien limbering up for what he would be doing later.”

Christian Holub at Entertainment Weekly explains that the new book tells the tale of Tuor, a man living in an age where the world is dominated by the dark lord Melko—known in other Tolkien books as Morgoth. Only one place, the hidden Elvish city of Gondolin has resisted his reign, and Tuor is sent to find the place. He does, but so do the dark forces of Melko. In the grandest Tolkien battle scene outside of The Lord of the Rings, the author describes a mechanized army, similar to the newly introduced mechanized warfare he’d witnessed during the Great War, falling on the city.

I am not a fan of the Hobbit movies; Tolkien gave us battles, but not of the size and scope that were depicted. I do not believe Peter Jackson was ever the right filmmaker for The Lord of the Rings, either; his movies are beautifully framed junk and everything is a near-miss and, hey, what if we spin the camera around this way and that way? Everyone seemed stiff at times, but you really have to credit what Elijah Wood and Sean Astin did to make it all seem like an actual epic quest. It wasn't all bad, of course.

The best description for Jackson's approach would be to call it expensive fan fiction. Beyond that, everything I actually liked about the books disappeared. If they can make a movie about Han Solo, why the hell can't they make a movie about Elrond?

The Fall of Gondolin explores the history of Middle Earth, and gives you a sense of Tolkien's decision to build the languages, the different inhabitants, their entire, well-imagined back stories, and their place in the story. It's not enough to talk about the tribes of Elves or Men or Dwarves--their foundational epics and their sense of who they were had to be built, painstakingly, one generation at a time.

Aside from George R. R. Martin, who does this anymore? Plenty of writers make the attempt, but Tolkien, being an academic, had the knowledge to create the framework that his son has spent decades trying to organize and preserve for proper release. His achievement as a curator is no less of an accomplishment than his father's as the creator.

If someone else decides to make films of these stories, I'm fine with that. I really don't need to see any more of Jackson's vision. To me, it was always about the history and the relationships, and not so much the sword play and the massed formations of troops. Having seen the horrors of war, I don't think Tolkien wanted it to be fetishized in the manner in which it was, I really don't. There was always a purpose to the violence, and that's where all of the effort went.

The Machine Stops

As a relatively young man in 1909, E. M. Forster imagined pretty much how humans would live in the 21st Century.

The futuristic world portrayed in The Machine Stops is an eerily familiar one - people mostly communicate with each other via screens, the rarity of face-to-face interaction has rendered it awkward, and knowledge and ideas are only shared by a system that links every home.

Yet that world was imagined not by a contemporary writer but by the Edwardian author Edward Morgan Forster.

Best known for his novels about class and hypocrisy - Howards End, A Room With A View and A Passage To India - The Machine Stops was Forster's only foray into science fiction.

Published in 1909, it tells the story of a mother and son - Vashti and Kuno - who live in a post-apocalyptic world where people live individually in underground pods, described as being "like the cell of a bee", and have their needs provided for by the all-encompassing Machine.

It is a world where travel is rare, inhabitants communicate via video screens, and people have become so reliant on the Machine that they have begun to worship it as a living entity.

Now, aside from the fact that we haven't had an apocalypse and that we don't live in underground pods, Forster got a lot of things right. We are replacing our various Gods on a regular basis. We are emerging from centuries of class warfare and strife. And we are talking to one another through screens instead of face to face. Sounds pretty accurate to me.

Elitism on Television

Well, if this isn't elitism, what is?
For the first time in more than a decade, a single network had all 10 of the highest-rated programs on TV last week. And, proving once and for all that you and everyone you know are completely, irreversibly out of touch with the wider TV-watching public, that network was somehow CBS.
“Well, sure, Big Bang Theory,” you mumble to yourself, confident that you have a weak but stable grasp on the actual shape of the world. But you’ve already forgotten the network’s top-rated show, NCIS, which has been on the air for 13 years of uninterrupted unsub-hunting, and which pulled in almost 17 million viewers last Tuesday. That’s followed by Big Bang, which laugh-tracked its way to 16.2, and the Republican debates, broadcast from the alternate universe where Donald Trump is considered a credible frontrunner for the leadership of the free world.
After that, there are two more NCIS shows, a venerable bright spot in 60 Minutes, and Madam Secretary. That’s right, Madam Secretary. Do you even know who’s in that, let alone what it’s about? You don’t, do you? You think it might be a blonde woman, but at this point, who can be sure which one? (It’s Téa Leoni, but we’re not saying whether we had to look it up.) But millions of people tune in to it every week, apparently, those same millions you share the roads and the supermarket aisles with every day. They’re all around you, watching Blue Bloods and Life In Pieces. And, as it’s becoming increasingly clear, what with the network’s total domination of this week’s ratings: they’re multiplying.
The problem here is that television ratings matter a lot less now. It's getting to be impossible to see how a free, over-the-air network can continue to put an hour of scripted television on the air each week and attract enough viewers to maintain the advertising revenue needed to stay afloat. But all the other networks aren't CBS, which is surviving in large part because it has figured something out about the viewing habits of older Americans. They like shows with strong female characters and reliable male supporting characters.

Basically, we're not quitting on network television like the other age groups. I watch two of the shows mentioned above, and they're okay, but not great. The really good television happens on pay cable networks or places like AMC, TNT, and FX. And I say that as someone who has watched every episode of Rizzoli & Isles on purpose. 

If you're not watching Rizzoli & Isles for Bruce McGill, you're wrong. He's one of the best actors on television and they don't give him enough to do. But, what they do give him is better than a star turn almost everywhere else. This is a show that should be on CBS because it follows exactly the same procedural arc found on all their shows. McGill portrays a character people are going to keep watching. And if you had told me that Donnie Wahlberg was going to become a stellar actor in his own right, I would have laughed at you. But, the fact remains that the other Wahlberg has more range than his more famous brother. They are surrounded by strong female characters and support them with their abilities. What's not to like?

It's all about the writing with these shows. It's better than expected and it sustains these shows, week after week. The business people have to figure out how to make this work, and they need to look at what CBS is doing in order to create and develop quality scripted dramas. CBS is putting a great deal of quality on the air. In my mind, CBS is doing exactly what TNT decided to do years ago.

You may not be thrilled with it, you may not see it as essential viewing, but the overall quality of their programming is much higher than it used to be and you can see that being used to full effect on Madam Secretary. The sets are high end, the production values are excellent, and the writing is smart and doesn't insult anyone's intelligence. I'm not thrilled with the show's inability to find anything for Tim Daly to do, but it's not as if the whole thing falls down like wet cardboard every week. Someone has figured out that people will watch quality shows. How hard is that to figure out?

Story Prompt

They drained a canal in Paris and this is one of the things they found.

A boombox, in the water, ruined for now but could it be restored? Could someone with a pair of fifty pound bags of rice dry out the components, flush out the mud, and wipe away the neglect? Could this thing be saved?

It wouldn't be practical (that's a lot of rice to use on an electronic device. That much rice could feed a lot of hungry people. But so could break dancing.

Break dancers feed the soul. They take the performance aspect of the Humanities into the streets and they move around, they take the music that works for their routine and they create something new. A breakdance team with the ability to draw people in can perform on the street for a few hours and make some cash. People can't help but throw money at breakdancers nowadays because it's so rare to see artistry like that. Instead of dressing up like a superhero, a select few of the elite breakdancers can turn everything you know on its ear and make a sheet of cardboard look like a glass floor.

Was there a rivalry that put this boombox at the bottom of the canal? Which faction and which group went to war and accomplished this battle task? Above all else, the boombox goes in the water or we don't win, they said. War is over if boombox goes in the drink, and you have to want it to make it happen. That's cold. Throwing someone's boombox in a canal is like cutting off an arm by accident.

I can imagine a jealous lover throwing the boombox in the canal. Love me, or lose me forever. If you're going to choose the boombox over me, guess what? It's already on the bottom of the canal.

Was there regret for throwing this thing into the water? There's little chance for regret after a prank like this. Waste of a good boombox, man. Waste of a good boombox.

Of course, they're going to pop this thing open and it'll have an Electric Light Orchestra cassette in it. Goddamn, I'd have thrown that thing into the water. Maybe I did when I was in Paris years ago and forgot. I hope they don't find my fingerprints. This is exactly the sort of crime that can be pinned to me because I've never been saintly about such things.


I'm not sure why they went with the whole failure angle here. If this young man had been a moderately successful writer, it would still be irrelevant. He's a dangerous psychopath and his skills in the arts don't change that fact:
An aspiring author who brutally attacked a teenager after she left a bad review of his book online has been jailed.
Richard Brittain smashed Paige Rolland, 18, over the head with a wine bottle in an assault which could have killed her.
The failed writer, 28, has now been sentenced to 30 months in prison and banned from contacting his victim, reported Mirror Online.
Brittain’s defence counsel Michael Meehan pleaded for his client to avoid jail, saying he was either suffering from paranoid schizophrenia or a personality disorder.
But Sheriff Martin Jones QC insisted “the only disposal in this case is a custodial one” and ordered Brittain to be monitored for one year after his release.
In October 2014, Brittain traveled 500 miles from his home in England to the supermarket where Rolland worked in Scotland to confront her after she criticized his book "The World Rose" online.
Now, the bad review that triggered the incident should be considered separately. Everyone gets them. You have to deal with them. But, for a bad review to trigger a 500 mile trip so that the man could stalk and attack his victim suggests that he shouldn't be allowed in polite society. Jail is one thing. Where's the treatment for mental illness? If someone is writing on their personal blog that they are schizophrenic, I think you should take them at their word.

In case you're wondering, yeah, he gets some really bad reviews:

People have savaged Brittain on his Amazon account for a long time. They hate his writing! It must be all of those adverbs and the passive aggressive tone. And every review I saw cleverly adds details about his wine bottle attack--a sure sign that the review is designed to destroy the commercial appeal of his work.

I don't know whether that's brave or piling on, but someone should get this man the help he needs.


The tiny islet of Riddarholmen, home to a 13th-century church full of entombed Swedish royalty, is an oasis of dead calm in cosmopolitan Stockholm, an odd place to witness the relaunch of an international phenomenon. But it happens to host the headquarters of Norstedts, the publisher of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (80 million copies strong) and its new sequel, known Stateside as The Girl in the Spider’s Web, written posthumously by a different writer, David Lagercrantz.
“We have had journalists all over the world to come and hear the story about Stieg Larsson and his books,” editor-in-chief Eva Gedin said at the start of Wednesday morning’s press conference. “Tourists have made pilgrimages to some of those places in which his books take place … It has been eleven years since we published the first book in Sweden, and we felt that the time was right for a continuation.”
It’s also been ten years since Larsson died of a heart attack at age 50, soon after signing his book contract, leaving his estate by default to his distant father and brother, and excluding — by law — his partner of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson, who has fought the family ever since. It seems on the surface an all-too-familiar conflict — a fight for the right to print money off the name of the deceased — but the real quarry is capital of the intellectual kind. It’s a public argument over who has the knowledge, acumen, and integrity to manage a famous author’s estate — not to mention the characters, plotlines, and political messages that run through Larsson’s darkly moralistic books.
In other words, it's just another fraud. I hope someone makes a lot of money off of it, because this is the sort of well that runs dry fast. And I love how every article makes Eva Gabrielsson out to be the bad person in all of this. She's saying "stop robbing from Stieg Larsson's legacy" and, of course, everyone else is saying, "let's wring more blood out of the stone."


New American Cursive, an example

Everything in this article should scare you into writing more legibly! Seriously, though, it makes a lot of good points. From a Humanities perspective, maintaining a link to careful, practiced learning techniques can't hurt anyone.

I learned cursive but I use it very sparingly--if at all. I adopted basic printing as part of my demented effort to learn how to letter for comic strips and I haven't gone back to anything resembling cursive.

It's a skill that I still have, but it remains a situational thing. If I'm writing a check, I slip into it without effort. If I'm attempting a more formal note, I'll use it.

Should kids learn it? Absolutely. I think it would improve their overall handwriting, and, no matter what people tell you, handwriting will never go away.

Tearing Down Ray Bradbury's Home

Ray Bradbury House, LA Times

Well, this is sad.

Author Ray Bradbury (he was more than just a "sci-fi" writer), lived in the same California home for fifty years before he passed away in 2012. Efforts to save and preserve his real legacy--his papers and whatnot--have been successful. Sometimes, you don't get a chance to save things like that, but Bradbury was prominent enough for this to happen.

His house, however, wasn't worth keeping:
The home, which was purchased in June for $1.765 million, is being demolished. A permit for demolition was issued Dec. 30, Curbed LAreports, and a fan who visited the house over the weekend found it in the process of being torn down.
A home built in 1937 isn't that old, especially if it has been remodeled or upgraded since then. The value of the lot was, apparently, more than that of the house. Whatever they put there will be a separate and distinct property. I don't fault the nostalgia for an old writer's house, but his printed works and accomplishments are worth more than the built-in bookshelves that held them.


The premise behind the new film Fury is ridiculous:
In the end, it's a poignant and tragic interlude, the best passage in the film, one that addresses the damage — psychological, emotional and physical — that war causes beyond the immediate casualties of battle. Its qualities also cast a shadow on the remainder of the film, which is occupied by a quasi-suicidal mission that Wardaddy is ordered to undertake by a captain (Jason Isaacs, sporting a thick New Yawk accent). The command is issued so quickly that it's not really clear why it's so important for Fury and three other tanks to rush behind enemy lines; the Americans know they're going to win, so the puzzlement over the reason for sending men into such peril at this stage impedes one's investment in the climactic action.
It's this part of the drama that most closely resembles Samuel Maoz's 2009 Israeli film Lebanon, which detailed what it's like for men to occupy a fetid, claustrophobic metal vault on wheels while being bombarded by hard-to-see foes. But plunking Wardaddy and his men down in such an impossible position doesn't feel right dramatically, and the sergeant's stoic reaction, while perhaps philosophically apt for the circumstances, introduces a note of windy grandiosity that mildly rubs the wrong way against everything that's come before.

It is a fact that we have glorified the tank and the Special Forces soldier. Neither win wars or battles. It is the infantry that has always mattered more, and it was the common infantryman, plodding along at a slow walk, that ground down the enemy. Hollywood can't stop showing us tanks; how many anti-tank guns appear in this film and are they accompanied by tank destroyers, assault guns, and horses? What you would have found on these battlefields are numerous horses and support vehicles. The vaunted German blitzkrieg was a propaganda myth and their army went to war with horses.

Tanks did not fight without infantry for very long. By 1945, an American tank platoon or company would be supported by infantry; any functioning German tanks that it would encounter would outclass them almost instantly. Such encounters were rare because the Germans could not use their own roads in the daytime. Their rail system was paralyzed. The German ingenuity with anti-tank weapons was also well known--without infantry, a tank would be a useless, riddled mess if it ever managed to encounter the enemy. I saw that the Germans were in camouflage--good for them. Where did they ever think to get so many healthy young men for one unit? Ah, they were SS troops--easier to demonize and destroy. Fair enough.

In the trailer for Fury, you can see a company of smartly attired Germans marching in close ranks--impossible by that stage of the war because of relentless air sorties and the logistical breakdown of Germany's military. There were still weapons being cranked out in small factories all over the country but the manpower was severely lacking. Many of the units defending the country were Volksturm formations, consisting of boys and old men, and this is a detail that Fury gets right. There were few, if any, crack units left in any shape to carry out counterattacks or assaults. Defensive formations were far more likely, but the Germans were surrendering wherever they could at that point.

Many of the historical details seem accurate to me, but the actual combat is what's wrong--the need for a single tank to do what an infantry company should have done is what stands out.  What I've seen so far indicates a film built around needed to create a plot without bothering to figure out that historical reality was just as good.

The Americans, by this stage of the war, were at the end of their supply tether, exhausted, and many units were peppered with replacement troops. Veterans were in short supply, so Fury shows us the replacement mentality. They were routing a dispirited enemy that was terrified of having to turn to the East and fight the Russians. Hopefully, there are better details in the film than in the trailer.

You should never discount a film based on the trailer, of course, so I'll probably see Fury.

Let Someone With a Real Life Write About Being on Drugs

The failure here is not that Maureen Dowd cannot write; the failure is that, when Maureen Dowd writes, her ridiculously privileged life as a working member of the punditry gets in the way of common sense.

If you go to Colorado and do drugs, you will not come up with anything worth writing about it you've already made up your mind to warn kids of the dangers. Real people with a real life can tell you what drugs do and they don't need an old media bag of nuts to tell them otherwise. Ask a grandma on meth in rural West Virginia if she thinks being on a little weed in a hotel room is a bad thing and you might not like the answer. Kids don't care, kids don't follow, kids just wanna get high.


One Little Rant of Mine

There are some who equate Gore Vidal with Christopher Hitchens. Please.

Vidal made art; Hitchens was a hack journalist who never, ever created anything of artistic value at all. He was a public intellectual only because, late in life, he pandered to conservatives and made a big deal out of hating God.

Which Christopher Hitchens work rises to the level of achievement equal to Burr? Or Lincoln? None.

Vidal didn't care about any of that--he wrote a string of literary classics that will be read well into the future and his late in life musings, some of which were quite deranged, will be forgotten. There is no comparing the two, ever.

Sigmund Freud and Literature, Not Science

Really, where's the controversy here?
Psychoanalytic theory has changed a lot in the 75 years since his death, but literature still feels the strong influence of Freud's ideas, argues Jane Ciabattari.
This is the polite way of saying that Sigmund Freud was wrong about everything. The article then goes into the 20th Century's attempt to understand his work:
Freud’s theories also have inspired literary critics for more than a century.

In the 1940s, Lionel Trilling noted the “poetic quality” of Freud’s principles, which, he wrote, descended from “classic tragic realism… a view which does not narrow and simplify the human world for the artist, but, on the contrary, opens and complicates it”.
Postmodernism, Structuralism and Post-Structuralism – including the work of French theorists Claude Levi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Julia Kristeva – all have roots in Freud’s thinking. 
Susan Sontag argued against Freud and for an “erotics of art” in her 1964 essay Against Interpretation. Harold Bloom applied Freud’s Oedipus complex to rivalries among poets and their precursors in his The Anxiety of Influence (1973), an approach given a feminist slant by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar in Forward into the Past: The Complex Female Affiliation Complex (1985). Peter Brooks mined Freud’s dream-work for ideas of how novels are plotted in Reading for the Plot (1992).
If you keep trying to apply Freud to science, you will fail every time. If you accept Freud as a philosopher or as someone who made an attempt to understand the human condition, he is very relevant. Just not "scientific." He is wonderful as far as forming the basis of an argument about the workings of the human mind, but only inasmuch as your fiction will allow.

Bringing Stefan Zweig Back Into Print

Stefan Zweig is a writer everyone should know:
Stefan Zweig was once ‘the world’s most translated author’ – then he faded into obscurity in the English-speaking world. But a revival in interest is under way, reports Matthew Anderson.
A few years ago the director Wes Anderson was browsing the shelves of a bookshop in his adopted home of Paris when he made a chance discovery. He took down a copy of Beware of Pity, a 1939 novel by the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, recently re-released in English after years out of print. “I think I read the first page in the store and thought, ‘OK, this is a new favourite writer of mine,’” Anderson told Variety.
Anderson has used Zweig's work to make The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film that it's going to be impossible not to see. I don't know exactly how you would view Zweig today--and how are we going to view Anderson as well? Zweig, in his lifetime, enjoyed a popularity that has eluded Anderson. 

Zweig's impact across European culture has to be gauged in that arena. It would be too easy to categorize him as a popular author with little substance--that would be unfair. It would be unfair to try and rate him against authors that were in pursuit of other ideals and who eschewed commercial success. Zweig clearly went after popularity and wanted to be widely read--in other words, accessible in a medium that elevates the inaccessible to ridiculous heights. But there's no question that he had an impact on the culture:
“He was one of the first star authors, and even in an age with no TV and very few pictures in the newspapers, people recognised him wherever he went,” says Zweig’s biographer Oliver Matuschek, who has spent 20 years researching the writer’s life and works. “The sheer volume is unbelievable,” says Matuschek. “In the collected works in German there are 36 volumes, and that doesn’t include the 500 pieces of journalism that were published in newspapers and magazines in his lifetime.”
That may explain it--the fact that he wrote in his native German and not English. Translations of his work were commonplace enough, but without the advantage of being a native speaker of English, Zweig may have been forgotten almost entirely because we tend to place more value on English language writers. I would call that a bias.

The Only Oscar Winner Worth Seeing

I never got around to writing about the Oscars because, like the Grammys, I view them as a complete and utter waste of time. This is because the culture, and the industries of music and film, have moved on, leaving the older generation completely in thrall of their own power to hand out awards and be relevant to a process they no longer care about.

The best movie I saw last year was Frozen. Hands down. And it's a billion dollar movie, to boot.

In terms of being influenced by actual literature, this film takes the Hans Christian Andersen tale of
Snedronningen, which is Danish for The Snow Queen, and makes it one of the most positive portrayals of women ever. For a Disney film to dispense with all of the cliches (except, of course, for the dead parents) is to open things up to a higher level of creativity.

Anyway, I love this film. I'm glad it won an Oscar. But it should have been nominated as best picture and it should have won.

Shirley Temple and Her Reviewer, Graham Greene

Shirley Temple has died at the age of 85. She was the original child star, and she was famous forever. I mean, literally, forever. She went on to have a life that did not resemble that of your garden variety Mileys or Britneys or even your Shias and your Drake Bells. She did have one thing in common with the modern Disney Channel stars--she was an early, and wildly inappropriate, sex symbol.

Graham Greene famously had a hand in revealing why so many sweaty, nervous clergymen loved her::
In 1937 Greene was a film reviewer for Night and Day magazine. In a review of the Shirley Temple vehicle Wee Willie Winkie, he wrote: "Her admirers – middle-aged men and clergymen – respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire."
Twentieth Century Fox sued on behalf of Temple, then aged eight, on the grounds that Greene had implied she played deliberately to "a public of licentious old men, ready to enjoy the fine flavour of such an unripe, charming little creature", Cavalcanti wrote. He added: "Thanks to vigilant, quick-witted friends, Graham was warned that the Americans producing the film had introduced a writ of libel against him, meaning that not only would the backers of Night and Day pay a large fine, but he, Graham himself, faced a prison sentence. The only solution was to find a country without extradition. They chose Mexico and our poor Graham went away very quickly indeed. Very likely Shirley Temple never learned that it was partly thanks to her that, during his exile, Graham Greene wrote one of his best books."
The trial was held on 22 March 1938. Greene had left for Mexico on 29 January and did not return to Britain until May. The judge, who fined the magazine a crippling £3,500, lamented it was a shame Greene was out of the court's reach, said Cavalcanti.
Greene's career was not destroyed, but Temple's film career eventually fell apart when she got older and stopped trying to find quality material. She knew what it was like to go from world adulation to a relative normal life with children and tremendous personal accomplishments. She was the U.S. ambassador to Ghana and then to Czecheslovakia and was a Republican who gained enormous benefit from being associated with California politics and Ronald Reagan.

Shirley Temple was one of the most famous people in the world during the 1930s and 40s. Fame did not destroy her.

Time to Write Poetry

If Obamacare has arrived in your life and if it has given you more leisure time, I guess you need to make the Republican Party happy and start writing poetry:
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Sunday said Democrats are pushing poetry as an alternative to holding a job.
During an appearance on Fox News, he referred to the results of a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that finds millions of American workers might move away from full-time employment because of benefits offered through ObamaCare.
Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), say that the law allows workers to alleviate themselves from “job-lock” — staying in a job that’s otherwise unwanted or disliked, simply to collect healthcare benefits.
Media reports say Pelosi fired back at the Republican interpretation of the CBO report — that ObamaCare kills jobs — by saying the workers are now able to leave jobs to “[follow] their aspirations to be a writer; to be self-employed; to start a business.”
Gowdy honed in on the remarks, saying they are part of a larger effort to smooth over flaws with the healthcare reform law and its rollout during an election year.
“What the liberals and the Democrats want you to believe is, ‘Well, but you’ll have time to write poetry,’ ” Gowdy said. “Well, that’s great until you try and buy your grandkid a birthday present or you try and pay the heating bill.”
Robert Frost never had a problem buying farms or giving presents or teaching people how to write. Why do Republicans hate the Humanities? Why do Republicans hate Americans like Robert Frost?

When a person has more free time to begin writing poetry and living a life of leisure and art, their quality of life skyrockets (unless they have no talent, of course). No one really believes that we will see a new poet laureate emerge from the ranks of those employed solely because they couldn't otherwise afford health care but we could see a happier society based on things that make Republicans shit their pants. Well worth it, in my opinion.