Recommended reading

Here are some of the more interesting articles and posts I’ve run across on the internets lately:

— An poignant interview with Philip Roth in the New York Times, on his decision to stop writing. He says, “I know I’m not going to write as well as I used to. I no longer have the stamina to endure the frustration. Writing is frustration — it’s daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It’s just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time. [Snip] I can’t face any more days when I write five pages and throw them away. I can’t do that anymore.”

— Lucian K. Truscott IV’s takedown of General Petraeus and the Petraeus cult, “A Phony Hero for a Phony War,” in the New York Times. Brutal, and satisfying!

— Mark Thoma on the all-important economic appointments for Obama’s next term. He suggests Sheila Bair for Treasury Secretary and Janet Yellen for Fed chair. I approve this message! Realistically, we are not likely to do any better than that.

— Maggie Freleng in Women’s Enews, on retail workers fighting just-in-time scheduling. Just-in-time scheduling is the employer practice of setting employees’ schedules and hours at the last minute and varying them from week to week, which can wreak havoc with employees’ health and family lives.

— Scott Lemieux in The American Prospect on countermobilization myths. The takeaway: using litigation to bring about social change can be a useful tool: “politics is about conflict and that while it’s important to be mindful of backlash, it’s also a mistake to let it discourage any potentially successful strategy (including litigation). There’s no painless way of altering a status quo that many people are committed to, and short-term countermobilization does not ensure defeat in the long run.”

— Jason Zengerle’s excellent recent New York magazine profile of the fall from grace of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., which is nothing less than heartbreaking. In case you haven’t been following, Jackson has been on a leave of absence from Congress since June, due to severe bipolar disorder. He’s spent much of that time in treatment at the Mayo Clinic. Recent reports say that he is negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors for misuse of campaign funds. The deal will reportedly result in him resigning from Congress and serving a prison sentence.

— James Wolcott on the zombie lie about the great film critic Pauline Kael allegedly saying she couldn’t understand why Nixon won, because she didn’t know anyone who voted for him. She never said it! Yet despite the debunking by Wolcott and others, the myth refuses to die; within days of his post, Politico busted it out yet again.

— And finally, Lauren Kelley in Salon on 5 signs the right is losing it. Fun!

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee