STARTING TOMORROW: Curtain drawn back!


Dueling elites gone wild: Just this once, we're going to let you ask us about our weekend.

Also, we're going to take a point of personal privilege. 

Two items in the New York Times struck us with the greatest thunderclap during that two-day period. One item was this rather selective news report—a report which included a rather selective account of something Tucker had said on his nightly TV show. 

The other item involved the New York Times' book critics. Quickly, a bit of background to this thunderclap:

Yesterday, it was the New York Times pretty much gone wild regarding end-of-year Top Ten lists. As you can see in Sunday's "Today's Paper" listing, the paper of record presented separate items regarding such end-of-year entries as these:

Best Songs of 2022
Best Movies of 2022
Best TV Shows of 2022
Best Art of 2022
Best Theater of 2022
Best Dance Performances of 2022
Best Podcasts of 2022
Best Comedy of 2022
Best Jazz Albums of 2022

"Best Comedy of 2022!" By now, it's gone that far!

Such "Best of" selections are always subjective; we'll assume that most people know that. That said, it was in the Book Review section where yesterday's New York Times seemed to go most wild.

Yesterday, the Book Review presented reports on the following topics. We include the page number on which each report appeared in yesterday's print editions:

The Best Historical Fiction of 2022, BR12
The Best Book Covers of 2022, BR16
The Best Crime Novels of 2022, BR18
The Best True Crime of 2022, BR19
The Best Romance Novels of 2022, BR20
The Best Audiobooks of 2022, BR21
The Best Poetry of 2022, BR22
The Best Thrillers of 2022, BR23
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2022, BR24

As you can see, the Times presented a review of the year's best romance novels. The paper reviewed the best crime novels, but also the best true crime books.

The Times reviewed the year's best thrillers, along with the best science fiction and the best fantasy fiction. The Times reviewed the best audiobooks—even the best book covers!

That said:

We were struck, as we looked at those listings, by the categories which didn't bark. We had a similar reaction when we clicked a link to this report, which was first published late last month but has only appeared online:

100 Notable Books of 2022
Chosen by the staff of The New York Times Book Review

That report didn't appear in yesterday's print editions. For whatever reason, it was included in yesterday's aforementioned "Today's Paper" listings.

At any rate, staff of the Times had chosen the year's 100 most notable books. Beneath the slightly bewildering presentation of those titles, this further report was offered at that very same link:

Explore the Best Books of 2022
A look at the books that defined the year, by genre.

The paper now provided links to the year's best books in an array of genres. Once again, we were struck by some of the genres which did appear—and by some of the genres which didn't. 

Further links excluded, here's the full presentation you will find at that link:

Explore the Best Books of 2022
A look at the books that defined the year, by genre.

Thrillers: A fiendish puzzle, an all-out struggle for survival on a remote island, the mysterious disappearance of a spouse: The year’s best thrillers could not be more different.

Science Fiction and Fantasy: Pandemics, witchcraft and terrifying artificial intelligence were among the themes that stood out in 2022.

Romance: The genre has had an exceptional year. Here are some of the novels that took our breath away.

Historical Fiction: These 10 historical novels are sturdy time machines, built to last and constructed by pros.

Crime: Our columnist was introduced to a marvelous array of mysteries this year. These are the ones that made an impression.

True Crime: Some narratives are all the more chilling because they happened in real life. Here are the most compelling of 2022.

Poetry: If you love reading poems, you will not want to put down these seven collections.

The listings started with the year' best thrillers, then moved on from there. As it turns out, the romance genre had an exceptional year. In fact, some of this past year's romance novels had taken staffers' breath away!

At any rate, those are the genres which did appear. We were struck by some of the genres which didn't.

All these things having been said, we haven't yet reached the offering which brought us up most short. That offering appeared on page B14 of the Book Review, headlined exactly as shown:

2022 Reading Picks From Times Staff Critics 
The books they read this year that have stayed with them.

We were struck by some of the books, but also by the types of books, which stayed with those three (3) New York Times book critics this year. Also, we were struck by the types of books which apparently didn't.

Just last week, an international array of critics, professors and hangers-on told the world that this largely unwatched and unwatchable film is the greatest film of all time:

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

In the view of that international elite, Jeanne Dielman is the greatest film of all time, apparently because it captured the existing state of European feminist thought as of 1975. 

(Inevitably, this involved a woman who engages in no activities except cooking, cleaning and sex work. After that, she kills someone. It's the greatest film of all time!)

We thought the selection of that unwatchable film may have said or suggested something about that one elite. Similar thoughts flooded our minds when we read the titles of the books which stayed with the New York Times' three book critics this year.

Lost in the shuffle was the front-page report which mentioned Tucker Carlson. Inside that front-page news report, we thought we saw the war of the worlds, with imperfect elites from both major tribes spinning rather hard.

Tomorrow: The books which stuck with the critics


  1. Tucker should win the Fantasy award, for his piece about Republicans not really being bigots.

    1. Shouldn't Tucker get the Children's Author Award, too, for his writing with an emotional maturity level of a twelve-year old?

  2. In all of this, Somerby doesn't tell us what he finds missing. He doesn't tell us what he was struck by. He tells us nothing except to list the various lists that pretty much always appear in the NY Times around this time of year, so that people can use such lists to do Christmas shopping.

    There is no point to this. I have been buying books off the 100 notable books list for years now. So what? It is a service to readers. It has nothing to do with Tucker Carlson or politics.

    And these teasing essays with no point, requiring readers to wait until tomorrow (or never) to hear Somerby's beef, are a huge waste of everyone's time. I have better things to do today than play Somerby's stupid game.

  3. Speaking of books, check this out.

    This year, at least 102 books have been removed from the shelves of school libraries in Clay County Florida

    Many of these books were pulled at the request of 1 man: Bruce Friedman

    A conservative activist and longtime resident of New York, Friedman moved to Clay County in May.

    5. The Girl From The Sea has been removed from Clay County school libraries because of a new policy, implemented in July, that requires books to be pulled as soon as a challenge has been properly filed.

    Friedman has exploited this policy by flooding the district with challenges.

    8. In an interview, Friedman acknowledged that he filed challenges over the summer WITHOUT READING THE CHALLENGED BOOKS.

    Friedman said he has already filed more than 350 challenges.


    1. Bruce Friedman is the epitome of Right-wing freedom.

    2. He is getting his titles to suppress from lists that are being circulated by right-wingers.

      Is Somerby perhaps engaged in a similar effort to attack books on lists published in major newspapers? He is being coy today, but perhaps tomorrow we will find out which books he thinks are too woke to buy for Christmas, or which films shouldn't be watched, or whatever he has up his sleeve to supplement Friedman's efforts.

    3. It's funny, if you Google "Bruce Friedman florida"
      the first page of hits are one after another stories in right wings rags about how the poor guy's mic was cut off at a Clay County school board meeting.

      He's the victim, you see. I don't suppose they see the irony.

  4. “we're going to let you ask us about our weekend.”

    Let’s see. What did he do?

    He went to the Baltimore ghetto and told the blacks their wokeness was losing elections for Democrats?

    He went to a soup kitchen and berated the liberals behind the counter serving soup for being virtue signaling elites?

    He went to a joint meeting of the Young Nazis and Young Republicans and apologized for being a liberal?

    Just guessing…

    1. I'll bet he rewatched Jeanne Dielman, just to reassure himself it was as bad as thought it was.

      Then he sat beneath his pear tree and watched the leaves fall and annoy his neighbor, while ignoring all humans in the vicinity.

      He wrote a letter to the editor complaining about those dratted "best of" lists and submitting his own 10 worst things about the Washington Post suggestions, but accidentally sent it to the NY Times instead of the Post.

      He spent a few minutes reading Kevin Drum's blog looking for any mention of his own name.

      The rest of the time he spent writing a long letter to Wittgenstein, until someone reminded him the guy is dead, whereupon he switched writing a critique of Godel to send to his estate. Then he rewatched "A Promising Young Woman," while pleasuring himself and went to bed early.

  5. The GOP had some good ideas, they just took them too far.

    1. Richard Nixon was an environmentalist and did some beneficial things for Hispanics. Ronald Reagan created the bracero program which enabled migrant farmworkers and other laborers to work in the US without being considered undocumented, then return to Mexico freely. Eisenhower created the interstate highway system.

      What happened to the sense of patriotism, shared interest in improving our communities, dedication to public service that used to embody both parties? When did Republicans become such crap human beings? I blame racism. When Republicans became a haven for fascism, racism and greed, they attracted the worst element and pushed their own conscientious politicians out of their party, much as Trump has done.

      Biden and Romney remember bipartisanship. The rest of Republicans have lost interest in working for the good of our nation. It is only about power now, and shoving coke up their noses, soliciting teenagers, indulging gun fantasies, spending Russian oligarch money, persecuting Dems and the unfortunate or divergent, and toadying to party bosses (Trump esp) who make them feel important. No wonder the GOP is a mess.

    2. My father, who called himself a socialist, regularly voted for Thomas Kuchel, a Republican, for senator:

      "Thomas Henry Kuchel was an American politician. A moderate Republican, he served as a US Senator from California from 1953 to 1969 and was the minority whip in the Senate, where he was the co-manager on the floor for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965."

      This what at least some Republicans were like. Or maybe there is something in the water in California.

    3. In 2016 and thereafter, I voted for Chad Mayes, a Republican, because he left the Republican party rather than be associated with Trump and MAGA Extremism. He became an Independent. I respect the integrity represented by that action. He is also the only candidate for any office in my district who went door to door personally, to meet voters and talk about their concerns. Old style -- not coincidentally, the Fulbright style of campaigning adopted by Bill Clinton and Hillary in her Senate race.

      "Chad Jeffrey Mayes is an American politician currently serving in the California State Assembly. He is an independent representing the 42nd district, encompassing parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Prior to being elected to the State Assembly, he was a Yucca Valley Town Councilman. Wikipedia"

      He was educated at Liberty University, but he didn't follow the MAGAs blindly down a path of corrupt self-interest. There are some good Republicans but they too recognize what their party has become. Mayes showed political courage because his 41st district is solid red. He also has done a good job for his constituents, since he was re-elected despite leaving his party.

    4. typo: 41st should be 42nd

  6. Is there no list of great explanations of relativity?

  7. "Wall Street Journal: “A rising number of older people around the United States are on the verge of homelessness or now living on the streets after falling on hard times. Homeless shelters and aging-service groups in numerous cities say they are seeing more elderly people in desperate need of housing than in years past.”

    But Kevin Drum can show us with graphs that there is no housing shortage.

  8. Here is a film Somerby might consider watching:

    "“Free Puppies” will be released on DVD — and as video-on-demand on Apple and Amazon — on Dec. 13. The heroes of the film are Monda Wooten, Ruth Smith and Ann Brown, three pet rescuers who live in the area where Alabama and Tennessee share a border with Georgia. Their work to remedy local animal suffering is the narrative lens through which the film considers this regionwide problem."

    Like so many other social problems, statistics on animal mistreatment are much worse in the rural South than in the rest of the country. But I also find myself wondering whether the lack of empathy endemic in the right wing, doesn't also contribute to the neglect and abuse of dogs in the rural South, where the right wing dominates. People who don't care about other people seem unlikely to care about the well-being of dogs either.

  9. Elites are not "dueling." They are not even elites. Our society is so diverse and muti-faceted that everyone specializes in something -- there are no more generalists or polymaths. That doesn't make them an "elite."

    elite definition: "a select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society"

    For one thing, people are not selected by anyone. People self-select into their careers and interests. Second, acquiring a deeper understanding of a narrower domain doesn't make anyone superior to anyone else socially speaking -- it makes them more knowledgable. I am willing to stipulate that a film critic has watched more films than I have and that such a person knows more about film as a result of that watching and study and reading about films, and whatever film critics do to become expert. It doesn't make them superior to me or anyone else, except in terms of what they know.

    Somerby's goal is to attack knowledge, so he tries to pit us, the regular guys, against experts who he labels are elites, in order to undermine the idea that people with knowledge should be listened to when they speak, can and should be criticized, but are not to be automatically rejected or doubted because they have expertise.

    When one critic has a list that differs from another, they are not "dueling." They are engaging in what makes their job fun, comparing decisions based on various criteria. It is also fun to compare their lists against our own. We aren't dueling with them either, when we do this.

    Somerby says there are no right decisions, but then he immediately proceeds to make the critics wrong and himself right, pretending that he himself is one of the masses and not a Harvard grad with a career as an entertainer, who lives as a bachelor rereading Wittgenstein. This is silly on the face of it, but his ulterior motive is to cast distrust on all who know things, to soften up his readers to reject facts and accept Q-Anon conspiracies and preaching by the likes of Tucker Carlson. He wants to undermine our ability to think -- even about matters like films and books. Because mind control requires gaslighting on the sources of alternative viewpoints that might conflict (or duel) the pablum the right wishes to feed the masses as it tries to take over our country in the same manner as Hitler took power in Germany.

    There may be dueling interests, but they aren't the ones Somerby pretends are happening. Critics are not dueling. Power mongers are trying to grab more power, but experts stand in their way, as do people who recognize what they are trying to do. Somerby is on the wrong side with this. When he makes fun of Jeanne Dielman and those who respect her work, he is attacking the right of film makers to make films with whatever content they choose, just as Hitler labeled jazz and modern art degenerate and had it removed from museums. Mocking art is part of dictatorship.

    1. If you respect Jeanne Dielman’s work, you’re telling on yourself.

  10. Marjorie Taylor Greene makes others connect and engage with her, thereby building a sense of trust. That is perhaps why she continues to have something that leaders dream of—a sway over people across party lines, national borders, race and community.

    1. I don't trust any woman that enamoured of guns.

    2. Anonymouse9:01pm, good thinking.

  11. Bob having a problem with “rather selective news” should be enough irony to get you through the week.

  12. All right!
    Stop whatcha doin'
    'cause I'm about to ruin
    the image and the style that ya used to.
    I look funny,
    but yo I'm makin' money, see
    so yo world I hope you're ready for me.
    Now gather round
    I'm the new fool in town
    and my sound's laid down by the Underground.
    I drink up all the Hennessey ya got on ya shelf
    so just let me introduce myself