Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Book: The Men Who Stare At Goats, by Jon Ronson (2004)

Ronson writes about outrageous subjects in a deceptively personable way that allows you to see how serious they really are. THEM: ADVENTURES WITH EXTREMISTS is an incisive look at people who believe secret cabals actually run the world.

The title of his new book refers to a top secret program at Fort Bragg that trains Special Forces troops to harness psychic energy. It’s part of a post-Vietnam push to build supersoldiers using New Age concepts. The plan has gotten a new lease on life because of the War on Terror; some of the techniques developed in the program are turning up in the battlefields of Iraq. Along the way, Ronson meets an Army general trying to teach himself to walk through walls, and a martial arts/dance instructor with a government contract to baffle hamsters using only his mind. It’s about time my tax dollars were spent on something I approve of.

Miscellaneous: Links

My new favorite blog is P.I. Files, the adventures of Polly, a private investigator in the Midwest. Slate offers a fascinating give-and-take on Steven Spielberg’s WAR OF THE WORLDS, with Timothy Noah accusing the director of exploiting 9/11 and film critic David Edelstein coming to his defense. For what it’s worth, I’m on Edelstein’s side. And the Los Angeles Times declares that the era of the hipster is over. Thank God. I could use the rest.