Later Night Open Thread: Sherman Alexie

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Shamelessly swiped from Paul Constant. I have to admit, the internet has seriously damaged my longform reading skills — used to be I consistently read three to five books a week, and now I don’t read that many in a month…

But this also gives me a chance to recommend Smoke Signals, which is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

69 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    He’s an alum of YellowJournalism’s and my college. I’ve loved him for years, plus he’s a big gay rights activist.

  2. 2
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    Why is it that aussie are now deprived of Steven & Jon Stewart???

  3. 3
    Gezza B says:

    Video link says: “Sorry, but this video is unavailable from your location. It’s one of the detriments of living under a monarchy. But in case you can’t give up Vegemite and move to America, …”.

    Love the location-specific customization.

    Now that the milk-snatcher thought-she-queen has gone to hell, and that the Vegemite has been washed down by VB, where’s my VPN …?

  4. 4
    WereBear says:

    And I thought Balloon Juice was too big to fail.

    Seriously, might be time to think about a separate, archived, blog. Shouldn’t comments be closed like, a week ago?

  5. 5
    raven says:

    I want to point out that my good friend Pat Lang is now comparing the gun legislation to being spit on during the Vietnam War. Use the handy link provided here on BJ to jump right over there!

  6. 6
    Schlemizel says:

    Horrible interview – it in no way made me interested in the book. It did, however, display the authors complete disconnect from the forces causing the changes we see every day. I started wondering if he was trying to play a character like Colbert does.

    Correlation is not causation. Digital formats are not the cause of the death of local media to interview you about your book. And thats coming from a luddite who does not own a kindle et. al.

  7. 7
    Schlemizel says:



  8. 8
    Schlemizel says:

    but I suppose I should have added, “but thanks for the warning”

  9. 9
    Viva BrisVegas says:


    Why is it that aussie are now deprived of Steven & Jon Stewart???

    Colbert is on Foxtel right now. Stewart was half an hour ago.

    On another subject, I’m depressed, and it’s the Internet that has depressed me.

    The federal Labor government is on a death march to the election due September 14, and they have every reason to expect a complete massacre. Labor state governments are almost extinct.

    The conservatives are resurgent, winning on all fronts.

    Worst of all, the signature achievement of the Labor government will be dismantled by the incoming Liberals.

    This was the National Broadband Network. It was going to connect 93% of Australian premises with optic fibre broadband capable of running at gigabit speeds.

    It’s two years into a ten year rollout and has just started connecting people’s homes. It would have cost $37 billion over ten years and been paid back by revenue earned by the network itself.

    Now the conservatives have said that they will kill it and replace it with a copper based network. Which will provide speeds between 25 and 50 megabit and cost $21 billion (if you believe their math).

    That’s what depresses me, the conservative mindset of “you can’t have good things”. It really galls to get so close and then have the rug pulled out from under you.

    Still at least Rupert Murdoch will be pleased. Hobbling the network is sure to protect his local Foxtel Pay TV monopoly from competition.

  10. 10
    raven says:

    @Schlemizel: ”


    Yes, the scumbags have found another way to spit on us. “Thank you for your service.” pl”

  11. 11
    Steeplejack says:

    I seem to have stayed up all night. Used the Balloon Juice hiatus last night to start getting caught up on Justified. I was way behind! I watched five or six episodes from last season and the first episode of this season (which started in January). It’s holding up pretty well.

    I think I will slink off to bed now, although I don’t feel nearly as tired as I should. Weird.

  12. 12
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Glad to see that Balloon Juice is back up and running. Whew!

    Smoke Signals was a great movie. Being abandoned by a parent seems to be a universal theme.

  13. 13
    Schlemizel says:


    ah? thanks? Thanks for providing me with another reason to hate all of humanity and pray mightily for a meteor. My will to live was not that great to start with.

  14. 14
    Schlemizel says:

    I thought I’d get this in first so JC can know what to expect in the future.,32007/

    Website’s New Layout Feels Like Deepest Betrayal

    SPOKANE, WA—After visiting feminist news and culture blog Jezebel Cat, football and obot/firebagger battleground blog Balloon Juice Wednesday morning, local woman Rebecca Lovett, 29, reported feeling “betrayal’s stinging lance” upon discovering the website had undergone a layout redesign. “What treason is this? Like a fool I trusted them, and my trust was rewarded with cruel duplicity,” said Lovett of the the site’s new format. “What am I to make of this vile Judas kiss, this alien thing that has supplanted my cherished layout without warning or mercy?” Lovett told reporters she would soon visit the website’s comments section to “pour black vitriol on the cowardly traitors.”

  15. 15
    TR says:


    This season is the best yet. Enjoy.

  16. 16
    Baud says:


    Lovett told reporters she would soon visit the website’s comments section to “pour black vitriol on the cowardly traitors.”

    If that happened here, could we even tell?

  17. 17
    Keith G says:

    I note that the Senator from Wonderful and up to today BJ favorite, Elizabeth Warren, is not a fan of choices advocated in President Obama’s budget.

  18. 18
    Lee says:


  19. 19
    JPL says:

    @Keith G: What was the President thinking? He needs to fire the folks who thought releasing that budget was a good idea.

  20. 20
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @JPL: What if he is the folk who thought releasing that budget was a good idea?

  21. 21
    Schlemizel says:


    Also known as “Thursday” here on BJ

  22. 22
  23. 23
    PeakVT says:

    @Viva BrisVegas: Do you think Labor would win without Gillard at the helm?

  24. 24
    Schlemizel says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I have said it here before (to great loving response) Obama wasn’t a liberal when he ran for office why would you expect him to suddenly become one? I also have said before that Clinton was the best Republican President of my life time. I had thought Obama would not be worse but this budget really is a problem.

    My hope is that by rejecting it the GOP looks worse to voters (even though they will certainly be viewed as better by retirees) but nothing else comes of it. My fear is that the goopers will be more than happy to let Obama take the fall for what they really want – damaging SS & Medicare – damaging seniors severely and, as a bonus, Democratic election chances for a generation

  25. 25
    gogol's wife says:


    I would say that that is prophetic of my reaction, if I didn’t hate the present layout so much that I can’t fathom that anything could possibly be worse.

    Bring back balloon man!

  26. 26
    Schlemizel says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    Don’t worry, I am sure there will be something for everyone to hate in the new design. If there isn’t this isn’t Balloon Juice!

    I’m just hoping JC shuts comments off for about a week & deletes his email account. My feelings are badly hurt every time he calls us all fuckers & wishes we would go FOADIAFA.

    Not that I blame him, some of what happens in threads deserve it. I’m just hoping they are emotionally prepared for all their hard work to be whined about

  27. 27
    zmulls says:

    When I read a long-form book today, in paper form, I am still scanning the side of the page for ads

  28. 28
    Kay says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    It seems clear to me that’s true, he is the person who made this decision.

    Democrats need to have this fight, because a couple of things are true. Obama’s premise, that social insurance programs are “squeezing” federal spending (investment) in other areas is shared by X number of Democrats in Congress. That’s reality. Those people, that group, will have to flesh that out and defend it. The positive investments they want to make are in manufacturing, education and infrastructure. I read the outline and I hate the education piece and half the manufacturing piece.

    The other side, judging by Warren’s email, say they can fund social insurance thrust some other “fix” but that’s as far as she goes. That’s not enough. They need a unified Congressional plan (obviously it won’t be all of them, X number are in the “squeeze” camp) to counter Obama’s more comprehensive plan.

    The silver lining, if there is one, is we need clarity and specifics on who is where, and IMO people generally don’t do that until they have to.
    Now they have to.

  29. 29
    JPL says:

    My major complaint is that the President still thinks he can make a deal with Republicans and he can’t. He just made it easier for the Republicans to maintain control of the house.

  30. 30
    Schlemizel says:



  31. 31
    Baud says:


    The silver lining, if there is one, is we need clarity and specifics on who is where, and IMO people generally don’t do that until they have to.
    Now they have to.

    As a certified Obot, I don’t mind seeing Democrats attack Obama’s budget because that’s what they are supposed to do. This budget wasn’t intended to be one Democrats rally around. It was, I believe, an attempt to break the logjam in Washington and get people talking seriously. The Ryan budget should have done that also, but it didn’t because IOKIYAR. And if this gets defeated because of popular opposition, maybe Social Security becomes a third rail in U.S. politics again.

  32. 32
    JPL says:

    BTW, It is so nice to have the site up and running again.

  33. 33
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Baud: @Kay: Didn’t the Progressive Caucus come out with a detailed budget a while ago?

  34. 34
    Baud says:


    Yes, which is good. But it also didn’t generate that much movement, even on our side of the aisle.

  35. 35
    Kay says:


    He’s negotiating with 2 groups. He’s making an offer not just to Republicans but also to the X number of Democrats who don’t agree with him.

    I think we’re making a bad assumption, that Obama made the offer having The Democrats to deliver, so all he needs is X number of Republicans. He can’t deliver The Democrats (yet). He’s further back in negotiations than that.

  36. 36
    PeakVT says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: The Back to Work Budget. Too serious to be taken Seriously.

  37. 37
    Baud says:


    I also wonder if part of the calculation is that we have Senate seats in red states up next time, and House democrats have to compete in gerrymandered districts, and this gives them something to oppose the president over, which might help them.

  38. 38
    Kay says:


    They did. But that’s not a story, a theme for a national midterm campaign. I wish it were but it’s not, because they don’t have broad enough buy-in among The Democrats.

    They can’t present a unified front for avreally good reason. There is no majority position to counter Obama’s position.

    We can say The Democrats think this or that but at some point that has to be TRUE, that has to be A Majority of Congressional Democrats.

  39. 39
    Kay says:


    I’m guessing like everyone else but I don’t think it’s political. I think there are genuine policy differences AMONG DEMOCRATS.

    At some point you have to have the fight :)

    Obama didn’t start it. He just brought it out into the open.

  40. 40

    The best thing about Smoke Signals is the humor, much of it you won’t get unless you have lived on the rez. The book it is based on is great, a collection of short stories called The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

  41. 41
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Steeplejack: In this season’s finale, Ava Crowder finds Jesus, and Boyd and Raylan finally admit their smouldering lust for each other.

    Oh, sorry: spoilers.

  42. 42
    YellowJournalism says:


    Obama didn’t start it. He just brought it out into the open.

    Sorry, but that line just makes me think: “He didn’t start the fire…”

    Now enjoy having one of the worst ear worms ever in your head this morning and know my pain!

  43. 43
    Maude says:

    Is it time to start screaming that Obama is meeting with the evil bankers at the Financial Roundtable today?

  44. 44
    Baud says:


    It was always burning since the world’s been turning.

  45. 45
    debbie says:


    And every criticism of Israel is a return to the virulent anti-Semitism of the 1930s. It’s time to call bullshit on false equivalents,

  46. 46
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: I tend to agree with Baud that it is a political move, but to a certain extent it doesn’t matter. The response from people on the ground, progressive groups, and the leftier Democrats should be a giant shout of no. If it is a political move, it is what is needed, and, if Obama really does want to got there, it is needed. This proposed budget isn’t going to get through Congress, but it can set the terms for the debate that does produce a budget. If proposing even a small change to SS benefits can provoke an overwhelming negative reaction, it will force Congress to look elsewhere for fixes.

  47. 47
    debbie says:


    I’m with Baud. Now the Republicans have to cough up on taxes. If the deficit is as crucial as the Republicans have postured it to be, then it’s now time for them to put up or shut up.

  48. 48
    Kay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I see the political move theory, but what if it’s not?

    If it’s not, Republican leadership in the House don’t need to know where Republicans are, they know they aren’t getting anything Obama thru the House with a GOP majority. They need to know whether Obama can deliver Democrats. Then their lift is much lighter, they just need a minority of Republicans to join with Democrats, and they have actually achieved that in the past.

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: If it is not a political move, if Obama really wants to do this, then I think that the Congressional Dems owe him a defeat. Whether or not Obama intended to create the opportunity, Congressional Democrats have a chance to make political hay with this.

  50. 50
    Kay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I’d phone bank to defeat the educational portion. 40 fucking million for charter schools, a straight-up gift, and 300 million in a competitive grant process for ALL public high schools.

    Arne Duncan must have written the educational piece. As usual, he’s screwing public schools, where 95% of people actually go.

    It’s going to be very difficult for public schools to “compete” with the private sector if Obama’s education people keep handing a huge advantage to the sector they favor. They’ve gone from being (ridiculously) “neutral” on public schools to actively screwing them.

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: As we’ve discussed before, I think the Administration has its head up its collective ass on education.

  52. 52
    Kay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    It’s disgusting. Public schools need a “competitive grant process” to compete for their meager portion, maybe a sort of Hunger Games or something, while Duncan’s preferred charters get a strings-free public funding gift. I’d love to know how that 40 million got in there.

  53. 53
    Kay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    They’re imposing “market discipline” ONLY on public schools. I’ve given up on a level playing field. Now I’m just asking that they don’t continue to tilt the playing field AWAY from public education. It blows my mind that an entity called The US Department of Education appears to be completely hostile to public education. They need to assemble the troops outside that building and read the name on the front.

  54. 54
    karen marie says:

    @Baud: So you’re fine with Axelrod making Republicans’ arguments for them, instead of arguing for what’s right?

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: Is there anyone in the upper reaches of the administration education policy elite who came through a public school system? Honestly, I think that education is one of the few problems we have that can actually be fixed by throwing money at it.

  56. 56
    Viva BrisVegas says:


    Do you think Labor would win without Gillard at the helm?

    Not at this stage.

    Dumping Gillard might alter a rout into a mere crushing defeat, but in either case Labor is gone big time.

    The question is how how long it will take for them to become competitive again. Last time this happened, it took ten years.

  57. 57
    Kay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I don’t know. I don’t really want them setting up a national program for 4 year olds, though.

    I can’t imagine the private sector feeding frenzy that is going to set off. It’s fine if their position is that they aren’t “public sector partisans”. They’re “agnostics” on public versus private. I think it’s insane and bizarre for a federal agency, but I accept it. I’d prefer they not spread what is an ideological position to preschool, because their ideological position is indistinguishable from Right wing privatization.

  58. 58
    PeakVT says:

    @Viva BrisVegas: Okay, thanks. Do you think the carbon tax will survive or will that get sabotaged, too?

  59. 59
    Tonal Crow says:

    Today in “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” news:

    ATLANTA (Reuters) – A hubcapman who took four Georgia firefighters hostage, demanding his utilities and cell phone service be restored, was killed on Wednesday in an exchange of hubcapfire with authorities who moved in to free the captives, police said.

    A police officer was wounded and the firefighters, taken hostage after responding to what had appeared to be a medical call, suffered minor injuries during the rescue….

    Officials declined to give details about what happened inside the home, and Ritter could not immediately say whether the suspect died as a result of gunshots by law enforcement or a self-inflicted wound [from his hubcap].

    During the rescue effort…an officer was hubcapped in the arm or hand, Ritter said.

    The hubcapman had initially also held a fifth firefighter captive in the home but let that one leave to move a fire truck, police and fire department officials said.

    Remember, if we outlaw guns, killers will just find some other way to kill, like beating people to death with hubcaps.

  60. 60
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Baud: I think a better continuation would be “but we added fuel and we fanned the flames”…

  61. 61
    JWL says:

    You can still read three to five books a week (or ten to twenty for that matter). The trick is to read them cover to cover. Because unless you were reading comic books, there is no way you once read three to five complete books every seven days.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps you were the inspiration for Robert Klein’s comic routine about the employees at the Evelyn Woods Reading Dynamics Clinic shouting the alarm, “She’s Reading Again!!”, as they grabbed their shovels and fed her books, as ships firemen once fed coal to steam turbines.

  62. 62
    Mnemosyne says:


    Because unless you were reading comic books, there is no way you once read three to five complete books every seven days.

    Actually, if I stopped reading blogs, I could probably get back up to that pace because I’m a pretty fast reader. A couple of weekends ago, I read The Lost German Slave Girl in one day. And, yes I do retain what I read even at that speed.

    I probably wouldn’t be able to read, say, Ulysses or something else that’s written in a formally difficult way in that amount of time, but most normal fiction or non-fiction goes pretty fast.

  63. 63
    JWL says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’m tempted to reply, “oh, bullshit”, but only because it would be impossible for me to do the same. But if you two say so, I guess it’s do-able. Can it be I’m not as brilliant as I’ve always assumed?


  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:


    Has nothing to do with brilliance — my husband is very smart but reads slowly and deliberately.

    Anne Laurie and I both have ADHD, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that has something to do with it. When it comes to a book, it’s very easy for me to get into what they call “hyperfocus” and not be distracted by anything else as long as the book holds my attention.

  65. 65
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @JWL: I read as many as ten comic books in an afternoon. If a novel catches my attention hard enough (Ivan, I’m looking at you, here.), I can hit a flow where I’m taking in entire pages at a gulp. It’s harder to do with e-books. I think the electronic format triggers my inner editor.

  66. 66
    Anne Laurie says:


    Because unless you were reading comic books, there is no way you once read three to five complete books every seven days.

    It was mostly ‘light’ fiction — mysteries, sf/fantasy, chick lit — and I could finish one in two hours’ dedicated reading or less. Or a half hour on the bus, an hour at lunch, another half-hour on the commute home, and the rest before going to bed. Most of my friends (bookish sf fans) read as much or more than I did. My parents, when I was growing, usually checked out at least five books during their separate, weekly library trips. I’ve lost that focus, some probably due to age, but I know a lot of it is the internet ‘enabling’ my ADD.

  67. 67
    JWL says:

    @Anne Laurie: Light fiction? Well, that explains it. It took (even me) a full week to read, comprehend, and apply Principia Mathematica to my every day life.

    And for the record: Newton was a hack.

  68. 68
    Viva BrisVegas says:


    Do you think the carbon tax will survive or will that get sabotaged, too?

    It will be gone. If the conservatives have their way all mention of it will be expunged from the history books and it will have never been. Rather like the reign of Akhnaten.

  69. 69
    Comrade Luke says:

    @Yutsano: Wait, what? Which college? Are you referring to the university he went to his freshman year? :)

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